Como De Allstars with Robert Walter

“Como De Allstars” is the title track from a surprise Greyboy Allstars studio album which dropped July 3. Self-described boogaloo revivalists, the band’s first new music in seven years captures a relentless Caribbean funk groove buoyed by an inspired message of unity: “Surviving in a bitter world…divided, confused by the states…united, come on friends we’re gonna make it brighter.” The quintet initially formed in 1994 to provide a live band alternative to the rare groove DJs who were spinning records from the dusty catalogs of labels like Blue Note and Prestige, as well as, the lighter funk of English acid jazzers playing to loops and samples. Comprised by saxophonist Karl Denson, guitarist Elgin Park, organist Robert Walter, bassist Chris Stillwell and drummer Aaron Redfield, Greyboy Allstars debuted with the revelatory and electrifying LP, ‘West Coast Boogaloo,’ featuring James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley as a special guest. Coinciding with the band’s forthcoming new album, reissue label Light In The Attic Records will deliver a fresh pressing of the long out of print ‘West Coast Boogaloo’ on August 7. Greyboy Allstars have slowed their recording and touring schedule down considerably over the years as demand has grown for individual members in other capacities: Mike Andrews (aka Elgin Park) is renowned for his film scores, including most recently ‘The King of Staten Island,’ Karl Denson tours as the saxophonist in The Rolling Stones, as well as his own Tiny Universe, Robert Walter plays keys for Phish bassist Mike Gordon and fronts his own ensemble 20th Congress, while rhythm section Chris Stillwell and Aaron Redfield are in demand sessions players whose resumes stretch from Elton John to Charli XCX. The magic between the five musicians returns instantly, however, when reunited—as ‘Como De Allstars’ so convincingly displays.

I had a chance to catch up with Robert Walter to talk about the new album and the re-issue of one of my favorite Greyboy albums. We do some comparing and contrasting, diggin’ into a few tracks and the growth of the players and the band, and just how it is they are able to get all the cylinders firing as if they never skipped a beat. We learn a little about what Robert has been doing with his “lockdown” time, kids…don;t be surprised it has everything to do with fundamentals and we build a set-list toGether which will lead the listeners to want him there more than they want me. I have to admit, Robert is one of those players for me that when I hear him, I know it is him and my joy level instantly rises. Just like when I tune into this new release.

Blues Comin’ On with Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker is one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. He is a four-time Blues Music Award winner and 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who has appeared on multiple Grammy-winning albums. He is known worldwide as one of the genre’s top musical trailblazers—a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist. The New York Times raves, “Walker is a singer with a Cadillac of a voice. He delivers no-nonsense, gutsy blues. His guitar solos are fast, wiry and incisive, moaning with bluesy despair.” Rolling Stone simply calls him “ferocious.” Billboard writes: “His playing blows all over the map…gutbucket blues, joyous gospel, Rolling Stones-style rock crunch, and aching R&B. Walker’s guitar playing is fine and fierce.”. Joe won the 2016 Blues Foundation Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year award at the Blues Foundation Awards ceremony in Memphis. The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest accolade afforded blues music performers. The annual Blues Music Awards ceremony is the premier event for blues professionals, musicians, and fans from all over the world.

I had the chance to catch up with this living leGend to talk abut his brand new album, “Blues Comin’ On” out on Cleopatra Records. We got into the how the album went from an idea, a few lines of a poem to the moments of now when I prepare to give the listeners a deep dive in. It is always nice to be able to see backwards with an artists on how they became the person they are, the shapes and molds that they took on along the way, and Joe and I discuss how he became such an open-eared and open-minded artists. Real cool stuff. Just like the new album, there’s more to it then the blues, but he is truly one of the fine-tuners of that blues language.

Blues For A King With Shirley King

It’s not always easy being the child of a legend. Being the blues-singing daughter of the great Mr. B.B. King has earned Shirley King, B.B.’s eldest daughter, the title “Daughter of the Blues.” She takes the notoriety in stride because she is an outstanding singer and performer in her own right and capable of singing any kind of music that comes her way. Shirley’s newest and best album yet, Shirley King: Blues for a King, was released on Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records on Friday, June 19. From traditional blues to gospel to funky R&B to smooth soul, Shirley defies genre and her singing and stage antics never fails to excite her growing number of fans worldwide.

