Etienne Charles is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Michigan State University. Hailed by The New York Times as “an auteur” (Ben Ratliff), by Jazz Times as “A daring improviser who delivers with heart wrenching lyricism” (Bill Milkowski). According to Downbeat Magazine “Charles delivers his ebullient improvisations with the elegance of a world-class ballet dancer.” (John Murph). He has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions and knack for connecting with audiences worldwide. In June 2012, Etienne was written into the US Congressional Record for his musical contributions to Trinidad & Tobago and the World. Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation or Eastern Caribbean origin, Etienne brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean to the table. Crucially, as a soloist, he fully understands the New Orleans trumpet tradition; which is readily discernible in his trademark instrumental swagger, and what famed Crescent City Pianist, Jelly Roll Morton so succinctly captured in the now immortal phrase, ‘The Spanish Tinge’. He has performed and or recorded with Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, Ralph MacDonald, Johnny Mandel, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Maria Schneider, Count Basie Orchestra, Eric Reed, Lord Blakie, David Rudder and many others. He holds a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
I had the honor of chatting with Etienne recently about his latest release, “Carnival: The Sound of a People”. We dissect a few of the tracks, from their beGinning stories through the history of a cultural experience that is as much celebration, as it is a spell. We talk about how the album went from it’s infancy to a place where listeners and music sharers alike can go to place that is tracked in certain storytellers tales, but is as culturally important to a people, as the food the grow and the children they raise.
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song “Walk The Way The Wind Blows” in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, friend of the program, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin and produced records for Yonder Mountain String Band, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.
I had the honor of chatting with Tim ahead of the March 28th show at the Stoughton Opera House ahead of the March 28th show featuring the Tim O’Brien Band. Tim and I get into what a newbie to the scene could expect from an evening with the Tim O’Brien Band. We dive deep into their brand new self-titled album, talking about the seed to flower growth of its songs and style. The album dropped today. It is always of interest to get into the music scene changes from artists that have been around the block a few times and Mr. O’Brien is no exception. We talk about some of the gifts and challenges of the scene today versus some odd years aGo, when he first got started. If you’ve ever wondered what he might share if given the opportunity to take over a radio show, Tim tells us what he would share if he had some time programming greenarrowradio one of these day.
For nearly 30 years, Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings have continued to bring the blues (and beyond) to its legions of fans around the world. He was indeed named for the singing cowboy. A singer, himself, and also a master slide guitarist with a distinctive and instantly recognizable style, Rogers has recorded with Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, Norton Buffalo, and recorded two albums together in a band with former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. As a producer he is perhaps best known for John Lee Hooker’s classic comeback album “The Healer” featuring Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Los Lobos and more which earned a Grammy Award. I have been such a fan of this man’s body of diverse works build around that distinct sound, enhancing many set-lists with the slide stories he weaves.
I had the pleasure of finally catching up with Roy ahead of his March 28th show at Shank Hall in Milwaukee and his March 29th show at the Stoughton Opera House, both with his power trio, The Delta Rhythm Kings. Roy and I get into what those who might be new to his sound can expect from a live event from the sound down to the important interacts between musicians and audience. We try to define what makes his distinct sound so distinct and the bottom line was drawn at: “You got to feel it”. Roy mentions a bit about his time working with John Lee Hooker and how he learned more about life than music from this master, and we spend a little time talking about what it was like working with friend of the proGram, Shana Morrison.
Carsie Blanton is a singer-songwriter who grew up in rural Virginia and landed in Philadelphia in fall of 2006. Since then, her soulful, playful, intelligent music has earned her tons of national respect from fans and fellow artists. She has released five studio albums: Ain’t So Green (2005), Buoy (2009), Idiot Heart (2012), Not Old, Not New (2014), So Ferocious (2016)—and three EPs—Hush (2002), Beau (2010), Rude Remarks and Dirty Jokes (2013). Once she began working with manager Bill Eib (Amos Lee, Mutlu Onaral), she was quickly playing over one hundred live shows a year. In 2010, Blanton performed live on NPR’s nationally syndicated program, Mountain Stage, and opened for The Weepies and Shawn Colvin. In 2011, Blanton toured with Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown: A Folk Opera, playing the role of Head Fate. In 2014, Blanton performed on the nationally syndicated NPR program Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. She was also fortunate to have opened multiple shows on Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What tour. Carsie has also shared the stage with nationally hailed acts Amos Lee, Nellie McKay, John Oates and Leon Redbone, and has toured with Loudon Wainwright III, and with Blue Note recording artists and friends of the program, The Wood Brothers. And now, she has dropped a new album in February of 2019, Buck Up, that aims to provide a little relief from the now that is, happening now.
