World Cafe's guest today is Rhiannon Giddens — formerly of Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose album Genuine Negro Jig won a Grammy in 2010. That record provided an introduction to the way she makes a song her own. (In that case, it was a dynamite cover of Blu Cantrell's "Hit Em Up Style.") Giddens has done more solo work — she was a show-stopper in the film of the Another Day, Another Time concert, as she sang a Gaelic song — and performs in the folk supergroup The New Basement Tapes.
We're fans of Jenny Lewis' latest album, The Voyager. Since she and her band already came in to play the new songs live, Lewis invited us to do something different — drive through the San Fernando Valley, where she grew up, to find the inspiration for the title of The Voyager. So it's kind of a mystery in the back seat of a rental car, where we will also hear an acoustic version of the album's title track.
World Cafe's Sense of Place visit to LA continues today with a bit more of a funky West Coast vibe. Our guests are the powerful new Latin funk band Jungle Fire, whose album Tropicoso is out on North Hollywood-based Nacional Records.
We have a special Latin Roots segment for our Sense of Place: LA today as we are joined by a band from East LA, Las Cafeteras. The band formed around a community space called the Eastside Café, where they studied Son Jarocho music from Mexico and made it their own.
We talk with Dwight Yoakam, whose career really took off in the 1980s when his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. on Warner Bros. Records went to No. 1 on the country charts. Yoakam met our other guest today, Lenny Waronker, producer, A&R man and later president of Warner Bros., when that album came out.
The Blasters with Dave and Phil Alvin were an integral part of the Los Angeles punk scene in the 1980s, as well as the blues scene and even the cowpunk scene. Their high energy R&B was hard to deny. Phil sang, Dave played guitar and wrote songs. They parted acrimoniously in 1986, and it wasn't until last year's album of Big Bill Broonzy songs, Common Ground, that they recorded together again.
Check out this video of an unusual interview with art director and album cover designer Gary Burden. He takes us up and down Laurel Canyon and discusses his experience living there in the '60's and '70s.
We get the history of the bohemian area of Hollywood known as Laurel Canyon from historian and author Harvey Kubernik. His book Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon describes the musically fertile area that has provided escape for Angelenos since the 1920's.
Jackson Browne is World Cafe's guest for the full hour today. The singer-songwriter and social activist has long resided at the heart of Los Angeles' famed Laurel Canyon sound.
A star for more than 40 years, Browne recently released a new album called Standing In The Breach. In this episode, he performs with his full band at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and discusses his early days.