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World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN

World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN


WXPN's live performance and interview program featuring music and conversation from a variety of important musicians

Link: www.npr.org/sections/world-cafe/




How Psychedelics Influenced Noah Gundersen's Latest Album, 'Lover'

Nov 8, 2019 1709


It's not every day at World Cafe that we start our session with a disclaimer, but here's one: Today's conversation with Noah Gundersen includes some talk about psychedelic drugs and their influence on Gundersen's latest album, 'Lover'. Disclaimer out of the way, psychedelic drugs are just the jumping-off point for a conversation about the songs on Gundersen's rich, exquisitely crafted album. 'Lover' addresses a transformative year in Gundersen's life, one that included the end of a romantic relationship and the realization that Gundersen's parents, who raised him in a conservative, right-wing home in rural Washington, are now what he calls "truly progressive."

Jessy Wilson Finds A Rock Vibe With Patrick Carney

Nov 7, 2019 1572


It took some convincing, but Jessy Wilson's new album was produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys; little did he know that was her plan all along. When Wilson's former band, the Americana act Muddy Magnolias, broke up, she reached out to Carney to explore rock 'n' roll sounds on her next record. The result is her debut solo album, 'Phase'. In this session, Wilson discusses working with Carney, her extensive musical background and why she wouldn't want to make music anywhere but Nashville. But first, we begin with a performance of "Oh, Baby!"

The Infectious Joy Of Mwenso & The Shakes

Nov 4, 2019 1240


There are charismatic people, and then there's Michael Mwenso. The leader of Mwenso & the Shakes is full of energy, charm and most importantly, joy. That joy is ever-present when he's telling stories about growing up in Ghana and Nigeria and spending four years trying to impress James Brown. You'll also find that joy on his debut album, 'Emergence [The Process of Coming Into Being]', which blends jazz, R&B and spoken word in a live album that feels like a Broadway show. These songs are anthemic — an explosion of ideas and sounds wrapped around familiar instrumentation. Michael will tell the remarkable story of moving to England as a kid, finding music after his mom was deported and how he was taken under the wing of James Brown as a teen. First though, we get started with a live performance from the stage of World Cafe Live.

Edward Norton Shares His Vision For The Music Of 'Motherless Brooklyn'

Nov 1, 2019 960


Motherless Brooklyn' is a new film about a private detective trying to solve a murder in 1950s New York. It's based on a novel by Jonathan Lethem and features an ensemble cast that includes Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe and Edward Norton, who adapted the novel for the big screen. 'Motherless Brooklyn' is film noir with a twist. Norton plays a private detective named Lionel, but not like the kind made famous by Humphrey Bogart or Jack Nicholson. Norton's character has Tourette's syndrome, which means he can't always control what he says out loud. "I really liked the idea of a detective who, at every moment that the smooth-talking tough guy would do a certain thing, this guy does the opposite," Norton says. Music is a big part of 'Motherless Brooklyn', and the film's soundtrack sets the mood with several elements. There's an original score, some classic jazz from Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, as well as a song from Thom Yorke of Radiohead, the band that came to mind when Norton first read the novel in the late 90s. "I had this intuition, this feeling when I was reading this character of Lionel, with his sensitivity but then this incredible jangley dissonance of his Tourettic mind. That was the era of Radiohead [releasing] OK Computer ... I remember having this thought [about] the way Thom Yorke's voice had that longing in it but the music had this wonderful electronic dissonance and fracture. I thought to myself 'That's a great modernist rendition of the way this guy's mind works in 'Motherless Brooklyn'." But Thom Yorke wasn't the only one who helped Norton with the film's music. Norton tapped American virtuoso trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis to help curate the classic jazz songs in 'Motherless Brooklyn' and composer Daniel Pemberton for the original score.

A Taste Of Jonatha Brooke's Favorites

Oct 30, 2019 1708


Jonatha Brooke has released a number of albums over the three decades that she has been making music, but when it came to her latest batch of songs she decided to keep it short and sweet. Instead of a full-length record, she put out an EP called 'Imposter', in which she cherry-picked the five songs she loved most from what she had written since her last album in 2016. Jonatha stopped by to give us a taste of the new music earlier this year. We will talk about the inspiration for the album's title (it may not be what you think) as well as look back at some of what Jonatha has learned over her many years in the music business.

Ranky Tanky Shares The Music Of Gullah

Oct 29, 2019 1089


Ranky Tanky is from Charleston, S.C. and the band's music draws on the culture of slave descendants from Gullah, a region of coastal sea islands that stretches from the southern coast of North Carolina to the northernmost part of Florida. Anchored by the powerful voice of Quiana Parler (who has shared the stage with Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5 and Miranda Lambert), Ranky Tanky showcases some dynamite musicianship. We'll talk about the history of Gullah, the importance of Alan Lomax and some pretty incredible performances starting with "Stand By Me".

Tiny Desk Winner Feels Protective Of His Lauded Song

Oct 28, 2019 1089


My guest today makes some of the most stunning music I've ever heard. It's raw, it's visceral, it's real. Quinn Christopherson hails from Alaska, and even though he's released less than a handful of songs, they've left quite an impression on people. You might know Quinn's name if you're fan of the Tiny Desk Concert series. A Tiny Desk Concert is a big deal. Musicians like Lizzo, Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift and hundreds of others have crowded around the desk of our friend, NPR Music's Bob Boilen, since 2008. And NPR has a contest for up and coming bands to get their chance to perform at Bob's desk. This year, there were over 6000 entries and Quinn won for his moving song, "Erase Me," which is a powerful expression of his experience as a transgender man. Winning the contest brings exposure and attention. We talk about that, and why he made, in my opinion, the wise decision not to perform the song "Erase Me" for us. That's right, he didn't play it! And you'll find his reasoning to be among the most real and honest answers I've heard.

Getting To The United States Wasn't Easy For The Muckers

Oct 25, 2019 1479


Emir Mohseni grew up in Tehran, Iran, loving rock music and wanting to be a musician. Thanks to a musical connection with his friend Tony Azar (who split time between the United States and Iran), The Muckers were born. The only catch? Emir wanted to play his music in America, not Iran. Getting to the United States wasn't easy for Emir, especially as his journey coincided with the implementation of Trump's travel ban in 2017. We'll talk about that intense experience, plus they'll rock out for us, starting with "It's Better Without You.

David Wax Museum Creates A Positive Message From A Difficult Situation

Oct 24, 2019 1550


What happens when your hometown witnesses a seismic social event? David Wax and Suz Slezak, who lead the band David Wax Museum, had to answer that question after the 2017 Unite the Right rally and subsequent counter-protests in the pair's hometown of Charlottesville, Va. made national news. "I think for people who grew up there, we feel like 'Gosh, this does not represent our town at all,' " Suz explains. "But I think that is also a view that has a lot of blinders on it, because this does represent our country." Born out of that experience, the band's latest album, 'Line of Light', is a beautiful record, and you don't have to know its inspiration to appreciate it. David and Suz are two of the most thoughtful musicians you could meet, and they'll talk candidly about creating a positive message from a difficult situation.

Questlove Invites You To A 'Mixtape Potluck'

Oct 23, 2019 2100


Today's show features a true renaissance man: Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. He's the co-founder of the iconic hip-hop band The Roots, the bandleader for 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' and is an author five times over. His latest book is called "Mixtape Potluck". Inspired by the "food salon" dinner parties he throws, the book is a collection of recipes from his friends, including Martha Stewart, Fred Armisen, Amy Poehler and dozens more. Alongside each recipe, Questlove has selected a song to inspire each friend in the kitchen. Quest will take us through some of his musical selections and we'll try to figure out which of his friends' recipes is his favorite. We'll have a lot of laughs, plus a giant surprise that you do not want to miss. Questlove also touches on food's special relationship to the genesis of The Roots' landmark album, 'Things Fall Apart', which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

From North Carolina To Buenos Aires With Che Apalache

Oct 22, 2019 1500


Have you ever felt the urge to drop everything and move, because maybe your hometown leaves you feeling like you can't totally be yourself in some way? The leader of Che Apalache has certainly felt that: Joe Trooper decided when he was in college that he needed to go explore who he was outside of the confines of North Carolina. He went from studying abroad in Spain to immigrating to Argentina. But Joe did bring a piece of home with him — his banjo — and that is how he found his calling in Buenos Aires. Together with three of his former banjo students, Joe started to create music that combines the Latin American influences of his adopted home with the bluegrass he grew up on. The result is entirely unique — so much so that banjo master Béla Fleck decided to produce the group's debut album, 'Rearrange My Heart'. Che Apalache stopped by World Cafe to play a live set in front of an audience. Joe shared his story — what made him leave North Carolina, his life as an American immigrant in Argentina, the beginnings of the band and how he sees the U.S. now that he has spent a decade abroad.

The Hold Steady Are Sleeping Over

Oct 18, 2019 1762


The idea of sleeping on a tour bus, waking up in a different city and playing late night shows to die-hard fans is fun, especially when you're young. When you're a bit older, every night on a tour bus can be tiring instead of enthralling, every new city just as faceless as the last. Enter our old friends, The Hold Steady. Instead of touring traditionally, making that long trek across parts of the country, the band is spending multiple nights in select cities like Chicago, New York and Seattle, bringing a communal vibe to the proceedings. Maybe the next step is a Vegas residency!? In this session, we talk about the benefits of the nontraditional way the band has chosen to record and support their latest studio album, 'Thrashing Thru The Passion', which features Franz Nicolay playing keys on record for the first time since leaving the band back in 2010. We'll hear live recordings featuring Franz and the rest of the band — Bobby Drake, Craig Finn, Tad Kubler, Galen Polivka and Steve Selvidge — and I'll chat with Steve and Craig after we start with a performance of "You Did Good Kid."

How the bird and the bee Reinterpreted Van Halen Classics With No Guitars

Oct 16, 2019 1800


Van Halen is quintessential guitar rock. So what happens when an electronic jazz duo of self-avowed fans take on the band's blistering discography? the bird and the bee's latest album, 'Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen', offers an answer: Though the songs will feel familiar to fans of the guitar rock icons, the arrangements are entirely fresh. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and singer Inara George have done this before with Hall and Oates. But with no guitars in the bird and the bee, Van Halen presents a different type of challenge; ultimately the duo used a creative approach to recreate the melody of some of the greatest rock songs of the late '70s and early '80s. In this session, we'll also talk about the surprising depth in David Lee Roth's lyrics (but maybe not the videos).

Vampire Weekend Hits On Complicated Relationships And Identity

Oct 15, 2019 1431


Today, we've got an interview with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig about the band's latest album, 'Father of the Bride'. "There is something that truly unites all good songwriting," Ezra tells Talia Schlanger. "It's a type of wit, it's a way with words, it's poetry, it's a sense of humor." All of those elements are present on this record: It's an ambitious collection of 18 songs filled with stories about complicated relationships and identity. 'Father of the Bride' is also the first Vampire Weekend record since founding member and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij announced that he was no longer a member of the band back in 2016. Ezra Koenig is joined by some guests on the album, folks like Steve Lacy from the band The Internet and vocalist Danielle Haim (from the eponymous band). The latter starts our session off on the opening track, "Hold You Now," a song inspired, in part, by classic country duets stylized by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn as well as George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Our interview with Ezra Koenig was recorded backstage before a gig at The Mann Music Center in Philadelphia with our former host Talia Schlanger.

Shawn Colvin Goes Acoustic With 'Steady On'

Oct 14, 2019 1813


Shawn Colvin was 32 when she released her debut album, 'Steady On', but she'd already been a musician for more than a decade. The record, which launched Colvin's solo recording career, went on to win a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. These days, she's celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'Steady On' with a new solo acoustic version of the record, with the songs arranged to capture the way she performs them live today. In this session, we'll talk about what the record means to her, why she chose to re-record it and the inspiration behind he her biggest hit, "Sunny Came Home".

Tamino Embraces His Voice And A More Delicate Sound

Oct 11, 2019 1130


There's something striking about Tamino when you meet him. The Egyptian-born, Belgium-raised musician has a calm energy, a measured performance style and, quite frankly, a heavenly voice. Although his vocal instrument has been compared to Jeff Buckley's, Tamino himself identifies more with the music of Chris Cornell. He previously played in a punk band before switching sonic paths and embracing a delicate sound that better suits his voice. Tamino hails from a musical family (his grandfather was a famous Egyptian singer and actor and his parents played music as well) and now he continues that tradition with the deluxe edition of his album 'Amir' coming out October 18. In this session, we discuss the record after starting off with a beautiful performance of "Indigo Night."

Geek Out With 'Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book Of Bass'

Oct 7, 2019 1508


Today we're not worthy: Joining us, it's the legendary Rush frontman and bassist, Geddy Lee. While Rush has retired from touring, Geddy's kept busy, cataloging, photographing and writing about his collection of bass guitars for the almost-encyclopedic "Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass". And it's definitely big and beautiful, featuring hundreds of bass guitars, a whole lot of history and in-depth interviews with guys like Adam Clayton of U2 and Robert Trujillo of Metallica. In this session, step into the limelight as we talk all things bass and geek out with Geddy. Plus, hear songs featuring some of his favorite bass players, including John Entwistle.

Mattiel's 'Satis Factory' Is Delightfully Unique

Oct 2, 2019 1067


There's something delightfully unique about Mattiel's music. A pinch of garage rock, a touch of psychedelia, some galloping honky-tonk and at the lead, Mattiel Brown's powerful and assertive vocals. It's all over her excellent new album, 'Satis Factory'. Mattiel is from Atlanta and if this music thing takes off — which it appears is happening — she's got plans to travel. Where? You'll find out. You'll also find out what the benefit of having a cool day job can be for your rock and roll career.

Raphael Saadiq Sends A Universal Message On 'Jimmy Lee'

Oct 2, 2019 1566


Raphael Saadiq is one of the most accomplished musicians in pop and R&B over the last 30 years. He's also one of the most respected. He fronted Tony! Toni! Toné!, has a successful solo career and he's worked as a composer, producer, bassist and vocalist for folks like Elton John, Kenny G, Solange, Ed Sheeran, John Legend and countless others. Saadiq's latest album, 'Jimmy Lee', is named for his brother who passed away when he was younger. In this session, Saadiq talks about why the record took his brothers name, plus he'll dive into some great stories about playing with Prince, Stevie Wonder and more.

Brittany Howard Is Seamless From The Studio To The Stage

Sep 20, 2019 2126


When you're lucky enough to work at a place where you talk to musicians, you get excited. It's easy to have a good experience talking with the people whose music you enjoy. It's even easier to tell random people how much you enjoyed the company of those musicians and the music they made. The problem, of course, is that it's easy to get hyperbolic and lost in the message. If every artist is the greatest artist that ever came through the doors of World Cafe, then 'great' means very little. So, when I tell you today that you are in for, in my opinion, one of the best performances in this venerable show's history, I am assuredly not being hyperbolic. Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, has just released her debut solo album, 'Jaime', and it's incredible. What's even more amazing are these live performances recorded for the Cafe. For a moment, you may think you're listening to the album. It's just that good.

Talia Schlanger Welcomes New 'World Cafe' Host, Raina Douris

Sep 20, 2019 1025


Earlier this year, World Cafe host Talia Schlanger announced that she is leaving World Cafe in order to pursue new creative endeavors. This week, WXPN announced her successor as Raina Douris, an award-winning radio personality from Toronto, Ontario, coming to WXPN from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she was host and writer for the daily live national program 'Mornings' on CBC Music. Though she is sad to be leaving, Talia is thrilled to be handing the show off to an amazing host who she loves listening to and who she knows you will love, too. Talia's last show as host of World Cafe will be Friday, Sept. 27. We wish her all the best in the future and thank her for all of her amazing work. In this interview, you'll hear Talia welcome Raina to the World Cafe airwaves for the very first time!

Marc Chouarain On Pulling Music Out Of Thin Air

Sep 17, 2019 448


There may be more theremins than pieces of furniture in Marc Chouarain's apartment on the classic Parisian street Rue Montorgeil. The multi-instrumentalist, film composer and rare instrument enthusiast believes he has one of the biggest theremin collections in the world and invited us over to learn about the the very first electronic instrument. The theremin was invented in 1920 by scientist Lev Sergeyevich Termen, also known as Léon Theremin, and was originally used in very serious classical contexts before it came to signify plot twists in sci-fi films. To play the theremin, you don't touch the instrument itself, but rather manipulate the electromagnetic fields it creates. As Marc explains, it's "like pinching a string in the air." While that may sound like magic, it involves an incredible amount of musicality and control, which I learned as Chouarain gave me my first lesson.

Jack White And Brendan Benson On The Raconteurs' Return

Sep 16, 2019 2106


This summer, The Raconteurs released its first new album in 11 years. Called 'Help Us Stranger', it's the crunchy rock and roll manifestation of four musicians with undeniable chemistry — Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. We recently sat down with Jack White and Brendan Benson to talk about their long-standing friendship and mutual admiration. It all began in the late '90s where, before The White Stripes took off, Benson was the first of their peers in the Detroit garage rock scene to get signed to a major record label. Benson shares what happened when he tried to help give White's then-burgeoning band a boost. 'Help Us Stranger' marks the first Raconteurs album recorded at White's studio in Nashville and the band's first since Benson got sober. White discusses reining in his unbridled onstage energy when recording with a band and reflects on his tendency to make jokes that can get him into trouble with the media. White and Benson also share the advice they would give to their younger songwriter selves.

Bruce Hornsby Seeks Out The Strange

Sep 13, 2019 1484


Bruce Hornsby has an appetite for the unusual that may surprise those who know him best for his 1986 smash hit "The Way It Is". His latest album, 'Absolute Zero', has a "bitonal pop song" where Hornsby plays in different keys with each hand. Another song is based on the sounds made by found objects in his studio. The album also features collaborations with artists who are known for pushing boundaries themselves. There's production from Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and contributions from the experimental chamber ensemble yMusic and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. When Hornsby stopped by the Cafe, we talked about his long-standing appreciation for modern classical music, and how film cues he composed for director Spike Lee formed the basis for 'Absolute Zero'. He also shared stories from touring with Grateful Dead along with his theory on what makes them such a beloved band.

