PHO is a Twin Cities funk band creating a new “Minneapolis sound” utilizing modern taste and classic influences to break musical boundaries. While never forgetting the rhythms and grooves of those who came before them, PHO is striving to carry the torch into the instrumental future of funk with incredibly rich originals that take us back, while groovin’ us forward. They have been acquiring new fans with each appearance, they attracted a truly unexpected fan when Prince caught a live performance from their YouTube page, which prompted an invite to open for the incomparable Mr. Larry Graham (Graham Central Station) at the iconic Paisley Park . That performance triggered another Prince Tweet: “Come back anytime. Just Holla”. Having the blessing of “The Purple One” before his untimely death has pushed PHO to continue cultivating the Minneapolis sound’s legacy that has inspired so many to fall in love with the feeling. Truthfully, does it get much better than that for these young men, or anyone?
I had the opportunity to catch up with guitarist, Joe Paris, and trumpet player Lukas Skrove before they head to Madison for their Sunday, July 30th at 12:15 P.M. set on The Madison Heritage Stage for AtwoodFest 2017. We spoke about that moment when Prince reached out to them with an offer of a lifetime and how they have taking that gift from him and used it as a springboard to keep that special sound alive. They painted a picture of what unfamiliar fest-goers can expect when they hit the stage and why they love to keep coming back to Madison. We dove into how all their new found funky friends and experiences helped create the newest release, Two. For this release, there was no shortage of vintage vibe amidst a playground of old ‘70s synths and classic guitars, all articulated in the expansive array of musical colors ever-present throughout the mix. At the end of the chat, we find out what television show the boys think they could remake the theme song for….it will most likely make you hungry.
If you are close to Madison this coming weekend, maybe you need yourself a good funkin’….with the ins and outs provided by PHO.
The funky fellas of PHO
As the son of legendary drumming icon Ginger Baker, Kofi Baker has a name that’s synonymous with drumming excellence. Kofi certainly lives up to his namesake; with his outstanding skills, drive, and dedication, he continues the great Baker legacy.
Kofi’s first live performance was with his father on the UK television show “The Old Grey Whistle Test” – at just six years of age he proved he had inherited more than just his fathers name.In the early 80’s, Kofi and his father played drum duets throughout Europe, amazing audiences with complex African polyrhythms. Later, Kofi toured with the miGhty John Ethridge (Soft Machine), and gigged in London with Steve Waller (Manfred Mann), and with Randy California (Spirit). He also toured Europe with Steve Marriot’s Humble Pie.
On Saturday, July 29th on the Madison Heritage Stage at 4:15P.M., Kofi brings the Cream Experience to Madison Wisconsin to help celebrate Summer with a good strong, innovative jam as part of AtwoodFest. I had the opportunity to talk with Kofi about what those in attendance will see and hear, more than the original sounds accustomed to the band, Cream, there will be other interpretations of Hendrix, Blind Faith and even The Beatles. Kofi hope to meld the older crowd who dig his father’s legendary music with a younger festival going crowd to take this Jam Band scene to the next level. Sounds like something to be a part of as it is equally exciting for the band while turning on a family friendly, open-minded Madison crowd. Rest assure, Kofi states that while the backbone of the familiar is there, the spirit of Cream as being a founding Jam Band scene creator, will be in full bloom with in the moment improvisational music making. We spoke about how he has high quality musicians stashed throughout the U.S. for touring and creating purposes and in Madison, it’ll be obvious that he always picks the cream of the crop.
We are always so lucky here in Madison when the summer rolls around and we are fortunate to have culture travel to us. This coming weekend, La Fête De Marquette will once aGain provide a great opportunity to catch some acts you might not otherwise get a chance to bump into. One such act is out of the Czech Republic, Mydy Rabycad. They create and electro-swing or glamtronic sound that has people around the globe up and moving their bodies. I had a chance to chat with Mikulas and JohnyD of the band from Canada, as they are making their first trip to North America and we are going to get a dose of them this weekend. We talked about what the festival goers can expect from their sound, their audience interactions and the music they create and how it translates into a wild time o=f dancing. I assured them that Madison is a home for some eclectic dance moves. We talked about how it is more likely for a group out of the Czech Republic to get known better once they leave town and broaden their listener-ship, as well as how their relationships together have strengthened their live and produced works. We touch briefly on how times have changed for them as they are working on studio album number three, and how the growth of a band and the doors that get opened by others really assist in making it all happen.
