World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN

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

Episode Date
John Craigie Has A Knack For Spinning Stories
In this session, Craigie performs songs from his new album, Asterisk the Universe, and we get to hear what makes him such a great storyteller at his shows.
Sep 11, 2020
Will Toledo Takes Car Seat Headrest In A New Direction
On his band's latest album, Making a Door Less Open, Toledo expanded the scope of Car Seat Headrest's sound, embracing dance music wholeheartedly.
Sep 08, 2020
Hannah Georgas, The Other Singer-Songwriter Who Enlisted Aaron Dessner
The Canadian singer-songwriter's new album, All That Emotion, was released on Friday.
Sep 07, 2020
Ray Lamontagne's 'Monovision' Provides A Soothing Escape From Everyday Life
The singer-songwriter's latest album gives you a glimpse into the natural world that inspires him — and the first album he's made entirely on his own.
Sep 04, 2020
Mondo Cozmo Topped The Charts, And Then Lost His Cool
Josh Ostrander shares how putting his hand through a pane of glass influenced his latest album, New Medicine.
Sep 03, 2020
Don Bryant On The Art Of Songwriting
The esteemed Memphis, Tenn., songwriter discusses his 50-plus years in music and performs live.
Sep 01, 2020
Bettye LaVette Might Be Just What You Need Today
LaVette just released Blackbirds, an album of reinterpretations of songs popularized by some of her favorite jazz singers.
Aug 28, 2020
How Old 97's Kept It Together Through Life's Ups And Downs
Together for 27 years with the same lineup, the long-running band is back with its 12th album, Twelfth.
Aug 24, 2020
Are You 'Chaotic Good'? Johanna Warren Explains The Concept Of Her New Album
Showcasing her beautiful vocals, Johanna Warren also makes space for louder, more aggressive elements on her latest album, Chaotic Good.
Aug 20, 2020
Though It May Seem Like It, Michael McDonald Can't Predict The Future
The Doobie Brothers frontperson released covers of two iconic songs earlier this year that have had an unexpected resonance during the global COVID-19 pandemic and the wave of protests against police brutality.
Aug 18, 2020
How An Unexpected Call Brought Kathleen Edwards Back To Music
The Canadian singer-songwriter traded her music career for a completely different life running a coffee shop until a Nashville experience brought her back to making music.
Aug 14, 2020
The Unconventional Influences On Hazel English's Debut Album
English's Wake UP! was not only influenced by the sounds of the '60s but by Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle, a critical text that examines what we do for attention.
Aug 13, 2020
The Chicks Are Still Speaking Out
The Chicks returns with Gaslighter, the trio's first album in 14 years. Today, Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer talk about the album, their past and why they're still speaking out.
Aug 07, 2020
Canadian Band Dizzy's New Album Is Full Of Songs About The Uncertainty Of Your 20s
Members of the Juno-award winning Canadian band talk about their new album, The Sun and Her Scorch, and play songs from it live.
Jul 31, 2020
The Controlled Chaos Of Man Man
The eclectic band's new album, Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between, is its first in seven years. Frontperson Ryan Kattner says three years into it, he started the whole recording process over.
Jul 29, 2020
A Proud Son Of Immigrants, Zeshan B Shares His Views On America, Race And Music
Zeshan B's music combines his love of American soul with influences from India and Pakistan, where his parents grew up. His latest album is called Melismatic.
Jul 24, 2020
Bluegrass Sibling Duo Sean And Sara Watkins Returns As Watkins Family Hour
The Watkins Family Hour's latest album, Brother Sister, is the first album that the siblings have written as a duo in their 30-plus year career.
Jul 23, 2020
Pavement's Stephen Malkmus Decided It Was Time To Make A Weirdo-Folk Record
There are lots of projects that you might know Stephen Malkmus from, but none of them sound like his latest album, Traditional Techniques.
Jul 22, 2020
Lucinda Williams Has Forged Her Own Path
Hear a conversation with Lucinda Williams recorded from her home in Nashville at the end of June about her new album, Good Souls Better Angels.
Jul 20, 2020
'The State, Unchecked, Is Your Ultimate Enemy': Run The Jewels On 'RTJ4'
Killer Mike and El-P talk about the way RTJ4 has resonated in this moment, the dynamic between the two that allows them to create such compelling stories and the televised speech that Killer Mike gave to the people of Atlanta last month.
Jul 17, 2020
Bob Geldof Reflects On Live Aid, 35 Years Later
An estimated 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch Live Aid 35 years ago today. It was an unprecedented, star-studded benefit concert – and it was the brainchild of today's guest, Bob Geldof.
Jul 13, 2020
Willie Nelson Inhabits The Songs Of Others On 'First Rose Of Spring'
In this session, Nelson reflects on First Rose of Spring, his 70th studio album released July 3.
Jul 08, 2020
The Jayhawks Returned To Minnesota To Record Its New Album 'XOXO'
You'll hear full band performances as well as an interview with The Jayhawks' bandleader, Gary Louris, in this session. He talks about writing for The Chicks,
Jul 07, 2020
Muzz Is Not A Supergroup
Though it features members of Interpol, The Walkmen and Bonny Light Horseman, Muzz says the term "supergroup" doesn't apply.
