Detroit’s Laura Rain and the Caesars transform funky soul and r&b into their own unique vision. Inspired by the spirit of classic recordings of time gone before us, Laura Rain creates her own environment of expression with a powerful and soulful voice. Formed in the Motor City in 2012 with her husband George Friend, the pair set off on a creative journey writing and recording their own music. The two received many accolades within the music press and radio with their debut release “Electrified” in 2013. Performing with a stripped down lineup of organ, guitar and drums….the band developed it’s signature sound, and cultivated a vintage toned energetic foundation. With the release of the fourth recording “Walk with Me”, Laura and the band push the envelope of this unique soul music. Channeling inspiration from Detroit’s long and legendary history of dance music, funk, blues, soul and r&b, Laura Rain gives modern music a raw, yet sophisticated shot of much needed authenticity and heart.
ON March 23rd at Club Tavern in Middleton Wisconsin, Laura Rain and the Caesars will bring that sound to the people. I had the opportunity to chat with Laura about what the audience should plan on gettin’ at this event, the process of creating their latest release and how the band and she have grown as creators. We spend some time talking about the place that is most intimate for her and George to write and record and how baby makes three has added to the mix. If you have a money-maker in your crew, let them know about this show….they may need to go SHAKE it there.
Kate McGarry looks ahead with optimism born of the many facets of love on her first trio album featuring Keith Ganz and Gary Versace. On The Subject Tonight Is Love, out February 2 via Binxtown Records, the trio conjures an alluring cinematic approach to a wide-ranging spectrum of love songs. Kate is as versatile a songwriter and singer out there who is able to translate feeling into sound, with words and with the way the words are drawn outward. She is someone who has taking in many lessons from life, music, and love to help paint the expressions into song.
I had the opportunity to talk with Kate about the new album. How the magic moments took place and just when was it that the three artists did the best research and development behind the compositions. We take time to dissect one of my favorite tunes on the album and get a chuck of interesting insight into the flow of the album. Each arrtists brings a sense of how to do the things they set out to accomplish, this conversation will give you a very strong idea how Kate and Keith and Gary all were able to take advantage of each others rare time, energy and devotion to the project. We even get a little peek into some of the music Kate is turning to these days, as a listener, herself.
Falu is internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent. She was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition and in the Benares style of Thumrie. She later continued studying under the late sarangi/vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, and later with the legendary Smt. Kishori Amonkar (Jaipur style). Originally from Bombay, Falu moved to the States in 2000 and was appointed as a visiting lecturer at Tufts University. Falu’s subsequent career in the States had led to a series of brilliant and high profile collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and A. R. Rahman amongst, to name just a few. She has even performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. I have always enjoyed the artist, Falu but what I have learned over time is that it is also the person she is that adds to the art. Her latest project, “Falu’s Bazaar” takes families on a musical journey through South Asia, while creating the wide open opportunity to learn about the culture, everyday life and how to be a a cultivator of ones roots.
I had the pleasure of talking with Falu about the project. We took a walk through the bazaar together and discovered how the flow of the album from top down to lullaby were presented as ideas, and how the questions of a child can really lead you any/everywhere. In a first, Falu’s son Nishaad took to the conversation. He unveils what his favorite song on the album is, how grandma did with her song and there’s actually an unplugged version of the album’s opening track, as performed by Nishaad. Radio gold. Please enjoy our conversation.
Loki the cat loves adventure and playing with friends. When his family moves into a new home on the other side of town, he needs a little help finding his way across town back to his pals. This is the story-line to the new children’s book, “Loki Out & About” by Molly Bandt and Tina Murua. Join Loki and his family in this tale of determination, friendship and weave your way through the journey within a beautiful city scene that is very reminiscent of a familiar Wisconsin area.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Molly Bandt about the story behind the story and how Loki’s adventures were not so far off from reality. We took time to discuss the process behind getting a story to form from a shared thought and the work that went into getting this project off the ground as a brand new author. Molly’s adventure is just as interesting (almost) as Loki’s. Not only did Molly turn a story into a book, but she was able to use her painting skills to create the colorful and eye-catching illustration that grace the pages within the covers. The book is published by Orange Hat Publishing in Waukesha, Wisconsin. For more information on where to find this book, whether it’s for a read aloud with family and friends or a cool gift idea for the kid in all of us, Click here.
