Kimberly Junod

When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space.

On our recent World Cafe trip to Dublin we asked Laoise, an Irish up-and-comer with an ear for sweet synthesizers, to choose a meeting spot that was meaningful to her. She chose Whelan's of Wexford Avenue, one of Dublin's most famous pubs and music venues. The walls are lined with photographs of artists who have graced the stage including Jeff Buckley, Mumford and Sons, Grimes, and Arctic Monkeys. Laoise is proud to be part of that impressive list of Whelan's alumni, having played (and sold out) her first-ever show at Whelan's last year.

We had a blast visiting this Irish four-piece band Pillow Queens at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. Pillow Queens has a delightfully DIY approach to pop punk and the band's songs are sneak-attack catchy. We found ourselves singing them long after the last amp rang out. Plus, the members sing clever lyrics in loud and proud full-on Irish accents.

Sallay Matu Garnett, who makes music as Loah, grew up in Ireland playing fiddle and orchestral violin. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to Gambia where she became immersed in polyrhythmic drumming and dance, and then to Sierra Leone where she started writing little bits of songs on piano.

David Keenan is a young singer with an old poet's soul and wardrobe. His acoustic guitar is adorned with pieces of poems, love letters and photographs.

Amanda Palmer has made a living out of delivering emotionally sobering strikes. From her early street performing days dressed as an 8-foot bride handing flowers and intense eye contact to passers-by through her current album cover, where she stands completely full frontal naked wielding a sword overhead, Palmer has always demanded we see her and feel something. You don't get to call yourself "Amanda F****** Palmer" for nothing.

From Joni Mitchell to k.d. lang, there's something about the flat, wind-tossed landscape of Midwestern Canada that produces great singer-songwriters. The 25-year-old Tenille Townes grew up on that chilly land, in the small city of Grande Prairie, on the migration path of the trumpeter swan.

On his latest album, Gold In a Brass Age, David Gray's voice still sounds as glorious, distinct and beautiful as it did when he broke through the mainstream with 1998's White Ladder. But the sounds surrounding Gray's voice, both natural and digital, have grown like ivy winding over bricks, adding depth and color to his songs in new ways.

After eight years of playing cello and singing with The Lumineers, Neyla Pekarek left the band this past fall. In January, she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925.

We're being treated to a special kind performance from a tight-knit group of friends.

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