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
From The Lumineers To Rattlesnake Kate
After 8 years of playing cello and singing with the band, Neyla Pekarek left The Lumineers in the fall. In January she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925. Neyla reflects on the courage she found in going solo by digging into Kate's story and shares why she left The Lumineers.
Feb 20, 2019
Mavis Staples: Still Delivering The Message
At almost 80, Mavis Staples is still singing songs with messages of hope and justice. She tells stories about writing songs that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used at Civil Rights rallies, her long friendship with Aretha Franklin, and working with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. We'll hear music from throughout Mavis' career including her family's gospel group The Staples Singers and from her new album Live in London.
Feb 20, 2019
Paisley Underground Bands Swap Songs and Stories
In the early 80's, The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and The Three O'Clock were all part of a tightly knit community of LA musicians called the Paisley Underground. Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Danny Benair of The Three O'Clock, and Vicki Peterson of the Bangles talk lovingly about their time playing together, growing together, and rooting for one another. Now, the bands have reunited with a project where they cover each other's tunes. It's called 3 X 4 – that's three covers by four different bands, and they dig into the why and how, as well as what the Paisley Underground movement ultimately means.
Feb 19, 2019
I Try Not To Freak Out Over Macy Gray
Talia here. Macy Gray looms large for me. Like a lot of people, my first introduction to Macy was her 1999 debut "On How Life Is". That album launched her into superstardom and the song "I Try" won her a Grammy. For some people, Macy is frozen in that song and time. And those people, in my humble opinion, are missing out. Macy has been busy growing, reinventing herself and putting out new music consistently for the past twenty years. That includes her latest album Ruby, which you'll hear Macy performs songs from today. Her band is on fire. We talk about why she's so devoted to issues around mental health, why she wrote a song called "White Man" and why her whole career almost didn't happen. Macy was a single mom of three when she got her big break.
Feb 18, 2019
Listening For The Future During Black History Month
We're joined by The New Yorker's Music Editor Briana Younger, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's bandleader Jon Batiste and NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael. They shine a spotlight on some of the black creators who are shaping the future of music. We discuss how artists like Masego and Braxton Cook represent a resurgence of black instrumentalists, how storytellers like Saba use personal tales to illuminate systemic issues, and how artists like Tierra Whack may be innovating so quickly that the industry can't keep up with their genius. And we talk about the double burden placed on black artists, who are both marginalized by the system and often expected to do the work of speaking out against it; and the damaging assumption that music created by black artists is always a reaction to whiteness. We celebrate the brilliant bright future of black creators and listen to some amazing new music.
Feb 13, 2019
Stories From Glasgow's Storied Music Venues
Rumor has it that David Bowie stole one of the famous decorative stars from the Barrowland Ballroom (aka Barrowlands). Guitar great John Martyn used to play in the corner by the fireplace of the Scotia, the city's oldest pub. And Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry is truly a country Western homage to its Nashville namesake. Scottish music journalist and presenter Nicola Meighan tells us stories about Glasgow's music scene through its most notable venues. And we enjoy a surprise Scottish celebrity sighting at legendary independent record shop Monorail Music.
Feb 12, 2019
Julia Jacklin: Crushing
We were introduced to Julia Jacklin when David Dye met up with her in Australia for our Sense of Place visit in 2016. Now she's returning the favor, joining us in the US to share a sneak peak of her forthcoming record, Crushing, which is personal, intimate, and beautiful. The Melbourne based singer spent the last two years touring her first album Don't Let the Kids Win, and Crushing directly reflects back to her experiences from that time period.
Feb 05, 2019
One of a Kind, Steve Forbert Rewinds
It's been 40 years since guitarist Steve Forbert released his debut album Alive on Arrival, and he has marked the occasion with a new album and a new memoir. The album is called The Magic Tree – a collection of songs, all but one of which have never been released before, including some he started writing back in the 80s. The memoir is called Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock. In it, Steve tells the story of his journey from his Mississippi home to the NYC music scene in the 1970s, and the way his career unfolded. It's a revealing ride that includes playing at CBGBs, opening for Talking Heads and John Cale, turning down being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and reuniting with a past love from the 80s in the kind of way you usually only see in romantic comedies.
Feb 04, 2019
This Album Is Based On A True Story
On our recent trip to Glasgow we made a musical pilgrimage about 6 miles outside the city centre to a venue called Platform. It's a community arts space where residents of the Easterhouse neighborhood (which has historically been known for poverty and equality) can get together and express themselves. Platform is the birthplace of an album "Conflats", based on stories told by members of the Easterhouse community to two musicians: James Graham, lead singer of the Scottish indie punk band The Twilight Sad, and Scottish Album of the Year Award winning artist Kathryn Joseph. We visit Kathryn and James at Platform to hear about the life-changing act of taking other people's stories and turning them into songs.
Jan 31, 2019
Oh Pep! Makes Unpredictable Pop
Melbourne-based band Oh Pep! caught a ton of well-deserved buzz with their 2016 debut album Stadium Cake. The duo wound up on international festival dates and capped off a whirlwind tour by sharing the stage with Billy Bragg at Glastonbury. After taking some time to shake their heads and process it all, Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs are back with a follow-up album called "I Wasn't Only Thinking About You...", which showcases their penchant for unexpected musical choices. Oh Pep! always has a bent note or quirky chord progression up their proverbial sleeve, as you'll hear in this studio performance. They've also got some unconventional source material. Olivia and Pepita explain how the experiences of waiting in line for a social security number and witnessing a particularly spooky snowstorm in New York City both inspired new songs.
Jan 29, 2019