I had the chance to chat with Carsie ahead of her March 24th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We dive into the moods and melodies that drove the new release from a seed to a flower and just how she can make anything sound catchy, sexy and fun. We spend time getting to know the person that is behind the music, if you check out her blog, you’ll see (and read) that she says it like she feels it, and she tells us what ideals/values got mixed up in a blender to create the her she is. It is always interesting to find out which song an artist would choose to air on the greenarrowradio proGram if given the opportunity and what they would surround it with in a set-list, Carsie’s choices are shared so we get a sense of what direction it might go.
Actor, comedian and master storyteller Kevin Allison brings his award winning storytelling show RISK! live back to Madison on Saturday, March 16, at the High Noon Saloon. The night will feature Kevin and local storytellers taking the stage to tell their true, personal tales “they never thought they’d dare to share.” Storytellers are still in the selection process, I can tell you the cast once confirmed. The show will be recorded for the popular RISK! podcast which gets a million downloads every month. RISK! has been hailed as “always entertaining” (The New York Times), “consistently unforgettable” (The AV Club) and one of the Best Podcasts To See (Entertainment Weekly). Kevin Allison is a founding member of legendary comedy troupe The State whose MTV series remains a cult classic. He is also the creator and host of RISK!, the award winning live show and podcast where people their true stories ranging from hilarious to provocative to heartbreaking. Now in its 10th year, Kevin hosts RISK! live monthly in NYC and he tours RISK! around the world to feature local storytellers. The show has featured incredible true stories from Trevor Noah, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman and more, plus plenty of everyday folks.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Kevin ahead of the show in Madison to help get some newbees into the scene. We talk about what to expect at a live Risk! event. How the eye to eye delivery of a story can be life changing and just how he went about staring up this amazingly spot on podcast and live event series. Just from chatting for a bit with Kevin, I can tell how this show, these events and the people he gets to share stories with from either side of the ear are changing Kevin’s every day. Maybe it’s that change you have been waiting for?
I just received word that the Madison cast of storytellers to open their true, personal stories they never thought they’d dare to share are: Amanda, Amy, James and Stephanie.
Cycles brings the power-trio format at you with a ripping guitar, fat bass grooves played out through furious slapping, and dynamic drum beats flowing over intricate tempo changes. Each member wields a unique take on their instrument that when played together, forms a truly fresh and cohesive sound. Patrick Harvey commands the guitar with speed and precision while using his loop pedal virtually as its own instrument. Michael Wood has subtly forged a drum style that showcases his ability to mashup funky hip-hop beats with frenzied rock riffs and displays his flashy technique when necessary while implementing the creative use of various sound-modulating drum triggers. At the heart of the band lies Tucker McClung’s dominant slap-bass chops that captivates audiences & pumps the musical blood through the band. Drawing influence from artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Primus and Weather Report, Cycles fuse an eclectic blend of genres to produce a fresh and original sound. Just in the infancy state still, this band has over 250 shows under their belt with tours extending across the entire U.S.A.
They will make a stop in Madison on March 7th at the High Noon Saloon and I was able to chat with drummer, Michael Wood for a bit about the show, the band and the new live album. We get into what new ears to this band could expect from the upcoming event. We talk about how this band is a live band currently and why it was natural to put out a live album, brand new release “Selections, Vol. 1” dropped mid-February. Michael talks a little about his love of great studio albums and perhaps how that influences the next steps in growth for the band.