I am thinking the dust will fly this week end, and the group will have a few more reasons to head home happy and with more fans as they leave North America behind, but not until we give them a taste of Madison first.
It’s always nice to catch up with friends from times aGo. Had a chance to do just that with Sunny Jain, as Red Baraat makes their way back to Madison on July 15th at the Union Terrace and then July 16th at La Fête de Marquette. We spoke about what a newcomer to the band could expect to see and hear when checking our Red Baraat at either of these Madison stops. We had a chance to walk down memory lane and discuss the difference of landscape between when the group first came here years ago versus where they are at sound-wise and production-wise today as they released “Bhangra Pirates” in March of 2017. It is always a pleasure to learn how the paths have changed throughout the years and how life plays into the way we do what we do, musically and otherwise.Madison holds a special place in this group’s heart, and I am sure we will return the love on the upcoming weekend. Comprised of eight musicians who can whip a crowd into a frenzy with an unprecedented, high energy, gut-busting fusion of jazz, hip-hop beats, rock muscle, funky go-go, and scalding hot bhangra. A horn section blares, percussionists pound, the guitarists rips, everybody shouts, and the group’s charismatic leader, Sunny Jain, holds the explosive songs together with rhythms from his dhol – the Indian double-headed drum played slung over the shoulder that provides bhangra with its frenetic heartbeat. This energy blast is always opening the door to newness in front of crowds, let’s have Madison respond in similar fashion by being itself, ready for anything. And if you were wondering what Sunny would air if I gave up a half hour or so of the proGram, well he clues us in at the end of this conversation..some interesting stuff, as I would expect.
Had the opportunity to catch back up with Stef as The Right Now make a stop Friday, June 30th at The Frequency. The pop-meets-soul music coupe with the captivating voice of friend of the proGram, Stefanie Berecz, is sure to deliver a celebration of thoughtful, catchy songwriting with intricate arrangements to the Madison scene once agGain. We are thankful to have them. Since 2009 the band has toured much of the United States and released two highly acclaimed albums, racking up placements in television, national commercials, and the multi-million-selling video game Watch Dogs.
The band’s Chicago roots are heard and witnessed throughout their music and performances: breezy horn lines sit atop soul grooves old and new, all while Stef elevates one audience after another with her story telling and shared moment, in the moment attention to the crowd. So, to try and fill the Frequency for the show, Stef and I discussed what the experience for an individual catching them for the first time, the newest album “Starlight”, which examines a complicated world through the eyes of the fighter, the lover, the philosopher, the addict and the mother. We spoke about the process between then and now and how the newest songs developed and we find out what she would do with 30 minutes of this radio proGramming if I left it up to her when I went to get us some milk & cookies…….hmmm….what would she do?
One thing for certain, the Right Now and Stef are a today’s band with sounds of now and the past blending to make for a fun show, featuring tunes we can all relate to.
It is always nice when family comes back to town for a sweaty squeeze. I cauGht up with my brother Manny Sanchez of GrooveSession as they make their way back to Madison on Friday, June 23rd at the Alchemy. I am proud to call these grooveanauts my family as their vibe of spreading goodness and love through music is a contagious thing that hopefully catches on with you, the listener and the ones who see them live in concert. Clearly, each time they head out to a venue, they will loudly threaten you(s) with a good time!! We spoke about what a GrooveSession is and how sweaty does one have to be to know you are doing it right. Manny shared some thoughts on this years Steel Bridge Songfest that they had a chance to be back and a part of, as well as when we might be expecting a new release. Ultimately, you can read about and listen to this group and get the idea, but it isn’t until you go sweat and dance and become friends with this power trio that you fully “get” their true mission of spreading kindness through their grooves.
