Where Changes Have Led Neal Francis

Liberated from a self-destructive past and born anew in sobriety, Neal Francis has captured an inspired collection of songs steeped in New Orleans rhythms, Chicago blues, and early 70s rock n’ roll. His music evokes a bygone era of R&B’s heyday while simultaneously forging a new path on the musical landscape. Ohio-based Karma Chief Records (a subsidiary of rising soul label Colemine Records) released a full LP Changes on September 20, 2019. There is a deep connection between Neal’s 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. When you listen, you’ll hear AND feel it. While he pays tribute to the masters, he 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, Neal 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. The journey from a hospital bed to launching his solo career was neither predictable nor straightforward. There were musical fits and starts, relapses, and broken relationships. Yet the overwhelming passion driving Neal in this second act has been an abundance of creative energy. Determined to realize the songs swirling in his head, he assembled a crack team of musicians, calling on bassist Mike Starr (The Heard) and drummer PJ Howard (The Revivalists, The Heard). He linked up with producer and analog-obsessive Sergio Rios (Orgone, Cee Lo Green, Alicia Keys) and self-funded a trip to Killion Sound in Los Angeles to record the initial batch of material. Neal finished recording basic tracks for Changes in Los Angeles in February of 2018 and spent the following months doing overdubs in Chicago with engineer Mike Novak (who also recorded demos for the project). Soon after he began his touring career.

I had a chance to re-connect with friend of the proGram Neal Francis ahead of the January 30th show at the High Noon Saloon along with those colorful groovemasters, Turkuaz. Neal and I talk about all that has been happening since last we spoke on the record. He has been touring heavy on the back of the Changes release, and it’s some of the artists he is pairing up with that shows his musics flexibility, relatability and the handshake it solidifies with gratitude. We get into a new track that’s out today, what the future looks like with other “new to you” music and fellow artists on the mighty Colemine Records. I am thinking you must be ready to get yourself a taste of some Midwest soul, so check out what Neal is up to in a area near you.

Photo by Liina Raud

In The Bubble Bath With Blockhead

The internationally renowned NYC producer, Tony Simon, who goes by the moniker Blockhead has released ten albums over the past fifteen years, including four acclaimed records for Ninja Tune and numerous production jobs including notable works with Aesop Rock. He is regarded as one of the modern masters of instrumental hip-hop, and the forthcoming new album, ‘Bubble Bath’ sees him return to record-label-released music with the bold and exciting roster at Future Archive Recordings (co-founded by artists Arms and Sleepers, Sun Glitters, Little People and CNJR). ‘Bubble Bath’ is a record born out of meditative expression and ongoing personal creative challenge, key for a producer of BLOCKHEAD’s experience. Carried forward are the incredible hook and sample placement skills of classic works such as ‘Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book’ and ‘Music By Cavelight’, but what has emerged is an overwhelming sense of natural musicality and sophistication.

I had the chance to catch up with Blockhead ahead of the event in Madison on January 22nd at the High Noon Saloon. Tony will be here with fellow Future Archive Recording label mates Arms and Sleepers and Il:Lo. We get into the upcoming event and find out they way he executes his nightly plan. We dive into the way the new album went down and the moods that went into it’s creation. We talk about then versus now of beat selection, creation and how he feels about choosing the right sound. Tony even picks a tune off the new release to build a set around…..listen in to find out which way that set-list bends.

Soul Feeling The Music Of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio was formed in the spring of 2015 by Amy Novo, Delvon Lamarr’s wife and band manager. She told her husband she would take over his music career and all he had to do was find the musicians, create and play music. They originally started with different guitarist and drummer. Within a year they brought on infamous Jimmy James. Immediately the chemistry between the three of them was undeniable. With Delvon’s soulful organ sound, and Jimmy’s explosive guitar sound and the former drummer’s perfect pocket drumming, they had the perfect blend of Soul, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll. They started with a weekly residency at The Royal Room in Seattle for the first year then self-released their first album, playing short tours from Idaho, Spokane, Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, Portland, Reno, California, and tour in Europe. Shortly after signing with Colemine Records they re-released their album on a 45, LP, cassette, CD and digitally. The band has since gone from a local Seattle-based band to a national and international household name, traveling all over the United States and around the world. The love, passion and devotion Amy Novo, Colemine Records & The Kurland Agency has for their music creates the perfect power team. Now, with Michael Duffy as their drummer, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is ready to take their performance to new regions of the world, bringing their unique sound to fans across the globe.

