Where Changes Have Led Neal Francis

Liberated from a self-destructive past and born anew in sobriety, Neal Francis has captured an inspired collection of songs steeped in New Orleans rhythms, Chicago blues, and early 70s rock n’ roll. His music evokes a bygone era of R&B’s heyday while simultaneously forging a new path on the musical landscape. Ohio-based Karma Chief Records (a subsidiary of rising soul label Colemine Records) released a full LP Changes on September 20, 2019. There is a deep connection between Neal’s childhood, his obsession with boogie woogie piano, his father’s gift of a dusty Dr. John LP, and the songs he’s created. The result is an astonishing collection of material without parallel in the contemporary funk and soul scene. When you listen, you’ll hear AND feel it. While he pays tribute to the masters, he has his own story to tell. The piano prodigy found himself touring Europe by the age of 18 with Muddy Waters’ son and backing up other prominent blues artists coast-to-coast. In 2012, he joined popular instrumental funk band The Heard. With Francis at the creative helm, The Heard transformed into a national act, touring with boogaloo progenitors The New Mastersounds and chart toppers The Revivalists and appearing at Jazz Fest and Bear Creek. As The Heard’s star rose, however, Neal sunk deeper into addiction. Once a promising sideman, by 2015 he had been fired from his band, evicted from his apartment, and was perilously close to self-destruction. The journey from a hospital bed to launching his solo career was neither predictable nor straightforward. There were musical fits and starts, relapses, and broken relationships. Yet the overwhelming passion driving Neal in this second act has been an abundance of creative energy. Determined to realize the songs swirling in his head, he assembled a crack team of musicians, calling on bassist Mike Starr (The Heard) and drummer PJ Howard (The Revivalists, The Heard). He linked up with producer and analog-obsessive Sergio Rios (Orgone, Cee Lo Green, Alicia Keys) and self-funded a trip to Killion Sound in Los Angeles to record the initial batch of material. Neal finished recording basic tracks for Changes in Los Angeles in February of 2018 and spent the following months doing overdubs in Chicago with engineer Mike Novak (who also recorded demos for the project). Soon after he began his touring career.

I had a chance to re-connect with friend of the proGram Neal Francis ahead of the January 30th show at the High Noon Saloon along with those colorful groovemasters, Turkuaz. Neal and I talk about all that has been happening since last we spoke on the record. He has been touring heavy on the back of the Changes release, and it’s some of the artists he is pairing up with that shows his musics flexibility, relatability and the handshake it solidifies with gratitude. We get into a new track that’s out today, what the future looks like with other “new to you” music and fellow artists on the mighty Colemine Records. I am thinking you must be ready to get yourself a taste of some Midwest soul, so check out what Neal is up to in a area near you.

Photo by Liina Raud

In The Bubble Bath With Blockhead

The internationally renowned NYC producer, Tony Simon, who goes by the moniker Blockhead has released ten albums over the past fifteen years, including four acclaimed records for Ninja Tune and numerous production jobs including notable works with Aesop Rock. He is regarded as one of the modern masters of instrumental hip-hop, and the forthcoming new album, ‘Bubble Bath’ sees him return to record-label-released music with the bold and exciting roster at Future Archive Recordings (co-founded by artists Arms and Sleepers, Sun Glitters, Little People and CNJR). ‘Bubble Bath’ is a record born out of meditative expression and ongoing personal creative challenge, key for a producer of BLOCKHEAD’s experience. Carried forward are the incredible hook and sample placement skills of classic works such as ‘Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book’ and ‘Music By Cavelight’, but what has emerged is an overwhelming sense of natural musicality and sophistication.

I had the chance to catch up with Blockhead ahead of the event in Madison on January 22nd at the High Noon Saloon. Tony will be here with fellow Future Archive Recording label mates Arms and Sleepers and Il:Lo. We get into the upcoming event and find out they way he executes his nightly plan. We dive into the way the new album went down and the moods that went into it’s creation. We talk about then versus now of beat selection, creation and how he feels about choosing the right sound. Tony even picks a tune off the new release to build a set around…..listen in to find out which way that set-list bends.