“A Way with Words” is a call-in public radio show about language. It’s heard across the country and around the world by broadcast and podcast.” This program is co-hosted by Martha Barnette, who is also a journalist and the author of several books on language, as well as Grant Barrett, who is a dictionary editor and linguist specializing in slang and new words. Sometimes the two of them bring this show out on the road where folks get to join this popular public radio’s lively show about language for a fantastic evening! Slang, dialect, etymology, language change, new words, and a whole lot more are on the agenda. Martha and Grant will explore the amazing oddities of English, from the very old to the very new — plus host a language Q&A where you can find out what you’ve always wanted to know. You’ll come away enlightened and inspired! These events are packed, lively occasions filled with language-y wows, linguisticky goodness, and bookish goofing around. Martha and Grant have already wowed them with packed houses in New York City, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Dallas, San Diego, Arcata, California, and Portland, Oregon.
I was able to catch up with Martha and Grant ahead of the March 7th event being held at the University of Wisconsin’s Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. We paint a little picture of what someone who has never been to a live “A Way with Words” event or someone who has no idea what the show is about, can expect. We talk a little bit about the fun times to be had by the entire room and some of the challenges Martha and Grant face while performing in a live setting as opposed to being in the comforts of the studio. For me personally, this show is so much about community building and adding steps to the bridge to one another, so we talk a little about how this show unites and is a source of connection for so many who may not otherwise think they have walked down similar paths. The truth is, whether live or on the radio or in a podcasted format, “A Way with Words” brings the cool nerd out of all of us, so maybe it’s time to let your inner nerd find some commonality with a word.
In 2017, Andy Frasco reached a fork in the road. Renowned for a jubilant jambalaya of rule-breaking rock-n-roll his career kept rolling ahead at full steam. To date, he had released three independent albums, chronicled a German gig in front of 15,000 screaming fans on the recent live opus “Songs from the Road”, made jaws drop at festivals such as Grandoozy, Firefly, Mountain Jam, Summer Camp, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park and Electric Forest, generated millions of streams, launched Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast, and performed at festivals alongside icons such as Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., The Revivalists, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few. After a string of wild shows (and wilder nights) on tour somewhere in the heart of America, one morning sounded a very loud wake-up call for the singer, songwriter, performer, and namesake of Andy Frasco & The U.N.
I had the chance to chat with Andy ahead of the March 6th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. Their first headlining show here in Madison and it sounds like Andy really loves the spaces, places and faces in our little city. We got into what someone who has never heard of his band could probably be in store for at the show. We talk about the lifestyle adjustments he made leading up to the brand new album (dropping tomorrow) aptly named, “Change of Pace” and how working with Widespread Panic‘s Dave Schools resulted in a song-centric album that brings attention to life, not just the party. We learn a little about what his podcast is all about and also what artists he would share to my listeners if given 42 minutes of greenarrowradio to proGram. Even tho there has been a change to his pace, there is no change to the man or the good time energy he will be sure to bring to everything he does. Take a listen for yourself!!
Innovative Southwest Louisiana-based guitarist, songwriter, and singer Sonny Landreth is one of those musician’s musician. His blues slide guitar playing is distinctive and unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. His unorthodox guitar style comes from the manner in which he simultaneously plays slide and makes fingering movements on the fretboard. Mr. Landreth, can play it all, like any good session musician. His distinctive guitar playing can be heard on recordings by John Hiatt, Leslie West and Mountain, and many other rock & rollers. Sonny Landreth brings together blues, jazz, Cajun, zydeco, and rock music, creating a style that’s increasingly appealing to a wide array of listeners. Each of Landreth’s two solo albums is woven from the various musical styles he picked up in southern Louisiana, his home since the age of two. His ability to meld these loosely associated deep South genres has earned him a broad following, and, with twenty years as a professional musician, his resume is packed with a who’s who of of a crucial musical legacy. I invite you to do some research on the importance of Mr. Landreth to the musical communities, many of them and find the spot where his sound, his style hits you just right he is still, in my opinion, an underrated star that we have been fortunate to share a sky with.
