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Arts & Culture

Bob Boilen's Top Concerts This Week: John Paul White, Kate Tempest And More

I'm in Athens, Ohio and thrilled to be part of this remarkable night beginning with My bubba at the beautiful old Stuart's Opera House.
I'm in Athens, Ohio and thrilled to be part of this remarkable night beginning with My bubba at the beautiful old Stuart's Opera House.
Such a monumental voice (Adam Torres) in a lovely space. Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio.
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Such a monumental voice (Adam Torres) in a lovely space. Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio.
Graceful storytelling and the magnificent voice of John Paul White. Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio.
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Graceful storytelling and the magnificent voice of John Paul White. Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio.

(You can find a playlist of the artists I saw this week at the bottom of this piece.)

This past weekend my concert adventures brought me to the town of Athens, Ohio, just adjacent to the smaller town of Nelsonville, where I helped curate a show at a beautiful old theater called Stuart's Opera House. The show was part of a series of concerts I've done based around the theme of my book, Your Song Changed My Life. It was there that I got to ask one of my new favorite singers Adam Torres, the Scandinavian duo My bubba and the brilliant songwriter about the music that's changed them. Adam picked "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen, and My bubba performed Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go."

John Paul White chose a song that his father loved dearly, a song made popular by Slim Whitman in the 1960s, called "I Remember You." It was a magic night, ending with four brilliant singers gathering around single microphone for a rendition of another '60s classic, "Stand By Me" — the first song John Paul White ever sang into a microphone. Thanks to Josh Antonuccio, Scripps College of Communications and Tim Peacock at Stuart's Opera House for having me.

Water Witches guitarist Ethan Bartman at Little Fish Brewery in Athens, Ohio
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Water Witches guitarist Ethan Bartman at Little Fish Brewery in Athens, Ohio
Caitlin Kraus performing at the Little Fish Brewery in Athens, Ohio.
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Caitlin Kraus performing at the Little Fish Brewery in Athens, Ohio.


The night before, I was treated to a show by artists from Athens, Ohio at the Little Fish Brewery. The event was organized by Adam Remnant, formerly of Athens' own (he and his band opened but I missed them). Other bands included (I came as they were finishing and didn't get any good shots), and then Caitlin Kraus. It was a night of music that felt formative and fun.

Kate Tempest playing her entire album <em>Let Them Eat Chaos</em> at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Kate Tempest playing her entire album <em>Let Them Eat Chaos</em> at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.


Back in Washington D.C. earlier in the week I saw a brilliant show from the British singer Kate Tempest. Kate is a poet, a playwright, a singer and a community unifier. She performed her entire album, Let Them Eat Chaos -- a record filled with a novel's worth of characters, individually caught up in life's turmoil. Its story is a giant, passionate plea to us all, to explore empathy and love to all of those around us. You must experience this show.

Jain's African and Parisian pop pleased both children and her older French fans at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen / NPR
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Jain's African and Parisian pop pleased both children and her older French fans at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C.


The previous night was pretty much the opposite of Kate Tempest's show; a fun frolic filled with pop from the Parisian artist Jain. The audience was filled with children, gathered down at the foot of the stage, and adults partying behind them. A lovely night.

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