Soul Feeling The Music Of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio was formed in the spring of 2015 by Amy Novo, Delvon Lamarr’s wife and band manager. She told her husband she would take over his music career and all he had to do was find the musicians, create and play music. They originally started with different guitarist and drummer. Within a year they brought on infamous Jimmy James. Immediately the chemistry between the three of them was undeniable. With Delvon’s soulful organ sound, and Jimmy’s explosive guitar sound and the former drummer’s perfect pocket drumming, they had the perfect blend of Soul, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll. They started with a weekly residency at The Royal Room in Seattle for the first year then self-released their first album, playing short tours from Idaho, Spokane, Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, Portland, Reno, California, and tour in Europe. Shortly after signing with Colemine Records they re-released their album on a 45, LP, cassette, CD and digitally. The band has since gone from a local Seattle-based band to a national and international household name, traveling all over the United States and around the world. The love, passion and devotion Amy Novo, Colemine Records & The Kurland Agency has for their music creates the perfect power team. Now, with Michael Duffy as their drummer, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is ready to take their performance to new regions of the world, bringing their unique sound to fans across the globe.

I had the chance to catch up with Delvon ahead of the January 18th event at The Venue On Winnebago Street. We got into the scene a live event from the trio creates, from the dancing feet to the opening minds. We talk about the relationship they have with the team at Colemine Records, as well as the other label mates and how this music travels when it heads to Europe. Delvon creates a set-list of sounds for us if I were to give him control of the board, and let me tell you, the listeners might let me take a little extra time off so they can get more of his selections. He built his set off of a soon to be released track from the Trio, that I get to world premier this week on the show. (Fo’ Sho’)

The Fun Way Works For Shamarr Allen

Shamarr Allen is the definition of New Orleans! Hailing from the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, he has influences in jazz, hip-hop, rock, funk rhythms, blues and country. He is the lead vocalist and trumpeter of his band “Shamarr Allen & The Underdawgs.” In addition to performing with his band, Allen has collaborated with many renowned artists around the world such as Willie Nelson, Patti LaBelle, Galatic, Harrick Connick Jr, and Lenny Kravitz, to name a few. He is a sought after artist for festivals and venues around the world. In addition to displaying his skills on the front-line as a lead performer, he is also a music composer, writer, and producer. With a scintillating and unique sound, look, and exemplary talents, Shamarr Allen transcends musical boundaries. He is the True Orleans experience!

I had a chance to catch up with Shamarr ahead of the January 9th, 2020 show in Madison at the Majestic Theater opening for G Love & Special Sauce. We get into what the party might be like when Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs bring their flavor of New Orleans to town, and how words can only do a slight justice to the experience of sharing a live show toGether. We talk about how he is able to take so many of the sounds he likes as a music listener and layer that into the traditional New Orleans sounds to pave his own path, to separate himself from others… I’d say it has worked out well as he played for President Obama, worked with many greats (we talk about how Willie Nelson‘s people contacted him) and keeps his focus on the “play” part of playing his music.

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Feel The Real With Brother Ali

Over the past 20 years, Brother Ali has earned wide critical acclaim for his deeply personal, socially conscious, and inspiring brand of hip-hop. Under Rhymesayers Entertainment, he’s unleashed a series of lauded projects, establishing himself as one of the most respected independent voices in music. His latest and surprise release ‘Secrets & Escapes’ is a compendium of his time with Evidence over the course of three trips to California, recording in a Venice garage with no regard for pleasing the internet or competing with the music industry. Ev chopped up records on old-school samplers and ran them through a compressor (2 track) so they couldn’t be re-arranged or mixed. Brother Ali sat with the mic and spit rhymes as they came to him, without writing or organizing them into songs. Ev smoked a lot of weed, Ali prayed a lot, and their influences on each other can be heard in the recordings. Every time they made something that reminded them of what they’ve become known for, they threw it away and started something new. Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and CS Armstrong all came through to bless the project with contributions too. This album is two friends making rap music for no other reason than because it’s what they love to do

I had the pleasure of chatting with Brother Ali ahead of his 12/18 stop back “home” in Madison at the Majestic Theater. We get into what someone unfamiliar with him can expect from that evening, the range of emotion and celebration that one feels at his shows is vast. We get into the seed to flower of his latest release and how it all of a sudden was there…..contrary to the process of creating it. I think the one thing that rings true when you listen to Brother Ali in this conversation, is the reality of the real and the feelings we feel can be done in your way, this is his.

