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Illinois Rock'n'Soul.


Hear three sessions recorded during World Cafe's yearly visit to the Camp Stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. This year's event, the 55th annual installment of the festival, took place Aug. 18-21, 2016.

Liz Longley

Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath was one of the coolest records to come out in 2014, with Ozzy-era Black Sabbath songs recast as heavy Latin-funk jams. But it's not just some joke made after a night of tequila.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Sounds

Sep 28, 2016

The flow of new music continues through the end of summer into the fall. Sample some recent releases from favorite artists and rising names. Selections include new songs from Iona Fyfe Band, The Bills and Celtic Fiddle Festival.

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Swedish singer, organist and all-around bad-ass Anna von Hausswolff has released a monumental new video for her song "Come Wander With Me/Deliverance." Breathlessly beautiful and brooding, the film unfolds in the deep, dark woods where Hausswolff walks stone-faced among the trees, drinking in the majesty of nature and its indifference to the human experience.

In October 2014, World Cafe ventured to Lafayette, La., with a camera crew under the direction of filmmaker Robert Mugge, who would turn the trip into the documentary Zydeco Crossroads.

When we featured Gallant's "Skipping Stones," the rising R&B singer's duet with professional guest vocalist Jhené Aiko, on the All Songs Considered SXSW preview back in March, we knew we'd found a new team favorite.

Named for a Drive Like Jehu song, Super Unison came out fully formed with a furious eight minutes of hip-shaking punk released last year. Featuring vocalist and bassist Meghan O'Neil Pennie (ex-Punch), drummer Justin Renniger (ex-Snowing) and guitarist Kevin DeFranco, Super Unison proves that melody can still leave a nasty bruise.

Jean Shepard, one of the first women to find success in country music as a solo act, died Sunday at age 82. Shepard was a feisty, straight-shooting singer who created a career in an industry where she had few female role models.

When Conor Oberst started releasing music more than 20 years ago, first as a solo artist and later as Bright Eyes, he was just a teenager from Nebraska. Everyone marveled at how a kid could write and record at such a breathlessly prolific pace, producing inspired, sonically adventurous songs with a wisdom and world view beyond his years. Now just in his mid-30s, he's already a veteran, with dozens of albums and EPs behind him.

I met Isaiah Rashad late this summer, during a stop on the manic press run that comes with the release of a new album. Like most of his fans, I wanted to know where he had been and what to expect from his latest work, The Sun's Tirade. His debut album, Cilvia Demo, dropped in January 2014, and back then I heard an urgent young man from Chattanooga, Tenn., on the hunt for validation through his art.

While Bob was gallivanting about Nashville last week for AmericanaFest, I was hiding under a pile of covers fighting a case of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease (it's as Medieval as it sounds). But show business never sleeps, which means Bob made it back home, I recovered and we're back in the studio this week to geek out over our favorite new music.

A new David Bowie box set released late last week includes a complete (and remastered) version of his long-lost album, The Gouster. Bowie originally recorded the album in 1974, but eventually shelved the project. Reworked versions of "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and "Can You Hear Me" wound up on 1975's Young Americans. Other tracks, like "It's Gonna Be Me" and "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)," trickled out in various forms in the years that followed. But this is the first time Gouster's full track list is available to hear as it was originally intended.

Jon Cleary On World Cafe

Sep 27, 2016

If you've seen Bonnie Raitt live, chances are you saw Jon Cleary at the piano. Cleary's New Orleans-style playing has been a part of Raitt's show for years, and he continues to be a beloved fixture of the Crescent City.

James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo are coming into gray hairs as gracefully and loudly as members of a metal band entering their 50s can.

Hear Andrew Limbong's remembrance of Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr. at the audio link, and read on for an obituary written by Mark Mobley.

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr., an international ambassador for Louisiana roots music with his genre-leaping band Buckwheat Zydeco, died early Saturday morning. He was 68.

World Cafe Next: Brent Cobb

Sep 26, 2016

Brent Cobb is from rural Georgia, but he's been paying the bills as a songwriter in Nashville for the last 10 years. These days, he's an overnight sensation with a major-label debut produced by his cousin Dave Cobb.