I had the pleasure, and I mean it was a hoot to catch up with Shirley recently to talk about the creation of the new album. She sings the praises of Cleopatra Records who knew she could…and she did. We talk about some of the song selections and how some of them were even a big surprise to her. She reflected back on some of the advice her leGend of a father gave her, and we even find time to hear a few life lessons learned through experience and being the daughter of Mr. B.B. King. Shirley remembers heading to Madison and playing one of our main Blues festivals some years ago and how she’d love to get back and do it again as a headliner. After people check out this new album, I am sure once the path is cleared, many of the doors like that will open right up. I have to say, it is always great to catch up with the cool people, but you’ll want to listen to this whole chat to understand the fun that Shirley brings to all she does.

Big Smoke With Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm Funk is a horn-powered, percussion-fueled sonic and visual assault. Over seventeen years of hard funking the band has burned up stages on four continents, released six studio albums and received two Juno Award nominations. And this ride isn’t about to slow down, they just released their 7th studio album, Big Smoke today. The eleven tracks get right to the roots of what Five Alarm Funk is all about: epic, intense arrangements, heavy groove and a ton of fun. For all the honing of their studio craft, the the groups epic live shows is still what defines the band. The sweat-drenched concerts are infused with an intense spirit of fun that breaks down barriers between band and audience and moves both into a manic dance party. Wild costumes, props, and choreography complement the seriously tight arrangements and genre-mashing grooves. That live show has taken Five Alarm Funk on dozens of North American coast to coast tours, performing at over 100 festivals in the last three years alone. The band has also begun to break ground abroad, with performances in Taiwan, Mexico, and a performance for international peacekeeping forces in Mali.

I had a chance to catch up with drummer, vocalist, and band leader Tayo Branston to talk about this latest release, Big Smoke out now on Ropeadope Sur. We get into the seed to flower of the new collection of tunes, how it came to have both the leGend, Bootsy Collins and Leo P of Too Many Zooz appear on the record and what’s the what as we await a clearer path through this current pandemic. To me, as we find ourselves in a new world, this is just the type of sound and groove to help us all meet on the virtual funk bridge and “shake that thang” a bit.

Rolling Stone: Life And Death Of Brian Jones

Dudeski/Chip Baker Films is proud to announce the official release date of their latest project “Rolling Stone Life and Death of Brian Jones”, a Danny Garcia film. It is the first documentary about the founder and original leader of The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone Life and Death of Brian Jones is the 5th acclaimed music documentary for Spanish filmmaker Danny Garcia. His other releases include “The Rise and Fall of The Clash”; “Looking for Johnny”, about New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders; “Sad Vacation”, a film chronicling the final months in New York City of the Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious & his girlfriend Nancy Spungen and Danny’s most recent release “Stiv: No Compromise, No Regrets” about Stiv Bators, legendary frontman of the iconic Ohio band the Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church.

Film Background:

In the mid 1960s, Brian Jones emerged as “the face” and poster boy of the Bohemian Swingin’ London scene, topping the charts with The Rolling Stones and dating model/actress Anita Pallenberg. However, his excessive lifestyle and his reputation as “the original bad boy of Rock & Roll” was to cost him dearly. As the scene descended into the acid ridden year of 1967 so did Brian. Targeted by the authorities and media, he spiraled out of control, losing both Anita and the respect of the Stones. Two years later, Brian was found at the bottom of his swimming pool, the verdict: death by misadventure. During the last 50 years many theories have emerged, claiming that Brian was murdered and that it was covered up at high level, as this film discovers – the evidence for this is extremely compelling.

I had the chance to catch up with filmmaker, Danny Garcia about the project to get a sense of what prompted him to want to revisit the mysteries and confusion behind the death of Brian Jones. There is so much more to this film than that, but after watching the film, my eyes and ears have been opened up in a much different way. If you’re into the Stones, music culture, mystery and questioning authority….might I suggest you find a way to check it out. The film was released June 12th, 2020 on DVD by MVD Entertainment Group and will be available thru the following streaming services: Amazon/Dish Network/Films Media Group/Google Play/Night Flight/Sling/Xbox/Vimeo

Here is a link to the film’s trailer

Fred Hersch Live At The Village Vanguard

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is an influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades. A fifteen-time Grammy nominee, Hersch has long set the standard for expressive interpretation and inventive creativity. A revered improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist, Hersch has been proclaimed “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade” by Vanity Fair, “an elegant force of musical invention” by The L.A. Times, and “a living legend” by The New Yorker. For decades Hersch has been firmly entrenched as one of the most acclaimed and captivating pianists in modern jazz, whether through his exquisite solo performances, as the leader of one of jazz’s era-defining trios, or in eloquent dialogue with his deeply attuned duo partners. His brilliant 2017 memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, was named one of 2017’s Five Best Memoirs by the Washington Post and The New York Times.

