Rob McCoury Talks Grateful Ball And More

The McCoury brothers- Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) – were born into the bluegrass tradition. Talk about a source abundant and pure: their father, friend of the proGram, Del McCoury, is among the most influential and successful musicians in the history of the genre. Years on the road in the Del McCoury Band honed their knife-edge chops, and encouraged the duo to imagine how traditional bluegrass could cut innovative pathways into 21st century music. With fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar, they assembled a group that could take what they had in their DNA, take what traditions they learned and heard, and push the music forward. In fact, the band became the only group to have each of its members recognized with an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for their instrument at least once. There were peers, too, that could see bluegrass as both historic and progressive. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Allman Brothers Band, improv-rock kings Phish, and jamband contemporary Keller Williams were just a few that formed a mutual admiration society with the ensemble. Their concerts became can’t-miss events, whether headlining historic venues or as festival favorites, drawing the love and respect of a growing fanbase craving their eclectic repertoire. At the 2016 edition of DelFest, an annual gathering of the genre’s best aptly named for the McCoury patriarch, the band delivered the take-away highlight. So arrives the long-awaited, self-titled debut album from the quintet. A brilliantly executed set overflowing with inventive style, stellar musicianship, and, of course, plenty of burnin’ grass, the 14-song collection is a true culmination of their decades-long journey. From the headwaters of Bill Monroe and the waves of Jerry Garcia to a sound both rooted and revolutionary, soulful and transcending that belongs only to the Travelin’ McCourys.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Rob McCoury ahead of the Travlin’ McCoury‘s show on the 25th of January at the Barrymore Theater in Madison with the Jeff Austin Band. Together, they are calling this event, Grateful Ball. We spend a little time getting into what attendees can expect from that show. We talk about the creation process of the new album, shall I say the new Grammy nominated album….yes, I shall. We talk about how the Grateful Dead became a part of the lives of the McCoury brother’s lives including how the met and hung with Jerry Garcia after their father introduced them. The big take away for me was how the music of it all, the scenes they have been exposed to, the then and the now of Bluegrass music and the future path that they are at many times, in the front of the line leading the way. Rob lets us know if he was ever surprised by another band members song call out in the moment and what song he wouldn’t mind being stuck in a room with and why.

Scott Sharrard Saving Grace

Scott Sharrard is probably best known as the lead guitarist and bandleader for the late Gregg Allman, in The Gregg Allman Band. But his personal artistic journey, which includes singing, songwriting, producing and arranging, began long before he first teamed up with the rock icon. A prolific songwriter and talented singer, he has also released several soul-influenced albums of his own including three with his first band, The Chesterfields, followed by well, now his fifth solo album. A Grammy nominated musician, Scott has been called “one of the best Blues/R&B guitarists in the country” by Billboard Magazine. The Longtime writing partner, musical director, and guitarist for Gregg, has just released his fifth studio album in 2018, the beautiful “Saving Grace” came out late September on We Save Music.

As always, the circle of the Allman family was once again very welcoming as I had the chance to sit down with Scott for a quick conversation about the new release. Considering it is the end of the year and people are putting out their Top Albums of 2018 list, we thought this an appropriate time to get into it. We discuss the making of the album from seed to flower, working with the international treasure Taj Mahal on what is at this moment is known to be Gregg’s final song, (this alone makes listening to this conversation worth it) and we even get into a little bit about how the past led to the present. From our Midwest connections, we go from Scott’s formidable years to the very day a brand new artistic and animated video comes out for the title track of “Saving Grace”. There’s a lot in this conversation to wrap your head around might I suggest you listen to the album and the interview toGether to get the complete feel. While I could listen to the album a whole bunch, I know I could talk to Scott about the music, the scene and the people for much longer.

Holiday Cheers With Gabe Burdulis

Gabe Burdulis is a 22 year-old singer-songwriter based out of Nashville. His roots began in Madison, Wisconsin where he spent most of his time playing at bars, staying out way too late for school nights. He began teaching himself guitar after he first picked up his fathers guitar in 7th grade. Writing and performing became a deep passion early on, he started playing in multiple bands locally including playing guitar for “The Funky Drummer”, Clyde Stubblefield in his late years. He moved to Nashville at the age of 18 without knowing a soul. Since then, he has played iconic venues like the Bluebird Cafe, performed with Grammy Winning band Los Lobos, and even caught the attention of Sheryl Crow when she attended his bands show in Nashville…..followed by a post on her social media saying “They blew me away! Check them out!!”. While he usually mixes bluesy roots and a love for pop melodies, Gabe’s music sits somewhere in a folk/americana style with a flare to stretch out at times. His lyrics are meaningful and evoke emotion ranging beyond love songs with a strong acoustic driven feel. His live shows are energetic yet intimate whether it be solo or with a band. Set to release a new EP on December 18th and head out on a string of national tour dates, there are some new stylin’s heading your way from Gabe Burdulis in 2019!

