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.

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

Going Into The Old New with Tomeka Reid

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

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

Walking In Gratitude With Melody Trucks

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

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

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

Photo By Michael Price

Rockin’ Forward with Nikki Hill

Independence has always come easy for vocalist/lyricist/bandleader Nikki Hill, raised by a single mother and two older sisters throughout Durham, North Carolina. This inspired not only her confidence at a young age, but a self-reliance and strong curiosity, which informed her interest in art, reading and writing. Raised in the church and choir as a child, that curiosity led Nikki to trade the pews for barstools, sneaking into venues when necessary, and was soon immersed in North Carolina’s roots scene as a young teen. She felt oddly comfortable, finding a direct connection between the energy she saw at local shows, and the intense praise dancing, gospel shouting church services she was raised in. Seeing everything from Dexter Romweber to Carolina Chocolate Drops, friend of this proGram, Mr. Bo Diddley to Motorhead, her new sermons came from rockers and bartenders, cowpunks and starving artists. Everyone had a story, and very soon, Nikki was in the mix herself, and making stories of her own. By the time she released “Here’s Nikki Hill” in 2013, word had spread, for better or worse. The reputation of the live show preceded itself, and heavily. Still, all of this did not translate immediately. With the rarity of Black rock ‘n roll singers/entertainers in the modern circuit and the large lack of knowledge of the impact of Black musicians on American roots music, Nikki found herself in an odd spot. She became known just as much for confusing local audiences who had come to see the woman in the poster, assuming her an act of a relaxed vibe, as she did for leading an unbridled, soulful, electric guitar driven performance. Instead of drawing back and satisfying the assumptions people made, Nikki pushed back, showing people that rock n’ roll didn’t have one look or sound. The strong public curiosity allowed Hill the chance to open for a range of artists like Dr. John, Billy Boy Arnold, to Eileen Jewel and Nelly, before she even had music released. Labels came calling, but were looking for stylings of the more well-known Hill, or of a more boxed-in retro feel that could be fully embraced by the purists Nikki had come to abhor from her former years of teen rebellion. She continued to develop her sound despite not knowing what to call it, remaining inspired by the fire of roots pioneers before her that she studied in the record stores and book shops.

That bring us to now, where Nikki has another great album of songs to share with the world, “Feline Roots” is bending the ears and minds of those who look beyond a poster, or an image and want to rock in any way possible. Nikki will be bringing the band to Madison on August 23rd at the Knuckledown Saloon to do just that. I had the chance to catch up with her to talk about that show, the latest release and the path taken from little Nikki to the Feline Roots Nikki. If you like to rock and roll, checkout Nikki live and share in her stories and make new ones with her.

Photo by: Roland Kämpfer

Dobet Gnahoré Unites Open Minds In Madison

Africa has its internationally acclaimed female voices and the voice of Dobet Gnahoré has made its mark there. With her latest release, “MIZIKI”, the voice of the multi-talented Ivorian singer resonates African sounds mixed with samples of electronic music, a subtle blend revealing a musical style which echoes her own character – freedom. The freedom to make a fifth album in which modernity feeds on tradition and heritage. Inspired by her travels all around the world (more than 800 concerts since 2004), Dobet shares a new and hitherto unsuspected side of her personality. It took four years to compose “MIZIKI”, probably her boldest, most personal album and one which pays homage to the two principal causes she supports: a rich, generous and unified Africa and the strength of African women. In her words and on stage, Dobet, the standard-bearer of a new generation of daring and determined Africans, celebrates the valiant and kind woman. Dobet loves the music of Africa (Yemi Alade, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie) but is equally enthusiastic about Björk or Christine and all the other “Queens”. Faithful to the languages of Africa – Côte d’Ivoire has 72 dialects – for this album – possibly her best yet – she concentrates on Bété, her mother tongue. Dobet has definitely reached a turning point and has left labels behind to express her frankest and most sincere emotion more precisely. “I want to make people dream while remaining a free artist”.

I had the honor of chatting with Dobet ahead of her August 15th concert, “The Dobet Gnahore Select Session” part of The Sessions at McPike Park 2019 and her August 16th event at the North Street Cabaret. Dobet and I get into what her audiences can expect once she and er group hit the stage. We talk about her hope for a strong and powerful African woman and the goal of assisting with uniting Africa as one. She shares with me how her latest album, her baby, “MIZIKI” went from a thought to a movement.

