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The Handsome Family on World Cafe | July 23, 2013

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  • Jason Creps/Courtesy of the artist

Brett and Rennie Sparks have inhabited a unique musical world together since the '90s. As The Handsome Family, husband Brett sings and writes the melodies while wife Rennie focuses on the lyrics; the resulting ghost stories and murder ballads have won the band an intense cult following. After years spent in Chicago, where Wilco helped boost its profile, The Handsome Family now resides in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Handsome Family's new album, Wilderness, is expansive and ambitious in the pair's own homemade way. Accompanying the album is a book of essays and illustrations created by Rennie Sparks under the same name, with stories and songs inspired by animals, from "Octopus" to "Woodpecker."


(( )) for interlude music

Hour 1

Iron & Wine “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog)” The Shepherd’s Dog
The Handsome Family “Octopus” Recorded Live for the World Cafe 
The Handsome Family “Owls” Recorded Live for the World Cafe
The Handsome Family “Woodpecker” Recorded Live for the World Cafe
((The Handsome Family "Frogs" Recorded Live for the World Cafe))
PJ Harvey “Down by the Water” To Bring You My Love
Howlin’ Wolf “The Red Rooster” The Definitive Collection
Vic Chesnutt “Rabbit Box” Little
((Bishop Allen "Tiger, Tiger" Grrr))
Elvis Presley “Old Shep” The 50 Greatest Love Songs 
Charley Pride “Snakes Crawl at Night” RCA Country Legends: Charley Pride
Alfred Deller “The Cuckoo” The Art of Alfred Deller
Alasdair Roberts “Molly Bawn” No Earthly Man
((America "Horse with No Name" America))

Hour 2

The Hold Steady “Hornets! Hornets!” Separation Sunday
Don Dixon “Praying Mantis” Most of the Girls Like to Dance…
Dave Matthews Band “Ants Marching” Under the Table and Dreaming
Wilco “Muzzle of Bees” A Ghost is Born
Tim Buckley “Buzzin’ Fly” Dream Letter: Live in London 1968 
Joan Osborne “Spider Web” Relish
((Battles "Inchworm" Gloss Drop))
Graham Parker “The Kid with the Butterfly Net” Passion Is No Ordinary Word 
Richard Thompson “Beeswing” Live at the World Cafe: 10th Anniversary Edition 
Robyn Hitchcock “Madonna of the Wasps” Greatest Hits
Dire Straits “The Bug” On Every Street
((JD McPherson "Firebug" Recorded Live for the World Cafe))
Slim Harpo “I’m a King Bee” Best of Slim Harpo
Taj Mahal “Queen Bee” Senor Blues
((The Bees "She is Gone" High Society))