Walking In Gratitude With Melody Trucks

After touring with her father, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train, Melody Trucks immersed herself in the increasingly rich and diverse music scene in Jacksonville, Florida. The Melody Trucks Band came together in early 2017 as she encountered each member within this extended musical family. Their individual styles and influences run the entire span of every music genre: rock, blues, jazz, funk, classical, country, thrash metal, and even world music. This has culminated in fresh and unique interpretations of iconic songs from the genre of Melody’s extended family. After Butch passed, Melody found herself letting this musical path guide her and open a door to what was already inside her. As the live events added up, The Melody Trucks Band had all its proper pieces in place and the path led into the studio for their first studio effort. “Walking In Gratitude” drops on September 29th. The proper pieces that could only build this music are:

Melody Trucks – Vocals/Percussion
West Brook – Lap Steel/Guitar/Vocals
Brady Clampitt – Guitar/Keys/Vocals
Isaac Corbitt – Harmonica/Vocals
Willis Gore – Guitar/Vocals
Shane Platten – Bass/Vocals
Shaun Taunton – Drums
Dave Murphy – Tallahassee Recording – Engineer and Co-Producer

I had a chance to reconnect with Melody to follow up on our initial conversation about getting out and playing music again. Back when we first spoke in the end of 2017, an album was merely a distant thought. And here we are.
Proudly, we get into the process of getting the pieces in the right places, the organic flow to the creation of these nine new original tracks and just how they met up with and worked with one of her father’s (The Allman Brother’s Butch Trucks) engineers & producer Finding out what one major hurdle was for this group reminded me that it’s all about the timing and the place will be like home. Now, the magic of these moments will be available soon for all of us to be a part of this musical scene and family style groove that will certainly bridge all our souls toGether. Wherever you are, you’ll be able to take a little Melody Trucks Band home with you and if luck will have it, maybe they will be heading to an area near you to get a chance to feel the songs and the band stretch out.

Photo By Michael Price

Secret Space of Dreams With Jay Blakesberg

“JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams” is a fine art, hardcover photography book of Jerry Garcia, beginning from the middle of his career with the Grateful Dead and covering the last third of his life. Signed copies of “JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams” are available now for pre-order at www.rockoutbooks.com. Pre-orders start shipping September 23, 2019. The new project will be officially released on October 15th , 2019. Jay Blakesberg is a San Francisco-based photographer, filmmaker and visual anthropologist whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Relix and many other magazines. He has worked with countless musical artists, including Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Phish, moe., Tom Waits, the Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana and, of course, the Grateful Dead to name just a few. Jay attended his first Dead show in September 1977 as a 15-year-old kid. Thirty-seven years later, he went on to become the official Fare Thee Well photographer for the band’s final five shows. “Secret Space of Dreams”is his 15th coffee table book of music photography.

This marks the fourth time Jay and I have made some time to discuss his projects. While they all have been great body’s of work, this new one really is close to my heart (thru my eyes and ears) with the focus being Jerry Garcia. In “Jerry Garcia: Secret Space of Dreams”, we get all Jerry images and many great tales and quotes and an insiders look into what many never get to or got it see. John Mayer writes a moving foreword, with friend of the program David Gans dives deep into the character and charisma of the mythical non-frontman, frontman in his introduction and Dave Schools muses on the man, myth and legend portrayed in the pages of the photographic biography during his afterword. He thoughtfully reflects on Jerry’s ability to “display his own frailty in the service of the song,” and to connect with the audience as participants in the performance. Jay’s innate ability to capture Garcia’s magic on film is within the book’s 208 pages, he shares 139 photographs of Jerry spanning nearly 20 years­­, September 2nd, 1978 (at Giants Stadium) through the April 1995 making of the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” music video. As always, Jay’s work is not just for Deadheads or Jam band freaks, his work let’s you into the life and times of an individual, and this one certainly has an important lace within the attics of my life.

The Budos Band Giving It To Madison

With over two decades of playing together since their early days in Staten Island, The Budos Band have have left their signature on five studio albums, a raucous live show that feels like the best party in town. The music has taken them across four continents and an unbreakable musical kinship among its nine members, that easily spreads & shares a fun family feeling like a smile eases onto a happily surprised face. Their sound has evolved since their Afro-soul beginnings, but no matter how many new influences get mixed in and layered on over the years, they remain deeply in sync, the hosts of the block party and a cornerstone in what’s good art that’s brand new.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Mr. Jared Tankel ahead of The Budos Band‘s show on September 20th at the Majestic Theatre here in Madison.. Jared and I get into the deliverable goods to be expected at their upcoming show (for those who are newcomers to their scene). We deep dive into the the groups brand new release, “V”, and how it was a very different road to recording from the years earlier. Jared will be/is on baritone sax, so we talk about the road to being “Bari” cool for him, and how the vice of this instrument speaks to the two of us. So….what would Jared choose to air if building a set for greenarrowradio? Which song off the new album would he start with? These questions are answered in our conversation.