Japanese Breakfast Has A Full Plate

Sep 12, 2019 820


Michelle Zauner has an incredibly rich creative life. She makes music as Japanese Breakfast with her collaborator Craig Hendrix, she scores video games, she directs music videos for people like Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst and she's currently writing a book based on 'The New Yorker' essay she wrote called "Crying in H Mart." H Mart is an Asian grocery store chain and it's a place that holds some of Michelle's memories with her Korean mother who died in 2014. Michelle talks about how the loss of her mom informed her own sense of identity as well as her first two Japanese Breakfast albums.

A Trumpet Made Of Bullet Casings

Sep 11, 2019 485


In the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some of the surviving students came together with their parents to form Shine MSD. The organization is devoted to promoting healing through the arts, and their latest project is a trumpet made out of bullet casings that's touring the country. It's called the "Instrument of Hope". In this World Cafe special, we meet Shine co-founders Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña, as well as Josh Landress who created the trumpet at his shop in New York City.

'It Rains Love' On Lee Fields And The Expressions

Sep 10, 2019 1774


You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can sometimes glean a little bit about an artist by the track listing on the cover of their album. Run your finger past the song titles on Lee Fields' latest album, 'It Rains Love' — across "Blessed by the Best," "God Is Real," "Love is the Answer" — and you might rightly guess that Fields is a singer invested in spreading love through soulful music. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first single Fields ever released. He's holding it down in a circle that's getting smaller and smaller. In the last few years, Fields has lost friends and peers like Charles Bradley, who was known as the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," and Sharon Jones, who at one time was Fields' back-up singer. Lee's longtime band, The Expressions, are a who's who of session musicians and sometimes double as The Daptones house band. Fields shares the sage advice he got from legendary preacher and singer Solomon Burke and stories about his early days, including the speakeasy his parents used to run out of their home in North Carolina on weekends.

Ian Noe Reflects On Growing Up In Rural Kentucky

Sep 9, 2019 1274


Ian Noe has an incredible way with words. On his debut album, 'Between The Country', they are not the most uplifting or pleasant. They're a reflection of what he's seen growing up and living in rural Kentucky. The state has had a streak of songwriters that have exploded onto the scene telling tales of their modern America — from Chris Stapleton to Sturgill Simpson — but Noe feels especially raw and visceral, something that acclaimed producer Dave Cobb made sure to keep in the recordings at RCA Studio A.

Craig Finn Is Interested In The High And The Hangover

Sep 6, 2019 1453


Craig Finn is one of the most eloquent storytellers in music. The people at the heart of his songs are filled with emotions and often flaws. As he says, he's interested in the high and the hangover. On his third solo album, 'I Need a New War', the people at the heart of these songs have seen a lot, and unlike some of the characters in his band, The Hold Steady, who embrace the bad decisions, they're trying to do the right thing. How that works out for them? Debatable. But that's the thing about Craig. These songs are nuanced. You'll find yourself laughing with a character in the first verse and on the verge of tears by the last chorus. Craig's got a knack for geography as well, and he'll tell some great stories about touring the country, including one about the most unfriendly bar in Montana.

Black Pumas Make The Perfect Pair

Sep 5, 2019 1762


Grammy Award-winning musician and producer Adrian Quesada was just about to get in the car after having lunch with a producer friend in Austin when he casually tossed out the question, "Oh hey! By the way, do you know anybody who would, like, sing on these songs?" Quesada had been on the hunt for the right voice to bring the soulful sound he heard in his head to life on a new project to no avail, and asked his friend whether any names popped to mind. Quesada's friend asked if he had heard of Austin-by-way-of-LA busker and singer-songwriter Eric Burton? Quesada did some digging and found it was love at first listen. Together they became Black Pumas, a band that caught major buzz at SXSW in 2018, a mere month after its formation. Black Pumas have now released its self-titled full-length debut album. Hear live performances and a conversation with Quesada and Burton about their unique, respective backgrounds, including why Quesada says musicians are the "truck drivers of the art world."

A Hill Country Blues Riff Lesson from Cedric Burnside

Sep 3, 2019 1911


Cedric Burnside is a drummer, guitarist, singer and performer. You can hear all of those elements come together on 'Benton County Relic', his latest album. Burnside grew up in Benton County in rural Mississippi where he was raised by his grandfather, the late bluesman, R.L. Burnside. In this session, Cedric explains how growing up in a very poor environment made him who he is today. Which is why songs like "We Made It" are so personal to him. He'll perform live and also teach a little hill country blues riff.

Mumford And Sons' Ben Lovett Stays Devoted To Shining A Light On Independent Talent

Aug 30, 2019 519


It started with notes scribbled on napkins. Ben Lovett was touring the 2015 album 'Wilder Mind' with his band, Mumford and Sons, and sketching out his dream venue on whatever paper scraps he could. Having previously built his reputation for curation on a club-night-turned-independent-record-label called Communion, Ben wanted to give that spirit a home in the form of a music venue. Ben turned his dream into a reality called Omeara, a 320-capacity venue near London Bridge. On our recent World Cafe trip to London, Ben invited us to come check out Omeara. He showed us around and explained his philosophy on what makes a good venue, which includes dignified accommodations for artists unlike the "toilet touring" he describes experiencing early on in Mumford and Sons' career. Ben also explained how he turned a former railway arch into a completely soundproof space, and why no matter how big things get for Mumford and Sons, he'll always stay devoted to shining a light on independent talent.

Mumford And Sons' Ben Lovett Stays Devoted To Shining A Light On Independent Talent

Aug 30, 2019 519


It started with notes scribbled on napkins. Ben Lovett was touring the 2015 album 'Wilder Mind' with his band, Mumford and Sons, and sketching out his dream venue on whatever paper scraps he could. Having previously built his reputation for curation on a club-night-turned-independent-record-label called Communion, Ben wanted to give that spirit a home in the form of a music venue. Ben turned his dream into a reality called Omeara, a 320-capacity venue near London Bridge. On our recent World Cafe trip to London, Ben invited us to come check out Omeara. He showed us around and explained his philosophy on what makes a good venue, which includes dignified accommodations for artists unlike the "toilet touring" he describes experiencing early on in Mumford and Sons' career. Ben also explained how he turned a former railway arch into a completely soundproof space, and why no matter how big things get for Mumford and Sons, he'll always stay devoted to shining a light on independent talent.

Nile Rodgers On Writing Smash Hits And Reworking David Bowie's 'Let's Dance'

Aug 29, 2019 2566


Nile Rodgers doesn't just enter a room, he glows into it. When we met up at Abbey Road Studios in London, where he is currently the Chief Creative Advisor. He was in between tour dates with CHIC and Cher that extends through the end of the year and he was vibrating with a life force as engaging and relentless as the chugging guitar he's played on some of disco's greatest hits. Calling Rodgers a producer, musician and writer would be like calling Studio 54 a venue. Rodgers and his late collaborator and CHIC band mate Bernard Edwards defined an entire era with huge smashes like "Good Times" and "Le Freak". They wrote "We Are Family" for Sister Sledge and "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross. Rodgers produced Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' album and wrote and played on "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk alongside Pharrell Williams. His latest solo album, 'It's About Time', features cameos by Lady Gaga, Elton John and rings out with the kind of party spirit that's made his music a dance floor staple for four decades. In this session, Rodgers tells the wild story of completely transforming David Bowie's original idea for a song called "Let's Dance" into the massive 1983 hit we know. He also plays us the very rare demo of the first time Bowie ever sang "Let's Dance" with a full band to Rodgers' new arrangement. Plus, Rodgers reflects on the night he almost died of a bad reaction to cocaine and shares what it's been like to have a hand in so many hits.

Ibibio Sound Machine Takes Us Around The World Without Leaving London

Aug 28, 2019 1631


British-born singer Eno Williams grew up in Nigeria, where her family passed on storytelling traditions in the Ibibio language. Eno's grandmother used to tease her, saying, "You always sing in English, when are you going to sing in Ibibio?" When Eno eventually came around to the idea, she noticed that the rhythms and melodies inherent in the language made it a perfect fit for songwriting. Now, in Ibibio Sound Machine, Eno fuses the language of her roots with the musical roots of her bandmates, who hail from Ghana, Trinidad, Australia and Brazil. Ibibio Sound Machine's music — and its very existence — is a unique testament to the global city where the members came together; London. We meet the band at the Pool Recording Studio in London to hear live performances of songs from its latest album, 'Doko Mien'.

A Day In The Life Of The Beatles Brain Of Britain

Aug 27, 2019 1631


Since the '90s, Richard Porter has been zipping around London showing Beatles fans all the band's most famous hot-spots and regaling them with deep dive stories about the Fab Four. He's even earned the title "Beatles Brain of Britain." In this special dispatch from our recent World Cafe trip to London, Porter shows us the Abbey Road crosswalk where The Beatles shot its iconic album cover. It's now a tourist attraction where people risk life and limb to recreate the photo while cars zoom by. We visit Montagu Square where Paul McCartney worked on the song "Eleanor Rigby," hear the tale of John Lennon's dramatic drug bust and Porter lets us in on which Beatles song was inspired by an incessant car alarm. And we make it to 3 Savile Row where The Beatles gave its last public performance up on the roof. Hop along on our Beatles tour in the gallery and player.

Jimi Hendrix And George Frideric Handel Were Neighbors Across The Centuries

Aug 26, 2019 585


If 1960s rock icon Jimi Hendrix and 18th century composer George Frideric Handel were alive at the same time, they would have been next door neighbors in London. Handel moved into 25 Brook Street in 1723, Hendrix moved in to 23 Brook Street in 1968, and today we take a peek inside the "Handel & Hendrix in London" which exists at that very site and features recreations of each musician's flat. We walk across the creaky floorboards in the room where Handel composed his masterpiece oratorio "Messiah," stare at ourselves in the mirror Jimi Hendrix actually used and learn a lot about the surprising connections between two of the most influential musicians of their respective eras.

T Bone Burnett On Producing Legends And Singing His Own Tunes

Aug 14, 2019 1753


Record producer T Bone Burnett has worked with legendary artists including Bob Dylan, Brandi Carlile, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Elton John, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. He's also produced soundtracks for films like 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and 'Crazy Heart'. And although T Bone says he never really needed to be a public performer himself, at this point in his life, he has some things he really wants to say. T Bone has collected some of his thoughts on a solo album called 'The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space', which came out in the spring. It's his first new solo album in 11 years. T Bone shares insights about his own writing process which begins in the wee hours of the morning, and tells stories from his vantage point behind the recording studio glass.

Shovels & Rope Celebrates A New Album, New Baby, A New Book And A Festival

Aug 12, 2019 1637


Shovels & Rope's latest album is called 'By Blood' and it resonates out into all of their work. Of course, the duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are partners, musically and in life. They recently celebrated the birth of their second child, which means the family now is four strong on the road. They've got a whole heck of a lot of extended family in Charleston, S.C., as evident from the High Water Festival, a celebration of music, food and libations they've curated since 2017 (and had some incredible guests, like Jason Isbell, Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers and more.) Later this year, they'll add their first children's book to their credit, introducing a whole new group of young ones to their remarkable storytelling prowess. Oh, and they're a joy to speak with. Trent and Hearst talk about all of those things and we'll hip you to the best possible meal you could eat if you visited them. Not to mention fantastic live performances, including the first track from the pair's excellent album, "I'm Coming Out", which starts off this session.

Pure Bathing Culture Overcomes Adversity On 'Night Pass'

Aug 9, 2019 858


Working towards your goals often involves overcoming adversity. It's on every motivational poster out there. Daniel and Sarah, the duo that is Pure Bathing Culture know this well. The band had released two albums and had built up a loyal and loving fan base, but then the Portland band was dropped from its label and lost its support team as well. Instead of packing up their musical wares and calling it a day, Daniel and Sarah responded with arguably their strongest work yet. It's called 'Night Pass', and if you listen closely, you'll hear some of the duo's real-life struggles being portrayed via these beautiful and lush songs. You can feel PBC's energy on stage, their commitment and love of music reaffirmed.

Tim Baker's Big-Hearted Solo Debut

Aug 5, 2019 1518


For more than a decade, Tim Baker led the beloved Hey Rosetta! Then the Canadian band decided to take an indefinite hiatus, and Tim moved from his home on the East Coast island of Newfoundland to the sprawling major metropolis of Toronto. Tim talks about how he turned all that life change into a big-hearted debut solo album called 'Forever Overhead' and he performs live.

Perry Farrell Talks Motivation For 'Kind Heaven'

Aug 1, 2019 1406


Lollapalooza is happening this weekend in Chicago and when you think of the giant festival, I hope you think of the man who started it all, Perry Farrell. The charismatic singer has been as successful on stage as he is off, creating Jane's Addiction, not to mention Porno for Pyros. His latest project is Perry Ferrell's Kind Heaven. What is that? It's a band that includes his wife, Etty Lau. It's also a venue in Las Vegas that in 2020 that offers a one of a kind experience. I'll let Perry explain - he's good at that. We talk about Ferrell's motivations for his 'Kind Heaven' project, a little Jane's Addiction history and what it's like to turn 60. First, we get started with "Machine Girl," a track from 'Kind Heaven'.

"Here Is Not Yemen": A-WA Shares Their Great-Grandmother's Refugee Story

Jul 31, 2019 1602


Tair, Liron, and Tagel Haim are three sisters who record as A-WA. They are Arab Jews who live in Israel and spread the Yemeni folk traditions of their heritage around the world through electronic music. On the group's latest album, 'Bayti Fi Rasi', the sisters tell the story of their great-grandmother, Rachel, who fled Yemen and arrived in Israel as a refugee as part of Operation Magic Carpet in 1949. Many of the songs, like "Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman" (meaning "Here Is Not Yemen") address the difficulties Rachel faced on both sides of her journey as a refugee. The sisters dropped by World Cafe to perform inviting and unique songs from 'Batyi Fi Rasi', and to talk about their own journey as musicians from a small desert village in Israel to the international stage.

Molly Burch Isn't Just A Voice. She's Got The Songwriting Chops To Back It Up

Jul 30, 2019 1393


I don't know how to describe what the word smoky means in singing, but I think you know it when you hear it. My guest, Molly Burch, has it in spades. It's no surprise she's a classically-trained jazz vocalist, going to school for it at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, N.C. She's not just a voice though, she's got the songwriting chops to back it up and is not afraid to comment on the sexism she's seen working as a musician. As a working musician, Burch has been busy as of late. She just announced a 7-inch, 'Ballads'. But when she stopped by the World Cafe, it was to discuss her most recent full-length album, 'First Flower'.

Camp Cope Sings It Like They See It

Jul 26, 2019 1300


The three members of Australian band Camp Cope have fearlessly called out sexism in the music industry and they've led campaigns to make music festivals and shows safer, more inclusive spaces. The band's song "The Face of God" deals with sexual assault in a direct way and addresses a central question: 'Why do we let good musicians get away with bad behavior?' Camp Cope performs that song and lead singer Georgia "Maq" McDonald explains why she's sick of talking about it. Drummer Sarah Thompson, a.k.a. "Thomo," shares the unique predicaments she's found herself in as both a band member and the band's manager. And bassist Kelly-Dawn "Kelso" Hellmrich describes her unusual and very cool approach to following vocals rather than drums for her basslines.

Is Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram The Future Of Blues Music?

Jul 25, 2019 1444


Nobody can see the future. People can get really good at guessing, sure, but to predict what's going to happen next is hard. So it's tough when a magazine like Rolling Stone calls you the "future of blues music." Thankfully, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram has absolutely the right mentality for a moniker like that, mainly because he doesn't pay it much mind. Ingram is an absolute beast of a guitar player. He's impressed a lot of different people over the years, including Buddy Guy, who appears on his debut album, 'Kingfish'. Having co-signs from folks like Bootsy Collins and Dave Grohl doesn't hurt either. Ingram is down to earth, warm and the type of guy with whom you'd want to trade music stories. Our session start with a live performance of a song from 'Kingfish', "Outside Of This Town".

Firefly Folk By Caamp

Jul 23, 2019 1642


We're in a hammock state of mind with CAAMP! The band was formed in Athens, Ohio by old friends Taylor Meier, who sings and plays guitar, and banjo player Evan Westfall. They later added bass player Matt Vinson. Since the band's humble beginnings playing for "free beer and a couple folks who would enjoy a guitar-banjo tune," as Meier says, CAAMP has managed to charm festival-goers and captivate late night crowds across the country. It has also racked up tens of millions of spins on Spotify, while managing to maintain the humble spirit that united the members in the first place. Hear CAAMP perform songs from their latest album, 'By And By'.

The Black Keys Are Back

Jul 19, 2019 2034


When I spoke to Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney about their new album, 'Let's Rock!', as The Black Keys, they joked around about themselves a lot. They told me about sliding down firepoles, wearing pastels and writing lyrics by Ouija board. But they were dead serious about one thing — the aversion to travel they both developed after years and years of exhausting tours. The week before we spoke, Dan was supposed to leave Nashville for a weekend of fun in New York. He told me, "I boarded a plane and then walked off of it ... 'cause I didn't want to leave home." Since The Black Keys' 2001 debut, the band cranked out albums consistently every year or two, and so it's easy to understand why Dan and Patrick would have needed to take a hiatus after touring their 2014 album, 'Turn Blue'. It's also easy to understand why a five-year gap between albums had some fans worried about the possibility of new music and about Dan and Patrick's relationship. But as the guys explain, they just needed to get out of each other's hair for a bit before returning to the brotherly chemistry that has defined The Black Keys' career.