Getting A Sample With DJ Logic

The theorem of turntablist as musician has been long proven in the capable hands of DJ Logic, whom with jazz as his foundation has become a wax innovator by crossing genres and mixing his sound across the map. As one of the world’s most accomplished turntablists, Logic is widely credited for introducing jazz into the hip–hop realms and is considered by most as a highly-respected session musician and an innovative bandleader. Since his emergence in the early nineties amidst the Bronx hip-hop scene, the New York City based deejay has been amassing a veritable mountain of collaborations, including a full-fledged band with members of Blues Traveler (The John Popper Project ft. DJ Logic), a trio with Steve Molitz & Freekbass (Headtronics), a jazz project with Georgian prodigy Beka Gochiasvili, and as a member of Grammy-winning Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s The Offense of the Drum album. He also has a long list of other collaborations with artists ranging from the likes of Bob Weir, John Mayer, Medeski Martin and Wood, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, Marcus Miller, Vernon Reid, Warren Haynes, Charlie Hunter, Jack DeJohnette, Ben Harper, Mos Def, The Roots, Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell, Melvin Gibbs, Fred Wesley, Sean Kuti and many more. Logic and his role as an electronic-music ambassador keeps him at the top of his game. Whether the scratch artist instructs tablas to flirt with drum ‘n’ bass (such as on his Nina Simone and Billy Holiday remixes found on Sony Legacy’s Remixed and Reimagined volumes), meshes free styling MC’s with Afro-Cuban rhythms (such as on ‘Share Worldwide Funk’ – a remix produced for Jack DeJohnette and Golden Beams Collected, Volume 1), or remixes tracks for rock bands such as Moon Taxi, DJ Logic can always be found paying homage to his predecessors while contributing his vision to the deejay genre.

I had the chance to catch up with Logic before he heads to Madison on January 9th to mix it up at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what newcomers can expect, how he chooses both his samples and his collaborators as well what he thinks they see in him as a musical partner. If you are wondering if there is new music coming at you from Logic in 2020, we will have an answer for you!!

Feeling Ragmala With Adam Rudolph

For the past four decades composer, improviser/percussionist/moment creator Adam Rudolph has performed extensively in concert throughout North & South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He has been hailed as “a pioneer in world music” by the NY Times and “a master percussionist” by Musician magazine. He has released over twenty five recordings under his own name, featuring his compositions and percussion work. Adam composes for his ensembles Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures, Hu: Vibrational percussion group, and Go: Organic Orchestra, an eighteen to fifty four piece group for which he has developed an original music notation and conducting system. He has taught and conducted hundreds of musicians worldwide in the Go: Organic Orchestra concept. In 1995 Rudolph premiered his opera The Dreamer, based on the text of Friedreich Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”. Adam has performed with Don Cherry, Jon Hassell, Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders, L. Shankar, A.A.C.M co-founders Fred Anderson and Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, and Omar Sosa. He has toured extensively and recorded 15 albums with Yusef Lateef including duets and their large ensemble compositional collaborations. Between his beginnings of sharing his musical creations to the very moment of reading this word, Adam is combining so many factors of living and life into the living being of sound. He is able to connect many rhythms and grooves together through the relationships with the people, the places and the knowledge he has been able to soak in and forge a path forward with blends of the this and then and the then and now.

Adam is more than a friend of the proGram. The way he does what he does is exactly how I feel themusic I get. When I say get, I man that gets me. This time around we are discussing his latest project: “Ragmala: A Garland Of Ragas” with his Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive. We get into how these two musical energies got together to create this latest release, and how it works. We take a look inside a couple of the latest moments of evolution of tracks familiar to the ear and how intuition, integrity and worldly knowledge help in piecing or is that “PEACE-ing” it all together. We also discuss how such an expansive project of many is able to be performed in a live setting, and an upcoming December 13th concert. I always feel like my mind’s ear has been opened just a little wider after talking with Adam, and this time is no exception. As you listen in, you’ll understand. I also wanted to point out the fantastic and perfectly chosen art that accompanies this double record release (and some other release of Adam’s) by the artist, Nancy Jackson . I am proud to be apart of all that Adam does and the honor of bringing all this art to the listeners keeps me feeling real.

Hey Cancer….Get The Funk Out

The Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin is committed to finding the best ways to detect, prevent, diagnose & treat cancer. As one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Carbone Cancer Center is providing treatment, education & research for all-types of cancer. Any donations to Funk Out Cancer will go directly to the Paul P. Carbone Cancer Center Fund which is funding innovative research to help find the cure for cancer. 100% of these funds will be used by the leading researchers & doctors at the University of Wisconsin for cancer research. There has been significant progress made with the help of these generous donations and Funk Out Cancer is helping to create awareness & fund the advancements in cancer research at the Carbone Cancer Center.

The goal for Funk Out Cancer is to raise $50,000 on a night filled with great friends, incredible music, and generous donors.

