Stephen Kallao

Since Lukas Nelson's last World Cafe visit with his group, Promise of the Real, he's been busy, to say the least. First, he's been continuing his work as Neil Young's band.

It's all started in 2016 with a reunited Guns N' Roses lineup and tour. My guest, Duff McKagan, rejoined Axl Rose and Slash for what is a still on-going world tour across multiple continents. No one thought it was going to happen.

The first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela, the pair was covering Metallica's "Orion." It's a beautiful composition, but what I couldn't wrap my head around was that this dense, majestic instrumental was being played by only two acoustic guitars.

Summer's here and the time is right for looking back on some of our favorite World Cafe sessions of the year! Let's just say, it's been an inspiring one so far.

Meeting Ben Dickey is like running into an old friend you haven't seen in a while, but you're thrilled to see them. He was a joy to speak with the roots singer-songwriter while visiting the World Cafe Studio to play songs from his sophomore solo record, A Glimmer On The Outskirts — not just about the album, but also about his potential star-making turn as Blaze Foley in the Ethan Hawke-directed biopic Blaze.

Johnathan Rice rolled in the door and right away I knew I was going to enjoy chatting with him. He arrived as a party of one, with merch in a carry-on bag in one hand, and a guitar case in the other. Normally there's a manager, a sound person, or label folk shepherding. But this time, it was just Rice and a rental car touring the Northeast.

Page Burkum and Jack Torrey a.k.a. The Cactus Blossoms are brothers, but their vocal talents aren't just simply a case of sibling harmonies. They didn't start singing together until their 30s. So much for a lifetime of practice with one another!

Boston-based singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler has been making old school country with a twist since 2004, but that twist has turned in many directions since then. It's led to her lending those trademark "haunting vocals" to metal bands, recording several albums of covers and opening up for Swedish hard rock band Ghost.

Carlos Santana is arguably one of the most influential guitarists of the last 50 years — from his groundbreaking performance at Woodstock to his millions of albums sold in the '70s to his revival in the late '90s thanks to the album Supernatural and its lead single "Smooth." Santana's latest album is called Africa Speaks, which just came out on

The National has always been an ambitious band. There was the one time it played its song "Sorrow" for six hours straight at MoMA PS1 in New York City. Then there are band members, and twin brothers, Aaron and Bryce Dessner who've scored films and curated music festivals. But The National's latest project might be the band's most ambitious.

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