Jul 06, 2020
Nicole Atkins Takes Us To The Beach On 'Italian Ice'
This might be kind of an unusual summer, but Nicole Atkins' new record has come just in time for you to be able to visit the beach through your headphones!
Jun 30, 2020
Nerding Out With Steve Aoki
One of the most successful electronic music producers joins us for a spirited conversation that covers music, technology and foam pits.
Jun 29, 2020
Brandy Clark Has An Impressive Songwriting Resume
Clark's racked up writing credits working with other artists over the years. Now she's released her third album, Your Life Is A Record.
Jun 26, 2020
On 'Devotion,' Margaret Glaspy Allowed Herself To Be More Vulnerable
Glaspy found success a couple of years ago with her debut full-length album, Emotions and Math. Now she's back with a new one, called Devotion.
Jun 25, 2020
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Reflects On Forgiveness In 'Temple'
Do you remember realizing your parents weren't exactly who you thought they were? Thao Nguyen explores the themes of fault and forgiveness on her latest album.
Jun 22, 2020
Jason Isbell On Honesty In Songwriting And Doing The Right Thing
Jason is a thoughtful, gifted storyteller and songwriter, and also a caring, engaged thinker, someone who never shies away from speaking his mind. He'll talk about being engaged and will play live versions of songs from his new album with the 400 Unit, Reunions.
Jun 17, 2020
It's Hard To Keep Mt. Joy From Making Music
Mt. Joy was recently on the road with The Lumineers when the tour was cut short by the pandemic. The members of the group perform for us separately from home in this session.
Jun 16, 2020
Behind The Smell, Not Your Average Music Venue In Los Angeles
The Smell has been a home to lots of LA bands and musicians, including artists like No Age, Ty Segall, Mika Miko, Best Coast, Warpaint and Feels.
Jun 12, 2020
Decades Of Hits: A Tour Of Capitol Studios
From Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra to Bonnie Raitt and Paul McCartney, here's how the studios at Capitol Records in Los Angeles influence artists' sound.
Jun 12, 2020
Norah Jones On Stoking The Fires Of Creativity For Almost 20 Years
The acclaimed jazz pianist and songwriter's new album, Pick Me Up Off The Floor is out tomorrow. She talks about how her non-stop work ethic and the spirit of collaboration shaped her seventh studio album.
Jun 11, 2020
Courtney Marie Andrews' New Album 'Old Flowers' Came From Heartbreak And Loss
There are a lot of heartbreak albums out there. Heartbreak is maybe the biggest and most enduring inspiration when it comes to songwriting, but it's rare to hear heartbreak dealt with as much nuance as Courtney Marie Andrews gives it.
Jun 09, 2020
Take A Walk Down The Oldest Street In LA With La Santa Cecilia
Not only did the Grammy-winning band get its start here, but its leader, La Marisoul, also operates a shop in the Mexican Marketplace found on Olvera Street.
Jun 05, 2020
Steven Page Shares New Song 'Isolation' In A Performance From Home
Steven Page, who you may recognize as the lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, shares songs written while isolated during the pandemic.
Jun 03, 2020
Christine And The Queens' Energy Is Electric, Even Over Video Chat
Christine is expressive in every sense, not only in her avant-garde music or the way she communicates complexities through dance, but also in conversation.
Jun 01, 2020
Jamie Drake's Debut Album Was A Decade In The Making
After settling in LA, Jamie waited 10 years before she started performing publicly. But, as you are about to hear, the wait was worth it.
May 29, 2020
LA Hood Life Tours: A Ride Through The Birthplace Of West Coast Hip-Hop
LA Hood Life Tours take you to where Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle and the larger genre of West Coast Hip-Hop got started.
May 29, 2020
Chicano Batman Speaks To Its Musical Evolution On 'Invisible People'
Chicano Batman's latest album, Invisible People, is a big sounding record, but it's also tight and filled with hooks.
May 28, 2020
Possum Dixon Bandleader Rob Zabrecky Found The Magic In Performance
Not only was he was the rock and roll leader of Possum Dixon, but he's a world class magician, storyteller and now author with his 2019 memoir, Strange Cures, which explores his life and a very untold side of LA.
May 22, 2020
LA Trio JEMS Creates Harmonies And Songs To Stand The Test Of Time
The Los Angeles trio performs live from the famed club Hotel Cafe, sharing the importance of the venue, and how they discovered they could sing in such perfect harmony.
May 22, 2020
Sparks Refuses To Go Out Of Style
The band's been flipping pop conventions for the past five decades; that innovation continues on its latest, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip.
May 18, 2020
A Career-Spanning Conversation With Liz Phair
We met up with Liz Phair during a Sense Of Place trip to Los Angeles in early March. She performs live and talks about her journey, overcoming expectations, her upcoming album, Soberish.
May 15, 2020
Ethan Gruska's Musical Family Tree Goes Way Back
Ethan Gruska has produced for artists including Fiona Apple, Phoebe Bridgers and Manchester Orchestra, but he's also a successful solo artist. He'll play a few songs from his excellent sophomore album, En Garde, for this Sense of Place session.
