John Doe, out from under the big black sun

X's John Doe flies solo Feb. 18
"I've already had my fun," says John Doe, packing up for Austin, Texas from his longtime California home. Doe is up for a Grammy Award for the audiobook of Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk, a rearview-mirror romance for a scene that birthed X, the band Doe co-founded with Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer DJ Bonebrake, establishing the West Coast's punk canon before its hardcore reverie.

Jason Isbell, down southeastern in New Orleans

The songwriter headlines two nights at The Joy Theater Oct. 22-23
Jason Isbell's "Traveling Alone," from the Alabama songwriter's acclaimed 2013 album Southeastern, compares a worn-out clunker steering life on the road to the husk of a man without a partner, the kind of metaphor Bruce Springsteen could wrap around a song about cars — that's really about mending a broken heart. Springsteen himself called it a "lovely record" on NPR in 2014, and a few months later, backstage at a tribute to Dr. John at the Saenger Theatre, Isbell met Springsteen, who sang it back to him.

Andrew Bird and the imitation game

The artist on the science of Are You Serious
"I wake up every morning and I think, maybe today I can finally crack the code," Andrew Bird says. "Maybe today I'll write the perfect song."

Joanna Newsom’s diving lessons

The songwriter on Divers, harp and her live transformation
There's one harpist within traveling distance to New Orleans, who also happens to own a Lyon & Healy harp and reliably gets that harp into the hands of Joanna Newsom. Rachel Van Voorhees of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is that harpist.


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