Raise The Spirit With Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been “breaking the habits of boredom and pushing beyond nostalgia into the present” for 47 years. Their music fuses traditional African rhythmic and melodic sensibilities with popular African American musical expression and the array of instrumentation endows their music with a warm textural richness and depth. Within a framework of organic, understated compositions, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble imparts an ancestral wisdom and conjures an energy and spark rarely encountered in contemporary music. In 1976, Kahil El’Zabar, having just graduated from the school of Chicago’s legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, teamed up with tenor saxophonist and Edward Wilkerson, Jr. Wilkerson has been called “one of the most thoughtful minds in modern experimental music,” and is himself the leader of the premier Windy City octet Eight Bold Souls and big band Shadow Vignettes. Kahil El’Zabar is an accomplished trap drummer, having worked with acclaimed soul, blues and R&B artists Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and jazz greats from Cannonball Adderely to David Murray, he is also a virtuostic kalimba player, master of Mandingo-style earth drum, balaphonist, flautist and vocalist. Over the now 47 years of traveling the world and sharing a uniting vibe, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has a trio of musicians that sets a new standard. With the incredible Corey Wilkes on trumpet and Detroit’s own baritone saxophonists, Alex Harding rounding out the group, the fabric of this spiritual afro-futuristic jazz outfit is just starting to warm us up.

I had the chance to catch up with Kahil El’Zabar ahead of the February 29th event here in Madison at Cafe Coda. We get into the players and how they work toGether to create moments where a spark in time in which heightened sensibility & a higher consciousness can be universally shared. We dissect a track off the groups 2019 release “Be Known Ancient/Future/Music”, and how someone like a Mr. Roy Hargrove (RIP) transcended the music and humans scene. As we sit here in 2020, we don;t have to look to hard it seems to find reasons to heal, or send healing vibes….on the day I spoke with Kahil, the EHE had just played a show at Artlore Studio in Eerie, PA which is a venue of our friend Stephen, whose family just went through a tragic situation and their spirits definitely needed to be raised.

The Many Sides of Corky Siegel

Corky Siegel is known internationally as one of the world’s great blues harmonica players, and is a celebrated composer, blues pianist, singer, songwriter, band leader and author. Corky’s professional music career began when he founded the now legendary Siegel-Schwall Band in Chicago in 1964 with guitarist Jim Schwall. The group was a major component of the young generation of white blues artists—also including Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Harvey Mandel, Barry Goldberg, Nick Gravenites and Michael Bloomfield—who learned the historic Chicago blues style at the feet and hands of such towering figures as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Sam Lay. In 1965, Corky was 21 and still in college. He and Jim Schwall, unintentionally landed their first regular gig across the tracks on the South Side of Chicago. They were hired to perform from 9 PM till 4 AM, every Thursday at Pepper’s Lounge (not knowing it was ‘ground zero’ for founders of Chicago Blues). What a surprise, to say the least, when Muddy Waters showed up and hopped on stage with them, followed by Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, and all the blues masters. Night after night they would come and sit in. , he is credited with moving the blues from smokey clubs onto the classical symphony concert stage and obliterating musical categorization in the process. One of his many projects is the Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, with the West End String Quartet, and Kalyan “Johnny Bongo” Pathak virtuoso on world percussion, blends classical and blues styles in a chamber music setting. This ground breaking innovative sound has earned tremendous acclaim throughout the country and continues to open new doors for classical and blues/jazz listeners alike. He is credited with moving the blues from smokey clubs onto the classical symphony concert stage and obliterating musical categorization in the process.

I had the honor of catching up with this amazing legend of genre busting ahead of the 2/22 show at The North Street Cabaret when he teams up with friend of the proGram, Mr. Ernie Watts on saxophone and Kalyan “Johnny Bongo” Pathak on world percussion and tabla. Corky walks us down the timeline of getting to this point in his career, from Hair and Joni Mitchell to those legends of the Chicago blues scene and all the orchestras/symphonies he has been working with and crossing boundaries to create the newness in sounds. We discuss how this trio got together to come before us in a live setting and how he met up with Mr. Watts (Corky goes a little deeper into that first encounter than Ernie did). While all his amazing outcomes seems like a heap of work, Corky reminds us, as Ernie did, that the centerpiece to creation is the fun that making music together brings everyone, from the audience to the players, we will be treated to a unique, once in a moment time. Which I feel our conversation also turned out to be.

