Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.

Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. Previously she worked as a professional actress and singer, including performing in the first national US tour of Green Day's rock opera American Idiot, Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of Queen's We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia!. Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger denies the accusation that she's biased toward Canadian bands. But she is proud to introduce American audiences to a lot of them.

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.

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).

After returning from tours with Joan as Police Woman and Okkervil River, Benjamin Lazar Davis had a rare bit of downtime over the holidays and two things he really wanted to do right away: record a new solo album and spend time with his parents, sisters and brother.

Here's something you don't hear every day: a young person makes a record about the value of kindness and compassion. My guest in this session has done just that. Her name is Courtney Marie Andrews and her latest album is called May Your Kindness Remain.

Phoebe Bridgers has one of those voices that can make a rowdy arena crowd go silent and then leap to its feet. I saw it happen when she joined Conor Oberst on stage this past summer at the WXPN XPoNential Music Festival. I can't imagine many people in the crowd knew who she was before they heard Conor invite her on stage for a duet. By the time she was done — standing ovation.

Some say the glass of 2018 is on-quarter empty; others say the glass is three-quarters full. We say, "Wow, we've had some incredible artists perform in 2018 on World Cafe and it's only April!" So cheers to them!

Every day I talk to artists about the winding and sometimes tricky roads they travel to make a career in music. But I've never heard a "how-I-got-here" story quite as remarkable as the one that belongs to today's guest.

It's hard not to smile watching Brett Dennen do his thing. He bounces around the stage, all six-foot-five of him, red hair flopping about, playing songs as if he's entertaining outdoors in the sunshine of summer camp like he used to do in his very formative past career as a camp counselor.

Many artists wait for the day they can stop working as servers and make a full-time living as musicians. Today's guest, Nathaniel Rateliff, is a platinum-selling artist whose generosity onstage makes the music business seem like the service industry. Nathaniel pushes his vocal cords to their very brink, rips open his rib cage to share his heart and leads his seven bandmates with absolute passion – all in service of making sure his audience has a good time and feels something.

When an artist has a hit as huge as "Jessie's Girl," from 1981's Working Class Dog, they can become immortalized in pop culture memory and maybe even frozen in time. They can get flattened, too. But we all know that there's much more to a career artist than the big hit, and there's more to a person than what they do for a living.

My first experience attending SXSW was like running around the most generously stocked international grocery store with a bottomless cart and an unlimited budget. But for my musical ears.

Each of the artists in today's trio would make a wonderful guest on World Cafe by herself. Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan each have stunning solo albums. Many recognize Sara Watkins name from Nickel Creek, the band she started with her brother and Chris Thile.

It started with a lofty promise: "What's up lovely people of SXSW. We are Superorganism and we're gonna blow your m****f****** minds!"

What followed lead singer Orono Noguchi's confident introduction was a one-way ticket to the weird and wonderful wavelength of this crew of kooks from all over the place — including South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K., where they now live and create in a shared house in London.

"I don't want anybody to know who I am. I genuinely have no desire for anybody to ask me how I feel." Noel Gallagher says this about 45 minutes into my attempt to talk to him about who he is and how he feels. He doesn't say it in an accusatory way; he doesn't sound annoyed. He is trying to explain what works for him as a songwriter — that there's a necessary distance between who he is and what he writes.

Siddhartha Khosla has tiptoed into the tear ducts of millions of Americans. He's done it with such delicate genius that even if you've invited the cast of This Is Us into your living room weekly since the show began, you might not have noticed Siddhartha enter along with them. But to watch the show is to feel his presence and to experience both his heart and his own sense of family.

If you've ever wished you could be a fly on the wall at a recording session with Jimi Hendrix, it doesn't get much closer than this. From a technical standpoint, Eddie Kramer plugged in the wires, pulled the faders and placed the mics in studio with Hendrix. From a spiritual standpoint, he's responsible for capturing the electric genius of one of rock and roll's greatest.

If BØRNS has done his job right, what you see at one of his shows will inspire you to "have a party and get weird." And really, what more could we ask for from someone who uses his stratospheric voice to rip through off-kilter electro-pop?

I moved from my hometown of Toronto, Canada to Philadelphia to work at WXPN's World Cafe in October 2016. Remember October 2016? The election cycle had reached fever pitch,so there was a lot of political coverage to keep up with and make sense of. At the time, the NPR Politics Podcast was releasing daily dispatches that became part of my essential audio diet.

Jorge Drexler's charming and poetic album, Salvavidas de Hielo, includes a lullaby for silence, an anthem of empathy for migrants and as much texture as you can imagine pulled out of an acoustic guitar.

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