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