I had a chance to catch up with Gabe leading up tp his December 18th Holiday Event at the High Noon Saloon with his band, The Mascot Theory and Lost Lakes. We get into what a newcomer to Madison’s music scene can expect when these artists get toGether to put it out there, we talk about the new release set to be available on that evening and we even dive into the opportunity to be a part of the scene of the legend himself, Mr Clyde Stubblefield. The sincerity within this conversation I think spells it ot a little about why people are talking about Gabe AND his music, not just his music.

Madison Is Ready For Samantha Fish

After launching her recording career in 2009, Samantha Fish quickly established herself as a rising star in the contemporary blues world. Since then, the charismatic young singer-guitarist-songwriter has earned a reputation as a rising guitar hero and powerful live performer, while releasing a series of acclaimed albums that have shown her restless creative spirit consistently taking her in new and exciting musical directions. Having already made it clear that she’s more interested in following her heart than she is in repeating past triumphs, Samantha delivers some of her most compelling music to date with her latest release, Belle of the West, her fifth studio album. The deeply soulful, personally charged eleven song set showcases her sublime acoustic guitar skills as well as her rootsy, emotionally resonant songwriting. We have learned along her musical path so far that while the blues is the backbone to where she started and is part of the feeling of her music, she is much more than just that. She has many sounds driven from that foundation, but make no mistake, she is an artist with an open mind and can take that blues drive down any genre avenue.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Samantha ahead of her upcoming stop in Madison on December, 13th at the High Noon Saloon. We touch base on the who and what will be happening at that event for anyone who doesn’t recall her recent times in Madison. We get into how the newest music has been built by a vision that started even before her first release and how it has led her to be on the other side of things, producing Jonathon Long‘s new self titled release on her very own Wild Heart Records label. Jonathon will be opening for Samantha on the 13th. I think you’ll find that not only is her music hitting the spot you would hope it can, but the person she is, seeking artists to support that deserve their share of the spotlight, is just as cool and awesome as her sounds.

Lincoln Hall, Chicago, 1/31/2018.
Photo By: Kirstine Walton

Nuvo-Retro With Jake’O

Jake’O is a young man with an old soul. He has the spirit of an aged blues man and the willingness to expand his jam as a ready to learn artist. He consistently amazes his audiences with his modern-retro originals and his unique and energized arrangements of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and sweet rhythm and blues. His sweat til you drop entertainment style transforms a ‘routine performance’ into a experience that an audience will take with themselves to reflect upon and wonder why all artists don’t shake rattle and roll like Jake’O does. When he takes to the stage, his slick leading guitar licks and his familiar, yet :what’s that” vocals captures the crowd and commands the scene to pay attention. Jake’O is soulfully spicing up the Delta Blues and Dixieland Jazz into this unique, new age, revved-up 1950’s Rock N’ Roll sound. It doesn’t matter what kinds of music fits your ear; he’ll offer a little taste of something for everyone.

I had the chance to catch up with Jake’O about his brand new self released album, Nuvo-Retro. We get into his approach to songwriting and song finding and how each moment of a song is a unique time ready to be built off of. We talk about how such a young man got into such old sounds and how his twisting and turning of this foundation, brought a new feeling to an older sounding style. I have a feeling that once folks get a little fever for the flavor of some Jake’O music, they will quickly learn that Jake’O knows how to put on a show, one that is most memorable for what you see as much as for what you hear.

Photo By Jimmy THE FOX Robinson

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Lipbone Plays House Concert At East Side Bungalow

In his early twenties, Lipbone Redding migrated from North Carolina to New York City with his guitar. After a brief stint as an actor, carpenter, bartender and producer for the Museum of Sound Recording, he promptly became a subway musician. From the swampy farmlands and beach towns of coastal North Carolina. Lipbone was steeped in the musical tradition of Soul, Boogie and Blues. Early on in his career, Lipbone honed his guitar and people skills among the underground caverns of New York City, In 2002 his craft allowed him to travel and make a living wherever life took him: India, Europe, South America, New Orleans, San Francisco. Along the road, he forged lifelong collaborative relationships with producers, DeeJays, artists and masters around the globe. Since 2012, in order to maintain a lifestyle of 200 engagements per year, Lipbone has returned to his roots and has sprouted new shoots. An uncanny vocal range, a nylon string guitar, a wooden spoon duct-taped to his foot and a lifetime of stories are all he needs to get the party started. While he mostly tours as a solo act, he is known to collaborates regularly with other musicians and his trio, The Lipbone Orchestra. He has shared the stage with many great artists including Marcia Ball, John Mayall, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Jimmy Hall, Jonathan Edwards, Rita Wilson, Shemekia Copeland, Tommy Castro and others. Lipbone has taken his singular vocal instrumental style to a new level by playing guitar and producing all of the instrument sounds while simultaneously singing and storytelling without the use of electronic effects nor a loop pedal. This might just be the kind of thing you want to check out?!

