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

From NPR

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

Most Recent Episodes

Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion

Fifty years ago, the band Nat Turner Rebellion made a funky album in Philadelphia that could have been a total classic. The band had a record deal, fans and, according to founder Joe Jefferson the members were "crowd killers." But then, it all fell apart and the album has been pretty much buried in audio archives — until now. Nat Turner Rebellion's debut, 'Laugh to Keep from Crying', was recently released for the first time. We heard the story of Nat Turner Rebellion on WHYY, our fellow public radio station here in Philadelphia where we make World Cafe, and we really wanted to share it with you on the Cafe. The story is told by WHYY arts reporter Peter Crimmins, listen in the player.

Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion

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Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)

The songs on Yola's debut full-length solo album, 'Walk Through Fire', ring out with the triumphant air of someone who has withstood the flames and the heat en route to achieving their dreams. The title is a metaphor for some of the tribulations Yola has faced – including experiencing homelessness in London, and enduring an emotionally abusive relationship. The title is also a nod to the time Yola's dress literally caught fire a few years ago, and sent her house up in flames. Yola shares stories about some of the lows and some of the highs she has experienced – including performing with Massive Attack in front of 60,000 people at Glastonbury. Yola says many people who hear her story call her a "strong black woman," and she explains why that isn't the most welcome or useful reaction. 'Walk Through Fire' was produced by Dan Auerbach, and Yola joins us to perform from Dan's Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.

Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)

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George Benson Has A Story To Tell

When Warner Bros. heard George Benson's take on "This Masquerade," they didn't realize he was the vocalist. It's one of the many amazing tales Benson shares with us on World Cafe. Benson's latest album is 'Walking to New Orleans', a tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Benson is one of America's great guitarists, a virtuoso who's been honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a jazz master. He's won 10 Grammys, including record of the year for his triple platinum 'Breezin". He's worked with countless musicians of note, and you'll hear about a lot of them in this session. Sure, the stories are amazing, but his delivery makes it even better.

George Benson Has A Story To Tell

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Pedro The Lion's Homecoming

David Bazan has been releasing solo records steadily for the past decade, but 'Phoenix' marks his first album returning as Pedro the Lion in 15 years. The record was inspired by Phoenix, Arizona, where Bazan lived until he was 12 years old. Phoenix is also the place where he says he first "got into debt" with himself, a phrase Bazan uses to describe bottling up feelings over time. The album houses many of Bazan's childhood memories and stunning moments of personal poetry reflected through the experience of adulthood. Bazan shares some of the stories that inspired his new songs and reflects on his relationship with religion, including how his daughter's birth caused him to grapple with the Evangelical Christian faith he grew up with.

Pedro The Lion's Homecoming

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Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues

As you may guess from the title of her third solo album, Leyla McCalla tackles social and economic issues pretty directly on 'The Capitalist Blues'. The multi-instrumentalist and Carolina Chocolate Drops alumna sings about everything from injustice and poverty to her daughter's experience with elevated levels of lead. And although the topics are heavy, the music is danceable — a treatment informed by the troubadour traditions of McCalla's Haitian roots and the Cajun and Zydeco traditions of her adopted home in New Orleans. In this session, McCalla talks about her parents' work as Haitian human rights activists and how the history of her people and the attitudes of her parents inspired her to tackle social issues through art. And McCalla performs live.

Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues

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Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes

Foals' latest album, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1', came out in March. 'Part 2' comes out in the fall. The band has been releasing stadium-sized songs for just over a decade, and this time around, it made a couple changes in pursuit of ultimate creative freedom. The members of Foals produced the albums themselves. They tried to avoid narrowing down song structures too early in the process and they built the music in studio from the ground up. That meant once the music was recorded, lead singer and guitarist Yannis Philippakis was left alone to finish lyrics in a dark studio in South London. We talked about how that worked out and what drummer Jack Bevan was up to while Yannis was writing away. Hint: It involved a bike, a lake and France. This is Foals' first album without Walter, their longtime bassist. In this session, you're going to hear Yannis and Jack along with Edwin on Keys and Jimmy on guitar, on some live recordings they did for World Cafe. On 'Part 1', the British band really leans into the stranger side of stadium-sized songwriting. We hear live performances and "making of" stories, including lead singer Yannis' routine of writing lyrics at night while drinking at the pub, and drummer Jack Bevan's journey cycling around lakes in France.

Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes

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With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over

The Beths are a rising band in the indie-pop scene, and yes, there is an Elizabeth leading the band. There is also a Jonathan, a Benjamin, and for today's session, a Trystan, for those of you wondering where the harmonies are coming from in this mini-concert. The members of The Beths were studying jazz at Auckland University when they founded the band in 2015. Since releasing their debut EP, 'Warm Blood', the group has attracted much attention and praise, including opening up for Death Cab For Cutie and playing SXSW. Last year, The Beths released their full-length debut, 'Future Me Hates Me'. Despite it's big pop sound on the record, lead singer Liz Stokes can catch you off-guard with a turn of phrase or dig at emotional insecurity with her delivery. You'll hear it all over 'Future Me Hates Me'. Future you will not regret hearing this session though.

With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over

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Catching Up With Citizen Cope

I asked Clarence Greenwood what his 8-year-old daughter thought of his job as a professional musician. He said, "When she was really young, she asked one of her mom's friends why do people stop her daddy?" The joys of parenthood. It's one of many things that's kept Greenwood, better known by his stage name, Citizen Cope, busy over the last seven years. That's the last time he released an album, 2012's 'One Lovely Day'. Cope has always done things his own way, like abandoning major labels in 2010 to found Rainwater Recordings. His latest release is the curiously-titled 'Heroin and Helicopters' and yes, he'll explain the meaning behind that name. The album contains Cope's signature mix of blues, soul and roots music, along with socially conscious lyrics.

Catching Up With Citizen Cope

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Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul

Patty Griffin had written only one song for a new album when her breast cancer diagnosis changed everything. The drugs and radiation she took in were so physically depleting that she lost her voice. And although Patty's had a long career in music that includes winning a Grammy, she was left wondering whether she should continue making music at all. Patty wrote songs throughout her cancer treatment and, after getting her voice back, returned to the studio to record them. The result was a self-titled album that was released on March 8. In this session, you'll hear Patty perform some of those songs and we'll talk about the deep reflections and soul-searching they contain, including her choice to focus on her career instead of settling down and having children and how confronting mortality made her question whether she had done enough in her life. We also talk about Patty's childhood in Maine and how waitressing helped her overcome being shy.

Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul

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The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan

The Cranberries were one of the most successful groups to emerge from Ireland. The members, Dolores O'Riordan as lead vocalist, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler, were in the studio working on what is now their final studio album when vocalist, O'Riordan died suddenly in January 2018. The band, with the blessing of the O'Riordan family, completed the record as a testament to the work of all members. "You know, she had been recently divorced and she had, you know, been diagnosed with bipolar," Noel Hogan, co-founder of The Cranberries, says. "It just seemed very unfair that when somebody has been through all of this and then had come out the other side, that something like this would happen them. And that's why I think we are really happy that we finished this album for her." Noel Hogan and Fergal Lawler are my guests in this session. We talk about why The Cranberries' music resonated so strongly with fans and celebrate the life of Dolores.

The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan

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