Here Come The Mummies in Madison

Here Come the Mummies is an eight-piece funk-rock band of 5000 year-old Egyptian Mummies with a one-track mind. Their “Terrifying Funk from Beyond the Grave” is sure to get you into them (and possibly vice versa). Since their discovery, Here Come The Mummies has been direct support for P-Funk, Al Green, Mavis Staples, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Cheap Trick; rocked Super Bowl Village; become a regular on The Bob and Tom Show; played massive festivals like Summer Camp, Common Ground, Voodoo Fest, Musikfest, Suwannee Hulaween, and Riverbend; and sold tickets by the thousands across large swaths of North America.

I had the chance to chat with Mummy Cass about the upcoming show in Madison on May 24th at the Majestic Theater and what the people in attendance can expect if they are first timers to the HCTM’s scene. Mummy Cass gives the role call of the entire cast of characters who will sweat and funk with you on the 24th (or whenever you happen to catch their live show). We get into how they were able to discover the musical gods that reside on Earth from visitors for another location. But for me, the best part of the conversation was talking about the possibility of some brand new music, and how these Mummies are going about nailing down the tracks…you see it’s going to be a live recording and who knows how and when the green light will be on.

Midnight and Cass Funkin’ Out Front

Joyann Parker

Joyann Parker brings a full range of talent to her performances as an accomplished singer, pianist, songwriter must-hear lead guitarist, currently endorsed by Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo, MI. She has both control and power that can tear right through you without causing any pain, and it’ll make you feel downright good. She has performed for thousands at major venues and festivals across the country and represented Minnesota at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. She has opened for Grammy winner Robert Cray, taken the stage for Grammy nominee Elvin Bishop in a pinch and is a staple on the most prestigious stages in the Twin Cities.
Joyann’s album “Hard To Love” was released on April 13, 2018 and is garnering national and international attention from critics and fans alike and she is set to head out on an upcoming tour to support this fantastic release.

I had a chance to chat with Joyann about the upcoming shows in and around Wisconsin, including a stop on May 17th at The Brink Lounge. We get into the show that people can expect out of her and her travelling band-mates. We really get into how she is able to write songs that make this guy feel like she was reading some of his journal entries over the years and what flipped on that soul switch in her. We also learn just what is Joyann’s “heading out on the road music” to keep the moments from getting away. Being a Wisconsin girl, Joyann and I will likely continue the conversation over in New Glarus later in the Summer over a tasty beverage and some food cart goodness.

photo by: Jeannine Marie Photography

Kristo Rodzevski Talks Trilogy

The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore, the third album in a trilogy by singer/songwriter Kristo Rodzevski and his group of jazz progressives, will be released by Much Prefer Records on May 25, 2018. Mixed by celebrated producer Bill Laswell, “The Rabbit…” represents the fulfillment of a musically adventurous idea: Assemble seven world-class improvisers in a studio, establish an environment for pure music-making, and capture all on tape. By partnering with core collaborators Mary Halvorson (guitar), Tomas Fujiwara (drums) and Michael Blanco (bass), then inviting contributions from Kris Davis (piano), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone) and Brian Drye (trombone), Kristo fermented an intoxicating brew. The bubbling inventions are spontaneous performances without overdubs. Thematically, the album continues themes established in Kristo’s first two releases of this trilogy, Batania (2015) and Bitter Almonds (2017). While those trilogy installments examined the deep feelings for his Macedonian grandmother and mother, “The Rabbit…” explores a transition, the fading significance of his past to his life in the USA.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Kristo to discuss the creation of the final act in this sonic trilogy and how the inner workings of this team of experimenters and improvisers created another album that speaks to the feelings and emotions unlike many other releases. We talk about how rich and full an album of few takes and all different can feel. We get into how tracks were selected as the one to use, how Mr. Laswell took to listening to the original stories and ideas behind the tracks and added a little tweak here or there to accentuate the tales. There’s an eye opening chance to learn a little about one of the tracks and how it makes me feel and maybe we learn a little about the why I feel that way too. The art of the album cover, the physical piece of art that accompanies the music was also created in a very similar fashion as the music….. one take from open-minded communicators makes for brilliant art, all around.

Mars Williams Duo at A.L.L.

