Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.


New York, NY




Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.






WNYC Radio 160 Varick St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 433-9692


Filmmaker Alex Gibney: 'Sinatra Grew Up With America' (From the Archives)

Ol' Blue Eyes. The Chairman of the Board. Frank Sinatra has been called a lot of things—not all of them flattering—but there's no denying his stature as a true American icon. Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney turns his lens on the singer for the film, which came out in 2015, in time for the singer's 100th birthday. Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All chronicles the unlikely rise of the kid from Hoboken, through his peerless celebrity years, and centers around Sinatra's 1971 "Retirement...


Overcoats Fight To Feel Excited for the Future

Overcoats And Friends Benefit on Tiltify (Live Stream) on May 21 Benefit for Association to Benefit Children 7PM EDT via Amazon-music's Twitch channel The indie-pop duo Overcoats is curating and performing in a live music festival on Thursday evening, May 21, which they’re calling “The Fight For NYC.” The NY-based band consists Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, and they – like almost all musicians – have been struggling with the idea of not being able to do the single, most basic thing that...


Courtney Barnett, In The Greene Space (From the Archives)

Courtney Barnett's songs are wild, shaggy and wordy, mixing witty, mundane, and sometimes heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment. And with a sound rooted in the slack jangle of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Barnett delivers plainspoken lyrics and roll off the tongue as if she's thinking them up on the spot. You can hear that in her break-out song "Avant Gardener" or in "Pedestrian At Best," from 2015's superb album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just...


Bandleader, Comedian, and Beatboxer Reggie Watts (From the Archives)

Vocal artist, comedian, actor, beatboxer, musician, and bandleader Reggie Watts is versatile and unpredictable. But to watch him do his thing live, is even more extraordinary. He's masterful at looping layer upon layer of beats and rhythms, melodies and countermelodies, entirely with his voice, to create a dense and soulful, hip-hop-infused sound. And his hilarious lyrics seem to be pulled out of thin air, improvised with impossibly quick wit. Watch Reggie Watts demonstrate his brilliant...


Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (From the Archives)

Actor, author, and comedian Steve Martin released his debut album as a banjo player in 2009, but he first picked up the instrument as a teenager and later incorporated it into his hit stand-up act during the 1970's. He joined us back in 2011 with his band from North Carolina, the Steep Canyon Rangers, playing songs from his Grammy-nominated album, Rare Bird Alert, in this session from the archives. (Recorded live in The Greene Space)


Ed Helms, on Making Old-Timey Magic for The Whiskey Sour Happy Hour

Banjo player, comedian, actor, and musician Ed Helms has combined music and comedy in an online show for the pandemic era, The Whiskey Sour Happy Hour, presented by The Bluegrass Situation. He joins John to talk about making old-timey magic, with music performed by the featured artists like Aubrie Sellers and her mother Lee Ann Womack, multi-instrumentalist Robert Ellis and his glorious robe, and Helms himself. Plus, a discussion of that scene of Helms playing the sitar in the Christmas...


Legendary Drummer Tony Allen (From the Archives)

Pioneering drummer Tony Allen, who was called “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived" by Brian Eno, has died in Paris, at the age of 79. Allen was the longtime drummer and musical director for the Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti where his unique, propulsive, funky, innovative drum patterns helped to define the style known as Afrobeat. He was self-taught and said that he created that signature sound through listening to recordings of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers and Max Roach. A...


Soul Singer Charles Bradley (From the Archives)

The late funk and R&B singer Charles Bradley’s life story was one filled with poverty, struggle and unappreciated talent. But after catching the eye of a Daptone Records agent (while doing a James Brown routine in a Bushwick club) Charles Bradley put out several singles and several full-length releases on Daptone. His debut record was called No Time For Dreaming, and the soulful singer was in-studio to sing some of it live, back in 2011.


Parquet Courts Thrashes With Elegance (From the Archives)

Parquet Courts exploded into New York music fans’ collective consciousness in early 2013, with the release of their blistering post-punk LP, Light Up Gold. They formed in Brooklyn, in 2010, but its members all met in Texas years before. Lean and urgent like the best of the early punk rock bands, Parquet Courts’ output is of mostly short and spunky songs, written by guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. They performed in-studio for us, back in early 2013. Set List: "Master Of My...


Regina Spektor, In-Studio (From the Archives)

Songwriter, pianist, and singer Regina Spektor was born in the then-Soviet Union and moved to the States on the cusp of her teenage years. She began playing small cafes and clubs, before moving up to big arenas, and in 2019, a run of shows at a Broadway theater. Her songs are full of charm, wit, and surprises, and very often portray an outsider trying to make sense of things. A perfect fit, then, when the Netflix show Orange is the New Black (2013-2019) came looking for someone to write a...