Photo by: Leslie Kalohi

Charlie Wooton Project’s Blue Basso

Charlie Wooton and I go back a ways now. I have covered many of his projects over the years and when you get that kind of longevity, the feeling of pride gets shared when something really truly special happens. With the latest release, “Blue Basso”, I believe that moment is here. When I first met up with Charlie, he was based out of Atlanta and formed the progressive dance band Zydefunk while maintaining his ‘The Charlie Wooton Project’ for his more experimental cross-generic work combining jazz,rock, blues and world music. During this period he played with a diverse group of musicians including Count M’Butu, Oliver Wood, Donny McCormick, Sean Costello, Grant Green Jr., Jeff Sipe, Rev. Jeff Moser and Willie Green. Home called and Charlie headed back to Louisiana where he has become a sought after sideman with some of the best ear-opening talent from the area, including Bonerama, Sonny Landreth, Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, Cyril Neville, Chief Monk Boudreaux, New Orleans Suspects, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and so many more. As the bassist for Royal Southern Brotherhood over a four year period Charlie recorded four CDs and wrote several of their tunes. I covered Charlie’s ZabaDuo project with percussionist Rafael Pereira, which explored the world of Brazilian music, and led to the Charlie Wooton Project’s Zabadodat. Around 2015 Charlie joined the New Orleans Suspects, replacing founding member and friend of the proGram, Mr. Reggie Scanlan. All along, Charlie’s desire to honor one of the gods of bass, Mr. Jaco Pastorious. I think with Blue Basso, he has started to stretch his fingers and abilities to write and create into the same language that Jaco was speaking.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Charlie about the creation of Blue Basso from the ideas to the sound stories I get to share with the listeners. Charlie gives major props to the many people who helped make this vision into a musical reality. From, Doug Wimbish to Eric McFadden….Arsene DeLay to Daniel Groover, the list of contributors is as relevant as the music. It’s my belief that these songs could not have been made so brilliantly without the right pieces. Charlie and I discuss what role friend of the proGram, Samantha Fish had in the process as this new release is put out on her Wild Heart Records label.

Rockin’ Forward with Nikki Hill

Independence has always come easy for vocalist/lyricist/bandleader Nikki Hill, raised by a single mother and two older sisters throughout Durham, North Carolina. This inspired not only her confidence at a young age, but a self-reliance and strong curiosity, which informed her interest in art, reading and writing. Raised in the church and choir as a child, that curiosity led Nikki to trade the pews for barstools, sneaking into venues when necessary, and was soon immersed in North Carolina’s roots scene as a young teen. She felt oddly comfortable, finding a direct connection between the energy she saw at local shows, and the intense praise dancing, gospel shouting church services she was raised in. Seeing everything from Dexter Romweber to Carolina Chocolate Drops, friend of this proGram, Mr. Bo Diddley to Motorhead, her new sermons came from rockers and bartenders, cowpunks and starving artists. Everyone had a story, and very soon, Nikki was in the mix herself, and making stories of her own. By the time she released “Here’s Nikki Hill” in 2013, word had spread, for better or worse. The reputation of the live show preceded itself, and heavily. Still, all of this did not translate immediately. With the rarity of Black rock ‘n roll singers/entertainers in the modern circuit and the large lack of knowledge of the impact of Black musicians on American roots music, Nikki found herself in an odd spot. She became known just as much for confusing local audiences who had come to see the woman in the poster, assuming her an act of a relaxed vibe, as she did for leading an unbridled, soulful, electric guitar driven performance. Instead of drawing back and satisfying the assumptions people made, Nikki pushed back, showing people that rock n’ roll didn’t have one look or sound. The strong public curiosity allowed Hill the chance to open for a range of artists like Dr. John, Billy Boy Arnold, to Eileen Jewel and Nelly, before she even had music released. Labels came calling, but were looking for stylings of the more well-known Hill, or of a more boxed-in retro feel that could be fully embraced by the purists Nikki had come to abhor from her former years of teen rebellion. She continued to develop her sound despite not knowing what to call it, remaining inspired by the fire of roots pioneers before her that she studied in the record stores and book shops.

That bring us to now, where Nikki has another great album of songs to share with the world, “Feline Roots” is bending the ears and minds of those who look beyond a poster, or an image and want to rock in any way possible. Nikki will be bringing the band to Madison on August 23rd at the Knuckledown Saloon to do just that. I had the chance to catch up with her to talk about that show, the latest release and the path taken from little Nikki to the Feline Roots Nikki. If you like to rock and roll, checkout Nikki live and share in her stories and make new ones with her.