Talkin’ No Good Deed With Mindi Abair

One of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee and friend of the proGram, Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and dynamic stage presence. She has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six Top 5 solo records and two #1 spots on the Billboard album charts. In 2014, Mindi received her first GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, followed by a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg. Constantly evolving her sound, in 2014, after two seasons as the featured saxophonist on the hit series American Idol, Mindi released “Wild Heart”. This LP showcased a compilation of grittier rock and soul tracks featuring some of the biggest names in music. To help translate this sound to her live shows, Mindi enlisted longtime friend and The Boneshakers founder Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to inject his brand of Detroit Blues Rock. The collaboration was undeniable, and it lead to an almost immediate decision to join forces creatively. Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers features band leader Mindi Abair (Saxophone, Vocals), Randy Jacobs (Guitar, Vocals), Rodney Lee (Keys), Ben White (Bass, Vocals), and Third Richardson (Drums, Vocals). A couple more albums in and now there’s a brand new album from Mindi & them Boneshakers for us all to enjoy.

I had the pleasure of catching up with our pal Mindi to get an insiders view into the creation of the 2019 release “No Good Deed”, the brand new album with the Boneshakers that certainly has the feel of a shared musical language that only some manage to speak. We get into how the album came toGether to a point where I get to spin it proudly for the listeners. We talk about some of what has been filling her time since last we hung out and we find out which song off the new release Mindi would choose to build a set-list around, and what she would add to fill our ears with some boneshaking goodness. I hope to find a way to bring Mindi to Madison, but if she and the band are anywhere close to you, it will always be worth it to go and check that show out.

Mindi Abair

Lisa Maxwell’s Jazz Orchestra’s Shiny!

Lisa Maxwell has composed, arranged, orchestrated, produced, and conducted music for small combos, horn sections, strings, big band and full orchestra. Part of the Emmy Award-winning music team for Warner Bros., Lisa was an orchestrator on all 52 episodes of Histeria! animated series, and Animaniacs: Wakko’s Wish feature film. Her original music has been licensed for TV shows including: Sons of Anarchy, Person of Interest, Dexter, Burn Notice, Four Weddings, Gravity. Currently, Lisa is preparing to release her debut big band album, Shiny! Dedicated to legendary trumpeter Lew Soloff, it features Randy Brecker and an all-star band playing her charts. As a sax player, Lisa led the horn sections on the Guns ‘n’ Roses Use Your Illusion world tour and Spinal Tap tour. She has also performed with the Machito Big Band, Gil Evans Orchestra, Charlie Haden, Tony Scott, Hiram Bullock, Will Lee, Steven Tyler, Lenny Kravitz, Carole King, Bruce Willis Band, Chuck Berry, Smokey Hormel, Chester Whitmore, The Joni Mitchell Project and so many more. Lisa started playing piano at age 6. At 15, she switched briefly to 5-string banjo, and finally settled on the saxophone. At 17, she took a film scoring class at UCLA and realized she wanted to write music for lots of instruments. Trumpeter Ray Copeland taught her jazz arranging, and Charlie Haden let her sit in on his classes at Cal Arts. Lisa attended Manhattan School of Music to study saxophone with Joe Allard, and spent most nights in clubs, where she met her musical heroes. She returned to L.A. to study composing and arranging with Dick Grove in Studio City; and then won the Quincy Jones Arranging Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where Herb Pomeroy taught her Duke Ellington’s nuanced line-writing techniques. A true star she is.

I had the honor of speaking with Lisa about the latest project, Shiny!. This is her debut album as a composer and arranger,featuring an all-star jazz orchestra of New York’s top players, including: Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Mike Stern and so many more powerhouses. We get into the creation of the album. The tribute aspect of this music for her (and all the artists on the album), Lew Soloff, and how he always supported her getting her music out there. We talk about how this album of so many translates into a live setting, as it will for the 5/27 album release show at the Cutting Room in NYC. On the album, there is one track that get’s a little remix, another new aspect for Lisa, her friend and one of my favorite “remakers”, Mocean Worker puts his signature on a version of the title track that allows for ears of another kind to check this music out. The album has groove, style and will breath fresh life into any day.

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.

