WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

World Cafe

The premier public radio showcase for contemporary music serving up an eclectic blend that includes blues, rock, world, folk, and alternative country.

Shirley Collins' recent World Cafe session is a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the world of British folk and folk-rock in the 1960s. Bands like Fairport Convention and artists like Richard Thompson got their start as "British Byrds" with electrified folk tunes.

The British folk-rock band The Levellers was DIY before anyone called it that. It formed in Brighton in 1988, when its members were still squatters, and built a career that, by 1994, had landed the band a gig on the main stage at Glastonbury and a U.S. contract with Elektra Records.

Shirley Collins has been a servant of folk songs — mostly from the U.K., some collected in her native Sussex — throughout her life. Born in 1935, she made some of the most important recordings in British folk and folk-rock through the '60s and '70s. She recorded on her own, with her sister Dolly and then with her second husband, Ashley Hutchings, in The Albion Dance Band.

The singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega was born and raised in New York City and is known for wonderfully articulate work like the breakthrough song "Luka," which earned her several Grammy nominations in 1987. Vega has a forthcoming play called Lover, Beloved: An Evening With Carson McCullers, based off an earlier play that she wrote and starred in. Her new album is Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers.

World Cafe Next: New Year, New Music

Jan 9, 2017

Now that the new year's well under way, World Cafe hosts David Dye and Talia Schlanger share their most anticipated upcoming releases of 2017. Their picks include new music from Sampha, who served as the secret sauce on some of the best R&B tracks of the past year, and from instrumental geniuses Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau, who've melded minds for a double album that comes out later this month.

When Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan of Dawg Yawp were discovered by their manager and producer, fellow Cincinnati musician Rob Fetters, they were performing seated on the floor at their local creperie.

Robbie Robertson is a gifted storyteller who's best known as the guitarist and chief songwriter of The Band. His career started at age 16, when Arkansas R&B and rockabilly roadmaster Ronnie Hawkins drafted the Torontonian into his band, The Hawks.

Helado Negro (yes, that translates to "Black Ice Cream") is the alias of electro-pop musician Roberto Lange. Lange grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and made frequent trips to his parents' home country of Ecuador. He'd gotten used to living among mostly Spanish-speaking people; southern Florida is "like the capital of Latin America," he says. But from Fort Lauderdale, he moved to Savannah, Ga., where he attended art school; then to Miami; and finally to Brooklyn, where he began performing as Helado Negro.

Davy Knowles emerged last decade as a young, hotshot blues guitarist who displayed wisdom beyond his years. Knowles fronted the band Back Door Slam, which took its name from the Robert Cray song. The trio formed on the Isle of Man, off the British coast, and called it quits in 2009 when Knowles began making solo albums. His most recent release is Three Miles From Avalon.

In 2014, Angel Olsen reportedly told her publicist that she didn't want to do any more photo shoots in front of trees. That was the year she released her breakout record Burn Your Fire For No Witness, a melancholy heartbreaker that, in some cases, got her pigeonholed as a sad country singer. And lonely photos in front of trees weren't helping.

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