May 15, 2020
It'll Take More Than A Tornado And A Pandemic To Stop The Music Of Nashville
World Cafe's Nashville correspondent, Ann Powers, talks about the state of Music City and five new releases that she's excited about.
May 15, 2020
Did Hamilton Leithauser Write A Song About You?
His new album is called The Loves of Your Life, and each song was written about a different person — some strangers, some friends. Hamilton embellished some details and changed some names, but he didn't tell anyone he was writing about them.
May 13, 2020
With 'Silver Landings,' Mandy Moore Reclaims Her First Love, Music
The teen pop-turned-TV star shares what it was like working with her husband, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, on her new album, and how he helped her return to songwriting.
May 11, 2020
Radio DJ Zane Lowe Shares His Take On The Future Of Music
While capturing a Sense Of Place in Los Angeles, Zane Lowe shares the city's current status and where artists and fans might go from here in this strange moment in history.
May 08, 2020
How A Book Of New Orleans Brothels Inspired Don Vappie's Latest Album
The Blue Book of Storyville was a catalog that described the city's many brothels and prostitutes. Don Vappie, known for interpreting New Orleans' music canon, used it to imagine his latest album.
May 06, 2020
Waxahatchee Ventures From Her Rock Roots To Americana
Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield went through a period of personal growth while making her latest album, 'Saint Cloud.'
May 04, 2020
Early James On His Debut Album And A Dose Of Perspective About His Canceled Tour
The young singer-songwriter, whose debut album was released last month on Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound and Nonesuch Records, provides a thoughtful explanation of life on his song "High Horse."
Apr 29, 2020
M. Ward Is Staying Busy During the Pandemic
M. Ward discusses what he's been up to and what inspired his latest album, Migration Stories. He also performs songs from the album.
Apr 27, 2020
Self-Isolating HAIM Shares Stories From Upcoming Album, 'Women In Music Pt. III'
Danielle, Alana and Este of HAIM joined us for a virtual conversation to discuss the decision to postpone the album, writing songs via voice memos and break down their verses on the song "Hallelujah."
Apr 23, 2020
Angie McMahon On Reimagining Her Debut At Home And 'Keeping Time' In Isolation
From her home in Australia, Angie McMahon talks about the songwriter's romantic ideal of being awake at 4 a.m., winning a contest to open for Bon Jovi and the powerful song she wrote after a bad date.
Apr 22, 2020
Laura Marling Performs 'Song For Our Daughter' And Talks About Her New Album
Marling wasn't planning to release her new album until the end of the summer. But when the world changed, she changed her mind.
Apr 21, 2020
How Tré Burt Went From Busking To John Prine's Label
The singer-songwriter was doing pretty much everything on his own, until Oh Boy Records heard his debut album, picked it up and re-released it.
Apr 20, 2020
Radiohead's Ed O'Brien Talks 'Earth,' His New Solo Project As EOB
The Radiohead guitarist tells us about taking a break to spend time with his family, finding community at Glastonbury and drawing inspiration from the folk tradition of Wales with Laura Marling.
Apr 17, 2020
Introducing World Cafe's (New) New Orleans Correspondent
World Cafe host Raina Douris gets to know Gwen Thompkins while spinning some of the music that's provided the soundtrack to her life.
Apr 13, 2020
Frances Quinlan Steps Out On Her Own
After fronting Hop Along for 15 years, Quinlan goes solo with a set of personal, sometimes revealing songs.
Apr 13, 2020
Drive-By Truckers' 'The Unraveling' Is Inspired By The State Of The World
The last time the Drive-By Truckers visited World Cafe, it was the day of the 2016 election. Since then, the band's already politically-minded Southern rock has only gotten more urgent, more biting and more poignant.
Apr 10, 2020
The Black Crowes' Robinson Brothers Reunite As Brothers Of A Feather
Rich and Chris Robinson talk about what led up to the decision to end the band in 2015, and perform live as an acoustic duo.
Apr 08, 2020
Inside Rockbridge Guitars, Where The Music Really Starts
Co-founders Brian Calhoun and Randall Ray make guitars for artists like Dave Matthews, Richie Sambora and Jason Mraz. In this segment, Brian takes us on a tour of the shop and explains how every instrument is a unique piece of art.
Apr 03, 2020
Dive Into The Wild, Twisted And Surprisingly Cultured World Of GWAR
Join us for a tour of GWAR's "Slave Pit" from our recent Sense Of Place Trip to Richmond, Va.
Apr 02, 2020
A Look Inside Spacebomb Studios, The Creative Hub In Richmond, Va.
Founder and musician Matthew E. White hosts a tour around the studio and explains how not being located in a big music city makes Spacebomb so special.
Apr 01, 2020
Meet The Man Behind One Of Virginia's Oldest Record Stores
Take a little field trip to Barky's Record Store, owned by a cool character who's 87 years young.
Apr 01, 2020
Saw Black Is Part Of A Vibrant Music Community in Richmond, Va.
Richmond may not be thought of as a marquee music city name, but the artists there are building something really special.