I had the honor of spending a little time with Sonny ahead of the February 28th show at the Stoughton Opera House billed as “Marcia Ball/Sonny Landreth: Two Great Bands One Great Night”. And that is should be!. We find out what the flow of an event like this should be like for any newcomers to the scene. We spend a perfect amount of time understand the way Sonny does what Sony does. So often, we as listeners get all caught up in the sounds we hear, but we don’t always know the things that go into it. Sonny shares a little insight on the “Music Behind The Glass” that is what he does. We get into what a a hometown crowd does for any musician, but the reasons behind his 2017 release “Recorded Live In Lafayette”, really solidifies what a good time home-cooking can make for the music and the recordings. I always want to be in the decision making process of how what tunes get captured on a live album, so we find out a little of that selection process as well. We talk abut our mutual friend, Mr. Derek Trucks and how the stylings of others and being able to learn with and from other innovative, genre busting artists adds to not only the sound, but the songwriting. This is another one of those talks that I find myself thinking back on and saying to myself, “it’s no wonder I really dig this dude”.
Photo by: Brian Blauser
John Raymond is making a name for himself as one of the most promising, genre-bending musicians in jazz today. With a singular voice as a trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer, Mr. Raymond is “steering jazz in the right direction” (Downbeat Magazine) by pushing it’s boundaries, seamlessly incorporating indie-rock, folk and electronic influences into his music. Mr. Raymond has performed with artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, S. Carey (of Bon Iver), Orrin Evans (of The Bad Plus), and Cory Wong (of Vulfpeck) among others. He has released six albums since 2012 – four with his primary band Real Feels (w/Gilad Hekselman & Colin Stranahan), each receiving praise from Stereogum, the New York Times, Downbeat, JazzTimes and more. John has also established himself as a sought-after educator, both as Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Indiana University and as a guest clinician and soloist at schools around the world.
I had the pleasure of chatting with John ahead of the February 20th show in Madison, as John Raymond & Real Feels hits up Arts & Literature Laboratory to open doors into spots where music may not have yet found. John and I set the stage for folks who may not be familiar with him or his music and with words, he guides us through what new ears to this scene can expect in a live setting. We get led down the path that helps map out just how John has found his open mindedness towards music and his “Voice” in the jazz community (and beyond). With the release of a brand new album to support, “Live Vol. 2”, we get a little insight as to how Real Feels interpretation of a timeless classic got started, worked on and presented. All of this ties in nicely with learning how working with artists from many musical syles & genres has backed into the vision and feelings of Real Feels. As always, the best way to find out just what’s what, is to catch one or more of their shows.
Photo by: Andrea Canter
Anchor Bay, California based electronic music artist and producer Michal Menert draws breath from the world that surrounds him, transmuting daily inspiration into music that is singularly his own. Michal co-produced the chart topping Pretty Lights album “Taking Up Your Precious Time”, and it was only natural that he was the first artist to join Pretty Lights Music. His debut solo album “Dreaming of a Bigger Life” was released in 2010, followed by 2012’s mega-LP “Even If It Isn’t Right”. In winter of 2015 the highly anticipated “Space Jazz” was introduced to the world, followed by fall 2015’s debut release by his band Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics, “1”. Just this Winter, he and the Pretty Fantastics put out another ear and mind opening album, “From The Sea”. His no boundaries type approach has opened up very cool experiences and opportunities to collaborate, support, work with artists of all sorts, including Dead & Co., Mickey Hart, Bassnectar & Umphrey’s McGee are just a small sample. Committed to a community driven approach to collaborative creativity, Michal works hand in hand with producers he chooses for his own record label, Super Best Records. A dynamic and ideological producer, collaborating and working closely with a new generation of hip-hop & EDM producers, this is one artist who is dedicated to bringing a new musical vision to life free from limitation.