I am always honored to be a part of helping spread the word about this event. I had another chance to check in with Al Falaschi about the FUNK OUT CANCER event being help this year on November 2nd at The Orpheum in Madison. We get into the concert portion by talking through what artists will help to get the funk out, we talk about how this event…this party.. got started and the personal story that accompanies the funk. We also tackle one of the silent auction items (check out the Facebook event page for more info) to find out more about what it is and a piece of interesting history around it…do you know what a Wisconsin themed stumpf fiddle is? Right. We have all been in the path of cancer’s travels and what better way to share in the journey then to meet up together to tell cancer to get the funk out!

Flowpoetry Compression Release & R-n-R Show

FlowPoetry (aka Adam Gregory Pergament of Madison, WI) to release a book of poetry titled “Compression” as part of a Rock and Roll show at High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI on Monday November 18, 2019 presented by High Noon Saloon, Knuckleheads Tobacco and Gifts, and WIJAM. In addition to the book release and FlowPoetry performance, music will be provided by Glostik Willy, a “Hippy Metal” power trio from Indiana, and Tate McLane, a folk artist from Minnesota. “Compression” is FlowPoetry’s second published work in-print and seeks to explore the percussive possibilities of his poetry through chants and stripped-down lyrics. Themes range from the political to the loss of love to the profound joy and necessity of creative expression. FlowPoetry’s 1st book was published in 2014 and compiled a 50-part series of poems originally published on-line through Sensible Reason, a millennial culture website headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

I had the chance to catch up with Adam to get a bigger picture of what this event, and this book of poetry was all about. We get into idea behind having a rock and roll show surrounding a poetry book release with a poetry sharing from the stage. We dive into the creation of this new project and where it was born and how cutting out some of the fat, led to the feeling and feelings of these new poems. If this event sounds like something you may never have seen before, it very well could be. What better reason to add it to your schedule?

WHO: FlowPoetry (WI-Spoken Word), Glostik Willy (IN-Hippy Metal), Tate McLane (MN-Folk)
WHAT: FlowPoetry’s “Compression” Book Release and Rock and Roll Show
presented by High Noon Saloon, Knucklehead’s Tobacco and Gifts Madison, and WIJAM
WHERE: High Noon Saloon (701 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703)
WHEN: Monday Nov. 18, 2019; Doors at 6:30; Show 7:30-10:30

Miles Davis’ Nephew Talks Rubberband And…

Miles Davis shocked the music world in 1985 when he left Columbia Records after thirty years to join Warner Bros. Records. In October of that year, he began recording the album Rubberband in L.A. at Ameraycan Studios with producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles. The musical direction Miles was taking during the sessions marked a radical departure, with the inclusion of funk and soul grooves; with plans to feature guest vocalists Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. Eventually, the album was shelved and Miles went on to record Tutu, leaving the Rubberband songs unheard and untouched for over 30 years. Miles Davis’ fans finally got a taste of the iconic trumpeter’s long-lost album last year with the release of a four-song Rubberband EP for Record Store Day, which is also available digitally. Now Rhino is excited to announce that the entire 11-song Rubberband album made its debut on September 6 on CD, digitally, and as a 180-gram 2-LP set. It was finished by the original producers Hall and Giles; with Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., who played drums on the original sessions for the album in 1985-86. The cover art for the album is a Davis original painting from the time.

In 2017 – 32 years after Davis started recording Rubberband– Hall, Giles, and Davis’ nephew, Wilburn, Jr., began work to finish the album. The final version includes several guest artists including singers Ledisi (a 12-time Grammy nominee) and Lalah Hathaway (daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway). Miles Davis – who plays both trumpet and keyboards on the album – was joined in the studio by keyboardists Adam Holzman, Neil Larsen and Wayne Linsey; percussionist Steve Reid; saxophonist Glen Burris; and Wilburn, Jr. on drums. The sessions were engineered by Grammy®-winner Reggie Dozier, whose brother Lamont Dozier was part of the legendary Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland.

I had the honor of catching up with Miles Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr. to talk about the path this new album has taken from the earlier sessions to it finally being released in September. We get deep into how his uncle was not one to stand still too long in the same sounds and how evolution was always something he would strive towards. I have to tell you it was thrilling to hear about some of the ins and outs of Miles Davis from Vince, a person that spent a lot of personal time with and creating music time with the “Chief”. We also find out why Vince would suggest to anyone who wants to know more about the real story of Miles to check out Stanley Nelson‘s new documentary Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool. And you don’t think Vince is just sitting round relishing in the fact he has this legend of an Uncle – we find out what other things are going in his musical world and how the music of Miles Davis, still keeps on evolving as others take knowledgeable visions and breath life into them.