Mar 31, 2020
Sleepwalkers Shares What Makes Richmond's Music Scene So Special
The fast-rising Richmond band performs songs from its sophomore album, Ages, live inside Spacebomb Studios.
Mar 30, 2020
There's Something Undeniably Catchy About The Music Of Gold Connections
Enjoy a live session, recorded at In Your Ear Studios during World Cafe's Sense Of Place trip to Richmond, Va.
Mar 27, 2020
Celebrate A Cajun St. Patrick's Day With Poguetry
Members of Celtic punk band The Pogues blend their style with Lost Bayou Ramblers from South Louisiana.
Mar 17, 2020
Jonah Mutono Drops Kidepo Pseudonym On New Album
Get a sneak preview of new songs from a man who has a pretty expansive worldview.
Mar 12, 2020
Aubrie Sellers Talks About Her Journey In 'Far From Home'
In this session, hear Sellers perform songs from her new album. We also discuss her journey and the joy of anonymity in a new place.
Mar 11, 2020
Huey Lewis Remains Remarkably Upbeat While Battling Hearing Loss
Huey Lewis and the News just released the group's first new full-length album of original music in almost two decades.
Mar 06, 2020
Bonny Light Horseman Makes New Folk Music, Inspired By The Spirit Of Old Folk
A session that captures that spirit of being an audience of one, from the trio of Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats, multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman and Anaïs Mitchell.
Mar 03, 2020
Birds Of A Feather Flock Together For Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
The band brings its high-energy psychedelic funk to a room packed with characters – including a wizard – in this live performance.
Feb 26, 2020
How A Challenge From David Crosby Ended Up On Becca Stevens' New Album
Hear a live performance of "Heather's Letters to Her Mother," a song about a young woman who was murdered while peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
Feb 25, 2020
20 Years Later, Sarah Harmer's New Album Reconnects With Her Solo Debut
Harmer's latest record, Are You Gone, is a spiritual successor to an album that came out back in the year 2000: You Were Here.
Feb 21, 2020
Nada Surf Revisits Its Roots On 'Never Not Together'
If you initially dismissed the band as a novelty, then you've missed out on more than 25 years of consistently smart alt-rock greatness.
Feb 20, 2020
Devon Gilfillian's Old-School Influences Shine On 'Black Hole Rainbow'
Gilfillian just released his debut full-length album that showcases his range of influences, from Hendrix to Al Green to Afrobeat, inspired by a recent trip to South Africa.
Feb 18, 2020
These Charlottesville Musicians Want To Change The Way You Experience Live Music
David Wax Museum and Lowland Hum invite you to shut your eyes for an immersive listening experience.
Feb 14, 2020
Rich Tarbell Literally Wrote The Book On Charlottesville's Music Scene
The longtime Charlottesville, Va., photographer captured local and national bands to document the scene in 'Regarding Charlottesville Music.'
Feb 13, 2020
See Charlottesville Through The Eyes Of David Wax Museum
David Wax and Suz Slezak take us on a walk through the city they love and share how they met and what happened when the Unite the Right rally came to Charlottesville.
Feb 12, 2020
Free Union Inspires A Message Of Unity
Led by Michael Coleman, the Charlottesville-based collective writes songs that bring people, ideas and musical styles together.
Feb 12, 2020
Horns Up, Forward March: The Cavalier Marching Band
Ever wonder how a marching band chooses songs, or how hundreds of musicians can be so perfectly coordinated? Today we find out with the Cavalier Marching Band.
Feb 11, 2020
From Jam Session To Song: The Wood Brothers On 'Kingdom In My Mind'
Steeped in roots music, The Wood Brothers found inspiration for the group's seventh studio album during improv sessions.
Feb 06, 2020
Jeff Goldblum Gathers An Assortment Of Guest Vocalists On His Latest Jazz Album
In this session, Jeff Goldblum joins me to talk about the assortment of famous guest vocalists he brought together for the project – and he somehow manages to get me to speak French. We kick off the session with the opening track from the new album, featuring Sharon Van Etten on vocals.
Feb 05, 2020
The Lone Bellow Brings Light Into A World That Can Seem Pretty Dark Sometimes
The Lone Bellow makes music that feels like it's welcoming you in — like the band members are opening their arms wide and inviting you to join their family with sing-along choruses, the hand-clapping rhythms and melodies that somehow sound familiar even on a first listen. The group's new album, 'Half Moon Light', comes out next Friday and is a collection of songs that are meant to comfort and bring light into a world that can sometimes seem pretty dark. It also introduces you to some of The Lone Bellow's actual family, including founding member Zach Williams' grandmother, whose piano playing opens and closes the record. In this session, Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist of The Lone Bellow join me to talk about what it's like to get so personal, and to play some songs from 'Half Moon Light', starting with "Count On Me."
Jan 31, 2020
The Milk Carton Kids Answers Its Own Question: 'What Even Is Americana?'
