WITH 90.1 FM

Alison Fensterstock

The Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Miss., is located on Sunflower Avenue, a street that winds along with the curves of the silty Sunflower River. The compact brick-fronted building leans down the rise with one story at street level and the second, lower one crouched behind and underneath. Since 1944, the Riverside has been a modest layover for travelers. Seven years before that, though, it was still the G.T.

Dave Bartholomew, photographed on January 12, 2013 in New Orleans.
Erika Goldring / Getty Images

Dave Bartholo

The music legend, guitarist, piano man, jive talker and psychedelic godfather Malcolm John Rebennack – better known as Dr. John – died "towards the break of day" on Thursday, of a heart attack, a statement has confirmed. He was 77.

On a sunny Thursday afternoon in May, the corner of First Street and LaSalle in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood was lively. Kids tooled around on bikes and grown-up neighbors danced to the sounds of DJ Jubilee and Al Green, spun onstage by DJ Mannie Fresh, the producer whose exceptional skills put Cash Money Records on the map back in the '90s. The party was hosted by PJ Morton — a native New Orleanian and the keyboardist for Maroon 5 — who followed Fresh's set with a long, jammy performance of his song "New Orleans Girl," including both a bounce verse and a trombone solo.

It's not enough to make list after list. The Turning the Tables project seeks to suggest alternatives to the traditional popular music canon, and to do more than that, too: to stimulate conversation about how hierarchies emerge and endure. This year, Turning the Tables considers how women and non-binary artists are shaping music in our moment, from the pop mainstream to the sinecures of jazz and contemporary classical music. Our list of the 200 Greatest Songs By Women+ offers a soundtrack to a new century. This series of essays takes on another task.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


When Candi Staton first auditioned the drummer for Unstoppable, her 30th studio album, he had not, let's say, fully matured as an artist.

Across five albums of piano-driven rock and soul, Low Cut Connie has proven masterfully fluent in the foundational languages of Western pop, living at the crossroads where the church house meets the roadhouse, or where the Dew Drop Inn meets CBGB.

Growing up in the late 1950s and early '60s, Betty Cantor developed an early talent for tinkering. "I used to take things like radios, other little electronic devices if they didn't work, open them up, mess with them, put them back together and they worked," she remembers during a recent phone call. "I could fix watches that wouldn't work for anybody else." Her fascination with how things worked helped her breeze through the available math and science classes at her Martinez, Calif.

With the title of their 2017 release, Dirty Pictures (Part 1), Philly rockers Low Cut Connie had already telegraphed what was on the way.

"What a schmuck I would be if I didn't have a part two, right?," frontman Adam Weiner tells NPR.

In three-quarter profile, half-smiling at the camera over his elaborately tattooed shoulder, New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr. appeared on the cover of the April 2015 issue of the venerable Louisiana music monthly Offbeat.

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