"I'm feeling things! This is awesome!" Emily King describes the moment she stood outside with tears in her eyes, and sang aloud the lyrics to the first song she wrote for her new album. That song is called "Remind Me" and it captures the renewed inspiration King found after packing up her New York City life, learning to drive and moving to a small town in the Catskills. King's entire new album 'Scenery' rings out with joy and hope. The production is a stunning combination of jazz-inflected R&B and '80s pop that's precise but not fussy, textured but never overdone. King and her musical partner/producer/all-around studio wizard genius, J. Most, made the album during winter in a freezing cold garage studio. They survived thanks to a combination of space heaters and winter hats over headphones. In this session, King shares stories from the making of 'Scenery' and some of her experiences in the music business. She was signed at a young age and nominated for a Grammy for her 2007 debut. King and her exceptional band perform new music and treat us to the fan-favorite "Georgia" from her 2011 EP.
Andrew Bird's-eye View
On his last album, 'Are You Serious', the always inventive Andrew Bird drew inspiration from monumental moments in his own personal life, including getting married and having a son. And now, on 'My Finest Work Yet', Bird zooms way out on humanity across history's timeline, seeking insight about our current age, in a way he hopes "stays above the news feed noise." On "Manifest," Bird traces the evolution of life from single celled organisms through vapor and beyond. On "Archipelago," he introduces the idea that "our enemies are what make us whole," and elsewhere he addresses futility, fate and responsibility. There are songs that draw on Greek mythology, from Sisyphus to the Olympians, and one inspired by The Spanish Civil War. And in the most Bird-ian way, Andrew somehow turns these high concepts into amazingly fun and appealing pop songs that aren't on the nose, aren't prescriptive or patronizing. Just offerings of some important stuff to think about or whistle along to. I spoke to Andrew about why he wanted to record the whole album live in a room with his band, his tendency "to seek out struggle" and creating sounds based on what he perceives the space around him wants to hear.
Popping In For a Pint And Tune At The Cobblestone In Dublin
Ask anyone in Dublin to recommend a pub with traditional Irish music, and you're likely to hear about The Cobblestone. For our last World Cafe dispatch from Ireland, we pop into the cozy spot in Smithfield and can immediately see why this place is beloved by locals, tourists and musicians from far and wide. It's warm and welcoming with a big, long bar filled with people leaning over each other and laughing and clinking glasses. And at the front of the room there are about a dozen musicians packed into this little nook — it's a jigsaw puzzle of fiddles and guitars and pints resting precariously between elbows on tables. Tom Mulligan, who has owned the pub for 30 years, says,"Conversation is the greatest thing that was ever invented." Mulligan hopes people talk to each other as much as they listen to the music at The Cobblestone. He also tells the story of that time Steve Martin popped by to play some banjo and left on his private jet. Come along for a pint, in the player.
Bell X1's Paul Noonan Takes 'World Cafe' On A Tour Of Dublin
There's something extra special about going to visit an artist in the place where it all began. On our recent trip to Dublin, Paul Noonan, lead singer of beloved Irish band Bell X1, took us on a walking city tour to show us some of the spots that have been important to the band over its 20-year career. We started off on Clarendon Market where the Dublin Arts Center, the spot where Bell X1 played some of their earliest shows, once stood. It's not a venue anymore, but we still heard a woman playing the piano and singing from outside a music school. Paul reminisced about the moment when he realized it wasn't just Bell X1's family and friends in the audience anymore. We made a pilgrimage to the famous venue Whelan's to find Paul's photo on the wall of artist alumni. And then Paul took us to a house he used to share with friends in Smithfield. It's right across from the Capuchin Day Centre For Homeless People and Paul remembers passing long lines of people waiting for food in the mornings. That's where he met Rocky, a man who would sleep on a wooden pallet outside Paul's window. One morning, Paul saw Rocky snuggled with a lady friend and was inspired to write the song "Rocky Took A Lover." Come along to hear the whole story.
Ireland's Chief Musical Export: The Chieftains!
When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space. In 2010, the band sent instruments with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman to the international space station. In this session, Moloney tells the story of how The Chieftains ended up being the first Western band to play on the Great Wall of China and explains what Irish traditional music has in common with traditional American music. He continues to share tales about working with The Rolling Stones at Dublin's Windmill Lane Recording Studios - the very same spot where we recorded this session - and reflects on touring at 80 years old. While Paddy played whistle and pipes, he assembled a seven-person team for this session: Seán Keane on fiddle, Redmond O'Toole on guitar, Triona Marshall on harp, Kevin Conneff on bodhrán, Matt Molloy on flute, Nathan Pilatzke dancing and Alyth McCormack as lead singer.