I had a chance to talk briefly (we had a wacky phone connection) with Michal ahead of his February 20th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We got into what one who doesn’t know could in a nutshell believe they are getting into when they walk into this show. We talk about how the music he creates has been influenced by the world around him and who helped open his ears to it all and I can’t help but notice that they way Michal approaches his creation of music, is very similar to how I go about trying to proGram greenarrowradio. We did get a little time to talk about the creation of latest album, “From The Sea” and how it went from the seed to the exploding flower of sonic goodness, I have been fortunate to share with he listeners.
Photo by: Bad Astronaut Photography
This world needs a healing force, a soothing voice and Ugochi, a warm spirit who has become extremely versatile and creative with the range of music she is able to perform. Her musical interests span all corners of the globe. She fuses her choreo-poetic style of spoken word with her unique singing ability in order to generate a more powerful word sound attraction and that sound has been described as “lively, energetic music that makes your feet move and heart think”. As a multidisciplinary artist, she has written a one woman show about her families immigrant experience as well as written poems that have been honored in an international anthologies. She has also been saluted by internationally renowned literary organizations and has shared the stage with several established (and diverse) artists such as Common, John Legend, Femi Kuti, Edwin McCain, Seun Kuti, Maxi Priest, Malik Yusef, Umphrey’s McGee, Blitz the Ambassador, Yellowman, Queen Ifrika, Shaggy, Queen Ifrika, Vieux Farka Toure, Bushman, Fatoumata Diawara, Stephen Marley, King Sunny Ade, and Me’Schell Ndegeocello. The music of Ugochi is rich with poetic harmonies and uplifting ideas and has helped bring her tomany lands around the world. In 2003, legendary Chicago diva Chaka Khan saluted the emerging artist as “someone who will have a long life in the music business,” when she was selected as a semi-finalist on Star Search. Ugochi also wrote the only original song for the critically acclaimed “Red Hot and Riot Compilation,” in honor of the late Fela Kuti and global AIDS awareness. The song, “So Be It”, was performed by R&B star Kelis.
I had the honor of spending a little conversation time with Ugochi to discuss her upcoming event in Madison on February 16th at Café CODA, where she along with the Afro Soul Ensemble will be spreading the good deep feelings and positive energies. We get into what that experience miGht feel like for a newcomer to her scene. We dive mind first into what makes her spirit open to the ideas and rewards of collaboration in all communities of the arts, with a spectrum artists and bands from all walks of life. We touch on the importance and influence of Chicago, social-justice and the give back of music and the arts, and how it all fits in in the year 2019. I do enjoy knowing how artists put together a collection of their works into an album form, so we dissect her latest release, “Love Shot”, which features friends of the program Mr. Tony Allen and the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Her eclectic and versatile nature shines through when asked which artists/album/songs she may choose if locked in a room with a 6 CD changes for a day. I’d like to be a fly with big ears on those walls.
Hailed by Downbeat for its “deft analysis of choice repertoire,” and by the Chicago Reader for its “diversity of approaches to all kinds of source material,” the JOE POLICASTRO TRIO is Chicago-based alternative jazz trio led by bassist Joe Policastro features guitarist Dave Miller and drummer Mikel Avery. While firmly rooted in jazz, the band’s open-minded, inclusive nature draws upon a wide array of musical styles and sources while still keeping the aesthetic of an acoustic trio intact. “Nothing Here Belongs” (JeruJazz Records) marks the fourth release by the band. The new release follows in the wake of “West Side Story Suite” (2013), “POPS!” (2016), and “Screen Sounds” (2017), all of which highlighted the trio’s ability to remake unlikely songs in its own raw, highly idiosyncratic fashion. The new release, by contrast, for the first time showcases the trio’s captivating body of original music, while also including characteristically bold arrangements of other artists music. True bands feel like a rarity in jazz these days, especially ones who hone their craft as consistently as this one does. In addition to their long-running thrice weekly residency at Pops For Champagne in the Chicago, the band has been extensively playing together throughout the US and Canada having even performed for President Barack Obama. As sidemen, Joe Policastro (Jeff Hamilton, Pat and Debby Boone, Phil Woods, Diane Schuur), Dave Miller (Clarice Assad, Patricia Barber, Algernon), and Mikel Avery (Joshua Abrams, Theaster Gates, Rob Mazurek) have shared the stage with a wide array of musicians but dedicate collectively to this trio. Whether highlighting the original music of its members, re-contextualizing modern music, or performing jazz classics of the likes of Thelonious Monk, Chico Hamilton, or Charles Lloyd, the trio readily displays its singular approach, sound, texture, and simultaneity.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Joe ahead of the Trio’s February 9th date at Café CODA in Madison. We get into what an audience at this event can expect from the performance with open minds and ears attached. We take a deeper dive into the new album, “Nothing Here Matters” and how it grew from the seed of an idea into the bold flower that is now available for the world to digest. We ebb and flow around improvisational skills of each member and how it works so well bringing them toGether,and how the music on one of their albums builds and potentially strays even during a live event. I enjoyed listening to how Joe listens to and feels music, we have similar ways about us and I hope with any of the trio’s releases and/or going out to check them in a live setting, you might just find the same to be true.
