Keller Williams ‘Sans’ in Madison

Singer, songwriter, and all around cool guitarist Keller Williams is a sorta one-man jam band. His live shows feature him solo on-stage with a killer looping unit, and he creates and builds his backing loops in the moment, simultaneously improvising on the guitar guitar. He can make any song fun and funny, with a personality of their own. In 1994, he self-released his debut album, Freek. He relocated himself to Colorado the following year, and met up with the members of the progressive bluegrass band The String Cheese Incident at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and ended up touring with them as an opening act in 1997 and 1998. Staying creative and busy has never been an issue with Keller, he has released nearly an album a year, all with one-word titles. Not only is his own music something to grab onto, but Keller has managed to work with so many great people and artists along the way. He performs with a reason and for a cause and the giving back is always something new and unique.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Mr. Keller Williams to talk about his upcoming sow in Madison, “An Evening With Keller Williams” on November 30th, at the Majestic Theater. We break open the live show nut to let anyone who is unfamiliar into the who and what to expect from this event. We spend a good amount of time discussing the making of his latest release, Sans, believe it or not it’s his very first instrumental album. As always with him, there are so many projects going on to be a part of so we of course pitch a couple of these so people can get their ready….ready. The best part of the artists I get to meet up with is just that, the artists…. so we talk about how he met up with our friends, The Keels and also what “All Star” cast would he select to play one of his tunes with.

Silver & Stone and a Show With Mike Farris

Nashville native Mike Farris is the real deal. He left home at fifteen and has since overcome addiction and other kinds of obstacles. Coming off of a GRAMMY win for 2015’s SHINE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE (Best Roots Gospel album), he is touring in support of his Top 10 Americana radio charting-album, SILVER & STONE, put out on Compass Records. The album features an ace group of musicians channeling the classic Stax Records sound and the single, “Golden Wings,” was a recent top pick in Rolling Stone’s Best New Country Songs. Now seven years sober, Mike has the energy and conviction of a man saved, a stack of anecdotes and life experiences that would make most people’s heads spin, and a soulful vocal delivery reminiscent of this classic voices we all hold near and dear. While SILVER & STONE isn’t a “gospel” album by any means, listeners still get taken to church on these twelve engaging tracks, including a cover of Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll be Happier.” The album features an amazing group of players who were all allowed to put their modern spin on classic grooves and progressions. The musicians were given just enough structure so they could add their own flavor.

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mike about the upcoming show with he and his band at the Stoughton Opera House on November 29th. Mike provides a little insight into the band and the sounds to be expected on n evening that seeks to provide a smile and feeling of joy for all who attend. We get into the making of the new album from a point of ideas into the aural experience I get to fill listeners earholes with. Playing and paying respect to the places the music Mike feels comes from, we talk about what it is like growing up in a place with the soil is rich in traditions and SOUL MUSIC….and how all you had to do was be paying attention to grow a little soul yourself.

The Making Of JM3

The 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. 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.) and more!

Joe has been a friend of the proGram for years now and it is always a pleasure to catch up. We get deep into the making of his third (and self-released) alum, JM3. We talk about the process and how working with Wil Blades and Terence Higgins for the very first time happened when they hit record. We talk about the differences between this album and his previous release “Slink” and of course Joe dishes out props along the way ti all the hands and ears that assisted in the making and creating these pieces of art. Joe is one of the busiest people making the scene happen out there, so of course we talk about the who and where or what’s going on on the beGinning legs of touring on the new release. Including time upcoming with friends of the proGram, Manny & Ronnie of Groovesession, Melody Trucks of The Melody Trucks Band, and Jason Hann of EOTO/The String Cheese Incident. Check out the conversation to find out the closest stop to you and who might be a part of the making of music for you, on that evening.