Solid Gold Sounds With Kendell Marvel

Kendell Marvel wrote and recorded his new album, “Solid Gold Sounds”, in a matter of days, but it took a lifetime in Country music to get there. Mr. Marvel and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, drawing on the country sounds of the ‘70s as well as Marvel’s own experiences. Their songwriting collaborators include country legend John Anderson on the album’s first track, “Hard Time With the Truth.” A native of Southern Illinois, Marvel moved to Nashville at 28, shifting his goal of being an artist to raising his family while working as a songwriter. Marvel’s writing credits include Gary Allan’s “Right Where I Need to Be” and Chris Stapleton’s Grammy-winning single, “Either Way.” Brothers Osborne, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, George Strait, and Lee Ann Womack have also cut his songs.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Kendell ahead of his February 19th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We talk about coming out on tour with these songs and the many he had written over the years for others and how they piece toGether to form a lively show for the concert-goers. We dissect a couple of the tunes off the newest release and how they come to fruition. We even find out, which beer is his choice when heading back to Madison, so let’s make sure his glass stays full. If you have not heard his name before….you’ll be surprised to learn just how many of his songs (that others have put their names on) that you may already know and enjoy, that he has been a part of.

Talking Musical Dialects With Mr. Ernie Watts

Two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile & prolific saxophone players in music. It has been more than 50 years since he first picked up a saxophone, and from age 16 on he has been playing professionally, initially while still attending school. Mr. Watts has been featured on over 500 recordings by artists ranging from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa, always exhibiting his unforgettable trademark sound. During the 1970s & ’80s, he was immersed in the busy production scene of Los Angeles. His signature sound was heard on countless TV shows and movie scores, almost all the early West Coast Motown sessions, and with pop stars such as Aretha Franklin and Steely Dan. Though the pop music genre placed narrow confines on his performance, the studio sessions allowed for the chance to constantly hone and refine his tone. After years in the studios, the passion for acoustic jazz never left him. At the end of a long day of sessions, he could frequently be heard playing fiery jazz in late-night clubs around Los Angeles. The eclectic mix of career activities has included work with vocalist Kurt Elling in a tribute to Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane, “Dedicated To You”, which won Elling his first Grammy Award, and concerts with the WDR Big Band Cologne in Germany, the Croatian Radio Television Jazz Orchestra in Zagreb and the National Radio Band of Slovenia. There’s also some fantastic evidence of him making great rock-N-roll grooves with The Rolling Stones. A typical year can find him touring Europe with his own European Quartet in spring and fall, and working as a feature artist with other artists he admires. One of these has been iconic South Indian violinist Dr. L Subramaniam, fusing Western classical music, jazz, Middle Eastern and Asian themes with Carnatic Indian tradition. He appears on the artist’s recording project “Beyond Borders,” which also features Herbie Hancock. Mr. Watts also starting to play with Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, an amazing amalgam of blues harmonica, a tabla player, and a string quartet. The evocative voice of the Watts saxophone fits right in!

I had the honor of catching up with Mr. Watts ahead of the 2/22 event at the North Street Cabaret where he is featured artist in the Corky Siegel Trio along with tabla world percussion virtuoso, Kalyan Pathak. We talk about the energy that will be shared in at this event, the musical languages that connect us all and how he and Corky got to become fast friends. Mr. Watts is one of those artists that as you keep on digging, the amazements he has been a part of are overwhelming. Take a listen.

Remaining In The Light With Turkuaz

Balancing male-female harmonies, strutting guitars, wild horn arrangements, and interminable grooves, a spirit takes shape on stage nightly for Turkuaz via larger-than-life performances. Among numerous critical plaudits, The New Yorker claimed, “[Turkuaz] delivers horn-filled funk incorporating elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.” The Brooklyn-based nonet—Dave Brandwein [guitar, vocals], Taylor Shell [bass], Craig Brodhead [guitar, keys], Michelangelo Carubba [drums], Chris Brouwers [trumpet, keys], Greg Sanderson [tenor sax], Josh Schwartz [baritone sax, vocals], Sammi Garett [vocals], and Shira Elias [vocals]—ignite an explosion of energy punctuated by neon hues, deft musicality, and show-stopping singalongs on their newest EP, Kuadrochrome. Touring incessantly in support of four full-length studio albums, EPs and live releases, they’ve lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee, Electric Forest, and Mountain Jam to Telluride Jazz, High Sierra, and Lock’n, in between gracing stages at legendary spots such as Red Rocks, Terminal 5, and The Fillmore, to name a few. Since emerging in 2011 with their self-titled debut, the group have quietly animated a movement.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz ahead of their 1/30 event at the High Noon Saloon with friend of the program, Neal Francis. Dave and I get into the band’s good time mission statement and how they are way more than a party band. We dive into some recent events that are eye and ear openers including their recent time on Jame Cruise. We talk about some memorable artists form that trip as well as some once in a lifetime moments Turkuaz was a part of while out a sea. We talk about the process of taking the sound of a live event and how it translates into a recording session and making records as a band. One of the events coming up for the band is working with one of the member of Talking Heads, so we hear about what that should be all about and Dave shares a couple of artists he would surround one of Turkuaz’ new tunes with if building a set-list of artists from the now of things. Look no further than this band of colorful talents if you are seeking a good time, a stress relief and did I mention a good time??

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!