Beat-driven. Employing heavy elements of funk and soul, Paris Monster closes the gaps between synth-pop & garage; between modern detail and old-school grit. Solid earth. Soaring soundscapes. A mass of noise. Volatility. Vocal singularity. In fall of 2017 they began recording their first full length LP, set to be released in 2018. The album will solidify their dirty, glitchy, lyric-centered, groove-based sound, and will be a milepost in their search for a focused and flexible musical approach. The elements of funk and soul join with lyrical themes of bygone eras in rural settings, characters lost, and mortality confronted. Love achieved, and denied. Americana. Themes in stark contrast to the pounding grooves and electronic mayhem, creating depths and dimensions that could have been otherwise achieved only by dropping a modular synth in the corn fields of central New York or the woods of Connecticut. And maybe that’s exactly what happened. And then the album dropped.
I had the chance to chat with this diverse duo, Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly of Paris Monster about their brand new release, “Lamplight”. We got into how the album got it’s wings to soar, and how this duo got it’s beginnings. We speak about their upcoming gigs with a Madison funky favorite, Turkuaz and what these cats might potentially share with my listeners if they were given the opportunity to take over the proGrmaming of greenarrowradio. I have a feeling if you check out their live show, I will receive tons of thank you cards in the mail. Go ahead. Test that.
Photo By Samuel Fava
On his new and first solo record, the soon to be released, “OFF AT 11”, recording artist and Chicago native now Nashvillian, JD SIMO wants you to know that above all things, what matters most to him is that music should be honest. The gifted artist more than offers this in a psychedelic, free-flowing, dynamic soundscape that exemplifies just that… Honesty. This album spreads out with acid rock, traditional blues, folk, soul, free form jazz, and the never-ceasing desire to improvise pulses from this collection in a mind bending, kaleidoscope of sound, energy and vibe. With influences as diverse as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Captain Beefheart, Miles Davis and The Allman Brothers to blues guitarists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and BB King, this young artist, is taking the listener on a musical journey using LOVE as the guideposts. The recording of this rocking, blues driven, electric tour de force, was recorded over a three day period in the summer of 2018. Recording during a brief break in touring including JD’s first shows as a newly cultivated member of Phil Lesh and Friends, JD and his band recorded these musically dense and inspiring tracks in a “groovy space” to lay down something authentic, filled with fun and NO edits, NO tricks.
I had the complete pleasure of talking with JD ahead of his February 6th show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. We dive into the creation of his first solo album and how he feels he has grown and adapted as an artist in this wacky world. We talk about how the time spent with such real people, real artists as friends of the proGram, Mr. Tommy Emmanuel, Warren Haynes and of course his time working with Phil Lesh. We get into how the opportunity to work with Phil went down and maybe even lead you to the possibility of another collaboration with this infamous bass player of the legendary Grateful Dead. We really touch a special spot to both of us I think when we tap into how JD picture love as a benchmark in 2019. Cool Cat, great new album and a live event to back it all up. Check this chat out.