I had the chance to catch up with Delvon ahead of the January 18th event at The Venue On Winnebago Street. We got into the scene a live event from the trio creates, from the dancing feet to the opening minds. We talk about the relationship they have with the team at Colemine Records, as well as the other label mates and how this music travels when it heads to Europe. Delvon creates a set-list of sounds for us if I were to give him control of the board, and let me tell you, the listeners might let me take a little extra time off so they can get more of his selections. He built his set off of a soon to be released track from the Trio, that I get to world premier this week on the show. (Fo’ Sho’)

The Fun Way Works For Shamarr Allen

Shamarr Allen is the definition of New Orleans! Hailing from the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, he has influences in jazz, hip-hop, rock, funk rhythms, blues and country. He is the lead vocalist and trumpeter of his band “Shamarr Allen & The Underdawgs.” In addition to performing with his band, Allen has collaborated with many renowned artists around the world such as Willie Nelson, Patti LaBelle, Galatic, Harrick Connick Jr, and Lenny Kravitz, to name a few. He is a sought after artist for festivals and venues around the world. In addition to displaying his skills on the front-line as a lead performer, he is also a music composer, writer, and producer. With a scintillating and unique sound, look, and exemplary talents, Shamarr Allen transcends musical boundaries. He is the True Orleans experience!

I had a chance to catch up with Shamarr ahead of the January 9th, 2020 show in Madison at the Majestic Theater opening for G Love & Special Sauce. We get into what the party might be like when Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs bring their flavor of New Orleans to town, and how words can only do a slight justice to the experience of sharing a live show toGether. We talk about how he is able to take so many of the sounds he likes as a music listener and layer that into the traditional New Orleans sounds to pave his own path, to separate himself from others… I’d say it has worked out well as he played for President Obama, worked with many greats (we talk about how Willie Nelson‘s people contacted him) and keeps his focus on the “play” part of playing his music.

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Sharing That Juice With G Love

G. Love & Special Sauce is a three member alternative, blues, hip hop band originally from Philadelphia. G. Love proudly describes himself as a road dog who “will be touring until I fall off the earth” and plans to keep on pushing with Special Sauce from stage to stage. Whether Love Saves The Day makes one dollar or a million isn’t a big concern to him. It stands as a huge success because he made the gritty, honest album that he intended by “keeping it raw, keeping it immediate, keeping it real.” It’s an approach that he has honed over the years: “be original and be true to what you do.”

A longtime friend of the proGram, Garrett A.K.A. G. Love will be heading back to Madison on January 9th at the Majestic Theater with Shamarr Allen. Over the years, Garrett and I have talked many times, about many albums and upcoming shows (and defintely some hoops). This time we get into his soon to be released album “The Juice” produced by Keb’ Mo’ and put out there by his very own “Philadelphonic Records” imprint. We dive into that relationship and how the tweaks of working differently on a new project can take off in n upward direction. It was exciting to hear (and sounded exciting for Garrett to say) how this project changed him as a songwriter and after a few listens, I can easily hear that extra “juice” on these new tracks. We talk about collaborating and collaborators, recent nuptials and no plans on retiring now. Find out what three tracks off the new release Garrett would pack into a set-list for you and just what is “The Juice” anyways……here’s a hint….we all have it.