A Special Slice Of New Orleans: King James And The Special Men

Jul 15, 2019 1798


Jimmy Horn was on a road trip with a friend as a teenager when their car broke down in New Orleans. Jimmy's first thought? "I felt like I was born to be here." So he never left. Since then, Jimmy has devoted his life to studying, playing and sharing the music of The Big Easy. Jimmy leads a band called King James and the Special Men and he started a record label called Special Man Industries. Over the past year, the band released a string of singles featuring local legends like Alynda Segarra of Hurray For The Riff Raff, Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Leyla McCalla of Carolina Chocolate Drops. Hear Alynda and Leyla join King James and the Special Men for live performances recorded at the Saturn Bar, and a conversation with Jimmy about all things New Orleans.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela Find Inner Peace With 'Mettavolution'

Jul 11, 2019 1680


The first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela, the pair was covering Metallica's "Orion." It's a beautiful composition, but what I couldn't wrap my head around was that this dense, majestic instrumental was being played by only two acoustic guitars. Rod and Gab are known for their incredible live shows. Having busked and played throughout Ireland for almost a decade before becoming international sensations, the singers have continuously played the world over. The duo's latest album is 'Mettavolution'. "Metta" is the Sanskrit word for compassion. Today, we'll talk about how the members convey that message through their music, and why they chose to cover a legendary Pink Floyd song, one that happens to be 18 minutes long.

Molly Tuttle Plays A Mean Guitar On 'When You're Ready'

Jul 8, 2019 2560


Watching Molly Tuttle's fingers fly across a guitar with dizzying speed and graceful precision is nothing short of remarkable. It's no wonder she won International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitar Player of the Year award twice in a row (after becoming the first woman to even be nominated in that category in the award's then-27-year-history.) Molly stopped by World Cafe to perform songs from her full-length debut album, 'When You're Ready'. She demonstrated some different guitar playing styles like flat picking, finger picking and claw-hammer. She also shared what it was like to start losing her hair at 3 years old to alopecia and why it's important to her to talk about her experience with the autoimmune disease.

Ben Dickey Lives On The 'Outskirts' And Takes A Star-Making Turn

Jun 26, 2019 1803


Meeting Ben Dickey is like running into an old friend you haven't seen in a while, but you're thrilled to see them. It was a joy to speak with the roots singer-songwriter when he visited the World Cafe Studio to play songs from his sophomore solo record, 'A Glimmer On The Outskirts', not just about the album, but also about his potential star-making turn as Blaze Foley in the Ethan Hawke-directed biopic, 'Blaze'. And that's not just my opinion. He picked up a special jury prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival for the performance, too. In this session, Dickey talks about his latest album, how he ended up starring in the movie, and why Blaze Foley should be remembered.

Johnathan Rice's 'The Long Game' Is Not Quite A Breakup Record

Jun 24, 2019 1740


Johnathan Rice rolled in the door and right away I knew I was going to enjoy chatting with him. He arrived as a party of one, with merch in a carry-on bag in one hand, and a guitar case in the other. Normally, there's a manager, a sound person, or label folk shepherding. But this time, it was just Rice and a rental car touring the Northeast. The Scottish-American Rice has been performing for over 15 years, and for many of those years, he was in a relationship with Jenny Lewis, even co-releasing an album as 'Jenny and Johnny'. They're no longer a couple, and his latest album, 'The Long Game', is a partial reflection on that relationship, but it's not quite a breakup record. Rice will talk about that reflection, advice from Bill Murray and tricking your audience into listening to poetry.

Willie Nelson On Cowboys, 'Crazy' and Cannabis

Jun 21, 2019 1988


It's been about a year since World Cafe caught up with Willie Nelson, and he's been busy! Willie just released his latest album called 'Ride Me Back Home', made with his producer-collaborator Buddy Cannon. In February, Willie won a Grammy Award for his Frank Sinatra tribute album 'My Way'. And he's recently expanded his health-and-wellness brand Willie's Remedy to include new CBD-infused coffee. In this session, Willie tells stories about some new songs and some classics, including "Crazy." He reminisces about hanging in Amsterdam with Snoop Dogg, visiting The White House with President Carter and meeting his wife, Annie, on the set of a movie he was shooting with his fellow Highwaymen. We also got to meet some of Willie's crew backstage before the show, including "Tunin'" Tom Hawkins who takes care of Willie's famous guitar, Trigger, on the road.

The Cactus Blossoms Go From A Fictional Bar To The Studio With Dan Auerbach

Jun 20, 2019 1214


Page Burkum and Jack Torrey a.k.a. The Cactus Blossoms are brothers, but their vocal talents aren't just simply a case of sibling harmonies. They didn't start singing together until their 30s. So much for a lifetime of practice with one another! Burkum and Torrey can sing, but they can play and write beautiful songs, too. They have caught the attention of David Lynch, who invited the gents to play the fictional bar, The Roadhouse, in the last season of Twin Peaks. Then there's Dan Auerbach, who reached out to the band and ended up co-writing some songs that appear on 'Easy Way', the duo's latest album.

Marissa Nadler Lends Out Her Trademark Haunting Vocals

Jun 19, 2019 1474


Boston-based singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler has been making old school country with a twist since 2004, but that twist has turned in many directions since then. It's led to her lending those trademark "haunting vocals" to metal bands, recording several albums of covers and opening up for Swedish hard rock band Ghost. In this session, Nadler talks about why she's a fan of harmonizing with women (her latest record 'For My Crimes' features vocals from Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol and Sharon Van Etten, among others), becoming more involved with producing and what it was like to play to a bunch of metal fans.

Greensky Bluegrass Mix The Energy Of Stadium Rock With The Spirit Of Jam Bands

Jun 17, 2019 2544


The first thing people usually say about Greensky Bluegrass is that the band's live shows are just wild. The members mix the energy of stadium rock with the spirit of jam bands, and they play bluegrass instruments, like banjo, mandolin and dobro through a surprisingly psychedelic set of effects pedals. The band recently dropped by to bring the feel of a midsummer music festival to World Cafe, performing songs from their latest album, 'All for Money'.

Worlds Colliding: Rhiannon Giddens And Francesco Turrisi

Jun 14, 2019 1920


Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi are both gifted multi-instrumentalists and devoted students of music history. Each has dug into the past to illuminate the present and worked to give credit where credit is due for the way instruments and ideas have moved over time between people and places. While Rhiannon's work has focused on the influence of African traditions on what we think of as American music, Francesco is an expert in the often unacknowledged influence of Arabic and Middle Eastern music on what we think of as European sound. They found common ground in their quest to dispel false cultural narratives and turned it into gorgeous music on a new collaborative album called 'there is no Other'.

Ace Of Cups' Endless Summer Of Love

Jun 14, 2019 1920


The members Ace of Cups came together in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood around the Summer of Love in the late 1960s. They lived down the street from the Grateful Dead, built up a following and shared the stage (and their gear) with Jimi Hendrix the week after he played the Monterey Pop Festival. Although there were female-fronted acts like Jefferson Airplane and singers like Janis Joplin on the scene at the time, Ace of Cups was a shock to the '60s system as an all-female rock band whose members played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Despite being poised for superstardom, things didn't quite work out for Ace of Cups back then. But this past November, more than 50 years after getting together, the band released its full-length debut studio album. Original members Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson, and Diane Vitalich dropped by World Cafe along with touring keyboard player Giovanna Imbesi to perform live and share stories about Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, the Summer of Love and their lives since then.

Hayes Carll Tells Stories That Reflect The World Around Him

Jun 12, 2019 2035


Hayes Carll has been making music for nearly two decades. Early on, he focused more on telling other people's stories than his own. Now, Carll has a really sweet collection of new songs called 'What It Is', where the roots rocker from Texas applies his keen eye for detail and humor to tell stories that reflect the world all around him — inside him and beside him. Carll's partner, musician Allison Moorer, played a big part in the making of the album. She co-wrote several songs and co-produced the record along with Brad Jones. Moorer talks about watching Carll transform as a songwriter, and the two share what it was like to both put out records based on their respective divorces around the same time before they fell in love.

Lizzo Is In The Eye Of A Superstar Storm

Jun 11, 2019 2049


The night before Lizzo swooped off a 5 a.m. flight and into World Cafe, her colossal album 'Cuz I Love You' made her the highest streaming artist on Spotify. She had just been nominated for a BET Award in the category of best female hip-hop artist alongside Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. She was right in the eye of a superstar storm, and she wasn't afraid to talk about the challenges that come alongside all the good bits of achieving her dreams. In Lizzo's words, "If I had to be fake during all this press and all of this work, I think that it would eat me alive." Lizzo is a singer, writer, rapper, producer and classically trained flute player who has been training and working towards this incredible moment for a long time. We talked about the inspiration she drew from Aretha Franklin, what it was like for her to record with Prince when she was rapping in Minneapolis and the making of her major label full length debut (albeit her third studio album) 'Cuz I Love You'. You can hear it all in the player, read selected highlights below and watch acoustic versions of "Cuz I Love You" and "Juice."

Norah Jones Turns Fame Into Freedom

Jun 6, 2019 1415


Just over a minute into her new collection of singles, 'Being Again', Norah Jones declares "I will rise." Her vocal power is arresting and floats over heartbeat percussion and ambient piano. It's unlike anything we've heard from Jones before, which is saying a lot given the many facets of musical exploration she's pursued since breaking out with her 2002 debut, 'Come Away With Me'. While some artists who have that kind of explosive fame early on seem intimidated by trying to outdo their own commercial success, or trapped by what people expect from them afterwards, Jones has managed to do something brilliant and far too rare — she's used her fame to carve out the exact career that she wants, where she's guided purely by exploring her own musical interests. Whether that means making an Everly Brothers cover album with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, fronting a country classic tribute band The Little Willies, or collaborating with anyone from Dolly Parton to Danger Mouse. Or, in the case of her latest release, 'Begin Again', ditching the album format in favor of a collection of seven singles that would allow her to sprawl out musically without being bound by an expectation of a unifying theme. We spoke about creative freedom, personal privacy and luck. Jones shared why she doesn't talk to her audience in between songs on stage, why she prefers a rowdy crowd and what it was like to bond with Sharon Van Etten over being a touring parent.

From Bluegrass to Newgrass: The Story Of Sam Bush

Jun 6, 2019 1584


Musical pioneer and mandolin star Sam Bush is the subject of a documentary called 'Revival: The Sam Bush Story', which traces Sam's musical trajectory from a kid who grew up on country and bluegrass in Kentucky to one of the founders of the band New Grass Revival to one of the key influencers in modern Americana. The film features friends and admirers like Bela Fleck, Emmy Lou Harris, Chris Thile of The Punch Brothers, Allison Krauss and The Avett Brothers who all reflect on the musical trails Bush blazed. Bush drops by World Cafe to reflect on mashing the improvisational spirit of jazz, the late-night sprawling sensibilities of jam bands and even the influence of reggae with the roots of bluegrass and country.

Ryan Bingham's Rugged And Raw 'American Love Song'

Jun 3, 2019 3817


Many of Ryan Bingham's life stories sound like country songs in and of themselves. Bingham was raised between New Mexico, California and Texas. His family moved around a lot when he was growing up as his dad struggled to find work. Bingham left home at 17 to ride in the rodeo before picking up the guitar. And some of his biggest career highs have come crashing into some of his life's lows. In the same year the artist won an Oscar for co-writing a song inspired by his father for the film Crazy Heart, he lost his father to suicide. On his latest album, 'American Love Song', Bingham offers rugged, raw and tenderhearted reflections on the state of the world and his own personal history.

Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion

May 21, 2019 476


Fifty years ago, the band Nat Turner Rebellion made a funky album in Philadelphia that could have been a total classic. The band had a record deal, fans and, according to founder Joe Jefferson the members were "crowd killers." But then, it all fell apart and the album has been pretty much buried in audio archives — until now. Nat Turner Rebellion's debut, 'Laugh to Keep from Crying', was recently released for the first time. We heard the story of Nat Turner Rebellion on WHYY, our fellow public radio station here in Philadelphia where we make World Cafe, and we really wanted to share it with you on the Cafe. The story is told by WHYY arts reporter Peter Crimmins, listen in the player.

Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)

May 20, 2019 2859


The songs on Yola's debut full-length solo album, 'Walk Through Fire', ring out with the triumphant air of someone who has withstood the flames and the heat en route to achieving their dreams. The title is a metaphor for some of the tribulations Yola has faced – including experiencing homelessness in London, and enduring an emotionally abusive relationship. The title is also a nod to the time Yola's dress literally caught fire a few years ago, and sent her house up in flames. Yola shares stories about some of the lows and some of the highs she has experienced – including performing with Massive Attack in front of 60,000 people at Glastonbury. Yola says many people who hear her story call her a "strong black woman," and she explains why that isn't the most welcome or useful reaction. 'Walk Through Fire' was produced by Dan Auerbach, and Yola joins us to perform from Dan's Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.

George Benson Has A Story To Tell

May 15, 2019 1811


When Warner Bros. heard George Benson's take on "This Masquerade," they didn't realize he was the vocalist. It's one of the many amazing tales Benson shares with us on World Cafe. Benson's latest album is 'Walking to New Orleans', a tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Benson is one of America's great guitarists, a virtuoso who's been honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a jazz master. He's won 10 Grammys, including record of the year for his triple platinum 'Breezin". He's worked with countless musicians of note, and you'll hear about a lot of them in this session. Sure, the stories are amazing, but his delivery makes it even better.

Pedro The Lion's Homecoming

May 10, 2019 1647


David Bazan has been releasing solo records steadily for the past decade, but 'Phoenix' marks his first album returning as Pedro the Lion in 15 years. The record was inspired by Phoenix, Arizona, where Bazan lived until he was 12 years old. Phoenix is also the place where he says he first "got into debt" with himself, a phrase Bazan uses to describe bottling up feelings over time. The album houses many of Bazan's childhood memories and stunning moments of personal poetry reflected through the experience of adulthood. Bazan shares some of the stories that inspired his new songs and reflects on his relationship with religion, including how his daughter's birth caused him to grapple with the Evangelical Christian faith he grew up with.

Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues

May 8, 2019 1752


As you may guess from the title of her third solo album, Leyla McCalla tackles social and economic issues pretty directly on 'The Capitalist Blues'. The multi-instrumentalist and Carolina Chocolate Drops alumna sings about everything from injustice and poverty to her daughter's experience with elevated levels of lead. And although the topics are heavy, the music is danceable — a treatment informed by the troubadour traditions of McCalla's Haitian roots and the Cajun and Zydeco traditions of her adopted home in New Orleans. In this session, McCalla talks about her parents' work as Haitian human rights activists and how the history of her people and the attitudes of her parents inspired her to tackle social issues through art. And McCalla performs live.

Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes

May 7, 2019 1760


Foals' latest album, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1', came out in March. 'Part 2' comes out in the fall. The band has been releasing stadium-sized songs for just over a decade, and this time around, it made a couple changes in pursuit of ultimate creative freedom. The members of Foals produced the albums themselves. They tried to avoid narrowing down song structures too early in the process and they built the music in studio from the ground up. That meant once the music was recorded, lead singer and guitarist Yannis Philippakis was left alone to finish lyrics in a dark studio in South London. We talked about how that worked out and what drummer Jack Bevan was up to while Yannis was writing away. Hint: It involved a bike, a lake and France. This is Foals' first album without Walter, their longtime bassist. In this session, you're going to hear Yannis and Jack along with Edwin on Keys and Jimmy on guitar, on some live recordings they did for World Cafe. On 'Part 1', the British band really leans into the stranger side of stadium-sized songwriting. We hear live performances and "making of" stories, including lead singer Yannis' routine of writing lyrics at night while drinking at the pub, and drummer Jack Bevan's journey cycling around lakes in France.

With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over

May 6, 2019 932


The Beths are a rising band in the indie-pop scene, and yes, there is an Elizabeth leading the band. There is also a Jonathan, a Benjamin, and for today's session, a Trystan, for those of you wondering where the harmonies are coming from in this mini-concert. The members of The Beths were studying jazz at Auckland University when they founded the band in 2015. Since releasing their debut EP, 'Warm Blood', the group has attracted much attention and praise, including opening up for Death Cab For Cutie and playing SXSW. Last year, The Beths released their full-length debut, 'Future Me Hates Me'. Despite it's big pop sound on the record, lead singer Liz Stokes can catch you off-guard with a turn of phrase or dig at emotional insecurity with her delivery. You'll hear it all over 'Future Me Hates Me'. Future you will not regret hearing this session though.

Catching Up With Citizen Cope

May 3, 2019 1827


I asked Clarence Greenwood what his 8-year-old daughter thought of his job as a professional musician. He said, "When she was really young, she asked one of her mom's friends why do people stop her daddy?" The joys of parenthood. It's one of many things that's kept Greenwood, better known by his stage name, Citizen Cope, busy over the last seven years. That's the last time he released an album, 2012's 'One Lovely Day'. Cope has always done things his own way, like abandoning major labels in 2010 to found Rainwater Recordings. His latest release is the curiously-titled 'Heroin and Helicopters' and yes, he'll explain the meaning behind that name. The album contains Cope's signature mix of blues, soul and roots music, along with socially conscious lyrics.

Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul

May 1, 2019 1790


Patty Griffin had written only one song for a new album when her breast cancer diagnosis changed everything. The drugs and radiation she took in were so physically depleting that she lost her voice. And although Patty's had a long career in music that includes winning a Grammy, she was left wondering whether she should continue making music at all. Patty wrote songs throughout her cancer treatment and, after getting her voice back, returned to the studio to record them. The result was a self-titled album that was released on March 8. In this session, you'll hear Patty perform some of those songs and we'll talk about the deep reflections and soul-searching they contain, including her choice to focus on her career instead of settling down and having children and how confronting mortality made her question whether she had done enough in her life. We also talk about Patty's childhood in Maine and how waitressing helped her overcome being shy.

The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan

Apr 26, 2019 1108


The Cranberries were one of the most successful groups to emerge from Ireland. The members, Dolores O'Riordan as lead vocalist, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler, were in the studio working on what is now their final studio album when vocalist, O'Riordan died suddenly in January 2018. The band, with the blessing of the O'Riordan family, completed the record as a testament to the work of all members. "You know, she had been recently divorced and she had, you know, been diagnosed with bipolar," Noel Hogan, co-founder of The Cranberries, says. "It just seemed very unfair that when somebody has been through all of this and then had come out the other side, that something like this would happen them. And that's why I think we are really happy that we finished this album for her." Noel Hogan and Fergal Lawler are my guests in this session. We talk about why The Cranberries' music resonated so strongly with fans and celebrate the life of Dolores.