Mars Williams is an open-minded and highly versatile musician, composer and educator who commutes easily between free jazz, funk, hip-hop and rock. He has played and recorded with so many amazing artists across the entire scope of the music landscape, including: The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, Bill Laswell, Ministry, Power Station, Die Warzau, The Waitresses, Kiki Dee, Billy Squier, DJ Logic, Wayne Kramer, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Elling, Swollen Monkeys, Mike Clark, Jerry Garcia, Naked Raygun, Friendly Fires, The Untouchables, Blow Monkeys….see…many different music language spoken. The great John Zorn credits Mars as “one of the true saxophone players–someone who takes pleasure in the sheer act of blowing the horn. This tremendous enthusiasm is an essential part of his sound, and it comes through each note every time he plays. Whatever the situation, Mars plays exciting music. In many ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player.”

I had a chance to catch up with mars once again, we had spoken when I was on air on WHUS out of the University of Connecticut a lifetime ago. This time is was to talk about the upcoming event at Arts & Literature Laboratory, with a Mars Williams Duo, with a special guest drummer. We spoke deeply about his new release and a European tour to support the Album “Painted Pillars” with Tollef Østvang. Mars was recently nominated for a very special award and check out our chat to find out who his competition is. Can you say, teacher Vs. student? Of course, I couldn’t let Mars go with talking about one of his projects, Liquid Soul and we started the conversation about perhaps an upcoming Midwest tour? Who knows??

Mars Williams by French Quarter Photography

Bringing Some Big Easy To Madison

New Orleans Suspects began playing together back in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leafin New Orleans. The band is comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in the NOLA scene, bringing that “Big Easy” feeling wherever they play. Back in the day the group called themselves The Unusual Suspects. Their chemistry was undeniable and by the summer of 2011 they decided to tour full-time and created a new brand for their sound, renaming the band New Orleans Suspects. They quickly began attracting large crowds from coast to coast and in just a few short years they’ve released four albums and established themselves as one of New Orleans’ best supergroups.

I had a chance to chat with guitarist of the band, Jake Eckert about the upcoming show at the High Noon Saloon here in Madison on May 11th. We get a feel for what the artists making the music will be bringing to the party and how they will carry a little of that “Big Easy” feeling to out backdoor. The band has a new live album coming out and Jake and I dive into the similarities and differences of creating a live album versus the laboratory feel of a studio album..(from the two minds of Jake, the producer and the guitarist)..Very insightful conversation about the live beast. Since we chatted in the early portion of JazzFest, we touch base on the pacing an artists needs to have to properly survive this wild festival. Finally, see how we weave the almighty Col. Bruce Hampton into our conversation (on the day of his birth), and how familiar the words Jake shares about him are to what many others have said on this proGram.

Jake Eckert Photo by Eliot Kamenitz

That Sam Bush Sound

The Father of Newgrass and King of Telluride, Mr. Sam Bush, has long since established himself as roots high royalty. He is revered for both his solo and sideman work, which includes time with Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and Béla Fleck, to name just a very few. But instead of kicking back and soaking up honors such as an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award and suite of Grammys and International Bluegrass Music Association trophies, Mr. Bush still strives relentlessly to create something new. The Sam Bush Band tours extensively, appearing at many small venues and large festivals such as the Strawberry Music Festival (Memorial Day and Labor Day), Rockygrass (late July), and every spring at the Americana Festival, Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Sam Bush is known as one of the liveliest performers at these festivals, and makes many guest appearances with the other artists.

I had a great opportunity to catch up with Sam shortly after finishing up at this years Merlefest to talk about the upcoming show on May 12th at the Stoughton Opera House. We talk about the musicians and the music one could expect at this show, and the shared joy that is sure to circle around inside the venue.. We talk down he path of his first meeting with friend of the proGram, Mr. David “Dawg” Grisman, and how he feels after hanging out with him playing, still to this day (which really brought a smile to my face). Hearing Sam describe the recent and first meeting (on stage), with our pal, Mr. Tommy Emmanuel was a complete hoot, and made me wish I was in the crowd witnessing it. We tiptoe around the ongoing ideas for a few different new potential releases, a song the band has been featuring at recent shows and I am willing to bet, the sounds will be as fresh as can be and taking us all together with a joyful noise.