Photo by: Roland Kämpfer

Reverend Horton Heat Is the Pulse of Rock-n-Roll

By day, Jim Heath is a mild-mannered musical historian well-versed in the birthing days of rock and roll. But when the sun goes down, he straps on his signature Gretsch 6120, steps up to the mike and is transformed into REVEREND HORTON HEAT, a hellfire-spewing, rock and roll dare-demon. Jim’s tome is iconic: From recording with Lemmy Kilmister, being revered by country music legends like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, touring with Soundgarden, ZZ Top, The Cramps, Social Distortion, White Zombie and the Sex Pistols, to providing touring opps to upstarts Kyuss, Hank III, Marilyn Manson and countless others across decades on the road. “This tour started around 1986,” Heath chuckles dryly. REVEREND HORTON HEAT still performs nearly 200 shows annually, including their trademark Horton’s Hayride Festival in Southern California, which has expanded to an end-of-the-year jamboree under the name Horton’s Holiday Hayride. The band has also wowed sold-out crowds with their multi-city residencies across America, including performances at Coachella, Reading, Austin City Limits, Riot Fest. The Texas troubadours also took a unique approach to the term ‘Special Guests’ on recent tours. Recalling the time the band opened for Jerry Lee Lewis, Heath had a vision, “The idea of playing in Jerry’s backing band would have been pretty neat. So every once in a while we’ll have a load of fun putting that aspect in our live set. In the middle of our set, we’ll have a special guest come on stage for a mini-set where REVEREND HORTON HEAT is the backing band. The first time we did it was with Lemmy Kilmister. We stopped our set midway, the road crew dragged a Marshall amp on stage, wiped the Rickenbacker clean and out came Lem. He was adamant on playing deep cuts, but I fought tooth and nail with him to do ‘Ace Of Spades.’ I told him, ‘Lemmy, we must do this song, we have to give the people want they want.’ He took a drag of his smoke, looked me square in the eye, and said ‘Never give them what they want, give them what they need!’” With over 1 million albums sold and nearly 35 years in the game, Heath and company have been delivering blood-pressure inducing scriptures to millions of fans worldwide. Call it rock and roll, psychobilly or what have you, REVEREND HORTON HEAT is often considered an early architect of the latter genre (at least on this side of the Atlantic) and occupies a peculiar place in American musical terrain.

I had the privilege of talking with Jim ahead of the August 15th show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. We get into the scene we should be seen at in Madison, the new comers in the band as well as the making of the groups latest record, “Whole New Life”, on Victory Records. It is a thrill to hear Jim talk about how the album got off the ground…..finally and how the making of the music for him never really changes, it’s what he does. Jim speaks on how fear motivates him. It was so cool to hear him talk about the vision for the sound of this release, and how he believes they are working every day and night to keep the rock and roll many of us knew once, moving forward with a strong pulse. I truly feel that the music Jim has made all these years is instrumental in many of the careers of the new kids on the rock and roll block, an they might not even know it yet.

Dobet Gnahoré Unites Open Minds In Madison

Africa has its internationally acclaimed female voices and the voice of Dobet Gnahoré has made its mark there. With her latest release, “MIZIKI”, the voice of the multi-talented Ivorian singer resonates African sounds mixed with samples of electronic music, a subtle blend revealing a musical style which echoes her own character – freedom. The freedom to make a fifth album in which modernity feeds on tradition and heritage. Inspired by her travels all around the world (more than 800 concerts since 2004), Dobet shares a new and hitherto unsuspected side of her personality. It took four years to compose “MIZIKI”, probably her boldest, most personal album and one which pays homage to the two principal causes she supports: a rich, generous and unified Africa and the strength of African women. In her words and on stage, Dobet, the standard-bearer of a new generation of daring and determined Africans, celebrates the valiant and kind woman. Dobet loves the music of Africa (Yemi Alade, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie) but is equally enthusiastic about Björk or Christine and all the other “Queens”. Faithful to the languages of Africa – Côte d’Ivoire has 72 dialects – for this album – possibly her best yet – she concentrates on Bété, her mother tongue. Dobet has definitely reached a turning point and has left labels behind to express her frankest and most sincere emotion more precisely. “I want to make people dream while remaining a free artist”.

I had the honor of chatting with Dobet ahead of her August 15th concert, “The Dobet Gnahore Select Session” part of The Sessions at McPike Park 2019 and her August 16th event at the North Street Cabaret. Dobet and I get into what her audiences can expect once she and er group hit the stage. We talk about her hope for a strong and powerful African woman and the goal of assisting with uniting Africa as one. She shares with me how her latest album, her baby, “MIZIKI” went from a thought to a movement.