Anna Tivel's Songs Are Mini Movies With Unlikely Stars

Apr 26, 2019 1952


On her wonderful new album 'The Question', Anna Tivel zooms in on the kinds of people who don't usually get the red carpet treatment and makes them the stars of her songs. From the janitor sweeping up garbage at the theater late at night to a mother experiencing homelessness, Tivel's characters are so vivid and nuanced that each song could sustain its own feature film. By the end of any given tune, you care deeply about the subject and the singer. Tivel is based in Portland, Oregon, where she works with the local independent Fluff and Gravy Records. She shares why she's so attracted to telling small stories, and how she's built beds and homes in vans and trailers to allow her the solitude and frugality an artist's life often requires. Tivel also stuns with solo performances on acoustic guitar.

Bob Mould Reflects On Albums He Loved As A Youth With 'Sunshine Rock'

Apr 23, 2019 2104


We welcome back an influential and iconic musician to the punk and hardcore scene, Bob Mould. Blazing trails in the '80s with Hüsker Dü, in the '90s with Sugar and for the last 25 years, Mould has even had a successful solo career. His latest album, 'Sunshine Rock', is an intentional look away from the politics of now and instead a look back to the albums he love as a youth. He'll talk about all of that and perform songs from different stages of his career in this session.

Good Times With Guster!

Apr 22, 2019 2118


Guster's latest album, 'Look Alive', is a trippy and textured twist on everything you might already love about the band. Lead singer Ryan Miller and drummer Brian Rosenworcel dropped by to talk about the making of the album, which included three producers, Leo Abrahams, John Congleton and Collin DuPuis, as well as a very fruitful visit to synthesizer and keyboard heaven, a.k.a. Canada's National Music Centre. Ryan and Brian muse about the Leonard Cohen vs. Bob Dylan philosophies of music-making, and how after 27 years the members of Guster managed to still surprise their fans, and themselves, with this album. And we take an adventurous trip down memory lane reading from the tour blog Brian has been keeping since 1999.

Josh Ritter Performs Stripped Down Versions of 'Fever Breaks'

Apr 19, 2019 3128


Twenty years into his career, it's safe to say Josh Ritter is a master songwriter and musician. But while making his latest album, 'Fever Breaks', he felt nervous. Ritter had been making music with generally the same small group of people, The Royal City Band, for most of his career. But this time, he decided to switch it up and have his friend and fellow songwriter Jason Isbell produce the new record. Isbell brought his band the 400 Unit on board, and they headed to the legendary RCA Studio A. That's when the nerves really hit. But, as Ritter explains, "I realized that being afraid in this moment with my songs and nervous about where they should go and how they should is the right thing — this is what I got into this for." 'Fever Breaks' comes out April 26, but in this special session in front of a live audience, Josh Ritter performs stripped-down acoustic versions of his songs just like he did for Isbell and Amanda Shires on their Nashville porch when they were first deciding to work together. Ritter explains how they turned those sessions into the album versions we hear on 'Fever Breaks' and shares a full-circle story about his long musical relationship with Joan Baez and the beautiful, new song it led to. Plus, we talk about his family: Ritter is now a father of two, having adopted his youngest daughter through Wide Horizons for Children.

Persian Musicians And A Parisian Monastery: Making Glen Hansard's 'This Wild Willing'

Apr 15, 2019 1755


Glen Hansard has a new album, but not the album he initially intended on making. Glen wrote much of the album while staying at a monastery in Paris. The record, titled 'This Wild Willing', was initially supposed to be a simple, acoustic album. But, that changed after a chance jam session with Persian musicians. "It just completely opened my mind to a new thought process," Glen says. "And I asked them instinctively would they be interested in coming to the studio with me to do some improvising and they agreed and I called David, the producer, the next day and I said 'Look, the record is going to take a turn." It did. Glen will also talk about honoring Joni Mitchell, covering Van the Man, and recording with Steve Albini.

Nilüfer Yanya Has A Very Cool Voice

Apr 8, 2019 1556


Rising star Nilüfer Yanya caught so much well-deserved buzz with her first two EPs, it was difficult for her to carve out time to write a full-length debut album. But the Londoner has done it, and her debut, 'Miss Universe', out now, shows off the catchy melodies and grounded guitar playing that first earned Yanya attention, not to mention her unique and stunning voice. Yanya has been writing songs since she was a kid and she explains how an early guitar teacher helped her find the courage to actually sing the songs she was writing herself. She also performs live in-studio with her band.

Cautious Clay's Bold Leap

Apr 5, 2019 1682


Cautious Clay makes magnetic and cool R&B that features his honeyed voice and his skills on the saxophone. The first instrument he picked up as a kid was the flute, all thanks to a case of mistaken instrument identity that involves the movie "Aladdin". In this session, Joshua Karpeh, who records as Cautious Clay, shares that story, reflects on his decision to leave real estate to pursue music full time, and explains how being raised by a single mom who made her own bold career change when he was growing up inspired Karpeh to take the leap. We talk about some of the exciting opportunities Karpeh has scored, including working with John Mayer out in LA and have his music featured in Issa Rae's HBO show "Insecure". And he delights with live performances from his latest EP, "Table of Context".

The Suitcase Junket Is A Master Of Musical Imagination

Apr 3, 2019 1663


Dried animal bones, thrift store cutlery, gas cans, baby shoes and yes, a suitcase. Matt Lorenz, who records as The Suitcase Junket, has turned all these found objects and more into a one-man band setup unlike anything we've ever seen. In this unusual session, Lorenz explains how it all works and performs songs from his album, 'Mean Dog Trampoline', which comes out April 5 and features lyrics just as creative and unique as the instruments he plays. Lorenz also shares how he pulls songs out of a once-moldy guitar that he rescued from a dumpster and gives us a lesson in the ancient technique of throat singing, which allows the vocalist to make more than one pitch at a time.

Jenny Lewis Finds A "Beautiful Funky Way To Grieve"

Mar 29, 2019 3313


Jenny Lewis' new album 'On the Line' is an amazing feat of songwriting. She paints vivid and memorable pictures, from guardian angels with stethoscopes to a narcoleptic poet, Paxil to poppies. The rewards grow bigger with every listen, and a detail that made you laugh the first time might make you tearful the next. Her hooks are surprising and unforgettable, her vocals are warm and it's all absolutely epic without being overdone. Lewis began writing these songs after a significant breakup with her longtime partner. And she continued working on them through the death of her mother, whose struggles with addiction made their relationship complicated. She calls the song "Little White Dove," written about her time with her mother in the hospital, a "beautiful, funky way to grieve." Here, Jenny Lewis shares the stories of how Ringo Starr ended up playing on a couple of songs for 'On the Line', working with producers Beck and Ryan Adams and responding to questions about Adams since allegations of the artist harassing other women became public. Plus, she performs powerful live renditions of some of her new songs.

Karl Denson Talks 'Gnomes And Badgers'

Mar 27, 2019 1096


Karl Denson has one of the coolest side gigs in the world. In 2015, he took over for Bobby Keys as the saxophonist for The Rolling Stones. In his day job however, he's the leader of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, a fusion of funk, jazz, soul, and rock. He also co-founded the Greyboy Allstars and got his start on 'Let Love Rule' from Lenny Kravitz. Karl is here on World Cafe to talk about his latest album 'Gnomes and Badgers', an allegory for...well you'll find out.

Lucie Silvas: Powerful Pipes And The Right People

Mar 26, 2019 1636


When Lucie Silvas first visited Nashville after a decade of navigating the music industry on her own in the United Kingdom, her first reaction was: "I feel like someone is playing trick on me or something". Lucie couldn't believe the tight-knit community of supportive songwriters she found, and what she intended as a short stay turned into her new home. Nashville is where Lucie met her now-husband, country artist John Osborne (of Brothers Osborne), who she says saved the way she thinks about music as a career. Nashville is also where she met some of the collaborators who have co-written songs on her latest album, E.G.O., including Natalie Hemby, Daniel Tashian and Tenille Townes. The record is a collage of rock, soul, country, and Motown that's full of attitude and heart. You can hear live versions of some of those songs in our session.

Making Mental Health A Music Industry Priority

Mar 26, 2019 587


As a musician who has spent two decades on the road, Menno Versteeg of Hollerado understands the particular challenges of caring for your mental health when you make your living as an artist. There are the high-highs and low-lows of performing, being surrounded by all sorts of substances, having to deal with lots of pressure and little sleep. In fact, a number of European studies have shown that musicians are about three times more likely than the general population to struggle with mental health issues. And on top of that, being a musician is not a traditional job where insurance plans or health care resources are readily available. Versteeg is out to change that, at least on his own indie record label, Royal Mountain Records, based in Toronto. Versteeg recently announced that all bands on his label will have access to a $1500 mental health fund, no questions asked. He dropped by World Cafe to explain where the idea came from and why he feels that caring for artists' mental health is, at least in part, a record label's responsibility. Plus, Versteeg introduces us to a couple of Royal Mountain acts he's excited about.

What Makes Edie Brickell Happy

Mar 26, 2019 2159


This past fall, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians released an explosively joyful album called 'Rocket'. It had been 30 years since the band's 1988 smash hit single "What I Am" made them an overnight sensations. Shortly after that brush with fame, Edie put the band on the back-burner and stopped touring to pursue another dream she had — raising a family. She married Paul Simon, they had children and as she told me "I feel like it's a great privilege to be with your kids". When it felt right, Edie kept up with music. She made her own solo albums, she teamed up with Steve Martin to for some bluegrass musical adventure that included co-writing a Broadway musical, and she worked a bit with New Bohemians including making the group's 2006 album, 'Stranger Things'. Edie shares her story and the values that guided her choices along the way. She also talks songwriting shop, and reveals how she and Paul Simon manage to separate their home lives and creative lives.

Look At Emily King Now

Mar 22, 2019 2450


"I'm feeling things! This is awesome!" Emily King describes the moment she stood outside with tears in her eyes, and sang aloud the lyrics to the first song she wrote for her new album. That song is called "Remind Me" and it captures the renewed inspiration King found after packing up her New York City life, learning to drive and moving to a small town in the Catskills. King's entire new album 'Scenery' rings out with joy and hope. The production is a stunning combination of jazz-inflected R&B and '80s pop that's precise but not fussy, textured but never overdone. King and her musical partner/producer/all-around studio wizard genius, J. Most, made the album during winter in a freezing cold garage studio. They survived thanks to a combination of space heaters and winter hats over headphones. In this session, King shares stories from the making of 'Scenery' and some of her experiences in the music business. She was signed at a young age and nominated for a Grammy for her 2007 debut. King and her exceptional band perform new music and treat us to the fan-favorite "Georgia" from her 2011 EP.

Andrew Bird's-eye View

Mar 21, 2019 1655


On his last album, 'Are You Serious', the always inventive Andrew Bird drew inspiration from monumental moments in his own personal life, including getting married and having a son. And now, on 'My Finest Work Yet', Bird zooms way out on humanity across history's timeline, seeking insight about our current age, in a way he hopes "stays above the news feed noise." On "Manifest," Bird traces the evolution of life from single celled organisms through vapor and beyond. On "Archipelago," he introduces the idea that "our enemies are what make us whole," and elsewhere he addresses futility, fate and responsibility. There are songs that draw on Greek mythology, from Sisyphus to the Olympians, and one inspired by The Spanish Civil War. And in the most Bird-ian way, Andrew somehow turns these high concepts into amazingly fun and appealing pop songs that aren't on the nose, aren't prescriptive or patronizing. Just offerings of some important stuff to think about or whistle along to. I spoke to Andrew about why he wanted to record the whole album live in a room with his band, his tendency "to seek out struggle" and creating sounds based on what he perceives the space around him wants to hear.

Popping In For a Pint And Tune At The Cobblestone In Dublin

Mar 18, 2019 302


Ask anyone in Dublin to recommend a pub with traditional Irish music, and you're likely to hear about The Cobblestone. For our last World Cafe dispatch from Ireland, we pop into the cozy spot in Smithfield and can immediately see why this place is beloved by locals, tourists and musicians from far and wide. It's warm and welcoming with a big, long bar filled with people leaning over each other and laughing and clinking glasses. And at the front of the room there are about a dozen musicians packed into this little nook — it's a jigsaw puzzle of fiddles and guitars and pints resting precariously between elbows on tables. Tom Mulligan, who has owned the pub for 30 years, says,"Conversation is the greatest thing that was ever invented." Mulligan hopes people talk to each other as much as they listen to the music at The Cobblestone. He also tells the story of that time Steve Martin popped by to play some banjo and left on his private jet. Come along for a pint, in the player.

Bell X1's Paul Noonan Takes 'World Cafe' On A Tour Of Dublin

Mar 18, 2019 1051


There's something extra special about going to visit an artist in the place where it all began. On our recent trip to Dublin, Paul Noonan, lead singer of beloved Irish band Bell X1, took us on a walking city tour to show us some of the spots that have been important to the band over its 20-year career. We started off on Clarendon Market where the Dublin Arts Center, the spot where Bell X1 played some of their earliest shows, once stood. It's not a venue anymore, but we still heard a woman playing the piano and singing from outside a music school. Paul reminisced about the moment when he realized it wasn't just Bell X1's family and friends in the audience anymore. We made a pilgrimage to the famous venue Whelan's to find Paul's photo on the wall of artist alumni. And then Paul took us to a house he used to share with friends in Smithfield. It's right across from the Capuchin Day Centre For Homeless People and Paul remembers passing long lines of people waiting for food in the mornings. That's where he met Rocky, a man who would sleep on a wooden pallet outside Paul's window. One morning, Paul saw Rocky snuggled with a lady friend and was inspired to write the song "Rocky Took A Lover." Come along to hear the whole story.

Ireland's Chief Musical Export: The Chieftains!

Mar 15, 2019 2840


When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space. In 2010, the band sent instruments with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman to the international space station. In this session, Moloney tells the story of how The Chieftains ended up being the first Western band to play on the Great Wall of China and explains what Irish traditional music has in common with traditional American music. He continues to share tales about working with The Rolling Stones at Dublin's Windmill Lane Recording Studios - the very same spot where we recorded this session - and reflects on touring at 80 years old. While Paddy played whistle and pipes, he assembled a seven-person team for this session: Seán Keane on fiddle, Redmond O'Toole on guitar, Triona Marshall on harp, Kevin Conneff on bodhrán, Matt Molloy on flute, Nathan Pilatzke dancing and Alyth McCormack as lead singer.

Pillows Queens Make Spirited Pop Punk

Mar 14, 2019 1402


We had a blast visiting this Irish four-piece band Pillow Queens at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. Pillow Queens has a delightfully DIY approach to pop punk and the band's songs are sneak-attack catchy. We found ourselves singing them long after the last amp rang out. Plus, the members sing clever lyrics in loud and proud full-on Irish accents. Pam Connolly, Sarah Corcoran, Cathy McGuinness and Rachel Lyons formed the band in 2016 and sold out their first ever show. In this session, they discuss how Ireland's recovery from the recession has impacted musicians, perform the song "Gay Girls," which was nominated for Ireland's RTÉ Choice Music Prize for Song of the Year, and talk about why queer representation on stage matters.

Loah's Worldly And Winding Musical Path

Mar 13, 2019 2392


Sallay Matu Garnett, who makes music as Loah, grew up in Ireland playing fiddle and orchestral violin. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to Gambia where she became immersed in polyrhythmic drumming and dance, and then to Sierra Leone where she started writing little bits of songs on piano. Loah's voice is stunning and so is the music she makes, which she refers to as ArtSoul. In this session, Sallay shares stories from her worldly upbringing, and from her winding career path as an adult: She worked as a pharmacist before making the leap to become a musician and describes the very urgent need she felt to change course and create. She also explains how co-writing the song "Someone New" which appeared on Hozier's debut album helped her find the courage to make the leap. We met up with Loah for a chat and a performance at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin as part of our World Cafe Sense of Place Series.

Bench It Like Behan

Mar 13, 2019 671


David Keenan is a young singer with an old poet's soul and wardrobe. His acoustic guitar is adorned with pieces of poems, love letters and photographs. On our recent trip to Dublin, we asked David to pick a meeting spot that felt important to him and were not at all surprised that he chose a spot commemorating beloved Irish writer and poet Brendan Behan. A life-like sculpture of Behan sits on a bench along the banks of the Royal Canal, inspired by a lyric in his famous piece "The Auld Triangle." When David first moved to Dublin, he would often sit on this very bench beside Behan, confiding in him and drawing inspiration from his spirit. We grab a seat by the water to hear David perform a gorgeous song on acoustic guitar from his latest EP, 'Evidence of Living', and he tells the story of spitting in his own hand to make a pact with himself before opening for Glen Hansard.

Amanda Palmer's Sharpest Blow Yet

Mar 8, 2019 3039


Halfway through performing her song "Drowning in the Sound", Amanda Palmer smashes her forearm to the keys of a Steinway with the brute force of a heavyweight champion boxer. Moments later she stands over the piano and yells into its body, as if howling into the intergalactic void. Palmer has made a living out of delivering emotionally sobering strikes. But her new album 'There Will Be No Intermission' may be her sharpest blow yet. The album contains songs about climate change, compassion, losing a friend, losing a baby, having abortions, and becoming a mother. The songs ring out with urgency and compassion, as well as with fury and love. There are moments of stunning brutality and absolute gentleness. Amanda tells the Cafe, "It's the most personal thing I've ever made. There is a part of me just sitting there, clenching my teeth, going I really really don't want this one to be misinterpreted – I really don't want this one to be misunderstood." Part of Amanda's fear stems from the way the media has reacted to her work in the past. We talk about why she feels that "there are some journalists out there who just love hating me". Palmer also shares stories of her own miscarriage and abortions, along with why it was important to her to write "Voicemail for Jill" about the latter.

Maggie Rogers On Her Own Terms

Mar 4, 2019 1668


Maggie is having a moment. Her debut full length album "Heard It In a Past Life" came out in January and she's been crushing late-night TV performances, including Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And good luck getting tickets to her North American shows since she's sold out all over the place. Maggie was thrust into the spotlight unexpectedly a couple years ago after a video of her went viral. Many of her new songs address the aftermath as she struggled to deal with people's expectations for how happy all this newfound fame was supposed to make her. Maggie seems to be having a pretty excellent time right now, taking the opportunity to reintroduce herself on her own terms with creative force and so much joy.