Photo: Kaelan Barowsky via G. Love

Southern Avenue Brings Many Shades of Blue

On their self-titled 2017 Stax Records debut album, the boundary-breaking Memphis group Southern Avenue sparked a one-band musical revolution, embodying an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members’ diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their own style. On their second album Keep On, set for released inn May via Concord Records, the dynamic outfit expands its gritty musical vision to embrace new musical challenges and a more expansive creative vision and includes guest appearances by Stax legend William Bell and renowned bass player Marc Franklin, to help flesh things out.. Combining the talents of a set of young musicians who bring their individual backgrounds and skill sets to create music that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century, Southern Avenue showcases the powerful chemistry and electrifying live show that they’ve honed through extensive stage and studio experience. Since the release of their debut, Southern Avenue has played in over a dozen countries and wowed audiences at such festivals as Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest and Lockn’.

I had an opportunity to speak with the bad’s guitarist Ori Naftaly ahead of their January 17th event at the Majestic Theater toGether with North Mississippi Allstars. Ori and I paint the picture of who will be giving what on that evening. We do a compare and contrast between the 2017 self titled album and the hot new release and how they both took shape and form. It is easy to talk about making unique music with many artists but I found it really interesting to hear how Ori finds the band’s sound influences the listeners around the globe versus when it is shared around the Mississippi River areas. Ori and the band are super excited to be out on the road officially with NMAS for a few dates and he opens the door to the information that they are working on a couple of new tracks with Luther and Cody. Stay tuned in!!!!

Photo by: David_McClister

Feel The Real With Brother Ali

Over the past 20 years, Brother Ali has earned wide critical acclaim for his deeply personal, socially conscious, and inspiring brand of hip-hop. Under Rhymesayers Entertainment, he’s unleashed a series of lauded projects, establishing himself as one of the most respected independent voices in music. His latest and surprise release ‘Secrets & Escapes’ is a compendium of his time with Evidence over the course of three trips to California, recording in a Venice garage with no regard for pleasing the internet or competing with the music industry. Ev chopped up records on old-school samplers and ran them through a compressor (2 track) so they couldn’t be re-arranged or mixed. Brother Ali sat with the mic and spit rhymes as they came to him, without writing or organizing them into songs. Ev smoked a lot of weed, Ali prayed a lot, and their influences on each other can be heard in the recordings. Every time they made something that reminded them of what they’ve become known for, they threw it away and started something new. Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and CS Armstrong all came through to bless the project with contributions too. This album is two friends making rap music for no other reason than because it’s what they love to do

I had the pleasure of chatting with Brother Ali ahead of his 12/18 stop back “home” in Madison at the Majestic Theater. We get into what someone unfamiliar with him can expect from that evening, the range of emotion and celebration that one feels at his shows is vast. We get into the seed to flower of his latest release and how it all of a sudden was there…..contrary to the process of creating it. I think the one thing that rings true when you listen to Brother Ali in this conversation, is the reality of the real and the feelings we feel can be done in your way, this is his.

Getting A Sample With DJ Logic

The theorem of turntablist as musician has been long proven in the capable hands of DJ Logic, whom with jazz as his foundation has become a wax innovator by crossing genres and mixing his sound across the map. As one of the world’s most accomplished turntablists, Logic is widely credited for introducing jazz into the hip–hop realms and is considered by most as a highly-respected session musician and an innovative bandleader. Since his emergence in the early nineties amidst the Bronx hip-hop scene, the New York City based deejay has been amassing a veritable mountain of collaborations, including a full-fledged band with members of Blues Traveler (The John Popper Project ft. DJ Logic), a trio with Steve Molitz & Freekbass (Headtronics), a jazz project with Georgian prodigy Beka Gochiasvili, and as a member of Grammy-winning Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s The Offense of the Drum album. He also has a long list of other collaborations with artists ranging from the likes of Bob Weir, John Mayer, Medeski Martin and Wood, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, Marcus Miller, Vernon Reid, Warren Haynes, Charlie Hunter, Jack DeJohnette, Ben Harper, Mos Def, The Roots, Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell, Melvin Gibbs, Fred Wesley, Sean Kuti and many more. Logic and his role as an electronic-music ambassador keeps him at the top of his game. Whether the scratch artist instructs tablas to flirt with drum ‘n’ bass (such as on his Nina Simone and Billy Holiday remixes found on Sony Legacy’s Remixed and Reimagined volumes), meshes free styling MC’s with Afro-Cuban rhythms (such as on ‘Share Worldwide Funk’ – a remix produced for Jack DeJohnette and Golden Beams Collected, Volume 1), or remixes tracks for rock bands such as Moon Taxi, DJ Logic can always be found paying homage to his predecessors while contributing his vision to the deejay genre.

