The Oakland Zone with Tower Of Power’s Emilio Castillio

Oakland, California music legends Tower of Power – the most dynamic and distinctive band of survivors in Soul Music – is roaring into its unprecedented 50th anniversary with a dynamic new disc of all new material that finds them as energized and inspired as ever. A labor of love, definitively titled “Soul Side of Town”, this new release is charged with fourteen filler-free songs. In the spirit of their enduring theme song “Oakland Stroke” – the book-ending intro and outro “East Bay” shine a light on elemental instrumental ingredients within the band’s signature sound. This astounding and historical release (out since June 1, 2018 in digital, vinyl, streaming & CD formats) inaugurates Tower of Power’s fresh affiliation with Mack Avenue Records, a Detroit-based company renowned for its award-winning dedication to top-tier Jazz that is now extending its support to Soul and Funk giants, Tower of Power: a band so one-of-a-kind, it’s an institution. Anticipation is so high for Tower of Power’s 50th Anniversary milestone that the first show on their home turf of Oakland swiftly sold out with a second one right on its heels, and an appearance at this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival also has tongues wagging! This year promises to be a BLAST for Tower of Power and all its fans as they celebrate this incredible milestone with a motherload of electrifying new sounds guaranteed to funkifize, energize and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of Love, Peace, Soul Power, Mind Power and People Power to rise!

I had the honor of catching up with founding member Mr. Emilio Castillo ahead of the group’s November 15th show in Madison at the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater. Mr. Castillo and I get into what a newbie to the scene could expect if this is their first time catching the soulful leGends in a live setting. We talk about how the new album keeps the familiar sound and gives ears a fresh feel, as well as how the album went from the seed of soul to a funkified flower that uplifts and charts! How does Tower of Power keep that signature sound so fresh and when it unites with other artists, how does it know where to do all it does? We talk a little bit about that secret sauce that allowed fifty years to fly by and a hope for fifty more with new songs like the ones on “Soul Side of Town”. Dig, what is hip!

photo by: Anna Webber

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya At High Noon Saloon

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a multi-instrumentalist composer, producer, and performer. His musical identity was forged in the DIY community of Chicago. Relentless participation in numerous musical projects bridged genres and created inroads between scenes. Near constant activity quickly made him a locus of gravity in the community. Nnamdi has toured the USA, Mexico Europe and Canada with projects ranging from punk to jazz. A full accounting of his musical activity over the last eight years includes approximately 15 bands and dozens of tours. All the while, Nnamdi has not only released a stream of records and EPs under his name and the ironic moniker “Nnamdi’s Sooper Dooper Secret Side Project”, but also runs his own label called SOOPER Records. His solo styling combines hip-hop, experimental rock, gospel, and jazz. His songs can often contain a sense of satire that is just as humorous as it is critical. Nnamdi’s lyrical insights draw on the diversity of his cultural experience as a Black, Jewish, first generation Nigerian-American. His work is characterized by the coupling of sophisticated compositional structures with pop-music motifs.

I had a chance to catch-up briefly with Nnamdi Ogbonnaya ahead of his November 8th show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, Wisconsin. We get into what folks can expect at one of his shows, how he does the things he does the way he does. Find out how “The Simpsons” fit in and which one of his tunes would he choose to build a set-list around if programming a set on greenarrowradio.