David Gray Makes Music In Technicolor

Mar 1, 2019 2786


On his new album "Gold In a Brass Age", David Gray's voice still sounds as glorious, distinct and beautiful as it did when he broke through the mainstream with 1998's "White Ladder". But the sounds surrounding Gray's voice, both natural and digital, have grown like ivy winding over bricks, adding depth and color to his songs in new ways. That's thanks in large part to the sophisticated imagination and detailed devotion of producer Ben de Vries, who joins Gray in the live performances sprinkled throughout this interview. Gray's last release was a "Best Of" record in 2016. He tells the Cafe's Talia Schlanger about how curating that collection influenced the creative process on his latest record. And Gray discusses his first artistic career – as a painter, and how extremely nervous he used to get about showing his art.

Welcome to Planet Kamasi Washington

Feb 28, 2019 816


Where the rules of musical gravity don't apply. Washington's roots are in jazz, but he can turn his saxophone into a soaring bird or a spaceship, a howling wolf or a karate kick. Washington talks about improvisation as a "purely emotional conversation" between musicians and explains how that approach influenced his latest album "Heaven and Earth". He shares insights he gleaned about the creative process while working with Kendrick Lamar, and why he calls Snoop Dogg "Uncle Snoop". Plus, Washington explains why you might want to have a pair of scissors handy while you listen to "Heaven and Earth".

Part 6: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 1115


By the '60s, gospel music had firmly established a foothold in mainstream American culture. This opened the door for soul stars such as Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye to complete the bridge between gospel and pop. They both grew up immersed in the harmonies and rhythms of the church and brought those sensibilities into their pop music. This episode looks at the gospel background and lasting musical legacy of Aretha and Marvin.

Part 5: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 1993


In the mid-20th century, radio stations in Memphis, Tennessee played a rich mix of gospel, R&B, blues, and country music. A young Elvis Presley was listening and packed all of it into his early rock and roll. This episode looks at Elvis' gospel influences and how he brought that music to White audiences. This episode also tells the story of the role of gospel music played in the Civil Rights Movement and features the singers Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples.

Part 4: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 1068


This episode tells the story behind The Edwin Hawkins Singers' ceiling-shattering song, "Oh Happy Day". It was the first gospel song to top the secular charts. Hawkins' use of contemporary sounds — a Latin groove, synthesizers and a soul-influenced lead vocal performance — created a new model for gospel music. But some in the church didn't want sanctified music to leave the sanctuary.

Part 3: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 2032


By the mid-20th century, gospel music was a force in America, compelling many sanctified artists to cross over to secular music. The temptations of fortune and fame became strong for many gospel artists. But crossing over could mean betraying the audience that built them up - or worse. This episode tells the stories of musicians such as Sam Cooke and Sister Rosetta Tharpe who had to navigate this complex relationship between sacred and secular music.

Part 2: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 1447


This episode dives deep into the Golden Age of gospel quartets in the mid-20th century. These groups toured across the United States on what's called the gospel highway and charted a course for the rock and soul musicians who would follow them. These groups included The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Pilgrim Travelers, The Golden Gates, The Caravans, and The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke.

Part 1: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Feb 27, 2019 1689


"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: The Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul" is a 6-part documentary series that explores the history and influence of gospel music on early rock and roll, soul and R&B music. This first episode examines the history and foundation of Black music beginning with the spirituals that were sung during the time of American slavery, and looks at how that music evolved into gospel music during the early 20th century with the help of innovators such as Thomas Dorsey, who is considered the "father of gospel music".

We Hereby Declare Gary Clark Jr. Day!

Feb 21, 2019 1542


... And we're not the first to recognize Gary that way. When he was still in high school the mayor of his hometown Austin, Texas  held a ceremony to declare "Gary Clark Jr. Day". Since then Gary has found fans in Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, and although some have wanted to herald him as the savior of the blues, he's managed to defy easy genre categorization. Gary's new album "This Land" incorporates rock, punk, hip hop and more. Not only is the music impactful, but so is Gary's message. On the title track Gary uses the N-word to address the racism he experienced as a kid growing up in Austin and faced again recently as a parent in front of his own kid. Hear his conversation with Talia Schlanger and live performances he recorded on stage at the Fonda Theatre in LA.

From The Lumineers To Rattlesnake Kate

Feb 20, 2019 977


After 8 years of playing cello and singing with the band, Neyla Pekarek left The Lumineers in the fall. In January she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925. Neyla reflects on the courage she found in going solo by digging into Kate's story and shares why she left The Lumineers.

Mavis Staples: Still Delivering The Message

Feb 20, 2019 897


At almost 80, Mavis Staples is still singing songs with messages of hope and justice. She tells stories about writing songs that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used at Civil Rights rallies, her long friendship with Aretha Franklin, and working with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. We'll hear music from throughout Mavis' career including her family's gospel group The Staples Singers and from her new album Live in London.

Paisley Underground Bands Swap Songs and Stories

Feb 19, 2019 1468


In the early 80's, The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and The Three O'Clock were all part of a tightly knit community of LA musicians called the Paisley Underground. Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Danny Benair of The Three O'Clock, and Vicki Peterson of the Bangles talk lovingly about their time playing together, growing together, and rooting for one another. Now, the bands have reunited with a project where they cover each other's tunes. It's called 3 X 4 – that's three covers by four different bands, and they dig into the why and how, as well as what the Paisley Underground movement ultimately means.

I Try Not To Freak Out Over Macy Gray

Feb 18, 2019 2910


Talia here. Macy Gray looms large for me. Like a lot of people, my first introduction to Macy was her 1999 debut "On How Life Is". That album launched her into superstardom and the song "I Try" won her a Grammy. For some people, Macy is frozen in that song and time. And those people, in my humble opinion, are missing out. Macy has been busy growing, reinventing herself and putting out new music consistently for the past twenty years. That includes her latest album Ruby, which you'll hear Macy performs songs from today. Her band is on fire. We talk about why she's so devoted to issues around mental health, why she wrote a song called "White Man" and why her whole career almost didn't happen. Macy was a single mom of three when she got her big break.

Listening For The Future During Black History Month

Feb 13, 2019 4061


We're joined by The New Yorker's Music Editor Briana Younger, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's bandleader Jon Batiste and NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael. They shine a spotlight on some of the black creators who are shaping the future of music. We discuss how artists like Masego and Braxton Cook represent a resurgence of black instrumentalists, how storytellers like Saba use personal tales to illuminate systemic issues, and how artists like Tierra Whack may be innovating so quickly that the industry can't keep up with their genius. And we talk about the double burden placed on black artists, who are both marginalized by the system and often expected to do the work of speaking out against it; and the damaging assumption that music created by black artists is always a reaction to whiteness. We celebrate the brilliant bright future of black creators and listen to some amazing new music.

Stories From Glasgow's Storied Music Venues

Feb 12, 2019 1011


Rumor has it that David Bowie stole one of the famous decorative stars from the Barrowland Ballroom (aka Barrowlands). Guitar great John Martyn used to play in the corner by the fireplace of the Scotia, the city's oldest pub. And Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry is truly a country Western homage to its Nashville namesake. Scottish music journalist and presenter Nicola Meighan tells us stories about Glasgow's music scene through its most notable venues. And we enjoy a surprise Scottish celebrity sighting at legendary independent record shop Monorail Music.

Julia Jacklin: Crushing

Feb 5, 2019 1572


We were introduced to Julia Jacklin when David Dye met up with her in Australia for our Sense of Place visit in 2016. Now she's returning the favor, joining us in the US to share a sneak peak of her forthcoming record, Crushing, which is personal, intimate, and beautiful. The Melbourne based singer spent the last two years touring her first album Don't Let the Kids Win, and Crushing directly reflects back to her experiences from that time period.

One of a Kind, Steve Forbert Rewinds

Feb 4, 2019 1783


It's been 40 years since guitarist Steve Forbert released his debut album Alive on Arrival, and he has marked the occasion with a new album and a new memoir. The album is called The Magic Tree – a collection of songs, all but one of which have never been released before, including some he started writing back in the 80s. The memoir is called Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock. In it, Steve tells the story of his journey from his Mississippi home to the NYC music scene in the 1970s, and the way his career unfolded. It's a revealing ride that includes playing at CBGBs, opening for Talking Heads and John Cale, turning down being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and reuniting with a past love from the 80s in the kind of way you usually only see in romantic comedies.

This Album Is Based On A True Story

Jan 31, 2019 784


On our recent trip to Glasgow we made a musical pilgrimage about 6 miles outside the city centre to a venue called Platform. It's a community arts space where residents of the Easterhouse neighborhood (which has historically been known for poverty and equality) can get together and express themselves. Platform is the birthplace of an album "Conflats", based on stories told by members of the Easterhouse community to two musicians: James Graham, lead singer of the Scottish indie punk band The Twilight Sad, and Scottish Album of the Year Award winning artist Kathryn Joseph. We visit Kathryn and James at Platform to hear about the life-changing act of taking other people's stories and turning them into songs.

Oh Pep! Makes Unpredictable Pop

Jan 29, 2019 1592


Melbourne-based band Oh Pep! caught a ton of well-deserved buzz with their 2016 debut album Stadium Cake. The duo wound up on international festival dates and capped off a whirlwind tour by sharing the stage with Billy Bragg at Glastonbury. After taking some time to shake their heads and process it all, Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs are back with a follow-up album called "I Wasn't Only Thinking About You...", which showcases their penchant for unexpected musical choices. Oh Pep! always has a bent note or quirky chord progression up their proverbial sleeve, as you'll hear in this studio performance. They've also got some unconventional source material. Olivia and Pepita explain how the experiences of waiting in line for a social security number and witnessing a particularly spooky snowstorm in New York City both inspired new songs.

Harvesting Tunes and Sand Dunes

Jan 28, 2019 1699


Gregory Alan Isakov lives on his own farm in Colorado where he made his latest album Evening Machines inside a barn. Outside he's growing salad greens and cucumbers. When Gregory really needs to get away from the hustle and bustle of the farm to clear his head, he takes a solo drive out to the beautiful sand dunes and writes under the stars. He explains how a self-proclaimed "hermit-like" person can headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and how a life-long vegetarian can reconcile having his song placed in a McDonald's commercial. Gregory and his band also perform songs from Evening Machines.

Jim James: The Musical Magic Of Tidying Up

Jan 25, 2019 1715


I spoke with Jim James back in November, before Japanese organization guru Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" hit Netflix. I have no idea whether Jim had read Kondo's previously released book of the same title. But Jim James' latest album and Kondo's method share a common result - clearing your clutter can reveal truths you didn't notice about yourself before. The album Uniform Clarity is a collection of songs free of sonic clutter – simply vocals, guitar and lots of open space. It's the same collection of songs that were on the solo record Jim released in the summer of 2018, Uniform Distortion, which lives up to it's name. It's a record full of what Jim called "intentional chaos/dirt". In our conversation, Jim reflects on some of the truths he found in his lyrics while making Uniform Clarity, including his thoughts on drinking and struggles to stay in the moment. Jim also told me about reconnecting with his first ever guitar, which his mom found in the process of her own tidying up when Jim's parents were moving. And we hear live performances Jim recorded for World Cafe in New York.

Nothing Really Matters

Jan 24, 2019 1821


Dominic Palermo's hard rock group Nothing has been called the unluckiest band...ever. Palermo sees it differently, having overcome a prison stint, being beaten up after a show, and being on a record label founded by the disgraced CEO Martin Shkreli, he views his band as a tale of redemption. Nothing stops by the World Cafe with a riveting stripped down performance of songs from their latest album Dance on The Black Top.

When In Glasgow, See Martha Ffion!

Jan 23, 2019 1608


We got that advice from many folks on social media when we planned our recent World Cafe trip to Scotland. We met up with Martha Ffion for a chat and performance at "The Hug and Pint", a vegan restaurant and music venue that was instrumental early in her career. She treated us to songs from her debut full-length album, Sunday Best, as well as a new song called "Kennedy Hair". She also talked about drawing inspiration from jokes on American TV shows, and explained the term "curtain twitching".

David Crosby Keeps the Harmonies Coming

Jan 22, 2019 1608


At 77, David Crosby is in the midst of a late-life burst of creativity. He's released 4 albums in the last 5 years. His most recent record, Here If You Listen, was recorded with his acoustic group, The Lighthouse Band. You'll hear music from Here If You Listen as well as live recordings of Crosby performing classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songs with The Lighthouse Band. Crosby also tells the story of watching Neil Young write the iconic song "Ohio," about being the subject of a new Cameron Crowe documentary and reflects on the relationships he has with his children.

Mumford And Sons

Jan 18, 2019 2056


Hear an acoustic performance of songs from Mumford and Sons' latest album Delta and Talia Schlanger's conversation with lead singer Marcus Mumford and keyboard player Ben Lovett. They discuss how the band keeps their shows intimate even when they play arenas, and Marcus shares the story of a life-changing trip to Mosul, Iraq where he sat with a fellow father and discussed the impact of the conflict on children's lives.

Mike Farris – Silver and Stone

Jan 16, 2019 1534


Grammy Award winner Mike Farris joins the Café to talk about his latest album, Silver and Stone, a love letter to his wife of many years. Farris also talks about writing a song about Mavis Staples, why he can't listen to U2 or Stevie Wonder when recording, and he performs live – including a dynamite Sam Cooke cover.

Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop

Jan 15, 2019 1294


From Lulu to Annie Lennox. Gerry Rafferty to Frightened Rabbit. The Proclaimers to KT Tunstall. World Cafe visited the National Museum of Scotland in the fall for a wild ride through "Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop." We examine Scotland's role in the birth of indie music, the impact of some of its most famous exports, and we listened to a ton of fun music from Scotland's rich pop canon. Our tour guide is Vic Galloway, a beloved host and DJ for BBC Radio Scotland and veritable encyclopedia of musical knowledge who wrote the book that accompanies this exhibit. Come along as we rip through the museum!

Amy Ray Isn't Afraid to Holler

Jan 14, 2019 2377


As a gay, left-wing woman living in the South, Indigo Girls' Amy Ray says she's in love with a place that doesn't always love her back. But she draws creative fuel from the differences of opinion, and also expresses gratitude for the village that's helped Amy and her partner raise their child in rural Georgia. On her latest solo album Holler Amy calls out the difference between Southern pride and Southern hate, imagines what Jesus might have thought of a border wall and delivers a smoking live performance with her band.

Elephant Sessions Break Floors & Traditions

Jan 10, 2019 1762


Known for putting on raucous shows and turning Scottish traditional music on its head, Scotland's Elephant Sessions are festival favorites who have earned praise in Rolling Stone. In 2018, the band won Live Act of the Year from the Scot Trad Music Awards and were shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year. With 4 out of 5 bandmates hailing from the Scottish Highlands, we talk about Elephant Sessions' role in the wave of young musicians rewriting the rulebook on cool when it comes to traditional sounds. We recorded their performance at GloWorm Recording in Glasgow, as part of World Cafe's Sense of Place series.

Rubblebucket Break Up And Don't Break Up

Jan 8, 2019 2189


"We started out as romantic partners at the beginning of the album and then we weren't anymore by the end". Kalmia Traver describes the unique circumstances of making Rubblebucket's latest album Sun Machine with Alex Toth, who she met in college over 15 years ago. The two brass musicians and singers perform live and share their story, which includes Kal fighting cancer, Alex getting sober, and a break-up ritual so unique and so deep that we can't stop thinking about it.

Lawrence the Band

Jan 7, 2019 1017


Clyde Lawrence's first songwriting contribution was given for the film Miss Congeniality at the age of four. His sister, Gracie Lawrence, stars in a CBS series with Sturgill Simpson and Leslie Odom Jr. Together they front the vocal pop group, Lawrence. They'll talk about their new album, Living Room and perform live on the next World Cafe.

Johnny Marr – Have Guitar, Will Travel

Jan 3, 2019 1851


Johnny Marr's resume includes co-founding The Smiths, playing guitar with The Pretenders, Modest Mouse, Talking Heads and Electronic (among others), and fronting his own solo project. On Marr's latest album, Call The Comet, he envisions a different type of end of the world scenario, one that's uplifting and optimistic. Marr also shares stories about meeting Isaac Brock, writing "How Soon is Now," and why he dismisses being called a hired gun.

Huffamoose: Don't Call Me "Sir"

Jan 2, 2019 2682


One day you're touring in a rock band in your twenties, and then all of a sudden the checkout guy at Trader Joe's calls you "sir". Craig Elkins and Kevin Hanson of Huffamoose drop by the Cafe to talk about making the band's first new album in more than a decade, and to reminisce about their early success in the '90s. Huffamoose played the main stage at Woodstock and signed a deal with Interscope. But it all fell apart, and it took years to recover. The band has reunited with the original lineup, rounded out by Jim Stager and Eric Johnson. Hear Huffamoose perform songs from their new album and reflect on their new outlook on rock/life balance.

Going Back to Graceland: Christmas With Elvis

Dec 26, 2018 1494


Priscilla Presley visited the Cafe last year to tell stories about the first gifts she ever exchanged with Elvis, how they spent Christmas as a married couple, how that changed when they became new parents, and what it's like for her to hear Elvis songs now. We also listened to music from the 2017 album - Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, for which Priscilla was the Executive Producer. Since Christmas classics never get old, we're re-gifting this one, er, putting it back in your podcast feed. Merry Christmas!

Old 97's Love the Holidays

Dec 21, 2018 2311


It's a mistletoe milestone! After 25 years of bringing cheers to our ears, alt country pioneers Old 97's have just released their first ever album of festive jams. Old 97's Love the Holidays features mostly original and absolutely delightful Christmas songs, including one inspired by The Ramones, one inspired by Rudolph's love life and one with a unique take on the social significance of snow angels. Lead singer Rhett Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples all gather round the radio hearth for stories and songs from Old 97s Love the Holidays. They also perform "Total Disaster" from Rhett's recent solo album The Messenger which, as you might glean from the song's title, is not a holiday tune but does come along with a message that might be useful at this time of year.