On Saturday, June 24th at 8pm, Arts & Literature Laboratory presents “Silver Ochre’s Hot Pursuit of Happiness with Thollem Electric”. Silver Ochre’s Hot Pursuit of Happiness is a rapid fire live audio/visual experience of an epic journey throughout the continental U.S. by videographer ACVilla and composer/keyboardist, Thollem Electric. Always somewhere between being pursued and pursuing, the bitter sweet existence in 21st century America. This is a distillation of the U.S. and its conflicts between security and liberty and competing ideas of freedom. Thollem and ACVilla have both been traveling around the country for decades and are currently working on a 3 year endeavor called “Who Are U.S.” Silver Ochre’s touring stateside from April 6th – November 19th.
With Thollem on an unruly electronic beast of vintage keyboards, stomp boxes, a microphone and occasional special guests, the music is an amalgam of infinite possibilities bringing together sounds and musics heard around this country. A sonic celebration from the immense array of diversity in our multi-cultural society amid the present and historical struggles for liberty and justice for all. Sometimes it will sound like a million people screaming from which distinct voices percolate, twist, turn and evolve into and out of everything else; a parade of characters that intermingle in love and fury.
I had a chance to catch up with Thollem to discuss this project and what it has turned into and what the future holds in store for both he and ACVilla as this journey adapts and grows. Find out more by listening in to our shared time and maybe even find out how you can experience the “what’s happening” around you.
Find out more here as well.
Thollem & ACVilla
Had a chance to catch up with Matt Doe of Too Many Zooz as they will be playing the after party on June 23rd once the Dark Star Orchestra finishes up their “Live on King Street” Performance. Set to hit the Majestic Theater stage around 11pm to help the Madison scene walk into the front door of a “Brasshouse” experience. We spoke about the process of going from NYC subway musicians crafting and tuning their craft up to being found out by the Queen B herself, Beyoncé and how that led to working on her Lemonade album as well as some dates working with her team in a live setting.
With the trend towards electronic instrumentation in music, it’s easy to forget where it all first started: on street corners with real instruments, playing for tips, that is until you’ve heard Too Many Zooz. This three-piece “BrassHouse” band is Matt Doe, Leo P, and King of Sludge. They have now worked with a wide group of artists that is stretching the boundaries of their sound, including friends of the proGram Galactic and Beats Antique, to create a mind opening provocative body shake groove.
Named one to Billboards’ Top 25 Next Big Sound, thanks in part to a video of one of their frenetic subway performances was posted to Reddit and went viral to the tune of over 2.2 million views, and in a very short time amassed a large fan base. If you make your way to the June 23rd show in Madison, you’ll understand why this trio’s mark being left is real and true and set to make a lot of noise heading into the future. Their groove is infectious and easy to move to and all the instruments come together in an explosive climax of sound. Too Many Zooz will definitely force you to reconsider the way you think/listen to music.
I had the pleasure of having my pal and Space Queen, Kim Manning back on the show to discuss her upcoming event next Friday June 2nd, from 8-9pm at the Artist’s Studio at Madison Children’s Museum’s Adult Swim “Glow Motion” Event ! (21 & up, 6-10pm). Enjoy a rooftop sunset hoop jam, a phosphorescent cocktail, an incandescent dance party with Dj Yorel & DJ Phil Money. We dove into what those in attendance, glowing and otherwise, can expect from a Kim Manning show, the artistry of roller-skating, contortion as well as singing and dancing with hiGh hoop work paralleling that of Cirque du Soleil. We had a chance to marvel toGether at the road she has taken to become the person she is, one of my favorite people and an inspiration to all who want to get somewhere giving it their all. Being a P-Funk All Star has certainly opened some doors for her, but once your foot is in, it is up to you to keep moving forward into the industries rooms. If you are in or near the Madison Wisconsin area this coming Friday, June 2nd, figure out a way to find out for yourself just how unique of a show Kimmy puts on for you, and get a chance to discuss it with her, a real person, afterwards.