Mr Hersch’s latest project:

Esperanza Spalding & Fred Hersch: Live at the Village Vanguard – Rough Mix EP, the five-song EP from visionary vocalist, bassist and songwriter Esperanza Spalding and iconic pianist/ composer Fred Hersch. They released the EP on Friday, May 29 exclusively for download through Bandcamp, with all proceeds benefiting the Jazz Foundation of America’s efforts to assist members of the jazz community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A live rough mix with no edits, the EP will be available for purchase only through the end of June 2020. It’s available for a minimum of $17, with additional donations encouraged on a pay-what-you-wish basis. Purchase the album here: https://esperanzaspaldingfredhersch.bandcamp.com.

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. Hersch shortly after the new EP dropped on basecamp about how the original live shows went down. He was quick to point out how different this recording will be for those who are used to hearing Esperanza Spalding playing the bass and doing her thang that-a-way. For these shows and this recording, we are treating to her vocal-stylin’s as the feature. We dive into each track with some story telling and flow, the kinds of things that take a song deeper into us. We talk about the struggles, the real and true struggles for the arts, the artists and the people who enjoy these things in their lives and how going out and getting this new EP treasure is a small step in helping support. Mr. Hersch is kind enough to let us know some of the things he has been doing to stay going in these times…adaptations, technology etc on the new/next moments ahead. Thank you for showing your support for the music you/me/we love.

Wings Of A Jetliner With Nate Lee

Nate Lee is an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award-winning instrumentalist and renowned teacher of private lessons and music camps. The overlapping landscapes of folk, bluegrass, old-time, and new acoustic music offer a wide field to hoe and singer/mandolinist Nate ably covers every bit of that ground. Tuneful lopes, the muscular bounce of ‘grass, the sparkling charm of Grisman-Rice inspired “Dawg” music, and more are all in his comfort zone and he moves between them with uncommon ease. Nate is known as the kind of musician who is able to put his own stamp on whatever he plays and his forthcoming album, “Wings of a Jetliner”, brings that home and is set for independent release June 12 on his own Adverb Records.

I had the chance to take a little time to chat with Nate about “Wings Of A Jetliner”. We got into the parts to the whole when it comes to the band-mates chosen to work with AND the output they came up with. We dissect a couple of tunes and even take a moment to find out which track off the album Nate would choose to build a set around and then what he would add to it from other artists or albums. I could tell right there that he and I would have a blast trying to create set-lists in the moment. “Wings Of A jetliner” is one of those alums that immediately caught my ear (like what a David Grisman sound would do to bend my ear) and not only do I look forward to getting deeper into it, but now I have another artist to bookmark to pay attention to down the line. Check it all out for yourself. Start with out chat.

Sister Dynamite with Alice Bag

Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. Alice was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first bands to form during the initial wave of punk in Los Angeles. The Alice Bag Band was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She is the author of the critically acclaimed books ‘Violence Girl’ and ‘Pipe Bomb For the Soul.’ Her self-titled 2016 debut album received critical acclaim and was named one of the best albums of 2016 by AllMusic. Her second album, Blueprint, was named one of the Best Albums of 2018 by NPR and the Los Angeles Times. Her 3rd album, Sister Dynamite, was released in April 2020.

I had the honor of checking in with Alice about this brand new album, Sister Dynamite on In The Red Recordings. We get into the creation of, the inspirations behind the sound (including how working with friends of the program, Fea helped direct some of the way she hoped her band could produces/create/be the sounds. That part of the conversation with someone that certainly helped open my musical mind was/is a real treat to get to be apart of. We touch on the who she is right now, and how the others can “eat it” if they don’t like it. As I was letting he know how I think this was a perfect time to release these songs (I meant these songs have great meaning to a listener in THESE moment of THIS now), she put me in my place reminding me that she cannot go out and tour them and get the scene of the music into people’s faces. Madison would love to have her back as soon as possible, I am sure of it. Listen in to find out what song off the new album she’d choose to build a setlist off of and what other bands she’d likely add to that set. I even sneak in a mention of Madison’s own The Hussy and Woodstock NYs The Bobby Lees. Did I mention, LEGEND?