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

¡Mayday! Bringing The Warm Vibes Back To Madison

They’ve performed with Lil Wayne, collaborated with Cee Lo Green and toured extensively with labelmate Tech N9ne. No matter whom they work with or who hears their music, ¡Mayday! quickly impresses whoever hears its diverse music and sees its riveting live show. Before joining Strange Music, ¡Mayday! became a draw in Southern Florida and the Southeast because of its energetic shows and anthemic music, earning such A-list fans as Lil Wayne, who featured the group in his “Get A Life” and “Da Da Da” videos, and Cee Lo Green, with whom they collaborated on the Internet hit “Groundhog Day.” Upon joining Strange Music, the sextet released its debut album, Take Me To Your Leader, in March 2012. The group’s stellar instrumentation and its captivating blend of singing and rapping on such selections as the ominous “Badlands” with Tech N9ne, the stirring “Tango In Tunisia,” the edgy “Death March” and the eerie “Don’t Make Me Live” introduced ¡Mayday! on a national stage as a versatile, noteworthy group with thematic diversity and impressive musicianship. Touring, recording and working with independent music powerhouses Tech N9ne and Strange Music also gave ¡Mayday! the keys to success. And now they have a new release that takes their recent tour experience in a roots/reggae heavy scene and combines that with tier thoughtful hip hop-ness, we get “South of 5th”

I had the chance to speak with Wrekonize from ¡Mayday! before they bring that South Beach part scene back to Madison at Ruby on November 2nd We familiarize folks with the style and sound of the band as it is now, back in the day and where they are heading We dive deep into the new release “South Of 5th”. I guarentee you will have a good time checking out the new album, but also getting yourself tothe part whenever they are in your town will certainly keep that Summer feeling alive.

Dom Flemons Returns To Stoughton Opera House

Dom Flemons is known as “The American Songster” since his repertoire of music covers nearly 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Mr. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector and a multi-instrumentalist. He is considered an expert player on the Banjo, Fife, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Quills, and Rhythm Bones. He has performed with leading musicians, such as, Mike Seeger, Joe Thompson, Taj Mahal, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Guy Davis. He has been a professional touring musician for the past ten years and has traveled around the nation and the world presenting traditional folk and roots music to diverse audiences. Mr. Flemons has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues, such as, Carnegie Hall, Cecil Sharp House, the Grand Ole Opry, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Newport Folk Festival and represented the United States at the 2017 Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia. In 2005, Flemons co-founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops who have won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional Folk in 2010. He left the group to pursue his solo career in 2014. In 2016 the Carolina Chocolate Drops were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and are featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. On March 23rd, 2018, he released his first solo album titled “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” on GRAMMY Award-winning record label Smithsonian Folkways. This recording is part of the African American Legacy Recordings series, co-produced with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Flemons ahead of his October 25th show at the Stoughton Opera House. We got into why the Midwest is an important stop to consider in the history of the black cowboy and we sure are thankful for his stopping through. We talk extensively about the creation and concept of the new release (from the turning of the then into the times of the now), and what someone who is unfamiliar with his solo scene can expect at one of his shows. The project comes with a forty page booklet to help wrap your mind around all the pertinent who,what,where,when, and whys and he recommends a book/story he would recommend to any listener who wants to dive in a little deeper. This is one of the conversations that proves to be both entertaining and informational, and for sure, it has inspired me to think about some things much differently.

Dom Flemons Photo by Timothy Duffy

Means To The Ends With Bright Dog Red

Bright Dog Red (BDR), an improvising collective from Albany, New York, fuses free improvisation, electronica, jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, and noise music into a proliferation of beats, bars, and blasts of sonic energy. In early 2018, BDR signed on to release an album with Ropeadope Records, the Philadelphia based record label. The band’s first full-length album, “Means to the Ends,” dropped October 5, 2018. Since debuting in September of 2015, BDR has played a number of high profile bookings, including opening for friend of the proGram, Mr. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the historic Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, opening for Hip Hop sensation Decora, sharing bills with Italian Surf Academy and with pianist Zack Clarke. In addition, the band has become a fixture on the New York jazz and improvisation scene, playing regularly at venues such as ShapeShifter Lab, Nublu, and Spectrum. Beyond New York, the band has performed at the Berklee College of Music, twice headlined Albany’s Madison Theatre, played BSP Lounge in Kingston NY, Lilypad at Inman in Cambridge, MA, Olive’s in Nyack, NY, and the O+ Festival three years in a row.