Illustration by Molly Bandt
On Wednesday, December 6th, the world officially got a taste of the new tune “Ho Ho Ho (Santa’s Gotta Go)” with powerhouse soulstress Meah Pace, released on Body to Body Records. This new Christmas song is definitely not restricted to the holiday season with the smokin’ hot, Tina Turner-esque vocals Meah smacks us in the soul with. The track is like one of those special holiday songs that can be timeless in nature, with a reason to be played loudly any time of the year. Last week we spoke with the man behind the track creation, Smoota and he exclaimed how Meah was the one and only voice he could think of to nail this track down. And ohhh was he spot on.
Not only did Meah and I talk about how she took the idea and vision behind this track and make it her own, but we got into what a holiday season is like for her at this point in her life. We took some time to run down a recap of how the year 2017 was for her not only as an artist but more importantly as a creative person. I am so thrilled ot be chatting with a member of the Resistance Revival Chorus, and Meah and I talk about the mission and the meaning behind this group as well as her work with !!!(Chk Chk Chk). Take a moment and listen to the heat behind the hot photo by Amy Touchette.
Photo by Amy Touchette
Family. That’s how I feel about the many people I have met over the years while being in the arts scene. I recently had the opportunity to reach out to Melody Trucks to discuss her new project, The Melody Trucks Band. We got into how the project that started out as an unknown dream, turned into the beginning of a new family scene. Melody shares a few tales of how/when her father, Mr. Butch Trucks, first got a chance to hear her sing at a venue and how the surprise took place and how getting an opportunity to go on close to home tours with her dad will always be moments reflected on as irreplaceable. Being a new group, The Melody Trucks Band as of today have had three shows and we discussed each one slightly and how the band vibes with one another and even how at the end of the Family Jam, local musicians were invited to sit in and jam along. One of the big events on the band’s horizon will probably keep a long standing tradition alive of playing at The Funky Biscuit right around Christmas time. This year’s Brothers & Sisters Annual Holiday Jam is on December 23rd and will be celebrating The Allman Brothers Band and The Lives of Gregg Allman & Butch Trucks will be Featuring Scott Sharrard (Gregg Allman Band), Marc Quiñones (The Allman Brothers Band), Berry Duane Oakley & Other Special Guests including The Melody Trucks Band….What an amazing thing. While thus-far, the core group members have only played amazing cover tunes live, they have begun the creative journey of creating new stories together and I for one am looking forward to hearing what come out of it. One of the folks who adds to the band whenever humanly possible is Issac Corbitt and I would feel remiss if I forgot to call him out for his flexibility.
I have had the pleasure of being within the world of The Allman Brothers family through many great people, whether it was interviews with Derek and Warren or hanging with Chank at Gregg’s show in Connecticut, the warmth that surrounds these people is easily one of the coolest things I have been a part of. You will get that exact same feeling listening to Melody and I talk about the new beginning of this story she was never sure she would ever be telling.
The Melody Trucks Band
If you are not sure who Mindi Abair is, moreover, what a Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers is….well…Mindi is now one of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists out there. As a two-time GRAMMY nominee, she 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 played alongside so many legends and legends to be, it won’t be long until she is uttered as one herself. 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. A 2 1/2 year tour and a live album later, This April Mindi and The Boneshakers decided to record their first studio record. The EastWest Sessions was recorded over five days at legendary Hollywood recording studio EastWest Studios with renowned Blues Rock producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zepplin, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith). The album, which was released September 15, 2017, is a powerful, bluesy, momentous, and deeply emotional journey. The album features a track with iconic blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, and 2017 GRAMMY® winner in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, Fantastic Negrito.