Sister Dynamite, cover art by Gronk. 2020 In The Red Records

Flyin’ Right With Zev Feldman of Resonance Records

Resonance Records is a non-profit jazz record label with a mission. Devoted to preserving jazz & discovering the rising stars of tomorrow. Resonance is a division of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a California 501(c)3 non-profit Corporation created to discover the next jazz stars – passionate, brilliant musicians from around the world. We assist and support them through recording, performance opportunities, and distribution of their art. Every Resonance CD or Video DVD is produced without compromise, to create and preserve our artists’ jazz legacy. Resonance Records was founded in 2007 by George Klabin. Klabin, with over two decades of experience as a producer and audio engineer, has recorded a full spectrum of jazz heavyweights for a wide variety of major labels. These include Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, James Moody, Illinois Jacquet, Keith Jarrett, Albert Ayler, Charles Lloyd, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and many more. As owner of the legendary New York recording studio Sound Ideas, Klabin was the overseer of sessions for top stars like James Brown and Quincy Jones as well as pure jazz giants such as Sonny Stitt, Tommy Flanagan and Archie Shepp. Today, they are releasing a teaser from the 2019 Nat King Cole boxed set, “Straighten Up and Fly Right – The Best of Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)”. This Best-of-the-Box digital compilation includes 21 tracks including one a previously-unissued transcription version of “This Side Up” not on the boxed set. 15 of these 21 songs have never been available digitally before in any version.

I had the chance to reconnect with my pal Zev Feldman of Resonance Records about this latest treasure from Resonance. We get into the original 7 CD/10 LP boxed set and some of the efforts of the team that went into its creation and how that helped pump of this latest “Best Of” compilation that comes out today. We discuss the mission of Resonance as a company and the work that he is charged with taking care of (it sounds like my dream job BTW). I am always happy to hear as much as I can (whether in the music or in the story-telling) about Wes Montgomery, so we talk a bit about a couple of projects surrounding him and a few other artists associated with the great work on Resonance. And not only that, but Zev was kind enough to clue us in to some new projects and strategies, sure to please all music lovers out there.

Sam Quartin of The Bobby Lees

The Bobby Lees are a bone-shaking garage rock-n-punk band out of Woodstock NY. Their new record Skin Suit was produced by underground punk rock legend and friend of greenarrowradio, Mr. Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion (and so many other great bands) and will be released on Alive Naturalsound Records on a new date of June 17th.

In the past year, they’ve opened up for The Chats, The Black Lips, Boss Hog, Shannon & The Clams, The Nude Party, and Murphy’s Law.They will be on tour in the US and Europe throughout 2020. Their sound mixes classic garage-punk hits with raw and emotive storytelling so pay attention, get a head start and find them when you can get out and see for yourself.

Lineup:

Sam Quartin – Vocals/Guitar
Kendall Wind – Bass
Macky Bowman – Drums
Nick Casa – Guitar

I had the chance to catch up with vocalist/guitarist of The Bobby Lees, Sam Quartin about the brand new album. We get into a few of the tracks especially their gritty-ass take on another friend of the proGram, Mister Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man”. We find out how Jon Spencer got involved in this project, and what a story it is and since we cant go see them out live right now, (and they were due in Madison in the Spring) we find out what Sam likes best about the live shows and how they are different form the album and just what it was like opening up for the mighty Murphy’s Law. I have to say, I listen to a lot of music, all styles do it for me and “Skin Suit” is high on top of my listening list, with an “I can’t wait until they make it to Madison still in the very front of my going out mind…or is that going out of my mind?

Jazz Is Dead 001 With Adrian Younge

Adrian Younge is the next generation of soul music. A self-taught musician and recording engineer who has dedicated his life to the study of classic soul music, he finds himself at the center of a new soul renaissance with a vision for pushing the boundaries of the music itself. Beginning in 1998, he taught himself how to play various instruments to fully realize his vision; a soundtrack to a fictional film titled “Venice Dawn.” Recording the album over the course of the next year, he developed a sound that is equal parts Morricone, Air, and Portishead. Self-released in 2000, the moody, synth-drenched album was entirely composed, arranged, played, and recorded by Younge himself. Eight years later, he would find himself at the center of the Black Dynamite phenomenon. Instrumental in the film’s development, he not only edited the film, but also composed the original score, which was hailed as a modern blaxploitation masterpiece, solidifying himself as a force to be reckoned with, composing music for the accompanying cartoon series for Adult Swim. In 2009, he envisioned a new sound that would revisit his earlier, more baroque instrumental work, and mesh it together with the deep, gritty soul of Black Dynamite, releasing material under the moniker Venice Dawn. Something About April (2009) was a heavy, dark mix of psychedelic soul, and cinematic instrumentals, with hip-hop aesthetics. In spring of 2013, he released “Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics” (Wax Poetics Records), cowritten with William Hart, as well as Twelve Reasons to Die, a concept album with Ghostface Killah on RZA’s imprint, Soul Temple. Since then, he has launched his own record label (Linear Labs), and completed work with Souls of Mischief’s, a sequel to Twelve Reasons To Die, and produced albums for Bilal, and A Tribe Called Quest alumn, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, with whom he is in a real dynamic duo “The Midnight Hour” with…as well as a brand new project, Jazz Is Dead.

