Interview: David Poe (Upstairs 7/2)

In the words of Rolling Stone Magazine, “David Poe gives the singer-songwriter genre a much-needed jolt.” Returning to our upstairs stage on July 2, this talented musician is ready to show Philly what he’s got. We were lucky enough to conduct an interview with Poe to learn a bit more about who he is and what he does:

WCL: You have toured with many established artists, from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez. What have been some of the highlights of these tours, and who would be your dream tour partner?

David: To work with the best, with legends and virtuosos, is inspirational and humbling and one of the great honors of my life. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and T Bone Burnett are seers. Where would music and culture be without their contributions?

But I’ve also learned so much from creatives whose names most people don’t know, and from the great singers and players with whom I’ve written and collaborated: Sim Cain, Grace Potter, John Abbey, Grace Kelly, Curtis Stigers, Oh Land, Thomas Dybdahl, Steve Rosenthal, CC White, Brendan Hines, Regina Spektor, Kraig Jarret Johnson, Amy Raasch, Jack Ashford, Jay Bellerose, Gabe Witcher, Philip Krohnengold, Tori Amos, Duncan Sheik, Ben Peeler, Matt Johnson, John “Scrapper” Sneider, Marc Ribot, to name a very few.

Most artists don’t get too famous, but each passes a torch to another generation, illuminating common themes, conventions, methodology, rules to learn and to break, what has been done before them and how. Innovation requires some understanding of tradition, whether you absorb it through a school arts program or by learning an instrument or listening to cool radio.

It will be fun to play there with Brendan Hines on Sunday. He’s a killer writer who also does a little acting on the side, and he and I have written songs and made two records together. But I guess my “dream tour partner” is really my old acoustic guitar, a relic of the last century.

Musical guests often join me onstage and that brings me great joy, but I’m most interested in the fundaments of songwriting, in words and music. That box of wood and wire allows me to convey both, and it fits in the overhead compartment so long as I make nice with the flight attendant.

I see that you have composed the scores of more than seven films! Could you describe your process for coming up with the music for these films?

Each project is different. I’ve scored a wide variety of films and written songs for big movies, like Triple-9, but also intimate indie things like Diary Of A Teenage Girl.  It’s just a lot of fun to see someone like Kristen Wiig doing her thing over a song.

I like putting music to picture. When it works, everyone knows it.

It’s been particularly fun to have songs in TV shows like Dexteror on Nashville, in which an actor sings it as if they wrote it themselves and the lyrics are woven into the plot and dialogue. A song I wrote called No One Cares About Your Dreams is on the July 13 episode, and they’ve also put Gun For A Mouth and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World into the show.

When someone else sings a song I wrote, I get the same feeling as when people sing “Happy Birthday,” to you, this strange mix of humility and glee. And they always sing it better than I ever could.

How has your experience working with the Sundance Institute helped you as a musician, and what are some of the most significant takeaways you’ve gained from your time there?

Sundance is such an important part of the culture in that it supports independent creative forces and develops films about topics we wouldn’t likely see otherwise. The roots of some of our most venerated investigative documentaries, like Amy Berg’sDeliver Us From Evil or Ondi Timoner’s Dig! Even pioneering narrative projects like The Wire or Orange Is The New Black can be traced in part to the Sundance ethos, which is to amplify less-heard voices. Redford and his colleagues saw the need for this a long time ago, and they have made a significant, artistically-responsible contribution to the culture, broken down boundaries.

Beyond film and TV, one of my favorite projects of the last decade has been making music for Shadowland 1 and 2, two dance theater pieces by the American dance company Pilobolus. Those shows have been on the road since 2009, toured every continent, won awards, appeared on a lot of TV, even been performed for the Queen.

The composition process in dance is like scoring a film, writing a musical and making a record all at once. These scores are part pop song, part sweeping orchestral music, part electronic music, all based on narrative and the characters’ inner dialogue, so I write a lot of stuff for centaurs and gods and robots that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise written.

Your last album, God and the Girl, was released in 2014. How have listeners responded to this album, and can they expect any new music in the future?

Of course it’s thrilling and humbling when people indicate they like the songs, but when a song is done I move on to the next and rarely listen to it again.

I’ve always got new music, both my own and things I’ve written with and for others. For me, the hardest part is releasing it effectively and making listeners aware. Anyone interested can join my mailing list at davidpoemusic.com.

I’m just not particularly adept at marketing or interested in wading into the clamor of social media to sell music. And I’ve been playing since I was a teenager, when wheatpasting posters for gigs was a thing. So now, when a song is done, I nudge it out of the nest and hope it flies.

What have been some of your favorite places to perform, and why?

I’ve always enjoyed playing at World Cafe Live. Great crew, awesome sound, and Philadelphians are one of the best audiences in the world.

One of the shows I played there was recorded for a PBS series.

Have you ever tried a Philly cheesesteak?

Nope. Vegetarian.

twitter.com/poedavid

facebook.com/david.poe

instagram.com/davidpoe

www.davidpoemusic.com

-Interview conducted by Dana Schwartz, Marketing Intern

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Music Monday 6/19/17

The month of June is coming to an end, but the music never stops at WCL! Our upcoming artists offer an eclectic range of musical genres that will satisfy anyone’s tastes! To give you a better idea, we’ve created a Spotify playlist with their music. Listen here!

Future Thieves “Sucker” (August 6)

Future Thieves latest release, “Sucker” is the first new song which the band has put out since their debut LP Horizon Line in 2015. Recorded in a small lodge on a lake in Eastern Tennessee, “Sucker” has the same indie-rock vibe as their past record, yet it represents what the group feels is the next step in how their music should evolve. In a recent interview, bandmember Nick said, “It’s different, but the idea is to have it represent us as a collective group while pushing our boundaries and comfort zones.” Future Thieves always promises to give their audience the best possible performance, so be sure to catch them live on August 6!