Talkin’ No Good Deed With Mindi Abair

One of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee and friend of the proGram, Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and dynamic stage presence. She has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six Top 5 solo records and two #1 spots on the Billboard album charts. In 2014, Mindi received her first GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, followed by a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg. Constantly evolving her sound, in 2014, after two seasons as the featured saxophonist on the hit series American Idol, Mindi released “Wild Heart”. This LP showcased a compilation of grittier rock and soul tracks featuring some of the biggest names in music. To help translate this sound to her live shows, Mindi enlisted longtime friend and The Boneshakers founder Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to inject his brand of Detroit Blues Rock. The collaboration was undeniable, and it lead to an almost immediate decision to join forces creatively. Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers features band leader Mindi Abair (Saxophone, Vocals), Randy Jacobs (Guitar, Vocals), Rodney Lee (Keys), Ben White (Bass, Vocals), and Third Richardson (Drums, Vocals). A couple more albums in and now there’s a brand new album from Mindi & them Boneshakers for us all to enjoy.

I had the pleasure of catching up with our pal Mindi to get an insiders view into the creation of the 2019 release “No Good Deed”, the brand new album with the Boneshakers that certainly has the feel of a shared musical language that only some manage to speak. We get into how the album came toGether to a point where I get to spin it proudly for the listeners. We talk about some of what has been filling her time since last we hung out and we find out which song off the new release Mindi would choose to build a set-list around, and what she would add to fill our ears with some boneshaking goodness. I hope to find a way to bring Mindi to Madison, but if she and the band are anywhere close to you, it will always be worth it to go and check that show out.

Mindi Abair

Givin’ You The LowDown Brass Band

LowDown Brass Band deftly synthesizes the gritty sounds of Chicago with the high energy street beat of the Crescent City. LDB brandishes a powerful brass frontline of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, with a funky backline of drums and sousaphone. Combining the poetic ferocity of Billa Camp with stellar vocal harmonies, adventurous improvisation, movement, and grooves, LDB creates an infectious and diverse sound that has something for every listener. Fresh off their headlining set at The 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival, LowDown maintains a constant performing and touring schedule throughout North America. Recent performances include the Lagunitas Beer Circus, Chicago Jazz Fest, Friendly Gathering, Alaska’s Salmon Fest, Chicago’s Do-Division Fest, Wakarusa, Cotai Jazz Fest, and a annual residency at Shoe Fest. Following an ambitious project titled LowDown Sounds, that included a critically acclaimed cameo by Roy Ayers on the track “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”, LowDown Brass Band is now touring their 2018 hip hop release titled LowDown Breaks featuring MC Billa Camp. This new record steps deeper into refining their unique sound, combining hip hop breaks with live soul samples and deep cut grooves.

I had the chance to catch up with Shane Jonas, singer/trumpeter and one of the songwriters of LowDown Brass Band ahead of their end of July and early August run in Wisconsin, starting with the July 31st show at The Shitty Barn Sessions. Shane and I go through the who’s and what’s of the group gearing people who might not know them up for checking them out. We talk about the differences of process from when the band first started to the very new single that just dropped in June. The growth is obvious to those who have known about them for a bit. Shane also builds a set-list starting off with that brand new single “We Dem Boys” and the results are gonna make the fun in your funk jump for joy.

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble to Close out Atwoodfest

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble was founded in Chicago in 2003 by guitarist Aaron Feder. In 2006 Aaron made a move to Barcelona in search of a different sound for the band. He quickly found a group of international members, from all continents of the globe. In a short time the band was reformed and headlined the Fiestizaje music and arts festival in 2008. The band then set about recording their first studio album, Toubab Soul which was released in 2010. Shortly afterwards, they released the remix album, Toubab Resouled, and opened the world music festival Cruilla de Cultures with Konono No 1. The story has many twists and turns along the way, but now in 2019, they have a brand new self released album, “Monkey See, Monkey Do” out and the growth from those beginning is continuing to expand their sounds and styles. Which brings us to the Summer of 2019.

I had the chance to chat with Aaron ahead of Alma Afrobeat Ensemble’s set closing out this year’s Atwoodfest in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, July 28th. We get into what people can expect from this band now based in Barcelona, and how lucky Madison is to have them finally get here. Aaron has been trying for years and fortunately, Atwoodfest was able to get the stars to aliGn. We go seed to flower on the new release, “Monkey See, Money Do”, and while not a completely politically charged album, it does speak in a socially aware tongue and groove. I wanted to let people get a feel for the type of person Aaron is so we find out what had been floating his personal boat these days, as well as the set-list he would program, starting with which one off their new album he’d go with, for the listeners if given 45 minutes or so of the show.