The Oakland Zone with Tower Of Power’s Emilio Castillio

Oakland, California music legends Tower of Power – the most dynamic and distinctive band of survivors in Soul Music – is roaring into its unprecedented 50th anniversary with a dynamic new disc of all new material that finds them as energized and inspired as ever. A labor of love, definitively titled “Soul Side of Town”, this new release is charged with fourteen filler-free songs. In the spirit of their enduring theme song “Oakland Stroke” – the book-ending intro and outro “East Bay” shine a light on elemental instrumental ingredients within the band’s signature sound. This astounding and historical release (out since June 1, 2018 in digital, vinyl, streaming & CD formats) inaugurates Tower of Power’s fresh affiliation with Mack Avenue Records, a Detroit-based company renowned for its award-winning dedication to top-tier Jazz that is now extending its support to Soul and Funk giants, Tower of Power: a band so one-of-a-kind, it’s an institution. Anticipation is so high for Tower of Power’s 50th Anniversary milestone that the first show on their home turf of Oakland swiftly sold out with a second one right on its heels, and an appearance at this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival also has tongues wagging! This year promises to be a BLAST for Tower of Power and all its fans as they celebrate this incredible milestone with a motherload of electrifying new sounds guaranteed to funkifize, energize and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of Love, Peace, Soul Power, Mind Power and People Power to rise!

I had the honor of catching up with founding member Mr. Emilio Castillo ahead of the group’s November 15th show in Madison at the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater. Mr. Castillo and I get into what a newbie to the scene could expect if this is their first time catching the soulful leGends in a live setting. We talk about how the new album keeps the familiar sound and gives ears a fresh feel, as well as how the album went from the seed of soul to a funkified flower that uplifts and charts! How does Tower of Power keep that signature sound so fresh and when it unites with other artists, how does it know where to do all it does? We talk a little bit about that secret sauce that allowed fifty years to fly by and a hope for fifty more with new songs like the ones on “Soul Side of Town”. Dig, what is hip!

photo by: Anna Webber

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya At High Noon Saloon

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a multi-instrumentalist composer, producer, and performer. His musical identity was forged in the DIY community of Chicago. Relentless participation in numerous musical projects bridged genres and created inroads between scenes. Near constant activity quickly made him a locus of gravity in the community. Nnamdi has toured the USA, Mexico Europe and Canada with projects ranging from punk to jazz. A full accounting of his musical activity over the last eight years includes approximately 15 bands and dozens of tours. All the while, Nnamdi has not only released a stream of records and EPs under his name and the ironic moniker “Nnamdi’s Sooper Dooper Secret Side Project”, but also runs his own label called SOOPER Records. His solo styling combines hip-hop, experimental rock, gospel, and jazz. His songs can often contain a sense of satire that is just as humorous as it is critical. Nnamdi’s lyrical insights draw on the diversity of his cultural experience as a Black, Jewish, first generation Nigerian-American. His work is characterized by the coupling of sophisticated compositional structures with pop-music motifs.

I had a chance to catch-up briefly with Nnamdi Ogbonnaya ahead of his November 8th show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, Wisconsin. We get into what folks can expect at one of his shows, how he does the things he does the way he does. Find out how “The Simpsons” fit in and which one of his tunes would he choose to build a set-list around if programming a set on greenarrowradio.

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

¡Mayday! Bringing The Warm Vibes Back To Madison

They’ve performed with Lil Wayne, collaborated with Cee Lo Green and toured extensively with labelmate Tech N9ne. No matter whom they work with or who hears their music, ¡Mayday! quickly impresses whoever hears its diverse music and sees its riveting live show. Before joining Strange Music, ¡Mayday! became a draw in Southern Florida and the Southeast because of its energetic shows and anthemic music, earning such A-list fans as Lil Wayne, who featured the group in his “Get A Life” and “Da Da Da” videos, and Cee Lo Green, with whom they collaborated on the Internet hit “Groundhog Day.” Upon joining Strange Music, the sextet released its debut album, Take Me To Your Leader, in March 2012. The group’s stellar instrumentation and its captivating blend of singing and rapping on such selections as the ominous “Badlands” with Tech N9ne, the stirring “Tango In Tunisia,” the edgy “Death March” and the eerie “Don’t Make Me Live” introduced ¡Mayday! on a national stage as a versatile, noteworthy group with thematic diversity and impressive musicianship. Touring, recording and working with independent music powerhouses Tech N9ne and Strange Music also gave ¡Mayday! the keys to success. And now they have a new release that takes their recent tour experience in a roots/reggae heavy scene and combines that with tier thoughtful hip hop-ness, we get “South of 5th”

I had the chance to speak with Wrekonize from ¡Mayday! before they bring that South Beach part scene back to Madison at Ruby on November 2nd We familiarize folks with the style and sound of the band as it is now, back in the day and where they are heading We dive deep into the new release “South Of 5th”. I guarentee you will have a good time checking out the new album, but also getting yourself tothe part whenever they are in your town will certainly keep that Summer feeling alive.