Jon Batiste and Stay Human, In-Studio (From the Archives)

Pianist, composer, and bandleader Jon Batiste comes from a long line of New Orleans musicians, and got his start playing in his family’s band as a percussionist when he was just 8. Now based in New York as the musical director for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, we sometimes forget what a formidable musician he is. Jazz, funk, R & B, even classical music – he plays it all. It’s clear that most chances he gets, he’d gladly lead a parade just about anywhere with his “mouth piano,” but for...


Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, In-Studio (From the Archives)

In his four decades writing songs and playing them, English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock has earned a devoted fan base (especially within the New Sounds Staff.) Hitchcock (whose excellent solo album Eye turned thirty this year) has a penchant for winning melodies, often centered around buzzy-jangly-crunchy-chiming guitars, in clever and classic arrangements that dance around pop, rock, and twang. He has an expansive and expressive vocal range, and puts those pipes to work in song forms...


Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Live (From the Archives)

For many years, the late, great soul singer Sharon Jones played wedding gigs while working as a corrections officer. Then, in her forties, for her second act, came a record deal and a partnership with the Dap-Kings, a band whose resume includes work with such artists as Amy Winehouse and Al Green, Sturgill Simpson, Kesha, and Mark Ronson. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings became known for their roof-raising shows, fiery horn section, and of course, the defiant yet vulnerable vocals of their...


English and German Punk Band, Art Brut, In-Studio (From the Archives)

In 2005, the band Art Brut burst upon the indie rock scene with an album of hilarious, half-spoken stories and manic, melodic punk. For this archival podcast, revisit a performance from the Berlin-based post-punk art rock band, Art Brut, who had just released the 2009 album Art Brut Vs Satan. They joined us to play live and talk about putting the fun back in rock’n’roll. P.S., try their 2018 album, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!


Bill Withers, on "Still Bill" (From the Archives)

One of the sweetest voices of soul’s golden era in the 1970s, Bill Withers is best known for hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me,” about growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town. In 2010, Withers joined us in studio to talk about the documentary Still Bill, which chronicled his life and career. Bill Withers, the artist behind the classic “Just the Two of Us,” and “Grandma's Hands,” (it was his favorite song), died on Friday at 81.


Kimbra: Making 'Vows,' In The Studio (From the Archives)

New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals, playing songs from her album Vows back in 2012. You might recognize her from her guest vocals on Gotye's multi-platinum hit "Somebody That I Used To Know." She also appeared in the viral video for that song as well - wearing nothing but a coat of paint. Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals for an in-studio performance, playing songs from Vows. She blew us away with her...


Oldies of the Future (From the Archives)

In recent years, oldies radio stations have inched further into the future - and have begun to focus on favorites from the '70s (and even '80s) rather than from the '50s and '60s. So we wondered, forty years from now - in 2052 - will songs of the '90s, '00s and '10s make it onto oldies radio? What will be in heavy rotation - and what will be left off of the playlist? We ask Chris Molanphy - author of the "100 & Single" Billboard charts column in the Village Voice – and we talk with Scott...


Cuban Pianist Roberto Fonseca Presents Music From His Latest Record

Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca presents an infusion of rap, funk, reggaeton and electronic music, performing songs from his latest record in studio. Yesun is the Havana-born artist’s ninth solo album, it explores the music of his homeland, and incorporates electronic beats, spoken word, and retro-modern keyboards. "[It's] the album I’ve always wanted to make, all my influences are here. All the sounds and vibes that make me who I am.” - Rosa Gollan Watch the session here:


Bartees Strange presents his heartfelt homage to The National, In Studio

Oklahoma-raised, Brooklyn- and DC-based artist Bartees Strange presents his re-imaginings of songs by The National in studio. Both a heartfelt homage and a political act of critique, he takes inspiration from the music, the lyrics, and even the cover art to examine how black artists can find room in white spaces. The idea for his debut EP, Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy (out March 13), started when Strange attended a concert of The National in 2019 and he was surprised by how few black people...


Montreal Cellist Rebecca Foon Lifts Her Voice in Concern

Rebecca Foon, the cellist, producer, composer and climate activist, is a central part of the Montreal new music scene. She's a former member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, co-founded the progressive chamber band Esmerine, and created albums of cello and electronic soundscapes under the name Saltland. But her new album features a lot more piano, other instruments, and the the quiet kick of her own cello-like voice. The album’s called Waxing Moon, and it’s come out under Rebecca Foon’s own name....