David Dye

Chrissie Hynde has been seeking inspiration ever since she left her hometown of Akron, Ohio, in the '70s for London, where she ended up founding The Pretenders. The band's 1980 debut was cutting-edge, sexually direct and a major hit.

Thirty years ago, the beloved Texas guitarist Eric Johnson made his general-release debut, Tones. Since then, he's made platinum albums and won a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In this session, he tells us why he does it: "I just like to try to have it have substance or quality or give some kind of emotion to people ... Really, it's more about that than it is the gymnastics or the 'look at me' effect."

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have been making an impact on the British folk world over the last couple of years. They won the award for Best Duo at the 2015 BBC Folk Awards and released their first LP for Rough Trade Records, Overnight, this fall.

Blue Rodeo On World Cafe

Dec 12, 2016

It's been more than 30 years since the Canadian songwriters Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor formed Blue Rodeo. Back then, Blue Rodeo's music was described as country-rock, though today we might call it "North Americana." The band hit its stride in the early '90s with albums like Casino and Five Days In July.

Founded in 1983, Southern Culture On The Skids has been touting the virtues of dirt-track racing, Little Debbie pastries and kudzu for over 30 years. The North Carolina band — made up of Rick Miller, Dave Hartman and Mary Huff — plays music that amalgamates rock, funky old soul and country, presented with tongue firmly in cheek.

The Marcus King Band joins World Cafe's Dan Reed for an interview and performance recorded onstage at World Cafe Live. King, a 20-year-old guitarist who hails from South Carolina, released his self-titled second album earlier this year on ATO Records. The record was produced by another guitarist from the Carolinas, Warren Haynes, whom King says he's always admired as a songwriter.

Leif Vollebekk, a singer-songwriter from Montreal, is preparing to release the new album Twin Solitude after a period of extensive touring, including some time soaking in the music scene in Reykjavik, Iceland. Just before this album, Vollebekk put out an EP of covers; he feels he has found his songwriting voice after trying on other artists' styles. Hear two songs from Twin Solitude in the player above.

I'll bet that all of us can remember what we were doing and thinking on this past Election Day. The members of Drive-By Truckers were at World Cafe Live, performing and discussing their new album, American Band. The timing couldn't have been better — American Band may be the most political record of Drive-By Truckers' career, though the band has been writing songs about being from the South since its 2001 debut.

Our guest for this Nashville Session is the breakthrough alt-country artist Margo Price, recorded live onstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame during AmericanaFest 2016. Just two weeks after Price's wonderful debut, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, was released in March, she was already performing on Saturday Night Live. And in September, when this session was recorded, she was named the Americana Music Honors & Awards' Emerging Artist of the Year.

Genre-defying. Label-splitting. Immediately comforting, but still mysterious. All this describes what you'll hear with just a quick listen to Kadhja Bonet's new EP, The Visitor. Gorgeous string arrangements point to the classical training in Bonet's background; beyond that, her music amalgamates folk, jazz and soul in a strikingly original manner.

The Visitor — which is being released by two labels, Fresh Selects and Fat Possum — is simply beautiful. Hear it for yourself in the downloadable segment above.

There has almost always been a certain amount of heartbreak in Rachael Yamagata's music. But on her new album, Tightrope Walker, she's made room for a corresponding amount of optimism. Yamagata uses these songs' birthplace — the front porch of her new house in Woodstock, N.Y. — as a metaphor for the songs' outward focus. She is now writing songs not so much to soothe her own aching heart, but to help other people.

Before there was Dark Side Of The MoonPink Floyd's magnum opus, which stayed on the charts for years and years and has come to define progressive rock — there were years of albums and experimentation for the band. That included ballets, film scores and even live accompaniment to the moon landing. All this material, which also includes outtakes, BBC recordings and more, has been gathered into a 27-disc box set of music and video called The Early Years 1965-1972.

Big Thief On World Cafe

Nov 23, 2016

Singer and guitarist Adrianne Lenker is the main songwriter in the Brooklyn band Big Thief. Originally from Minneapolis, she found a songwriting partner in Texas artist Buck Meek. After making two EPs together, they decided to form Big Thief and worked up the songs that have become the debut album Masterpiece, whose title is certainly a little tongue-in-cheek. The band, now a four-piece, recorded the album in upstate New York, bonding over meals as they worked long hours.