I had the true pleasure of kicking back on a call with Mindi to discuss the creation and the feeling of the new release. We got into how the band became a family and the way the songs on this album were shaped into the fun, relate-able and downright funky pieces of art I am honored to be able to share with listeners. Mindi and I were like two peas in a pod, I feel like we could have spoken about music for the entire day, easily. We learn that we both have a place we like to go and escape to and that it is an inspiration for the creation, yet not necessarily the place to crate. When you listen in and I inquire about: “Who would be the coolest call outta the blue to receive a gig offer from” and that turned into, a well that actually happened moment for Mindi. Real cool. This album was released on Pretty Good For A Girl Records which is a part of the Girls Rule type project Mindi has created to help celebrate the achievements of women. We make sure to prop this venture up as it belongs as well. Of course, I have already dropped the Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers names to try and bring them to Madison soon, wherever you are…think about what that could do in your neck of the woods!!
LADAMA is an ensemble comprised of four incredible musicians from across the Americas who create and perform original music, and strive to inspire and engage women and youth in their respective communities to engage in music-making, sound design, composition, and audio production.
LADAMA’s individual mastery as performers in traditions ranging from frevo and maracatu from Brazil, to joropo songs from Venezuela, to cumbia and gaita from Colombia, to soul music from the U.S.A., combined with their experience in border-crossing collaboration that began with the State Department-sponsored exchange and creative springboard of OneBeat, point to group’s high caliber and innovative hybrid approach. They offer an experience to American audiences that is unmatched by any national or international group. As educators and facilitatos, the group draws from specific cultural contexts of the communities they serve to prove a foundation for participants to use music as a basic form of personal expression to address issues most pertinent to them.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Sara Lucas about what people in Madison will be in store for with both a workshop and a set of Ladama’s music on September 16th as part of the 2017 Madison World Music Festival. We talked about how open to all sizes, shapes and abilities the workshop is….no prior knowledge of the sounds or movements of a particular region of the world, just an open mind and a sense of having fun. That conversation slid nicely into what to expect from a set of music when Ladama is on stage. The connection this group will make with a Madison crowd is something I look forward to being a part of. No doubt, you will hear many of the tracks off their newly released, self titled album on Six Degrees Records. Take a listen in to our time toGether and you can even find out what kinds of music/sounds Sara and some of her band-mates are soaking in to inspire, to reflect and to move on forward into this world with.
Ladama on Six Degrees Records
I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Missy Andersen as she and her husband, Heine, bring their dynamic duo of Soul Americana to The Brink Lounge this Saturday, August 26th. We had not spoken in an interview type format since 2014 so we played a little catch up learning what has filled the great space between chats. Award nominations, festivals and judging incredible performers shows and always bringing it back to the duo seemed to be what’s been happening. We talked about how with just the two of them up on stage, it will most likely not sound like there are just two people going at it, Heine’s ability to make one sound like many is showcased along with Missy’s “soulstress” vocals and cool delivery, this is one of those events that you’ll be thanking me after you catch it.
Missy attests that while they travel to many places around the world, there has been some “grey areas” when it came to the U.S.A. and they are filling in some of those spaces with a stop here in Madison. We discussed a new possible project of “Main Street Chronicles”; maybe I can be in the band? I think you can tell by the way Missy and I go back and forth that the evening will be filled with good time for you body, mind and soul. I think you deserve that.
Last year at Atwoodfest, we were introduced to Jane Lee Hooker who immediately made a lasting impression on many of the people who cauGht their set…..but truly….if you were fortunate enough to hang out with them, you learned right away that these people are real, genuine, cool rockers. They attacked the songs with a ferocious fierceness that seemed to explode out of them, did it all with this unmatched energy and took the familiar and gave it that NYC twists that doesn’t ever really hurt.