Dom Flemons Returns To Stoughton Opera House

Dom Flemons is known as “The American Songster” since his repertoire of music covers nearly 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Mr. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector and a multi-instrumentalist. He is considered an expert player on the Banjo, Fife, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Quills, and Rhythm Bones. He has performed with leading musicians, such as, Mike Seeger, Joe Thompson, Taj Mahal, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Guy Davis. He has been a professional touring musician for the past ten years and has traveled around the nation and the world presenting traditional folk and roots music to diverse audiences. Mr. Flemons has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues, such as, Carnegie Hall, Cecil Sharp House, the Grand Ole Opry, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Newport Folk Festival and represented the United States at the 2017 Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia. In 2005, Flemons co-founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops who have won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional Folk in 2010. He left the group to pursue his solo career in 2014. In 2016 the Carolina Chocolate Drops were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and are featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. On March 23rd, 2018, he released his first solo album titled “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” on GRAMMY Award-winning record label Smithsonian Folkways. This recording is part of the African American Legacy Recordings series, co-produced with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Flemons ahead of his October 25th show at the Stoughton Opera House. We got into why the Midwest is an important stop to consider in the history of the black cowboy and we sure are thankful for his stopping through. We talk extensively about the creation and concept of the new release (from the turning of the then into the times of the now), and what someone who is unfamiliar with his solo scene can expect at one of his shows. The project comes with a forty page booklet to help wrap your mind around all the pertinent who,what,where,when, and whys and he recommends a book/story he would recommend to any listener who wants to dive in a little deeper. This is one of the conversations that proves to be both entertaining and informational, and for sure, it has inspired me to think about some things much differently.

Dom Flemons Photo by Timothy Duffy

Means To The Ends With Bright Dog Red

Bright Dog Red (BDR), an improvising collective from Albany, New York, fuses free improvisation, electronica, jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, and noise music into a proliferation of beats, bars, and blasts of sonic energy. In early 2018, BDR signed on to release an album with Ropeadope Records, the Philadelphia based record label. The band’s first full-length album, “Means to the Ends,” dropped October 5, 2018. Since debuting in September of 2015, BDR has played a number of high profile bookings, including opening for friend of the proGram, Mr. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the historic Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, opening for Hip Hop sensation Decora, sharing bills with Italian Surf Academy and with pianist Zack Clarke. In addition, the band has become a fixture on the New York jazz and improvisation scene, playing regularly at venues such as ShapeShifter Lab, Nublu, and Spectrum. Beyond New York, the band has performed at the Berklee College of Music, twice headlined Albany’s Madison Theatre, played BSP Lounge in Kingston NY, Lilypad at Inman in Cambridge, MA, Olive’s in Nyack, NY, and the O+ Festival three years in a row.

I had the opportunity to catch up with the founding member and percussionist of Bright Dog Red, Joe Pignato. We got deep into the creation of this wild new release, “Means To The Ends”, discussing the process that the group followed and follows in making their music. Including leaving in the clams! We learn how the teachers and influences in Joe’s life, the great Yusef Lateef and Max Roach had such a profound imprint on the way Joe goes about his path in life, musically and/or otherwise. How important it must be to find a record label that gets it, even without knowing what IT is, that’s the Ropeadope Records way and is how this partnership came into effect. What a treat it would be to do a three hour radio set build with Joe, as we learn some of what he would try to weave toGether if I gave him a portion of the program to help build that bridge for you. This is a very interesting listen, which makes sense when you put on the new record.

Things Have Changed With Bettye LaVette

Three time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette is no mere singer. She is not a song writer, nor is she a “cover” artist. She is an interpreter of the highest order. Bettye is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s and is still creating vital recordings today. To quote the late, great George Jones: “Bettye is truly a ‘singer’s singer’.” In 2016 she received the Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Female Artist from The Blues Foundation. She was also inducted into The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, and she received the Unsung Heroine Award from the National R&B Music Society. In late 2016, her friend, photographer Carol Friedman, pitched Bettye the idea of doing an album of all Bob Dylan songs, with Grammy Award winning producer, Steve Jordan at the helm. Carol sold the idea to Verve Records, and in 2017 Bettye was signed to her first major label since 1982. The resulting album Things Have Changed was born. Bettye is one of those amazing artists that has a long and wild ride attached to her life and career. Do a little internet research on the timeline of her life, and all that she is, has done and continues to do to re-imagine songs.

