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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




Tom Morello Makes America Rage Again

Tom Morello changed the shape of rock n'roll with his guitar playing in Rage Against the Machine. He joins us to talk about his new genre-bending project, The Atlas Underground, featuring collaborations with Marcus Mumford, Portugal the Man, EDM beats, and Morello's signature guitar sound. He'll also tell us how many songs he had to learn to play to join the E-Street Band on tour (hint, it was more than 100). Tom reflects on his former bandmate Chris Cornell, and why the message of Rage is...


Young Fathers Make Massive Music in a Tiny Basement

2018's Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Young Fathers welcome World Cafe to their compact studio in Edinburgh, where the three band members share their unique stories. Alloysious Massaquoi left Liberia as a child refugee in the 90s and faced a difficult and lifesaving trip by boat to Ghana before settling in Scotland. Kayus Bankole was born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents and spent time traveling between the country where he was born, the US and his parents' homeland. Graham...


Robyn On Being Your Own Best Friend

Robyn just released Honey, her first new full-length album in 8 years. While making the record Robyn was dealing with two big losses – the end of a relationship and the death of a long-time friend and collaborator. Robyn explains how she used dance to help her cope and to inspire creation on Honey


KT Tunstall In Edinburgh

What do the best Scottish chips have in common with the best songwriters? KT Tunstall explains as we travel to Edinburgh to hear music from KT's new album Wax. KT shares stories from her childhood, including the magical game her physicist father would play with her and her brother when they were kids. It involved liquid nitrogen and a long corridor, and was called "Don't Touch, Don't Die". She describes what it was like the first time her brother, who is deaf, was able to hear her music...


Urban Kismet + Eclectic Interest = Bonjay

Ian Swain is a DJ/producer and urban economist. Alanna Stuart is a stunning singer/songwriter whose mom welcomed foster children from around the world when she was growing up. Together, they are Bonjay, and their full-length debut album Lush Life is unlike anything we've heard. Bonjay's music feels like what happens when different people from different backgrounds come together on rooftops and collide in bike lanes and offer each other seats on subways and sweat in basements blaring...


Rosanne Cash Remembers Everything

Rage, regret, long-term love, feminism and memory – those are some of the themes that veteran songwriter Rosanne Cash explores on her new album She Remembers Everything. In our conversation, Rosanne explains the urgent need she felt to tell female stories on this album and how her 20 years of gun control activism informed a song called "8 Gods of Harlem" which also features Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello. Cash also reflects on being recently given the "Spirit of Americana Free Speech...


The English Beat Goes On

Dave Wakeling of The English Beat still tours like a man decades younger than he is, and now he's got a new album to support it. It's been almost 30 years since Wakeling has sang on a studio Beat record, but with the new album Here We Go, Love, Wakeling wants to remind everyone that The English Beat hasn't lost a step. He'll tell the stories behind new songs and classics like "Tenderness" and "Save It For Later." Plus, we'll hear live performances as we pogo along with Dave Wakeling and The...


Mountain Man's Magic Ship

Something truly magical happens when Amelia Meath (from Sylvan Esso), Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig are in the same room, huddled around the same mic, breathing and harmonizing together. The three met more than a decade ago at Bennington college, and put out their debut album as Mountain Man back in 2010. We fell in love with it and have waited patiently 8 years since then for the 3 of them to get together for a new record. Mercifully, they've released "Magic Ship". Listen in...


Elvis Costello

This past summer Elvis Costello cancelled a handful of tour dates so that he could recover from cancer surgery. In the same Facebook post where he delivered that news, there was a bright side. Costello announced that he would release a new album with his band, The Imposters, in the fall. Well, it's the fall, Elvis is in great health, and his new record, Look Now, is here. It features songs written with Carole King and Burt Bacharach. Elvis visits World Cafe to share insights about his health...


Candi Staton is Unstoppable

Candi Staton has earned the right to title her 30th album Unstoppable. Candi grew up poor in Hanceville, Alabama and used her remarkable voice to change her life. As a teen in the 1950s, Candi started singing and touring with the Jewell Gospel Trio. She became pals with Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls, and worked with Aretha Franklin. Over the course of a handful of marriages, Candi survived domestic abuse and overcame infidelity. She turned her hardships into one of her most memorable hit songs:...


