Unlikely though it may seem, "Outlaw" is Sam Outlaw's mother's maiden name. As it happens, the L.A. country singer, whose debut album is appropriately called Angeleno, has an improbable story to go with that name.
The Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well Tour concerts in California have wrapped up, and this weekend, the band moves on to Chicago for its final three shows. From its beginnings in San Francisco, and certainly since the 1970s, the Dead has inspired fans to join it — following the group became a lifestyle.
The Australian trio DMA's experienced radio success with the first three singles its members released. On the heels of sold-out tours in Australia and a journey across the U.S., DMA's just released a self-titled EP, with a full-length debut due out next year. The band performs some of its new songs in this World Cafe session, including the hit "Delete."
Richard Thompson has appeared on World Cafe many times before, beginning with Rumour And Sigh in 1991, and now he has a new album called Still. While in his teens, Thompson joined Fairport Convention, dubbed the "British Byrds" for its combination of traditional and original music. His solo career, consisting of more than 25 albums (some with then-wife Linda Thompson), began shortly thereafter.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist is British keyboardist, producer and vocalist Oli Bayston, who records smart, indie-rock-influenced house music with Boxed In. Hear a few songs on this episode, and head over to the World Cafe Tumblr for more.
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.
This week's World Cafe: Next pick is Sydney's Meg Mac, who was named Triple J radio's Unearthed Artist Of 2014. While Mac's big voice is a major part of the attraction, it's her intense live connection that brings her gospel-tinged soul music home. In this segment, you can hear two songs from the MEGMAC EP — and download World Cafe: Next podcasts at worldcafe.tumblr.com.
For My Morning Jacket, the place in which music is recorded makes a difference in the experience — and the outcome. The band's new album The Waterfall was recorded near Stinson Beach in Northern California, and singer Jim James describes the beautiful vista outside the studio's giant window in this World Cafe interview. James says that waterfalls specifically inspired him, and that he often thinks about being able to stop one with his mind.
Eco Del Sur is a group of Philadelphia-area Latin musicians whose mission is to explore the wide variety of music from South and Central America, with an emphasis on Andean culture. At the audio link above, hear World Cafe's conversation with longtime leader Jorge Gomez and a set from the show's first-ever Latin Roots Live event.
You'd think it would be difficult for Brian Wilson to pick his favorite Beach Boys song, but he's decisive: It's "God Only Knows." In this conversation on World Cafe, he also says that while he loves the new Wilson biopic Love & Mercy (out Friday), there are parts that were hard for him to watch.
Our World Cafe: Next artist this week is a roots band we happened upon during the first weekend at Jazz Fest in their hometown, New Orleans. The Deslondes, named after a local street, grew out of an earlier incarnation of Hurray for the Riff Raff and still sometimes tour with that band's Alynda Lee Segarra, a fellow New Orleanian.
"Latin Roots" meets our "Sense of Place: Philly" series as Philadelphia-based reporter Aaron Levinson plays some local Latin music. First up is the "political and funky" El Malito & the 33rd Century, followed by El Caribefunk, a band that splits its time between Philadelphia and Colombia. We also salute Pupi Legarreta, an important figure in Afro-Cuban music who emigrated to the U.S.
Beloved by both Garrison Keillor and Jack White, Pokey LaFarge describes his own music — a mix of old-time jazz, blues, ragtime and string-band music from the past century — as timeless rather than retro.
Founded in 2007 by Kelsey Kopecky and Gabe Simon, The Kopecky Family Band — which recently shortened its name to Kopecky — is known for big, brash folk-pop that's uplifting in its sweep. The group didn't release its debut album, Kids Raising Kids, until 2012, after years spent honing its crisp, polished sound.
A flat-out great singer, Lee Ann Womack made her first album in 1997 — and three years later experienced a career-making crossover hit. "I Hope You Dance," which won a Grammy for Best Country Song, still gets played at huge moments like weddings and christenings.
This week's installment of World Cafe: Next is from Austin singer-songwriter Abram Shook, who's been part of the Shearwater touring band in recent years. In that time, he's also released two wonderfully arranged and artful albums of his own: Sun Marquee and the new Landscape Dream. You can hear and download two of his new songs on this page.
World Cafe's Sense Of Place: Philadelphia series is a perfect opportunity to feature the work of local rapper Sugar Tongue Slim, or S.T.S. He's just released S.T.S. X RJD2, a collaboration with the Philly DJ; it's a high point for both artists.