I was honored to have a chance to spend a little time with Bettye discussing the upcoming show at the Stoughton Opera House on October 19th. We got into the band that will be on stage helping create a magical night of music, featuring most if not all of the tracks of her brand new Verve Records release, “Things Have Changed”. Bettye walks us through the process of creating this album from the birth of the idea to songs selection to final output. I know I often wonder how she does what she does with such a high degree of beautiful success. Bettye talks sincerely about how a song has to “Fit into her mouth”, for her to be able to make it work. Makes me wonder how many have been dropped because the fit was not right. We learn who recently paid her one of, if not THE largest compliment ever about one of her translations of this artists songs.It is a classic we all know and I think we both hope, Mr. Dylan will one day do the same.

Barack & Bettye

WAS OUT JAZZ ZONE MAD With Tony Adamo

After some time on the radio and some gigging with rock bands (as a drummer) Tony Adamo moved to Los Angeles for several years. By day, he went to work putting up billboards; to workin’ on the rehab of the famous Hollywood sign; to joining the Studio Utilities Union where he worked in the background on TV shows. That gig led him to a job as a Hollywood agent at the Beverly Hecht Agency, where he booked TV commercials and models for print ads. But by night, Tony was out was performing with local bands. Heading back to San Francisco, Tony landed a studio gig and was introduced to Tower of Power original members Mic Gillette and Skip Mesquite, who agreed to record with him. Mic and Tony became fast friends, and Mic later introduced him to Stephen “Doc” Kupka, co-founder of Tower of Power and owner of Strokeland Records. Over the next few years “Doc,” Mic, Skip and Tom Politzer recorded on Tony’s early recordings with Mic writing all the horn arrangements. Somewhere in this mix of experiences Tony found a new groove – spoken word delivered with a full band. He had worked with drummer Mike Clark, and was very hip to the fact Mike could bring out the groove needed for his lyrics. Mike laid down some screamin’ drum tracks, and Tony improvised the rest. Tony’s Ropeadope Records release is titled ‘Was Out Jazz Zone Mad’, and he pays tribute to the greats, to the players behind him, and to the art of improvisation.

I had the hip pleasure of getting toGether with Tony to discuss the road that led him to right here, right now. How the brand new album came together and we even dissected a couple of the tracks to get you, the listener to wear his creative shoes. We find out who some of the key players on the release are, with a centralized focus on the co-producer of some of the work and friend of this program, Mr. Mike Clark. We also learn that if Tony was to come into the studio to do his thing and share some tunes with the listeners of greenarrowradio, I could probably walk slowly back to the studio since everyone would be in radio bliss.

ALL In With Frank Catalano

Frank Catalano recently finished a successful tour of the United States, France, England and Japan and he has been releasing them as a series of live recordings on Ropeadope Records. His Savoy/Columbia recording “Bang!” debuted at #12 on the Billboard Jazz Charts. Frank’s recording, “Mighty Burner” was on the Billboard Charts for twenty straight weeks. Now forty years old, Mr. Catalano is the only known saxman to have performed with Miles Davis, Randy Brecker, Charles Earland, Elvin Jones, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Von Freeman, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Les Claypool and Louis Bellson while still in high school! This led to his signing to Delmark Records at age 18 and a string of critically acclaimed recordings. He has been heard by millions of people all over the world thanks in part to three Grammy-winning and eleven Grammy-nominated recordings with a wide variety of artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, and John Legend. He has also performed live on the Oprah Winfrey TV show with singer/composer Seal.
No stranger to adversity, Frank cut off his right middle finger in an automobile accident. After several surgeries and much effort, he relearned his signature technique, making him one of the most in-demand musicians today and regularly donates his musical services to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Also an entrepreneur, he has patented a devise that allows him to control his saxophone via midi components. Yamaha acquired the patent rights and in 2007 they received a Special Merit Grammy Award for Technical Achievement.