I had the chance to catch back up with my pal, Lipbone before he heads to Madison on August 31st to play a special House Concert at an East-Side bungalow. Sounds like the right place for him. We get into what people who have not heard him can expect from this nomadic music warrior, as well as a quick backstory of how he got from there to here. He gets to go to so many amazing places in his ‘Beautiful Flying Machine”, so we get to find out a stop or two that recently blew him away and where he likes to retreat off to in order to just refresh and retool himself for the next portion of his organic journey. What would Lipbone play to the listeners if given the opportunity to take over the show, find out by clicking into our conversation and then check out where he is playing next that is close to you.

Photot By: Margaret

Chicago Farmer Live and In Madison

Some live albums are so good they become the recordings those artists are known for. Frampton Comes Alive and Cheap Trick at Budokan were monster hits and catapulted the groups to rock superstar status. Cody Diekhoff, too, has big hopes for his first live Chicago Farmer first live album, Quarter Past Tonight, a two-disc set that was independently released on August 3. A touring musician for twenty years with a quarter century of writing songs under his belt, he has seen the type size for his moniker grow steadily larger on festival posters over the years. He called his 21-song 2005 debut album About Time, and the same title would have fit for the new live album, recorded December 1-2, two sold-out nights at the Apollo Theater in Peoria, IL in 2017. This is a solo record with Cody being the only performer, singing and playing guitar as well as harmonica as Chicago Farmer. Fans have requested a live album for years with a love for his stories and banter as much as his songs.

I had the chance to catch up with Cody to discuss the new album as well as the Brewgrass Fest event he is playing with Charlie Parr and the No Name String Band on August 31st at The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin. We talk about how stories and storytelling became a big part of his life and how the people in his small town became the center of his attention as he created his delivery on presentation these tales. We also get a chance to hear just how he felt about finally getting a live album out there for himself and his followers. What was really great was learning about some of the heroes of a small town kid who is able to put himself in the shoes of others and keep it real and easy to relate to. Take a listen to our chat and I have a feeling you might go out and take a look or listen to more from Chicago Farmer yourselves.

Photo By: Scott Preston

We Banjo 3 At Milwaukee Irish Fest

We Banjo 3 is a band from Galway, Ireland that plays a blend of traditional Irish, old time, and bluegrass music they call “Celtgrass”. The band is composed of two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley. Their debut album Roots of the Banjo Tree was released in 2012 and was named “Traditional Music Album of the Year” by The Irish Times. This was followed by the release of Gather the Good in 2014. Siobhan Long, music critic for the Irish Times, writes “We Banjo 3 are a musical Betty Ford Clinic, almost single-handedly rehabilitating the much maligned banjo in 4 short years.” In 2016 the band released their fourth album String Theory which debuted at Number One on the Billboard Charts and they also were selected to play for President Barack Obama and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the annual “Friends of Ireland” luncheon held in Washington, DC around Saint Patrick’s Day. President Obama praised the band’s show calling it, “Great music. Incredible performance.”

I had the chance to speak with David Howley (Banjo, Vocals, Guitar) about the groups return appearance at this year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest on August 17. We discuss why Milwaukee feels like a second home to the band and what people in attendance can expect once they hit the stage. We also dive into the creation of their brand new album, “Haven” and how it came to be created and what some of the underlying sentiments are base don feedback and conversations with fans and listeners. At the end of out time toGether, you will find out what bands David would steer us to if we wanted to get a deeper sense of music that is similar to the sounds of We Banjo 3.

Photo: Amos Perrine

The Now of Jon Spencer

Jon Spencer, THE BLUES EXPLOSION MAN who put the BELLBOTTOMS on BABY DRIVER!
The Top Cat who spread the Secret Sauce in BOSS HOG!
The Rockabilly Right-Hook from Heavyweight Outlaws HEAVY TRASH!
The Swank-Fucking Master of PUSSY GALORE!