Well, they’re coming back!!!
On Sunday, August 27th at 4:30PM at the Orton Park Festival, we welcome our friends from Brooklyn New York back with open, ready to rock AND roll arms. Hightop and I caught up a little about how the band’s year has gone. With a successful album in the rear view mirror now, we spoke about the new release that will be coming out this October and how while there will be a couple covers, this release will be mostly JLH originals. What lead to that in part, was time spent overseas and how much the crowd of fans and now friends I am sure, reacted to their original tunes. I for one, think that getting to know JLH a little more through their own crafted art will certainly lead to another successful collection of tracks. We also spent a little time discussing what it is about places like Madison that help drive the van back to our neighborhood to melt our faces off at one of the many cool festivals this city has to offer.
JLH by Roland Kampfer March 2017
Had the opportunity to catch back up with Stef as The Right Now make a stop Friday, June 30th at The Frequency. The pop-meets-soul music coupe with the captivating voice of friend of the proGram, Stefanie Berecz, is sure to deliver a celebration of thoughtful, catchy songwriting with intricate arrangements to the Madison scene once agGain. We are thankful to have them. Since 2009 the band has toured much of the United States and released two highly acclaimed albums, racking up placements in television, national commercials, and the multi-million-selling video game Watch Dogs.
The band’s Chicago roots are heard and witnessed throughout their music and performances: breezy horn lines sit atop soul grooves old and new, all while Stef elevates one audience after another with her story telling and shared moment, in the moment attention to the crowd. So, to try and fill the Frequency for the show, Stef and I discussed what the experience for an individual catching them for the first time, the newest album “Starlight”, which examines a complicated world through the eyes of the fighter, the lover, the philosopher, the addict and the mother. We spoke about the process between then and now and how the newest songs developed and we find out what she would do with 30 minutes of this radio proGramming if I left it up to her when I went to get us some milk & cookies…….hmmm….what would she do?
One thing for certain, the Right Now and Stef are a today’s band with sounds of now and the past blending to make for a fun show, featuring tunes we can all relate to.
I had the pleasure of having my pal and Space Queen, Kim Manning back on the show to discuss her upcoming event next Friday June 2nd, from 8-9pm at the Artist’s Studio at Madison Children’s Museum’s Adult Swim “Glow Motion” Event ! (21 & up, 6-10pm). Enjoy a rooftop sunset hoop jam, a phosphorescent cocktail, an incandescent dance party with Dj Yorel & DJ Phil Money. We dove into what those in attendance, glowing and otherwise, can expect from a Kim Manning show, the artistry of roller-skating, contortion as well as singing and dancing with hiGh hoop work paralleling that of Cirque du Soleil. We had a chance to marvel toGether at the road she has taken to become the person she is, one of my favorite people and an inspiration to all who want to get somewhere giving it their all. Being a P-Funk All Star has certainly opened some doors for her, but once your foot is in, it is up to you to keep moving forward into the industries rooms. If you are in or near the Madison Wisconsin area this coming Friday, June 2nd, figure out a way to find out for yourself just how unique of a show Kimmy puts on for you, and get a chance to discuss it with her, a real person, afterwards.
Kim Manning and P Funk
Took some time to catch up with friend of the proGram, Nikki Armstrong to discuss the new release from Mama SpanX called “State of Groove”. We talked about the influence and mastermind behind the name “Mama SpanX”, our beloved friend Mr. Melvin Sparks (rest well my brother), the way this album came toGether from the initial vision of what the Mama SpanX brand can become to the way it hits hard and heavy, in your face in a live setting. We talk a little about Etta James’ former drummer giving Nikki a track to consider and the piece of the puzzle that it Mr. Lou Donaldson. The important pieces to the success of this album are: Steve Johnson on guitar Julie Sax on alto sax, baritone sax and flute, Steve Sadd on tenor and soprano sax, Harlan Spector on keyboards and B-3, David Abercrombie on 6 string fretless bass, and Ben Beckley music director and drums.