I had the pleasure of catching up with this man of many talents ahead of his October 6th show at Arts & Literature Laboratory in Madison. We spoke about who will be performing with him to round out the evening’s quartet, and just what kinds of sounds and grooves to expect. We reflect on what it is that allows Frank to be able and moreover, willing to play with all different kinds of musicians creating all kinds of different art. This is the part of the conversation that really had me diggin’ the person I was speaking to as it made me feel like he is ready to be ready at any time and that is what makes the moments of music fascinating for the creators, and sharers. We find out who he would share over the air on greenarrowradio for 30 min….err…we bumped it up to all three hours since the choices were so damn solid.

Credit: Andrew A Nelles/Chicago News Cooperative

As The World Turns With Black Uhuru

For the first time in 15 years, legendary godfathers of reggae Black Uhuru have returned to the studio to record a new album. “As The World Turns” captures the band’s best, passing the torch even as Black Uhuru’s flames continue to burn strong. Featuring original songs and strong cameos, it is one of the first times in years Duckie Simpson, iconic founder of the band, has stepped out in front, his earthy, soulful baritone guiding the record. To support the album, the band is headed on a East Coast US Tour with stops in major cities New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Boston. Plans of a West Coast Tour will be in March 2019. The album was recorded half in California and the rest in Jamaica. Most of the production was done by Horace “King Hopeton” Campbell at his Double Lion Studio who tours with the band on keyboards. Leebert “Gibby” Morrison studio in Jamaica was used to overdub and voice the backing vocals by Nikki Burt. The album was mixed by Jermaine Forde who tours as the band engineer and Jay Edge William at Ajang Studio and the album was mastered at Music Works Anchor Recording Studio in Kingston. Band agent Mike Gener along with Derrick Simpson are the Executive Producers. The album was released September 7th and is available on all major platforms and distributed by Independent Distribution Collective based out of San Francisco.

I had the honor of speaking with Duckie and Andrew Bees of Black Uhuru about this latest release, “As The World Turns”, and the mini-tour they just wrapped up on the heels of it’s release. We got into what are similarities and differences between making music now and then. How the new album’s songs are being received by the audiences of today, and what are the demoGraphics of an audience at a Black Uhuru concert in 2018. This is some of that music that really shaped me as a listener and believer, and it was a complete thrill to get a few moments with these great guys as they continue to spread love around the world. Love to all.

Finding That Sound With Charlie Hunter

With a career spanning sixteen years and almost twenty albums, Charlie Hunter consistently ups his game as an innovative writer and bandleader. He has worked with incredible and diverse talents like Norah Jones , Mos Def, John Mayer, and D’Angelo, just to name a few. He is widely considered the authority on the seven and eight string guitar, and continues to stun audiences with his ability to simultaneously bust out tasty bass parts, melodic leads and swinging rhythms. Charlie has previously recorded for the venerable Blue Note label, Concord, Ropeadope, GroundUP and others. His recent independent venture is steered by his motivation to release music that most inspires him. Critics have touted his genius technique, but it’s his profound artistic sensibility that propels his original music. His signature style of writing and performing has secured his place as one of today’s great guitarists.

I had the chance to catch up with Charlie once aGain ahead of his October 5th show at the Stoughton Opera House. We got into who will be joining him on stage for the show and we spoke about his new guitar. We tapped into how he stays hip with musical newness and what is what about that instrument and players that preceded him that inspired him to play every part of a song on it, like a one man band of musicians. It’s good to know as soon as he is set to release new music, he will be sure to get it over for me to share with you(s). We also find out what Charlie would play if given some time to take over the program.

Meaning And Music With Alex Mercado

A pianist with astounding technique and boundless imagination, Alex Mercado is acclaimed for his ability to write striking compositions and create vibrant sonic landscapes that have resonated with critics and audiences alike in his native Mexico. On Symbiosis, his second trio recording after 2012’s The Watcher, Alex takes us on a journey through a vibrant musical world full of engaging melodies and the dynamic improvisations that typify the finest in contemporary modern jazz. Featuring Antonio Sanchez & Scott Colley, and being selected as one of Downbeat Magazine Editors’ Picks for 2014, the album will introduce jazz aficionados outside Mexico to a virtuoso instrumentalist without peer in his homeland where he is the “1st Call” pianist of choice for Magos Herrera, Sachal Vasandani, Bryan Lynch, Camila Meza and other visiting artists. Alex’s career highlights to date include being commissioned in 2010 to arrange and perform as the featured soloist in the orchestral opening to Sir Elton John’s concert at Chichen Itza with the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra; participating in 2011 as an arranger/composer on singer Magos Herrera’s album Mexico Azul, recorded in NYC with John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Tim Hagans and Luis Perdomo; and being chosen in 2012 by the Mexican government to inaugurate with a solo piano concert the iconic City Of The Books, one of Mexico City’s most important and historic landmarks.