Petal Is Proof, Talking Helps

Dec 20, 2018 1986


"Odds are, the people that love you are just dying for you to tell the truth." That's one of the lessons Kiley Lutz, who records as Petal, learned after seeking treatment for major depressive and panic disorders and also after coming out as queer. Both of those experiences shaped Petal's second album Magic Gone. Lutz describes the pivotal moment that provoked her to seek help, why it's important to her to talk about mental health and explains the concept of "compare despair" in the age of social media. She also shows off her ripping sense of fuzzy guitar power pop and bright, clear voice in a performance of songs from Magic Gone.

Stax '68: A Memphis Story

Dec 17, 2018 2748


Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. & the M.G.'s are just a few of the artists featured on Stax '68 A Memphis Story. The box set includes every single released by Stax Records in 1968. That's 134 songs! In this episode, Stax recording artist William Bell tells stories about making music in Memphis during a tumultuous year that included the sanitation workers' strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Jeff Tweedy: Books, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll

Dec 14, 2018 1566


"I still can't believe you're including the part about stealing my mom's cancer medication". In his new memoir "Let's Go (So We Can Get Back)", Jeff Tweedy transcribes a conversation he had with his wife Susie about how much of his own struggle with opioid addiction to include in the book. Tweedy shares some of those stories with World Cafe, including the challenges he faced in rehab and recovery, and his complicated relationships with former bandmates Jay Farrar from Uncle Tupelo and Jay Bennett from Wilco.

Fantastic Negrito Is a Shock to the System

Dec 11, 2018 2494


He won NPR Music's first Tiny Desk Contest back in 2015 as well as a Grammy in 2017, and there is nothing subtle about him. He is Fantastic Negrito. On his slatest album, Please Don't Be Dead, he ignites and electrifies the blues to tackle addiction, poverty, racism and gun violence. His own life story involves growing up in the 70s with a strict Muslim father in New England as the 8th of 14 kids. He ran away from home at 12 and snuck into practice rooms at Berkeley to teach himself piano. He also nearly died in a car accident and lost a million-dollar record deal. Hear Fantastic Negrito's gripping life story and live performance at World Cafe.

Doyle Bramhall II – A Guitarist's Guitarist

Dec 10, 2018 1801


Doyle Bramhall II is a lefty who plays his guitar strung upside-down! That's right, guitarists... That means that the high E string is on top. Fear not, playing that way hasn't held Bramhall back. In fact, he's excelled as a guitarist and producer. He's shared the stage alongside guitar gods Eric Clapton and Roger Waters, and as a member of their touring bands. Bramhall is also a successful solo artist who brings his band to World Cafe to perform songs from his latest solo album, Shades.

Doe Paoro – No Crystals, No Incense, No Service

Dec 6, 2018 1833


Soft power is the act of using coercion rather than force to change things. On Doe Paoro's (AKA Sonia Kreitzer) new record of the same name, she delves into the concept of addressing the changes she wanted to make in her life. It's a lush piano driven R&B record that showcases Doe's incredible vocals. In addition to performing, she also talks about being a yogi, and the art of silent meditation.

Anna St. Louis Warms Up The Cafe

Dec 4, 2018 1170


Willie Nelson, Mazzy Star and Neil Young have all inspired today's guest to make inviting music that carries an air of mystery, nostalgia and ease. Anna St. Louis started writing songs when she moved to LA about 5 years ago. Her debut full length album If Only There Was a River came out earlier this year. It was produced by Kyle Thomas and Kevin Morby, who Anna knows from her hometown of Kansas City. Anna performs stripped down solo versions of her songs, with the warmth of wool socks and hot toddies in early December.

Lori McKenna's Music City Cinderella Story

Nov 30, 2018 2383


Lori was 28 and a mother of 3 when she started singing at open mics. Last year, she became the first woman named Songwriter of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Lori shares the story behind her success in Nashville, including the pivotal early support she got from Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. She also describes her life in the small town of Stoughton, Massachusetts, where she was raised and where she still lives with her husband. Lori married him at 19 and they have 5 children together. Hear Lori perform songs from her latest album The Tree, which showcases her incredible knack for writing moving songs about family, and the small bittersweet details of life.

Hatchie – Sugar Spice, and Dreampop

Nov 26, 2018 1026


Hatchie is Harriette Pilbeam, and when she's not playing in the Australian rock band Babaganouj, she's creating her own dream-pop music. It started last year with her debut single, "Try," which became a huge hit in her home country, and now, she's released her first solo EP, called Sugar & Spice. We'll hear some of those lush soundscapes in a live set today, and Harriette talks with host Stephen Kallao about what it was like to strike out on her own as a solo artist, and why she buries her more personal lyrics in a wall of sound. Hatchie, on the World Cafe.

Tom Morello Makes America Rage Again

Nov 16, 2018 1514


Tom Morello changed the shape of rock n'roll with his guitar playing in Rage Against the Machine. He joins us to talk about his new genre-bending project, The Atlas Underground, featuring collaborations with Marcus Mumford, Portugal the Man, EDM beats, and Morello's signature guitar sound. He'll also tell us how many songs he had to learn to play to join the E-Street Band on tour (hint, it was more than 100). Tom reflects on his former bandmate Chris Cornell, and why the message of Rage is more relevant than ever.

Young Fathers Make Massive Music in a Tiny Basement

Nov 14, 2018 1138


2018's Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Young Fathers welcome World Cafe to their compact studio in Edinburgh, where the three band members share their unique stories. Alloysious Massaquoi left Liberia as a child refugee in the 90s and faced a difficult and lifesaving trip by boat to Ghana before settling in Scotland. Kayus Bankole was born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents and spent time traveling between the country where he was born, the US and his parents' homeland. Graham Hastings grew up in a predominantly white working-class neighborhood in Scotland where his parents provided a model of love for diversity that was not the norm among his peers. The trio talks about tackling systemic racism in their lives and music, the unique bond that allows them to express their truest creative selves and why their tiny studio is a vital part of Young Fathers' creative process.

Robyn On Being Your Own Best Friend

Nov 13, 2018 609


Robyn just released Honey, her first new full-length album in 8 years. While making the record Robyn was dealing with two big losses – the end of a relationship and the death of a long-time friend and collaborator. Robyn explains how she used dance to help her cope and to inspire creation on Honey

KT Tunstall In Edinburgh

Nov 8, 2018 2679


What do the best Scottish chips have in common with the best songwriters? KT Tunstall explains as we travel to Edinburgh to hear music from KT's new album Wax. KT shares stories from her childhood, including the magical game her physicist father would play with her and her brother when they were kids. It involved liquid nitrogen and a long corridor, and was called "Don't Touch, Don't Die". She describes what it was like the first time her brother, who is deaf, was able to hear her music thanks to a cochlear implant. And KT shares her theory on why Scotland has such a massive musical output for a country with a relatively small population.

Urban Kismet + Eclectic Interest = Bonjay

Nov 5, 2018 2491


Ian Swain is a DJ/producer and urban economist. Alanna Stuart is a stunning singer/songwriter whose mom welcomed foster children from around the world when she was growing up. Together, they are Bonjay, and their full-length debut album Lush Life is unlike anything we've heard. Bonjay's music feels like what happens when different people from different backgrounds come together on rooftops and collide in bike lanes and offer each other seats on subways and sweat in basements blaring dancehall. Hear Bonjay perform live, and meet two fascinating artists in this edition of World Cafe.

Rosanne Cash Remembers Everything

Nov 2, 2018 2009


Rage, regret, long-term love, feminism and memory – those are some of the themes that veteran songwriter Rosanne Cash explores on her new album She Remembers Everything. In our conversation, Rosanne explains the urgent need she felt to tell female stories on this album and how her 20 years of gun control activism informed a song called "8 Gods of Harlem" which also features Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello. Cash also reflects on being recently given the "Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award" which was presented for the first time in 2002 to her father, the late Johnny Cash.

The English Beat Goes On

Oct 29, 2018 2162


Dave Wakeling of The English Beat still tours like a man decades younger than he is, and now he's got a new album to support it. It's been almost 30 years since Wakeling has sang on a studio Beat record, but with the new album Here We Go, Love, Wakeling wants to remind everyone that The English Beat hasn't lost a step. He'll tell the stories behind new songs and classics like "Tenderness" and "Save It For Later." Plus, we'll hear live performances as we pogo along with Dave Wakeling and The English Beat.

Mountain Man's Magic Ship

Oct 25, 2018 1595


Something truly magical happens when Amelia Meath (from Sylvan Esso), Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig are in the same room, huddled around the same mic, breathing and harmonizing together. The three met more than a decade ago at Bennington college, and put out their debut album as Mountain Man back in 2010. We fell in love with it and have waited patiently 8 years since then for the 3 of them to get together for a new record. Mercifully, they've released "Magic Ship". Listen in the player above as Amelia, Molly and Alex share the story of the cross-country friendship road trip that led to their new album, and perform live.

Elvis Costello

Oct 24, 2018 1255


This past summer Elvis Costello cancelled a handful of tour dates so that he could recover from cancer surgery. In the same Facebook post where he delivered that news, there was a bright side. Costello announced that he would release a new album with his band, The Imposters, in the fall. Well, it's the fall, Elvis is in great health, and his new record, Look Now, is here. It features songs written with Carole King and Burt Bacharach. Elvis visits World Cafe to share insights about his health scare and his creative process, which includes telling stories from the perspective of female characters facing difficult situations like infidelity and unwanted pregnancy.

Candi Staton is Unstoppable

Oct 19, 2018 2194


Candi Staton has earned the right to title her 30th album Unstoppable. Candi grew up poor in Hanceville, Alabama and used her remarkable voice to change her life. As a teen in the 1950s, Candi started singing and touring with the Jewell Gospel Trio. She became pals with Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls, and worked with Aretha Franklin. Over the course of a handful of marriages, Candi survived domestic abuse and overcame infidelity. She turned her hardships into one of her most memorable hit songs: "Young Hearts Run Free". She'll tell the story of how it was written and recorded and perform live.

Old Crow Medicine Show Celebrates 20 Years

Oct 18, 2018 1875


Traditional styles grow differently depending on who cultivates them and where. For two decades, Old Crow Medicine Show has helped make old-timey American music vital for a generation raised on Nirvana and hip hop, by abandoning the rules that sometimes stifle folk revivalism and growing in whatever way appealed to them. From covering an entire Bob Dylan album to writing one of country music's 21st century classics, "Wagon Wheel," Old Crow has consistently surprised and challenged its audience in the most joyful ways possible. Ketch Secor, a founding member and now the main voice in Old Crow, joins Ann Powers in Nashville to talk about the group's history and play songs from their latest, the band's sixth studio album, Volunteer.

Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio

Oct 17, 2018 1799


The Crossing is the new concept album Alejandro Escovedo wrote with Italian composer Don Antonio and his band. The record tells the story of Diego and Salvo, two immigrant boys, one from Mexico, the other from Italy, traveling in the United States. Diego and Salvo are into the Beat poets and punk rock, like the MC5 and The Stooges. Alejandro and Don Antonio tell us how The Crossing came to be and how it connects to their own lives. And Alejandro tells stories from his punk rock days, like the time his band opened for the Sex Pistols.

Mending Haerts

Oct 5, 2018 1439


Nini Fabi and Benny Gebert started dating in Germany when they were 15. Since then, they've done a lot together. They moved to New York, got married, and now make music as Haerts. Recently, Nini and Benny went through a trying time when their professional and personal futures were uncertain. They had been dropped from their record label and were facing some major relationship issues. Nini and Benny packed some instruments and recording gear and went to a house in upstate New York to try and figure it all out. They came out together with a new album called New Compassion. And listening to it feels like you're hearing a couple work through their relationship, from both sides, in real time. In a way, you are.

From War to "The War and Treaty"

Sep 28, 2018 2285


Michael Trotter had to "literally crawl over rock and... debris from the explosions to get to this piano". He was serving in Iraq, when his Captain suggested Michael learn to play music to cope with his fear during war. Years later Michael met and married Tanya Blount, who began her own music career as a teenage R&B ingénue. They now make music together as The War and Treaty. On their debut album Healing Tide, produced by Buddy Miller, Tanya and Michael invest their rootsy, gospel-inspired songs with all the wisdom and determination their years reaching this point had produced. They perform live and share their story with Ann Powers.

Jad Abumrad On The Most Perfect Album

Sep 25, 2018 2727


Dolly Parton, Devendra Banhart, Flor de Toloache and They Might Be Giants all contributed original songs to a new compilation called 27: The Most Perfect Album. They were invited by Jad Abumrad and his team at "More Perfect", a Radiolab spin-off series which explores how Supreme Court decisions affect people's lives. All the songs on 27: The Most Perfect Album are inspired by amendments to the Constitution. Some songs are history lessons, some are abstract explorations and all are musically interesting. Jad joins World Cafe host Talia Schlanger to talk through turning an ever-evolving and important document into a perfect record.

Pop Music's Weird Cousin

Sep 25, 2018 1743


That's how the artist behind Christine and the Queens describes herself, although we prefer to think of her as pop music's bright future. Her evocative and danceable new album Chris explores chaos and desire, blurring the line between aggressive and vulnerable, masculine and feminine. As with her tremendous 2014 debut, Chris was produced by the artist herself and you can feel the urgency in all her musical choices. In our conversation, Christine tells the story of choosing her name after meeting a life-changing group of drag queens in London, how she reacted to landing on the cover of Time Magazine, and gives a really thoughtful explanation of her pansexual identity.

Steve Perry Stopped Believing For a While

Sep 21, 2018 2038


But he's back! Former Journey lead singer Steve Perry is about to release his first new album in over two decades. Perry talks about why he left Journey in 1987 at the height of their fame, and the difficult personal period that followed shortly after, during which he couldn't listen to music. He also shares the story of his life-changing relationship with a woman named Kellie Nash who Perry says made him feel loved for the first time. His new record Traces marks the fulfillment of a promise he made to Nash before she died in 2012.

Building Leon Bridges

Sep 19, 2018 1552


After the incredible success of Bridges' 2015 debut album Coming Home, people were eager to label him "the new Sam Cooke". On his 2018 follow-up Good Thing, Bridges is breaking free of that label and proving he can't be put in a musical box. On the album's last song "Georgia to Texas" Bridges chronicles some of his origin story. He grew up in Forth Worth and went to a predominantly white school where he didn't fit in with some of the other black students. We talk about how he discovered his own identity through dance, hear him cover the Ginuwine song "Pony" and Bridges shares why he's written songs inspired by his mom Lisa on both of his albums.

Philly Folk Festival – Far Out with David Dye

Sep 17, 2018 1732


The Philadelphia Folk Festival just celebrated it's 57th go-round of concerts, workshops, camping and folkie camaraderie on The Olde Poole Farm outside of Philadelphia this past August. For the last 11 years our Host Emeritus, David Dye, has presented live music on the festival's campground stage, a special gathering on Thursday night that, in the past, has featured Sturgill Simpson, Amanda Shires, Deer Tick, Joan Shelley and others. This year, David Dye presents three special performances from Chicago bluesman Toronzo Cannon, Scottish folk group Talisk, and singer-songwriter Gina Chavez. It's a special Philly Folk Festival edition of the World Cafe.

Dawn Landes Makes Fearless Phonecalls

Sep 13, 2018 1435


"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton, and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired. Landes explains how she won Foster over and performs live songs from the album they made together, called Meet Me at the River.

Wayne Kramer: The Hard Stuff

Sep 5, 2018 2081


You may know Wayne Kramer for his time playing guitar for the radical rock group MC5, who broke up in 1972. It's been 50 years since the release of their legendary album Kick Out the Jams, and to celebrate, Wayne will be joining host Stephen Kallao to talk about what that album title means to him. He'll also discuss the rise of MC5 and how their success came with accusations of "selling out," and will share a bit about his new memoir, called "The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities". Hear all about his story, on the next World Cafe.

Matt Mays Screams, Surfs & Sees Sound As Color

Sep 4, 2018 1701


If this is your first Matt Mays concert, you're in for a treat. Mays recreates the sweaty, late-night spirit of his live shows in a studio performance of songs from his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time and strips it down for an acoustic version of one of the song "Ola Volo" inspired by a visual artist whose work he became fascinated with. In his almost two decades on the road, Mays has learned to make time for "culture walks" to absorb the cities he visits. He's also a surfer and a synesthete, which as he explains means seeing sound as color.

Amos Lee Is "Mighty" Inspired

Aug 30, 2018 1257


Amos Lee struggled to find his sense of purpose as an artist until he had a career-changing encounter with fans who were grieving the loss of their child and found solace in his music. Since then, Lee has drawn inspiration from connecting in meaningful ways with the people he meets. In this special episode, we travel to Seattle to meet "Mighty Maya" who inspired Lee to write the song "Little Light" for his new album My New Moon. Lee met Maya when she was 7 years old, shortly after she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and sent her songs to cheer her up. In turn, Amos Lee found continued meaning on his artistic path. We sit down with Maya, her family and Lee to reminisce about their special friendship and listen to the music it led to.

David Byrne

Aug 29, 2018 1844


On his latest album American Utopia, Byrne zooms in on the mind of a dog, the forgotten regions of the brain and a chicken's idea of heaven. We talk about finding magic in the mundane, the evolution of Byrne's voice since Talking Heads days, and why his current show ends with a cover of a Janelle Monae song that pays tribute to black Americans who have been killed by police and vigilantes. We also talk about the remarkable staging of Byrne's current tour where all the members of his band dance around the stage holding their instruments, and why you might see Byrne himself leading a line of bicycling bandmates around your city before the show.

Post Truth Gorillaz.

Aug 24, 2018 2375


Damon Albarn is one of the most dynamic minds in music, weaving between genres and with collaborators of all stripes, and it's no better on display then in Gorillaz. On the new album, The Now Now, Albarn created an introspective and delicate record, one that fights against the cacophony of Gorillaz last record, Humanz. Albarn will talk about recording the album on the road in the United States, questionable interview translations, and offer up the best laugh you'll hear in 2018.

Dermot Kennedy: All The Feels

Aug 23, 2018 1776


Glen Hansard is a fan. Taylor Swift put one of his songs on her Spotify playlist. Kanye West's go-to guy produced his latest EP. And he made me cry in a church once. Emotive Irish singer Dermot Kennedy performs live and shares how cold calling promoters, pursuing your musical heroes, and getting your start in Ireland all played a part in getting his voice out there.