Kaleta & Super Yamba Band

Afro-funksters Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are known for their explosive live shows teeming with danceable rhythms and a vivacious energy that brings out the boogie in audiences from all walks of life. Fronted by legendary Afrobeat veteran Leon Ligan-Majek—a.k.a. Kaleta, the Brooklyn, N.Y. based group weaves together lively, multi-faceted rhythms and groovy basslines beneath bright horns, swirling synthesizers and Kaleta’s smoky vocals. Song lyrics seamlessly glide between languages native to West Africa along with French and Pidgin English, “the official language of Afrobeat” according to the band. Vocalist, guitarist, percussionist and producer Kaleta was born in the West African country of Benin Republic and lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria—the birthplace of Afrobeat. He got his start in the late 1970s performing in church and after capturing the attention of world music pioneer King Sunny Ade, was given the opportunity to go on a global tour with the iconic Nigerian musician and later with Fela Kuti though the 1980s and into the 1990s. After moving to New York City, Kaleta was overjoyed to find Super Yamba Band and hear their fresh take on the vintage sounds of his native Benin, taking its cues from artists like Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, El Rego and Gnonnas Pedro. Today, the band’s infectious sound and energy has earned them a devoted following and a skyrocketing reputation. The group has erupted onto the music scene with performances at the World Music Institute’s Masters Of African Music Series in New York, Felabration NYC, Millpond.Live Festival in Massachusetts, Paste Magazine’s Emerging Music Festival in New York City and the historic Apollo Theatre. In a review of their performance at the Emerging Music Festival, online tastemaker Afropop Worldwide said “their ace-up-the-sleeve: the singer Kaleta, whose James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business.” With their latest single “Mr. Diva” (2018), Kaleta & Super Yamba continue to treat listeners to an unforgettable experience of world-class Afro-Funk dance music. A new album on Ubiquity Records is due out this Autumn.

I had the honor of discussing the upcoming Kaleta & Super Yamba Band event in Madison, Wisconsin at the High Noon Saloon on June 30th with the legend himself, Kaleta. We discuss what event-goers can expect from the groups first time in Madison. It was thrilling to here him talk about how he got started playing with two Icons in a music scene I love, King Sunny Adé and Fela Kuti. I also took the time to get some of the inside scoop on how the soon to be released album started coming together from a seed to it’s eventual big bloom in Autumn. I hiGhly recommend checking out this band in any capcaity, but for the real feel, find them live and hold on tight.

Talking Special Guest With Kris Jones

Special Guest App is a technology platform that helps make it extremely simple and affordable for anyone, anywhere to hire LIVE entertainment on demand via mobile and Web apps. Special Guest App removes friction from the LIVE entertainment booking process by seamlessly facilitating discovery, communication, scheduling, agreement, and payments. This people-centric tool helps venue owners and managers make more money by streamlining the entire process of booking live entertainment and their professional talent buying team operates to help leverage live entertainment to help them grow revenue and create incredible experiences. Special Guest is agent, manager and promoter friendly and actually serves all talent types, including musicians, comedians, magicians, kids entertainers, dancers, DJs, actors / actresses, rappers / hip hop artists, photographers, and much more! The company was cofounded by actor / comedian Damon Wayans, Jr and serial entrepreneur and best selling author, Kristopher Jones

I had the opportunity to discuss this innovative application with co-founder Kris Jones, who is (just to name a couple) a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and best selling author that comes with years of experience and an open mind that makes this application tick from a technology/business standpoint. We get into the who, what, where, why and when can you get started using Special Guest type questions. For me, the reason I wanted to help spread the word is that this platform helps even out the playing field for all types of talent, including those who don’t have the black-book filled with all the right connections. Special Guest can help all the hands in the jar come out with hand fulls!!

Mobile App can be grabbed up here for iOS.

*Soon to be released for Android.

Music & A Movement With Making Movies

Energy, mysticism, roots– it’s hard to describe the genre-breaking music of Making Movies, a band that Rolling Stone says is “breaking down walls in the United States,” with a mix of afro-latino rhythms and psychedelic rock’n’roll that makes the group’s sound something unique. The connection between the Chi brothers (hailing from Santiago, Panama)– together with their Mexican bandmates, the Chaurand brothers–results in an overwhelming musical presence that takes you through landscapes festive, furious, refreshing, and dark. At times the falsetto of Diego Chi takes you to the underworld, while the fuzz of Enrique Chi’s guitar anchors his spirited voice in the midst of the Chaurand brothers’ primal and folkloric percussion. An explosion of energy on the stage–does the soundtrack make the movie, or does the movie make for the soundtrack?
In 2017 Art As Mentorship was created by Enrique Chi, born out of six years of collaboration between Making Movies and local non-profits Base Academy of Music and the Mattie Rhodes Center. What began as a week-long music education camp for youth in an undeserved community has grown into a six-month songwriting and mentorship program called the Rebel Song Academy. Students get to record with and learn from industry professionals, like Grammy-winning producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos who recorded the first class in 2018. The world turned their attention to Making Movies as Rubén Blades, Flor De Toloache, Asdru Sierra, David Hidalgo, Frankie Negrón & Las Cafeteras joined forces with the band on their new album, ameri’kana, which was released in May 2019. The first two singles, “No Te Calles” and “Cómo Perdonar”, were launched along with a movement that invites artists and fans to participate on the website NoTeCalles.World, by joining the chorus with Rubén Blades and Making Movies. The album includes “Delilah”, a song about immigration written during a week-long writing session between Blades and Lou Reed that had never before been recorded. Saying that “Rock’n’roll is Latin music” the band dedicates the album to the beautiful inhabitants of the ameri’kana continent.