For today's session, The Milk Carton Kids plays songs from its latest release, The Only Ones, while standing around one microphone. That was the modus operandi for Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale until they enlisted a backing band (sometimes up to eight people on one song) for 2018's All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn't Do. Now they're back to basics. Listen to World Cafe's wide-ranging conversation with The Milk Carton Kids in the player above, including what the label "Americana" might mean, teaming up with Josh Ritter for his song "The Gospel of Mary" and bunch of live performances from The Only Ones, starting with "I Meant Every Word I Said."
Jan 30, 2020
Leif Vollebekk Sees His Song 'Hot Tears' As Yellow
About three years ago, Leif Vollebekk was set to release Twin Solitude, an album he thought might end up being his last. He felt like he wasn't having fun or finding an audience. But once the album came out, that all changed. Twin Solitude was critically lauded, and his shows started filling up. The record was shortlisted for his home country's prestigious Polaris Music Prize. So the Canadian songwriter kept going. Vollebekk's new album, New Ways, finds him expanding on a technique he used on some of Twin Solitude's most beloved songs: He recorded with only a drummer, adding the other parts later. In this session, he'll explain how that worked. We also talk about what it's like being a musician with synesthesia, plus how that's affected what he likes and doesn't like when it comes to music, as well as how he approaches music videos. We start off with "Hot Tears," a song he has described as appearing "yellow." Hear that and more in this episode.
Jan 30, 2020
Patience Pays Off On Jeremy Ivey's Debut Album
Sometimes you have to strike when the iron is hot, and sometimes you have to be patient. For today's guest Jeremy Ivey, that meant recording his first solo album at the age of 41. Over the years, Ivey's been busy backing his wife of more than 10 years, singer-songwriter Margo Price, playing on on her first two solo albums. In turn, Price produced his debut album, The Dream and the Dreamer. In this World Cafe session, we talk to Ivey about his story and hear music from Ivey and Price.
Jan 16, 2020
Hiss Golden Messenger Is Looking For Truth On 'Terms Of Surrender'
North Carolina's M.C. Taylor, also known as Hiss Golden Messenger, is a seeker. He's someone who is looking for truth – truth from the world, and truth from himself. You can hear that in the songs on his latest album, 'Terms of Surrender', an album so full of truth he originally wasn't sure if he should release it at all. Fortunately for us, he did. For this session, he joined me to talk about the album, the importance of family and what it was like dealing with depression while working on the record. You'll also learn about Taylor's admiration for teachers, which made its way into one of the songs on 'Terms of Surrender.'
Jan 15, 2020
Son Little Expands His Musical Palette On 'Aloha'
The first time I heard Son Little's song "The River" back in 2014, it completely floored me. With a mix of R&B and soul, it simultaneously sounded both timeless and of the moment, much more than a simple throwback tune. Son Little's musical palette continues to hit all of those musical sweet spots, but on his latest album, 'Aloha', out Jan. 31, he's pushed his sound even further. There wasn't a flange effect on early R&B records from more than 60 years ago, but there is on this record, recorded in Paris and produced by Renaud Letang. In this session, we'll discuss Son Little's sound and influences, plus how you get over losing all your songs due to a fried hard drive.
Jan 14, 2020
The Lumineers' 'III' Tells A Deeply Personal Story
Already one of the biggest bands in the world, The Lumineers did something adventurous on the group's third album, 'III': The Denver-based group created a record divided into three chapters, telling the story of a family across three generations and how addiction touched those lives. And while it's not the upbeat singalong music that the band is typically known for, the subject matter was important to The Lumineers' co-founders, drummer Jeremiah Fraites and singer Wesley Schultz. Both had witnessed the aftermath of addiction firsthand. We'll talk to The Lumineers about this very ambitious album, why the band decided to film a movie (across a series of ten music videos) in conjunction with the record and how it was partially set into motion by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.
Jan 13, 2020
The Growlers: Your Best-Kept Secret Favorite Band
Some bands feel like your own best-kept secret. Take The Growlers: The California group got its start when asked to play a house party. For more than a decade since, the band's managed to keep that underground feeling, where every show feels like you're seeing something special, like you're part of an in-the-know community. The group's music blends lo-fi surf-rock, garage rock, Americana and psychedelic into something so unique its members needed to come up with their own genre for it – hence "beach goth." But while The Growlers holds tight to its DIY ethos, the group's grown a dedicated fanbase, including people like Dan Auerbach, Julian Casablancas and Ellen DeGeneres. The Growlers released 'Natural Affair', the band's 6th studio album, back in October, just before playing three sold out shows at the band's own Beach Goth Festival in Hollywood. Today, frontman Brooks Nielsen joins me to talk about that album, that festival, what big-name attention has meant for the band and how the group has stayed true to its vision, even when it meant turning down big names.
Jan 09, 2020
Michaela Anne's Voice Shines Like A Beacon, Bringing You Back Home
Speaking to Michaela Anne feels a lot like listening to her music – she radiates a warmth both in her conversation and her music that immediately makes you feel at home. And for an artist who's spent her life constantly on the move, making wherever you are feel like home is an important skill. Michaela Anne's family moved constantly while her Dad was in the Navy. By the time she graduated high school, she'd lived in 20 different houses. That life is one of a touring and recording musician. A few years ago she went from Brooklyn to Nashville to record her second album 'Bright Lights and Fame', and to make her latest album 'Desert Dove', she took a trip to California. Desert Dove is a country album, but kind of like Michaela Anne's life – it doesn't stay settled in just one place. There are cinematic strings, there are nods to indie rock and honky tonk, and through all of it Michaela Anne's voice shines like a beacon, bringing you back home. In this session, Michaela Ann talks about her many homes, her many jobs, and her many sounds.
