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 is overwhelming and profound to imagine just how many molecules and how many mountains Aretha Franklin has moved with her music. From the deeply personal, private moments of listening she has summoned in every individual listener, to the church choirs who have sung her arrangements, to the collectives that have raised their voices to the gospel of her songs, and stretching all the way up to the divine.

I'm sure you've had this experience at some point: You hear the voice of an artist who was important to you at a particular time and all of a sudden, the sound of it sends you tumbling back through your own memory right to where you were – that college dorm room, those bleachers on that football field, that cross country road trip with your first love — the first time you heard that voice.

To my ear, serpentwithfeet's debut full length album soil is one of the most intriguing albums of the year. serpent blends his classical music training with his church choir upbringing and swirls it all together with ideas about love, sexuality, identity and honesty in a way that is devastating and uplifting at the same time.

No matter what you listen to in your life right now, no matter how far your musical tastes have come, the music you grew up with will always be special. Today's guest, Boz Scaggs, can tell you that firsthand. He played with the Steve Miller Band in the '60s and became a household name in the '70s thanks to songs like "Lido Shuffle" and albums like Silk Degrees.

"They'll blow your socks off if you have any on," reads a fan's Facebook post about the live capabilities of Rainbow Kitten Surprise. And it's true. This undefinable five-piece band from the small town of Boone, N.C. boasts a blend of charisma, musical chops, sing-along harmonies and breakneck creativity that's made it a nearly instant favorite among the nation's sandals-wearing music festival crowd.

If you ask today's guest what she's been up to since the last time she was on World Cafe about a year and a half ago, she might say something like, "Oh, not much. Finished my Masters of Fine Arts, raised a toddler, toured in my husband's band the 400 unit, completed another record of my own, won Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards ... and slept at some point."

Looking back on the past year of some incredible sessions this week, World Cafe is digging into the archives for some of its best performances and interviews since last July. You'll hear sessions with artists including singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, "the Croz" himself, David Crosby, Australian rocker Courtney Barnett and more.

Dessa On World Cafe

Jul 18, 2018

Can you insure your heartache through GEICO if you use it as a professional asset for writing songs? If you're a self-proclaimed "bottle-blonde, fair-skinned woman" whose mother is Puerto Rican but you don't look it, what's the best way to be a responsible rapper? Can you locate the spot your ex occupies in your brain through MRI scanning?

Neko Case's voice sounds like it originates from the belly of Mother Earth herself. In her music, you can hear the roots of trees, the wisdom of ancient warrior bones, the shift of tectonic plates, molten lava and placid water. "Have mercy on the natural world," she sings on the title track to her latest album Hell-On. It's her connection to and reverence of the natural world that stands out both in the album's lyrics and in the circumstances around making it.

"Stop asking musicians what they think." That is the opening line of the song "1933" on Frank Turner's new album Be More Kind, and a directive I was very happy to ignore when we sat down to talk about his music. Turner is clearly a deep thinker who values discussion and debate as fundamental parts of healthy society, in his words: "How do you have a conversation with someone you disagree with?"

People who love the band Dawes really love the band Dawes. Songwriting and musicianship aside, I think one of the things fans latch on to is that this is a band that feels like a good hang. The band's current lineup includes Taylor Goldsmith, along with his brother Griffin on drums, Wylie Gelber on bass; and Lee Pardini on keys. Whether you listen to its records on long car rides or in college dorm rooms or in dive bars or at wedding receptions, Dawes feels like good company.

A couple years ago, The Record Company released its debut album and earned a a Grammy nomination, a few hits, sold-out headlining shows, late night TV appearances — you get the idea — all off the strength of that one record made in bass player Alex Stiff's living room in LA. This is a surprisingly sharp trajectory if you know anything about how the music business works. But it's not surprising if you know how the band itself works.

There's an intimacy in the way Ray LaMontagne records and performs music that makes you feel like you're peeking through a curtain and listening in on a private moment. And in some ways, you truly are.

Ray is an artist I think of the purest sort. He's in it for the expression, not the attention. That's one of the things that I love about Ray and have loved since his 2004 debut Trouble. And it's the same quality that makes this career path challenging for him.

In this session, we hear the story of how two brothers went from singing in the pubs of an old steel town four hours North of London called Scunthorpe to recording at Rick Rubin's Shangri La Studios in Malibu, Calif.

For an emerging artist putting out a debut album, recording a session for this show, which airs across the country, could be a nerve-racking experience. Especially if your album features a full electric band, you planned to play with them for the session and on the day, one of the members gets sick and you had to go it alone in front of a live audience. That could be extra nerve-racking.

Bettye LaVette's voice illuminates the definition of a true soul singer. It pierces through the physical and awakens the listener's emotional core. A soul singer's voice is only amplified through experience, and as Bettye told me when we spoke, "I've got so much stuff to cry about, and so much stuff to holler about, and so much stuff to laugh about."

As the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So it is for Natalie Prass on her new album, The Future and the Past.

If you think of Willie Nelson as a lot of people do, you might make the same mistake I did on the way up the stairs of his tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose. I imagined we were going to visit a mythical creature or an immortal shaman; in reality, it was better than that.

On her new album, Courtney Barnett does something I don't think many people could do — I know I couldn't do it. She takes an insult that was hurled at her and turns it into a powerful lyric in one of her songs. The insult-turned-lyric is this quote: "I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you."

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."

Here at World Cafe, we're in the business of picking music. Making playlists for different occasions is something we do all the time, from holidays to album anniversaries to best-ofs and so on. But we've never put together a playlist for the kind of occasion you'll hear about today; in fact, I had never heard of this type of playlist before. It's a labor playlist, as in a soundtrack for giving birth — and we thought we'd do something a little different on the show and make a house call to find out what makes a great one.

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