Miles Davis – Rubberband (Mini-Documentary)

Secret Space of Dreams With Jay Blakesberg

“JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams” is a fine art, hardcover photography book of Jerry Garcia, beginning from the middle of his career with the Grateful Dead and covering the last third of his life. Signed copies of “JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams” are available now for pre-order at www.rockoutbooks.com. Pre-orders start shipping September 23, 2019. The new project will be officially released on October 15th , 2019. Jay Blakesberg is a San Francisco-based photographer, filmmaker and visual anthropologist whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Relix and many other magazines. He has worked with countless musical artists, including Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Phish, moe., Tom Waits, the Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana and, of course, the Grateful Dead to name just a few. Jay attended his first Dead show in September 1977 as a 15-year-old kid. Thirty-seven years later, he went on to become the official Fare Thee Well photographer for the band’s final five shows. “Secret Space of Dreams”is his 15th coffee table book of music photography.

This marks the fourth time Jay and I have made some time to discuss his projects. While they all have been great body’s of work, this new one really is close to my heart (thru my eyes and ears) with the focus being Jerry Garcia. In “Jerry Garcia: Secret Space of Dreams”, we get all Jerry images and many great tales and quotes and an insiders look into what many never get to or got it see. John Mayer writes a moving foreword, with friend of the program David Gans dives deep into the character and charisma of the mythical non-frontman, frontman in his introduction and Dave Schools muses on the man, myth and legend portrayed in the pages of the photographic biography during his afterword. He thoughtfully reflects on Jerry’s ability to “display his own frailty in the service of the song,” and to connect with the audience as participants in the performance. Jay’s innate ability to capture Garcia’s magic on film is within the book’s 208 pages, he shares 139 photographs of Jerry spanning nearly 20 years­­, September 2nd, 1978 (at Giants Stadium) through the April 1995 making of the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” music video. As always, Jay’s work is not just for Deadheads or Jam band freaks, his work let’s you into the life and times of an individual, and this one certainly has an important lace within the attics of my life.

The Budos Band Giving It To Madison

With over two decades of playing together since their early days in Staten Island, The Budos Band have have left their signature on five studio albums, a raucous live show that feels like the best party in town. The music has taken them across four continents and an unbreakable musical kinship among its nine members, that easily spreads & shares a fun family feeling like a smile eases onto a happily surprised face. Their sound has evolved since their Afro-soul beginnings, but no matter how many new influences get mixed in and layered on over the years, they remain deeply in sync, the hosts of the block party and a cornerstone in what’s good art that’s brand new.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Mr. Jared Tankel ahead of The Budos Band‘s show on September 20th at the Majestic Theatre here in Madison.. Jared and I get into the deliverable goods to be expected at their upcoming show (for those who are newcomers to their scene). We deep dive into the the groups brand new release, “V”, and how it was a very different road to recording from the years earlier. Jared will be/is on baritone sax, so we talk about the road to being “Bari” cool for him, and how the vice of this instrument speaks to the two of us. So….what would Jared choose to air if building a set for greenarrowradio? Which song off the new album would he start with? These questions are answered in our conversation.

Photo by: Leslie Kalohi

Givin’ You The LowDown Brass Band

LowDown Brass Band deftly synthesizes the gritty sounds of Chicago with the high energy street beat of the Crescent City. LDB brandishes a powerful brass frontline of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, with a funky backline of drums and sousaphone. Combining the poetic ferocity of Billa Camp with stellar vocal harmonies, adventurous improvisation, movement, and grooves, LDB creates an infectious and diverse sound that has something for every listener. Fresh off their headlining set at The 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival, LowDown maintains a constant performing and touring schedule throughout North America. Recent performances include the Lagunitas Beer Circus, Chicago Jazz Fest, Friendly Gathering, Alaska’s Salmon Fest, Chicago’s Do-Division Fest, Wakarusa, Cotai Jazz Fest, and a annual residency at Shoe Fest. Following an ambitious project titled LowDown Sounds, that included a critically acclaimed cameo by Roy Ayers on the track “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”, LowDown Brass Band is now touring their 2018 hip hop release titled LowDown Breaks featuring MC Billa Camp. This new record steps deeper into refining their unique sound, combining hip hop breaks with live soul samples and deep cut grooves.