The African Buttafly Lands In Madison February 16th

This world needs a healing force, a soothing voice and Ugochi, a warm spirit who has become extremely versatile and creative with the range of music she is able to perform. Her musical interests span all corners of the globe. She fuses her choreo-poetic style of spoken word with her unique singing ability in order to generate a more powerful word sound attraction and that sound has been described as “lively, energetic music that makes your feet move and heart think”. As a multidisciplinary artist, she has written a one woman show about her families immigrant experience as well as written poems that have been honored in an international anthologies. She has also been saluted by internationally renowned literary organizations and has shared the stage with several established (and diverse) artists such as Common, John Legend, Femi Kuti, Edwin McCain, Seun Kuti, Maxi Priest, Malik Yusef, Umphrey’s McGee, Blitz the Ambassador, Yellowman, Queen Ifrika, Shaggy, Queen Ifrika, Vieux Farka Toure, Bushman, Fatoumata Diawara, Stephen Marley, King Sunny Ade, and Me’Schell Ndegeocello. The music of Ugochi is rich with poetic harmonies and uplifting ideas and has helped bring her tomany lands around the world. In 2003, legendary Chicago diva Chaka Khan saluted the emerging artist as “someone who will have a long life in the music business,” when she was selected as a semi-finalist on Star Search. Ugochi also wrote the only original song for the critically acclaimed “Red Hot and Riot Compilation,” in honor of the late Fela Kuti and global AIDS awareness. The song, “So Be It”, was performed by R&B star Kelis.

I had the honor of spending a little conversation time with Ugochi to discuss her upcoming event in Madison on February 16th at Café CODA, where she along with the Afro Soul Ensemble will be spreading the good deep feelings and positive energies. We get into what that experience miGht feel like for a newcomer to her scene. We dive mind first into what makes her spirit open to the ideas and rewards of collaboration in all communities of the arts, with a spectrum artists and bands from all walks of life. We touch on the importance and influence of Chicago, social-justice and the give back of music and the arts, and how it all fits in in the year 2019. I do enjoy knowing how artists put together a collection of their works into an album form, so we dissect her latest release, “Love Shot”, which features friends of the program Mr. Tony Allen and the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Her eclectic and versatile nature shines through when asked which artists/album/songs she may choose if locked in a room with a 6 CD changes for a day. I’d like to be a fly with big ears on those walls.

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

Things Have Changed With Bettye LaVette

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

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

Barack & Bettye

Time For Some Fea

Fea is the continued ferocity of Girl In A Coma’s Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva, joined by lead vocalist Letty Martinez and guitarist Bobby Rivas. Their melodic brand of Riot Grrrl Chicana Punk immediately caught the attention of Joan Jett who signed them to her label Blackheart, and Iggy Pop who sang their praises to Rolling Stone which has since been echoed by many! Producers on their debut LP (self-titled) include Lori Barbero (Babes In Toyland), Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), and Alice Bag (The Bags), all of whom perfectly compliment the band’s fierce exploration of societal, cultural and gender-related issues. Mixing humor with agency, English with Spanish, Fea empowers listeners and inspires dissidence. Resistance has never sounded so infectious!

The other day I had a chance to have friend of the proGram, Phanie Diaz back on to talk about the upcoming Fea show on August 5th at High Noon Saloon with Agent Orange. I have had both Phanie and Jenn on a different times when GiaC where in Madison, but oh what a thrill to get a chance to have this straightforward, say it like they see it from their perspective Chicana Punk scene hit this city. Phanie and I talk about what a newcomer to the band can expect at any of their shows, including the who’s and what’s. We do touch on how she found about about Iggy Pop’s comments about Fea..what DO you do with that?! We get into the creation of new tunes, which those in attendance at the High Noon gig will get a first ear taste of, as well as the right now, in this moment, meaningfulness behind these tracks. We also find out how wide a net both Phanie and Jenn probably would cast musically, if given some time programming greenarrowradio for a bit. No better way to get to know about the band then to go and check out a live event!!

Stay Hungry With Jaedyn James

Jaedyn James is the lead of the eight piece ‘Raw Funk & Aggressive Soul’ band, The Hunger. Consumed by her passion at 23 years old, James quit her full time job and assembled a group of musicians based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. JJ’s work ethic, energy, and music reflect the stylings of James Brown, Etta James, Lucille Ball, Marina Abromovich, and ee cummings. The combination of a powerful, modern woman using vintage sounds and attitudes is not only refreshing, but cause to celebrate. Within three years of managing & fronting The Hunger, she sent the band on regional tours, recorded the 14 track album,”RAW”, produced four music videos, and received national radio play. The last of the video series, “Set You On Fire” gained over 25,000 views in the first two weeks of release. Never a stranger to challenge, Jaedyn is setting the stage for 2018 to be one of the band’s biggest years yet.