Kim Manning and P Funk
In anticipation of the 20th annual WORT Block Party, this Sunday, May 21st from 11am – 7pm on the 200 Block of Martin Luther King Jr. BLVD in Madison, I reached out to Joey B. Banks to chat about Dr. Clyde Stubblefield and the Clyde Stubblefield All Stars as they will be headlining the party and hit the stage at 5:50pm. Joey B. and I got into the reasons a man like Clyde is so deserving of a tribute band, and how “The Original Funky Drummer’s” legacy will be kept alive and pulsing within the community here in his home of Madison Wisconsin since 1971. We got into discussing the Coalition for the recognition of Clyde Stubblefield and how the music impacted the entire world community and is still, and will always be impacting artists of now and the future. As much of an impact as Clyde was/is with music, he was also a strong believer in giving back and it starts with the youth, which is what make the Madison Area Music Association Clyde Stubblefield Scholarship such a priceless honor to have bestowed to our smiling friend. The music this ALL STAR band will treat the WORT community (which we hope to grow grow grow) to at the Block Party will be many of the easily recognizable and down right FUN-KAY tracks that were worked out with Mr. James Brown, as well as original tracks Clyde had put toGether over the years, so this will be a wide array of grooves that will finish off this event in style.
Clyde & Joey B. Banks – Phot Credit: Sweet William Images
On Friday, April 21st, we in Madison will be fortunate enough to take a musical journey together at Arts & Literature Laboratory. Those in attendance will exist in a space of time shared as one, with Karuna: Hamid Drake & Adam Rudolph. With their new Karuna duet Drake and Rudolph bring their unique and evolved rhythm languages to the fore, reaching to inspire any audience though spirited dialogue.
The name Karuna reflects their ongoing research into the connection of the inner life to musical expression and speaks to the idea of creative action as a gesture of compassion. To help get a sense of the show, I spent a little time with Hamid talking about what those in attendance could expect. We talked about the sounds, the spirit and the sharing that will take place, with percussion and human interaction being the vehicle that drives us to a place of one. Hamid explains the process as he and Adam, who have known one another since the age of 14, create a unique experience that is sure to open the mind’s doors. Both Hamid and Adam have worked with some incredible forces in the scene, from shared time with Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders to Bill Laswell, Yusef Lateef and Omar Sosa. These two innovators find the pulse of music from all lands, wide and far and translate those into a language that shines down into and onto the listeners. I am thankful to call both these creators friends and am pleased to bring you some of Hamid’s word straight from him.
Karuna, the new duet of percussionists Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph, performs at Arts + Literature Laboratory on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 9 pm. This event is sponsored by 89.9FM WORT.
Had a chance to catch up with my musical brother from another mother and find out what’s been going on, DeeJay Alex J. Alex and I go way back now and it is our love of diverse sounds and how they blend that has kept us movin & groovin’ toGether through this scene. Alex and I talked about a couple new joints he’s been working on, one included below. We also spoke on the ways and times of now versus then with listening and sharing of sounds, the way he and I and DoodleBUG all got connected up in a circle of remixes as well as the time and process that goes into making the connections and producing the goods. (off air we spoke NCAA championship and sneakers in the closet.)
Here’s the skinny:
Alex 2morrow (aka DJ Alex J) joins musical forces with Australian singer Jason Singh for their standout single on King Street Sounds titled ‘Love Is What I Need (Your Love).’ The featured mix is DJ Alex J’s ‘Future JazzFunk Mix’ that combines Jason’s smooth and silky vocals with jazzy house, tech sounds and live instrumentation.
Check it: Out now on traxsource:
The first notes of a good tune, just like the first meetings of two people, give us a lot of interesting insight. I was not surprised at how quickly, Mr. Stephane Wrembel and I hit it off as we discussed his upcoming show in Madison on Sunday, April 2nd at Café Coda. Stephane shared that the event will be a soup of his compositions and the latest respects to Django will accompany those originals.The sounds he has been a part of have resonated with me for years of listening and radio sharing. We discussed which Pink Floyd album we would pick if we were to be stranded on an island…I think by the end we narrowed it down to which album would we NOT have with us. We walked through the musicians on tour and the new album(s), Django Experiment I & II and how making it their own started by recording it like it was a live show, minus the crowd. We discussed how even though this is an album that is an inspired by and a tribute to, Django, how it is in no way an example of being a cover band. I think one listen through and you will certainly agree. It was also a little surprising to learn how the sat down and produced two albums worth of music, when only the one was the oriGinal intention. We spoke of the influences of Django Reinhardt, the energy and explosion of New York and the love love love of Zappa. I learned if I give Stephane thirty minutes of my show, that it is very likely the listeners (and myself) will want an hour. Radio, and particularly the conversations with the artists I choose to speak with always help my eyes and mind open up wide to understand what music means/does to people, artists or otherwise…so when we talked about the timeline of Stephane’s life, the way music was/is as he has gone from nomadic creator to world traveler, I felt like this cat is one of those that people that others will want to create artistic experiments around, to celebrate the contribution and imprint left….and he’ll make you think about an apple differently than you may have before. Also, Stephane reveals a secret he intends to do each year on January 23rd. Oh, it’s in here.