Personally, I think once you listen to this conversation, you’ll want to listen to the entire album a few times and I hope vice versa, since this chat is definitely an extension of years of musical shares and love of similar sounds, Nikki and I can keep the rocket in the pocket as needed, but both of us like to let it out to blast off from time to time.
BIG Congrats to Lorlinda Art who did the original photo and art work for the Mama SpanX CD cover “State of Groove! We are so proud of you Lady! “
I had the pleasure of talking with Ruthie Foster, as she prepares for the March 9th show, “Rise Up & Sing” at the Memorial Union Theater’s Shannon Hall along with the Blues Heritage Orchestra. As we recorded this conversation, we were both experiencing the oddity of 60-70 degrees weather in February, so the complete vibe of our shared time was that of a backyard patio hangout….Ruthie and I spoke about what one can expect from her and this event, her soon to be released album “Joy Come Back” and how the title is within the tale of the personal growth of finding and keeping the real you. Ruthie and I agree that on top of our guitarist list is friend of the proGram, Derek Trucks and she shared how he was quick to agree to work on the title track and how his sound of his soul really took the track to the place it was meant to be..it’s the relationships we make that help get us there. I even got a chance to speak with Ruthie’s five year old daughter, Mia about which game is her favorite on Playstation. I sure know that I’d love to have Ruthie as my neighbor to push togetherness, love and celebration through music, I think the real has found her.
It is always a pleasure to become pals with people you dig. I dig Kimmy for so many reasons. The way she sees so many things is very similar to the way I do. So it was too long since we had a radio conversation and this one, like all the others was as smooth and cool as she is. We cracked open her diary and spoke about all the things she has been working on recently. Lead dancer in a Debbie Allen, yes, THAT Debbie Allen, Christmas production in Los Angeles (this part is so Fame fun and beyond). Kim opened up about some the growth of those incredibly challenging roller-skating moves and body twisting contortions as well as a few other skillz she has added to her vast repertoire. We discussed the second collaboration with Atmosphere on a track called “Won’t Look Back” on their latest release and the process which led to the final product. As we often do, we just talk deeply and intently on songs/sounds and the way of the world we weave through, and how great it is to have things happening, and the way they go down.
Throughout it all, the we drop occasionally back to the influence Mr. George Clinton had on her as well as the mutual respect they shared without outgrowing the experience. This conversation is well worth the time you spend getting into the place the SPACE QUEEN sets aside in her mind, and oh yeah, of course she was doing her side of the chat in her van under an L.A. banana tree.
Kim Manning & George Clinton with PFunk on stage at the Avo Session in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Keystone/ Georgios Kefalas)
Had the chance to catch up with our friends Janet Schiff and Victor DeLorenzo of Nineteen Thirteen as they prepare to put on two sets this coming Friday, October 28th at Arts & Literature Laboratory. As Halloween approaches, it will be quite the thrill to have the mystery and surprise of cello and percussion to hold your hand through the evening hour. In this conversation, Janet and Victor will tease you into needing to know more about the sound they create that has left audiences on their feet and momentarily weeping with emotion. We talk briefly about the growth of the music and compositions prepared and tinkered with by the duo as they create a sonic banter with the ease of friendly conversation. It’s these real people that make this for us. Together we explore how the newest album, “The Dream”, set to be release on 11/11/2016 and the release just put out on May 13th of this year, “Music For time Travel”, have been both a guide and a direction. As I have offered up an opinion when asked what this music is like, and we have had the pleasure of Janet and Victor’s time on the proGram often…..I can honestly admit that it is like nothing else I have ever soaked in, and it tickles your insides through each ear on its way down to your souls. But of course, who am I to tell you about it? Check out this conversation for a clue, and maybe we will see you down at Arts & Literature Laboratory to share in the mystique.