I had the opportunity to catch up with the founding member and percussionist of Bright Dog Red, Joe Pignato. We got deep into the creation of this wild new release, “Means To The Ends”, discussing the process that the group followed and follows in making their music. Including leaving in the clams! We learn how the teachers and influences in Joe’s life, the great Yusef Lateef and Max Roach had such a profound imprint on the way Joe goes about his path in life, musically and/or otherwise. How important it must be to find a record label that gets it, even without knowing what IT is, that’s the Ropeadope Records way and is how this partnership came into effect. What a treat it would be to do a three hour radio set build with Joe, as we learn some of what he would try to weave toGether if I gave him a portion of the program to help build that bridge for you. This is a very interesting listen, which makes sense when you put on the new record.

WAS OUT JAZZ ZONE MAD With Tony Adamo

After some time on the radio and some gigging with rock bands (as a drummer) Tony Adamo moved to Los Angeles for several years. By day, he went to work putting up billboards; to workin’ on the rehab of the famous Hollywood sign; to joining the Studio Utilities Union where he worked in the background on TV shows. That gig led him to a job as a Hollywood agent at the Beverly Hecht Agency, where he booked TV commercials and models for print ads. But by night, Tony was out was performing with local bands. Heading back to San Francisco, Tony landed a studio gig and was introduced to Tower of Power original members Mic Gillette and Skip Mesquite, who agreed to record with him. Mic and Tony became fast friends, and Mic later introduced him to Stephen “Doc” Kupka, co-founder of Tower of Power and owner of Strokeland Records. Over the next few years “Doc,” Mic, Skip and Tom Politzer recorded on Tony’s early recordings with Mic writing all the horn arrangements. Somewhere in this mix of experiences Tony found a new groove – spoken word delivered with a full band. He had worked with drummer Mike Clark, and was very hip to the fact Mike could bring out the groove needed for his lyrics. Mike laid down some screamin’ drum tracks, and Tony improvised the rest. Tony’s Ropeadope Records release is titled ‘Was Out Jazz Zone Mad’, and he pays tribute to the greats, to the players behind him, and to the art of improvisation.

I had the hip pleasure of getting toGether with Tony to discuss the road that led him to right here, right now. How the brand new album came together and we even dissected a couple of the tracks to get you, the listener to wear his creative shoes. We find out who some of the key players on the release are, with a centralized focus on the co-producer of some of the work and friend of this program, Mr. Mike Clark. We also learn that if Tony was to come into the studio to do his thing and share some tunes with the listeners of greenarrowradio, I could probably walk slowly back to the studio since everyone would be in radio bliss.

ALL In With Frank Catalano

Frank Catalano recently finished a successful tour of the United States, France, England and Japan and he has been releasing them as a series of live recordings on Ropeadope Records. His Savoy/Columbia recording “Bang!” debuted at #12 on the Billboard Jazz Charts. Frank’s recording, “Mighty Burner” was on the Billboard Charts for twenty straight weeks. Now forty years old, Mr. Catalano is the only known saxman to have performed with Miles Davis, Randy Brecker, Charles Earland, Elvin Jones, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Von Freeman, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Les Claypool and Louis Bellson while still in high school! This led to his signing to Delmark Records at age 18 and a string of critically acclaimed recordings. He has been heard by millions of people all over the world thanks in part to three Grammy-winning and eleven Grammy-nominated recordings with a wide variety of artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, and John Legend. He has also performed live on the Oprah Winfrey TV show with singer/composer Seal.
No stranger to adversity, Frank cut off his right middle finger in an automobile accident. After several surgeries and much effort, he relearned his signature technique, making him one of the most in-demand musicians today and regularly donates his musical services to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Also an entrepreneur, he has patented a devise that allows him to control his saxophone via midi components. Yamaha acquired the patent rights and in 2007 they received a Special Merit Grammy Award for Technical Achievement.

