The Tangled Web

Keeping you up to date on the Web's most intriguing music-related happenings and destinations. This week: NPR's 'Music Mavericks,' KEXP, and Da Brat.

Keeping you up to date on the Web's most intriguing music-related happenings and destinations.

MAVERICKS OF THE AIRWAVES: National Public Radio (NPR) and its local affiliates, long the purveyors of superb programming on U.S. airwaves, are also providing similarly excellent attractions on the Web.

The music section of NPR's official site features links to sites for all the network's music shows, most of them complete with RealAudio and Windows Media streams. But some of the most exciting and in-depth online programming can be found at the Web homes of NPR's local affiliates.

Minnesota Public Radio, for instance, has created a 13-week radio-and-Internet series celebrating some of America's most original composers. The audio program, "American Mavericks," is hosted by singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, and features interviews with composers and performers, oral histories, and music discussions with San Francisco Symphony conductor/artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas, whose concert series inspired the program.

Suzanne VegaThe series' ample Web site offers RealAudio streaming versions of each week's radio program in its entirety (the series is in its seventh week), as well as a listening room with dozens of streamed performances and interviews.

There is also a "Features" section. Among its unique interactive items:

• A virtual Rhythmicon, which allows visitors to play a recreation of the experimental instrument invented by Leon Theremin in 1930.

• A binaural sound-positioning feature that allows users to remix Charles Ives' groundbreaking 1906 spatial composition "The Unmixed Question."

• A page dedicated to Harry Partch, a renegade composer who invented a new tuning system and 27 instruments. The page allows visitors to play each instrument virtually and listen to Partch's descriptions of each invention.

The site, which also includes a video archive and a number of essays, is an extensive project that stretches the boundaries of Web radio. In one sense it is a companion piece for fans of the Minnesota Public Radio broadcast, but the site really goes beyond that purpose. Its expanded features and worldwide accessibility could draw in a much larger audience than the radio version.

Public broadcasting has long been a vital source of information and entertainment in the U.S., and sites like the "American Mavericks" could be a sign that the sector aims to thrive on the Internet. It's also a reminder that the best things on the Web can remain free.

RADIO EXP: Seattle radio station KEXP (90.3 FM) is gaining fans outside its broadcast reach with a Web site laden with plenty of tempting options for online music junkies. In addition to offering access to the station's current shows through RealAudio and WindowsMedia streams, the site boasts charts, reviews, playlists, a streaming archive, and a buffet of live, acoustic, in-house performances.

Though the site's rotating archive is limited by bandwidth and copyright requirements, it currently has exclusive live acoustic in-studio performances by Frank Black, Longwave, Bettie Serveert, the Black Keys, and many more.

Da BratBRAT WEB: New Arista artist Da Brat (who moved to the label with Jermaine Dupri's So So Def imprint in January) is emerging as an online pioneer. The first single from the Atlanta-based rapper's Arista debut, "I'm In Love Wit Chu," will be the label's first song to be released simultaneously to traditional retail as a CD single and as an online single download.

The single becomes available today (May 13) at traditional retailers and as a commercial download through Apple's iTunes Music Store,'s Rhapsody, MusicNet on AOL, PressPlay, and other legitimate download sites.

The song is the lead track from Da Brat's "Limelite, Luv & Nightclubz" album, due to be released June 24.