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World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN


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

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





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




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...


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...


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...


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.


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...



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...


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...


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...


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.


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,...


Peter Hook: Substance

Few musicians have more of a signature sound, or personality, than Peter Hook. He was one of the founding members of Joy Division, pioneers of the post punk genre. When their lead singer Ian Curtis died on the eve of their first American Tour, the remaining members didn't mourn, within a week they'd reformed as New Order and proceeded to change the landscape of electronic music over the following decade. In this wide-ranging discussion, Hook talks about his time in both bands, plus playing...


Willie. Nelson.

We hop on Willie Nelson's tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose, to talk about his latest album Last Man Standing, released just days before Nelson's 85th birthday. Willie reflects on the pain of surviving some of his outlaw country friends, like Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, tells the story of a prank he pulled in the hospital while being treated for a collapsed lung and shares his thoughts on reincarnation. Nelson also lights up (in more ways than one) when we talk about his favorite ways...


We Called Hozier, He Revealed New Lyrics

Having just announced his first US tour dates since 2015, the "Take Me To Church" singer says a follow-up to his massively successful self-titled debut album is "just around the corner". We caught up with Hozier on the phone to ask about the musical influences on his new tracks, and Hozier recited some lyrics from an upcoming song called "Wasteland, Baby!" that were truly striking.


Robert Finley: Goin' Platinum

At the age of 10, Finley was given $20 dollars by his father, and told to go buy himself a pair of shoes. What he came home with instead sparked a musical passion that's been with him throughout his life. After serving in the Army in the 70's, Finley worked as a carpenter and was discovered by the Music Maker Relief Foundation while busking on the streets in Arkansas. This eventually led to a record deal and Finley's debut album, which came out when Finley was in his early 60's. Finley's...


Courtney Barnett Is A Powerhouse

Courtney Barnett is known for shredding on guitar and for spinning details from the world around her into songs. On her new album Tell Me How You Really Feel, one of those details is a phrase borrowed from the author Margaret Atwood - "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." We talk about that lyric, Courtney's recent collaboration with Kurt Vile on the album Lotta Sea Lice, and what it's like to be married to another musician. Courtney's...


"Frustrated": 37 Million Spotify Streams

Reggie Williams started out as a coffeehouse strummer, coming up with his catchy acronym R.LUM.R to christen a side project he never expected to blow up. Then the internet found him. Since its release 2 years ago R.LUM.R's song "Frustrated" has amassed more than 37 million streams on Spotify. He sings it (and more!) live and shares what he thinks people get wrong when they talk about how streaming has changed music. Plus, he also discusses why he felt moving to Nashville was crucial to his...


The Ballad of Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett will be the first to tell you his story sounds unbelievable. Charley was raised in South Texas by a single mom in a trailer. He spent time in New Orleans' French Quarter before hitchhiking his way to New York City where he busked in the subway and slept in parks. Charley got caught up in a stock fraud scheme with his brother who ended up in prison and they lost their sister to addiction. Charley's had ups and downs - and come out on the other side with a cowboy hat and a...


John Prine: A Guy Walks Into Heaven's Bar

With career songs like "Angel From Montgomery", "Sam Stone" and "Hello in There", John Prine has carved his name forever in the book of American songwriting legends. On his new album Prine imagines what will happen when he gets to heaven. He'll reunite with his loved ones and smoke a cigarette that's nine miles long at a bar that shares a name with his new record: The Tree of Forgiveness. John talks about his early days as a mailman, playing Chicago's open mic nights before his 1971 debut...


F*** Dr. Dog!

When it came time to make their 10th album as Dr. Dog, co-frontman Scott McMicken came to the band with a radical idea: "F*** Dr. Dog". What does that mean? How did the band react? And how did they turn that idea into a new album called Critical Equation? Scott explains and Dr. Dog performs live.


Soccer Mommy Scores Some Musical Goals

Sophie Allison did something most people might balk at in order to launch her music career as Soccer Mommy – she dropped out of NYU, putting more on the line than many young musicians, as she also had a scholarship to that prestigious school. Before she had released some much buzzed about high school bedroom recordings, now she has put out a remarkable studio debut called Clean. She plays live and shares why she thinks taking a big risk to pursue her dream really wasn't much of a risk at all.