JD Simo at Daryl’s House – Photo by Rick Pauline
Quannum and Solesides co-founder, and Grammy nominated MC, Lateef the Truth Speaker has joined forces with acclaimed Bay Area DJ and producer Jah Yzer and the multi-talented musician and reggae artist Winstrong, to showcase the cross roads of reggae and hip-hop on their newest project “Roots & Tings”. The new music draws deeply and respectfully from the history of both genres while pushing a new vibe to create powerful and provocative tracks. Roots & Tings will roll out singles monthly throughout 2019 with Quannum Records. Each release will be accompanied by original artwork, limited edition t-shirts from aspiring designers and will be available on both vinyl 45’s and digitally, everywhere you can stream. Until embarking on the “Roots & Tings” project, the Bay Area based artists, Lateef, Jah Yzer and Winstrong have known each other separately for more than ten years. Coming together for this project a collaboration was immediately born as they clicked effortlessly over a relatively unstructured creative process on the new project.
I had the opportunity to take a conference call with all three artists about this latest sonic blend and we get into the process of how this collaboration came toGether, how each artists found their place to add their own skillz to the project and how social justice is a big part of the give back that this AND all music can provide. The way they are rolling this project out gives each chunk of the album it’s own personality and visual effects to provide every note an opportunity to reach each listener. Featuring artwork from incarcerated artists and youth apprentices making the clothing, this music provides a chance for each, every and all. They have taken the stories of the past, mixed them with the voice of today and taken what was back to what it is.
Billy Childs is a versatile improvisational jazz pianist and composer whose talents have been recognized with over ten Grammy nominations and a Guggenheim Fellowship award. Mr. Childs has performed with several influential jazz artists including J.J. Johnson and Joe Henderson before landing a deal with Wyndam Records in 1988. He subsequently released Take For Example, This…, the first of four critically-acclaimed albums for the label. Mr. Childs acknowledges legends like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock as his early jazz influences, and attributes his love of composition to classical composers such as Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky. This broad range of influences results in his own “neoclassical” style which crosses musical boundaries. Over the course of his versatile career, Childs has collaborated with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, and the Kronos Quartet. He oversaw the Grammy-winning project The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan by Diane Reeves in 2000.
I had the honor of spending a little time with Mr. Childs ahead of his upcoming performance as The Wisconsin Union Theater welcomes Billy Childs and the UW Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, February 9th at 8:00pm at the Play Circle. Mr. Childs will join the UW Jazz Orchestra on stage for an exciting opening act. We discuss what can be expected from the event, including this unique opening appearance with our local jazz orchestra. We get into how the the 2018 Grammy Award winning Best Jazz Instrumental Album, “Rebirth” came together and how he finds his place in the space of artists like Sting and the Kronos Quartet. This week, he has been taking part in yet another musical exploration with students as he is in residence at Manhattan School of Music, so we make sure to find out what has been going into the week working as/on several projects, with fresh new artists.
The McCoury brothers- Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) – were born into the bluegrass tradition. Talk about a source abundant and pure: their father, friend of the proGram, Del McCoury, is among the most influential and successful musicians in the history of the genre. Years on the road in the Del McCoury Band honed their knife-edge chops, and encouraged the duo to imagine how traditional bluegrass could cut innovative pathways into 21st century music. With fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar, they assembled a group that could take what they had in their DNA, take what traditions they learned and heard, and push the music forward. In fact, the band became the only group to have each of its members recognized with an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for their instrument at least once. There were peers, too, that could see bluegrass as both historic and progressive. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Allman Brothers Band, improv-rock kings Phish, and jamband contemporary Keller Williams were just a few that formed a mutual admiration society with the ensemble. Their concerts became can’t-miss events, whether headlining historic venues or as festival favorites, drawing the love and respect of a growing fanbase craving their eclectic repertoire. At the 2016 edition of DelFest, an annual gathering of the genre’s best aptly named for the McCoury patriarch, the band delivered the take-away highlight. So arrives the long-awaited, self-titled debut album from the quintet. A brilliantly executed set overflowing with inventive style, stellar musicianship, and, of course, plenty of burnin’ grass, the 14-song collection is a true culmination of their decades-long journey. From the headwaters of Bill Monroe and the waves of Jerry Garcia to a sound both rooted and revolutionary, soulful and transcending that belongs only to the Travelin’ McCourys.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Rob McCoury ahead of the Travlin’ McCoury‘s show on the 25th of January at the Barrymore Theater in Madison with the Jeff Austin Band. Together, they are calling this event, Grateful Ball. We spend a little time getting into what attendees can expect from that show. We talk about the creation process of the new album, shall I say the new Grammy nominated album….yes, I shall. We talk about how the Grateful Dead became a part of the lives of the McCoury brother’s lives including how the met and hung with Jerry Garcia after their father introduced them. The big take away for me was how the music of it all, the scenes they have been exposed to, the then and the now of Bluegrass music and the future path that they are at many times, in the front of the line leading the way. Rob lets us know if he was ever surprised by another band members song call out in the moment and what song he wouldn’t mind being stuck in a room with and why.
