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

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.

-Interview conducted by Dana Schwartz, Marketing Intern


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

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. 

Staff Pick: Ten Fé

Following the release of their debut full-length EP, Hit the Light, indie pop duo Ten Fé will play Philly as part of their 2017 North American tour. The band is made up of Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncun, who first met each other at a house party in London, quickly becoming friends after discovering their shared taste in music. The two soon began writing songs together under the name “Fé” and released a single titled “Time” in 2013. The track was critically acclaimed, gaining recognition from large platforms such as BBC 6 Music. After this success, the musicians decided to relocate to Berlin where they would be immersed in a flourishing artistic atmosphere. It was here that the duo changed their name to Ten Fé, marking the beginning of a new era which resulted in their recent release. The new album itself is very diverse, each song has a vibe of its own that is unique from the rest. “Elodie” for example, is heavily piano-centered accompanied by somber vocals; whereas songs like “Twist Your Arm” are synth-based and upbeat in tempo, featuring funky slide guitar licks that are reminiscent of 80’s Prince hits. Ten Fé’s style can be traced back to the music of The Cure and Bruce Springsteen, artists they listened to quite frequently in the process of creating the new record. Their aura has also been compared to The 1975’s, as front-man Ben Moorhouse’s deep, nostalgic voice is similar to Matty Healy’s. Their sound has been positively received by many, such as Noisey, who described it as “wonderful psychedelic guitars and melancholic strings”, and NME, who called it “irresistible”. Make sure to come see Ten Fé play upstairs at WCL on Saturday, June 10th to hear it for yourself!

-Devon Minuto, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Lewis Watson 5/21

Coming up on Sunday, May 21 is Lewis Watson, a London-based singer/songwriter with a smooth and soulful voice paired with a mellow acoustic sound. Watson began uploading covers of songs by artists such as Bon Iver, Bombay Bicycle Club, and the Knife to a Youtube channel which received little attention back in 2010, yet his music career did not fully take off until he started posting videos of his original songs. These original compositions received great responses from listeners, and it wasn’t long until he recorded his first EP, “It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW,” produced by his former music teacher, Joe Porter. The buzz that the 2012 EP generated was enough to attract several record labels to Watson’s music, and he eventually decided to sign with Warner Bros. As he began performing at larger festivals, Watson’s fanbase grew, and another EP titled “Another Four Sad Songs” followed months later. I can appreciate the rawness of both EPs- they are not overproduced or written to fit a mainstream mold. Each feature Watson, who sings the melody as well as additional background harmonies, his acoustic guitar, and occasional extra instrumentation that compliments his performance. Watson’s lyrics are honest, original, and very relatable. His third EP, “Wild,” was made possible with the help and collaboration of artists and producers such as The Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, Richard Wilkinson, and Mr. Hudson. The EP, which was released in 2013, contains a heightened confidence from Watson, as well as a more polished production value than the previous two. After releasing two more EPs in 2013, Watson created his first full length album, “The Morning,” which debuted in July 2014. Watson then parted ways with Warner Music in order to focus more on his songwriting, which is exactly what he did! “Midnight,” his next full-length album, was released in early 2017, and he signed with Cooking Vinyl, a well-established indie record label. Watson’s sound is the perfect blend of relaxing indie and upbeat acoustic pop. His powerful voice will undoubtedly fill our downstairs room- grab tickets here!

-Dana Schwartz, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: The Feelies in Philly 4/29

One of New York City’s best underground post-punk bands The Feelies are the type of band whose style and influence you can hear in so many bands that came after them. Their debut album Crazy Rhythms was a commercial flop, however so many alternative rock bands who emerged after them cite it as a major influence, with R.E.M. being the most significant. The album is now critically acclaimed because of the impact it had on future genres that emerged through the influence of their sound. After a couple more albums and a long hiatus, The Feelies are back with their second new album since reuniting in 2008. In Between has all the punk vibes that made them classic, yet presents them within a newer, looser frame of reference. Singer/guitarist Glenn Mercer describes the album as “…all done very low key. We refer to it as ‘off the clock’ when you’re not paying an hourly rate, so in that sense it was a lot more relaxed. I don’t think anyone would notice a drastic change in the sound or the vibe of the record. I think it sounds a lot more relaxed and laid back.” The Feelies are coming to WCL Philly on April 29th and you don’t want to miss it! In the meantime check out this old-school cool video of them playing one of their most classic songs “Crazy Rhythms” at the legendary CBGB Club in New York City circa 1978.

