World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN WXPN's live performance and interview program featuring music and conversation from a variety of important musicians
World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN

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 musiciansMore from World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN »

Most Recent Episodes

Love Leads to 24 Million Spotify Streams

Zack and Dani Green were married before they ever played music together. It was 6 months in when, one afternoon, the guitarist and singer asked his spouse for input on a song he was writing. Within hours they realized that Dani's background as a student of literature and her talent as a harmonizer brought Zak's music to another level. After reaching out to a few friends they created the band Birdtalker, and before ever embarking on a national tour their song "Heavy" took off on Spotify – it now has over 24 million streams! The group recently released their debut album ONE. Birdtalker join the Cafe's Ann Powers for a conversation about faith, doubt, love and listening, at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Love Leads to 24 Million Spotify Streams

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The Suffers Do Whatever Feels Right

The first line you hear lead singer Kam Franklin say on The Suffers new album is "Full on disclosure/I'm not here for exposure/I came to have a good time/So let me shine". Yeah, the Suffers are a party and a lot of fun, but they've also worked incredibly hard to find success. They've survived hurricanes and discrimination in the music business to thrive, all while proudly repping their hometown of Houston. The city's music scene and diversity are a huge part of the band's identity. We'll talk about all that, hear a live performance and we'll find out what cuffing season is.

The Suffers Do Whatever Feels Right

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Frank Turner Wants To "Make America Great Again"

But how? That's the twist you'll hear in a song on Turner's new album "Be More Kind". Turner visits the Cafe to talk about his decision to dive back into the arena of social commentary in his music, even though in the past he received flak from both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum for his views. Turner also speaks about the personal benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and how the "militantly practical" techniques he learned have helped him cope with his own ups and downs.

Frank Turner Wants To "Make America Great Again"

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Robert Hilburn on Paul Simon

Renowned music critic and author Robert Hilburn has released the new biography, Paul Simon: The Life. The book follows Simon's enduring career, exploring the stories behind pivotal moments like the breakout hit "The Sound of Silence," and his 1986 comeback solo album, Graceland. We're talking about one of the greatest American songwriters today on the World Cafe.

Robert Hilburn on Paul Simon

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The Mighty Kississippi

When she was young, Zoe Reynolds (aka Kississippi) wanted to be a pop star like Britney Spears. Then she discovered the singer-songwriter style of Liz Phair, and got inspired by bands like Dashboard Confessional - who invited Kississippi to open up for them on tour this year. Zoe has persevered through line-up changes, a record deal that fell through before her full-length debut Sunset Blush was released and the last-minute surprise that she would be performing solo without her band in front of our World Cafe audience.

The Mighty Kississippi

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SPINAL TAP'S DEREK SMALLS

It's rare to sit down with rock and roll royalty like Spinal Tap lead singer David St. Hubins or lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel. So instead, we sat down with Derek Smalls, bassist and "lukewarm water" for the seminal band. Tap made its mark as one of England's loudest bands, releasing slightly above average records like Shark Sandwich and Smell the Glove. Now, Smalls is striking out on his own, with a reflective solo record in the vain of David Bowie's Blackstar and Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker. It's called Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) and features some of the rock legends that Smalls has befriended over the years including Dweezil Zappa, David Crosby, and Donald Fagan, and at least three brave drummers.

SPINAL TAP'S DEREK SMALLS

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Bettye Sings Bob (Dylan)

Bettye LaVette has an uncanny ability to squeeze every ounce of emotion out of a song with her voice. On her latest album Things Have Changed Bettye applies that talent to the music of Bob Dylan. Bettye relays the story of the time she met (read: was kissed by) Bob Dylan, and her thoughts on Dylan's own vocal delivery. She also delves into the ups and downs of her own career, from the frustration of struggling through failed record deals while many of her contemporaries got rich, to Bettye's gratitude for the renewed interest people have in her as an artist now.

Bettye Sings Bob (Dylan)

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Bermuda Triangle: Pals. Porches. Harmonies.

Alabama Shakes leader Brittany Howard and rising solo performers Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser created Bermuda Triangle somewhere between afternoons spent trading songs on porches and evenings spent hanging out at bars in East Nashville. Now, even though they have only released two songs, the trio have played sold out shows across the country. Their magic is as much about the friendship that preceded the band as it is about the music they now make together – you can hear how their bond seeps into their songwriting and gives their harmonies an almost telepathic blend. They join Ann Powers at Nashville's Sound Stage Studios to talk and play live.

Bermuda Triangle: Pals. Porches. Harmonies.

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Welles Rocks Our World

Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks, and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock meets grunge debut, Red Trees and White Trashes is alternatingly big, chunky, bombastic and driving, yet intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved - there's no shortage of ballads AND barnburners. Welles talks about what it was like to leave his home in Arkansas and make the journey to Nashville where he recorded with super-producer Dave Cobb.

Welles Rocks Our World

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Natalie Prass: Sour Times = Sweet Riffs

Prass had an entire album ready to record when the results of the 2016 election left her feeling "devastated", in her words. She scrapped what she had been working on to write new songs that reflected the world around her. But the resulting album The Future and the Past doesn't sound embittered or in-your-face or even downtempo. In our interview, Prass explains how artists like Stevie Wonder inspired her to dig in to the sweet possibilities that tough times can make people stick together, to stand up and be counted and even to dance. As Prass says, "sometimes a good riff can do a lot of good in the world."

Natalie Prass: Sour Times = Sweet Riffs

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