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.

Doyle Bramhall II has been playing guitar all his life. At 18, he became the rhythm guitarist in Jimmie Vaughan's band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Bramhall's father, the first Doyle Bramhall, was a drummer. The younger Bramhall was headed in that direction, too, until he picked up the guitar (left-handed, strung upside down) and taught himself in the style of his idol Albert King.

There's a bit of magic in everything Regina Spektor touches. In her early days, she captivated New York's East Village crowd by tapping a bench with a drumstick with one hand and exercising her classical piano training with the other — all while speak-singing and belting her way from indie darling to icon.

When we hosted the Pretenders on World Cafe this week to celebrate the release of Chrissie Hynde and company's new album, Alone, we were reminded that the band's self-titled debut came out in 1980 — the same year as more than a handful of other classic and influential records.

Chrissie Hynde has been seeking inspiration ever since she left her hometown of Akron, Ohio, in the '70s for London, where she ended up founding The Pretenders. The band's 1980 debut was cutting-edge, sexually direct and a major hit.

Prolific guitarist Ryley Walker says his musical aim is "to freak [his] audience out ... in a nice way". He was schooled in what he calls the "weirdo scene" — in Chicago's experimental independent clubs, where the name of the game is improvisation and every song is simply a jumping-off point for endless exploration. Walker's latest record, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, is his third in three years and a stunning follow-up to his 2015 instrumental release, Primrose Green.

Latin Roots: iLe

Dec 14, 2016

Puerto Rico's Ileana Cabra is a bona fide rising star on the Latin scene, and a recent Grammy nominee. For the last decade, she has cut her teeth singing and rapping with her older brothers in Calle 13. Now, she goes by iLe and has released her first solo record, iLevitable.

Thirty years ago, the beloved Texas guitarist Eric Johnson made his general-release debut, Tones. Since then, he's made platinum albums and won a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In this session, he tells us why he does it: "I just like to try to have it have substance or quality or give some kind of emotion to people ... Really, it's more about that than it is the gymnastics or the 'look at me' effect."

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