Kimberly Junod

Rumor has it David Bowie stole one of the famous decorative stars from the Barrowland Ballroom (a.k.a. Barrowlands) in Glasgow, Scotland. Guitar great John Martyn used to play in the corner by the fireplace of The Scotia, the city's oldest pub. And Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry is truly a country Western homage to its Nashville namesake.

His name is J.S. Ondara and his sound alone is extraordinary. When he came into the World Cafe Performance Studio, pretty much the whole staff gathered to witness his performance and was mesmerized behind the glass.

It's been 40 years since Steve Forbert released his debut album, Alive on Arrival, and he's marked the occasion with a new album and a new memoir. The new album is called The Magic Tree, a collection of songs, all but one of which have never been released before and some of which he started writing back in the '80s.

On our recent trip to Glasgow, we made a musical pilgrimage about six miles outside the city center to a venue called Platform. It's a community arts space where residents of the Easterhouse neighborhood (which has historically been known for poverty and equality) can get together and express themselves. Platform is the birthplace of an album Conflats, based on stories told by members of the Easterhouse community to two musicians; James Graham, lead singer of the Scottish indie punk band The Twilight Sad, and Scottish Album of the Year Award winning artist Kathryn Joseph.

Melbourne-based band Oh Pep! caught a ton of well-deserved buzz with its 2016 debut album, Stadium Cake. The duo wound up on international festival dates and capped off a whirlwind tour sharing the stage with Billy Bragg at Glastonbury Festival.

When we planned our recent World Cafe Sense of Place trip to Scotland, many people from the Internet hive mind recommended we visit Martha Ffion. So we met up with the artist at The Hug and Pint, a vegan restaurant and music venue that was instrumental in Ffion's early career, for a chat and performance.

Ffion treated us to songs from her debut full length album, Sunday Best, along with a new song called "Kennedy Hair." She talked about drawing inspiration from jokes on American TV shows and explained the term "curtain twitching."

When you're surrounded by thousands of fans at a Mumford & Sons show, you're not likely to actually get to shake hands or share a sweaty hug with the members of the band. But you might leave feeling like you just did.

When World Cafe went to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of Sense of Place series this past fall, the National Museum of Scotland was showing the first major exhibition dedicated to Scottish pop music.

Known for putting on raucous shows and turning Scottish traditional music on its head, Elephant Sessions won Live Act of the Year from The Scots Trad Music Awards and were shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year in 2018. The band is a festival favorite that has earned accolades from Rolling Stone and its third album comes out later this year.

Kalmia Traver describes the unique circumstances of making Rubblebucket's latest album, Sun Machine, with Alex Toth, who she met in college over 15 years ago.

"We started out as romantic partners at the beginning of the album and then we weren't anymore by the end," Traver says.

PJ Morton loves Christmas. He even joked that he's been making music just so he could be able to record an album of classics (and a handful of originals too).

It's a mistletoe milestone! After 25 years of bringing cheers to our ears, the alt-country rockers of the Old 97's have released their first album of holiday jams. Love the Holidays is packed with delightful originals, including songs inspired by the Ramones, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's love life and the social significance of snow angels.

Explaining Christmas to someone who's never heard of it is a strange proposition. As our guest and old friend JD McPherson puts it, there's a tree in your living room, a strange man's walking around your house at midnight eating cookies, and then you get clothes.

I imagine it's an even stranger proposition to write an album of modern Christmas originals. Christmas means so many different things to so many people, and the differences matter: Is your audience children or adults, religious or not? Are they jaded? Feeling humorous? Maybe sentimental? You've got a lot of options.

"Odds are the people that love you are just dying for you to tell the truth." When Kiley Lotz, who records as Petal, says this, you believe her. Kiley made her second full length album, Magic Gone, while she was coming to terms with seeking help for major depressive and panic disorders and subsequently going through treatment. She also came out as queer at that time.

The first thing I remarked after finishing my conversation with Marcus King: "This guy doesn't act or sound like a 22-year-old at all." He's incredibly perceptive, and thoughtful, and the music he's making sounds like it's coming from someone who's been working at it for decades. But I mean, he's been playing guitar for audiences since he was 11. I should have seen this coming.