I had the privilege of re-connecting with Enrique ahead of the groups return to Madison on June 23rd as part of the Sessions at McPike Park – Pursuit Of Happiness Sessions. After having a chance to hang with this great group of people when they were here last year, I definitely developed a fondness for them as people first and then the music. If you have seen then, you know what I mean. If you haven’t find a place to and go! Enrique and I get into what to expect if you are new to the Making Movies scene, we get into the creation of the new release, ameri’kana and how working with one of their heroes, Mr. Rubén Blades took their stories to a best seller book level. We get a little political, well, we can call it topical in our discussion about how music has opened our minds and eyes but we get back into the music when Enrique rattles off a list of artists/songs he’d spin for the greenarrowradio listeners if he was in the pilot’s seat. This is THE band people should be talking about.

Release The Tension With The Mystery Lights

In an era when the city kvetches that there are no good NYC bands, when half of the music scene has split for sunny California, The Mystery Lights are an anomaly. Not only did these bold young men reverse the direction – optimistically migrating east against the tide from the west coast, but they also landed in the wormy apple to immerse themselves in the action and diversity of New York City. They all share an apartment in Ridgewood, Queens – the basement of which they’ve converted into a makeshift rehearsal space. Betting against the odds to live the archetypical 20th century downtown musician lifestyle in 2016, though inevitably further east of the bridge, they also play with the kind of conviction, immediacy, and raw power of their mighty ancestors – from the Velvets to the Voidoids and beyond. The Mystery Lights are living proof that vital contemporary music, in this case real-deal rock’n’roll, can still be dreamed, constructed, and performed in the Empire City. Mike Brandon and L.A. Solano have been in many different versions of The Mystery Lights under assorted monikers since their teens. Organically unfolding over the nights months and years, the Lights’ sound has evolved into a fuzz-fueled hopped-up 21st Century take on 60s garage pebbles, and artful 70s punk, that is all their own. 2016 found these rock’n’roll knights embarking upon the next logical step – unleashing their own brand of kick out the jams on tour and in the studio. When Daptone Records launched their Wick Records rock imprint, they wasted no time approaching Mystery Lights as their inaugural act.

I had the chance to catch up with Mike Brandon ahead of The Mystery Lights heading to the High Noon Saloon in Madison on June 24th. We get into what to expect from a live show, the creation of the new album “Too Much Tension!” as well what Mike would air to the listeners of greenarrowradio if given the chance to fill in for me.

Scared Scriptless with Colin and Brad

Armed with only their wits, Whose Line is it Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood are taking to the live stage and they’re…Scared Scriptless. Prepare to laugh yourself senseless as improv comedy masterminds Colin & Brad must make up original scenes, songs and more from whatever you, the fans, suggest! You just might also get to join in on the fun on stage. It’s a hilarious comedic high wire act… just like a live version of ‘Whose Line!’ How the heck do they do it? We don’t know either! Don’t miss the best duo in improv, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, in their wildly entertaining Scared Scriptless Tour.

I had a chance to catch up with long time friend of the proGram, Colin Mocherie ahead of he and Brad hitting Madison on June 14th at Overture Center For The Arts. We get into what to expect from the hilarious Scared Scriptless event, how this thing called improv stays fresh and Colin shares some wise words of advice about going for a yes, when one might lead with a no. And yes…it is all made up right there.