I had a chance to catch up with Jaedyn as Jaedyn James And The Hunger make their way to Madison on 7/28 to move and groove with the crowd at AtwoodFEST. We let folks who don’t know, know what to expect from the band in a live setting. We get into the world of new music and the amazing people who are assisting in creating the very distinct sound Jaedyn is seeking. JJ also shares the vision she has for the group from this moment onward into the unknown future and we learn what she will air to my listeners when she comes and hangs out in studio with me to WOman the board.

Photos – Alexander Just

Lee Fields – The Film

Listening to the soul sounds coming through his transistor radio in the late fifties and early sixties, Lee Fields was hooked. Through the seventies, he made his living touring the legendary Chitlin’ Circuit alongside some of the greatest names in blues and soul history. He landed a gig with Kool and the Gang before their rise to fame. But, as the seventies came to a close, disco began its reign and Lee’s soul career plummeted. For decades, he thought his music dreams were dead. But with one phone call, everything changed…

Interspersed with striking, never-before seen performances of new and classic Lee Fields songs, the Lee Fields Film (working title) takes us through Lee’s memories from the moment soul music began to his hard-won present-day success – and shows how 50 years of changing technology has conspired to create one beautiful but fleeting moment in music history.

I had the honor of discussing this documentary with the film-making duo responsible for bringing this five year project to the finish line. Jessamyn Ansary and Joyce Mishaan talk with love about how this project took off from a moment’s notice and how it has grown into a flower almost ready to bloom for all to enjoy. That’s where we all come in. I share the love of Mr. Fields’ music, have had him on the proGram and understand what real feels like to me. Take a moment and check out the project’s Kickstarter Page and see “what the soul” is going on!!! Don’t just take my word, listen to Jessamyn and Joyce share their dream with you.

UPDATE: Because of YOU, the SOUL will go on. Goal reached and surpassed. THANK YOU(s).

Photo By: Mike Canzoniero
Graphic Design By: Ashley Marzulla

Melodic Canvas by Robin McKelle

An enigmatic sound, a storyteller’s narrative and a live performance style oozing with Rat Pack moxie – singer and songwriter Robin McKelle is like a genre-blurring musical alchemist, taking listeners on a sonic trip to the old South, sprinkling in hints of the Motown Era or even the smoothness of Sade album, and mixing it together to create her inspiring ‘Melodic Canvas’ of Soul, Jazz, Gospel and More. On her most recent album, Melodic Canvas, which dropped late April, she embracing her genre-blurring style and no longer trying to fit into a box. The result is a deeply textured, rich, authentic collection, a mix of timely social commentary, intimate lyrics and a thoughtful call to action. A savvy songwriter and a powerhouse vocalist, Robin has long found a home where soul, jazz, pop, gospel, blues and the American Songbook cross paths. For the new album (which she produced), Robin sought a more ‘acoustic’ vibe with a focus on percussion, to allow the subtleties of her voice to shine. In her songwriting and in the arrangements/production of the album, she mixes her varied influences together with strength and grace.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Robin once again to discuss the new release. We get into the making of the songs and the hands on, hands off approach taken to get from a starting point to a finish line. Last time Robin and I spoke, we talked about her work with friend of the proGram, Mr. Lee Fields and how working with him opened up new directions in her path, so naturally I followed up with finding out since then some of the newest collaborators that have inspired. Robin even sings a line from one of the songs she might choose to air if I gave her some time programming greenarrowradio for you…seems like her and I would have fun making radio toGether. Take a listen above for the insights.

EWI With Moist Paula, on Cassette Even

“Moist” Paula Henderson is a baritone saxophone player. She is a longtime member of the constantly shifting collective I call family, Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber. She has performed with Melvin Van Peebles‘ group Wid Laxative and has also played with The Roots, Gogol Bordello, Amanda Palmer and TV On The Radio, with whom she appeared on the David Letterman show. There are so many bands, projects and art I could connect Paula to, from Secretary to Nick Waterhouse, from Moisturizer to her work with Reverend Vince Anderson. But the truth is, we met, we made friends and I am so proud to be a part of each and every thing she puts her mind and talent to.

I had the chance to catch up with Paula after a trip overseas to talk about an upcoming cassette release party for her newest work, Actually Electric Experiments and Adventures on EWI. We get into what a EWI is and how that has translated into some new individual mind opening for Paula as well as the way the entire “project” became an event. The journey of this music is an interesting as the music itself. Whenever we get toGether, we relsih on our very first time making acquaintance and I for one, hope you feel more a part of that as yo ulisten in to our conversation. We should all plan a reuninon of our sporits, and this is a great place to start.