I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Mercado ahead of his show on September 27th at Cafe Coda in Madison, Wisconsin. We spoke about the trio he has playing his music off of his four recordings. We dive mind first into how the music transcends entertainment and becomes a spiritual thing, each note taking on a different personality…. a rebirth, when different musicians join him, especially in a live setting. I found myself spellbound at times listening to Alex describe the nuances of a song’s journey, and how the energy that we create together, artists and listener, can create an adjustment to our spirit.

The trio for the evening of 9/27 in Madison is as follows:

Alex Mercado – Piano
Bob DeBoo – Bass
Rodrigo Villanueva – Drums

Alex Mercado & Wynton Marsalis

The Record Company Rolls In

By now, The Record Company’s story is a well-known one: a trio of musicians grit it out on their own for years in bars and clubs, join forces in L.A., set up some microphones in a living room, and cut an album that turns their world upside down. Released in 2016, Give It Back To You spawned three Top Ten hits at Triple-A radio (including the #1 smash “Off The Ground”), earned the band a slew of festival appearances and sold-out headline dates around the world, and garnered a GRAMMY nomination. The group made the rounds on late night TV, shared bills with John Mayer, My Morning Jacket and Nathaniel Rateliff among others, and racked up more than ten million streams on Spotify. Even at their very first jam session, it was absolutely clear that the trio was on to something special. With a sound that blended the biting blues of John Lee Hooker with the charismatic swagger of the Rolling Stones, the band went from releasing their home-recorded debut to taking the stage at Madison Square Garden in the span of just eighteen months. As the group’s audience grew, so did their artistry, and when it came time to record All Of This Life, it was clear that their approach in the studio would have to take a big step up to reflect the maturation they’d undergone on the road.

I had a chance to catch up with singer/guitarist, Chris Vos about the upcoming show on September 26th at the Majestic Theatre. We get into the unforgettable beGinning stops on the Fall tour. Those new to the scene will find a band that brings not only the rock, but especially the roll to a live show. We talk extensively about the process of creating and sharing the music on the brand new release, All Of This Life, and how rare it would be for this band to not use a first or second take when recording. Which to me is both fantastic and incredible since this new album is such a great radio set-list building collection, one an architect like me has loved to build with.

Photo By: Cortney Armitage

Drink In Some Moon Hooch

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group, Mike Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler, has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring around with some powerhouse groups like Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. The band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights. That melds together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music. At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a “Reverse DJ” setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Mike has even added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do).

I had the chance to speak with Mike Wilbur about the groups upcoming stop in Madison on September 29th at the Majestic Theatre. We get into what both newcomers to the scene and people who have tasted the Moon Hooch earlier on can expect from the now version of the group. Which direction has that live sound taken in 2018? We get into how the new three track EP “Light It Up” got off the ground. BY the end of the conversation, I was wishing Mike was in studio with me helping prepare a setlist of music….as you will hear, he would play and arrange a show in a very familiar fashion as to what people expect on greenarrowradio.

Coming Home With Justin Kauflin

Home is where you hang your hat, or so the old adage goes. For Justin Kauflin, critically acclaimed and accomplished jazz pianist and composer, the last few years of touring has found home to been many places. On the brand new release, “Coming Home”, Justin invites others to experience the world from his perspective as he sonically paints the homes he has found throughout his global travels. This is his third release, and second with the tastemaker imprint Qwest Records. With this album, he ventures into new sonic territory bringing in more modern influences of synths, electric guitar, and bass. From the start, recording “Coming Home” was electric. Mr. Quincy Jones and Mr. Derrick Hodge produced the album at Quincy Jones’ famous Westlake Studios (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Frank Ocean). Justin was joined by Chris Smith on acoustic and electric bass, Corey Fonville on drums and percussions, and Alan Parker on acoustic and electric guitar. The musicians had a blast bringing the album to life. Justin is planning a tour to support the new album. He is excited to get back on the road and create new experiences with his music and can’t wait to take these tunes in front of a live audience and create new life into them.

