Stephen Kallao

Today we're sharing an incredible story that Mikel Jollett, the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event, has chronicled both in the written word and in song. Jollett had a pretty dramatic childhood: He was born into a cult called Synanon and had to go on the run with biological mother.

Growing up, my parents would make the drive from Chicago to my grandmother's house in Waukon, Iowa (population: just over 3,000) for visit. While in town, I distinctly remember the only sounds we'd hear in that tiny house: The only radio station played all classic country, all day long.

The first time I heard Katie Pruitt's song "Loving Her," I was taken aback by the very first line you hear: "If loving her's a sin, I don't want to go to heaven." That's a powerful declaration from a singer-songwriter. It's especially powerful coming from a gay artist raised in the South without much precedent and with very few role models to follow.

Kate Bollinger writes smart, melodic indie pop music. It makes for easy listening, but there's real insight in her lyrics. Dig deeper and you'll discover a thoughtful songwriter coming into her own.

For today's session, The Milk Carton Kids plays songs from its latest release, The Only Ones, while standing around one microphone.

Big Thief had a pretty remarkable 2019. The band put out two beautiful albums, U.F.O.F. in May and Two Hands in October. Paired together, these albums present a larger picture of the band at the height of its powers, thinking and performing beyond the traditional album-tour cycle.

Sometimes you have to strike when the iron is hot, and sometimes you have to be patient. For today's guest Jeremy Ivey, that meant recording his first solo album at the age of 41.

The first time I heard Son Little's song "The River" back in 2014, it completely floored me. With a mix of R&B and soul, it simultaneously sounded both timeless and of the moment, much more than a simple throwback tune.

Already one of the biggest bands in the world, The Lumineers did something adventurous on the group's third album, III: The Denver-based group created a record divided into three chapters, telling the story of a family across three generations and how addiction touched those lives.

Who doesn't love a good breakup record? Well, maybe not the person going through it. On Forever Turned Around, Whitney flips the notion of the breakup record on its head. Instead of focusing on the demise, the Chicago duo's record is all about commitment.

Who doesn't love a good dog? Here at World Cafe, we are pro-doggo, and so is our next guest, Anthony LaMarca, who fronts a band called The Building (that is, when he isn't busy playing guitar in the Grammy award-winning band, The War on Drugs).

Where a musician lives can tell you a lot about their songs. Joan Shelley wears her love of Kentucky proudly, but for her latest album, Like The River Loves The Sea, Shelley left her home outside of Louisville, Ky., and headed to a very different environment: Iceland.

Angel Olsen's fourth album, All Mirrors is a departure from her indie rock sensibilities of albums past, but that wasn't always the plan. The songs were initially recorded as sparse and stripped-down numbers — in the style of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska.

Our guest, Azniv Korkejian, records as Bedouine. The name reflects the many moves Azniv has made in her life — born Syria, Azniv grew up in Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States. Here, she lived in Boston and Houston, as well as several other Southern cities, before she settled in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood.

Coldplay, one of the biggest bands in the world, recently announced that the Chris Martin and company will not be touring in support of their latest album until they can figure out how to negate the environmental impact of their concerts.

One of my favorite viral videos in recent memory involved Liam Gallagher, former front man of Oasis, answering questions from a group of kids. It showcased his supremely talented wit, and a bit of his heart too.

Robbie Robertson is a very busy guy. This year alone, he released a new album, Sinematic, re-released The Band's self-titled sophomore album (celebrating its 50th anniversary) and worked with pal Martin Scorsese on two different projects.

There are 8,000 stories in Music City from folks who arrive here with a dream in their hearts for a music career. But how exactly do you get there? There are just as many paths to success.

Slide guitar maestro Sonny Landreth's latest album, Recorded Live in Lafayette, was nominated for a Grammy and just recently made his fifth appearance at Eric Clapton's Crossroads festival, a place where virtuoso guitar players go to impress and be impressed.

Hosting an interview show means you don't want to ask silly questions. But sometimes, a silly or lighthearted question is a great way to learn something about a band, and that's what happened with Matty Gervais, Charity Rose Thielen and Jon Russell of The Head and the Heart when they visited for an audience session at World Cafe.

It's not every day at World Cafe that we start our session with a disclaimer, but here's one: Today's conversation with Noah Gundersen includes some talk about psychedelic drugs and their influence on Gundersen's latest album, Lover.

It took some convincing, but Jessy Wilson's new album was produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys; little did he know that was her plan all along. When Wilson's former band, the Americana act Muddy Magnolias, broke up, she reached out to Carney to explore rock 'n' roll sounds on her next record. The result is her debut solo album, Phase.

Iceland's Of Monsters and Men exploded in popularity in 2011 with the band's epic smash "Little Talks." Since then, the band has been consistently making albums that have pushed further away from its original indie rock aesthetic.

There are charismatic people, and then there's Michael Mwenso. The leader of Mwenso & the Shakes is full of energy, charm and most importantly, joy. That joy is ever-present when he's telling stories about growing up in Ghana and Nigeria and spending four years trying to impress James Brown.

Motherless Brooklyn is a new film about a private detective trying to solve a murder in 1950s New York.

Ranky Tanky is from Charleston, S.C. and the band's music draws on the culture of slave descendants from Gullah, a region of coastal sea islands that stretches from the southern coast of North Carolina to the northernmost part of Florida.

My guest today makes some of the most stunning music I've ever heard. It's raw, it's visceral, it's real. Quinn Christopherson hails from Alaska, and even though he's released less than a handful of songs, they've left quite an impression on people.

A shift in sound because of a shift in life? Naturally. The transition from midnight to daylight, so to speak, has been significant for Grace Potter. After making 2012's The Lion The Beast The Beat with her band The Nocturnals, Grace went on to pursue a solo career.

Emir Mohseni grew up in Tehran, Iran, loving rock music and wanting to be a musician. Thanks to a musical connection with his friend Tony Azar (who split time between the United States and Iran), The Muckers were born. The only catch? Emir wanted to play his music in America, not Iran. Getting to the United States wasn't easy for Emir, especially as his journey coincided with the implementation of Trump's travel ban in 2017.

What happens when your hometown witnesses a seismic social event? David Wax and Suz Slezak, who lead the band David Wax Museum, had to answer that question after the 2017 Unite the Right rally and subsequent counterprotests in the pair's hometown of Charlottesville, Va. made national news.

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