Rayland Baxter's Wide Awake

Aug 22, 2018 1837


Rayland Baxter's first single off his new album, Wide Awake, is about a dysfunctional relationship. However, when you realize the woman's name is Sallie Mae, you realize he's not speaking about a jilted lover, but the giant student loan corporation, that you get closer to the heart of this Nashville singer/songwriter. On his new album Wide Awake (produced by Butch Walker) Baxter presents a slick mix of power pop, rock, indie and folk. Rayland talks to us about his journey to Nashville, and learning to play guitar, thanks in part to his dad, Bucky Baxter.

What's It Like To Be a Pro Recording Engineer?

Aug 21, 2018 1428


Working with the likes of Rhiannon Giddens, Elton John, the Dixie Chicks, John Mayer and more, engineer Vanessa Parr has had to grapple with questions like - What do you do when musicians get frustrated in studio? How do you hold it together and work when you're standing next to your heroes? How do you help an artist when they get creatively stuck? Vanessa talks us through some memorable sessions from her very cool career and tells you what to listen for in some of her favorite recordings.

Remembering Aretha Franklin

Aug 16, 2018 2274


The Queen of Soul died today at the age of 76, and we've invited some special guests to reflect on her remarkable legacy. Gospel music Professor Dr. Deborah Pollard shares how the city of Detroit felt hearing Aretha sing at President Obama's inauguration. Music writer Ann Powers, and radio host Gwen Thompkins reflect on what Aretha's songs meant for women and civil rights. NPR Music's Senior Director Lauren Onkey shares a firsthand account of what it was like to tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Aretha and her grandkids. And we listen to some of the best music there is.

Jukebox The Ghost Are Off To The Races

Aug 14, 2018 2040


Jukebox the Ghost, the Brooklyn based three piece have been making dynamic pop and rock for the last 15 years, having just released their 5th album, Off to the Races. It's a joyous affair, with no shortage of inventive pop melodies, big hooks, and yes, plenty of piano. We talk about some of the fun tricks they used on Off to the Races, including layering Ben's voice over 100 times.

Liz Cooper and The Stampede

Aug 13, 2018 2357


Call it psychedelic, call it classic, or call it the sound of new Nashville -Liz Cooper and the Stampede are leading the rock pack in Tennessee right now. Cooper has gained a growing following in Nashville and beyond as one of the rock scene's most distinctive guitarists, with a style few can imitate; in her trio, the Stampede, she builds alluring soundscapes where her gently philosophical, wryly romantic lyrics come to life. She shares her take on 21st century psychedelia with the Cafe's Ann Powers, and the band performs live music from their debut album, Window Flowers, which just came out.

Jim Lauderdale: Time Flies

Aug 7, 2018 1530


Americana Master, Jim Lauderdale has been a Nashville performer and songwriter for over 30 years, releasing dozens of solo albums and writing for folks like Patti Loveless, Vince Gill and George Strait. You'd forgive him if he wanted to take it easy after winning the lifetime achievement award from the Americana Music Association, but instead Jim's releasing TWO albums this year, that serve as bookends for his career: A new studio album called Time Flies, and a collection of songs Jim recorded with his buddy and amazing mandolin player, Roland White way back in 1979. The tapes for "Jim Lauderdale and Roland White" were lost for almost 40 years, but Jim will tell us how they saw the light of day and performs live on World Cafe.

Amanda Shires Changes That Nashville Sound

Jul 31, 2018 1824


In the year and a half since Shires last visited World Cafe, she's finished her Masters of Fine Arts, raised a toddler, made a new record, won Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, toured in her husband Jason Isbell's band, and called up a country radio station to give them a piece of her mind after hearing a steady stream of only male voices.Shires shares some of those stories, and performs live music from her new record To The Sunset.

Amanda Shires Changes That Nashville Sound

Jul 31, 2018 1824


In the year and a half since Shires last visited World Cafe, she's finished her Masters of Fine Arts, raised a toddler, made a new record, won Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, toured in her husband Jason Isbell's band, and called up a country radio station to give them a piece of her mind after hearing a steady stream of only male voices.Shires shares some of those stories, and performs live music from her new record To The Sunset.

Stanley Clarke: The Message

Jul 31, 2018 1761


Stanley Clarke is a legend and virtuoso of both the electric and acoustic bass. As a classically trained musician, he's worked with countless musicians over the last several decades, most notably with Chick Corea in Return to Forever. On this visit to the World Cafe, he discusses his new album, The Message, and shares stories about Tom Petty, Keith Richards, and bass peer Jaco Pastorius.

Dave Matthews Band

Jul 19, 2018 3945


Hear live performances and an impassioned conversation with frontman Dave Matthews. Dave shares his excitement about the band's new album Come Tomorrow. He talks about having his song "Crash Into Me" used in the Greta Gerwig film Lady Bird, going to the March For Our Lives in Seattle with his daughter, and being born into apartheid-era South Africa. Dave also talks about the lineup changes in his band since they formed in 1991, including the passing of original saxophone player LeRoi Moore and the recent departure of violinist Boyd Tinsley.

Love Leads to 24 Million Spotify Streams

Jul 16, 2018 1726


Zack and Dani Green were married before they ever played music together. It was 6 months in when, one afternoon, the guitarist and singer asked his spouse for input on a song he was writing. Within hours they realized that Dani's background as a student of literature and her talent as a harmonizer brought Zak's music to another level. After reaching out to a few friends they created the band Birdtalker, and before ever embarking on a national tour their song "Heavy" took off on Spotify – it now has over 24 million streams! The group recently released their debut album ONE. Birdtalker join the Cafe's Ann Powers for a conversation about faith, doubt, love and listening, at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Suffers Do Whatever Feels Right

Jul 13, 2018 1221


The first line you hear lead singer Kam Franklin say on The Suffers new album is "Full on disclosure/I'm not here for exposure/I came to have a good time/So let me shine". Yeah, the Suffers are a party and a lot of fun, but they've also worked incredibly hard to find success. They've survived hurricanes and discrimination in the music business to thrive, all while proudly repping their hometown of Houston. The city's music scene and diversity are a huge part of the band's identity. We'll talk about all that, hear a live performance and we'll find out what cuffing season is.

Frank Turner Wants To "Make America Great Again"

Jul 11, 2018 1604


But how? That's the twist you'll hear in a song on Turner's new album "Be More Kind". Turner visits the Cafe to talk about his decision to dive back into the arena of social commentary in his music, even though in the past he received flak from both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum for his views. Turner also speaks about the personal benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and how the "militantly practical" techniques he learned have helped him cope with his own ups and downs.

Robert Hilburn on Paul Simon

Jun 30, 2018 2075


Renowned music critic and author Robert Hilburn has released the new biography, Paul Simon: The Life. The book follows Simon's enduring career, exploring the stories behind pivotal moments like the breakout hit "The Sound of Silence," and his 1986 comeback solo album, Graceland. We're talking about one of the greatest American songwriters today on the World Cafe.

The Mighty Kississippi

Jun 21, 2018 927


When she was young, Zoe Reynolds (aka Kississippi) wanted to be a pop star like Britney Spears. Then she discovered the singer-songwriter style of Liz Phair, and got inspired by bands like Dashboard Confessional - who invited Kississippi to open up for them on tour this year. Zoe has persevered through line-up changes, a record deal that fell through before her full-length debut Sunset Blush was released and the last-minute surprise that she would be performing solo without her band in front of our World Cafe audience.


Jun 21, 2018 1024


It's rare to sit down with rock and roll royalty like Spinal Tap lead singer David St. Hubins or lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel. So instead, we sat down with Derek Smalls, bassist and "lukewarm water" for the seminal band. Tap made its mark as one of England's loudest bands, releasing slightly above average records like Shark Sandwich and Smell the Glove. Now, Smalls is striking out on his own, with a reflective solo record in the vain of David Bowie's Blackstar and Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker. It's called Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) and features some of the rock legends that Smalls has befriended over the years including Dweezil Zappa, David Crosby, and Donald Fagan, and at least three brave drummers.

Bettye Sings Bob (Dylan)

Jun 20, 2018 1970


Bettye LaVette has an uncanny ability to squeeze every ounce of emotion out of a song with her voice. On her latest album Things Have Changed Bettye applies that talent to the music of Bob Dylan. Bettye relays the story of the time she met (read: was kissed by) Bob Dylan, and her thoughts on Dylan's own vocal delivery. She also delves into the ups and downs of her own career, from the frustration of struggling through failed record deals while many of her contemporaries got rich, to Bettye's gratitude for the renewed interest people have in her as an artist now.

Bermuda Triangle: Pals. Porches. Harmonies.

Jun 19, 2018 1850


Alabama Shakes leader Brittany Howard and rising solo performers Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser created Bermuda Triangle somewhere between afternoons spent trading songs on porches and evenings spent hanging out at bars in East Nashville. Now, even though they have only released two songs, the trio have played sold out shows across the country. Their magic is as much about the friendship that preceded the band as it is about the music they now make together – you can hear how their bond seeps into their songwriting and gives their harmonies an almost telepathic blend. They join Ann Powers at Nashville's Sound Stage Studios to talk and play live.

Welles Rocks Our World

Jun 15, 2018 1570


Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks, and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock meets grunge debut, Red Trees and White Trashes is alternatingly big, chunky, bombastic and driving, yet intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved - there's no shortage of ballads AND barnburners. Welles talks about what it was like to leave his home in Arkansas and make the journey to Nashville where he recorded with super-producer Dave Cobb.

Natalie Prass: Sour Times = Sweet Riffs

Jun 14, 2018 1973


Prass had an entire album ready to record when the results of the 2016 election left her feeling "devastated", in her words. She scrapped what she had been working on to write new songs that reflected the world around her. But the resulting album The Future and the Past doesn't sound embittered or in-your-face or even downtempo. In our interview, Prass explains how artists like Stevie Wonder inspired her to dig in to the sweet possibilities that tough times can make people stick together, to stand up and be counted and even to dance. As Prass says, "sometimes a good riff can do a lot of good in the world."

Peter Hook: Substance

Jun 13, 2018 2443


Few musicians have more of a signature sound, or personality, than Peter Hook. He was one of the founding members of Joy Division, pioneers of the post punk genre. When their lead singer Ian Curtis died on the eve of their first American Tour, the remaining members didn't mourn, within a week they'd reformed as New Order and proceeded to change the landscape of electronic music over the following decade. In this wide-ranging discussion, Hook talks about his time in both bands, plus playing classic New Order and Joy Division records with his band. The Light, and feuding with The Clash...over appetizers.

Willie. Nelson.

Jun 12, 2018 1689


We hop on Willie Nelson's tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose, to talk about his latest album Last Man Standing, released just days before Nelson's 85th birthday. Willie reflects on the pain of surviving some of his outlaw country friends, like Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, tells the story of a prank he pulled in the hospital while being treated for a collapsed lung and shares his thoughts on reincarnation. Nelson also lights up (in more ways than one) when we talk about his favorite ways to relax. Giggles ensue.

We Called Hozier, He Revealed New Lyrics

Jun 11, 2018 521


Having just announced his first US tour dates since 2015, the "Take Me To Church" singer says a follow-up to his massively successful self-titled debut album is "just around the corner". We caught up with Hozier on the phone to ask about the musical influences on his new tracks, and Hozier recited some lyrics from an upcoming song called "Wasteland, Baby!" that were truly striking.

Robert Finley: Goin' Platinum

Jun 8, 2018 1420


At the age of 10, Finley was given $20 dollars by his father, and told to go buy himself a pair of shoes. What he came home with instead sparked a musical passion that's been with him throughout his life. After serving in the Army in the 70's, Finley worked as a carpenter and was discovered by the Music Maker Relief Foundation while busking on the streets in Arkansas. This eventually led to a record deal and Finley's debut album, which came out when Finley was in his early 60's. Finley's new album, Goin' Platinum was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and includes songs co-written with John Prine and Nick Lowe, and performances from Bobby Wood, Dave Roe, Duane Eddy, Pat McLaughlin and others. Hear why Auerbach calls Finely the greatest soul singer alive.

Courtney Barnett Is A Powerhouse

Jun 6, 2018 1742


Courtney Barnett is known for shredding on guitar and for spinning details from the world around her into songs. On her new album Tell Me How You Really Feel, one of those details is a phrase borrowed from the author Margaret Atwood - "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." We talk about that lyric, Courtney's recent collaboration with Kurt Vile on the album Lotta Sea Lice, and what it's like to be married to another musician. Courtney's wife is songwriter Jen Cloher. Courtney also delivers an electrifying live performance with her band.

"Frustrated": 37 Million Spotify Streams

Jun 5, 2018 1762


Reggie Williams started out as a coffeehouse strummer, coming up with his catchy acronym R.LUM.R to christen a side project he never expected to blow up. Then the internet found him. Since its release 2 years ago R.LUM.R's song "Frustrated" has amassed more than 37 million streams on Spotify. He sings it (and more!) live and shares what he thinks people get wrong when they talk about how streaming has changed music. Plus, he also discusses why he felt moving to Nashville was crucial to his career as an African American artist.

The Ballad of Charley Crockett

Jun 4, 2018 2249


Charley Crockett will be the first to tell you his story sounds unbelievable. Charley was raised in South Texas by a single mom in a trailer. He spent time in New Orleans' French Quarter before hitchhiking his way to New York City where he busked in the subway and slept in parks. Charley got caught up in a stock fraud scheme with his brother who ended up in prison and they lost their sister to addiction. Charley's had ups and downs - and come out on the other side with a cowboy hat and a hard-earned version of inspiring optimism, along with some amazing songs. And oh yeah, Charley is a distant relative of Davy Crockett (as he says many Texans are).

John Prine: A Guy Walks Into Heaven's Bar

Jun 1, 2018 3050


With career songs like "Angel From Montgomery", "Sam Stone" and "Hello in There", John Prine has carved his name forever in the book of American songwriting legends. On his new album Prine imagines what will happen when he gets to heaven. He'll reunite with his loved ones and smoke a cigarette that's nine miles long at a bar that shares a name with his new record: The Tree of Forgiveness. John talks about his early days as a mailman, playing Chicago's open mic nights before his 1971 debut and working with Nashville's finest today. He also performs live. Nobody tells a story quite like John Prine, and we hope you enjoy hearing him as much as we do.

F*** Dr. Dog!

May 25, 2018 2313


When it came time to make their 10th album as Dr. Dog, co-frontman Scott McMicken came to the band with a radical idea: "F*** Dr. Dog". What does that mean? How did the band react? And how did they turn that idea into a new album called Critical Equation? Scott explains and Dr. Dog performs live.

Local Man Says "Wow" At Donovan Woods Show...

May 25, 2018 2337


... after every single song. When I saw Donovan perform in Philly, the guy I was standing next to had never heard Donovan's music before and was so "wowed" he couldn't stop saying it. Donovan is that good. And he's co-written songs that were recorded by country heavyweights like Tim McGraw and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. Donovan explains how he cracked the Nashville scene, and performs live music from his new album Both Ways.

Soccer Mommy Scores Some Musical Goals

May 23, 2018 1371


Sophie Allison did something most people might balk at in order to launch her music career as Soccer Mommy – she dropped out of NYU, putting more on the line than many young musicians, as she also had a scholarship to that prestigious school. Before she had released some much buzzed about high school bedroom recordings, now she has put out a remarkable studio debut called Clean. She plays live and shares why she thinks taking a big risk to pursue her dream really wasn't much of a risk at all.

Ashley Campbell: Her Dad Glen, Her Debut

May 21, 2018 1935


After her father, the legendary Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Ashley Campbell decided to put her theatre dreams on hold and spend more time on the road with her dad. Ashley talks about what it was like to tour as part of her father's band during his final years onstage and shares early childhood memories of growing up in Arizona with Glen, outside the influence of the music industry. Ashley also performs live songs from her debut album The Lonely One, which combines her love of bluegrass with her sweet voice and wry wit.

Lake Street Dive on Kissing and Colbert

May 17, 2018 1399


On their new album Free Yourself Up, Lake Street Dive stitches the most fun bits of pop, soul, disco, jazz and rock and roll into something all their own. The band's four founders met as students at Boston's New England Conservatory. They visit the Cafe to perform live and reminisce about touring in the early days when they stuffed a big bass into the front seat of a Subaru. They also tell stories about the big TV break they got from their fan Stephen Colbert, and what it's like to celebrate the 4th of July at his house.

Lindi Ortega Slays Demons

May 15, 2018 1468


On her Spaghetti Western-style concept album Liberty, Ortega addresses some of her own demons including her battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder which caused Lindi to believe she looked like a "Picasso painting on acid". Lindi reflects on the resurrection of her career from the ashes of her 2017 swan song "Final Bow", talks about the redemptive power of love (both from her new husband and her fans) and performs live.

Delivery Room DJ

May 11, 2018 935


"One thing that we learned is that the most commonly watched show on TV during labor... is Jerry Springer". That's what parents Ali and Jaron told us, 6 weeks after welcoming their new baby into the world. So when Ali gave birth, they took control of the vibe with a playlist custom curated for the occasion, including songs by Stevie Wonder, Bobby McFerrin, Emily King, Mozart and Ethan Gruska.

Dr. Demento: Mad Music and Crazy Comedy!

May 10, 2018 1555


Since the 70s, legendary radio host Dr. Demento has kept listeners giggling with an array of wacky finds they couldn't hear anywhere else, including songs like "Dead Puppies", "Fish Heads" and "Shaving Cream". The Doctor also launched the career of parody and polka aficionado Weird Al. Now, there is a new double CD set to celebrate him, Dr. Demento Covered in Punk. It features punk rock covers of kooky novelty tunes that were popular on Dr. Demento's show – by artists like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Fred Schneider of B-52s, and William Shatner. The idea for the project came from long-time fan and musician John Cafiero, who has collaborated with punk bands the Misfits and the Ramones, and whose own band Osaka Popstar contributed to the album. Dr. Demento and producer John Cafiero take us on a fun ride through the new material and through novelty song history.

