WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Kimberly Junod

On his last album, Are You Serious, the always inventive Andrew Bird drew inspiration from monumental moments in his own personal life, including getting married and having a son. And now, on My Finest Work Yet, Bird zooms way out on humanity across history's timeline, seeking insight about our current age, in a way he hopes "stays above the news feed noise."

Ask anyone in Dublin to recommend a pub with traditional Irish music, and you're likely to hear about The Cobblestone. For our last World Cafe dispatch from Ireland, we pop into the cozy spot in Smithfield and can immediately see why this place is beloved by locals, tourists and musicians from far and wide. It's warm and welcoming with a big, long bar filled with people leaning over each other and laughing and clinking glasses.

There's something extra special about going to visit an artist in the place where it all began. On our recent trip to Dublin, Paul Noonan, lead singer of beloved Irish band Bell X1, took us on a walking city tour to show us some of the spots that have been important to the band over its 20-year career.

When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space.

On our recent World Cafe trip to Dublin we asked Laoise, an Irish up-and-comer with an ear for sweet synthesizers, to choose a meeting spot that was meaningful to her. She chose Whelan's of Wexford Avenue, one of Dublin's most famous pubs and music venues. The walls are lined with photographs of artists who have graced the stage including Jeff Buckley, Mumford and Sons, Grimes, and Arctic Monkeys. Laoise is proud to be part of that impressive list of Whelan's alumni, having played (and sold out) her first-ever show at Whelan's last year.

We had a blast visiting this Irish four-piece band Pillow Queens at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. Pillow Queens has a delightfully DIY approach to pop punk and the band's songs are sneak-attack catchy. We found ourselves singing them long after the last amp rang out. Plus, the members sing clever lyrics in loud and proud full-on Irish accents.

Sallay Matu Garnett, who makes music as Loah, grew up in Ireland playing fiddle and orchestral violin. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to Gambia where she became immersed in polyrhythmic drumming and dance, and then to Sierra Leone where she started writing little bits of songs on piano.

David Keenan is a young singer with an old poet's soul and wardrobe. His acoustic guitar is adorned with pieces of poems, love letters and photographs.

Amanda Palmer has made a living out of delivering emotionally sobering strikes. From her early street performing days dressed as an 8-foot bride handing flowers and intense eye contact to passers-by through her current album cover, where she stands completely full frontal naked wielding a sword overhead, Palmer has always demanded we see her and feel something. You don't get to call yourself "Amanda F****** Palmer" for nothing.

From Joni Mitchell to k.d. lang, there's something about the flat, wind-tossed landscape of Midwestern Canada that produces great singer-songwriters. The 25-year-old Tenille Townes grew up on that chilly land, in the small city of Grande Prairie, on the migration path of the trumpeter swan.

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