I had the chance to catch up with Logic before he heads to Madison on January 9th to mix it up at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what newcomers can expect, how he chooses both his samples and his collaborators as well what he thinks they see in him as a musical partner. If you are wondering if there is new music coming at you from Logic in 2020, we will have an answer for you!!

In This Moment With Joe Marcinek

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

The group has featured many prominent special guests including Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking Heads), Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band), George Porter JR (The Meters), Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), Alan Evans (Soulive), Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk, Dave Mathews & Friends), Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy, Kirk Franklin), Allen Aucoin (the Disco Biscuits), Marty Sammon (Buddy Guy), Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident / EOTO), Erik “Jesus” Coomes (Lettuce), Borahm Lee (Break Science), Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), Mike Greenfield (Lotus), Borham Lee (Break Science), Steve Molitz (Phil Lesh & Friends / Particle) Joey Porter (The Motet / Juno What), Fareed Haque, Scott Metzger, Nate Werth (Snarky Puppy) Garrett Sayers (The Motet) Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain String Band), Freekbass, Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin (moe.)

I had a chance to catch up with our brother Joe ahead of the 12/28 show here in Madison at The Harmony Bar & Grill. We get into what someone who has yet to see what he’s doing can expect from this show and the other shows he is a part of. We find out who will be in the rotating line-up here in Madison and we dive deep into the reasons for the limited time releasing of his live show at the Fox with 2 special guests and just why it is dubbed: “Dead Funk Summit”. Don’t miss out, earGrab Joe’s music and scene wherever/however and whenever.

Feeling Ragmala With Adam Rudolph

For the past four decades composer, improviser/percussionist/moment creator Adam Rudolph has performed extensively in concert throughout North & South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He has been hailed as “a pioneer in world music” by the NY Times and “a master percussionist” by Musician magazine. He has released over twenty five recordings under his own name, featuring his compositions and percussion work. Adam composes for his ensembles Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures, Hu: Vibrational percussion group, and Go: Organic Orchestra, an eighteen to fifty four piece group for which he has developed an original music notation and conducting system. He has taught and conducted hundreds of musicians worldwide in the Go: Organic Orchestra concept. In 1995 Rudolph premiered his opera The Dreamer, based on the text of Friedreich Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”. Adam has performed with Don Cherry, Jon Hassell, Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders, L. Shankar, A.A.C.M co-founders Fred Anderson and Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, and Omar Sosa. He has toured extensively and recorded 15 albums with Yusef Lateef including duets and their large ensemble compositional collaborations. Between his beginnings of sharing his musical creations to the very moment of reading this word, Adam is combining so many factors of living and life into the living being of sound. He is able to connect many rhythms and grooves together through the relationships with the people, the places and the knowledge he has been able to soak in and forge a path forward with blends of the this and then and the then and now.

Adam is more than a friend of the proGram. The way he does what he does is exactly how I feel themusic I get. When I say get, I man that gets me. This time around we are discussing his latest project: “Ragmala: A Garland Of Ragas” with his Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive. We get into how these two musical energies got together to create this latest release, and how it works. We take a look inside a couple of the latest moments of evolution of tracks familiar to the ear and how intuition, integrity and worldly knowledge help in piecing or is that “PEACE-ing” it all together. We also discuss how such an expansive project of many is able to be performed in a live setting, and an upcoming December 13th concert. I always feel like my mind’s ear has been opened just a little wider after talking with Adam, and this time is no exception. As you listen in, you’ll understand. I also wanted to point out the fantastic and perfectly chosen art that accompanies this double record release (and some other release of Adam’s) by the artist, Nancy Jackson . I am proud to be apart of all that Adam does and the honor of bringing all this art to the listeners keeps me feeling real.

