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World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN
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World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN

Author: NPR

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WXPN's live performance and interview program featuring music and conversation from a variety of important musicians
10 Episodes
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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'.
The members Ace of Cups came together in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood around the Summer of Love in the late 1960s. They lived down the street from the Grateful Dead, built up a following and shared the stage (and their gear) with Jimi Hendrix the week after he played the Monterey Pop Festival. Although there were female-fronted acts like Jefferson Airplane and singers like Janis Joplin on the scene at the time, Ace of Cups was a shock to the '60s system as an all-female rock band whose members played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Despite being poised for superstardom, things didn't quite work out for Ace of Cups back then. But this past November, more than 50 years after getting together, the band released its full-length debut studio album. Original members Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson, and Diane Vitalich dropped by World Cafe along with touring keyboard player Giovanna Imbesi to perform live and share stories about Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, the Summer of Love and their lives since then.
Hayes Carll 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.
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."
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.
Comments (6)

jackieblue361

Great series!

Mar 13th
Reply

Jaime Ochoa

C ef

Dec 6th
Reply

Greg Lewis

Jaime Ochoa 6

Feb 21st
Reply

Pamela Greenstein

Great interview for this Journey fan!

Oct 26th
Reply

Jeremy Mitchell

no

Jul 28th
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Alex Reyes

god

Jan 8th
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