World Cafe

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

Garrison Keillor might be the perfect person to talk about the Twin Cities. The longtime host of public radio staple A Prairie Home Companion has lived in the area most of his life and says he doesn't see himself leaving, even after he turns the show over to Punch Brothers' Chris Thile next year.

John Mark Nelson released his first album independently while he was still a junior in high school. Local radio, including The Current, embraced his song "Reminisce" — an encouraging start for a musician who'd already found the sound he wanted in his head. Nelson's new album, I'm Not Afraid, is his fourth, and his first since signing with GRNDWIRE Records. Nelson has thrived in the supportive Twin Cities music scene, and is ready for a wider audience.

Sense Of Place Minneapolis: Frankie Lee

Dec 9, 2015

Twin Cities alt-country singer Frankie Lee recently released his first full-length album, American Dreamer. It's a strong debut that reflects Lee's musical upbringing: His musician father died when Lee was 12, but his dad's friends were also musicians who took him to clubs where they were playing. Sometimes, they even parked him under the soundboard so he could soak up everything.

John Munson knows his way around the Twin Cities, and he should. The bassist has played in bands there for a long time, including Trip Shakespeare, The New Standards and, most successfully, Semisonic.

The aggressive punk band Babes In Toyland recently re-formed after years apart. Guitarist Kat Bjelland, bassist Maureen Herman and drummer Lori Barbero started playing together in 1987 as part of a scene that Barbero describes as young, raw and not so innocent. The band broke up in 1993, re-formed last year, and replaced Herman with 22-year-old Minneapolis native Clara Salyer.

In today's World Cafe session, Babes In Toyland's members offer a firsthand description of what the Minneapolis music scene was like in the 1980s, as well as an energetic live set.

Sense Of Place Minneapolis: Bad Bad Hats

Dec 8, 2015

The Twin Cities music scene is bursting with young talent like indie-rock trio Bad Bad Hats. Bandmates Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge met at Macalester College in St. Paul and started writing songs together in 2010; bassist Noah Boswell joined in 2012. This summer, Bad Bad Hats released its full-length debut, Psychic Reader. Find their full interview and performance, recorded live at The Current, on this page.

Sense Of Place Minneapolis: Lizzo

Dec 8, 2015

Twin Cities singer and rapper Lizzo is a serious talent who's about to emerge nationally. Born in Detroit, Lizzo spent her teen years in Houston before moving to Minneapolis in 2011. She formed her first hip-hop group in Houston, but she says it was the wide variety of musicians she was exposed to after moving to Minneapolis that helped expand her musical vision. Lizzo released her first album, Lizzobangers, in 2013. On Dec.

Sense Of Place Minneapolis: Hippo Campus

Dec 7, 2015

Hippo Campus is a young, intricate rock band whose members are fresh out of music-conservatory high school in the Twin Cities. The band has enormous confidence in its music and live show, and has even appeared on late-night TV.

The group's debut album, The Halocline EPs, was partially produced by Low's Alan Sparhawk. In this World Cafe segment, we'll hear Hippo Campus on stage and discuss the youthful rock 'n' roll life its members lead.

Andrea Swensson is host of The Local Show and a blog at St. Paul, Minn., public radio station The Current. As part of this week's Sense Of Place series, World Cafe asked her to pick five bands representing the best the Twin Cities scene has to offer right now. You can hear and download each song in the playlist on this page.

Polica is about to release a new album, United Crushers, this March. In a visit to the band's home studio, we hear one of the new songs and talk with lead singer Channy Leaneagh and her partner Ryan Olson about the life of Polica — and about their two-week-old son, who was there for the interview as well.