Free At Noon Flashback: Craig Finn brings his new story-filled album to the World Cafe Live stage

Craig Finn | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Earlier today, singer-songwriter and storyteller Craig Finn arrived at World Cafe Live to perform a few songs from his newest solo album I Need A New War. According to Finn, the album dedicated to our world’s fast-changing times, and tells many stories about his previous 19 years spent living in New York. The frontman of rock faves The Hold Steady, Finn has been embarking on his solo endeavor for a few years now, with this album being his fourth. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: JR JR strips their set down for World Cafe Live

JR JR | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

After Paul Keen of Pawnshop Roses graced the stage for today’s Free At Noon, indie pop group JR JR followed up with a set that, to everyone’s surprised, wound up being semi-acoustic. Down a drummer, the band’s Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein played stripped-down arrangements of songs from their newest album Invocations / Conversations, as well as some older cuts and a cover. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Starcrawler hit hard at World Cafe Live

Starcrawler | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

LA hard rock band Starcrawler visited World Cafe for today’s Free at Noon and delivered a punchy set of new and old material. The young outfit, which includes frontwoman Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco and drummer Austin Smith, formed in 2015 and released their self-titled debut on Rough Trade Records in 2018. Earlier this year, they released the singles “She Gets Around” and “Pet Sematary” (a Ramones cover), both of which they performed today.

The Free at Noon set found Starcrawler at their most theatrical — after three band members had already entered and set up their instruments, de Wilde stumbled onto the stage in a daze, wearing a tattered white dress covered in smudges and bloodstains. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Amy Ray and her band offer a delightful start to the holiday weekend

Amy Ray and XPN go way back. She has appeared at World Cafe Live and on World Cafe the show countless times, both as one half of Indigo Girls and as a solo artist. She will play World Cafe Live again tonight and XPoNential fest in July. Before all that though, she and her band treated us to a fantastic Free at Noon set. It was a great way to roll into the long weekend.

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Dream Syndicate fills the room with their familiar fuzzy rock

The Dream Syndicate | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN |

Listening to The Dream Syndicate, you’d hardly know that this is a band that spent nearly 30 years not releasing music. But in the last two years alone, the 80’s rockers have more than made up for lost time, releasing their first two albums since 1988’s Ghost Stories. Their latest, These Times, is out now, and the The Los Angeles band joined us for today’s Free at Noon doubleheader to let us hear some of the new songs live. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Eli “Paperboy” Reed brings his musical dreams to World Cafe Live

Eli “Paperboy” Reed | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

If you’ve ever wondered where Eli “Paperboy” Reed‘s stage name comes from, he told the moving story just last week, via an Instagram post, of the gray newsboy cap he found in his grandfather’s closet that helped him build his musical identity. Six albums later — and sans the hat, which he wore so much it fell apart — Eli “Paperboy” Reed stopped by World Cafe Live Friday afternoon to fill the second set of a Free at Noon doubleheader with some spirited jazz- and soul-inspired tunes. Continue reading →


Free At Noon Flashback: Jakob Dylan, Jade Castrinos, and Cat Power preview their soundtrack to the 60s doc Echo in the Canyon

Echo in the Canyon | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

World Cafe Live has seen a lot of the 60s this month, and no show better encapsulates it than today’s performance from the artists behind the new documentary, Echo in the Canyon. The documentary covers Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon and the music produced there in the mid 1960s by artists such as the Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and more. To pay homage to this fertile musical time, contemporary musicians came together to record a soundtrack that features covers of those cutting-edge Laurel Canyon songs. Some of those artists joined us at the World Cafe Live today, including Jakob Dylan, Jade Castrinos, and Cat Power. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Ryan Bingham is a standout in his genre

Ryan Bingham | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

Ryan Bingham sings the blues — on his own terms. Raised in New Mexico and Texas, Western influences run in the songwriter’s blood, and he’s channeled them into everything from his role on the TV show Yellowstone and his Grammy and Oscar wins for the Crazy Heart soundtrack, to his curated music festival outside of Austin and his six albums of grooving Americana tunes.

Bingham played sold-out Free at Noon set today, following the release of his latest record American Love Song earlier this year. His unique sound makes him a standout in his genre — with timeless, traditional elements like gospel backup singers and fiddle solos, Bingham’s brand of country is more authentic than anything you’re likely to hear on country radio. Backed by a rock band and making full use of the venue’s disco ball, he knows how to turn a show into a party, too. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: The Claypool Lennon Delirium provides escape and innovation to World Cafe Live audience

The Claypool Lennon Delirium | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN\

For today’s Free at Noon concert, the downstairs of World Cafe Live was packed with audience members eagerly awaiting The Claypool Lennon Delirium. The band is a project of music greats Les Claypool and Sean Lennon. Claypool is best known for his role as founder, bassist, and vocalist of Primus, while Lennon is the son of Beatles legend John Lennon and a multi-instrumentalist in his own right. Lennon has bounced around the world of underground and indie rock and produced a few solo albums, including Into the Sun (1998) and Friendly Fire (2006). According to Rolling Stone, Delirium was born from Claypool and Lennon’s mutual desire to “sit in a room and make space sounds again.” Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Ben Dickey brings raw energy and storytelling to World Cafe Live

Ben Dickey | photo by Garbriela Barbieri

Ben Dickey‘s jobs over the years have ranged from Johnny Brenda’s chef to movie star, but today he appeared at World Cafe Live to do what he does best: play some songs. The former Philadelphian, current Louisianan, returned to his once-hometown this afternoon to share his new solo album, A Glimmer on the Outskirts, with the Free at Noon Crowd. Continue reading →