David Dye

Loamlands On World Cafe

Jan 17, 2017

With this session, the band Loamlands — which hails from North Carolina and has singer and songwriter Kym Register at its center — makes its World Cafe debut. The band's debut album, Sweet High Rise, represents two very important changes for Register's songwriting. First, Loamlands' music has evolved from its folk-punk beginnings toward a classic-rock sound as Register realized they actually loved the kinds of music that most punks might scorn.

David Crosby's been inducted into in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, with The Byrds and with Crosby, Stills and Nash. He has one of the most revered voices of our time — and at 75, even with his legendary lifestyle, it sounds as good as it ever has.

Shirley Collins' recent World Cafe session is a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the world of British folk and folk-rock in the 1960s. Bands like Fairport Convention and artists like Richard Thompson got their start as "British Byrds" with electrified folk tunes.

The British folk-rock band The Levellers was DIY before anyone called it that. It formed in Brighton in 1988, when its members were still squatters, and built a career that, by 1994, had landed the band a gig on the main stage at Glastonbury and a U.S. contract with Elektra Records.

Shirley Collins has been a servant of folk songs — mostly from the U.K., some collected in her native Sussex — throughout her life. Born in 1935, she made some of the most important recordings in British folk and folk-rock through the '60s and '70s. She recorded on her own, with her sister Dolly and then with her second husband, Ashley Hutchings, in The Albion Dance Band.

The singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega was born and raised in New York City and is known for wonderfully articulate work like the breakthrough song "Luka," which earned her several Grammy nominations in 1987. Vega has a forthcoming play called Lover, Beloved: An Evening With Carson McCullers, based off an earlier play that she wrote and starred in. Her new album is Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers.

When Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan of Dawg Yawp were discovered by their manager and producer, fellow Cincinnati musician Rob Fetters, they were performing seated on the floor at their local creperie.

Robbie Robertson is a gifted storyteller who's best known as the guitarist and chief songwriter of The Band. His career started at age 16, when Arkansas R&B and rockabilly roadmaster Ronnie Hawkins drafted the Torontonian into his band, The Hawks.

Helado Negro (yes, that translates to "Black Ice Cream") is the alias of electro-pop musician Roberto Lange. Lange grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and made frequent trips to his parents' home country of Ecuador. He'd gotten used to living among mostly Spanish-speaking people; southern Florida is "like the capital of Latin America," he says. But from Fort Lauderdale, he moved to Savannah, Ga., where he attended art school; then to Miami; and finally to Brooklyn, where he began performing as Helado Negro.

Davy Knowles emerged last decade as a young, hotshot blues guitarist who displayed wisdom beyond his years. Knowles fronted the band Back Door Slam, which took its name from the Robert Cray song. The trio formed on the Isle of Man, off the British coast, and called it quits in 2009 when Knowles began making solo albums. His most recent release is Three Miles From Avalon.

Don't think for a moment that we didn't struggle as we compiled our list of the best World Cafe interviews and performances of 2016. We had to choose from over 200 sessions we recorded this year in our studio, onstage at World Cafe Live and on our "Sense of Place" travel adventures.

Happy holidays, my friends! Here's a gift from World Cafe to you: The Oh Hellos' annual Christmas Extravaganza. The Oh Hellos are a family band hailing from San Marcus, Texas. Brother and sister Tyler and Maggie Heath have been recording together since 2012 and released their first Christmas album in 2013.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings got a rare chance to look back at their old music with the release of Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, a double-disc album of material from the period when Welch was recording her 1996 debut, Revival.

Doyle Bramhall II has been playing guitar all his life. At 18, he became the rhythm guitarist in Jimmie Vaughan's band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Bramhall's father, the first Doyle Bramhall, was a drummer. The younger Bramhall was headed in that direction, too, until he picked up the guitar (left-handed, strung upside down) and taught himself in the style of his idol Albert King.

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.

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