I had the honor of checking in with Adrian about the latest project Jazz Is Dead (the first album out is a teaser of what’s to come titled simply 001). We dive into the project, the new label associated with it and how the path to working with many jazz legends, whether from the day or in the now has been getting paved. To me, Adrian is an open-minded individual who wants to keep making the best of music that can be had from where it was at a time to how the conversation can be enhanced in the now for the future generations to take with them as they keep building on. It was an honor just to get to listen to this music, so getting a chance to connect with Adrian, a person I see as a visionary and pioneer, to find out more about how it all went down, is going down and what’s to come, was yet another reason why music is the bridge I try to help build.

Across The Universe with Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola‘s ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony has been at the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has spanned four decades and earned him critical accolades, three gold albums and more than six million in record sales worldwide. A bona fide guitar hero, perennial poll-winner, and prolific composer, he has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic Guitar Trio featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing along with the soulfulness and the inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond the guitar aficionado set. A retrospective of Al Di Meola’s nearly 50 year acclaimed career is expressed through his latest Ear Music release of March 2020 “ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” with his virtuosic arrangements and creative interpretations of 14 Beatles songs with lightning speed electric guitar orchestrations balanced with lavish acoustic arrangements.

I had the honor of scratching off one of those bucket list items while catching up with Mr. Al Di Meola about the new album, “Across The Universe”. We talk about how he turned songs we all know deeply into brand new things, while keeping certain aspects and “Di Meola-fying” other parts. We find out who was harder to work with, Randy Breaker or his daughter and we walk through how “Dear Prudence” went from the one we know into the one that shows up on the new release. I hope you all get to cross off some things you have always hoped to do during these new kind of times, and while you do so, check out this chat and the new album.

The Notorious Burrito Brothers

The Burrito Brothers celebrate an illustrious past while serving up fresh contributions for a bright future. They continue to climb the branches of the “many tall pines” first planted in 1968. Trace the winding paths of Country and Rock & Roll back, you’ll find them there. Anyone who had a heart and ears can tell these guys are world-class musicians and songwriters with one listen. Here they are in the years, carrying on the tradition of classic late-1960s and early ’70s “Hippie Country-Rock” music, expanding its boundaries, always exploring new horizons. Country Rock’s big bang came in Los Angeles in the late ‘60s. In 1968, Ian Dunlop and Barry Tashian started The Flying Burrito Brothers. Then in 1969, with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman at the helm, the group released their classic first LP, “The Gilded Palace of Sin”. Since then the band has carried on, always evolving. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that classic LP. Gram Parsons’ original vision for the band is still going strong. “I just ran 20 red lights in his honor,” says Chris P James. At the beginning of the 1980s the band moved their base of operations from LA to Nashville. At that point the name was shortened to The Burrito Brothers. The band has remained in Nashville ever since. Now, The Burrito Brothers are right on track with a brand new release that is ready cherish the legacy it was build upon.

I had the chance to catch up with lead singer/keyboardist/harmoicaplayer/songwriter for the band, Chris P. James to discuss the brand new album “The Notorious Burrito Brothers”, released last month on The Store For Music/MVD Entertainment. We dissect the few tracks I intend on sharing with the listeners – which leads into a fascinating story behind one of the tunes (“Sometimes You Just Can’t Win”)that comes with the finding of a Gram Parsons handwritten piece. Chris reminds us of the story of the band’s travels and name/lineup changes through all the years, and that easily ties back into the sound of this new album being a reminder of its epic beGinnings in the late 60’s/early 70’s. This album has that feeling of going back there and either reliving some moments or being able to desire them in the first place.

Ready To Step Up With Tower Of Power

Since its formation in Oakland, California in 1968, Tower of Power has forged a reputation as a crack band of high achieving musicians fluent in all realms of Soul, Rock and Pop music with a sophistication and punch like that of a Jazz big band. From their first album East Bay Grease (1970) on Rock impresario Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records label (distributed by Atlantic), the interracial band became pillars and signatures of The Bay Area Music Scene that included pioneering like-minded bands such as Sly & The Family Stone, Cold Blood, Graham Central Station, The Pointer Sisters and The Sons of Champlin plus rock-oriented outfits such as Santana, Betty Davis and Journey.