A Sacred Bond and Ada Rovatti

After studying at Berklee College of Music, Italian born saxophonist, composer and arranger Ada Rovatti moved to Paris before landing in New York City. She has performed and recorded with artists such as John McLaughlin, Mike Stern, James Moody, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath Patti Austin, Joe Bonamassa, and many more.
Ada was part of the Grammy winner CZD by her husband, Randy Brecker –“34 th N Lex” and on the acclaimed CD of John McLaughlin “Industrial Zen”and also appeared in the movie ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ featuring Julia Roberts
As a band leader she has released 5 Cds: Ada Rovatti & The Elephunk Band – For Rent (2003),Under The Hat (2003) Airbop (2006) Green Factor (2009) and Disguise (2014). Ada has toured with the Brecker Brothers Band Reunion with whom she recorded a live double DVD/CD from the Bluenote Jazz Club in NYC, and she just finished recording her new recording co-leading with Randy Brecker “Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond” which was just released at te end of October on Piloo Records.

I had the complete honor of spending a little timechatting with Ada about the fantastic new release, “Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond” and how this project went from seed to flower with all her original compositions while working with her husband, Randy Brecker and daughter Stella. We dissect a few of the tunes so when listeners get an earful, they can decide for themselves where it takes them. Ada reflects a little about working with the Queen of it all, Aretha Franklin and we also discuss her friendship with our friend, Lisa Maxwell and what being apart of her “Shiny” project was like. After checking out this chat, I bet you with feel like I do….let’s all go hang out at Ada’s and cook some food and listen to records and discuss what’s in our minds. This one reminds me once aGain that it’s often so much about the artists, not the just the art.

It’s a LITTLE WORLD with STEEZ

Churning out their self-described Creepfunk, a high energy, danceable variety of funk — one uniquely laced with electronic and improvisational sensibilities – STEEZ has garnered a loyal following throughout the Midwest performing at music festivals and to capacity crowds at rapidly growing venues. STEEZ repeatedly receives acclaim for their live performances, which typically include a seamless weaving of thoughtfully composed originals and crowd pleasing covers spanning from Madonna to clever obscurities like Genialistid (Estonia). Well established in the Midwestern jamband community, what really sets STEEZ apart is the camaraderie and endearing sense of humor. The band’s humble beginnings include getting banned for life from a venue after their first ever live performance, maneuvering a moped accident involving a parked car, and cruising the Midwest in the inspired 35 foot band bus, “Big Brown.” (RIP) While it’s the original songs and taut musicianship that initially grab both fans’ and critics’ attention, the band’s personality keeps it. STEEZ continues their musical endeavors by balancing extensive touring with studio time. STEEZ continues to rage major festivals such as Summer Set Music & Camping Festival, Wakarusa, Summer Camp Music Festival, Camp Bisco, Electric Forest, 10KLF and Rootwire, while grinding it out on the road throughout the Midwest and beyond. The band’s 4th studio album, STEREOVISION, was released in 2013 and can be found on bandcamp.com. The band’s 5th album, Little World, will be released November 23, 2019.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Guitarist, Steve Neary about the upcoming album release event on 11/23 at the High Noon Saloon. We got into the creation of the new album, “Little World” and how the sounds have changed, but also kept that same appeal that has been bringing the crowds out for years. We get an idea of how the term “Creepfunk” became a part of the STEEZ thang and we learn which song of the new album Steve has been digging the most (right now) and what other artists he would choose to build a set-list off of with that track being the starting point.