Scott Sharrard is probably best known as the lead guitarist and bandleader for the late Gregg Allman, in The Gregg Allman Band. But his personal artistic journey, which includes singing, songwriting, producing and arranging, began long before he first teamed up with the rock icon. A prolific songwriter and talented singer, he has also released several soul-influenced albums of his own including three with his first band, The Chesterfields, followed by well, now his fifth solo album. A Grammy nominated musician, Scott has been called “one of the best Blues/R&B guitarists in the country” by Billboard Magazine. The Longtime writing partner, musical director, and guitarist for Gregg, has just released his fifth studio album in 2018, the beautiful “Saving Grace” came out late September on We Save Music.
As always, the circle of the Allman family was once again very welcoming as I had the chance to sit down with Scott for a quick conversation about the new release. Considering it is the end of the year and people are putting out their Top Albums of 2018 list, we thought this an appropriate time to get into it. We discuss the making of the album from seed to flower, working with the international treasure Taj Mahal on what is at this moment is known to be Gregg’s final song, (this alone makes listening to this conversation worth it) and we even get into a little bit about how the past led to the present. From our Midwest connections, we go from Scott’s formidable years to the very day a brand new artistic and animated video comes out for the title track of “Saving Grace”. There’s a lot in this conversation to wrap your head around might I suggest you listen to the album and the interview toGether to get the complete feel. While I could listen to the album a whole bunch, I know I could talk to Scott about the music, the scene and the people for much longer.
Gabe Burdulis is a 22 year-old singer-songwriter based out of Nashville. His roots began in Madison, Wisconsin where he spent most of his time playing at bars, staying out way too late for school nights. He began teaching himself guitar after he first picked up his fathers guitar in 7th grade. Writing and performing became a deep passion early on, he started playing in multiple bands locally including playing guitar for “The Funky Drummer”, Clyde Stubblefield in his late years. He moved to Nashville at the age of 18 without knowing a soul. Since then, he has played iconic venues like the Bluebird Cafe, performed with Grammy Winning band Los Lobos, and even caught the attention of Sheryl Crow when she attended his bands show in Nashville…..followed by a post on her social media saying “They blew me away! Check them out!!”. While he usually mixes bluesy roots and a love for pop melodies, Gabe’s music sits somewhere in a folk/americana style with a flare to stretch out at times. His lyrics are meaningful and evoke emotion ranging beyond love songs with a strong acoustic driven feel. His live shows are energetic yet intimate whether it be solo or with a band. Set to release a new EP on December 18th and head out on a string of national tour dates, there are some new stylin’s heading your way from Gabe Burdulis in 2019!
I had a chance to catch up with Gabe leading up tp his December 18th Holiday Event at the High Noon Saloon with his band, The Mascot Theory and Lost Lakes. We get into what a newcomer to Madison’s music scene can expect when these artists get toGether to put it out there, we talk about the new release set to be available on that evening and we even dive into the opportunity to be a part of the scene of the legend himself, Mr Clyde Stubblefield. The sincerity within this conversation I think spells it ot a little about why people are talking about Gabe AND his music, not just his music.