Along with T.O.P.’s classic recordings, the 5-piece Tower of Power Horns – known for its power packed punch and fullness with two trumpets, two tenor saxophones plus a baritone sax on the bottom – became much in demand for studio sessions and live gigs. Among the hundreds of artists they have blessed with their presence are Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Graham Central Station, Elton John, Little Feat, Billy Preston, John Lee Hooker, Coke Escovedo, Jose Feliciano, Al Kooper, Rod Stewart, Harvey Mason, Lenny White, The Brothers Johnson, The Meters, Lee Oskar, Dionne Warwick, Melissa Manchester, Heart, Rick James, Santana, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis & The News, Paul Shaffer, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Spyro Gyra, Luther Vandross, Aerosmith, Phish, John Hiatt, Neil Diamond, P.Diddy, Bill Wyman and TV’s The Simpsons (Sing The Blues).

Most importantly, when almost all other R&B bands abandoned their horn sections as the sound of Soul music morphed into more stripped-down techno and synthesizer strains in the `80s, Tower of Power near single-handedly carried the torch for full-on 10-piece bands, often even including a conguero/percussionist. Faithful fans flocked to their concerts and purchased their new albums that kept the real soul vibe alive for decades. Indeed, the horn section is so pivotal to Tower of Power that unlike most band stage setups that have horns in the back, T.O.P.’s renowned and respected horn section is right up-front with the lead singer.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram and founding member of the mighty Tower Of Power, Mr. Emilio Castillo, just a day before the brand new album, “Step Up” is released. We dive into the family style creation of this album, how the songs were selected to complete the package and the feeling and inspiration the title track could lend out there in this time of uncertainty.

Tranceaphone from Victor DeLorenzo

Friend of the program and my brother, Victor DeLorenzo has a brand new stunner of an EP out to sharpen your senses and bring you to a place you remember, or maybe didn’t know you needed to be in. Victor is of course half of the drum and cello duo, Nineteen Thirteen (he’s the drum half) these days, but he has never stopped doing his own things, musically, artistically and humanly. When you find this new EP on one of the many platforms I am sure you find music at, you’ll immediate hear and feel a sense of that old Violent Femmes magic. That sound and feeling is the tranceaphone, I am sure of it. Victor reminds us what that instrument is, which Femmes track you might remember it from and how it lends itself on this brand new release. We get into how the idea to put out a solo effort took share, with the support and door opening from the first lady of cello, Janet Schiff. If this happens to be your first brush with his music, good for you, there is no time like now to start listening in and going back in time to catch up on anything you may have missed. With the uncertain times we are in now, there is a need to find something to fill a void and I personally think, as Victor does that you can never be alone a Tranceaphone.

Turning Over The Hourglass With Stephane Wrembel

Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django Reinhardt, Stephane Wrembel began playing guitar in his mid-teens. A Pink Floyd fan, he “spent hours learning David Gilmour’s style,” he said. “So I had a classical background in piano, a passion for rock music, and then I found out about Django. I fell in love with the very strong impressionist feel in his music.” His breakthrough came with his original composition “Bistro Fada,” a Django-influenced swinging waltz that was the theme song for Woody Allen’s 2011 Oscar®-winning film, “Midnight In Paris.” Since then, Wrembel has released five discs dedicated to Reinhardt (The Django Experiment Vol. I-IV & Live at Rochester) & recently produced the debut CD by Simba Baumgartner, Django’s great-grandson. His Django A Gogo festival, launched in 2004, has become one of the world’s most important and influential events, which includes an intensive music camp, celebrating and expanding Reinhardt’s music. In October of 2019, he released Django L’Impressionniste putting the spotlight on 17 little-known solo pieces Reinhardt recorded between 1937 & 1950. Stephane is the first and only interpreter who has performed all of these solo pieces and collected them in one definitive masterwork. It is available digitally and on double-vinyl with liner notes by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke. The Django Experiment V was released on Wrembel’s own Water Is Life Records on January 23, 2020, the 110th anniversary of the birth of Reinhardt. As with the previous “experiments,” The Django Experiment V was recorded with Wrembel and his world-class band performing live, with no headphones or tracking, in a setting conducive to improvisation with each musician pushing their own boundaries to evoke new interpretations of Reinhardt’s music as well as songs by other composers. In addition to Jensen, Cohen-Folman and Anderson, Wrembel was joined in the studio by special guests Nick Driscoll (saxophone, clarinet) and Daisy Castro (violin). Stephane has several more recordings planned for 2020. In the meantime, he and his band will continue to tour behind the release of The Django Experiment V as he prepares for Django A Gogo 2020, which will be held May 5-9 in Maplewood, N.J. & New York City.

