Tom Cole | KCUR

Tom Cole

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(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN ABERCROMBIE'S "BACKWARD GLANCE")

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Thirty years ago this week, an unknown filmmaker walked into a club in Washington, D.C., with a videotape in his hand. It was one of those nights when anyone could screen their work ... but this was the first public screening of a short documentary that's gone on to become the very definition of a cult classic.

It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

Guitarist and composer John Renbourn co-founded the group Pentangle and went on to become revered by guitarists around the world. Renbourn was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland on Thursday, after failing to show up for a concert. He was 70 years old.

Jim Hall was a guitar god, but not in the sense that he could blaze through a zillion notes a minute. He was worshipped by guitarists around the world, but you'd never know it from talking to him.

"I don't really have all that much technique anyway, so I try to the best with what I have you know," he said to me earlier this year.

Richie Havens once told NPR that he believed all music is folk music. Listen to Havens speak about Woodstock, Greenwich Village and why he loved performing in Neda Ulaby's remembrance, broadcast on Morning Edition, at the audio link on this page.

We've been able to record sound for over 125 years, but many of the recordings that have been made in that time are in terrible shape. Many more, even recordings made in the past 10 years, are in danger because rapid technological changes have rendered their software obsolete. So Wednesday, the Library of Congress unveiled a plan to help preserve this country's audio archives.

Janet Feder does things to her guitar.

"If I play the second string with nothing on it, it sounds like this," Feder says, plucking out a note. "Just a pure pitch."

What do you get when one of the songwriters behind a beloved children's program and a champion of challenging new music each approach Christmas songs in their own ways?

Not what you might expect.

Saxophonist, composer and MacArthur "genius" John Zorn is also a record producer who runs his own label, Tzadik — the Hebrew word for "righteous one." The top of the label's website reads:

Tzadik is dedicated to releasing the best in avant-garde and experimental music.