Friday, April 06, 2007


What if this weren't a rhetorical question?

I am such a big fan of "World Cafe" (WXPN, Philadelphia) since it first aired on our local NPR station sometime in the 80s. I even had a radio in my office just to tune in from 1:00 - 3:00. The host, David Dye, always finds the coolest music and the cutting edge groups. It's hard to describe his genre - in fact, I haven't found any station, traditional, satellite, or internet-based, that compares. Austin City Limits seems to fill a similar niche. The few radio channels that do come close quickly lose my interest because they always end up just repeating their limited play-lists over and over and over and over.

I've always had an eclectic taste in "popular" music, from Jefferson Airplane to Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison, the Doors, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Ricky Lee Jones, The Cranberries, The Cocteau Twins, and of course Emmylou :) My vinyl collection is full of the odd and unusual along with many of the standards from that era. (One day I've got to convert all of these to digital). My CD collection is much less extensive - higher prices, less time to listen, and less music that really appealed to me. Somewhere in the 70s, the bizarre and inexplicable popularity of disco music almost drove me away from the record stores. I nearly stopped listening to the radio altogether.

I'd be lost without World Cafe. How refreshing it is! What's eerie is that I've heard all of the above groups at least once in just the last month or so on World Cafe. Currently, I'm enjoying Ray Lamontagne, Madeliene Peyroux, The Decemberists, Let's Go Sailing, The Shins, Patty Griffin, Coldplay, Jonatha Brooke. Where else could you hear this odd mix of music, often with live performances and interviews? Just for fun, he tosses in Kris Kristofferson, Fairport Convention (!), Muddy Waters, Richard Thompson...

I like how Ray LaMontagne features a strong string section, with the cello so prominent. It seems as if the cello is starting to show up more and more in this type of music. A mi me gusta mucho eso.

In the past year and a half, I've been buying and listening to cello music more than anything else, except of course, for World Cafe. Lately, I've begun to notice that as I've slowly improved my own abilities to make music, as I begin to get past the struggle of just finding the proper fingerings and can start to pay attention to the connections and the spaces between the notes I'm playing, the more I am able to appreciate all of the rest of the music that I used to just "hear". It has opened a whole new world for me - not only the new and innovative, but all the stuff in my collections, too.

The two-month long subzero cold snap finally broke this past weekend. Today the temps reached the mid 40s, and the winter's accumulation of snow and ice is now melting FAST!

I heart Laurie Anderson (and we studied her in music history at Eastman!)
Living in New Jersey, I spot the XPN bumper stickers all the time. I would imagine they are a bit scarce up there.
Wow, an XPN bumper sticker. I would so put one on my car.

Thank goodness "World Cafe" is picked up by my local public radio station. That keeps me donating year after year. Sometimes I listen to XPN on the internet...

David, it's so weird to hear that Laurie Anderson is being taught as a subject in music history - egad.
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