I had the pleasure of catching up with this man of many talents ahead of his October 6th show at Arts & Literature Laboratory in Madison. We spoke about who will be performing with him to round out the evening’s quartet, and just what kinds of sounds and grooves to expect. We reflect on what it is that allows Frank to be able and moreover, willing to play with all different kinds of musicians creating all kinds of different art. This is the part of the conversation that really had me diggin’ the person I was speaking to as it made me feel like he is ready to be ready at any time and that is what makes the moments of music fascinating for the creators, and sharers. We find out who he would share over the air on greenarrowradio for 30 min….err…we bumped it up to all three hours since the choices were so damn solid.

Credit: Andrew A Nelles/Chicago News Cooperative

As The World Turns With Black Uhuru

For the first time in 15 years, legendary godfathers of reggae Black Uhuru have returned to the studio to record a new album. “As The World Turns” captures the band’s best, passing the torch even as Black Uhuru’s flames continue to burn strong. Featuring original songs and strong cameos, it is one of the first times in years Duckie Simpson, iconic founder of the band, has stepped out in front, his earthy, soulful baritone guiding the record. To support the album, the band is headed on a East Coast US Tour with stops in major cities New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Boston. Plans of a West Coast Tour will be in March 2019. The album was recorded half in California and the rest in Jamaica. Most of the production was done by Horace “King Hopeton” Campbell at his Double Lion Studio who tours with the band on keyboards. Leebert “Gibby” Morrison studio in Jamaica was used to overdub and voice the backing vocals by Nikki Burt. The album was mixed by Jermaine Forde who tours as the band engineer and Jay Edge William at Ajang Studio and the album was mastered at Music Works Anchor Recording Studio in Kingston. Band agent Mike Gener along with Derrick Simpson are the Executive Producers. The album was released September 7th and is available on all major platforms and distributed by Independent Distribution Collective based out of San Francisco.

I had the honor of speaking with Duckie and Andrew Bees of Black Uhuru about this latest release, “As The World Turns”, and the mini-tour they just wrapped up on the heels of it’s release. We got into what are similarities and differences between making music now and then. How the new album’s songs are being received by the audiences of today, and what are the demoGraphics of an audience at a Black Uhuru concert in 2018. This is some of that music that really shaped me as a listener and believer, and it was a complete thrill to get a few moments with these great guys as they continue to spread love around the world. Love to all.

Meaning And Music With Alex Mercado

A pianist with astounding technique and boundless imagination, Alex Mercado is acclaimed for his ability to write striking compositions and create vibrant sonic landscapes that have resonated with critics and audiences alike in his native Mexico. On Symbiosis, his second trio recording after 2012’s The Watcher, Alex takes us on a journey through a vibrant musical world full of engaging melodies and the dynamic improvisations that typify the finest in contemporary modern jazz. Featuring Antonio Sanchez & Scott Colley, and being selected as one of Downbeat Magazine Editors’ Picks for 2014, the album will introduce jazz aficionados outside Mexico to a virtuoso instrumentalist without peer in his homeland where he is the “1st Call” pianist of choice for Magos Herrera, Sachal Vasandani, Bryan Lynch, Camila Meza and other visiting artists. Alex’s career highlights to date include being commissioned in 2010 to arrange and perform as the featured soloist in the orchestral opening to Sir Elton John’s concert at Chichen Itza with the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra; participating in 2011 as an arranger/composer on singer Magos Herrera’s album Mexico Azul, recorded in NYC with John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Tim Hagans and Luis Perdomo; and being chosen in 2012 by the Mexican government to inaugurate with a solo piano concert the iconic City Of The Books, one of Mexico City’s most important and historic landmarks.

I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Mercado ahead of his show on September 27th at Cafe Coda in Madison, Wisconsin. We spoke about the trio he has playing his music off of his four recordings. We dive mind first into how the music transcends entertainment and becomes a spiritual thing, each note taking on a different personality…. a rebirth, when different musicians join him, especially in a live setting. I found myself spellbound at times listening to Alex describe the nuances of a song’s journey, and how the energy that we create together, artists and listener, can create an adjustment to our spirit.

