David Dye

There are many interests World Cafe doesn't have in common with this Sunday's Grammy Awards -- golden gramophones, red-carpet couture and sappy speeches among them. But there's one interest we do share: We're always on the hunt for the "best new artist."

Mickey Melchiondo, a.k.a. Dean Ween, met Aaron Freeman, a.k.a. Gene Ween, in junior high. Together they created the band Ween, earning a reputation for musical eclecticism — and more than a little silliness — as well as a rabid cult following. Freeman left the group in 2012, and Melchiondo has since created the Dean Ween Group. The band's debut album, The Deaner Album, is out now.

Ron Gallo On World Cafe

Feb 7, 2017

Ron Gallo, who fronts the garage-rock band RG3, is from Nashville — sort of. Gallo moved to Music City in 2014, shortly after his Philadelphia band, Toy Soldiers, ended an eight-year run. Attracted by the emerging rock scene in Nashville, he picked up and moved south.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano was born in New York City to French and Colombian parents. His music is gorgeous: woozy, psychedelic and soulful. His debut EP, Bishouné: Alma Del Huila, was released on a small label — but the right people heard it.

LP On World Cafe

Feb 6, 2017

LP has experienced every side of the music business. The Long Island native has been a successful songwriter for pop stars such as Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys. But as a performer, she signed with major labels like Def Jam and Warner Brothers only to have her work go unheard.

North Carolina singer-songwriter Tift Merritt arrived at our session with her new daughter, Jean, in tow. Jean's one of at least three new things in her life: She also has a new album, Stitch Of The World, and a new partner in pedal-steel guitarist Eric Heywood.

For Throwback Thursday, venture back to 2012 and The Milk Carton Kids' first visit to World Cafe. Singer-guitarists Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale each had their own solo careers going before teaming up as a duo, but they couldn't deny the magic in their intertwined voices and guitar lines.

The married singer-songwriters Alejandro Rivas and María Laura Bustamante met in college but didn't start making music together as Alejandro y María Laura until five years later, in 2009. Their different interests — Rivas was in a Led Zeppelin cover band and Bustamante studied theatre — somehow combined into the sophisticated soft-pop of their 2011 debut, Paracaídas. The album went top-10 in Peru, their home country, but Rivas says that might not have been on the strength of their music alone.

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.

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