WITH 90.1 FM

Stephen Kallao

Wayne Kramer has seen some things. He saw the Detroit Riots of 1967 firsthand when a tank rolled up to the house he was staying at. He oversaw a career in crime and therefore got a good, long look at the inside of prison cell. And, most notably, he survived decades of addiction.

Meg Myers makes explosive, aggressive rock coupled with synthesizers, strings and plenty of distortion. Her music is a bit like Nine Inch Nails got into a fight with Pixies — the latter of whom she's toured with — and threw some incredibly dynamic vocals into the mix.

Gorillaz' Damon Albarn drew me a portrait. Imagine my surprise to learn this. After all, this is an audio medium and he's half a world away in London while I'm chilling at the World Cafe studios in Philadelphia.

The first single off Rayland Baxter's latest album Wide Awake is about a dysfunctional relationship. That's a near-universal truth we can appreciate. However, when you learn the woman's name is Sallie Mae, you realize he's not singing about a human being, but instead, the giant student loan corporation. That's how you get closer to the heart of Rayland Baxter.

Today, we're featuring a mini-concert from an artist you might first know as an actor. Lera Lynn's turn on the second season of True Detective introduced her to a lot of America, including myself. But those in the know have recognized her voice, style and songwriting ability, shown on albums like Resistor or The Avenues.

Jukebox the Ghost is the type of band you want to play your party. Why? For one, Because they're talented, but that's just table stakes. The second reason gets us a little closer. The band members are excellent entertainers, but even that doesn't really capture it. What I think is that singer/piano player Ben Thornewill, guitarist Tommy Siegel, drummer Jesse Kristin, enjoy each other's company. And when three friends are good at what they do, and having a lot of fun with each other doing it, we're in for a good time.

If you don't know who Nick Lowe is, there's a very good chance you know at least one of his songs — perhaps "Cruel to Be Kind" or "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass," or his song that longtime friend and collaborator Elvis Costello made famous, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."

Jim Lauderdale is rightfully considered one of the kings of Americana music. He's a songwriter's songwriter, having written for George Strait, Patti Loveless, Vince Gill, George Jones and countless others.

It's easy to throw the word legend around when you talk to musicians who regularly appear on World Cafe. So when a real legend shows up, you've run out of superlatives.

Low Cut Connie is a lot of fun. Sure, it's developed a healthy reputation as a party band, but there's a lot more to discover underneath the sweaty sheen of its intense live shows. Speaking of which, I wish you could see the way lead singer Adam Weiner attacks the piano. At some points, he plays it the same way Superman flies, his body parallel to the ground. It's a sight to see!

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