The trio for the evening of 9/27 in Madison is as follows:

Alex Mercado – Piano
Bob DeBoo – Bass
Rodrigo Villanueva – Drums

Alex Mercado & Wynton Marsalis

Drink In Some Moon Hooch

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group, Mike Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler, has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring around with some powerhouse groups like Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. The band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights. That melds together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music. At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a “Reverse DJ” setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Mike has even added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do).

I had the chance to speak with Mike Wilbur about the groups upcoming stop in Madison on September 29th at the Majestic Theatre. We get into what both newcomers to the scene and people who have tasted the Moon Hooch earlier on can expect from the now version of the group. Which direction has that live sound taken in 2018? We get into how the new three track EP “Light It Up” got off the ground. BY the end of the conversation, I was wishing Mike was in studio with me helping prepare a setlist of music….as you will hear, he would play and arrange a show in a very familiar fashion as to what people expect on greenarrowradio.

Coming Home With Justin Kauflin

Home is where you hang your hat, or so the old adage goes. For Justin Kauflin, critically acclaimed and accomplished jazz pianist and composer, the last few years of touring has found home to been many places. On the brand new release, “Coming Home”, Justin invites others to experience the world from his perspective as he sonically paints the homes he has found throughout his global travels. This is his third release, and second with the tastemaker imprint Qwest Records. With this album, he ventures into new sonic territory bringing in more modern influences of synths, electric guitar, and bass. From the start, recording “Coming Home” was electric. Mr. Quincy Jones and Mr. Derrick Hodge produced the album at Quincy Jones’ famous Westlake Studios (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Frank Ocean). Justin was joined by Chris Smith on acoustic and electric bass, Corey Fonville on drums and percussions, and Alan Parker on acoustic and electric guitar. The musicians had a blast bringing the album to life. Justin is planning a tour to support the new album. He is excited to get back on the road and create new experiences with his music and can’t wait to take these tunes in front of a live audience and create new life into them.

I had the honor of discussing the new album with Justin and how it grew from a newly planted seed and bloomed into a beautiful flower of sonic unity. We get into how “Home” was at times, redefined and what made the road have a comfortable feel. Of course, we had to find out what kinds of special touch working with both Mr. Quincy Jones and Mr. Derrick Hodge (as well as the other talented band members) brought out of each other during the process. And finding out what Mr. Kauflin would play on greenarrowradio if given the chance to fill in for me if I were to step out of the studio. He would easily take you, the listener, with him on a similar ride we attempt each time we get toGether through the airwaves. Check out this great person and artist in our chat, I think you’ll find he is someone to help guide us through.

Photo by John Lewis Marshall

Naia Izumi Has Something To Say

Naia Izumi is an independent guitarist, bassist, drummer, singer songwriter and producer based out of Los Angeles and recipient of the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Creating music and playing for people on the streets, watching and feeling those who pass by and making sounds that resonate within the moment when the heart feels it. Many of the shared moments of creation are interpreted elegantly with a guitar through an intricate uniqueness that is refreshing, soulful and downright bizarre at times with haunting undertones reminding you that magic exists.

I had the chance to catch up with Naia shortly before the September 8th show on the beautiful Terrace at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. We take some time to let people who go to the show know that the moments that will be shared will be unlike anything you may have seen online that features Naia. Feeding off the atmosphere and the audience has been a key to the growth of this artist. We walk through a timeline from when that first sonic experimentation to the moment in May when Naia won the annual NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Can you believe that it may have actually slipped his mind that he even entered the contest? We dissect the song he entered, “Soft Spoken” and discussed being born with something to say, and when that right moment to be heard showed up. I listen to A LOT of music of all sorts, and it is hard to find something/someone that truly fits into that “unique” category, but with Naia Izumi, I think I have found it.

