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Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger is a host and radio producer at World Cafe, produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. Schlanger joins the World Cafe team straight from CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, where she hosted a triple-A radio show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She was the on-camera host for two seasons of the CBC television series CBC Music: Backstage Pass, which saw her interview some of Canada's best and brightest artists. Schlanger also hosted several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor featuring Serena Ryder, CBC Music SongCamp and the CBCMusic.ca Festival Special 2015. Schlanger served as the the interim host of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live and was a regular guest host on CBC Radio One's flagship artist and culture show q. She also filled in on Canadian current-affairs radio shows including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Some of her favorite music interviews include St. Vincent, Tanya Tagaq, John Fogerty, Barenaked Ladies and Grimes.

Schlanger's first project at CBC was as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip which won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. She was also the digital producer for Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest, CBC Music's search for the next great hockey song.

Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. She's also a professional actress, singer and voiceover artist. Schlanger spent most of 2012 performing in the first national tour of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, at various theatres throughout the United States. (She thought she would be really cool when she met Billie Joe Armstrong after he watched American Idiot. She was not cool at all.) She has also performed on stage with Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of We Will Rock You, as well as in the ensemble and understudying lead roles in Scaramouche, Oz (Canon Theatre, 2007/2008), and in Mamma Mia! (Royal Alexandra Theatre, 2003/2004).

Last Sunday, Philadelphia's own The War on Drugs won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. We consider that a sign. Sure as the National Chicken Council's prediction Americans will consume 1.35 billion chicken wings this weekend, the birds (aka Philadelphia Eagles) are going to take the bowl.

Welcome to a rock 'n' roll reunion, with our guests The Dream Syndicate. In 2017, the band released its first new album since breaking up nearly 30 years ago.

At the end of last year, I spoke to bandleader Steve Wynn about the Syndicate's history. Steve formed the band in Los Angeles in the '80s, which he intended to be in opposition to the way he saw music changing. (For instance, people were putting their guitars down and picking up synthesizers and keytars.) This was happening in the mainstream, it was happening in the underground.

Steve was not into it.

You know when somebody has that special something? The star quality you can't really describe but it's just there? Jidenna has that something.

In this session, we slip into the world of Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton. Haines is the lead singer of the electro-tinged rock and roll band Metric, but in her solo work you won't find any wailing guitars or radical synths — the spotlight shines right on her voice and the work of art that is her songwriting.

Hear Emily Haines, solo on the piano, in the player above.

In this session, you've got front-row seats to a mini concert by Combo Chimbita, who absolutely lit up the World Cafe with what they call "tropical futurism." What does that mean? You're about to hear it in action. But, just so you know what you're in for, Combo Chimbita uses cumbia as a building block but they get psychedelic, trippy and downright freaky, with an inventive combination of rhythms and sounds from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

What do you get when you cross an Australian post-punk drummer with a lute player who is the descendant of Greek musical royalty? Easy: Today's guests Xylouris White!

Xylouris is George Xylouris, from a famed family of musicians based in a mountain shepherding village on the Greek island of Crete. George has been a professional musician since he was 12.

White is Jim White, an Australian post-punk drummer with a deft touch, able to go from thunderous to tender on a dime. Jim held it down in the instrumental trio Dirty Three, and has also backed Cat Power and PJ Harvey.

Bette Smith grew up in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn: Bedford–Stuyvesant, pre-Mayor Giuliani. Her father was a church choir director who once had to protect his kids by running out of the house waving a two-by-four. He taught Bette to sing. He also taught her that a career in music outside the church was wrong, and it wasn't until after he died that Bette really pursued music. She'll tell the story of coming to that decision, and what she imagines her late parents might think of what's she's doing now.

Luna On World Cafe

Dec 5, 2017

Around the time Luna announced it was breaking up back in 2004, lead singer Dean Wareham said, "This is what bands do." But you can bet any fan of Luna's dreamy, moody sound was secretly hoping they would undo it. And after about a decade, Luna did. (Or: undid.)

Dhani Harrison's new record, IN///PARALLEL, feels a bit like walking through a lucid dream. It's complex and artful, and at first listen, maybe a little dark. But as he explains, he uses the dark to inspire catharsis, not fear. Dhani also told me he writes lyrics with caution: "You have to be careful with — with the words you use in the daytime, I think, because the English language, I think, is probably just a big magic spell, and when you say things they can tend to manifest."

We're in South Louisiana — somewhere between Arnaudville and Leonville — in the backyard of Louis Michot, looking out at his pond. In 1999, Louis and his brother Andre co-founded the band Lost Bayou Ramblers. And the sounds we hear in their backyard in the bayou actually appear on their latest album, Kalenda. So does music, of course; the band isn't here to play the cricket or the frog — more like Louis on the fiddle and vocals and Andre on accordion and lap steel guitar. But the music really does take you to a real place.

William Patrick Corgan would be the first to admit that many people's image of him was locked down back in 1995 as Billy Corgan: frontman of The Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins had just released Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the album with the song "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" -– you know, the one where despite all his rage, he's still just a rat in a cage?