Snake Club “This Could Be Us” (August 12)

The Philadelphia natives of Snake Club masterfully blend RnB, Hip Hop, and Pop with jazz backgrounds in their music. “This Could Be Us,” their most recent release from March 2017, is a perfect representation of this original style. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Ariana Grande, and Anderson Paak, the group incorporates smooth vocals, sensual harmonies, and soulful horn solos to create their own unique sound.

Penny and Sparrow “Finery” (September 17)

In their latest album, “Let a Lover Drown You,” Texas born indie-folk duo Penny and Sparrow “delve into numerous new and diverse sound landscapes… without sacrificing the sharp honesty that’s accompanied their career thus far.” Penny and Sparrow create music that is relaxing and easy to listen to, and possess a sound similar to The Swell Season, Bon Iver, and Mumford & Sons. Hear Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke’s smooth vocals, honest lyrics, and acoustic instrumentation in their song “Finery”!

-Dana Schwartz, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Robert Glasper Experiment 6/20

If you think you haven’t heard the Robert Glasper Experiment before, think again. The Experiment has played with the likes of chart topping artists ranging from Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg all the way to Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock and Norah Jones. With a leader like Glasper, there is truly no limit to what this group can and will achieve. After releasing Black Radio 1 and 2 in 2012 and 2013 respectively, the Robert Glasper Experiment did not fail to live up to expectations with their follow up album and latest musical project, ArtScience. The band tastefully fuses countless facets and genres of music together seamlessly, from their deep jazz roots phasing into, and not shying away from, hints of prog rock, electronic, pop, hip-hop, funk, soul and R&B. Glasper and his band mates somehow cover it all and make it sound effortless in the process. Unlike their previous projects, ArtScience stands out for a big reason — this album has no featured vocalists. All members, including saxophonist and vocalist Casey Benjamin, drummer Mike Colenburg, bassist Derrick Hodge and Glasper himself, wrote and produced, and everyone sings. Everything about this album transcends the way we think about music. The opening song, “This Is Not Fear,” takes off full steam ahead right off of the bat. A minute and a half into it there’s a beat change that poses a purposefully stark contrast to the first minute of the song. This intro is just a little taste of what you’re in for when you embark on the musical journey that is ArtScience. From “You And Me,” an original song oozing with equal parts love and ache, to a 7 minute cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me A Bedtime Story,” each song will leave you feeling something different and new and will leave you amazed at the sheer musical brilliance. You will not regret diving into all that is the Robert Glasper Experiment. Don’t miss their upcoming show in our downstairs room on Tuesday, June 20thtickets are moving fast!

-Rachel Goldstein, Marketing Intern

Music Monday

World Cafe Live’s remaining lineup for June is filled with folk, country, rock, and jazz music! We’ve put together a Spotify playlist for you to listen to to help you decide which shows you might like to attend. The performers range from the genre-defying Ontario-based artist, poet, and musician Daniel Romano, to jazz, funk, soul, and pop artists of the Robert Glasper Experiment, to the experimental and environmentally conscious Cloud Cult, who seamlessly blend music and art in each of their performances. Check out their music (and much more!) on our Spotify.
“Roya” Daniel Romano (June 18)
Straight off of his latest album Modern Pressure, Daniel Romano’s song “Roya” is a catchy tune with rich harmonies and a classic rock feel. Romano’s sound can be compared to that of The Beatles and Jonny Fritz, and his talent of constructing interesting melodies, shapes, and lyrics is clearly displayed throughout this album. “Written in observational scrutiny beneath the overcast atmosphere of 2016, the record vigorously tackles the present-day heaviness we contain in the jotting bones of our guilty expressions. It pleads for the restoration of empathy and resonance, to fill the empty chamber once again.”
 
“Afro Blue” Robert Glasper Experiment (June 20)
From their 2012 album Black Radio, Robert Glasper Experiment’s song “Afro Blue” is the perfect blend of jazz, funk, and soul, and features the smooth vocals of Erykah Badu. Since releasing this album, the group has created two more albums and earned a great deal of success- they have dominated the jazz charts, won multiple R&B Grammy’s, and recorded and collaborated with artists such as Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Paak! This is definitely a show you don’t want to miss.
“No Hell” Cloud Cult (June 27)
“No Hell” is one of the many beautiful songs which is included on Cloud Cult’s latest album The Seeker, which has been deemed the bands best work by critics. “No Hell” is a “characteristically cathartic” song by Craig Minowa, who wrote it in order to get through particularly hard times. The entire album was also made into an award-winning feature length film which toured the film festival circuit in 2016. Cloud Cult will be performing the full score as the movie plays on screen on throughout the US, and we’re excited to be one of the venues to host this captivating show. 

Did You Know? XPN’s Free At Noon

Did you know that XPN hosts FREE concerts just about every Friday at 12PM on our World Cafe Live stage? Head to XPN’s website to find out who’s up next and to RSVP. Check out some footage from past Free At Noons over at VuHaus, and tune in weekly to stream future Friday concerts if you can’t join us in person!

Bonus #throwbackthursday: Adele played a Free at Noon back in 2011.

Non-Comm 2017 Highlights

From Blondie to Ani DiFranco to The Districts, we’re honored to have hosted such legendary and emerging talent on both our upstairs and downstairs stages during the 2017 Non-Commvention. Check out some highlights streaming on VuHaus!