Photo By Beck Harlan/NPR

Lemon Bucket Orkestra’s Michael Louis Johnson

Lemon Bucket Orkestra are Toronto’s original guerrilla-folk party-punk massive. The multi-award-winning ensemble has been heralded as a groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon by media and fans alike, and over the past 8 years have performed all over the world from WOMAD in New Zealand and Pohoda in Slovakia, to Festival D’Été in Québec City, and Luminato in Toronto. Equal parts exhilarating precision and reckless abandon, LBO’s live shows are a truly immersive experience – ranging from the ecstatic to the cathartic and all points in between – and they have expertly captured that unique blend of energy and emotion on their new album “If I Had The Strength”. Released in Canada through Outside Music in late 2018, it’s set for worldwide release via a new deal with Six Degrees Records this September, and includes guest appearances from famed soprano Measha Brueggergosman, rising Latino rapper Boogát, sing-a-long phenoms Choir!Choir!Choir! and more. The band will be busy touring the Canadian festival circuit this summer, and are heading out on a 12 date US tour in support of the Six Degrees release this fall. Along with the worldwide release of the new album, LBO will also be premiering a new live video for the song “Freedom”. Filmed with multiple cameras at Toronto’s legendary Opera House earlier this year, it captures the band doing what they do best – taking the audience on a joyful, impassioned ride through the Balkans and beyond. Don’t miss your chance to see this dozen strong juggernaut if you can.

I had the chance to catch up with Michael Louis Johnson, trumpet player of Lemon Bucket Orkestra to discuss what people at the Madison World Music Festival can expect when they show up and bring the party. We get into the creation of the new album from seed to blooming flower, and the vision and fuel behind the making of the video for “Freedom”. I found that we painted a great picture of what a show will be like and how the album and video were made, but hearing who Michael, on behalf of himself and the band, might choose to put on a festival bill with them if he could choose from any artist ever really opened my mind to the who behind the what.

Lemon Bucket Orkestra

Sensory Speaking with Claudia Eliaza and Dan Zanes

Grammy Award winning children’s artist Dan Zanes and Haitian-American vocalist and music therapist Claudia Eliaza present the freewheeling musical world of the Night Train 57, an engine powered by fifteen original singalongable songs. In this Sensory Friendly comic folk opera, the husband-wife duo are joined by Mexican percussionist Yuriana Sobrino on a collection of festive tunes played with an amazing array of diverse instruments, and of course their voices. This recording is intended to be enjoyed as a stand alone listening experience for families and early childhood educators as well as fans of the comic folk opera. Night Train 57 was significant in the Theater for Young Audiences genre in that it was the first entirely Sensory Friendly work to be commissioned by The Kennedy Center which for several years has been the leader in the movement towards greater accessibility. The show premiered in the Fall of 2017 and will be touring North America for the next several years. Claudia and Dan are at the forefront of the emerging Sensory Friendly movement which aims to help performing arts venues provide conditions that are welcoming to a variety of families, including those who have children with special needs. Night Train 57 is the 22nd release from Dan’s Festival Five Records, a label specializing in all-ages music for kids and kid sympathizers. The label’s first release was Rocket Ship Beach in 2000. For the past 2 years, in addition to Night Train 57 performances, Claudia and Dan have been performing as a duo – and sometimes a trio with Haitian jazz vocalist Pauline Jean – in venues large and small across America and Canada. In concert, their soulful take on family folk music includes selections from Lead Belly, Baby!, an award winning 2017 Smithsonian / Folkways release, as well as hits from Dan’s deep back catalog and, more recently, some traditional tunes from Claudia’s Haitian heritage.

I had the honor of speaking with Claudia and Dan about this project and how we all share the “inclusion is a cool thing” thinking. We get into how the songs were developed and nurtured by a new found toGetherness, and how the first experience of a sensory friendly event has left not only Claudia and Dan with a real satisfied feeling, but what it has shown to mean for the variety of people in attendance. Variety. Diversity. Everyone.

Performing Arts centers are catching on and I am sure the one closest to you does not want to feel left out, so share this concept, share this interview and share these people with them and hop on the Night Train 57 engine that can, for all.