Often imitated, never duplicated, the original NYC underground-rock legend returns from the wilderness with twelve red-hot hits, each more powerful than the last! This is Garage Punk for Now People! A wizard’s brew of rhythm & blues and subversive dance grooves, weaponized with sci-fi skronk and industrial attitude, calibrated for the Revolution, a ball-peen hammer of sound guaranteed to destroy any post-modern hangover! Pulsing with energy, clanging with excitement, and dripping with radioactive soul and raw emotion, Jon Spencer opens up his heart like never before, exploring man’s modern condition with caustic guitars and outerworld crooning, asking and answering the musical question, “Is it possible to torch the cut-throat world of fake news and pre-fab, plastic-coated teen ennui with the cold hard facts of rock’n’roll?”

THE ANSWER IS YES!

SPENCER SINGS THE HITS! This is the truth serum America has been craving, the beginning of a rock’n’roll special counsel that takes no prisoners and puts the squares on ice!

I had the great pleasure of chatting with Jon about the upcoming album, as well as the July 30th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon supporting Melvins. We get into the making and creating of the new tunes, and how doing it as a “solo” artist took on meaning. We paint a quick picture of what a newcomer to the scene could expect from the music of Jon Spencer as a solo artist and the people who are working out on tour helping him bring the fire to us. I have to admit that Jon’s music in all the bands mentioned above have always held a special place in my musical shaping existence, so getting to discuss the hows and whys and such with Jon was a thrill. We also find out just what he would spin if given 45 minutes of this radio show to program.

Photo Credit: Michael Lavine

Larry Keel Experience At The Edgewater

Larry Keel is described by music critics and reviewers as the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flatpicking guitarist performing today. He has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From there, he has always integrated that solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with his own incomparable approach to playing amplified, acoustic guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a surprise cover from any number of musical acts all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Mr. Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic and jam rock musicians alive, and some now, sadly, gone. Larry Keel has a variety of musical formats he presents throughout the year; especially look out for his core band, The Larry Keel Experience.

On Friday, July 13th, The Larry Keel Experience will be making the good times and good luck happen at The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin. I had the honor of catching up with Larry about the upcoming event, and what a newbie to the scene can expect when they make their way out. We spend a little time talking about some of the fellow musicians he has been privileged to work with, learn from and call friends throughout the years and what things rub off from those moments. We also learn about a potential timeline on a new album that is currently in pre-production as well as some of the music Larry would share with my listeners if given control of the board for a bit. Also, I think it is pretty cool to know that he will be thinking about me and Mustapha when he cuts the grass. Check it out, the chat and the show.

Photo By: Jim Dimitroff

Cut From The Same Cloth as Langhorne Slim

As the phenomena of instant connection and the need for constant self-improvement further implant their tendrils into our culture, the ability to truly connect with each other and ourselves has begun to fade. As we all reach for our smartphones to gaze upon the manufactured perfection of the lives of those we admire, we lose sight of what makes our own lives important. Nashville’s Langhorne Slim interlaces this theme throughout his new album. “Everyone’s searchin’ for something better around every corner, but it’s already right here,” he says. “We’re all born whole — through livin’ we fall apart…” The songs on Langhorne Slim’s newest album, “Lost At Last Vol. 1”, which dropped November 10, 2017, challenge the idea of social rigidity: the attitude that there’s a “correct” way for us to live and a side we should be on. He urges the world to see through the idea that by following that path and focusing only on fitting the mold, one will have lived a good life. He re-interprets the sound of the free-spirited yet vulnerable every-man heard on 2015’s “The Spirit Moves” and brings forth anew the call for us to abandon “the fold” and re-connect with ourselves and each other.

I had the complete pleasure of speaking with Langhorne Slim about this latest release and how it grew from the seed to it’s own unique flower. We paint a water-colored picture of what the people in Madison, specifically what a newcomer to the scene can imagine will occur on June 23rd at the High Noon Saloon when Langhorne Slim And The Lost At Last Band come toGther with Madisonians. There is a moment of reflection where thinking about a special space to get away or create is contemplated and who or what might have rubbed off on the skill of connectable storytelling. When we discussed his recent playing and relationship with our friends (family), Victor and Janet of Nineteen Thirteen, we get a tease of the potential of something real different being in the works for consumption in the near future. If you’ve been wondering, ‘What is Langhorne Slim listening to these days’, well guess no further, just check out the entire conversation, as it will be sure to pry open your mind into a real cool cat.

Photo Credit: Dawn Hamilton

Bringing Some Big Easy To Madison

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

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

Jake Eckert Photo by Eliot Kamenitz