Release The Tension With The Mystery Lights

In an era when the city kvetches that there are no good NYC bands, when half of the music scene has split for sunny California, The Mystery Lights are an anomaly. Not only did these bold young men reverse the direction – optimistically migrating east against the tide from the west coast, but they also landed in the wormy apple to immerse themselves in the action and diversity of New York City. They all share an apartment in Ridgewood, Queens – the basement of which they’ve converted into a makeshift rehearsal space. Betting against the odds to live the archetypical 20th century downtown musician lifestyle in 2016, though inevitably further east of the bridge, they also play with the kind of conviction, immediacy, and raw power of their mighty ancestors – from the Velvets to the Voidoids and beyond. The Mystery Lights are living proof that vital contemporary music, in this case real-deal rock’n’roll, can still be dreamed, constructed, and performed in the Empire City. Mike Brandon and L.A. Solano have been in many different versions of The Mystery Lights under assorted monikers since their teens. Organically unfolding over the nights months and years, the Lights’ sound has evolved into a fuzz-fueled hopped-up 21st Century take on 60s garage pebbles, and artful 70s punk, that is all their own. 2016 found these rock’n’roll knights embarking upon the next logical step – unleashing their own brand of kick out the jams on tour and in the studio. When Daptone Records launched their Wick Records rock imprint, they wasted no time approaching Mystery Lights as their inaugural act.

I had the chance to catch up with Mike Brandon ahead of The Mystery Lights heading to the High Noon Saloon in Madison on June 24th. We get into what to expect from a live show, the creation of the new album “Too Much Tension!” as well what Mike would air to the listeners of greenarrowradio if given the chance to fill in for me.

Talkin’ About The Bridge With pat mAcdonald

Steel Bridge Songfest is an annual, music festival held in beautiful Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin co-founded in 2005 by musician and friend of the proGram, Pat MacDonald. The event began as part of a grass-roots campaign to restore a historic bridge. The festival features a week-long collaborative songwriting workshop (the Construction Zone) where participants write songs inspired by the bridge. The songs are recorded on-site at the Holiday Music Motel and released as compilation albums. The Michigan Street Bridge (Sturgeon Bay Bridge) is a multi-span Warren/Parker truss bridge built in 1929 and dedicated the following year. It connects Wisconsin State Highway 57 to the Third Avenue business district, carrying motor and foot traffic over the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal. The structure is a Door County landmark, and appears in the official logo of the city of Sturgeon Bay. Its rolling bascule lift spans are unique in the country, and in 2008 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1995, continuous remote monitoring by Northwestern University’s Infrastructure Technology Institute detected new cracks in the track casting, later confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Though the cracks were repaired, a 1997 Programmatic Agreement amongst the Federal Highway Administration, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer determined that the bridge did not warrant preservation and in 1999, the FHWA began considering plans to demolish and replace the bridge. It is during this time that Citizens For Our Bridge, a non-profit 501(c), was founded as “S.O.B.”s (“Save Our Bridge”). The group was formed by citizens opposed to the suggested destruction. Working together with ACHP and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, CFOB proposed a plan to rehabilitate the structure. To inform the community and raise funds to carry out the plan, Pat helped organize a small music festival. He enlisted the help of his longtime friend, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, and Steel Bridge Songfest was born.

It’s been a few years, but I had the chance to catch up with our of bridge brother, Pat mAcdonald once again to help remind people of this unifying event. This year’s main events are taking place on June 14th and 15th at the Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Pat and I get into the history of why there would be a need for a festival about and for a bridge. We travel through the years leading up to this year’s event(s), pulling out many important aspects of the why the need was there, and how it all have evolved from the then until the now. For all the pertinent details, please head over to the SBSF website and make like a bridge and CONNECT.

Double Duty With Victor Krummenacher at Ruby

Victor Krummenacher is a busy man. Possibly known mostly as a co-founding member of Camper Van Beethoven, he is also a co-founder of CVB offshoot Monks of Doom. In the spring of 2017, he appeared on Monks of Doom’s first album of new compositions in 25 years, entitled The Brönte Pin. As a recording artist, Krummenacher has been active for more than thirty years and has appeared with numerous projects including Cracker, Fifth Business, A Great Laugh, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a duo formed in 2008 with Alison Faith Levy of The Loud Family. He has pursued a solo career as a singer-songwriter since 1994. His ninth solo album, Hard To See Trouble Coming, was released in January 2015. As of 2017, he remains active as a live artist in Northern California, and is preparing a studio recording for 2018. The new release entitled Blue Pacific was built from a deep space within his life and it is certainly an album that has its moods. In addition to his musical career, he was previously art director of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and also a managing art director for Wired.