Neal Francis’ Midwest Soul at Waterfront Festival

There is a deep connection between Neal Francis’ childhood—his obsession with boogie woogie piano, his father’s gift of a dusty Dr. John LP, and the songs he’s created. The result is an astonishing collection of material without parallel in the contemporary funk and soul scene. The influences are unmistakable: the vocal stylings of Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell; the second line rhythms of The Meters and Dr. John; the barroom rock ‘n’ roll of The Rolling Stones; the gospel soul of Billy Preston; the roots music of The Band. He pays tribute to the masters but has his own story to tell. The piano prodigy found himself touring Europe by the age of 18 with Muddy Waters’ son and backing up other prominent blues artists coast-to-coast. In 2012, he joined popular instrumental funk band The Heard. With Francis at the creative helm, The Heard transformed into a national act, touring with boogaloo progenitors The New Mastersounds and chart toppers The Revivalists and appearing at Jazz Fest and Bear Creek. As The Heard’s star rose, however, Francis sunk deeper into addiction. Once a promising sideman, by 2015 he had been fired from his band, evicted from his apartment, and was perilously close to self-destruction. He worked hard to change all that. 2018 was a busy year. In February Francis finished recording basic tracks for the yet-to-be named debut album in Los Angeles and spent the following months doing overdubs in Chicago with engineer Mike Novak (who also recorded demos for the project). After playing his first show in November, Francis was signed by Paradigm Talent Agency. 2019 has already brought a North American tour supporting The Cat Empire and he continues to tour relentlessly to promote his own music.

And that brings us to June 8th at the Marquette Waterfront Festival in Madison, where I will be able to catch a set of music I have been looking for. I had a chance to catch up with Neal ahead of the festival to help people get to know him a little better. We talk what people who don’t know about his sound/style can expect, we talk about new music and how his soon to be released album was born. We get into the way he was and where he’s at and I think many of us would like to know what songs & artists a cat like this would build a set around after I start it with one of his new tunes. Oh YEAH!!!

Talkin’ About The Bridge With pat mAcdonald

Steel Bridge Songfest is an annual, music festival held in beautiful Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin co-founded in 2005 by musician and friend of the proGram, Pat MacDonald. The event began as part of a grass-roots campaign to restore a historic bridge. The festival features a week-long collaborative songwriting workshop (the Construction Zone) where participants write songs inspired by the bridge. The songs are recorded on-site at the Holiday Music Motel and released as compilation albums. The Michigan Street Bridge (Sturgeon Bay Bridge) is a multi-span Warren/Parker truss bridge built in 1929 and dedicated the following year. It connects Wisconsin State Highway 57 to the Third Avenue business district, carrying motor and foot traffic over the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal. The structure is a Door County landmark, and appears in the official logo of the city of Sturgeon Bay. Its rolling bascule lift spans are unique in the country, and in 2008 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1995, continuous remote monitoring by Northwestern University’s Infrastructure Technology Institute detected new cracks in the track casting, later confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Though the cracks were repaired, a 1997 Programmatic Agreement amongst the Federal Highway Administration, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer determined that the bridge did not warrant preservation and in 1999, the FHWA began considering plans to demolish and replace the bridge. It is during this time that Citizens For Our Bridge, a non-profit 501(c), was founded as “S.O.B.”s (“Save Our Bridge”). The group was formed by citizens opposed to the suggested destruction. Working together with ACHP and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, CFOB proposed a plan to rehabilitate the structure. To inform the community and raise funds to carry out the plan, Pat helped organize a small music festival. He enlisted the help of his longtime friend, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, and Steel Bridge Songfest was born.

It’s been a few years, but I had the chance to catch up with our of bridge brother, Pat mAcdonald once again to help remind people of this unifying event. This year’s main events are taking place on June 14th and 15th at the Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Pat and I get into the history of why there would be a need for a festival about and for a bridge. We travel through the years leading up to this year’s event(s), pulling out many important aspects of the why the need was there, and how it all have evolved from the then until the now. For all the pertinent details, please head over to the SBSF website and make like a bridge and CONNECT.

Lisa Maxwell’s Jazz Orchestra’s Shiny!

Lisa Maxwell has composed, arranged, orchestrated, produced, and conducted music for small combos, horn sections, strings, big band and full orchestra. Part of the Emmy Award-winning music team for Warner Bros., Lisa was an orchestrator on all 52 episodes of Histeria! animated series, and Animaniacs: Wakko’s Wish feature film. Her original music has been licensed for TV shows including: Sons of Anarchy, Person of Interest, Dexter, Burn Notice, Four Weddings, Gravity. Currently, Lisa is preparing to release her debut big band album, Shiny! Dedicated to legendary trumpeter Lew Soloff, it features Randy Brecker and an all-star band playing her charts. As a sax player, Lisa led the horn sections on the Guns ‘n’ Roses Use Your Illusion world tour and Spinal Tap tour. She has also performed with the Machito Big Band, Gil Evans Orchestra, Charlie Haden, Tony Scott, Hiram Bullock, Will Lee, Steven Tyler, Lenny Kravitz, Carole King, Bruce Willis Band, Chuck Berry, Smokey Hormel, Chester Whitmore, The Joni Mitchell Project and so many more. Lisa started playing piano at age 6. At 15, she switched briefly to 5-string banjo, and finally settled on the saxophone. At 17, she took a film scoring class at UCLA and realized she wanted to write music for lots of instruments. Trumpeter Ray Copeland taught her jazz arranging, and Charlie Haden let her sit in on his classes at Cal Arts. Lisa attended Manhattan School of Music to study saxophone with Joe Allard, and spent most nights in clubs, where she met her musical heroes. She returned to L.A. to study composing and arranging with Dick Grove in Studio City; and then won the Quincy Jones Arranging Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where Herb Pomeroy taught her Duke Ellington’s nuanced line-writing techniques. A true star she is.