I had the chance to catch up with Shane Jonas, singer/trumpeter and one of the songwriters of LowDown Brass Band ahead of their end of July and early August run in Wisconsin, starting with the July 31st show at The Shitty Barn Sessions. Shane and I go through the who’s and what’s of the group gearing people who might not know them up for checking them out. We talk about the differences of process from when the band first started to the very new single that just dropped in June. The growth is obvious to those who have known about them for a bit. Shane also builds a set-list starting off with that brand new single “We Dem Boys” and the results are gonna make the fun in your funk jump for joy.

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble to Close out Atwoodfest

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble was founded in Chicago in 2003 by guitarist Aaron Feder. In 2006 Aaron made a move to Barcelona in search of a different sound for the band. He quickly found a group of international members, from all continents of the globe. In a short time the band was reformed and headlined the Fiestizaje music and arts festival in 2008. The band then set about recording their first studio album, Toubab Soul which was released in 2010. Shortly afterwards, they released the remix album, Toubab Resouled, and opened the world music festival Cruilla de Cultures with Konono No 1. The story has many twists and turns along the way, but now in 2019, they have a brand new self released album, “Monkey See, Monkey Do” out and the growth from those beginning is continuing to expand their sounds and styles. Which brings us to the Summer of 2019.

I had the chance to chat with Aaron ahead of Alma Afrobeat Ensemble’s set closing out this year’s Atwoodfest in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, July 28th. We get into what people can expect from this band now based in Barcelona, and how lucky Madison is to have them finally get here. Aaron has been trying for years and fortunately, Atwoodfest was able to get the stars to aliGn. We go seed to flower on the new release, “Monkey See, Money Do”, and while not a completely politically charged album, it does speak in a socially aware tongue and groove. I wanted to let people get a feel for the type of person Aaron is so we find out what had been floating his personal boat these days, as well as the set-list he would program, starting with which one off their new album he’d go with, for the listeners if given 45 minutes or so of the show.

Kaleta & Super Yamba Band

Afro-funksters Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are known for their explosive live shows teeming with danceable rhythms and a vivacious energy that brings out the boogie in audiences from all walks of life. Fronted by legendary Afrobeat veteran Leon Ligan-Majek—a.k.a. Kaleta, the Brooklyn, N.Y. based group weaves together lively, multi-faceted rhythms and groovy basslines beneath bright horns, swirling synthesizers and Kaleta’s smoky vocals. Song lyrics seamlessly glide between languages native to West Africa along with French and Pidgin English, “the official language of Afrobeat” according to the band. Vocalist, guitarist, percussionist and producer Kaleta was born in the West African country of Benin Republic and lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria—the birthplace of Afrobeat. He got his start in the late 1970s performing in church and after capturing the attention of world music pioneer King Sunny Ade, was given the opportunity to go on a global tour with the iconic Nigerian musician and later with Fela Kuti though the 1980s and into the 1990s. After moving to New York City, Kaleta was overjoyed to find Super Yamba Band and hear their fresh take on the vintage sounds of his native Benin, taking its cues from artists like Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, El Rego and Gnonnas Pedro. Today, the band’s infectious sound and energy has earned them a devoted following and a skyrocketing reputation. The group has erupted onto the music scene with performances at the World Music Institute’s Masters Of African Music Series in New York, Felabration NYC, Millpond.Live Festival in Massachusetts, Paste Magazine’s Emerging Music Festival in New York City and the historic Apollo Theatre. In a review of their performance at the Emerging Music Festival, online tastemaker Afropop Worldwide said “their ace-up-the-sleeve: the singer Kaleta, whose James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business.” With their latest single “Mr. Diva” (2018), Kaleta & Super Yamba continue to treat listeners to an unforgettable experience of world-class Afro-Funk dance music. A new album on Ubiquity Records is due out this Autumn.

I had the honor of discussing the upcoming Kaleta & Super Yamba Band event in Madison, Wisconsin at the High Noon Saloon on June 30th with the legend himself, Kaleta. We discuss what event-goers can expect from the groups first time in Madison. It was thrilling to here him talk about how he got started playing with two Icons in a music scene I love, King Sunny Adé and Fela Kuti. I also took the time to get some of the inside scoop on how the soon to be released album started coming together from a seed to it’s eventual big bloom in Autumn. I hiGhly recommend checking out this band in any capcaity, but for the real feel, find them live and hold on tight.

