KWIT

Music

Chuck Johnson's music always finds the calm at the center of the storm. He's best known for his hypnotic, yet lyrical, solo guitar work, but for his new record Balsams Johnson meditates on — and through — the lush ambiance of the pedal steel.

Two of the finest players of Irish music in the world, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill return to Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. With Hayes on the effervescent fiddle and Cahill taking a sparse, neo-traditional approach with his guitar, the two world-class musicians reshape the classic mode of jigs, reels and airs. As host Larry Groce puts it, "[Hayes and Cahill] have been critically praised over the top. Sometimes you get suspicious when you see that.

The recent success of John Darnielle — author of the acclaimed Wolf in White Van and Universal Harvester as well as the leader of the indie-rock band the Mountain Goats — has given fresh legitimacy to the crossover between music star and literary figure. (We won't bring up Bob Dylan.)

In the early 1920s, before he became an icon of the American songbook, composer Cole Porter wrote the score for a protest ballet. The production, called Within the Quota, criticized restrictive immigration laws that had been passed by Congress. According to Princeton music professor Simon Morrison, who rediscovered the score two years ago in Yale's Porter archives, the show opened in New York at a time of fearful backlash against Polish, Greek and Australian immigrants arriving in the U.S.

World Cafe has a pair of brothers and a pair of cousins — plus one — in the studio today. Together, they're Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. In this session, we chat about the band's Cinderella story: It went from late-night bedroom jams to signing a record deal with its dream label, Sub Pop.

The only thing bigger than a classic beef in hip-hop is a monumental collabo. And when Kendrick Lamar, the artist with the biggest selling album of the year (DAMN.), hooks up with Future, the artist responsible for making history in 2017 with back-to-back No. 1 albums (FUTURE, HNDRXX), it's bound to be the best of both worlds. That's exactly what happens on a newly released remix of Future's runaway hit "Mask Off," featuring an inspired verse from Lamar.

The pairing is not their first, but here's what makes it so compelling and dope.

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