Jan 03, 2020
Michael Kiwanuka On Embracing His Name And How 'Big Little Lies' Changed His Life
You might know the song, "Cold Little Heart" as the opening credits to the HBO show "Big Little Lies", starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. It was a pretty big deal, but the person who wrote that song, Michael Kiwanuka, didn't even remember signing off on it at the time the show premiered. The popularity of that show catapulted Michael Kiwanuka into the spotlight here in the U.S. It also added to his fame at home in the U.K., where he had won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll before even releasing his first album and later saw his second album, 2016's 'Love & Hate', debut at No. 1 on the charts. Still, as the son of Ugandan parents, he struggled with feeling like an outsider. Now, he's back with his third album, simply titled 'Kiwanuka'. Michael Kiwanuka talks about embracing that name, finding his voice and how that TV show changed his life. Before we get to that conversation, we start with a live performance of "You Ain't the Problem" from his latest album.
Dec 20, 2019
Difficult Truths Best Whispered: Joan Shelley Sees The Beauty In The Fading
Where a musician lives can tell you a lot about their songs. Joan Shelley wears her love of Kentucky proudly, but for her latest album, 'Like The River Loves The Sea', Shelley left her home outside of Louisville, Ky., and headed to a very different environment: Iceland. Iceland presented its own opportunities and difficulties. Shelley found a wonderful string section that lends a lot of weight to the record, but apparently it's hard to find a banjo in Iceland. There may or may not be a single one in the whole country, but Shelley made the most of it with this beautiful and restrained album. We'll talk to her and her musical partner, Nathan Salsburg, about recording in Iceland and the very powerful nature of natural love.
Dec 17, 2019
On 'Bird Songs Of A Killjoy,' Bedouine Only Feels LA's Sunshine Sometimes
Our guest, Azniv Korkejian, records as Bedouine. The name reflects the many moves Azniv has made in her life — born in Syria, Azniv grew up in Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States. Here, she lived in Boston and Houston, as well as in several other Southern cities, before she settled in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood. On her sophomore record, Azniv has a song inspired by Echo Park, which she's called home now for a decade. We will also discuss the title of her album, 'Bird Songs of a Killjoy'. Azniv was finishing up the album when she realized there were more than a few instances of birds showing up in her song lyrics and titles.
Dec 05, 2019
Liam Gallagher Has A Lot To Be Happy About
One of my favorite viral videos in recent memory involved Liam Gallagher, former front man of Oasis, answering questions from a group of kids. It showcased his supremely talented wit, and a bit of his heart too. You can hear that joy in Gallagher's voice today, as he's got a lot to be happy about. 'Why Me? Why Not.' is the name of his second solo album, released in September, and he's also the subject of a new documentary called "Liam Gallagher: As It Was". The film chronicles the break-up of Oasis, the band that made him famous. The group was well-known, not only for songs like "Live Forever," "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger," but also because of the notoriously tense relationship between Liam and his brother Noel, who wrote the band's songs. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Oasis' debut album, 'Definitely Maybe'. We'll talk about all of that, plus why he admires his mother so much and how different it is to be a young rock star today than it was in the '90s.
Nov 29, 2019
Robbie Robertson On His Creative And Symbiotic Relationship With Martin Scorsese
Robbie Robertson is a very busy guy. This year alone, he released a new album, 'Sinematic', re-released The Band's self-titled sophomore album (celebrating its 50th anniversary) and worked with pal Martin Scorsese on two different projects. He scored "The Irishman", starring guys like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino and helped with the documentary "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band", which talks about his group's seminal work and the band members' relationships with one another. In other words, there's a lot to talk about, including getting booed every night backing Bob Dylan's first electric tour. We also chat about making music at Big Pink, Neil Diamond showing up for 'The Last Waltz' and oh-so-much more.
Nov 27, 2019
Kelsey Waldon Represents The Neo-Traditional Scene Burgeoning In Nashville
There are 8,000 stories in Music City from folks who arrive here with a dream in their hearts for a music career. But how exactly do you get there? There are just as many paths to success. Today, our Nashville correspondent, Jessie Scott, brings us a session with an artist representative of the neo-traditional scene burgeoning in Nashville. Kelsey Waldon plays hard country indebted to her native Kentucky. Her latest album, 'White Noise / White Lines', was released by John Prine's Oh Boy Records and she's the label's first signee in 15 years. Kelsey writes what she knows, about rural vistas and the personal inter-connectedness of small-town America. Though mainstream country sounds like pop these days, Kelsey will always be perceived as country — if only from the way her voice sounds. Her songs are rocking and ragged — John Prine was quoted recently saying that he signed Kelsey because he "believed" her. Today on the show, Kelsey talks with Jessie Scott about being true to her roots and delivering an album that represents her commitment to honesty. She brought her band to perform music from her latest album at Nashville's Love Shack Studio, and they start off with a song called "Anyhow."