Alicia Olatuja Brings Intuition and More To Town

Praised by the New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone and an amiably regal presence on stage”, Alicia Olatuja has been astounding audiences with her exquisite vocals, artistic versatility and captivating demeanor. She first came into the national spotlight in 2013, whilst performing as the featured soloist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Barack Obama’s 2nd Inauguration. Shortly thereafter, she assembled her own jazz based ensemble & recorded her first solo album, “Timeless” in 2014. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Alicia grew up immersed in a wide range of musical styles, including gospel, soul, jazz & classical. These influences have informed her artistic journey and she later graduated with a Masters degree in Classical Voice/Opera from the Manhattan School of Music. After appearing in numerous operatic and musical theater productions she started to perform more regularly in gospel and jazz concerts and worked with such esteemed artists as Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans and Christian McBride. Also in 2014, Alicia came to the attention of the acclaimed composer/arranger/pianist & friend of the proGram Mr. Billy Childs, and was brought on to be part of the touring incarnation of “Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro” alongside vocalist Becca Stevens. Her voice has also entranced the another friend of the show, legendary Hammond B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, who has invited her to join his band on multiple concerts, including the Charlie Parker Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival & others. Now focusing on the rich contributions of a diverse selection of female composers, Alicia just released her sophomore album, “Intuition: From the Minds of Women”, on Resilience Music Alliance. The album celebrates the achievements of a long list of esteemed female composers, while offering a musical perspective unique to Alicia. She is joined by Kamau Kenyatta and Ulysses Owens Jr. as producers and the material includes songs of Brenda Russell, Sade, Tracy Chapman, Kate Bush, Angela Bofill & Linda Creed.

I had a chance to catch up with Alicia ahead of her visit to Madison on 11/21 with a show at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Play Circle. We get into what the lucky people in attendance can expect from that event, how she is able to adapt her craft to different styles of music and we go for a deep dive into the new album, “Intuition: From The Minds Of Women”. We also spend a little time building a set-list with Alicia – which song off the new album would she choose and what other artists/songs will build off it. Listen in and see that the person and personality is as important as the undeniable talent.

Photo by: Harrison Weinstein

The High Hawks Land In Madison on 11/10

No one knows where the train will take them. It’s one you jump on out of the curiosity and excitement of the unknown. The very wonder of what the stars and the spirits will conjure on any given jubilee. And what the hell is a High Hawk? The High Hawks, is a new all-star project comprised of friend of the proGram Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Adam Greuel (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans), Brian Adams (DeadPhish Orchestra), and Will Trask (Great American Taxi), will bring their blend of Americana, jam, and bluegrass music on the road.

The High Hawks will come together with friends including Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) and Chicago Farmer for their inaugural run of live shows. The band’s fall run began with a performance at Boulder, CO’s Fox Theatre on October 18th, followed by stops at Denver, CO’s Cervantes’ Other Side (10/19); Fort Collins, CO’s Aggie Theatre (10/20). After a short break to soak it all in, they head to Milwaukee, WI’s The Back Room @ Colectivo (11/7); Peoria, IL’s Spirit of Peoria (11/8); La Crosse, WI’s La Crosse Distilling Co. (11/9); and Madison, WI’s High Noon Saloon on November 10th.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Chad Staehly ahead of the November 10th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We talk about how the dip your toe in the water of the first couple of Colorado shows went and what type of momentum they are building on with each note played. We talk about the mission of the band and answer the question, “Just what is a High Hawk?” LoHi Records is a place where Chad (and Tim) are putting a lot of their energy – so learning a bit more on what they are up to and who they are working with really puts a pin in the music map and we find out what tunes/artists Chad would choose if he was to build a setlist for the listeners. Chad and I run in some of the same circles, so the setlist building conversation led us to talking about how artists can find support they need with any if their struggles. Platforms such as Backline and and Music Cares are some of the resources we discuss.

Hey Cancer….Get The Funk Out

The Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin is committed to finding the best ways to detect, prevent, diagnose & treat cancer. As one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Carbone Cancer Center is providing treatment, education & research for all-types of cancer. Any donations to Funk Out Cancer will go directly to the Paul P. Carbone Cancer Center Fund which is funding innovative research to help find the cure for cancer. 100% of these funds will be used by the leading researchers & doctors at the University of Wisconsin for cancer research. There has been significant progress made with the help of these generous donations and Funk Out Cancer is helping to create awareness & fund the advancements in cancer research at the Carbone Cancer Center.

