Top Picks: The National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, CNN's series 'The Sixties,' and more

The National World War I Museum exhibit 'War Fare' examines food in the time of conflict, the box set 'Face the Music' chronicles musician Nils Lofgren's career, and more top picks.

Nils Lofgren's boxed set titled 'Face the Music'

Memorial Day tradition

This year marks the 25th anniversary of PBS’s live broadcast of the National Memorial Day Concert from the West Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. A “star-studded lineup,” including the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jack Everly, honors military service members. It airs May 25 at 8 p.m. EDT.   

Food and war

War Fare: From the Homefront to the Frontlines is an online exhibit by the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo., featuring the food of wartime. Did you know that “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” have their origins in the rationing restrictions of World War I? Prepare for an enticing history lesson, complete with an online copy of a US government-issued 1918 cookbook, “Win the War in the Kitchen.” Go to exhibitions.theworldwar.org.

Sideman in the spotlight

Nils Lofgren may play guitar in Bruce Springsteen’s band, but he also explores musical avenues beyond E Street. Face the Music chronicles Lofgren’s career, from the bonhomie classic rock of his 1970s band Grin to his outstanding 2011 album “Old School.” (New to Lofgren? Try those albums on iTunes or Spotify.) The box set includes out-of-print rarities, 40 unreleased tracks, and appearances by Neil Young (“Keith Don’t Go”) and Springsteen (“Valentine”). 

In the trenches

History Channel’s three-part The World Wars is deftly engaging, opening with a young Adolf Hitler in the trenches of World War I,  then spinning round the globe to another youngster, George Patton, making his name in the US fight against Pancho Villa. Then it’s off to London to watch a very green Winston Churchill start his career by coming up with one of Britain’s all-time egregious blunders: Gallipoli. The reenactments are interspersed with interviews with Sen. John McCain, Gen. Colin Powell, former British Prime Minister John Major, and former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monte. It begins May 26 at 9 p.m.

Reliving the past

CNN takes us back half a century to the 1960s in its 10-part series about that iconic decade. The Sixties kicks off with “Television Comes of Age” then walks through such definitive events as J.F.K.’s assassination, Selma and the March on Washington, the space race, the Beatles, and much more. Tom Hanks, the series’ executive producer, is also one of many celebrities who reflect on the era’s lasting influence. The series launches May 29.

Big is beautiful

Think ballet is only for the skinny ballerina? Tune into Big Ballet on Ovation to see how a cadre of those who always dreamed of being in the ballet work to make their dreams come true, despite being an “untraditional size.” The three-part series follows 18 aspirants, culminating in a performance of “Swan Lake.” This reality series proves the spirit does not need a perfect body to dance. It debuts May 28.

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