The Energy of Nicolle Rochelle from GINKGOA

She comes from New York, he lives in Paris – her name is Nicolle Rochelle, his name is Antoine Chatenet, and against all the odds of their physical locations, they found each other. After four years of touring Europe with the director Jerome Savary, Nicolle stumbled upon Antoine’s productions on Internet. Instantly upon hearing his songs, she recognized herself within the sound and fell in love with his musical style. That very same evening they met by pure chance in a Parisian jazz club, and GINKGOA was born. From Pop Music, to the Swing of old New York with a mix of Electro-French touch beats, they only have one thing in mind: to make generations of people dance, sway, and sing along to melodies that stay in your head long after they leave the venue. Frequently described as a modern version of the electro-swing heavyweights ‘Caravan Palace’ & ‘Parov Stelar’ due to their energetic live shows and ability to make any audience dance; critics and audiences everywhere agree that GINKGOA has rightfully earned their own place at the top of this list.

I had the thrill of chatting with Nicolle about the upcoming set in Madison on July 14th & 15th at the ever-popular Fête de Marquette. It is really nice to hear how Madison is remembered by artists as they come and go, and Nicolle shares some really nice words about the people who danced with GINKGOA‘s thang last time they came to town to festival up. We set the stage for anyone who missed out last time they were here with a quick nutshell painting of the who and the what. We talk about the brand new (well timed) thumper of an EP “One Time” and how it went from an orb of idea and energy into the beats and story I happily will Summertime share with you. We also learn a little about what would be in a setlist aired out for you if Nicolle had the board on greenarrowradio.

Some Time With Shana Morrison

There are many voices and styles of the versatile Shana Morrison. She has been placed in the category of pop with a side of blues and a side of rock. However, it is her ability to add a wide array of diversity to her musical brew that always caught my ear. She has been known to include other ingredients, like country, R&B, and jazz into the mix. Her material seems to be ever-changing and hard to pin down categorically. She began performing with her group Caledonia in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Her debut CD, Caledonia, was released on her own label, Belfast Violet Records, in 1998 and picked up by the Monster Music label in 1999. Vanguard Records signed Shana in 2001, and 7 Wishes was released in 2002. Each album received favorable reviews from media outlets across the country while getting solid airplay coverage and support. From there she has toured internationally, shared the stage or played with a long list of incredible artists, ranging from Joe Cocker to Bob Weir. In 2108, Shana is on the new release from her father, Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco, adding a whole lot of beautiful soul to an already powerful album

I had the chance to spend a little time with Shana to discuss her upcoming tour stops in Wisconsin. One June 8th, she will at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison and on June 9th, she will be at Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall at The Marcus Center For The Performing Arts in Milwaukee. She’ll be opening for Leo Kottke both evenings. We get into what folks who go and check out her set will be in store for, from material to the other artist joining her. We talk about the new album with her father and what kind of moments of “WOAH” sometimes happen when working with him, and how excited she is for how well the album is charting. We talk about her work with Roy Rogers and what living in Mill Valley provides in the way of influence. At the end of the chat, we find out what music Shana would share if I gave her a half hour of the show to proGram…looks like I have a perfect sub to call to fill in.

During  "Sometimes We Cry"

Van Morrison & Shana Morrison-Oct 8th 2010-Photo: Art Siegel

Joyann Parker

Joyann Parker brings a full range of talent to her performances as an accomplished singer, pianist, songwriter must-hear lead guitarist, currently endorsed by Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo, MI. She has both control and power that can tear right through you without causing any pain, and it’ll make you feel downright good. She has performed for thousands at major venues and festivals across the country and represented Minnesota at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. She has opened for Grammy winner Robert Cray, taken the stage for Grammy nominee Elvin Bishop in a pinch and is a staple on the most prestigious stages in the Twin Cities.
Joyann’s album “Hard To Love” was released on April 13, 2018 and is garnering national and international attention from critics and fans alike and she is set to head out on an upcoming tour to support this fantastic release.

I had a chance to chat with Joyann about the upcoming shows in and around Wisconsin, including a stop on May 17th at The Brink Lounge. We get into the show that people can expect out of her and her travelling band-mates. We really get into how she is able to write songs that make this guy feel like she was reading some of his journal entries over the years and what flipped on that soul switch in her. We also learn just what is Joyann’s “heading out on the road music” to keep the moments from getting away. Being a Wisconsin girl, Joyann and I will likely continue the conversation over in New Glarus later in the Summer over a tasty beverage and some food cart goodness.

photo by: Jeannine Marie Photography