The Real Life Mr. Jukebox, Joshua Hedley

May 9, 2018 1555


Starting out in Nashville's Lower Broadway honkey tonks, Joshua Hedley played four-hour sets for tourists who came to hear their favorite oldies and regulars who came to dance. Putting in that time playing covers led to his guitarist nicknaming him "Mr. Jukebox", which is also now the name of his debut album for Jack White's Third Man Records. The new songs were a long time coming - even though he was hanging out in the local VFW before he was even a teen, learning from players several times his age, he waited until age 31 to start penning his own songs. Joshua Hedley shares what brought about that sudden interest in songwriting with the World Cafe's Ann Powers and shows off his warm tenor voice in a live performance from Nashville's Sound Stage Studios.

Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to Last Goodbye

May 4, 2018 2297


Dave Lory picked Jeff Buckley up in a white Ford contour van in the winter of 1994 for Buckley's first solo tour and co-managed Buckley all the way through his tragic and untimely death. For many years he did not feel ready to look back on his time with the revered singer but now that has changed - he has a new book called Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to Last Goodbye and he dropped by the Cafe to give us an early preview before it comes out May 29th. Lory gives us a window into Buckley's tremendous artistic life, including the triumphs and challenges surrounding the 1994 release of his debut Grace. And Lory mines the painful memory of Buckley's disappearance in 1997 – including the final voicemail Buckley left for Lory shortly before his death as well as the spooky Buckley experience he had many years later.

Shakey Graves Can't Wake up

May 3, 2018 2214


The new Shakey Graves album is a sonic far cry from his 2011 debut, which is known for its signature suitcase kick drum and guitar sound. His new record is called Can't Wake Up. It explores themes of death and dying - sleep and sleeplessness. But that's not the whole story. We'll talk about recording at Kevin Costner's house while on the road, what Shakey is afraid of, and his writing pal Rayland Baxter.

Legendary Pianist Chick Corea

Apr 30, 2018 2134


Chick Corea tells stories about working with Miles Davis, watching Thelonious Monk perform and collaborating with legendary drummer Steve Gadd on their latest album while seated at a piano at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Chick also demonstrates how he wrote the introduction to his famous song "Spain", while we try and wrap our heads around the break-neck speed of Chick's creative life.

Superchunk: What a Time To Be Alive.

Apr 27, 2018 1221


A year and a half ago, Mac McCaughn of Superchunk was feeling very frustrated, so he did what anyone with an amazing indie rock band would do: pounded out new 11 songs addressing the current political climate. It's been almost 30 years of Superchunk and along the way McCaughan, who also runs Merge Records, has figured out a way to survive in an industry that's dramatically changed. He talks about that, embracing 'community' on this political record, and doing interviews on the road on a pay phone back in the day.

Hop Along's Big Leap

Apr 24, 2018 2429


The band Hop Along's new album Bark Your Head Off, Dog is teeming with the bubbling feeling of an act about to break through. Lead singer Frances Quinlan can feel it too – which is part of the reason she's hanging up her serving apron at Philly restaurant/venue Johnny Brenda's (in her words, "for now"). Hop Along performs live, and Frances talks about her artist heart and unmistakable voice, both of which she's had since childhood. She also explains how getting cast as the Wicked Witch rather than Dorothy in a sixth-grade production of The Wizard of Oz helped her find the vocal superpower that is at the center of Hop Along's sound.

One Heartless Bastard Takes A Trip

Apr 19, 2018 1632


Heartless Bastards' lead singer Erika Wennerstrom went into the Amazon jungle to take the psychedelic hallucinogen Ayahuasca, and came out with the seeds for a new solo album about self-love called Sweet Unknown. Erika shares the story of her trip, talks about the Heartless Bastards hiatus and performs live with a new touring band.

Still Nutty After All These Years: Squirrel Nut Zippers

Apr 17, 2018 1636


When Dr. Sick got the call to join Squirrel Nut Zippers his first reaction was: "Are they still a band?" Oh are they ever, thanks to the wonderful and wacky ear of original member Jimbo Mathus. He pulled together a revival cast who have recorded a new batch of songs for Beasts of Burgundy, the first new Squirrel Nut Zippers album in 18 years. Dr. Sick will demonstrate how he plays the singing saw, which is exactly like the saw in your shed. Singer Cella Blue will wail. Oh yeah, and all 9 of them will deliver a boogie-inducting, raucous performance.

Laura Veirs Has a Lot of Babies

Apr 13, 2018 1621


... Well, only 2 human babies. But a LOT of creative babies, including a new album called The Lookout for which Laura initially wrote a whopping 117 before choosing 12 to make the cut. Laura also has a podcast, authored a children's book, and wrote and performed with Neko Case and k.d. lang for their case/lang/veirs album. Laura performs songs from The Lookout, and talks about the partnership she shares with her husband Tucker Martine who produced the album and has also worked with the likes of The Decemberists, First Aid Kit and more.

Forgotten Frontiersmen: Black Cowboys

Apr 12, 2018 1955


Let go of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood as your primary image of a classic American buckaroo. On his new album Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys, the Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder opens up the frontier. He discusses how the West was a key landing place for black people starting new lives after their emancipation from slavery, and that it was more diverse than the images we often see in the movies or on TV - Latinx, Native, black as well as white people were all a part of the newly settled communities. With stories of real-life superheroes like Bass Reeves, the first Black U.S. Marshall in the West and the guy who inspired the iconic character of The Long Ranger, Dom Flemons plays some newly penned songs and talks with Ann Powers at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Courtney Marie Andrews is the Real Deal

Apr 10, 2018 2521


After leaving home at 16 to pursue music, Courtney slept in tents or at gas stations and played for anyone who would listen. She put out a handful of records in between bartending shifts and other side gigs like singing back-ups for the band Jimmy Eat World. We are thrilled that road led Courtney to World Cafe. She shares stories about being raised on the gospel of kindness and being taught to sing by Aretha Franklin (kinda), and performs music you don't want to miss from her country-folk leaning new album May Your Kindness Remain.

Jonathan Wilson: A Rare Bird

Apr 6, 2018 2166


Jonathan Wilson is also an in-demand producer, who has worked with lots of artists including Father John Misty, Dawes, and Conor Oberst. He's also a very talented singer/songwriter in his own right and just released his third studio album Rare Birds. The album is a sonic adventure, with some songs featuring up to 150 tracks, a style he's lovingly dubbed "Maximalist." Wilson doesn't go on this journey alone, he's brought some of his collaborators and friends along with him including Lana Del Rey, Josh Tillman, and Lucius. Wilson also serves as Roger Waters guitarist. Yes, that Roger Waters of Pink Floyd! We'll talk about Wilson's life and career and hear live performances along the way.

Hailu Mergia's Remarkable New Beginning

Apr 5, 2018 1308


Hailu Mergia grew up herding sheep in the Ethiopian countryside before becoming a member of one of Ethiopia's most popular bands in the 70s. After his band toured the US in 1981, Hailu chose to stay rather than return to his home country which was in the throes of the brutal Ethiopian Civil War. Hailu gave up playing music for a living. But he kept a keyboard in the back of the taxicab he drove in Washington, and practiced between customers. Through a musical twist of fate, Hailuis back with a brand new album called Lala Belu. Hear his story, and a live performance.

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists

Apr 2, 2018 1066


On their new record, I'll Be Your Girl, The Decemberists have deliberately switched up their sound. Since the early 2000's they've been making a unique blend of lyrically dense indie folk rock, but there's a difference this time around, notably, word economy and keyboards - like Depeche Mode or Yaz keyboards. We'll talk about the changes the band made, and why they felt they had to make them. Colin will tell the story of how he came to write the music for "Ben Franklin's Song," a bonus track from the musical Hamilton. The song's lyrics were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Moby. Yeah, that Moby!

Mar 30, 2018 1867


Moby performs new music from his latest album Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, plus a he plays a stripped-down version of his hit song, "Porcelain." Moby's never one to shy away from answering a question, and in this wide-ranging discussion, he talks openly about becoming a vegan, finding sobriety ten years ago, and why, at age 52, he has no desire to tour again (but he'll gladly perform for a bunch of kids). Moby also talks openly about finding and using Alan Lomax's Sounds of the South, the recordings he sampled in the creation of his smash album Play.

Erin Rae Has Nashville "Transfixed"

Mar 29, 2018 1646


That's the word John Paul White, formerly of Civil Wars, used to describe the first time he heard Erin perform. She writes songs reminiscent of the dreamy folk-pop of artists like Jackson Browne or the Carpenters. Erin has just announced a new album called Putting On Airs. It comes out in June, and some of the songs address Erin's personal struggle to understand her own sexuality. Erin was raised in Tennessee by very liberal folk-singing parents, who she'd join on stage at local coffee houses. But the prejudices she saw around her made Erin afraid of what she calls "seeming gay". She'll perform a song inspired by that struggle live from Nashville's Sound Stage Studios, and talk to Ann Powers about the family drama that ensued after her Aunt came out as gay and was then declared an unfit mother by the State.

Sorry is Gone: Jessica Lea Mayfield

Mar 27, 2018 1986


The intensity of emotions and sounds on Jessica Lea Mayfield's new record come directly from her own life. Sorry is Gone chronicles her experience as a domestic violence survivor and the end of her abusive marriage with the fuzzy grunge she started to embrace on her last record, 2014's Make My Head Sing. She discusses why she decided to make her story public, what she worries about as the #metoo movement progresses and how she can't help but write from her own experience. It's a powerful story - something she wanted to share for important reasons - but it's also a sensitive subject, so there may be some material that is difficult to listen to in this edition of our podcast.

NYC Breakout Band: Sunflower Bean

Mar 23, 2018 1256


There are a billion and something bands from New York, but the group joining us today are poised to be breakout stars. They're called Sunflower Bean and their sophomore album Twentytwo In Blue incorporates the band's love of 70's British glam rock like T. Rex and Slade. Sunflower Bean is a three-piece featuring singer/bassist Julia Cumming, guitarist/vocalist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber. The band performs live and tells us what it's like to be a young, working musician. Did we mention that they're all 22 years old?

Rick Springfield: "Jessie's Girl" to Blues-Rock Guy

Mar 23, 2018 2879


Springfield's latest album The Snake King is musically inspired by blues-rock and lyrically inspired by his own experiences with the blues, including grappling with God and a lifelong battle with depression. When he was a teen, Springfield tried to hang himself. Surviving that led him to believe that he was destined to make music. Springfield entertained troops in Vietnam in his teens, conquered the pop world with the 1981 hit "Jessie's Girl" and starred as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. Springfield shares some of his life story and performs live.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Swoop In

Mar 15, 2018 4156


Former Oasis guitarist and principal songwriter Noel Gallagher now rolls with a band 10 members deep. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds includes a brass section and a scissors player (really). Noel and his birds perform songs their latest album Who Built the Moon? and Noel talks with World Cafe's Talia Schlanger about drawing inspiration from Blondie and Kanye West, how it feels to perform Oasis' huge hit "Don't Look Back in Anger" these days, and his theory on coffee and the TV sitcom "Friends" ruining rock and roll. Noel also addresses the personal stories that are off-limits in his songwriting, including the abuse he experienced at the hands of his father when he was a kid and what he's doing to try and make sure his own children have a different upbringing than Noel and his famously feuding brother Liam Gallagher had.

This Composer Scores NBC's "This Is Us"

Mar 12, 2018 1632


Siddhartha Khosla writes the music that underscores the emotional drama on NBC's hit show "This Is Us". He'll tell us about his process which sometimes involves sobbing on his guitar, and what it was like to write the music that was heard by 38 million people in the climactic "Super Bowl Sunday" episode. Siddhartha also shares the soundtrack to his own life. When he was a baby, Siddhartha's parents had to send him back to their home in India while they were at school in the United States. His mom would ship cassette tapes of herself singing traditional Indian songs to him, which formed Siddhartha's musical foundation. He discovered rock music as a kid in New Jersey when he flipped on the radio one day and heard R.E.M. Siddhartha is the frontman of his own indie band called Goldspot, and also composes music for the Hulu Marvel series "Runaways", the Lionsgate drama "The Royals" and more.


Mar 9, 2018 1800


BØRNS' latest album Blue Madonna features his stratospheric vocal range and the same delightfully off kilter pop sensibility that caught Prince's attention on BØRNS' 2015 hit "Electric Love". He drops by the Cafe to talk about his carefully curated sense of personal style, collaborating with Lana Del Rey and his childhood ambition to be a "skateboard paramedic" (he'll explain).

NPR's Sam Sanders Does My Job

Mar 6, 2018 2513


NPR host and music lover extraordinaire Sam Sanders joins Talia Schlanger to share his incredible breadth of music knowledge and appreciation, from the gospel songs his mom used to play around the house when Sam was a kid to the music he danced to at prom to the rappers who motivate his morning run. Sam and Talia sing. They laugh. They cry to Bonnie Raitt. Plus, Talia surprises Sam with a phone call to one of his favorite artists. And hey - if you haven't checked out Sam's podcast/radio show it's called "It's Been a Minute", and we love it. We think you might too.

Poetry in Motion: Jorge Drexler

Mar 2, 2018 2048


Drexler's charming and poetic album Salvavidas De Hielo includes a lullaby for silence, an anthem of empathy for migrants and as much texture as you can imagine pulling out of an acoustic guitar. In addition to being a compelling singer-songwriter Drexler is trained as an ear, nose and throat doctor and became the first Uruguayan to win an Academy Award in 2005. In this session Jorge reflects on the many phases of his career and performs live with his band from Bob Boilen's Tiny Desk. Special thanks to Bob for the performance space, and to engineers Josh Rogosin, Andrew Huether and James Willetts for making the recording sound so sweet.

Darlingside: More than the sum of their parts

Feb 28, 2018 1540


You must "kill your darlings" is advice that has been passed along to writers for decades. It means that you must rid yourself of your favorite and most self-indulgent work for the goal of becoming a better writer. The band Darlingside (the act of killing your darlings) has gotten very good at this over the past decade. Some of the songs on the new album Extralife have taken years to find their way to this album, and with a songwriting process that's very democratic, it's clear these are the finest versions of the songs. We'll discuss Darlingside's unique approach to recording and performing, including how they blend their voices around one microphone. And the band deconstructs one of their signature 4-part harmonies.

Jen Cloher Has Arrived

Feb 27, 2018 2316


Jen Cloher has been a staple on Melbourne's music scene for years, and she's finally enjoying international success thanks to her excellent 2017 record. Jen visited the Cafe on a mostly sold out US tour with her band, which includes her rock star wife - Courtney Barnett. Shortly after Jen and Courtney began dating, Courtney's career exploded and Jen found herself at home alone in Australia. We'll talk about how Jen moved through the inevitable jealousy while Courtney was on tour, and hear music inspired by that experience. Jen will also share why she wanted to be called John as a kid and how she felt when Australia's government decided to legalize same-sex marriage.

No More Day Jobs for Mt. Joy

Feb 23, 2018 1328


Founded in the Philadelphia area by Sam Quinn and Matt Cooper, Mt. Joy's ambitions were to record songs. And that's what they did, before heading back to their day jobs, as a manager in the music industry, and as a lawyer. Everything changed, though, when they uploaded the song "Astrovan" to Spotify. Over 10 million plays later, the band has set up shop in Los Angeles, played Conan, and are a part of NPR's new music discovery program, Slingshot. Kallao talks to Matt and Sam about what it was like to quit their jobs to pursue their musical ambitions, what they get asked about on Facebook, and how long it took to craft their very first single, "Silver Lining".

O-M-Glen Hansard!

Feb 22, 2018 1771


Talia here - I had a hard time holding it together while Glen Hansard emotionally wailed his guts out performing songs from his new album Between Two Shores. And the guy can spin a yarn too. Glen tells stories about the advice he got from Bruce Springsteen, the month he spent travelling from Ireland to Spain in a rowboat, and the way he remembers his late father.

Sunny War Will Stop You In Your Tracks

Feb 21, 2018 1768


It's difficult to describe Sunny's guitar virtuosity - but you can find her somewhere between the rooted blues of Robert Johnson,  the lightning plucky folk of Richard Thompson  and the dexterous wonder of Jack Rose. Sunny cut her performance chops busking for nearly a decade on Venice Beach, where she hung out with people she calls "gutter punks". We talk about the drug-induced near-death experience that landed her in a sober living facility, and how she honed a performance style as unique as it is arresting. Plus Sunny plays emotionally rich live songs from her latest album With The Sun.

Unreleased Nashville Rock: Idle Bloom

Feb 20, 2018 1369


Voted best local band by the Nashville Scene in 2016, Idle Bloom will release their sophomore album this summer. Since their founding 4 years ago the group has grown from its roots in the all ages punk community to a tight, tuneful ensemble whose songs are equal parts daring and dreamy. Lead singer Olivia Scibelli, guitarist Gavin Schriver, bassist Katie Banyay, and drummer Weston Sparks put out their Idle Bloom debut Little Deaths last year and they have a new disc called Flood the Dial coming this summer. They play some of the unreleased songs live and give their take on how the local music community is, and isn't, addressing the issue of sexism in rock in an interview with Nashville correspondent Ann Powers.

Lana Del Rey: Fame, Feminism & Getting Free

Feb 16, 2018 2134


From her collaborations with Stevie Nicks and the Weeknd on her latest album Lust for Life, to the advice she's gotten about fame from Eddie Vedder and Courtney Love, Lana Del Rey reflects on where she's at now. That includes her discomfort around singing the lyrics "he hit me and it felt like a kiss" from 2014's Ultraviolence and her thoughts on the #MeToo movement. Lana also reminisces about growing up in Lake Placid, New York and cops to being a tree-lover. Who knew?

From Gospel to Personal: Blind Boys of Alabama

Feb 16, 2018 1643


For over 70 years, Blind Boys of Alabama have put their stamp on gospel standards. But their latest album Almost Home is filled with songs that tell the personal tales of the two original surviving members Jimmy Carter and Clarence Fountain - stories about being sent to a school for the blind when they were kids, touring the segregated South in the 40s, and the unwavering faith that got them through. Jimmy and Clarence's stories were adapted into new music by songwriters including John Leventhal, Marc Cohn, Valerie June and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. Hear an interview with Jimmy, and a live performance by Blind Boys of Alabama.