Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger is a host and radio producer at World Cafe, produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. Schlanger joins the World Cafe team straight from CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, where she hosted a triple-A radio show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She was the on-camera host for two seasons of the CBC television series CBC Music: Backstage Pass, which saw her interview some of Canada's best and brightest artists. Schlanger also hosted several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor featuring Serena Ryder, CBC Music SongCamp and the CBCMusic.ca Festival Special 2015. Schlanger served as the the interim host of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live and was a regular guest host on CBC Radio One's flagship artist and culture show q. She also filled in on Canadian current-affairs radio shows including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Some of her favorite music interviews include St. Vincent, Tanya Tagaq, John Fogerty, Barenaked Ladies and Grimes.

Schlanger's first project at CBC was as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip which won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. She was also the digital producer for Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest, CBC Music's search for the next great hockey song.

Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. She's also a professional actress, singer and voiceover artist. Schlanger spent most of 2012 performing in the first national tour of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, at various theatres throughout the United States. (She thought she would be really cool when she met Billie Joe Armstrong after he watched American Idiot. She was not cool at all.) She has also performed on stage with Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of We Will Rock You, as well as in the ensemble and understudying lead roles in Scaramouche, Oz (Canon Theatre, 2007/2008), and in Mamma Mia! (Royal Alexandra Theatre, 2003/2004).

It's always kind of a miracle when two people find each other and fall in love. And that's what happened to my guests, the duo known as Amadou & Mariam. But their story is even more miraculous. They're both from Mali; they both lost their eyesight as kids — Mariam was 5, and Amadou was 16. They met each other at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in the '70s, fell in love with each other's musicianship and went on to get married and become global Afropop sensations.

Portland, Ore.'s The Decemberists and British singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney have teamed up to cover traditional English (and Irish and Scottish) folk songs under the name Offa Rex.

On the coattails of releasing his new album Bone on Bone, the Canadian troubadour Bruce Cockburn joins World Cafe for a performance and interview.

In this session, you've got a front row seat at a Latin Roots concert by Colombian ensemble Tribu Baharú. Of course, you're not gonna need that seat — this isn't exactly a band that inspires sitting down.

Tribu Baharú plays its own version of champeta, a style that originated in African communities on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It's high octane music in motion — you'll hear what I mean in the band's performance at Nuevofest this past July, which you can hear in the player above.

Ride On World Cafe

Sep 12, 2017

Along with contemporaries like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Oxford's Ride was seen as one of the definitive bands in 1990s shoegaze. The band had success in the '90s with a fervent fanbase and music that crept up the UK charts.

You might remember the band Alvvays for its hooky song "Archie, Marry Me," the breakout single off its 2014 self-titled debut album. The strength of that song turned the unknown band from Toronto into instant indie darlings.

Alvvays didn't try to change its sound too much with its new, second album. As lead singer Molly Rankin and guitarist Alec O'Hanley told me in our chat, they kept the same spirit of jangly jams with dark lyrical undertones, filtered through a summer's haze.

In this session, we welcome Gordi to World Cafe. The Australian singer-songwriter just released her lush full-length debut, which she created while working her way through medical school. In fact, when we spoke in August, she was just a few weeks away from her final exams.

Philadelphia's The Districts is the kind of band you just have to see live — and I'm so happy to share some of the band's explosive energy with you, from a live performance at the World Cafe.

Of course, that's not to say The Districts' recorded music isn't impressive — it is. And the band has been at it for some time: its debut release, Telephone, came out in 2012, when the members were still in high school.

Robyn Hitchcock's latest, self-titled album is slick, surrealist, psychedelic and oh-so-smart. Over the past 40 years, Hitchcock has released more than 20 records between his solo material and his work with The Soft Boys, the psychedelic art-rock band he founded in 1976.

So you wanna be an outlaw?

OK, that's not my challenge to you; it's the title of the new album by Steve Earle. His goal with the album was to channel Waylon Jennings, and he brought in some heavy hitters to help — like Willie Nelson and Miranda Lambert, who both sing on the album.

Latin Roots: Balún

Aug 28, 2017

Our Latin Roots series continues with this mini-concert by Balún. The band's style is so textured and musically diverse that it had to come up with its own genre to describe its sound; the members call it "dreambow." It's where shoegaze-pop meets pan-Caribbean identity, with elements of Puerto Rican music and references to the Jamaican dancehall roots of reggaeton.

If you were anywhere near a radio around 1998-99, there's no way you missed these lyrics: "Closing time / I know who I want to take me home!" Those lyrics were sung by our guest Dan Wilson, frontman and songwriter for the band Semisonic. "Closing Time" was a huge hit and career-maker for that band when it came out in 1998.

In this session, I'm bringing a little bit of my hometown of Toronto to you by way of The Wooden Sky. The band first blew me away at a live show about a decade ago. And then I realized the very tall lead singer looked familiar – hey, that guy was a teaching assistant in my radio production class back at University.