I had the honor of speaking with Lisa about the latest project, Shiny!. This is her debut album as a composer and arranger,featuring an all-star jazz orchestra of New York’s top players, including: Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Mike Stern and so many more powerhouses. We get into the creation of the album. The tribute aspect of this music for her (and all the artists on the album), Lew Soloff, and how he always supported her getting her music out there. We talk about how this album of so many translates into a live setting, as it will for the 5/27 album release show at the Cutting Room in NYC. On the album, there is one track that get’s a little remix, another new aspect for Lisa, her friend and one of my favorite “remakers”, Mocean Worker puts his signature on a version of the title track that allows for ears of another kind to check this music out. The album has groove, style and will breath fresh life into any day.

Double Duty With Victor Krummenacher at Ruby

Victor Krummenacher is a busy man. Possibly known mostly as a co-founding member of Camper Van Beethoven, he is also a co-founder of CVB offshoot Monks of Doom. In the spring of 2017, he appeared on Monks of Doom’s first album of new compositions in 25 years, entitled The Brönte Pin. As a recording artist, Krummenacher has been active for more than thirty years and has appeared with numerous projects including Cracker, Fifth Business, A Great Laugh, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a duo formed in 2008 with Alison Faith Levy of The Loud Family. He has pursued a solo career as a singer-songwriter since 1994. His ninth solo album, Hard To See Trouble Coming, was released in January 2015. As of 2017, he remains active as a live artist in Northern California, and is preparing a studio recording for 2018. The new release entitled Blue Pacific was built from a deep space within his life and it is certainly an album that has its moods. In addition to his musical career, he was previously art director of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and also a managing art director for Wired.

This guy never stops. I had the chance to catch up with Victor ahead of the May 2nd show at Ruby in Madison. He will open the show as Victor Krummenacher & His Flying Circus and then rejoin that stage with Monks of Doom. While the people on stage mostly will be the same, the sounds will have clear lines of differences drawn in the sand. We talk about what to expect from each show at Ruby as well as dissect a little bit of new albums from each. We make time to give a shout out to a cool and people-friendly festival their community of artists are a part of called: Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Cookout. Take a listen and I have a feeling you’ll want to try and be apart of either one of these latest albums, a live event and/or this cookout. This will be the fifteenth cookout, and the last. Yes, I’ll have cheese on mine.

Gettin’ Down & Dirty with Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson is recognized as one of today’s top guitarists/songwriters and producers not only having the distinction of being the hand picked fellow guitarist to the legendary rock/blues icon Johnny Winter but he has toured the world over performing and or recorded along side an endless who’s who list of top artists from Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy to Slash, Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Robben Ford, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, James Cotton, Joe Perry, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Popper, Dr. John, Larry Carlton, Leslie West, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Dickey Betts to Joe Walsh and countless more talented artists. Nelson received a Grammy award for his work performing on and producing Winter’s “Step Back” release on Megaforce/Sony winning “Best Blues Album of the Year” highlighting his already long list of Grammy Nominations. As well as the BMA “Blues Music Award” for “Best Blues/Rock Album” reaching #16 on the Billboard Top 200 and staying at #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts for weeks. He is also a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s KBA “Keeping The Blues Alive Award”. His music has reached millions with appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and on award winning documentaries: “Down and Dirty” The Johnny Winter Story and “Sideman: Long Road to Glory” ft. Bonnie Rait, Gregg Allman, Hubert Sumlin, as well as music written/performed and broadcast nationally on NBC and on multiple major album releases, books, instructional guitar columns, live Concert DVD’s, and guest performances on countless recordings.

I had the chance to catch up with Paul as he just finished up a tour with his band, The Paul Nelson Band. We got into his newest album, “Badass Generation” and what went into putting that one together. We get into his work with Johnny Winter, and how it was more than the music that made their relationship thrive. The documentary, “”Down & Dirty” details a lot of that relationship and Paul was the Executive Producer on that project, so we got into what it was like to have that portion of your days relived through video. Paul even shares a couple of head-shaking, and smile raising stories from days gone by.

Paul Nelson & Johnny Winter