Please enjoy our conversation and maybe get yourself out for a great show.
Took some time to catch up with friend of the proGram, Nikki Armstrong to discuss the new release from Mama SpanX called “State of Groove”. We talked about the influence and mastermind behind the name “Mama SpanX”, our beloved friend Mr. Melvin Sparks (rest well my brother), the way this album came toGether from the initial vision of what the Mama SpanX brand can become to the way it hits hard and heavy, in your face in a live setting. We talk a little about Etta James’ former drummer giving Nikki a track to consider and the piece of the puzzle that it Mr. Lou Donaldson. The important pieces to the success of this album are: Steve Johnson on guitar Julie Sax on alto sax, baritone sax and flute, Steve Sadd on tenor and soprano sax, Harlan Spector on keyboards and B-3, David Abercrombie on 6 string fretless bass, and Ben Beckley music director and drums.
Personally, I think once you listen to this conversation, you’ll want to listen to the entire album a few times and I hope vice versa, since this chat is definitely an extension of years of musical shares and love of similar sounds, Nikki and I can keep the rocket in the pocket as needed, but both of us like to let it out to blast off from time to time.
BIG Congrats to Lorlinda Art who did the original photo and art work for the Mama SpanX CD cover “State of Groove! We are so proud of you Lady! “
All the years of being a part of the family that radio provides has done my mind and soul quite well. I get to discuss art with artists and every now and then, I locate a being that is a similar being as I. I talked with Adam Rudolph for the first time on air a couple years ago and we hit it off like old friends, with the music being the guide. Well, Adam has a new album out with his Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures project called “Glare Of The Tiger” on Meta Records and through M.O.D. Technologies. You can imagine my delight when setting up another chance to run through this sounds existence from start to finish. We talked about how the relationships of the musicians transforms the music into something else, a research and development model based off concepts Adam has in mind and heart. How to take the music and feelings of then, and turn them into something fresh and traditional as the now. We talk about the feeling of the music created, not just how it makes you feel inside, but a way to truly relate to the sonic adventure the music catches you in ans where it can take you. Being able to share the work of people I believe in is something I hold high above my head, I wear it like a crown I am proud of, and Adam reminds me of why I always found a home next to a radio, music and the sharing of ideas toGether. It’s the people who share what’s within them that matter so much to me, and when I get time to bring the vice of the art to you, not just the saleable commodity, it truly feels like the circle is complete. Please enjoy this half hour conversation about the new album, but know that it is as much about living as it is about this particular moment in art, or art history.
Took the opportunity to catch up quickly with friend of the proGram, Mister Mina Girgis as The Nile Project heads back to Madison to perform in two shows (for students ranging from Kindergarten through seniors in high school) on March 6th at The Overture Center as part of the Onstage Student Field Trip event. Along with the two shows, there will be some knowledge transfer about how the decisions people make truly affect all beings on this planet. Mina defined the mission of The Nile Project and the musicians associated with this years tour, the commitment to making a change and being a bridge between Africa and students of all ages around the globe to help hear and share ideas to foster the growth of the Nile citizens. The two shows will open ears to the sounds of the regions along the Nile River as it flows with life, different in may ways, yet so similar that people quickly become united as one when the sounds and styles get explored together. Take a moment to reintroduce yourself if you are familiar with the concept, and if this is new to you, please take a listen to to our conversation as it may be you who holds an important key to keeping the smallness of our world united.