I had the chance to catch back up with my friend, Stephane ahead of his 4/2 event in Madison at Cafe Coda. We dive into the event a little but focus a more on the album the band is touring behind, The Django Experiment V and the artists that helped make it happen. We talk people and process, plans for the later part of the year with more new music and as always, we tap into the person behind the artist to make sure Stephane is feeling the goodness of his art as an individual and how he is enjoying life, the complete version. Not only is the art of sound Stephane (and his mates) something that reaches inside of me, I feel like he is someone I’d like to spend time around the dinner table with, just hanging out.

Warna by Joey Alexander

A funny thing happened to Joey Alexander over the past five years, a whirlwind period during which he became the most brilliantly precocious talent in jazz history—that is, a renowned festival and concert-hall headliner; the youngest musician ever nominated for a Grammy Award in a jazz category; and a media favorite who’s earned a profile on 60 Minutes, a front-page profile in the New York Times and other premier coverage. As heard on WARNA, his new major-label Verve Records debut, he’s simply become one of the most expressive and thrilling pianist-composers currently at work in jazz. Alexander’s precocity can still stun concertgoers, but his music, including original work and personalized interpretations of great songs, has now taken its rightful place in the spotlight. Translating as “color” from Alexander’s native language of Bahasa, WARNA follows four Motéma Music albums that garnered the pianist three Grammy nominations and such honors as historic critics’ and readers’ poll victories in DownBeat and JazzTimes. But whereas those recordings were documents of an extraordinary young musician in development, WARNA is primarily a collection of reflective, moving new music by an experienced, confident bandleader. He arrived in New York as a lightning bolt in the spring of 2014, performing at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual fundraising gala. At the helm of a packed-out theater containing some of Manhattan’s most elite arts benefactors, he dropped jaws with a remarkably lyrical rendition of “’Round Midnight.” A standing ovation ensued, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The following spring, the New York Times wrote in an enthusiastic profile that “For a jazz pianist, the mastery entails a staggering breadth of knowledge about harmony, rhythm and orchestration, all converging in an eloquent synthesis. Joey Alexander has a handle on a good deal of that.” From there, he went on to receive three Grammy nominations, with two of Alexander’s four previous albums topping the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. His live performances have been equally celebrated. At the 58th Grammy Awards, in February of 2016, he played during both the pre-telecast and the primetime TV event. That same year, Joey also performed with Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding for the Obamas at the White House, as part of a nationally televised International Jazz Day special. In 2018, Alexander headlined Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with a 20-piece string section orchestrated and conducted by Grammy nominee Richard DeRosa. On October 18, 2019, he made his triumphant Carnegie Hall debut to a sold-out Zankel Hall crowd. Early on in Joey’s ascent, the trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center leader Wynton Marsalis said that “there has never been anyone … who could play like that at his age.” Marsalis, who essentially “discovered” Alexander via his YouTube videos and invited him to New York, was spot-on in his assessment. But today, in light of WARNA, one could extend their judgment to say that Joey Alexander continues to perform at the highest level.

I had the chance to catch up with Joey about the creation of Warna. We got into how the album grew from the seed of an idea into the flower of sound I get to share with the listeners. We talk about how the musicians that join him were either selected or how they continued the musical conversations they had started earlier. Like I told Joey offline, Warna is an album I have been really happy to advise advise my pals who may not have stumbled onto it themselves to go ahead and when you feel like you need a Sunday morning to breathe, hit play and sink in.

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band Back in Madison

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has built its reputation the long, slow, hard way. After 12 years of playing as many as 300 shows each year, Rev. Peyton, the world’s foremost country blues finger-style picker, along with the biggest little band in the country has pieced together one of the most dedicated followings out there. With all the power of a freight train, the Big Damn Band is known for its live shows. Rev. Peyton delivers guitar pyrotechnics the old fashioned way — ten fingers, a 6 string and an amp cranked at full tilt. In the country blues style, he plays the bass with his thumb, while picking the lead with his fingers at the same time. When he lifts the guitar behind his head to play there’s nothing but skill and 16 gauge nickel strings to make the sounds coming out of the speakers. Beside him on stage are just two other people. His wife, “Washboard” Breezy Peyton playing with all the nuance and percussive power of a New Orleans drum line, and keeping the train moving is Max Senteney on a lean drum kit including a 5 gallon maple syrup bucket. Together they play Peyton’s wildman country blues that’s as much ZZ Top as it is Bukka White. This is real, from the heart, handmade music made by people, for people who don’t have time for any bullshit.