Check out of conversation here:
It is always a great reminder of why we build bridGes when two friends of music get together to talk about the sounds, the process and the results. Eljuri is one of those people I hold close to my musical heart as we kinda started out at the same time forging different paths for sharing. It was like we never skipped a beat. We had a chance to discuss her latest release, “La Lucha” on Manovill Records when it was still in that fragile stage of people’s ears just getting a chance to hear it. Her connection to the international flavor of her family as well as her beloved New York City keeps her eye and mind on the happenings around her as it pertains to all people, and how she has a voice for those who otherwise may not be heard. Just like the way her and I, and several other music sharers out there feel about her, Sly & Robbie must as well, as they make another guest appearance on this album to help give it a little extra sumthin’ sumthin’that only those magicians of sound can do. While she blazes on the guitar for sure and does climb the ladder of social justice on this album, her connection to you as a listener is clear, concise and connected. I am happy to share our conversation with you, and feel free to join the discussion with others.
Alsarah and I snuck in a brief time to chat about the upcoming show as part of the 2016 Madison World Music Festival. The band goes on at 7:30pm and will energize the Madison scene with their stunning East-African Retro-Pop. We used our time together to paint the scene of the stage before they hit us with the richness of the groove they produce, as well as offer up some thoughts on how this music is a bridge to community forming, acceptance and dance dance dance. Alsarah shares her thoughts on the start to finish flow of the groups soon to be released new album, Manara, on Wonderwheel Recordings. While she is a part of a few different projects over the years, I wanted to find out what were some of the lasting experiences of working with the slew of inspirational and talented individuals like those attached to The Nile Project, which she was a part of recently. I think the answer will not shock you, but remind you of the value of time spent with others for a common good and how when you don’t get much time to be toGether, the importance of using it wisely. Alsarah & the Nubatones could be one of your good memories form this years Madison World Music festival, so if you can, maybe you should.
As a mid-sized arts organization, Intermedia Arts relies on foundations and funders for their general operating supportâ€”foundations and funders who have lost enormous amounts of their assets in our current economic crisis. Intermedia Arts is in crisis. More importantly, small and mid-sized arts organizations all around us are in crisis. But here’s the thingâ€”crisis does not equal failure, and crisis does not mean collapse. It is our response to this crisis that will determine our future. Friend of the show and fellow mid-westerner, Desdamona and I discuss the impact this organization has had in her life and the inspiration and support they lend to so many exploring artists. While this particular art organization is housed in Minneapolis, the story is one that might just be a shared experience for many who care about a valued resource….for more on that check Dez’ blog. We did take a moment to discuss the scene that makes Desdamona such a cool artist, her workshops and tours and collaboration with Carnage as Ill Chemistry, and what new ideas they are putting down in the studio.
Check out my conversation with Desdamona right here.
On December 3rd at the Barrymore Theater, Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings will bring their high energy rhythm and soulful sounds into Madison. Ohh and Sharon will bring it so we can feel it…..From the rumble and grumble of thick funk jerking you to the dancefloor to the soaring soul guaranteed to make you sigh, one thing is for sure: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are legitimate heavy-hitters. I am thankful that Sharon was able to take a moment while at her moms after working on some new pieces to chat with me about the upcoming show, her appearance with Denzel and some interesting bits about Lou Reed’s BERLIN tour that might cause you to search the internet high and low. Opening the show will be Menahan Street Band, comprised of musicians from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (Dave Guy, Homer Steinweiss, Fernando Velez, Bosco Mann), El Michels Affair (Leon Michels, Toby Pazner), Antibalas (Nick Movshon, Aaron Johnson) and The Budos Band (Mike Deller, Daniel Fodder), I have a feeling that on the 4th of December, many around here will just have witnessed the show of the year.
Check out my conversation with Miss Sharon Jones right here.