The Sam Bush Band by Shelly Swanger Photography

Johnny Iguana of The Claudettes

The Claudettes fuse Chicago piano blues with the full-throttle energy of rockabilly and punk and the infectious spirit of 1960’s soul to write a thrilling new chapter in American roots music. Johnny Iguana, who pounds the sound out of his piano has toured for years with his cult-favorite rock band Oh My God, is also a member of the Grammy-nominated groups Chicago Blues–A Living History and the Muddy Waters 100 Band. He has toured and recorded with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and more. The band recorded their brand new album, “Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium” with Grammy-winning producer Mark Neill (Black Keys, Paladins, Old 97’s, J.D. McPherson). It was released March 23, 2018 on Yellow Dog Records out of Memphis and on April 13 in Europe/UK on Continental Records Services.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Johnny recently to talk about what newcomers to this band and this sound can expect on May the 5th at The North Street Cabaret for a CD release party and aGain on May 28th at the World’s Largest Bratfest in Madison. We definitely dive into the creation of the new release and how it went from seed to flower, and not only does Johnny fills with pride when talking about his bandmates and he does the same when talking about many of his influences. The music the Claudettes create on stage is something to witness, as it is not easily wrapped into a box or tucked neatly into a genre…it is a sonic experience for open minds and ears that want to notice.

The Claudettes

The California Honeydrops Drop in on Madison

The California Honeydrops celebrate their tenth year together with the release of their 7th studio album and first ever double album, “Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2”. Even with this fresh release, they continue to tour worldwide. This band draws from diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to all their shows. They’ve taken this party all over the world, playing festivals and touring widely across North America, Europe and Australia. In 2016 & 2017 the Honeydrops were honored to support Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor with everyone, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing.

I had the chance to chat with Ben Malament, drummer and co-founder of the group, about the band’s upcoming show on May 9th at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what an unexpected audience member miGht expect from their first time at a Honeydrops’ show. We dive into the brand new release, “Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2”, and how they laid down the double album I am so pleased to be able to share with listeners. I was thrilled to hear abut the touring, and sharing times had with Bonnie Raitt, it’s a nice peek into the window of her coolness. Ben takes a few moments to lead us to some rare grooves that he would share with the audience of greenarrowradio if he were given the chance. This band is hot, and the burnin’ feels so good.

Nathaniel Braddock of Trio Mokili

Trio Mokili play roots and jazz-inflected renditions of music from across the African continent: Ethiojazz, Nigerian Afrobeat, Zimbabwean mbira music, Ghanaian Palm Wine, Malian desert blues, and more. Guitarist Nathaniel Braddock is considered a North American authority on African guitar styles, leading the internationally-touring Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int’l and collaborating extensively with musicians from Mali, Ghana, Zambia, and Congo. He is joined on drums by OBDBI bandmate Makaya McCraven and upright bassist Junius Paul. The group is working on their debut album, a mix of live and studio recording capturing the energy of their live improvisations and the sounds of the African golden age.

I had a chance to catch up with Nathaniel Braddock of Trio Mokili as they make their way back to Madison to perform at Arts and Literature Laboratory on April 27th. Nathaniel and I get into what folks in attendance can expect from an evening with this group as far as being a part of that shared moment. We talk about the process of creating a new album when the people collaborating are far apart and how the debut album is coming along. We also learn what Nathaniel would treat the listeners to is give the chance to take over proGramming greenarrowradio for a bit.

Wil B. of Black Violin

Black Violin is an amazing treat. Part classical music (both Kev and Wil are classically-trained string instrumentalists), part hip hop and completely cool, there’s Kev Marcus on the violin and Wil B. on the viola. The open-mindedness of combining many beats and styles gives them a distinct style that have captured the ears of all listeners of art. The duo current performs with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes to help bring this uniqueness to the masses. Their popularity has risen with a performance accompanying Alicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Awards, and by performing on the same bill with some of the industry’s biggest artists, such as Wu-Tang Clan, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. The two men are also avid producers and writers, having worked with people like Kanye West, Tom Petty, and the members of Aerosmith. Receiving a great honor, they were invited to play at the Kids Inaugural Concert, one of the inaugural balls for United States President Barack Obama, in 2013. The concert was a special tribute to military families and was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Malia and Sasha, and Second Lady Jill Biden.

I had an opportunity for a brief conversation with Wil B on his day off (thank you Wil) to discuss what the folks in Madison are geared up for when Black Violin heads to the Overture Center on May 3rd. We get into what opportunity means not only for them, but how to try and open up the world to the youth by believing in themselves. We discuss the path to and the doors that opened for both Wil and Kev to be where they are today.