Water Liars member Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster delivers a more Southern sound with his new solo endeavor, Constant Stranger, which he recorded entirely on his own in Mississippi. Listen to two songs and download the full segment in the player above.

When singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke first joined us 25 years ago, she was with Jennifer Kimball, her partner in the folk-rock duo The Story. She's now a sophisticated solo songwriter with a true sense of lyrical elegance that's only grown through her long career. Recently she wrote and performed a one-woman show called My Mother Has 4 Noses, for which she drew from her experiences caring for her terminally ill mother.

Once upon a time, the Sydney-based DJ and programmer Jono Ma needed a vocalist for the psychedelic dance-rock he was creating. He ended up with a partner in guitarist and singer Gabriel Winterfield; their alliance became Jagwar Ma, which released its debut, Howlin', in 2013.

The default terms for any kind of new rock-based band seem to be "indie" or "alternative" rock, which can conjure up anything from R.E.M. to Spoon. I would not use either of those words to describe Gang of Youths. This is a passionate five-piece band already ready for bigger stages.

"You've got to recognize music as the greatest gift of all in some ways," Peter Garrett says. "It can really transport you, yourself as a writer and a singer, and you can take other people with you, and I just wanted to get on that journey as quick as I could and it just happened."

Australian public radio has an amazing popular music service throughout the country called triple j. Almost every time a new artist from Australia visits us on World Cafe, we read something in their bio about triple j radio — and particularly about its Unearthed site, where unsigned bands can upload their music and songs can bubble up organically.

The Sydney three-piece Middle Kids has gotten a lot of mileage out of releasing just two singles. Sure, "Your Love" and "Edge of Town" are hook-laden, entirely delightful songs — but more than anything, it feels like people are looking toward the group's potential, and that's where things get exciting.

A newcomer to the Sydney music scene, Julia Jacklin released her debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win, in October. Her songs reflect the feeling she has in her 20s as she watches younger people experiencing things she just went through. (Mind you, she doesn't feel old yet.)

One of the high points of World Cafe's visit to Sydney, Australia, for our Sense of Place series was the opportunity to sit down with Steve Kilbey, the lead singer of The Church. The Australian band has been releasing psychedelic-rock albums since the late '70s and is best known for its worldwide hit "Under The Milky Way." But on this day in the studio, we got to hear Kilbey perform solo.

As part of our Sense of Place series, we bring you an artist from Sydney, Australia, for this week's World Cafe Next. Out of all the artists we met on World Cafe's recent trip to Sydney, Thelma Plum is the newest, having released only two EPs. (Her latest is 2014's Monsters.) She is working on new music, though, and you'll hear a brand-new song in this session.

This week, World Cafe takes you to Sydney, Australia, with our Sense Of Place series. Our first guest is a band that has made a big impact here in the United States: Boy & Bear. The band, which is centered around the songwriting of David Hosking, released its third album, Limit Of Love, last year.

I had not heard this interview with Leonard Cohen since 1993, the second year of World Cafe's existence, until we revisited it upon hearing of his death this week. I'd traveled to talk with Cohen backstage at a 1,000-seat theater he was playing in the suburbs outside Philadelphia. This was different from the large, triumphant tours he played in his 70s — it was almost workaday, a performance for the gathered faithful. The man who passed away Monday at the age of 82 was spry in his 60s.

The outstanding Pennsylvania folk band The Stray Birds grew a lot as it recorded its third and most recent album, Magic Fire. As singer and multi-instrumentalist Maya de Vitry says. "It's become a more open, creative collaboration from the beginning of the process.

Jim James On World Cafe

Nov 7, 2016

Jim James, the leader of the Louisville, Ky., band My Morning Jacket, has a new solo album, Eternally Even. It's a political album — not because it is directly about climate change or immigration or this election's other hot-button issues, but because it addresses the mindset that has led to such a divided nation. It's about love and fear.

Bob Weir On World Cafe

Nov 4, 2016

Bob Weir, songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist of the Grateful Dead, used to be a cowboy. As a teenager, he had a job on a ranch in Wyoming and now, many years later, he's written an album about the experience called Blue Mountain.

Carla Morrison comes from Tecate, a small Mexican city south of San Diego, where the air always smelled like malt from the namesake brewery. She is an emotionally powerful indie-pop performer whose love songs inspire her audience. Her career has been growing rapidly in this decade; her 2012 album Déjenme Llorar won multiple Latin Grammys in the Alternative category, and her latest record, Amor Supremo, carries on the themes of love.

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