Once you’re able to see this three-song set by the band Johnnyswim, NPR Music will have published exactly 350 Tiny Desk Concerts — so we’ve developed a pretty good sense of when a set will stick in our memories for a while. We intuited, for example, that Adele was about to become a dominant force shortly after she breezed into our offices. (Okay, that didn’t exactly require psychic powers, but still.) In the case of Johnnyswim, the prevailing sense boiled down to, “Boy, we haven’t heard the last of them.”
Impossibly telegenic and charming, husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano — who formed their band in Nashville before relocating to L.A. — have the booming voices of great street buskers, but also the polished sparkle of natural-born stage performers. Sudano is the daughter of the late Donna Summer, with whom she used to sing backup, but Johnnyswim’s story isn’t one of nepotism or overnight success; the two have been at this together for nearly a decade, and they’ve got the grandiose impeccability to prove it.
In this set, the lovely ballad “Falling for Me” is bookended by songs that could be airdropped onto half the shows on television; if you’re hearing them here for the first time, don’t be surprised if it’s your first exposure of many. Johnnyswim opens this session with “Home” — a sweet rouser that could easily follow in the footsteps of other recent hits with that title — and closes it with a full-band reading of what promises to be its signature song, the title track from the new Diamonds. As Sudano notes here, the song has morphed into “an anthem to ourselves to keep ourselves encouraged.” For Johnnyswim, such pep talks won’t likely be necessary for long. –STEPHEN THOMPSON
This is simply astonishing. Watch twenty seconds and you’ll be sucked into the world of Usman Riaz, an immensely talented 23-year-old Pakistani musician who will change your perception of how a guitar can sound and be played. What’s more remarkable is that this Berklee College of Music whiz kid learned much of his dazzling guitar technique by watching YouTube videos at 16. He also learned what he calls “parlor tricks,” like body percussion and harmonica. But the classically trained pianist also used the Internet to learn how to write and conduct orchestra pieces and make films. If you’re a skeptic, fine, just watch this youngest of TED senior fellows and be dazzled. –BOB BOILEN
Learn more at http://www.usmanriaz.me/
Learn more at Ted.com
The discovery of the first flexagon, a trihexaflexagon, is credited to the British student Arthur H. Stone, who was studying at Princeton University in the U.S.A. in 1939. His new paper in America wouldn’t fit in his English binder so he cut off the ends of the paper and began folding them into different shapes. One of these formed a trihexaflexagon. Stone’s colleagues Bryant Tuckerman, Richard Feynman, and John Tukey became interested in the idea and formed the Princeton Flexagon Committee. Tuckerman worked out a topological method, called the Tuckerman traverse, for revealing all the faces of a flexagon.
Flexagons were introduced to the general public by the recreational mathematician Martin Gardner, writing in 1956 in his first column of “Mathematical Games” for the Scientific American magazine. In 1974, the magician Doug Henning included a construct-your-own hexaflexagon with the original cast recording of his Broadway show The Magic Show.
Our oldest artist-in-residence surprised me this morning with “Pete in Crayon,” a commissioned piece for one of our magazine photo shoots. Photography, assembly, and adult supervision provided by the talented StacyZ.
This morning the Wellcome Library announced its release of 100,000 of its historical images under an open license (CC-BY – meaning they are free for any re-use provided that the Wellcome Library is credited). The range and quality of the images released is phenomenal. The collection covers more than a thousand years of imagery relating to the history of medicine, including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements – from medieval Persian anatomy to the satirical prints of Rowlandson and Gillray.