The goal for Funk Out Cancer is to raise $50,000 on a night filled with great friends, incredible music, and generous donors.

I am always honored to be a part of helping spread the word about this event. I had another chance to check in with Al Falaschi about the FUNK OUT CANCER event being help this year on November 2nd at The Orpheum in Madison. We get into the concert portion by talking through what artists will help to get the funk out, we talk about how this event…this party.. got started and the personal story that accompanies the funk. We also tackle one of the silent auction items (check out the Facebook event page for more info) to find out more about what it is and a piece of interesting history around it…do you know what a Wisconsin themed stumpf fiddle is? Right. We have all been in the path of cancer’s travels and what better way to share in the journey then to meet up together to tell cancer to get the funk out!

Flowpoetry Compression Release & R-n-R Show

FlowPoetry (aka Adam Gregory Pergament of Madison, WI) to release a book of poetry titled “Compression” as part of a Rock and Roll show at High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI on Monday November 18, 2019 presented by High Noon Saloon, Knuckleheads Tobacco and Gifts, and WIJAM. In addition to the book release and FlowPoetry performance, music will be provided by Glostik Willy, a “Hippy Metal” power trio from Indiana, and Tate McLane, a folk artist from Minnesota. “Compression” is FlowPoetry’s second published work in-print and seeks to explore the percussive possibilities of his poetry through chants and stripped-down lyrics. Themes range from the political to the loss of love to the profound joy and necessity of creative expression. FlowPoetry’s 1st book was published in 2014 and compiled a 50-part series of poems originally published on-line through Sensible Reason, a millennial culture website headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

I had the chance to catch up with Adam to get a bigger picture of what this event, and this book of poetry was all about. We get into idea behind having a rock and roll show surrounding a poetry book release with a poetry sharing from the stage. We dive into the creation of this new project and where it was born and how cutting out some of the fat, led to the feeling and feelings of these new poems. If this event sounds like something you may never have seen before, it very well could be. What better reason to add it to your schedule?

WHO: FlowPoetry (WI-Spoken Word), Glostik Willy (IN-Hippy Metal), Tate McLane (MN-Folk)
WHAT: FlowPoetry’s “Compression” Book Release and Rock and Roll Show
presented by High Noon Saloon, Knucklehead’s Tobacco and Gifts Madison, and WIJAM
WHERE: High Noon Saloon (701 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703)
WHEN: Monday Nov. 18, 2019; Doors at 6:30; Show 7:30-10:30

Going Into The Old New with Tomeka Reid

Recently described as a “New Jazz Power Source” by the New York Times, cellist & composer Tomeka Reid emerged as one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in the Chicago’s bustling jazz and improvised music community over the last decade. Now based in New York, her distinctive melodic sensibility, usually braided to a strong sense of groove, has been featured in many distinguished ensembles over the years. She has been a key member of ensembles led by legendary reedists like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, as well as a younger generation of visionaries including flutist Nicole Mitchell, singer Dee Alexander, and drummer Mike Reed. She is also a co- leader of the adventurous string trio, Hear in Now, with violinist Mazz Swift & bassist Silvia Bolognesi. Tomeka released her debut recording as a bandleader in 2015, with the eponymous recording by the Tomeka Reid Quartet (Jason Roebke, Tomas Fujiwara & Mary Halvorson), a lively yet charged debut album that is a vibrant showcase not only for the cellist’s improvisational acumen, but also her knack for dynamic arrangements and her compositional ability. She grew up outside of Washington D.C., and her musical career kicked into gear after moving to Chicago in 2000 to attend DePaul University for graduate school. Her work with Nicole Mitchell and various Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians-related groups have proved influential to the young musician. By focusing on developing her craft primarily as a side person and working in countless improvisational contexts, Tomeka has achieved a stunning musical maturity and is a 2016 recipient of a 3Arts award in music and received her doctorate in music from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign in 2017.