Photo Credit: Anna Zanes

Novalima Comes To Central Park Sessions

Started by four friends from Lima with a shared passion for traditional Afro-Peruvian music and global DJ culture, Novalima stands in the common ground bridging past and future, uniting tradition and innovation.

From their humble start, file-sharing musical ideas and producing their first album in separate countries at the dawn of the internet, Novalima is now a live musical force revered worldwide for breaking boundaries and uniting seemingly irreconcilable genres, communities, and generations. They have created an inspiring movement and revolutionized the music scene in their native Peru by bridging a longstanding divide between the mainstream and the minority Afro-Peruvian community, who have struggled against discrimination and cultural dissolution for generations. Taking a year off from touring during 2017, Novalima went back in the studio to explore and experiment with new sounds from Peru. This time around, the influences came not only from its African heritage but also from the exploration of ancient sounds, languages and instruments from the Andes and the Amazon. On this new album called Ch’usay (Voyage in Quechua, the native language of the Inkas) to be released on September 2018 on Wonderwheel Recordings, Novalima goes one step further to enrich their sound by collaborating with new generations of local artists from the peruvian music scene. The release of the new album will also coincide with Novalima`s 15th Anniversary which will include a special color vinyl release of all their previous albums on July 1st and a European and US Tour on mid July.

I was fortunate to catch up with Rafael Morales in Lima shortly before the group heads over to the United States to beGin their fifteenth anniversary tour and celebrating this fantastic new release with a set of music at the Central Park Sessions- The Novalima Select Session on August 1st. We get into what a newcomer to the scene can expect out of this powerhouse group of innovators, the new album and how it came to be and we find out how happy they are to kick things off in a new place to call home…Madison.

Photo by: Vito Mirr

Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal Do AtwoodFEST

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal‘s combination of soul, funk and R&B is in a word, electric. Best displayed in their high-energy live show, the blend of honest lyrics and rich, intensely soulful vocals merged with a top-notch band create an undeniable chemistry. Formed in 2012 in famed blues town Lincoln, Nebraska, the award-winning five-piece band includes some of the area’s most revered and accomplished musicians. Inspired by the historic sounds of Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era, and joins forces each show with a common goal – to have the crowd dancing so much they forget even their smallest troubles. In 2017, Josh was featured as a contestant on ‘The Voice’, and the band completed their first European tour; a 27-city stint capped with a live album release from their show in Brussels, Belgium.The hard working band completed several national tours from 2015-2017, playing more than 150 shows in 32 states each year, including opening for friends of the proGram, Mr. George Clinton and Mr. Charles Bradley (rest in soulful peace). Their year-round touring schedule took them from coast to coast, including several major summer music festivals.

I had the chance to catch up with Josh before he and Soul Colossal head to Madison to bring that goodness to Atwoodfest on July 28th. The band takes playing on The Clyde Stubblefield Stage very seriously as you’ll hear in this conversation, so we are expecting this to be “one of those shows’ people talk about for years. Josh and I talk about the upcoming album to be released first overseas, where Soul Colossal will be off to shortly after, and those in Madison will be treated to some of these new tunes in advance. When asked what artists he would share if given an hour of greenarrowradio to proGram, he did not hesitate his answering. Find out who would be on his playlist by clicking play above.

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

Backstage Festival Moments With Steve Berlin

Los Lobos came to Madison to show Fete de Marquette an incredible time. One of my favorite outdoor festival bands, heck, one of my favorite bands to see live because of all the different sounds they manage to share to open minds everywhere. Over the years I have seen them in intimate settings, big festivals and now here at our hometown community festival where the stage is or front door to the neighborhood. Steve Berlin has been with the band since 1984 or so and I have grown to appreciate him as a member of Los Lobos, but also as a producer or new sounds with other artists coming on to the scene. I am not usually surprised when I find out an album I am diggin’ on and ready to share with the listeners has passed through Steve first. So it was a thrill to be able to hang out with him during the Making Movies set that preceded Los Lobos. We talked baseball for a bit, but we relished in deep enjoyment in the music we were seeing at that very moment. Of course, Steve produced these cats and also joined them on staGe for a few tunes. Priceless.

