Filed Under:

For One Day, NPR Gets A House Band: Los Straitjackets

Play associated audio

We call them "buttons" and "deadrolls" — and, less cryptically, "breaks" — but most NPR listeners know them as the interstitial music spots that pepper NPR's newsmagazines. They add shading, mood, energy and other nonverbal context to our stories.

On All Things Considered, as on other NPR shows, that music is chosen by each episode's respective director — former show director Bob Boilen actually launched the program All Songs Considered as a way of highlighting his most intriguing selections — and is usually word-free, at least in the passages used on air. But until Wednesday, we've never had a band perform a show's interstitial music live; countless musicians have performed on our newsmagazines, but never as a house band.

Enter Los Straitjackets, whose members have been performing upbeat instrumental surf-rock jams for nearly a quarter of a century, all while clad in their signature Mexican wrestling masks. Not long after releasing their 12th album, this year's Jet Set, Los Straitjackets approached All Things Considered about sitting in for an episode — spending a day hanging out at NPR's Washington, D.C., headquarters, and helping to provide the show's soundtrack.

Though Los Straitjackets' playful but evocative music has frequently appeared in movies and on TV shows, the group has never composed music specifically to suit the mood and tone of a given scene. But for just one day, it's giving the news a soundtrack, talking to All Things Considered host Melissa Block and toasting the late jazzman Dave Brubeck with a brief rendition of his best-known tune, "Take Five."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.