Studio SessionsMusicians perform and discuss their work in the studios of NPR and NPR Music station partners. Live music sessions, interviews, and the best new songs in rock, pop, folk, classical, jazz, blues, urban, and world music. Watch video sessions.
Bob Wills was the father of the Western swing genre, and the band Asleep at the Wheel has carried it into the new millennium. Now, the band has brought Wills' story to the stage in a musical drama called A Ride with Bob.
Since the release of their debut album in 1994, Philadelphia natives G. Love and Special Sauce have been continuously refining their laid-back blend of blues, alternative rock, soul and hip-hop into tighter and more sophisticated song structures. The band's newest record, Lemonade, is a fantastic back-to-basics effort.
G. Love and Special Sauce in Studio on World Cafe - 09/29/2006
The English alt-rock band Starsailor has released three albums to widespread hype and critical acclaim, but it's also had a tricky time staying in the spotlight. The new On the Outside finds Starsailor sounding refreshed after a period out of the limelight, while retaining the depth of emotion that attracted it so much attention in the first place.
Gomez's infectious blend of bluesy wails and pop-rock harmonies has won the band critical acclaim and commercial success, making it one of the biggest and best U.K. bands to emerge in recent years. Winner of the 1998 Mercury Music Prize for Best Album, the group has gone on to get tighter and more confident.
Eight-time Grammy Award winner Bela Fleck was fascinated with the banjo from an early age, but his teachers kept pushing him to play other instruments. Luckily, he kept up with the banjo — when he wasn't being forced to sing tenor or play the French horn. Fleck continues to push the limits of the instrument with his improvisation on the Stephen Foster favorite, 'Oh! Susanna.'
By combining intelligent lyrics and haunting melodies, Midlake continues to develop its vision of beautiful neo-Americana music. The band's new sophomore album, The Trials of Van Occupanther, finds Midlake polishing its acoustic, increasingly piano-driven '70s folk-rock sound.
Caroline Goulding, 13, plays a unique violin: a 1617 Amati loaned to her by the Stradivari Society in Chicago. She is in excellent company. Former Stradivari Society recipients include Joshua Bell, Midori, Sara Chang and Yo-Yo Ma! Goulding performs Brahms' Sonatensatz in C Minor.
Oboist Yuga Cohler, violinist Mann-Wen Lo, violist Christine Hung and cellist Tavi Ungerleider hail from the New England Conservatory Prep Division. The group's unusual name, The Festivus Quartet, comes from a Seinfeld reference. The quartet performs Benjamin Britten's Phantasy Quartet, Op. 2.
The bassist and songwriter is among the most unusual and eclectic musicians to emerge from the '90s alternative-rock scene. His best-known band, Primus, is known for its funky, oddball songs — an approach he's carried with him through countless side projects.
From the funky New Orleans soul of Allen Toussaint to the harrowing acoustic rock of My Morning Jacket's Jim James, a wide variety of exciting sounds emanated from WXPN's annual All About the Music Festival July 21-23. The event spawned many memorable performances, several of which will be highlighted in this special edition of World Cafe.
The hook-heavy foundation of The Format's Dog Problems is aided by involvement from an assortment of power-pop greats. The album does a terrific job of paying homage to the band's pop elders — Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson and others — while keeping its sound refreshingly current.
The Roots' members have earned a lofty reputation in hip-hop and beyond by reinventing the genre's boundaries. Incorporating live instrumentation and thought-provoking lyrics, the Philadelphia band expertly blurs the lines separating artistic integrity and commercial acceptance.
PF Sloan was a major songwriter in L.A.'s burgeoning '60s folk and pop scene, with writing credits for the likes of The Turtles, Johnny Rivers and The Grassroots. His song "Eve of Destruction" was a #1 hit in 1965, and after a long break from the music business, Sloan recently returned with the new Sailover.
Hiatt's newest album, Master of Disaster, features an edgy, funky sound, thanks largely to the assistance of The North Mississippi Allstars. Together, they assemble a collection of gritty country, blues, rock and jazz.
John Hiatt & North Mississippi Allstars: Americana