I had the chance to catch up with Rev. Peyton ahead of the March 20th event in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We get deep into what a live show is like and why is is an all hands on deck type approach and mentality for each and every show. We talk about how the latest album “Poor Until Pay Day” translates that live scene into a record situation. If you have not run into this band and their music or their live scene, you’ll be really amazed how the sound of the road, and taking every chance you can turns into some fierce and fun music that is relate-able for anyone who works hard for a living.

More New Music From Jake Shimabukuro

It was nearly 15 years ago that the world first caught notice of the stunning musical artistry of Jake Shimabukuro. The young ukulele player’s gorgeous rendition of George Harrison’s classic rock ballad “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” became one of the most-watched clips on the then newly launched YouTube platform. A lavish, exhilarating feast of a performance, it signaled the emergence of a prodigiously gifted virtuoso who was redefining how the ukulele was played and heard. Few artists arrive so clearly – and singularly – talented as Jake did. Guitar Player magazine called him “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele.” And no less than Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, himself a four-string enthusiast, weighed in with this glowing assessment: “Jake is taking the instrument to a place that I can’t see anybody else catching up with him.” That’s because the Hawaii native was burning up the ground behind him. Since the release of his 2006 album, Gently Weeps, Jake has been riding a wave of breakthroughs and triumphs rare for any musician, let alone one who plays a ukulele. A tireless live performer, he’s floored audiences across the globe, appearing at music festivals as varied as Bonnaroo and the Fuji Rock Festival. He’s played with world-renowned orchestras at prestigious venues from the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House. He even performed for that rarest of audiences: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And all the while, he’s issued a string of chart-topping and award-winning albums that have challenged all notions of what is possible with a ukulele. Music fans will no doubt hail his latest effort, Trio as an highwater mark for Jake, and he regards it as a personal best. “Beyond playing the ukulele, I’ve really tried to grow as a writer,” he says. “Spending time in Nashville and being around great songwriters has inspired and influenced me, and of course, working with Nolan and Dave has brought me to musical places I never thought possible…”

Another year and another chance to catch up with what Jake is up to. We get into the creation of the new Trio album, including the artists that appear on it, the versions of a couple of classic rock covers and a very meaningful (and beautiful) traditional favorite. We talk about releasing this one on Mascot Label Group. Our conversation weaves us into deeper territory with some words on how music takes shape and changes depending on when you’re listening to it, and how maintaining balance is a key reminder. Trio is in fact, one of those albums where I can sense the growth as a person, an artist and an interpreter of sound that keeps some of then and branches off into the now while leaving room for the then. Aloha.

At The Knuckledown With Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal

Night after night at their live shows, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal leave it all on the table, bringing crowds palpably authentic music. This is a real working band; music for the people, by the people. You hear the veracity in his voice. You hear the strife of a guitar amp being pushed to its limits. You hear keyboards hammering notes home while emboldened horns soar over the top of a rhythm section akin to a freight train. The raucous funk and smooth soul emanating from the stage dutifully pays homage to the past soul giants while simultaneously charging forward, piloting themselves into the modern era. This is soul music. Josh formed Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal in 2012 in famed blues town Lincoln, Nebraska. The award-winning five-piece band includes some of the area’s most revered and accomplished musicians. Joining Josh (keyboards/vocals) is Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar), and Harrison ElDorado (drums). Inspired by the sounds of Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era, and joins forces each show with a common goal – to have the crowd dancing so much they forget even their smallest troubles. Through all the years now and the many destinations and opening for and playing with all sorts of musical talents, 2020 is bringing more tour dates and some brand new tunes to gather the people together, and help them move and groove it all away.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Josh Hoyer ahead of the February 29th show in Madison at The Knuckledown Saloon. Josh and I talk about what kinda scene will be happening whenever he and Soul Colossal roll into town. Josh really diggs coming through Madison to make music and he gives a real sweet tip of the cap to Chris and the Knuckledown crew as well as sharing that we will get to taste some of the newmusic that is in the works. We discuss the creation of one of those new tunes and find out more about the label he’s working with to put it out. Find out why Color Red, the label of another friend of this program, Mr. Eddie Roberts gets some high praise and deservedly so. And of course, if I was throwing a share a vinyl with my ears party…..it may not be a surprise what album you could expect Josh to bring to the fun.