WPA - The latest project to emerge from the Nickel Creek family amounts to nothing less than another supergroup. In addition to Nickel Creek’s Sean and Sara Watkins, WPA includes Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Luke Bulla (Jerry Douglas Band, Ricky Skaggs, Lyle Lovett), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Wilco, Sheryl Crow, Beck), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Randy Newman), and Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Cracker). Born out of the musical community surrounding the LA club, Largo, the members - all longtime friends - found themselves with a batch of unrecorded songs and enough down time to commit the songs to tape. WPA recorded 17 songs live in five days. The group takes its name from FDR’s 1939 New Deal initiative, which put millions to work making buildings, bridges, theater, art and music. Appearing at this performance will be Glen Phillips, Luke Bulla, Sean Watkins, Sebastion Steinberg and Jerry Roe.
Cadillac Sky - Described as everything from "experimental acoustic music" to "psychobilly bluegrass," Texas’ Cadillac Sky draws on Radiohead and the Beatles as much as it does Bill Monroe. Rooted in the heart of American music, the quintet also throws in surprises like its covers of Death Cab for Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" and the Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star" on its current EP "Weary Angel." The group will be appearing at MerleFest ‘10 along with the Avett Brothers, Elvis Costello and the Sam Bush Band.
Federico Aubele - Inspired by smoky tangos and sultry boleros - and Johnny Cash - Argentine singer/songwriter Federico Aubele’s songs are driven by the many emotions of love. With hints of reggae and "old-school, down-and-dirty tango," he added the strong melodic sense of the Beatles, who took his hometown of Buenos Aires by storm in the ‘60s. His new CD is titled "Amatoria."
Sam & Ruby - Drawing on a blend R&B, folk and pop - and backgrounds that couldn’t be more different - Nashville-based duo Sam & Ruby have fashioned their own singular sound. Born in Ghana, Ruby Amanfu’s father was a computer scientist who moved his family to Nashville when Ruby was three. Meanwhile, Sam Brooker, a native of Green Bay, WI, was weaned on James Taylor and played in a popular Milwaukee area band through high school and college. The two first heard each other while living in Nashville but it was a performance at the 2005 South By Southwest music conference that convinced them to join musical forces. Brooker had just moved back to Nashville from NYC and Amanfu had released her solo debut "Smoke and Honey" - which reached the Top Five on the British pop charts. Since then, "Heaven’s My Home," a song Amanfu co-wrote, was covered by the Duhks, who earned a Grammy nomination for the track. More recently an early version of the tune by Sam & Ruby was featured in the Queen Latifah-starring film, "The Secret Life Of Bees." The tune appears on the duo’s debut, "The Here and the Now."
Chip Taylor- Singer/songwriter/producer Chip Taylor has penned some of the most memorable songs in rock ‘n’ roll history including "Wild Thing," the song the late Jimi Hendrix once called the "new national anthem." Other Taylor classics include "Angel Of The Morning" and one of Janis Joplin’s last hits "Try - Just A Little Bit Harder." A tribute to his genre-crossing writing, the Troggs, Juice Newton and Walter Jackson recorded the tune "Anyway That You Want Me" - and all scored hits on different charts. Taylor also finished third in Las Vegas’ World Black Jack Championship and was one of the foremost thoroughbred horse race handicappers on the east coast. His latest release is a collection of story songs called "Yonkers, NY."
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This episode is scheduled for NPR distribution on December 4.