Old Crow Medicine Show Celebrates 20 Years

Traditional styles grow differently depending on who cultivates them and where. For two decades, Old Crow Medicine Show has helped make old-timey American music vital for a generation raised on Nirvana and hip hop, by abandoning the rules that sometimes stifle folk revivalism and growing in whatever way appealed to them. From covering an entire Bob Dylan album to writing one of country music's 21st century classics, "Wagon Wheel," Old Crow has consistently surprised and challenged its...


Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio

The Crossing is the new concept album Alejandro Escovedo wrote with Italian composer Don Antonio and his band. The record tells the story of Diego and Salvo, two immigrant boys, one from Mexico, the other from Italy, traveling in the United States. Diego and Salvo are into the Beat poets and punk rock, like the MC5 and The Stooges. Alejandro and Don Antonio tell us how The Crossing came to be and how it connects to their own lives. And Alejandro tells stories from his punk rock days, like...


Mending Haerts

Nini Fabi and Benny Gebert started dating in Germany when they were 15. Since then, they've done a lot together. They moved to New York, got married, and now make music as Haerts. Recently, Nini and Benny went through a trying time when their professional and personal futures were uncertain. They had been dropped from their record label and were facing some major relationship issues. Nini and Benny packed some instruments and recording gear and went to a house in upstate New York to try and...


From War to "The War and Treaty"

Michael Trotter had to "literally crawl over rock and... debris from the explosions to get to this piano". He was serving in Iraq, when his Captain suggested Michael learn to play music to cope with his fear during war. Years later Michael met and married Tanya Blount, who began her own music career as a teenage R&B ingénue. They now make music together as The War and Treaty. On their debut album Healing Tide, produced by Buddy Miller, Tanya and Michael invest their rootsy, gospel-inspired...


Jad Abumrad On The Most Perfect Album

Dolly Parton, Devendra Banhart, Flor de Toloache and They Might Be Giants all contributed original songs to a new compilation called 27: The Most Perfect Album. They were invited by Jad Abumrad and his team at "More Perfect", a Radiolab spin-off series which explores how Supreme Court decisions affect people's lives. All the songs on 27: The Most Perfect Album are inspired by amendments to the Constitution. Some songs are history lessons, some are abstract explorations and all are musically...


Pop Music's Weird Cousin

That's how the artist behind Christine and the Queens describes herself, although we prefer to think of her as pop music's bright future. Her evocative and danceable new album Chris explores chaos and desire, blurring the line between aggressive and vulnerable, masculine and feminine. As with her tremendous 2014 debut, Chris was produced by the artist herself and you can feel the urgency in all her musical choices. In our conversation, Christine tells the story of choosing her name after...


Steve Perry Stopped Believing For a While

But he's back! Former Journey lead singer Steve Perry is about to release his first new album in over two decades. Perry talks about why he left Journey in 1987 at the height of their fame, and the difficult personal period that followed shortly after, during which he couldn't listen to music. He also shares the story of his life-changing relationship with a woman named Kellie Nash who Perry says made him feel loved for the first time. His new record Traces marks the fulfillment of a promise...


Building Leon Bridges

After the incredible success of Bridges' 2015 debut album Coming Home, people were eager to label him "the new Sam Cooke". On his 2018 follow-up Good Thing, Bridges is breaking free of that label and proving he can't be put in a musical box. On the album's last song "Georgia to Texas" Bridges chronicles some of his origin story. He grew up in Forth Worth and went to a predominantly white school where he didn't fit in with some of the other black students. We talk about how he discovered his...


Philly Folk Festival – Far Out with David Dye

The Philadelphia Folk Festival just celebrated it's 57th go-round of concerts, workshops, camping and folkie camaraderie on The Olde Poole Farm outside of Philadelphia this past August. For the last 11 years our Host Emeritus, David Dye, has presented live music on the festival's campground stage, a special gathering on Thursday night that, in the past, has featured Sturgill Simpson, Amanda Shires, Deer Tick, Joan Shelley and others. This year, David Dye presents three special performances...


Dawn Landes Makes Fearless Phonecalls

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton, and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired. Landes explains how she won Foster over and performs live songs from the album they made together, called Meet Me at...