"Latin Roots" meets our "Sense of Place: Philly" series as Philadelphia-based reporter Aaron Levinson plays some local Latin music. First up is the "political and funky" El Malito & the 33rd Century, followed by El Caribefunk, a band that splits its time between Philadelphia and Colombia. We also salute Pupi Legarreta, an important figure in Afro-Cuban music who emigrated to the U.S.
Beloved by both Garrison Keillor and Jack White, Pokey LaFarge describes his own music — a mix of old-time jazz, blues, ragtime and string-band music from the past century — as timeless rather than retro.
Founded in 2007 by Kelsey Kopecky and Gabe Simon, The Kopecky Family Band — which recently shortened its name to Kopecky — is known for big, brash folk-pop that's uplifting in its sweep. The group didn't release its debut album, Kids Raising Kids, until 2012, after years spent honing its crisp, polished sound.
A flat-out great singer, Lee Ann Womack made her first album in 1997 — and three years later experienced a career-making crossover hit. "I Hope You Dance," which won a Grammy for Best Country Song, still gets played at huge moments like weddings and christenings.
This week's installment of World Cafe: Next is from Austin singer-songwriter Abram Shook, who's been part of the Shearwater touring band in recent years. In that time, he's also released two wonderfully arranged and artful albums of his own: Sun Marquee and the new Landscape Dream. You can hear and download two of his new songs on this page.
World Cafe's Sense Of Place: Philadelphia series is a perfect opportunity to feature the work of local rapper Sugar Tongue Slim, or S.T.S. He's just released S.T.S. X RJD2, a collaboration with the Philly DJ; it's a high point for both artists.
We've got something quite different as our Sense of Place: Philly series continues. Philadelphia has a brass band called The West Philadelphia Orchestra. They specialize in Balkan music, and as they were rehearsing a number of years ago, a singer was passing by who knew the music they were playing from growing up — and she joined the band. Petia Zamfirova will be the first to say this eclectic group is not just about backing her singing. We'll find out how this band grew here, hear about their selection in the All Songs Considered Tiny Desk Concert contest and more.
The latest installment in World Cafe's Sense Of Place: Philadelphia series features singer-songwriter Liz Longley. Now based in Nashville, she got her start in the Philly suburbs.
Longley played in local clubs before moving to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. Her musical travels led her to Nashville, where she used a Kickstarter campaign to make the album she always wanted.
Philadelphia is experiencing an exciting wave of young rock acts, but it's almost certainly never going to top the impact of Philadelphia International Records and the work of Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell in the 1970s.