Time Spent With John Scofield

John Scofield is considered one of the most important guitarists and composers in jazz. His influence began in the late 70’s and is going strong today. Possessor of a distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Mr. Scofield is a masterful improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B. He has prominently led his own groups in the international jazz and contemporary scenes, recorded over 40 albums as a leader (many already classics) and collaborated with current favorites and jazz legends like Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Gov’t Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland and Phil Lesh to name only a few. Throughout his career John has punctuated his traditional jazz offerings with funk-oriented electric music. All along, the guitarist has kept an open musical mind and a variety of audiences in the jazz, rock and classical realms.

I had a chance to share some time with John talking about the upcoming gig at The Barrymore Theatre on 4/21 with the John Scofield Joe Lovano Quartet. We discuss what someone who has never heard the music this quartet creates might be in store for at the show, and how John and Joe have known and grown with each other over a lifetime. It is true that this quartet does not hit the road that often, so catch them while you can. We get into how songs are selected and how the group feeds off one another during a set to keep that moment in time, securely unique. It was thrilling to hear of his working with some of the greats, but we single out Chris Wood (MSMW was about to play a show together) and Warren Haynes (John and Warren just went to a cool concert toGether – find out what is was by listening in). The versatility John shows in his music is the type of path I enjoy weaving from set to set, making those sound neighborhoods that otherwise may never bump into one another, and I think John would enjoy walking down the sidewalks with me in the greenarrowradio hood.

Mr. John Scofield

Lined Up With Joe Marcinek

Joe Marcinek Band is an experience you may never forget. That is because each show features a different lineup of musicians creating a different set of music every night. The music is equal parts Chicago Blues, New Orleans Funk, Grateful Dead Psychedelia, and Jazz Fusion for open minded listeners. Joe tours nationally from New York to LA and everywhere in between. Most of these lineups will only happen one time making every night a can’t miss and unique show.

We are fortunate here in Madison to have an artist like Joe always find a way to bring his unique band meld to us. These incredible one off type shows make for such memorable times for both the audience and the band. Once again, the Joe Marcinek Band is heading to Madison to play the Harmony Bar on April 14th. Joe and I took a moment to catch up and discuss who he will be teaming up with to make music for Madison, we discuss recent working with friend of the program, Mr. Alan Evans (Alan played with Joe and is mixing Joe’s new album. We also talk about teaming up with our boys, Groovesession in Cali and did I mention a new album? Oh yes, we talk about a potential dream come true scenario for Joe with this new record, and once it is finished, I’ll be able to put it into your ears first. And as always, Joe and I mention our bridge connection and respect to Dr. Bernie Worrell.


Photo by: Ian Rawn Photography
More of Ian’s work at his FB page and his IG.

Grahame Lesh and Midnight North

In June of 2017 Midnight North released their third studio album: “Under the Lights”. On this full length record, the band left all they had on the court. Recorded by David Simon-Baker (Los Lobos, ALO, Jackie Greene, Mother Hips) at the Greene Room and Allegiant Studios, “Under the Lights” features their eleven best new tunes. Expect twang of of country on tracks like “The Highway Song” and “Greene County”, morsels of soul on the likes of “Back To California”, but mostly good solid rock and roll. With strong melodies and stronger harmonies, for this band it comes down to one thing: the song.

I had a chance to catch up with Grahame Lesh to talk about the upcoming show on 4/14 at the Midwest Music Festival in LaCrosse and here in Madison on 4/15 at High Noon Saloon. We get into what to be ready for at the show and how the newest release will play in and out live. We dive into the making of the album and how the stories experienced on a tour get worked up, and expressed on a recording and how much this group definitely enjoys stretching it out for those who make it out. Grahame shares his insights from playing both the bigger festival scene(s), and holding down their fifth year of Sunday nights at his dad, Phil Lesh‘s exceptional venue, Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA. If you are looking for some harmony in your life, the music of Midnight North will definitely bring it your way.

Midnight North

Chris Wood of The Wood Brothers

While brothers Chris and Oliver Wood have been rooted in music since early in their childhood, clearly at times they have made such different types of music over the years, but the influences of their early lives brings them back when The Wood Brothers create together. The storytelling and unique sounds have been gaining all sorts of musical momentum over the years and have included the stages of many a great place, with great people. Now that they are more of the final act on many of those stages, we get an album to match. The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, “One Drop of Truth”, dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. So, grab some popcorn and beer and tune in.

I had the chance to chat once again with friend of the proGram, Mr. Chris Wood about the upcoming SOLD OUT show at the Majestic Theater in Madison on April 12th, with the wonderful Nicki Bluhm opening. We talked about what to expect this time around at the live event as well as dissecting a couple of the tracks on the new release. Chris talks about how working with a variety of artists and art taps into the creative spirit of this band, and we spend a little time talking about Mr. John Scofield in particular as I had just spoke to John about playing with MMW an hour earlier.

Chris Wood

Kevin Ford of Chicago Afrobeat Project

After roughly 15 years, hundreds of tour dates, and four studio releases, Chicago Afrobeat Project has found ways of interpreting afrobeat through American urban sounds. Through it all, CAbP has been at the center of the emergence of the North American afrobeat scene and they are constantly focused on keeping the foundation of the music and creative pallet the same but they are always an ever-evolving force. As we sit in 2018, the changes and interpretations of old into new should open ears and minds of a wider audience base, so when you get the chance, take it.

I had the chance to chat with Kevin Ford, keyboardist/producer, about the upcoming show on April 7th at The Sett at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). We shape the image of what someone who has no clue what a Chicago Afrobeat Project will present to them at the show. While the goal of the show is to get down and have a great time, the event is definitely a conscious party. We get into the making of the new release “What Goes Up” Ft. the legend, Mr. Tony Allen and how getting to work and perform with Mr. Allen kept the band on it’s musical toes. We also learn what Kevin is listening to these days and how that could easiler turn into a wild DJ set duo with the two of us.

Chicago Afrobeat Project Full Band

Spending time with Del McCoury

Mr. Del McCoury has had a long career in bluegrass. Although originally hired as banjo player, he sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1963, with whom he first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 1980s his sons began performing with him. Fiddler Tad Marks and bass player Mike Brantley joined the group in early 1990s. They relocated to Nashville, Tennessee as they began to attract attention. Fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Mike Bub joined in 1992. Alan Bartram joined the band as bassist in 2005. Mr. McCoury became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in October 2003 and has influenced a great number of bands, including Phish, with whom he has shared the stage several times and who have covered his songs. He has also performed with The String Cheese Incident and Donna the Buffalo, and recorded with Steve Earle. Mr. McCoury has covered songs by artists as diverse as The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tom Petty, and Richard Thompson and has appeared at festivals including Bonnaroo, High Sierra, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and the Newport Folk Festival. In 2008, Mr. McCoury started DelFest, an annual bluegrass festival in Cumberland, Maryland, held at the Allegany County Fairgrounds with the Del McCoury Band plays every night at each of the festivals.

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. McCoury to support the April 21st show at the Stoughton Opera House. We spent time talking about the history of Bluegrass music, from when he started to where it is now. We got into a discussion about his soon to be released album, “Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass” will drop this May 25th, smack dab in the middle of Delfest and along side the release of his son’s group, The Travlin’ McCoury’s new release. We spoke about his work with Jerry Lee Lewis and friend of the proGram, Mr. David “Dawg” Grisman. We even get a little insight as to the first time Mr. McCoury met up with Jerry Garcia and what could have become of it if Jerry was a little less shy.

It is always a treat to speak with the greats, and in this case, it sure did not disappoint.

Mr. Del McCoury

Laura Rain & The Caesars at Club Tavern

Detroit’s Laura Rain and the Caesars transform funky soul and r&b into their own unique vision. Inspired by the spirit of classic recordings of time gone before us, Laura Rain creates her own environment of expression with a powerful and soulful voice. Formed in the Motor City in 2012 with her husband George Friend, the pair set off on a creative journey writing and recording their own music. The two received many accolades within the music press and radio with their debut release “Electrified” in 2013. Performing with a stripped down lineup of organ, guitar and drums….the band developed it’s signature sound, and cultivated a vintage toned energetic foundation. With the release of the fourth recording “Walk with Me”, Laura and the band push the envelope of this unique soul music. Channeling inspiration from Detroit’s long and legendary history of dance music, funk, blues, soul and r&b, Laura Rain gives modern music a raw, yet sophisticated shot of much needed authenticity and heart.

ON March 23rd at Club Tavern in Middleton Wisconsin, Laura Rain and the Caesars will bring that sound to the people. I had the opportunity to chat with Laura about what the audience should plan on gettin’ at this event, the process of creating their latest release and how the band and she have grown as creators. We spend some time talking about the place that is most intimate for her and George to write and record and how baby makes three has added to the mix. If you have a money-maker in your crew, let them know about this show….they may need to go SHAKE it there.

Laura Rain

Alan Evans Of Soulive Talks Cinematics Vol. 1

Soulive has been one of those bands I have been fond since the early days of listening and sharing music with others. They have played with many who have been on the proGram before and the sound they have been most known for over the years, deep funky rockin’ jams, always make for a great time whether over the radio or home stereo. There’s no telling what you’ll see when you press “Play” on the long-awaited new EP (been about six years since their last official release) from this genre-smashing groove dominating group, but these five dynamic new tunes are guaranteed to turn the backs of your eyelids into a vibrant, action-packed movie screen. With “Cinematics Vol. 1”, the band transforms their infectious blend of soul-jazz, hip-hop, R&B, funk and rock into a series of soundtracks for the movies of your mind.

I had the chance to talk to the man behind the kit for Soulive, Alan Evans about what the fellas (Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Al) have been up to since their last album. We talk a little about Alan’s Iron Wax Studio and where he might retreat to if ever in need of that time away from things. We spend some time discussing how this new release was born and how it grew up from that idea in infancy to this final product I get to share out with the listeners. We also touch base on a new band he is making music with, Matador! Soul Sounds and what he would play if given the opportunity to take over greenarrowradio for a bit.

Soulive-by-Arthur-Shim

Slop And Soul with Curtis Harding

Simply calling Curtis Harding a “soul man” feels reductive. Yes, his music is undoubtedly soulful and his songwriting is both evocative and provocative, but there’s more to his music than the stock imagery the label conjures. Harding’s voice can convey pain, pleasure, longing, tenderness, sadness and strength…..the entire gamut of emotions. Yet still, “soul man” seems too simple a description for musician like Curtis, a man who has lived multiple lives as a musician, participated in different scenes, and brought all those varied sounds and experiences together to carve out his own unique niche.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Curtis about the upcoming show in Madison on March 21st at the Majestic Theater. We give props to the band that’ll help create that night’s vibe, dig a little bit into that “Slop and Soul” sound and experience that he is getting well known for and we spend some quality time talking about the growth of him and his craft between the two releases, “Soul Power” in 2014 and “Face Your Fear” in 2017. We discuss some of the new things happening with him, such as his recent appearance playing with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, his work on the Sundance TV period drama series, “Hap and Leonard” and we get a glimpse into the styles of music and the flow Curtis would give the listeners of greenarrowradio if he took over proGramming for a bit.

Curtis Harding at the Echo (Photo by Andie Mills)

In The Nelson’s DNA

Our friends over at Ropeadope are thrilled to announce release of The John L. Nelson Project, “Don’t Play With Love”. The long anticipated album was in conversations between Mr. Nelson and his eldest daughter, Sharon, many years ago. In a time before Prince Rogers Nelson changed the world of music. Shelved as John L. Nelson frequently collaborated with Prince, the project re-appeared in serendipitous fashion with the sheet music falling out of a cabinet as Sharon Nelson was organizing (yes, just like the movie). Sharon brought the great Louis Hayes (her & Prince’s cousin) to Paisley Park with his seasoned band – including Richard Germanson, Dezron Douglas, Vincent Herring, and Jeremy Pelt. And these cats laid down seven tracks live. The incredible history paints the picture, and these players and those melodies let the music jump right off the canvas. “Don’t Play With Love” is a journey from the past to the present conjuring up the sense of an earlier time yet the feeling of the human emotion that rings true for eternity.

I had the distinct pleasure of discussing this new release with Ms. Sharon Nelson. We start off learning about the man, the father and the musician, John L. Nelson was. Kind, caring and hardworking went into all that he did. We dove into the journey that was life and how her dad’s would find time to write and create the songs that she and Prince would go to bed to each night. Because of their collaborations at times, you can hear the influence of Mr. Nelson in some of Prince’s music. As Sharon says a few times, “The music ran in our DNA”. We talk about how this Be-Bop sound is both fresh and familiar and how the incredibly talented group of musicians worked and shared this emotional journey with Sharon leading the production…..well, she does talk about the presence of her father and brother within Paisley Park overseeing the entire project. This to me is another wonderful peek into jazz music, into the Nelson family, and how a guy so many of us felt we knew, observed and allowed himself to be influenced. This album is important in so many ways, as a teaching tool, as a history book and as a look towards the future of modern music.

I am humbled and honored.

You can dive in and listen or take it home here

The John L. Nelson Project – Don’t Play With Love