-Nick DiGiacomo, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Bill Laurance in Philly 1/31

Bill Laurance is a modern day musical renaissance man. In addition to being the long time pianist of the internationally-acclaimed and Grammy-award winning jazz ensemble Snarky Puppy, Bill Laurance has released multiple acclaimed solo albums, works extensively with dance companies, owns his own music production company specializing in scoring for film, TV and commercials, and is a specialist lecturer at the Institute of Contemporary Music in London. His music, much like that of Snarky Puppy’s, seamlessly blends several genres into a transcendental journey that takes you to a new other-worldly state of mind with every song. A fantastic example of this is the live studio recording of his song “December in New York” off of his 2015 solo album Swift. His articulate piano playing perfectly captures the ebb and flow of the city that never sleeps as he gracefully and effortlessly maneuvers through intricate melodies and graceful harmonic textures behind a dynamic jazz ensemble. His playing is so precise and impeccable it’s hard to believe someone can play that well in a studio, let alone live! The journey his music takes you on just listening to it is extraordinary, so one can only imagine what it would be like to experience that live, which is why you should catch him downstairs at WCL Philly on January 31st!

-Nick DiGiacomo, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Maybird in Philly 12/1

The music genre of modern psychedelia has been expanding rapidly within the past decade.  Artists such as Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips have popularized psychedelic rock by adding a modern twist to classic styles from the past.  Maybird is one of those bands that can be included into this category.  Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, the band was formed when singer-songwriter Josh Netsky joined with pedal-steel guitarist Kurt Johnson.  They sought to move towards a more laid back, psychedelic vibe than Netsky previously had in his solo project.  The band’s sound, having memorable guitar leads and lush vocal harmonies, can be described as energetic, noisy and hallucinatory.  Oftentimes, in songs like “Maybird,” their catchy pop rock structured songs turn into free, mind-expanding jams by the end.  The group’s lead single, “Turning Into Water,” is a fun, twangy trip through time and space.  The band is also known for their eclectic live performances.  Band member Sam Snyder was given the nickname “Overhand Sam” for his unorthodox style of guitar playing.  Maybird is currently on an east coast tour supporting their 2016 release Turning Into Water EP.  For fans of The Strokes and Electric Light Orchestra. Catch Maybird Upstairs in Philly on December 1st!

-Evan Cook, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Slow Club in Philly 11/13

Sophisticated indie rockers Slow Club will be bringing their exquisite, love-song pop harmonies to Philly next month.  The English duo, formed in 2006, has released two EPs and five full-length LPs.  They are currently on tour supporting their 2016 release entitled One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore.  The band first gained recognition with their 2009 debut Yeah So.  Their albums can be characterized by charming indie rock jams meeting intimate folk duets.  Simple, underlying rhythms combined with dreamy guitars support multinstrumentalists Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor’s intricate vocal harmonies.  The track “Tears of Joy” off their 2014 release Complete Surrender includes a touch of jazz, dance, and even a slight hint of funk.  The final track “Wanderer Wandering” off the same record is a new-wave synth ballad, yearning for the affection of a significant other.  Their newest record has a catchy, pleasant presentation juxtaposed with sorrowful lyrical content.  In a live setting, the two artists play with a full band, but also perform acoustic renditions of some of their more popular songs.  Slow Club is for fans of Florence and the Machine, St. Vincent, and Sufjan Stevens.  Catch them Upstairs in Philly November 13th!

-Evan Cook, Marketing Intern

Staff Pick: Langhorne Slim in Wilmington 10/23

Langhorne Slim and his band, The Law, have been storytelling to audiences since 1999.  A Pennsylvania native, the band’s leader and primary songwriter uses his acoustic guitar and country-tinged voice to take the audience on a journey through life’s rough moments and the happier ones.  The band first gained recognition after the release of their first full-length, self-titled LP in 2008.  Following the album’s popularity, the group made appearances on national late night shows such as David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, and also gaining a spot on notable music festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.  Although, their most critically acclaimed record, The Way We Move, is the album most of their fans and critics call “damn near perfect” in the world of folk music.  Langhorne Slim’s raspy, southern honesty comes out especially in track five, “On The Attack,” off this record.  While tracks like “Salvation” and “Wild Soul” show the softer side of the artist.  All in all, Langhorne Slim gives his audience honest folk songs while adding a touch of country, creating his own brand of alternative folk music.  For fans of The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan.  Catch Langhorne Slim & The Law on October 23rd at the World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington!

-Evan Cook, Marketing Intern