Talking Special Guest With Kris Jones

Special Guest App is a technology platform that helps make it extremely simple and affordable for anyone, anywhere to hire LIVE entertainment on demand via mobile and Web apps. Special Guest App removes friction from the LIVE entertainment booking process by seamlessly facilitating discovery, communication, scheduling, agreement, and payments. This people-centric tool helps venue owners and managers make more money by streamlining the entire process of booking live entertainment and their professional talent buying team operates to help leverage live entertainment to help them grow revenue and create incredible experiences. Special Guest is agent, manager and promoter friendly and actually serves all talent types, including musicians, comedians, magicians, kids entertainers, dancers, DJs, actors / actresses, rappers / hip hop artists, photographers, and much more! The company was cofounded by actor / comedian Damon Wayans, Jr and serial entrepreneur and best selling author, Kristopher Jones

I had the opportunity to discuss this innovative application with co-founder Kris Jones, who is (just to name a couple) a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and best selling author that comes with years of experience and an open mind that makes this application tick from a technology/business standpoint. We get into the who, what, where, why and when can you get started using Special Guest type questions. For me, the reason I wanted to help spread the word is that this platform helps even out the playing field for all types of talent, including those who don’t have the black-book filled with all the right connections. Special Guest can help all the hands in the jar come out with hand fulls!!

Mobile App can be grabbed up here for iOS.

*Soon to be released for Android.

Music & A Movement With Making Movies

Energy, mysticism, roots– it’s hard to describe the genre-breaking music of Making Movies, a band that Rolling Stone says is “breaking down walls in the United States,” with a mix of afro-latino rhythms and psychedelic rock’n’roll that makes the group’s sound something unique. The connection between the Chi brothers (hailing from Santiago, Panama)– together with their Mexican bandmates, the Chaurand brothers–results in an overwhelming musical presence that takes you through landscapes festive, furious, refreshing, and dark. At times the falsetto of Diego Chi takes you to the underworld, while the fuzz of Enrique Chi’s guitar anchors his spirited voice in the midst of the Chaurand brothers’ primal and folkloric percussion. An explosion of energy on the stage–does the soundtrack make the movie, or does the movie make for the soundtrack?
In 2017 Art As Mentorship was created by Enrique Chi, born out of six years of collaboration between Making Movies and local non-profits Base Academy of Music and the Mattie Rhodes Center. What began as a week-long music education camp for youth in an undeserved community has grown into a six-month songwriting and mentorship program called the Rebel Song Academy. Students get to record with and learn from industry professionals, like Grammy-winning producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos who recorded the first class in 2018. The world turned their attention to Making Movies as Rubén Blades, Flor De Toloache, Asdru Sierra, David Hidalgo, Frankie Negrón & Las Cafeteras joined forces with the band on their new album, ameri’kana, which was released in May 2019. The first two singles, “No Te Calles” and “Cómo Perdonar”, were launched along with a movement that invites artists and fans to participate on the website NoTeCalles.World, by joining the chorus with Rubén Blades and Making Movies. The album includes “Delilah”, a song about immigration written during a week-long writing session between Blades and Lou Reed that had never before been recorded. Saying that “Rock’n’roll is Latin music” the band dedicates the album to the beautiful inhabitants of the ameri’kana continent.

I had the privilege of re-connecting with Enrique ahead of the groups return to Madison on June 23rd as part of the Sessions at McPike Park – Pursuit Of Happiness Sessions. After having a chance to hang with this great group of people when they were here last year, I definitely developed a fondness for them as people first and then the music. If you have seen then, you know what I mean. If you haven’t find a place to and go! Enrique and I get into what to expect if you are new to the Making Movies scene, we get into the creation of the new release, ameri’kana and how working with one of their heroes, Mr. Rubén Blades took their stories to a best seller book level. We get a little political, well, we can call it topical in our discussion about how music has opened our minds and eyes but we get back into the music when Enrique rattles off a list of artists/songs he’d spin for the greenarrowradio listeners if he was in the pilot’s seat. This is THE band people should be talking about.

Scared Scriptless with Colin and Brad

Armed with only their wits, Whose Line is it Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood are taking to the live stage and they’re…Scared Scriptless. Prepare to laugh yourself senseless as improv comedy masterminds Colin & Brad must make up original scenes, songs and more from whatever you, the fans, suggest! You just might also get to join in on the fun on stage. It’s a hilarious comedic high wire act… just like a live version of ‘Whose Line!’ How the heck do they do it? We don’t know either! Don’t miss the best duo in improv, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, in their wildly entertaining Scared Scriptless Tour.

