James McMurtry writes wonderfully detailed narrative songs, making his characters come alive with humor and poignancy. He remains an exquisite guitarist, whether he's playing electric or 12-string acoustic, as he is in this World Cafe session. Earlier this year, McMurtry released Complicated Game, his first new studio album in six years.
For this episode of Latin Roots from World Cafe, producer Aaron Levinson joins the show to discuss women in salsa. As he readily acknowledges, women have had a tough time in the genre's male-dominated world, Celia Cruz being the exception — she's arguably the most beloved figure in salsa, regardless of gender. He discusses other artists, too, including an all-female salsa band that started in the 1930s.
At 74, Buffy Sainte-Marie still has the passion of her youth on her new album Power In The Blood. The Cree songwriter wrote hits like "Universal Soldier" and "Until It's Time For You To Go" in the 1960s, but that was before she was blacklisted from American radio in the 1970s. Sainte-Marie also won a Grammy and an Oscar for her part in writing "Up Where We Belong," recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for the 1982 film An Officer And A Gentleman.
James Taylor put out his first album on Apple Records in 1968. He wrote wistfully about halcyon days in North Carolina, but he also addressed darker subjects like a mental hospital and heroin addiction. Those songs, and the ones on the eponymous 1970 album that followed, solidified a generational love affair with Taylor's music.
Singer-guitarist Erika Wennerstrom performs with elegance and power, and she's been doing so with Heartless Bastards for a good long time now. The band recently performed songs from its new album Restless Ones live on stage at Philadelphia's Non-COMMvention. Wennerstrom says she and the band got to take their time with the new album — enough time to let happy accidents happen along the way.
Best Coast just returned with a new album called California Nights, which expands on the band's soaring beach-rock sound. In fact, expansion seems to be the point of California Nights: Members Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno allow themselves to head into uncharted areas, both sonically and lyrically.
World Cafe first got to know Bill Ricchini in Philadelphia, where he produced his first record as Summer Fiction, then didn't hear from him for a while. Four years later, he calls Brooklyn home and has a new Summer Fiction album out called Himalaya. Ricchini traveled to a small U.K. studio to record his latest batch of guitar-driven pop with producer Brian Christinzio (BC Camplight).
San Fermin's new second album is Jackrabbit, and you can hear in this World Cafe session how things have changed for the band since its debut. The group's self-titled debut was entirely written and arranged by Ellis Ludwig-Leone — for him, the band had grown out of a post-Yale composition project.
World Cafe welcomes back Oregon duo The Helio Sequence, featuring Brandon Summers on vocals and guitars and Benjamin Weikel on drums and keyboards. They recently released their self-titled sixth album, which contains some of their most refined pop music yet.