Whatever time it is where you're listening right now, let's pretend for a minute that it's the early '90s, 3 a.m. You're somewhere in the New York area, tuned in to WKCR, absolutely glued to your radio because you're hearing explosive live performances by artists you don't know, but who you know are soon to be something big. We're talking Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, KRS-One, The Fugees, Fat Joe, DMX, Nas, and Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killa and Method Man.

Moments like that happened weekly on the radio show hosted by my guests Stretch and Bobbito.

In this session, we bring you a live session with Overcoats. The duo's music rests on two voices so perfectly in sync you'd swear they were coming from the same person — or, at least, from people who are related. Or, at least, people who've known each other their whole lives.

Most of us know Chuck Berry as a pioneer, if not the pioneer, who defined rock 'n' roll. My guest today knew him as dad.

Charles Berry Jr. is here to share memories of growing up watching the elder Berry on TV, joining him on tour in his later years and contributing to what would be his final record, an album called Chuck that was released in June.

This July, on a beautiful summer day just after the sun set, Chile's Javiera Mena took the outdoor stage to perform her first show in the city of Philadelphia. Mena is a Latin Grammy and MTV Europe Award nominee whose been cranking out indie electro-pop for the past decade.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there's a tiny venue with old wooden floors where on a good night you can cram in around a hundred people. The audience sits right up in front of the band and it's so intimate that the musicians don't need microphones. It's a truly magical place, where the spirit of New Orleans jazz is not only alive but evolving. It's called Preservation Hall. And it's home to our guests – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

In this session of World Cafe we welcome Brother Ali, a Minneapolis-based artist who's been delivering socially conscious hip-hop for nearly two decades. He's also white, an albino and Muslim.

Picture what would happen if Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin met Ali Farka Touré in a garage in West Africa, and you've got an idea of what my guests today sound like. The band is Songhoy Blues. They're from Mali, and their new album is titled Résistance.

I talked with the band's lead singer, Aliou Touré. He is originally from the northern Mali city of Gao, but fled south after Islamist militants and rebels took over parts of northern Mali in 2012, causing a massive political crisis and banning music.

My guest today has just released his debut solo album, and he's in his 70s! His name? Sherman Holmes.

Now, of course, he's not a new kid on the block. He's had a decades-long career in The Holmes Brothers with his real brother Wendell Holmes, and Willie "Popsy" Dixon, who was like a brother.

Café Tacvba's four core members have been making music together since the early 1990s. Their debut record from 1992 just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and their 1994 album, Re, is consistently ranked among the greatest Latin rock albums ever. It's considered a groundbreaking contribution to a genre coined "Rock en Espanol."

For fans who have been following Manchester Orchestra for the past decade and change, the sound of the band's new record, A Black Mile To The Surface, is a surprise. With early releases like I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child, Simple Math and Cope, the band built their following on loud guitars and big emotions. Their latest is full of emotion, but finds that feeling through the songs' stories. It's sweeping, cinematic and really quite beautiful.

Sheer Mag is a five-piece rock band from Philadelphia that sounds like it's headlining the EnormoDome, but comes from a busted-up building called the Nut House that's also home to slugs and roaches.

Feist On World Cafe

Jul 25, 2017

Leslie Feist's latest album, Pleasure, is gritty, defiant and intimate in a way that's different from anything else we've heard from her. And when she wrote it, she was having a hard time feeling — well, pleasure. She explains in this session that she chose that word as a way to try and talk herself out of the dark feelings at the other extreme.

I'm willing to bet you've never seen a "Best Of" list quite like this one. "Turning The Tables" ranks the 150 greatest albums made by women. It's a partnership between NPR Music and Lincoln Center, led by Lincoln Center's Jill Sternheimer and our Nashville correspondent, Ann Powers.

Ann stopped by World Cafe to share some of the artists that made the list and to talk about the No. 1 album. She'll also reveal surprises, controversial picks and one solid conclusion: "Every single one of these albums, they are all amazing."

Recorded in Music City at RCA's legendary Studio A, Jason Isbell's latest album, The Nashville Sound, tackles issues like race and privilege, anxiety, sobriety, hope and family. (Isbell is married to Amanda Shires, a talented fiddle player and singer-songwriter who is also a member of Isbell's band, The 400 Unit; they have a toddler named Mercy.)

This week, World Cafe digs into the archives for some of its best sessions from the last several months — conversations and performances that were so good we decided to bring them back for a second listen. You'll hear sessions with Father John Misty, Alison Krauss, David Crosby and more.

Fleet Foxes' lead singer, Robin Pecknold, says the band's new album, Crack-Up, is the kind of record he's always wanted to make. But it took a minute — six years, actually. The last Fleet Foxes album, Helplessness Blues, came out in 2011 and was a huge success. But after touring that record, at a point where bands traditionally head back to the studio to try and keep the momentum going, Fleet Foxes took a break. And that led to a few changes.

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