Blues

We do our best to turn our World Cafe studio into bluesman R.L. Boyce's porch at his house in Como, Mississippi. That's where Boyce sits and plays many days in the farming community south of Memphis in the Mississippi Hill country.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds On Mountain Stage

Jan 26, 2018

With founding member, singer, songwriter and harmonica master Kim Wilson at the helm, The Fabulous Thunderbirds has been creating blues-influenced rock 'n' roll for more than three decades.

Wilson moved from California to Austin, Texas, where he first collaborated with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. They would start The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1974, blending their blues influences with a guitar-driven sound that quickly resulted in a record deal.

Depending on where you're spending the winter, maybe you've already trudged to work through the bomb cyclone or taken an entire season to walk to your car on account of freezing rain and slippery ground. Maybe you're like, "Meh, winter. I live somewhere warm."

We're lucky to have a lot of remarkably talented artists deliver impressive performances here at World Cafe (ok, humblebrag). But our whole team was pretty floored by Lizz Wright. The combination of Wright and her band (Bobby Ray Sparks on organ, Brannen Temple on drums and Chris McQueen on guitar) was effortless and elevated, in a way that's hard to articulate in words, but you can experience in a session here.

The North Mississippi Allstars have been the modern-day torchbearers for the distinct, funky, Hill Country blues associated with their native state for 22 years. Led by the brother team of guitarist Luther Dickinson and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Cody Dickinson, the band makes its third appearance on Mountain Stage since 2001, with songs from their latest record Prayer For Peace.

Hailed as music's biggest night, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards will return to New York City, taking place at Madison Square Garden Jan. 28.

Over the past year, we've had some unbelievable artists walk through our studio doors and melt our musical minds. Laura Marling nailed a live vocal performance so perfect you might swear you're hearing a studio mix she'd worked on for weeks rather than a live one-off.

The blues have traveled far and wide over the last century — exerting a vast cultural influence worldwide, yielding myriad offshoots, and generating fortunes for some of the biggest musical acts of our time. But it's also still the product of local conditions, and bound by hardscrabble local concerns.

On this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll go to Clarksdale, Miss., to get a temperature reading at ground level, where struggling musicians are finally beginning to reap the benefits of a recent wave of blues tourism.

Robert Cray On Mountain Stage

Oct 25, 2017

Rhythm and blues revivalist Robert Cray returns to the Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Cray has been making waves in the world of guitar-scorching soul music for four decades now, with 20 albums, five Grammy Awards and a Blues Hall of Fame induction to his name.

Before he could legally drive, my guest in this session had his first platinum record. Jonny Lang was 15 when he released Lie to Me, the explosive album that earned him accolades as part the next generation of virtuosos who would keep the blues blazing.

Success when you're that young? You can imagine it comes with a few perks and a few growing pains. For Lang that included some partying and some drinking, but he cleaned up after one particular sobering moment – which we will talk about.

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