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World Cafe's Best Sessions Of 2016

Darlingside performs live in <em>World Cafe</em>'s studio in Philadelphia.
Rich McKie
Darlingside performs live in World Cafe's studio in Philadelphia.

Don't think for a moment that we didn't struggle as we compiled our list of the best World Cafe interviews and performances of 2016. We had to choose from over 200 sessions we recorded this year in our studio, onstage at World Cafe Live and on our "Sense of Place" travel adventures.

So the process wasn't easy, but we hope you enjoy the outcome: sessions with Ray LaMontagne, Lake Street Dive, Bonnie Raitt, Sturgill Simpson, Iggy Pop and newcomers Darlingside and Xenia Rubinos. It was a very good year!

Hear The Sessions

Lake Street Dive

The jazz- and soul-influenced pop band Lake Street Dive joined World Cafe in February to perform four songs from its new album, Side Pony. The album was produced by in-demand Nashville producer Dave Cobb, whom you might know from his recent work with Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell. Read more...

Xenia Rubinos

Sydney Schaefer

Xenia Rubinos, who has Puerto Rican and Cuban roots, sings in both Spanish and English and identifies as Afro-Latina. She now lives in Brooklyn, having always wanted to move to New York City to make music — but she made a detour to Boston along the way to attend the Berklee School of Music, "to appease my parents," she says. (It was a good thing she did: At Berklee, she met drummer Marco Buccelli, with whom she has been working ever since.) Read more...

Ray LaMontagne

Breanna Keohane

For his sixth album, Ouroboros, Ray LaMontagne and his producer, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, created a work that LaMontagne wants fans to hear as a whole. In this April session, he and his band The Jacket Boys (members of My Morning Jacket) performed the full work onstage at World Cafe Live. Read more...

Bonnie Raitt

Right from the beginning, Bonnie Raitt has had an ear for great songs. Over the years. she's mined the work of John Prine, Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, Paul Brady and others. When she couldn't find the right songs, she'd write them herself, and she's sung them all with a soulful delivery. Read more...

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson's new record, A Sailor's Guide To Earth, is written as advice to his newborn child about what to expect in life, even though Simpson realizes his son may not hear it for a few years. In this session, Simpson reflects on sudden stardom, writing for his son and much more; you'll also hear him and his band performing live in concert. Read more...

Iggy Pop

Andreas Neumann

Post Pop Depression is the 17th solo album by Iggy Pop, who fronted The Stooges and helped define what became punk rock in the 1970s. The album was released in March, and he joined World Cafe along with Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age, who secretly produced the album in the California desert. Read more...



Darlingside is a folk-pop group formed at Williams College in western Massachusetts. The band's lovely music is full of layered harmonies and arrangements — a sound you can hear for yourself in this session as the band performs songs from Birds Say, its first nationally released full-length album. Read more...

Copyright 2016 XPN

David Dye
David Dye is a longtime Philadelphia radio personality whose music enthusiasm has captivated listeners of World Cafe® since 1991. World Cafe is produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania.