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

Stories From The Living Room with Leftover Salmon

Few bands stick around for thirty years. Even fewer bands leave a legacy during that time that marks them as a truly special, once-in-lifetime type band. And no band has done all that and had as much fun as Leftover Salmon. Since their earliest days as a forward thinking, progressive bluegrass band who had the guts to add drums to the mix and who was unafraid to stir in any number of highly combustible styles into their ever evolving sound, to their role as a pioneer of the modern jamband scene, to their current status as elder-statesmen of the scene who cast a huge influential shadow over every festival they play, Leftover Salmon has been a crucial link in keeping alive the traditional music of the past while at the same time pushing that sound forward with their own weirdly, unique style.

I had the pleasure of catching up with friend of the proGram, Vince Herman ahead of the Friday, April 25th “An Evening with Leftover Salmon: Stories From The Living Room” event at the Stoughton Opera House. Vince and I get into what separates this event from the festival shows this eclectic group is definitely known for. We get into the way their music comes together now versus a time ago when I first got a taste back in the mid to late 90’s. I would be remiss if we didn’t talk a bit about what it is was like to be chronicled in pictures form in the new book: “Leftover Salmon – Thirty Years Of Festival!” by Tim Newby, which has been available since February of 2019. If you don’t know…maybe it’s just time you go.

©2016 ShowLove Media || All rights reserved || Photo by John-Ryan Lockman

Swarm To Table With Brooklyn Bugs

Brooklyn Bugs is an edible insect ambassador. Their mission is to raise appreciation and awareness for edible insects through delicious, educational, and creative programming. Their interesting work has been featured on the Smithsonian Channel, New York Times, NPR, Food and Wine, Live with Kelly and Ryan, Forbes, and Gizmodo, as they help explain why the United Nations endorses edible insects to address the issues of food scarcity and sustainability. They work hard while striving to introduce edible insects and normalize them in America as a sustainable source of protein that can be found in your pantry, eaten as a snack, and beautifully plated by chefs. They are currently on their Spring College Tour, which this year is bringing them to the University of Wisconsin (Madison). Joseph Yoon is an entrepreneur who is the chef/owner of Yummy Eats (est 2011) and Dinner Echo, and the Executive Director of Brooklyn Bugs. Joseph views his participation in this global food movement as an extension of his commitment to his community, and volunteers his time and resources with both Brooklyn Bugs and Yummy Eats. Our kinda guy.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Joseph ahead of his upcoming time in Madison for the Edible Insects Event: “Swarm To Table” Series from April 25th – April 27th. We first discuss what the mission and importance of Brooklyn Bugs and why edible insects is a topic we are proud to be discussing here at the UW. We dive into what this three-day event series will be all about with featured presentations by leading researchers in the field of insect agriculture and experts in insect cuisine, pairings of edible insects with Wisconsin craft beers, and culminates in a delicious multi-course insect banquet and art show. For this event series, Joseph will be delivering an informational lecture on the 25th from 1:00 – 3:30 PM at UW Engineering Hall – Room 122 Entitled: “New Frontiers In Insect Cuisine”. On the 26th, he will be doing a hands-on workshop: “Cooking With Insects” from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Food Apps Lab – Babcock Hall. The event winds down with the Swarm-To-Table Gourmet Insect Feast and Art Exhibit with a partnership with the fine folks from Slow Food UW & MIGHTi, While all the portions Joseph is participating in or leading are cool, there are a several other things happening as well. Click here for more.

Since I originally aired this conversation on Record Store Day, we talked about some of his most favorite artists to listen to on vinyl and man, there were some wildly symbiotic connection points going on during that part of the chat. Try it. You know you wanna.

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Black Ants, Scorpions Lobster: Image of Brooklyn Bugs

The Wooten Woods Experience Comes Alive

Born into a traveling military family, bassist Victor Wooten relied on music as a source of stability and familial connection. Wooten’s formal training began “as soon as [he] could sit up straight,” and by the age of six, he and his brothers’ soul band were opening for legends like Curtis Mayfield and The Temptations. After moving to Nashville a few decades later, Wooten met banjoist Béla Fleck and formed Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, whose revolutionary blend of funk, bluegrass and jazz catapulted Wooten into the spotlight. Despite his impressive musical resumé, which includes five Grammy Awards and a spot on Rolling Stone’s top ten bassists of all time, Wooten has remained humble and a champion for the arts by running “Wooten’s Woods”, a nonprofit camp for musical development. Wooten’s charitable philosophy is derived in part from his instrument of choice. “As I started getting older and really looking at the bass,” he explains to the Chicago Sun-Times, “I realized, ‘wow, the whole purpose of this instrument is to serve other people’ … I’ve grown to love it for that reason.”

Victa has been a long time friend of greenarrowradio and it was great caching up aGain ahead of the April 18th event, The Victor Wooten Band & The Wooten Woods Experience at Memorial Union’s Shannon Theater. This is another fantastic hang with a man who devotes as much energy to the creation of new music as he does to the give back to students of life. We get into the feelings he has of the 20th year of Music & Nature Camps, and how this tour is unlike anything else he’s done. He will not only be playing music. We talk about who will be playing with him as “the” band, but we will also be treated to current and former students, instructors, and counselors from the camps to share in the holistic view of the different ways of teaching/learning, using nature as a guide to use what we learn straight away. There will also be a couple of teachers from the camps other special guests. We highlight some other unique moments that will take place during this interactive experience, with someone from the audience invited to learn and share and the fact that at every show, a bass guitar will be given away to start someone else’s new journey. Since, this is right around Record Store Day, I make sure to find out what Victa thinks are some albums best suited for vinyl play and who was sitting right next to him as we were discussing all this. This conversation reminds me why I love Vic and his approach to going about it all. Please check it out and share, even if you are not in Madison for this particular event.

Durand Jones & The Indications Back In Madison

Durand Jones & the Indications aren’t looking backwards. Helmed by foil vocalists in Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer, the Indications conjure the dynamism of Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield, and the Impressions. This young band of twenty-somethings are students of soul, including guitarist Blake Rhein, who moonlights doing research for The Numero Group. Even with that background, and an aesthetic steeped in the golden, strings-infused dreaminess of early ‘70s soul, the Indications are planted firmly in the present, with the urgency of this moment in time.

I had the chance to catch up with Durand Jones and Aaron Frazer of Durand Jones and The Indications ahead of their April 10th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what the audience can expect from the band now as they have started to really come into their own as soul music’s latest “real deal”. We dive into the brand new release, “American Love Call” as it went from ideas into a piece of work I consider to be timeless and important. We compare the times of now to the times before and where the path has led them as friends, people and band-mates. Both Durand and Aaron let us know which song they would choose off the new release to share with the greenarrowradio audience if they were taking over the proGramming and what other artists/tunes they’d pair with that track. If they come to a town near you, please follow my soul advice and check it out. You will not be disappointed.

Photo by: Mark Jackson

Etienne Charles’ Carnival Project

Etienne Charles is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Michigan State University. Hailed by The New York Times as “an auteur” (Ben Ratliff), by Jazz Times as “A daring improviser who delivers with heart wrenching lyricism” (Bill Milkowski). According to Downbeat Magazine “Charles delivers his ebullient improvisations with the elegance of a world-class ballet dancer.” (John Murph). He has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions and knack for connecting with audiences worldwide. In June 2012, Etienne was written into the US Congressional Record for his musical contributions to Trinidad & Tobago and the World. Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation or Eastern Caribbean origin, Etienne brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean to the table. Crucially, as a soloist, he fully understands the New Orleans trumpet tradition; which is readily discernible in his trademark instrumental swagger, and what famed Crescent City Pianist, Jelly Roll Morton so succinctly captured in the now immortal phrase, ‘The Spanish Tinge’. He has performed and or recorded with Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, Ralph MacDonald, Johnny Mandel, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Maria Schneider, Count Basie Orchestra, Eric Reed, Lord Blakie, David Rudder and many others. He holds a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.

I had the honor of chatting with Etienne recently about his latest release, “Carnival: The Sound of a People”. We dissect a few of the tracks, from their beGinning stories through the history of a cultural experience that is as much celebration, as it is a spell. We talk about how the album went from it’s infancy to a place where listeners and music sharers alike can go to place that is tracked in certain storytellers tales, but is as culturally important to a people, as the food the grow and the children they raise.

Tim O’Brien Band Back in Stoughton

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song “Walk The Way The Wind Blows” in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, friend of the program, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin and produced records for Yonder Mountain String Band, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.

I had the honor of chatting with Tim ahead of the March 28th show at the Stoughton Opera House ahead of the March 28th show featuring the Tim O’Brien Band. Tim and I get into what a newbie to the scene could expect from an evening with the Tim O’Brien Band. We dive deep into their brand new self-titled album, talking about the seed to flower growth of its songs and style. The album dropped today. It is always of interest to get into the music scene changes from artists that have been around the block a few times and Mr. O’Brien is no exception. We talk about some of the gifts and challenges of the scene today versus some odd years aGo, when he first got started. If you’ve ever wondered what he might share if given the opportunity to take over a radio show, Tim tells us what he would share if he had some time programming greenarrowradio one of these day.

The Smooth Power Of Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings

For nearly 30 years, Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings have continued to bring the blues (and beyond) to its legions of fans around the world. He was indeed named for the singing cowboy. A singer, himself, and also a master slide guitarist with a distinctive and instantly recognizable style, Rogers has recorded with Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, Norton Buffalo, and recorded two albums together in a band with former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. As a producer he is perhaps best known for John Lee Hooker’s classic comeback album “The Healer” featuring Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Los Lobos and more which earned a Grammy Award. I have been such a fan of this man’s body of diverse works build around that distinct sound, enhancing many set-lists with the slide stories he weaves.

I had the pleasure of finally catching up with Roy ahead of his March 28th show at Shank Hall in Milwaukee and his March 29th show at the Stoughton Opera House, both with his power trio, The Delta Rhythm Kings. Roy and I get into what those who might be new to his sound can expect from a live event from the sound down to the important interacts between musicians and audience. We try to define what makes his distinct sound so distinct and the bottom line was drawn at: “You got to feel it”. Roy mentions a bit about his time working with John Lee Hooker and how he learned more about life than music from this master, and we spend a little time talking about what it was like working with friend of the proGram, Shana Morrison.

Buck Up In Madison With Carsie Blanton

Carsie Blanton is a singer-songwriter who grew up in rural Virginia and landed in Philadelphia in fall of 2006. Since then, her soulful, playful, intelligent music has earned her tons of national respect from fans and fellow artists. She has released five studio albums: Ain’t So Green (2005), Buoy (2009), Idiot Heart (2012), Not Old, Not New (2014), So Ferocious (2016)—and three EPs—Hush (2002), Beau (2010), Rude Remarks and Dirty Jokes (2013). Once she began working with manager Bill Eib (Amos Lee, Mutlu Onaral), she was quickly playing over one hundred live shows a year. In 2010, Blanton performed live on NPR’s nationally syndicated program, Mountain Stage, and opened for The Weepies and Shawn Colvin. In 2011, Blanton toured with Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown: A Folk Opera, playing the role of Head Fate. In 2014, Blanton performed on the nationally syndicated NPR program Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. She was also fortunate to have opened multiple shows on Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What tour. Carsie has also shared the stage with nationally hailed acts Amos Lee, Nellie McKay, John Oates and Leon Redbone, and has toured with Loudon Wainwright III, and with Blue Note recording artists and friends of the program, The Wood Brothers. And now, she has dropped a new album in February of 2019, Buck Up, that aims to provide a little relief from the now that is, happening now.

I had the chance to chat with Carsie ahead of her March 24th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We dive into the moods and melodies that drove the new release from a seed to a flower and just how she can make anything sound catchy, sexy and fun. We spend time getting to know the person that is behind the music, if you check out her blog, you’ll see (and read) that she says it like she feels it, and she tells us what ideals/values got mixed up in a blender to create the her she is. It is always interesting to find out which song an artist would choose to air on the greenarrowradio proGram if given the opportunity and what they would surround it with in a set-list, Carsie’s choices are shared so we get a sense of what direction it might go.

Take A Live Risk! With Kevin Allison In Madison

Actor, comedian and master storyteller Kevin Allison brings his award winning storytelling show RISK! live back to Madison on Saturday, March 16, at the High Noon Saloon. The night will feature Kevin and local storytellers taking the stage to tell their true, personal tales “they never thought they’d dare to share.” Storytellers are still in the selection process, I can tell you the cast once confirmed. The show will be recorded for the popular RISK! podcast which gets a million downloads every month. RISK! has been hailed as “always entertaining” (The New York Times), “consistently unforgettable” (The AV Club) and one of the Best Podcasts To See (Entertainment Weekly). Kevin Allison is a founding member of legendary comedy troupe The State whose MTV series remains a cult classic. He is also the creator and host of RISK!, the award winning live show and podcast where people their true stories ranging from hilarious to provocative to heartbreaking. Now in its 10th year, Kevin hosts RISK! live monthly in NYC and he tours RISK! around the world to feature local storytellers. The show has featured incredible true stories from Trevor Noah, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman and more, plus plenty of everyday folks.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Kevin ahead of the show in Madison to help get some newbees into the scene. We talk about what to expect at a live Risk! event. How the eye to eye delivery of a story can be life changing and just how he went about staring up this amazingly spot on podcast and live event series. Just from chatting for a bit with Kevin, I can tell how this show, these events and the people he gets to share stories with from either side of the ear are changing Kevin’s every day. Maybe it’s that change you have been waiting for?

I just received word that the Madison cast of storytellers to open their true, personal stories they never thought they’d dare to share are: Amanda, Amy, James and Stephanie.

Power Trio Cycles Ride Into Madison

Cycles brings the power-trio format at you with a ripping guitar, fat bass grooves played out through furious slapping, and dynamic drum beats flowing over intricate tempo changes. Each member wields a unique take on their instrument that when played together, forms a truly fresh and cohesive sound. Patrick Harvey commands the guitar with speed and precision while using his loop pedal virtually as its own instrument. Michael Wood has subtly forged a drum style that showcases his ability to mashup funky hip-hop beats with frenzied rock riffs and displays his flashy technique when necessary while implementing the creative use of various sound-modulating drum triggers. At the heart of the band lies Tucker McClung’s dominant slap-bass chops that captivates audiences & pumps the musical blood through the band. Drawing influence from artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Primus and Weather Report, Cycles fuse an eclectic blend of genres to produce a fresh and original sound. Just in the infancy state still, this band has over 250 shows under their belt with tours extending across the entire U.S.A.

They will make a stop in Madison on March 7th at the High Noon Saloon and I was able to chat with drummer, Michael Wood for a bit about the show, the band and the new live album. We get into what new ears to this band could expect from the upcoming event. We talk about how this band is a live band currently and why it was natural to put out a live album, brand new release “Selections, Vol. 1” dropped mid-February. Michael talks a little about his love of great studio albums and perhaps how that influences the next steps in growth for the band.

A Way with Words Heads To Madison

“A Way with Words” is a call-in public radio show about language. It’s heard across the country and around the world by broadcast and podcast.” This program is co-hosted by Martha Barnette, who is also a journalist and the author of several books on language, as well as Grant Barrett, who is a dictionary editor and linguist specializing in slang and new words. Sometimes the two of them bring this show out on the road where folks get to join this popular public radio’s lively show about language for a fantastic evening! Slang, dialect, etymology, language change, new words, and a whole lot more are on the agenda. Martha and Grant will explore the amazing oddities of English, from the very old to the very new — plus host a language Q&A where you can find out what you’ve always wanted to know. You’ll come away enlightened and inspired! These events are packed, lively occasions filled with language-y wows, linguisticky goodness, and bookish goofing around. Martha and Grant have already wowed them with packed houses in New York City, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Dallas, San Diego, Arcata, California, and Portland, Oregon.

I was able to catch up with Martha and Grant ahead of the March 7th event being held at the University of Wisconsin’s Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. We paint a little picture of what someone who has never been to a live “A Way with Words” event or someone who has no idea what the show is about, can expect. We talk a little bit about the fun times to be had by the entire room and some of the challenges Martha and Grant face while performing in a live setting as opposed to being in the comforts of the studio. For me personally, this show is so much about community building and adding steps to the bridge to one another, so we talk a little about how this show unites and is a source of connection for so many who may not otherwise think they have walked down similar paths. The truth is, whether live or on the radio or in a podcasted format, “A Way with Words” brings the cool nerd out of all of us, so maybe it’s time to let your inner nerd find some commonality with a word.

Changing The Pace With Andy Frasco

In 2017, Andy Frasco reached a fork in the road. Renowned for a jubilant jambalaya of rule-breaking rock-n-roll his career kept rolling ahead at full steam. To date, he had released three independent albums, chronicled a German gig in front of 15,000 screaming fans on the recent live opus “Songs from the Road”, made jaws drop at festivals such as Grandoozy, Firefly, Mountain Jam, Summer Camp, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park and Electric Forest, generated millions of streams, launched Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast, and performed at festivals alongside icons such as Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., The Revivalists, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few. After a string of wild shows (and wilder nights) on tour somewhere in the heart of America, one morning sounded a very loud wake-up call for the singer, songwriter, performer, and namesake of Andy Frasco & The U.N.

I had the chance to chat with Andy ahead of the March 6th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. Their first headlining show here in Madison and it sounds like Andy really loves the spaces, places and faces in our little city. We got into what someone who has never heard of his band could probably be in store for at the show. We talk about the lifestyle adjustments he made leading up to the brand new album (dropping tomorrow) aptly named, “Change of Pace” and how working with Widespread Panic‘s Dave Schools resulted in a song-centric album that brings attention to life, not just the party. We learn a little about what his podcast is all about and also what artists he would share to my listeners if given 42 minutes of greenarrowradio to proGram. Even tho there has been a change to his pace, there is no change to the man or the good time energy he will be sure to bring to everything he does. Take a listen for yourself!!

Music Behind The Glass With Sonny Landreth

Innovative Southwest Louisiana-based guitarist, songwriter, and singer Sonny Landreth is one of those musician’s musician. His blues slide guitar playing is distinctive and unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. His unorthodox guitar style comes from the manner in which he simultaneously plays slide and makes fingering movements on the fretboard. Mr. Landreth, can play it all, like any good session musician. His distinctive guitar playing can be heard on recordings by John Hiatt, Leslie West and Mountain, and many other rock & rollers. Sonny Landreth brings together blues, jazz, Cajun, zydeco, and rock music, creating a style that’s increasingly appealing to a wide array of listeners. Each of Landreth’s two solo albums is woven from the various musical styles he picked up in southern Louisiana, his home since the age of two. His ability to meld these loosely associated deep South genres has earned him a broad following, and, with twenty years as a professional musician, his resume is packed with a who’s who of of a crucial musical legacy. I invite you to do some research on the importance of Mr. Landreth to the musical communities, many of them and find the spot where his sound, his style hits you just right he is still, in my opinion, an underrated star that we have been fortunate to share a sky with.

I had the honor of spending a little time with Sonny ahead of the February 28th show at the Stoughton Opera House billed as “Marcia Ball/Sonny Landreth: Two Great Bands One Great Night”. And that is should be!. We find out what the flow of an event like this should be like for any newcomers to the scene. We spend a perfect amount of time understand the way Sonny does what Sony does. So often, we as listeners get all caught up in the sounds we hear, but we don’t always know the things that go into it. Sonny shares a little insight on the “Music Behind The Glass” that is what he does. We get into what a a hometown crowd does for any musician, but the reasons behind his 2017 release “Recorded Live In Lafayette”, really solidifies what a good time home-cooking can make for the music and the recordings. I always want to be in the decision making process of how what tunes get captured on a live album, so we find out a little of that selection process as well. We talk abut our mutual friend, Mr. Derek Trucks and how the stylings of others and being able to learn with and from other innovative, genre busting artists adds to not only the sound, but the songwriting. This is another one of those talks that I find myself thinking back on and saying to myself, “it’s no wonder I really dig this dude”.

Photo by: Brian Blauser

John Raymond & Real Feels Find Themselves In Madison

John Raymond is making a name for himself as one of the most promising, genre-bending musicians in jazz today. With a singular voice as a trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer, Mr. Raymond is “steering jazz in the right direction” (Downbeat Magazine) by pushing it’s boundaries, seamlessly incorporating indie-rock, folk and electronic influences into his music. Mr. Raymond has performed with artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, S. Carey (of Bon Iver), Orrin Evans (of The Bad Plus), and Cory Wong (of Vulfpeck) among others. He has released six albums since 2012 – four with his primary band Real Feels (w/Gilad Hekselman & Colin Stranahan), each receiving praise from Stereogum, the New York Times, Downbeat, JazzTimes and more. John has also established himself as a sought-after educator, both as Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Indiana University and as a guest clinician and soloist at schools around the world.

I had the pleasure of chatting with John ahead of the February 20th show in Madison, as John Raymond & Real Feels hits up Arts & Literature Laboratory to open doors into spots where music may not have yet found. John and I set the stage for folks who may not be familiar with him or his music and with words, he guides us through what new ears to this scene can expect in a live setting. We get led down the path that helps map out just how John has found his open mindedness towards music and his “Voice” in the jazz community (and beyond). With the release of a brand new album to support, “Live Vol. 2”, we get a little insight as to how Real Feels interpretation of a timeless classic got started, worked on and presented. All of this ties in nicely with learning how working with artists from many musical syles & genres has backed into the vision and feelings of Real Feels. As always, the best way to find out just what’s what, is to catch one or more of their shows.

Photo by: Andrea Canter

Madison Beats-n-Grooves With Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics

Anchor Bay, California based electronic music artist and producer Michal Menert draws breath from the world that surrounds him, transmuting daily inspiration into music that is singularly his own. Michal co-produced the chart topping Pretty Lights album “Taking Up Your Precious Time”, and it was only natural that he was the first artist to join Pretty Lights Music. His debut solo album “Dreaming of a Bigger Life” was released in 2010, followed by 2012’s mega-LP “Even If It Isn’t Right”. In winter of 2015 the highly anticipated “Space Jazz” was introduced to the world, followed by fall 2015’s debut release by his band Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics, “1”. Just this Winter, he and the Pretty Fantastics put out another ear and mind opening album, “From The Sea”. His no boundaries type approach has opened up very cool experiences and opportunities to collaborate, support, work with artists of all sorts, including Dead & Co., Mickey Hart, Bassnectar & Umphrey’s McGee are just a small sample. Committed to a community driven approach to collaborative creativity, Michal works hand in hand with producers he chooses for his own record label, Super Best Records. A dynamic and ideological producer, collaborating and working closely with a new generation of hip-hop & EDM producers, this is one artist who is dedicated to bringing a new musical vision to life free from limitation.

I had a chance to talk briefly (we had a wacky phone connection) with Michal ahead of his February 20th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We got into what one who doesn’t know could in a nutshell believe they are getting into when they walk into this show. We talk about how the music he creates has been influenced by the world around him and who helped open his ears to it all and I can’t help but notice that they way Michal approaches his creation of music, is very similar to how I go about trying to proGram greenarrowradio. We did get a little time to talk about the creation of latest album, “From The Sea” and how it went from the seed to the exploding flower of sonic goodness, I have been fortunate to share with he listeners.

Photo by: Bad Astronaut Photography