Nov 22, 2019
Sonny Landreth Announces A New Album And Shares Stories About Peter Frampton
Slide guitar maestro Sonny Landreth's latest album, 'Recorded Live in Lafayette', was nominated for a Grammy and just recently made his fifth appearance at Eric Clapton's Crossroads festival, a place where virtuoso guitar players go to impress and be impressed. Sonny's a chill guy, even though he blazes on the guitar. In this session, he talks about playing with Clapton, touring with his old friend Peter Frampton and he will drop some musical knowledge, explaining the genesis of the song "It Hurts Me Too," which you might know as a Grateful Dead song. Plus, we'll be privy to a special announcement, and a sneak preview of some new music.
Nov 20, 2019
An Audience Q&A Leads To Surprising Answers From The Head and the Heart
Hosting an interview show means you don't want to ask silly questions. But sometimes, a silly or lighthearted question is a great way to learn something about a band, and that's what happened with Matty Gervais, Charity Rose Thielen and Jon Russell of The Head and the Heart when they visited for an audience session at World Cafe. We opened it up to questions from the audience and our attendees asked things like "What was your first concert?" and "What's the meaning of your band name?" — questions I generally wouldn't ask, but the answers were enlightening. You'll get those answers, but first let's get into it with a stripped-down and acoustic version of "Missed Connection."
Nov 19, 2019
Pete Townshend On Creativity, 'The Age Of Anxiety' And The Who's New Record
Pete Townshend: Not only is he the major creative force behind The Who, but he's also released several of his own solo records, prompted the first-known use of the term "rock opera" (for 1969's 'Tommy') and he's even credited with being the first person to smash a guitar on stage. But one thing Townshend had never done until now is write a novel. Earlier this month, he published "The Age of Anxiety". There are plans to turn it into an "opera art installation," which he says will be his last major solo work. He is also releasing a new album with The Who, called 'WHO', which is out Dec. 6. In this session, you'll hear some of the new music from that album. We'll talk about his debut novel, his realization two years ago that his famed rock opera 'Tommy' was actually about him, and his stance on all of the court cases concerning artist copyright issues.
Nov 18, 2019
How Psychedelics Influenced Noah Gundersen's Latest Album, 'Lover'
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."
Nov 08, 2019
Jessy Wilson Finds A Rock Vibe With Patrick Carney
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!"
Nov 07, 2019
The Infectious Joy Of Mwenso & The Shakes
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.
Nov 04, 2019
Edward Norton Shares His Vision For The Music Of 'Motherless Brooklyn'
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.
Nov 01, 2019
A Taste Of Jonatha Brooke's Favorites
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.
Oct 30, 2019
Ranky Tanky Shares The Music Of Gullah
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".
Oct 29, 2019
Tiny Desk Winner Feels Protective Of His Lauded Song
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.
Oct 28, 2019
Getting To The United States Wasn't Easy For The Muckers
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.
Oct 25, 2019
David Wax Museum Creates A Positive Message From A Difficult Situation
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.
Oct 24, 2019
Questlove Invites You To A 'Mixtape Potluck'
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.
Oct 23, 2019
From North Carolina To Buenos Aires With Che Apalache
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.
Oct 22, 2019
The Hold Steady Are Sleeping Over
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."
Oct 18, 2019
How the bird and the bee Reinterpreted Van Halen Classics With No Guitars
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).
Oct 16, 2019
Vampire Weekend Hits On Complicated Relationships And Identity
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.
Oct 15, 2019
Shawn Colvin Goes Acoustic With 'Steady On'
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".
Oct 14, 2019
Tamino Embraces His Voice And A More Delicate Sound
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."
Oct 11, 2019
Geek Out With 'Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book Of Bass'
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.
Oct 07, 2019
Mattiel's 'Satis Factory' Is Delightfully Unique
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.
Oct 02, 2019
Raphael Saadiq Sends A Universal Message On 'Jimmy Lee'
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.
Oct 02, 2019
Brittany Howard Is Seamless From The Studio To The Stage
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.
Sep 20, 2019
Talia Schlanger Welcomes New 'World Cafe' Host, Raina Douris
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!
Sep 20, 2019
Marc Chouarain On Pulling Music Out Of Thin Air
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.
Sep 17, 2019
Jack White And Brendan Benson On The Raconteurs' Return
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.
Sep 16, 2019
Bruce Hornsby Seeks Out The Strange
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.
Sep 13, 2019
Japanese Breakfast Has A Full Plate
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.
Sep 12, 2019
A Trumpet Made Of Bullet Casings
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.
Sep 11, 2019
'It Rains Love' On Lee Fields And The Expressions
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.
Sep 10, 2019
Ian Noe Reflects On Growing Up In Rural Kentucky
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.
Sep 09, 2019
Craig Finn Is Interested In The High And The Hangover
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.
Sep 06, 2019
Black Pumas Make The Perfect Pair
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 Burdon? 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 Burdon about their unique, respective backgrounds, including why Quesada says musicians are the "truck drivers of the art world."
