Talia Schlanger

Anyone who says you should never meet your heroes because they will disappoint you has never met John Prine. He is everything you love about his songs. He's warm, funny and wise — although you get the sense he's not trying to be. He cares about people and their smallest details and, as his lyrics might suggest, he'll find a way to work pork chops into the conversation.

Meeting Charley Crockett through his music, you get the sense he's the kind of guy who, in person, would shake your hand, look you straight in the eye and remember your name. Charley was raised in South Texas by a single mom whose unshakable sense of ambition and perseverance rubbed off.

Belly On World Cafe

May 30, 2018

In 1995, Bill Watterson, the author of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, decided to end it even though it seemed like the comic was in its prime. Since then, Bill has said, "It's better to leave the party early." Belly, our guest in this session did the very same thing. The band had explosive success with the debut album Star in 1993 and was all over MTV with the hit song "Feed the Tree." Belly released the follow-up King in 1995, grabbing the cover of Rolling Stone in the spring of that year.

Who do you still know from eighth grade? And what's your relationship? Do you check in on Facebook to see how many kids, pets and houses they have? Or have you built an entire career together and made it work for decades, like the co-frontmen of the band Dr. Dog?

A couple nights before Donovan Woods came in to World Cafe I went to see his show in Philadelphia and I was standing next to a guy who had never heard of Woods before. Once the applause died down after the first song, the man said to himself, "Wow."

It was almost funny but also not surprising. I've seen this happen a bunch of times when I'm with somebody who hears Donovan's music for the first time. And I'm hoping that's what'll happen today on this show.

In this session, we have some serious musicians who trained at a conservatory and make carefully arranged music with tricky harmonies. Sound like a recipe for fun? It is. This is Lake Street Dive we're talking about, and if you've heard any of the original music they make, you know they take all the most fun bits of pop, soul, disco, jazz, rock and roll and stitch them together into something all their own.

Lindi Ortega's new release Liberty is a Spaghetti Western-style concept album. As she says, it's based on the "idea of somebody who is traversing from the dark into the light and slaying a bunch of demons along the way."

Branding experts might tell you that an ideal elevator pitch should take 20 to 30 seconds. Our guest Dr. Demento requires only five words: "Mad music and crazy comedy." That's how he describes the legendary Dr. Demento Show, which gave a radio home to songs like "Fish Heads," "Dead Puppies," "Pencil Neck Geek" and "Shaving Cream" for the better part of four decades.

For a lot of music fans, uttering the name Jeff Buckley is tantamount to prayer, and whispering the title of his song "Eternal Life" is prophecy. While there are limited morsels of Buckley's otherworldly essence left on this earth, there are untold stories from those who knew him. It's taken Dave Lory two decades to tell some of these tales.

Sometimes at a concert, an artist's encore can feel more like a premeditated given than an earned celebration. But if you've ever seen the captivating Anderson East live (high jumps, sheer vocal prowess and all), you might agree that he earns every single encore he plays. And so, it feels just fine that East has called his latest album Encore.

Even though he's had his hand in more than 100 albums, watching Chick Corea play piano feels like seeing him fall in love with his instrument for the first time. Maybe that's why he called his latest album (a collaboration with drummer Steve Gadd) Chinese Butterfly. In Chinese symbolism, the butterfly represents the excitement and fluttering heart of young love.

I think one of the best things you can say about an artist is that you hear a song and you know it's them. That is true in spades for the band Hop Along, thanks in large part to the unique voice of lead singer Frances Quinlan, both in the way it sounds and what she says with it.

Depending on who you are and how your heart is built, you might know this modus operandi well: it's easier to be nice to other people than to yourself. If that's an idea you can relate to, you'll find something in common with Erika Wennerstrom. She says each song on her new album Sweet Unknown is a mantra about being kinder to yourself.

If you hate fun, now would be the time move on to another session. My guests on the show today are the members of Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Before the release of her latest LP, The Lookout, Laura Veirs revealed some stats about its creation, in the form of hand scribbled post-it notes shared on Instagram. Among those are the first word sung on the album ("scuttling"), the last word ("fire"), and the number of children who appear on the recordings (three).

Pages