I had the pleasure of talking with Ruthie Foster, as she prepares for the March 9th show, “Rise Up & Sing” at the Memorial Union Theater’s Shannon Hall along with the Blues Heritage Orchestra. As we recorded this conversation, we were both experiencing the oddity of 60-70 degrees weather in February, so the complete vibe of our shared time was that of a backyard patio hangout….Ruthie and I spoke about what one can expect from her and this event, her soon to be released album “Joy Come Back” and how the title is within the tale of the personal growth of finding and keeping the real you. Ruthie and I agree that on top of our guitarist list is friend of the proGram, Derek Trucks and she shared how he was quick to agree to work on the title track and how his sound of his soul really took the track to the place it was meant to be..it’s the relationships we make that help get us there. I even got a chance to speak with Ruthie’s five year old daughter, Mia about which game is her favorite on Playstation. I sure know that I’d love to have Ruthie as my neighbor to push togetherness, love and celebration through music, I think the real has found her.
I had the great opportunity of discussing the upcoming show at the High Noon Saloon on February 8th featuring Mr. Wayne THE TRAIN Hancock with the man himself. When I decide to reach out to artists to hear it from them, I always want it to be someone who I really want to introduce to the people that may not have ever heard of, or heard the sounds of. There are always chances for that and for those who may not have ever run into THE TRAIN before, take a listen in here to this one. We walked through what any unexpected audience members are in store for, the process by which The Train created the songs that fill our minds with such stories and images like a fresh page flip in a book we always wanted to open. We dive into how a couple of tracks take form and shape on the newest release “Slingin’ Rhythm”, released end of 2016 on Bloodshot Records. This conversation is raw and so enlightening. When Wayne THE TRAIN Hancock comes to a town near you, you can rest assured that you are going to get a long and winding show filled with sounds that he calls out off the cuff and it will always be a show that is unique to that niGht…. I ask you to tell me what else you could want from a night out? Be it Rockabilly, Western Swing, Juke-joint Jazz…whatever you want to try and call it, the music created has that feeling of an old blanket with the sensation of a new body wrapped up under it with you.
On Thursday, January 19th at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, People will be treated to the thrill of a show that is The Devil Makes Three. Even though they are rooted in alt-country/blues/gospel, it is my opinion, the music is open for personal interpretation as to what you want to call it (if you like putting sounds into genre-type boxes), but for this music listeners and sharer, I go by the feelings it provides me and the listeners. I had the pleasure of discussing what people in attendance can expect from the instrumentation, the versatility of the artists and the potential repertoire of tunes we may be treated to. I spoke with Pete Bernhard not only about what to expect if you’ve never seen this band, but we dissected the creation of their latest release “Redemption and Ruin” on New West Records. We discussed the process of choosing from songs of years gone by that are so inspirational to many people…how they decided as a group to alter the interpretations to add a little TDM3 stamp on the sounds. Choosing which songs to leave pretty much the same all while working in the same room with some musical icons including, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Emmylou Harris, Darrell Scott and Duane Eddy. Quite an challenge and risk to try not to ruin songs many of us have on our lists of some of the great songs available. Take a listen to our conversation for a little enliGhtenment, a lot of insight and a reminder to give this group another listen after hearing a little of how they do the things they do.
The Devil Makes Three 2015
I had the chance to catch up with my boy, Mister Rourke as he putout another ear-bendind, mind altering album under The Coalition, titled “Instant Classic” with his boy, Atticus Shadrack Cole. We dissect a few of the tracks and go into where the original beats-N-grooves come from and how they were laced up, the layers of sonic exploration and how it reflects an open mind and the true nature of one’s intellectual properties. Rourke reminded me of the new Club d’Elf album “Live at Club Helsinki”, dropping on January 10 and who were the artist collaborators on the album, (including friend of the proGram, Mr. John Medeski) and who will be going out and doing shows with the crew(s) that I proudly call family. We all will be better off once I have a copy of the new album to share with your ear-holes. This is another example of how much appreciation architects of sound can have for one another while building completely different things. Mister Rourke and I have a spot where we intersected long aGo, and I am always grateful this bond has been formed. Check out our conversation to kinda get a hint into why.