Right before she was heading out the door to go on a European tour with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, I had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Tomeka ahead of her upcoming upcoming travels through Wisconsin with her quartet, including a stop at Arts & Literature Laboratory on October 31st. We dive into what those in attendance could expect from a live show, the creation of the freshly released (October 4th) album “New Old” on Cuneiform Records and the talent (Jason Roebke, Tomas Fujiwara & Mary Halvorson) she has alongside her on both the album and the tour. I am such a fan of this new music as it has the unique ability to take me there, from here and the explorations of both spaces and the in between stop me in my tracks….I can hardly imaGine how incredible it will translate into a shared listening room. I feel connected to Tomeka through her textures and melodies and I have a sneaky suspicion, others will find that same connection, whether it be from the record or the live event.

Miles Davis’ Nephew Talks Rubberband And…

Miles Davis shocked the music world in 1985 when he left Columbia Records after thirty years to join Warner Bros. Records. In October of that year, he began recording the album Rubberband in L.A. at Ameraycan Studios with producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles. The musical direction Miles was taking during the sessions marked a radical departure, with the inclusion of funk and soul grooves; with plans to feature guest vocalists Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. Eventually, the album was shelved and Miles went on to record Tutu, leaving the Rubberband songs unheard and untouched for over 30 years. Miles Davis’ fans finally got a taste of the iconic trumpeter’s long-lost album last year with the release of a four-song Rubberband EP for Record Store Day, which is also available digitally. Now Rhino is excited to announce that the entire 11-song Rubberband album made its debut on September 6 on CD, digitally, and as a 180-gram 2-LP set. It was finished by the original producers Hall and Giles; with Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., who played drums on the original sessions for the album in 1985-86. The cover art for the album is a Davis original painting from the time.

In 2017 – 32 years after Davis started recording Rubberband– Hall, Giles, and Davis’ nephew, Wilburn, Jr., began work to finish the album. The final version includes several guest artists including singers Ledisi (a 12-time Grammy nominee) and Lalah Hathaway (daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway). Miles Davis – who plays both trumpet and keyboards on the album – was joined in the studio by keyboardists Adam Holzman, Neil Larsen and Wayne Linsey; percussionist Steve Reid; saxophonist Glen Burris; and Wilburn, Jr. on drums. The sessions were engineered by Grammy®-winner Reggie Dozier, whose brother Lamont Dozier was part of the legendary Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland.

I had the honor of catching up with Miles Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr. to talk about the path this new album has taken from the earlier sessions to it finally being released in September. We get deep into how his uncle was not one to stand still too long in the same sounds and how evolution was always something he would strive towards. I have to tell you it was thrilling to hear about some of the ins and outs of Miles Davis from Vince, a person that spent a lot of personal time with and creating music time with the “Chief”. We also find out why Vince would suggest to anyone who wants to know more about the real story of Miles to check out Stanley Nelson‘s new documentary Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool. And you don’t think Vince is just sitting round relishing in the fact he has this legend of an Uncle – we find out what other things are going in his musical world and how the music of Miles Davis, still keeps on evolving as others take knowledgeable visions and breath life into them.

Miles Davis – Rubberband (Mini-Documentary)

Walking In Gratitude With Melody Trucks

After touring with her father, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train, Melody Trucks immersed herself in the increasingly rich and diverse music scene in Jacksonville, Florida. The Melody Trucks Band came together in early 2017 as she encountered each member within this extended musical family. Their individual styles and influences run the entire span of every music genre: rock, blues, jazz, funk, classical, country, thrash metal, and even world music. This has culminated in fresh and unique interpretations of iconic songs from the genre of Melody’s extended family. After Butch passed, Melody found herself letting this musical path guide her and open a door to what was already inside her. As the live events added up, The Melody Trucks Band had all its proper pieces in place and the path led into the studio for their first studio effort. “Walking In Gratitude” drops on September 28th. The proper pieces that could only build this music are:

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

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

Photo By Michael Price

Secret Space of Dreams With Jay Blakesberg

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

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