Stephen Kallao

Aaron Lee Tasjan has a way with words and on his latest album, Karma For Cheap, he walks a fine line between timelessness and a record very much of this moment. For instance, one of his new songs is called "The Truth Is So Hard To Believe." It's easy to think about post-truths and fake news with a title like that as a chorus, but to Tasjan, the song is about something a little more personal.

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.

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.

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.

Are you up for having a good time today? Trick question — it's impossible not to have a good time with The Suffers, as Kam Franklin explains in the opening lines of "Do Whatever": "Full on disclosure, I'm not here for exposure / I came to have a good time, so let me shine."

For over 50 years, Paul Simon has shared his amazing talents with us: first, as a part of Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most important musical duos, and later as a solo artist. Few musicians have had as a critically-acclaimed and beloved career as Simon. He's won 16 Grammys, three of those for album of the year.

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