This guy never stops. I had the chance to catch up with Victor ahead of the May 2nd show at Ruby in Madison. He will open the show as Victor Krummenacher & His Flying Circus and then rejoin that stage with Monks of Doom. While the people on stage mostly will be the same, the sounds will have clear lines of differences drawn in the sand. We talk about what to expect from each show at Ruby as well as dissect a little bit of new albums from each. We make time to give a shout out to a cool and people-friendly festival their community of artists are a part of called: Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Cookout. Take a listen and I have a feeling you’ll want to try and be apart of either one of these latest albums, a live event and/or this cookout. This will be the fifteenth cookout, and the last. Yes, I’ll have cheese on mine.

Gettin’ Down & Dirty with Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson is recognized as one of today’s top guitarists/songwriters and producers not only having the distinction of being the hand picked fellow guitarist to the legendary rock/blues icon Johnny Winter but he has toured the world over performing and or recorded along side an endless who’s who list of top artists from Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy to Slash, Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Robben Ford, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, James Cotton, Joe Perry, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Popper, Dr. John, Larry Carlton, Leslie West, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Dickey Betts to Joe Walsh and countless more talented artists. Nelson received a Grammy award for his work performing on and producing Winter’s “Step Back” release on Megaforce/Sony winning “Best Blues Album of the Year” highlighting his already long list of Grammy Nominations. As well as the BMA “Blues Music Award” for “Best Blues/Rock Album” reaching #16 on the Billboard Top 200 and staying at #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts for weeks. He is also a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s KBA “Keeping The Blues Alive Award”. His music has reached millions with appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and on award winning documentaries: “Down and Dirty” The Johnny Winter Story and “Sideman: Long Road to Glory” ft. Bonnie Rait, Gregg Allman, Hubert Sumlin, as well as music written/performed and broadcast nationally on NBC and on multiple major album releases, books, instructional guitar columns, live Concert DVD’s, and guest performances on countless recordings.

I had the chance to catch up with Paul as he just finished up a tour with his band, The Paul Nelson Band. We got into his newest album, “Badass Generation” and what went into putting that one together. We get into his work with Johnny Winter, and how it was more than the music that made their relationship thrive. The documentary, “”Down & Dirty” details a lot of that relationship and Paul was the Executive Producer on that project, so we got into what it was like to have that portion of your days relived through video. Paul even shares a couple of head-shaking, and smile raising stories from days gone by.

Paul Nelson & Johnny Winter

Stories From The Living Room with Leftover Salmon

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

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

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

Tim O’Brien Band Back in Stoughton

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

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

The Smooth Power Of Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings

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

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

Buck Up In Madison With Carsie Blanton

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

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

Music Behind The Glass With Sonny Landreth

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

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

Photo by: Brian Blauser

JD Simo Brings It To Madison And Beyond

On his new and first solo record, the soon to be released, “OFF AT 11”, recording artist and Chicago native now Nashvillian, JD SIMO wants you to know that above all things, what matters most to him is that music should be honest. The gifted artist more than offers this in a psychedelic, free-flowing, dynamic soundscape that exemplifies just that… Honesty. This album spreads out with acid rock, traditional blues, folk, soul, free form jazz, and the never-ceasing desire to improvise pulses from this collection in a mind bending, kaleidoscope of sound, energy and vibe. With influences as diverse as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Captain Beefheart, Miles Davis and The Allman Brothers to blues guitarists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and BB King, this young artist, is taking the listener on a musical journey using LOVE as the guideposts. The recording of this rocking, blues driven, electric tour de force, was recorded over a three day period in the summer of 2018. Recording during a brief break in touring including JD’s first shows as a newly cultivated member of Phil Lesh and Friends, JD and his band recorded these musically dense and inspiring tracks in a “groovy space” to lay down something authentic, filled with fun and NO edits, NO tricks.

I had the complete pleasure of talking with JD ahead of his February 6th show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. We dive into the creation of his first solo album and how he feels he has grown and adapted as an artist in this wacky world. We talk about how the time spent with such real people, real artists as friends of the proGram, Mr. Tommy Emmanuel, Warren Haynes and of course his time working with Phil Lesh. We get into how the opportunity to work with Phil went down and maybe even lead you to the possibility of another collaboration with this infamous bass player of the legendary Grateful Dead. We really touch a special spot to both of us I think when we tap into how JD picture love as a benchmark in 2019. Cool Cat, great new album and a live event to back it all up. Check this chat out.

JD Simo at Daryl’s House – Photo by Rick Pauline

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.