I had the honor of discussing the new album with Justin and how it grew from a newly planted seed and bloomed into a beautiful flower of sonic unity. We get into how “Home” was at times, redefined and what made the road have a comfortable feel. Of course, we had to find out what kinds of special touch working with both Mr. Quincy Jones and Mr. Derrick Hodge (as well as the other talented band members) brought out of each other during the process. And finding out what Mr. Kauflin would play on greenarrowradio if given the chance to fill in for me if I were to step out of the studio. He would easily take you, the listener, with him on a similar ride we attempt each time we get toGether through the airwaves. Check out this great person and artist in our chat, I think you’ll find he is someone to help guide us through.

Photo by John Lewis Marshall

The Harmony With Joe Marcinek Band

I found a little time to chat with friend of the proGram, Joe Marcinek as he prepares to hit The Harmony Bar & Grill on September 15th with opening act, The Lower 5th. Joe and I get into what a newcomer to the ever revolving and moment to moment coolness of his Joe Marcinek Band, and on this night in Madison he will feature a couple of the members of local favorites, Natty Nation. We spend a few moments teasing the brand new album, “JM3”. We get into the two incredible musicians that round out that organ trio album and we find out if the crowd in Madison will hear any of the new material. Joe and I will be talking aGain in November when the album drops to get more insight into the process, the work and the goodness that turned out in this new sound.

P.S. I will be airing something off the new album this week on the show.

Jake Shimabukuro’s Greatest Day In Madison

Jake Shimabukuro’s wholly unique approach to the ukulele started early. As a youngster growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, he started playing the instrument at the age of four, learning the basics from his mother, Carol, and then developing his craft further by studying the likes of musical masters such as Eddie Kamae, Ohta-San and Peter Moon. As he matured, Jake also found inspiration from guitar players, drummers, pianists, and singers. Even athletes helped fuel the intensity of his artistic fire. Jakes’s records have topped the Billboard World Music Charts on numerous occasions, and as a live performer he has become one of the hottest tickets around. He’s played with world-renowned orchestras and at prestigious venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House, and has dazzled audiences at music festivals including Bonnaroo, SXSW, the Playboy Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock Festival. He even performed for that rarest of audiences: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Not too shabby for a humble young man from Hawaii and his trusty ukulele.

Jake and I have spoken to one another since the very beGinning We have offered each other our thoughts on all the music. I look forward to my yearly conversation with him to see where he is being inspired by and how direction-different he is able to make that ukulele go. This time is even more special as we get to talk about his upcoming show on September 24th at The Overture Center For The Arts, right here in my backyard of Madison, Wisconsin. We get deep into his brand new album, “The Greatest Day” and how it developed into a split of six originals and six covers. Take a listen to our chat and hear how one Hendrix tune is crafted into another Hendrix tune to weave a magical sound masterpiece. And to personalize it a little more, we learn what Jake might have done for a career if music was not the path he was fortunate (ad so were we) enough to make a living doing.

Naia Izumi Has Something To Say

Naia Izumi is an independent guitarist, bassist, drummer, singer songwriter and producer based out of Los Angeles and recipient of the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Creating music and playing for people on the streets, watching and feeling those who pass by and making sounds that resonate within the moment when the heart feels it. Many of the shared moments of creation are interpreted elegantly with a guitar through an intricate uniqueness that is refreshing, soulful and downright bizarre at times with haunting undertones reminding you that magic exists.

I had the chance to catch up with Naia shortly before the September 8th show on the beautiful Terrace at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. We take some time to let people who go to the show know that the moments that will be shared will be unlike anything you may have seen online that features Naia. Feeding off the atmosphere and the audience has been a key to the growth of this artist. We walk through a timeline from when that first sonic experimentation to the moment in May when Naia won the annual NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Can you believe that it may have actually slipped his mind that he even entered the contest? We dissect the song he entered, “Soft Spoken” and discussed being born with something to say, and when that right moment to be heard showed up. I listen to A LOT of music of all sorts, and it is hard to find something/someone that truly fits into that “unique” category, but with Naia Izumi, I think I have found it.

Photo By Beck Harlan/NPR