Sep 05, 2019
A Hill Country Blues Riff Lesson from Cedric Burnside
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.
Sep 03, 2019
Mumford And Sons' Ben Lovett Stays Devoted To Shining A Light On Independent Talent
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.
Aug 30, 2019
Mumford And Sons' Ben Lovett Stays Devoted To Shining A Light On Independent Talent
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.
Aug 30, 2019
Nile Rodgers On Writing Smash Hits And Reworking David Bowie's 'Let's Dance'
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.
Aug 29, 2019
Ibibio Sound Machine Takes Us Around The World Without Leaving London
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'.
Aug 28, 2019
A Day In The Life Of The Beatles Brain Of Britain
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.
Aug 27, 2019
Jimi Hendrix And George Frideric Handel Were Neighbors Across The Centuries
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.
Aug 26, 2019
T Bone Burnett On Producing Legends And Singing His Own Tunes
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.
Aug 14, 2019
Shovels & Rope Celebrates A New Album, New Baby, A New Book And A Festival
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.
Aug 12, 2019
Pure Bathing Culture Overcomes Adversity On 'Night Pass'
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.
Aug 09, 2019
Tim Baker's Big-Hearted Solo Debut
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.
Aug 05, 2019
Perry Farrell Talks Motivation For 'Kind Heaven'
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'.
Aug 01, 2019
"Here Is Not Yemen": A-WA Shares Their Great-Grandmother's Refugee Story
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.
Jul 31, 2019
Molly Burch Isn't Just A Voice. She's Got The Songwriting Chops To Back It Up
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'.
Jul 30, 2019
Camp Cope Sings It Like They See It
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.
Jul 26, 2019
Is Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram The Future Of Blues Music?
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".
Jul 25, 2019
Firefly Folk By Caamp
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'.
Jul 23, 2019
The Black Keys Are Back
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.
Jul 19, 2019
A Special Slice Of New Orleans: King James And The Special Men
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.
Jul 15, 2019
Rodrigo Y Gabriela Find Inner Peace With 'Mettavolution'
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.
Jul 11, 2019
Molly Tuttle Plays A Mean Guitar On 'When You're Ready'
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.
Jul 08, 2019
Ben Dickey Lives On The 'Outskirts' And Takes A Star-Making Turn
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.
Jun 26, 2019
Johnathan Rice's 'The Long Game' Is Not Quite A Breakup Record
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.
Jun 24, 2019
Willie Nelson On Cowboys, 'Crazy' and Cannabis
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.
Jun 21, 2019
The Cactus Blossoms Go From A Fictional Bar To The Studio With Dan Auerbach
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.
Jun 20, 2019
Marissa Nadler Lends Out Her Trademark Haunting Vocals
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.
Jun 19, 2019
Greensky Bluegrass Mix The Energy Of Stadium Rock With The Spirit Of Jam Bands
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'.
Jun 17, 2019
Worlds Colliding: Rhiannon Giddens And Francesco Turrisi
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'.
Jun 14, 2019
Ace Of Cups' Endless Summer Of Love
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.
Jun 14, 2019
Hayes Carll Tells Stories That Reflect The World Around Him
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.
Jun 12, 2019
Lizzo Is In The Eye Of A Superstar Storm
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."
Jun 11, 2019
Norah Jones Turns Fame Into Freedom
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.
Jun 06, 2019
From Bluegrass to Newgrass: The Story Of Sam Bush
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.
Jun 06, 2019
Ryan Bingham's Rugged And Raw 'American Love Song'
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.
Jun 03, 2019
Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion
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.
May 21, 2019
Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)
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.
May 20, 2019
George Benson Has A Story To Tell
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.
May 15, 2019
Pedro The Lion's Homecoming
May 10, 2019
Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues
May 08, 2019
Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes
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.
May 07, 2019
With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over
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.
May 06, 2019
Catching Up With Citizen Cope
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.
May 03, 2019
Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul
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.
May 01, 2019
The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan
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.
Apr 26, 2019
Anna Tivel's Songs Are Mini Movies With Unlikely Stars
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.
Apr 26, 2019
Bob Mould Reflects On Albums He Loved As A Youth With 'Sunshine Rock'
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.
Apr 23, 2019
Good Times With Guster!
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.
Apr 22, 2019
Josh Ritter Performs Stripped Down Versions of 'Fever Breaks'
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.
Apr 19, 2019
Persian Musicians And A Parisian Monastery: Making Glen Hansard's 'This Wild Willing'
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.
Apr 15, 2019
Nilüfer Yanya Has A Very Cool Voice
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.
Apr 08, 2019
Cautious Clay's Bold Leap
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".
Apr 05, 2019
The Suitcase Junket Is A Master Of Musical Imagination
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.
Apr 03, 2019
Jenny Lewis Finds A "Beautiful Funky Way To Grieve"
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.
Mar 29, 2019
Karl Denson Talks 'Gnomes And Badgers'
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.
Mar 27, 2019
Lucie Silvas: Powerful Pipes And The Right People
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.
Mar 26, 2019