Kyle Craft On World Cafe

Sep 26, 2016

Kyle Craft's music encompasses a diverse set of influences. Originally from Shreveport, La., his voice carries southern cadences and his songs revolve around distinct characters and situations that could only be from that town by the Mississippi. But you also hear the influences of David Bowie, under whose spell Craft fell at a young age, and of Craft's adopted hometown of Portland, Ore.

They came, they measured, and they returned to perform a show like no other. It was the great NPR Tiny Desk Takeover by Blue Man Group.

If you've not seen this performance ensemble and their production in New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston, Chicago or Berlin, then you've missed a night of magical fun. These Blue Men may never say a word, but the performances make for poignant looks at who we are as humans. They also make unusual music on instruments of their own design.

Metropolis: 9/24/16

Sep 26, 2016

This Week's Playlist

  • The Weeknd, "Starboy [feat. Daft Punk]" (Republic)
  • Glass Animals, "Youth" (Harvest)
  • Trentemoller, "My Conviction" (In My Room)
  • Phantogram, "Run Run Blood" (Republic)
  • D.D Dumbo, "Walrus" (4AD)
  • The Seshen, "Distant Heart" (Tru Thoughts)
  • Janet Jackson, "Pleasure Principle [Classixx Recovery Mix]" (Virgin)
  • Gigamesh, "I'd Do It Again [feat. Gavin Turek]" (Our Label International)

The political endorsement song is a strange beast. It's something more than just a campaign anthem — the kind of track that pumps up rally audiences before a candidate's entrance onstage. Instead, this kind of tune is an odd hybrid: part commercial jingle, part aspirational anthem and, with nearly no exceptions, a soon-forgotten novelty. (One outlier: the sturdy Whig song "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" from the 1840 presidential campaign, which was most recently resurrected by They Might Be Giants in 2004.)

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


The Thistle & Shamrock: Archie Fisher

Apr 13, 2016

Revisit host Fiona Ritchie's time with legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and broadcaster Archie Fisher. This episode of The Thistle & Shamrock features music from across the decades of Fisher's remarkable career in the transatlantic folk scene.

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The large instrumental band Snarky Puppy, which just won its second Grammy Award, is hard to pin down to one place. Its core is now in New York, but its members have toured and recorded all over the world, and their spiritual home is still Dallas, Texas. It's where they'd take in gospel performances in area churches; it's near where they initially met at music school at the University of North Texas in Denton. As bassist and bandleader Michael League explains, you can hear all those collisions in the pocket of their complex and beyond-category grooves.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Chansons

Feb 25, 2016

From the "chant de marin," or sea shanties, of Brittany to the songs of the voyageurs of the Canadian fur trade, enjoy the French songs that extend branches of the Celtic music tree from the old world to the new, with artists Le Vent du Nord, Hilary James, and Chris Norman.

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The Thistle & Shamrock: New Writing

Jan 20, 2016

From instrumental commissions to new works by singer-songwriters, hear a wealth of recently composed gems by Maggie MacInnes, Wendy Weatherby, Bill Whelan and more.

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Join Fiona Ritchie to celebrate the season by exploring festive songs, carols and dances from traditions old and new. In this week's episode of The Thistle & Shamrock, hear music performed by Emily Smith, Maggie Sansone, Ashley Davis & John Doyle, Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra and more.

The following is an Encore presentation of a program that originally aired on December 17, 2015.


Holiday music is typically a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing. I'm a fan — my favorite is Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas — and I even I'll admit that musicians don't have many options for putting a new spin on holiday classics.

Then along came Gaby Moreno and her band.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Gathering

Dec 3, 2015

We feature family torchbearers for tradition — and forces for innovation in vocal and instrumental music — the Brennans, the Fishers, the Cunninghams and the O'Domhnaills.

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The Thistle & Shamrock: Hometown Song

Nov 25, 2015

This week, artists from both sides of the Atlantic are inspired to commemorate personal connections to their hometowns, including Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Festival Lights" by the McCalmans.

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