Larry "L.D." Brown, an acoustic songwriter who performs as Grey Reverend, suffers from one of the worst ailments a guitarist can have. Some years ago, he discovered he had focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes muscles to constrict involuntarily, and which eventually caused Brown to lose the use of his left ring and pinky fingers.
In 2009, it was a difficult year for singer-songwriter Amy LaVere: Her producer died, her guitarist quit, and she split up with longtime boyfriend Paul Tyler, who had also been her drummer. LaVere poured her emotion into her writing, and the album that resulted was this year's Stranger Me.
"I went into this [album] probably with more insecurity than I have ever had," LaVere tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. "Just even the title of the record, Stranger Me, is me saying I don't really know who I am in this."
Blues was once called the devil's music, but for many, it has transformative, healing power. Every Monday night in San Francisco's Mission District, devout blues followers descend upon the Polish Club for a night of dancing in an unconventional style.
Blues dancing, which requires participants to appear to be in love with their dancing partners — including strangers — has helped some at the Polish Club to turn their lives around. Click the link at the top of the page to hear the story of three dancers who say they've felt changed by power of the blues.
As Libyan rebels continue to battle pro-Gadhafi forces just 30 miles west of Tripoli, they have also made gains south of the capital. Gharyan, a key town on the north-south highway, is now in rebel hands.