I had a chance to catch up with long time friend of the proGram, Colin Mocherie ahead of he and Brad hitting Madison on June 14th at Overture Center For The Arts. We get into what to expect from the hilarious Scared Scriptless event, how this thing called improv stays fresh and Colin shares some wise words of advice about going for a yes, when one might lead with a no. And yes…it is all made up right there.

Neal Francis’ Midwest Soul at Waterfront Festival

There is a deep connection between Neal Francis’ childhood—his obsession with boogie woogie piano, his father’s gift of a dusty Dr. John LP, and the songs he’s created. The result is an astonishing collection of material without parallel in the contemporary funk and soul scene. The influences are unmistakable: the vocal stylings of Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell; the second line rhythms of The Meters and Dr. John; the barroom rock ‘n’ roll of The Rolling Stones; the gospel soul of Billy Preston; the roots music of The Band. He pays tribute to the masters but has his own story to tell. The piano prodigy found himself touring Europe by the age of 18 with Muddy Waters’ son and backing up other prominent blues artists coast-to-coast. In 2012, he joined popular instrumental funk band The Heard. With Francis at the creative helm, The Heard transformed into a national act, touring with boogaloo progenitors The New Mastersounds and chart toppers The Revivalists and appearing at Jazz Fest and Bear Creek. As The Heard’s star rose, however, Francis sunk deeper into addiction. Once a promising sideman, by 2015 he had been fired from his band, evicted from his apartment, and was perilously close to self-destruction. He worked hard to change all that. 2018 was a busy year. In February Francis finished recording basic tracks for the yet-to-be named debut album in Los Angeles and spent the following months doing overdubs in Chicago with engineer Mike Novak (who also recorded demos for the project). After playing his first show in November, Francis was signed by Paradigm Talent Agency. 2019 has already brought a North American tour supporting The Cat Empire and he continues to tour relentlessly to promote his own music.

And that brings us to June 8th at the Marquette Waterfront Festival in Madison, where I will be able to catch a set of music I have been looking for. I had a chance to catch up with Neal ahead of the festival to help people get to know him a little better. We talk what people who don’t know about his sound/style can expect, we talk about new music and how his soon to be released album was born. We get into the way he was and where he’s at and I think many of us would like to know what songs & artists a cat like this would build a set around after I start it with one of his new tunes. Oh YEAH!!!

Swarm To Table With Brooklyn Bugs

Brooklyn Bugs is an edible insect ambassador. Their mission is to raise appreciation and awareness for edible insects through delicious, educational, and creative programming. Their interesting work has been featured on the Smithsonian Channel, New York Times, NPR, Food and Wine, Live with Kelly and Ryan, Forbes, and Gizmodo, as they help explain why the United Nations endorses edible insects to address the issues of food scarcity and sustainability. They work hard while striving to introduce edible insects and normalize them in America as a sustainable source of protein that can be found in your pantry, eaten as a snack, and beautifully plated by chefs. They are currently on their Spring College Tour, which this year is bringing them to the University of Wisconsin (Madison). Joseph Yoon is an entrepreneur who is the chef/owner of Yummy Eats (est 2011) and Dinner Echo, and the Executive Director of Brooklyn Bugs. Joseph views his participation in this global food movement as an extension of his commitment to his community, and volunteers his time and resources with both Brooklyn Bugs and Yummy Eats. Our kinda guy.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Joseph ahead of his upcoming time in Madison for the Edible Insects Event: “Swarm To Table” Series from April 25th – April 27th. We first discuss what the mission and importance of Brooklyn Bugs and why edible insects is a topic we are proud to be discussing here at the UW. We dive into what this three-day event series will be all about with featured presentations by leading researchers in the field of insect agriculture and experts in insect cuisine, pairings of edible insects with Wisconsin craft beers, and culminates in a delicious multi-course insect banquet and art show. For this event series, Joseph will be delivering an informational lecture on the 25th from 1:00 – 3:30 PM at UW Engineering Hall – Room 122 Entitled: “New Frontiers In Insect Cuisine”. On the 26th, he will be doing a hands-on workshop: “Cooking With Insects” from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Food Apps Lab – Babcock Hall. The event winds down with the Swarm-To-Table Gourmet Insect Feast and Art Exhibit with a partnership with the fine folks from Slow Food UW & MIGHTi, While all the portions Joseph is participating in or leading are cool, there are a several other things happening as well. Click here for more.

Since I originally aired this conversation on Record Store Day, we talked about some of his most favorite artists to listen to on vinyl and man, there were some wildly symbiotic connection points going on during that part of the chat. Try it. You know you wanna.

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Black Ants, Scorpions Lobster: Image of Brooklyn Bugs