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Ryley Walker On World Cafe

Ryley Walker in the <em>World Cafe</em> studio.
Galea McGregor
/
WXPN
Ryley Walker in the World Cafe studio.

Prolific guitarist Ryley Walker says his musical aim is "to freak [his] audience out ... in a nice way". He was schooled in what he calls the "weirdo scene" — in Chicago's experimental independent clubs, where the name of the game is improvisation and every song is simply a jumping-off point for endless exploration. Walker's latest record, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, is his third in three years and a stunning follow-up to his 2015 instrumental release, Primrose Green. It showcases the self-deprecating and subtle humor of his lyrics as much as his stellar fingerpicking and the heavy musicianship of his band.

Listen as Walker tries to corral his wild musical imagination into one session that's "kind of like a Goosebumps choose-your-own-scare book" and explains how improvisation is like mayonnaise. Hear the complete session in the player above and check out a performance video below.

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Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
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