Shortly before they hit for the evening’s show, Steve and I caught up to put something quick on record. We spoke about what it is like making music in 2018 versus when the band got it first going back in what we now get to call, the day. We also get to talk about some of the new bands Steve is working with, including Making Movies, and we even find out about a group he wishes he was even more a part of. We both agree that music unites and there is still a good reason to be exited.

Big thank you to Susana and the entire Fete team for helping make this a go and for letting me fit in to the scene.

Steve Berlin & misterG

Madison Welcome Bent Knee to Art In

Bent Knee is a band without frontiers. Its borderless sound combines myriad influences from across the rock, pop, minimalist, and avant-garde spectrums into a seamless, thrilling whole. Its latest album, “Land Animal” the groups first for InsideOutMusic/Sony, takes its sound to a new level. It offers a suite of songs full of addictive hooks, lush melodies and enthralling twists and turns that capture the reality of life in the 21st Century—a reality of people and nations in the midst of tumultuous change. It also communicates a ray of hope and desire for listeners to embrace the fact that they’re not alone in their struggles. The band has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Its last two albums, 2016’s “Say So” and 2014’s “Shiny Eyed Babies”, were hailed as significant art-rock achievements. The group has performed hundreds of shows across the world to date. With “Land Animal”, Bent Knee has elevated its storytelling ambitions to create narratives that reflect and refract the currents we’re exposed to in the news every day. But wait…there’s more….

I had the chance to reconnect with members of Bent Knee in support of their upcoming event in Madison at Art In. Spent some time aGain with bassist, Jessica Kion and first timer on the show, violinist, Chris Baum. They will be heading here on The Paper Earth tour, which we find out, has been anything but a wild ride. We spoke about the differences/similarities in the process developing the “Land Animal” and this new work which Madison will get a taste of first hand. I am always thrilled to share tales of learnings about ourselves when we stretch into new circles, and Bent Knee latest work performed with the Boston Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, will prompt you to go check out the YouTube video and leave you wanting to check it all out in different shapes and forms.

Image by: Chris Anderson

Igor And The Red Elvises Rock In

Igor Yuzov was born in Germany, raised in Ukraine and studied in Russia. He grew up in the former Soviet Union, where folk music was the norm and rock’n’roll was illegal. A rebellious streak, however, led him to seek out the forbidden music. As soon as it became possible, Igor left Russia for America with his “Folk’n’Roll” band Limpopo and was personally greeted by Ronald Reagan. In 1993, Limpopo won Star Search and their popularity began to blossom. Igor dreamed that Elvis Presley came to him and told him to start playing rock’n’roll. Igor and his Russian friends became Red Elvises and gave street performances on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade. As their crowds grew larger, the City of Santa Monica ordered them to discontinue their street performances. Evolving over the years, Igor’s music has been labeled “Siberian Surf Rock” which contains humorous lyrics and grooves that forces his audience to dance. Over the past 20 years, Red Elvises have constantly toured all over the world with occasional breaks to record new music and to participate in film and television projects. No matter where they perform, Igor & Red Elvises always bring the party with them.

I had the opportunity to chat with Igor ahead of the July 11th show in Madison at High Noon Saloon. We give new comers to the scene an idea of what to expect from the a Red Elvises‘ show and who will be on stage rockin’ you. Igor and I talk about the party that naturally ensues with their style of music and if you ask me, Madison sounds like the perfect place to get a party started. Igor and I compare the shared international discussions and feelings both World Cup soccer and a musical bridge provide those who are paying attention. I think you will also find it interesting to hear what artists Igor would share with the listeners if given a portion of the show to proGram.

Photo credit: Emily Butler Photgraphy