Every year or so I have the chance to catch up with my man Cee Knowledge, AKA DoodleBUG of Digable Planets. For me, its a chance to get into the mind of one of the principals in opening my mind to all the sounds. This time around we got to talk about some of the stops on the insects recent travels and tours. What it was like getting it on out in the eye again toGether as the Digable crew.
Cee Know and I discuss the reunion tour during spring and summer 2016 and how it was followed up with a live record “Digable Planets Live” on Ropeadope Records that dropped late June 2017. We lead you down the path of the question, will there be some new joints complied and released to the world with new rhymes, beast and jazzed-up-grooves? It is always nice to hear an influential artist, someone who is a part of a Grammy award winning group that created something new talk about who were some of the maestros behind getting their artist voice to come out, and both Cee and I release a little of that on you. We also take you back to a classic-ish moment in time and talk about the original meeting of our mutual funky-friend, DeeJay Alex J. It was for similar situations that brought all three of our world colliding. As always, the conversation strays into the land of NBA hoops and we make sure to get our Celtics and Sixers (hats worn just a little titled to the side) talk on the table, both always respecting the others squad. I am also pleased to report, that once any new project is ready to get a listen, I’ll get that listen and then be able to be the bridge to get that freshy fresh over to you.
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
While known as Robert’s cousin, and a founding member and the drummer of The Family Band, there is way more to the man Mr. Marcus Randolph than the man on the kit in the back. “Transplant”, the debut release from Marcus Randolph My Peeples Peeple from American Showplace Music was released on October 20th and I have been sharing portion’s with the listeners slightly before. I had a chance to catch up with Marcus about the new album to discuss the piecing toGether of the album, from recuperating and recovering from his very own transplant, to how/why we can all relate to the track, “Mad At The World”, to how momma got in on a track and how working with and being a brother to Mr. John Ginty has assisted in getting the project to the finish line. The sounds that fly off this album are in a changing space throughout. From Rock and blues to some soulful grooves, the funk oozes off into your ear and trickles down to your feet. I am sure some stompin’ with take place once it reaches your roots. As listeners and people of music, Marcus and I call on you to check out the style and see how it fits into your zones. Check out out chat here:
“Eyes of the World: Grateful Dead Photography 1965 – 1995” is a fine art, hardcover coffee table photography book that brings together, for the first time, a comprehensive collection of photographs from a wide range of photographers whose work has captured the Grateful Dead at different times throughout their career. Co-Edited by former Relix editor-in-chief Josh Baron and famed rock photographer Jay Blakesberg, “Eyes of the World” was released on October 23, 2017 via Rock Out Books. Photographers featured in Eyes of the World include such legendary names as Annie Leibovitz, Jim Marshall, David Gahr, Mark Seliger, Herb Greene, William Coupon, Michael O’Neill, Adrian Boot, Michael Putland, Peter Simon, Baron Wolman and, of course, Jay Blakesberg. Included in the collection are iconic images, lesser known photos, and never-seen before seen images – each of them a singular perspective of a poignant moment that together help tell the Grateful Dead’s epic tale through large, bold imagery.
Jay and I played a little catch up since last time we spoke. We got into how this book came to be, the process of picking and choosing moments that represent each time time period/era of the band as well as a few interesting morsels of coolness discovered while researching and pieces the whole project toGether. Take a listen to find out the why and what the image chosen for the cover represents to Jay and Josh and which image even Phil Lesh said” “I’d Never Seen That Before”.
On Saturday, November 4th, The Majestic Theater will be the spot to “FUNK OUT CANCER” with Phat Phunktion and Mama Digdown’s Brass Band. This concert and silent auction is being held in memory of Kate Gates Falaschi, to help raise awareness and assistance to end the battle for all with this monster. Each year the event happens, I get toGether with Kate’s husband and local Madison musician Al Falaschi (saxophones & vocals in Phat Phunktion) to help spread the word. This year we got another chance to remind folks of the importance of the research that’s ongoing, including a real wild story about one of Kate’s doctors….this is one of these stories you just couldn’t make up. Al also opened up a little about what, after 8 years, is something he really misses about Kate. We discussed the wild times the music will provide and the uniqueness of the shared moments for those in attendance. He rolled off a few names of special guests, including Mr. Jimmy Voegeli of The Jimmys hammering the funk out of it on the B3, as well as special tributes that will be complete one offs specifically for this event.
Al also shared with us some musical endeavors and happening that have been going on in his wide world of playing out. From the Phat Phunktion’s horns section knocking out the National Anthem at the sold out UW Women’s Volleyball match versus Nebraska, to the what’s ups of Steely Dane, it is always good to catch up with local family. Check out the above conversation and the website to see how you can become involved in this event and while this disease touches us all, that just might mean there’s more of us to help end the battles.
Inti-Illimani is the modern face of the Chilean Nueva Canción movement, a modern world music genre that celebrates a renewal of Latin American folk music in response to the dominance of American and European influence in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. After over forty albums, the group is celebrating fifty years of exploring human rights, imperialism, democracy and the Latin American identity through traditional Chilean folk music with an edgy twist. Inti-Illimani was formed by students at Universidad Técnica del Estado at Santiago, Chile in 1967 and became popular in Chile for their song “Venceremos (We shall win!)” which became the anthem of the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende . In 1973 as they were on tour abroad, General Augusto Pinochet launched a coup d’etat and took power. Having heard of the numerous extra-judicial killings of many fellow artists by Chile’s army, they took up residence in Italy, resulting in “the longest tour in history” as they remained in exile while continuing their efforts supporting Chilean democracy. In September 1988, days after they were no longer banned from Chile, they returned and started touring in the country again. They helped organize the voting down of the referendum that would have re-elected Pinochet.
I had the honor to talk with Mr. Jorge Coulon again recently to promote the Sunday, October 22nd event here in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. We talked about what someone new to the group could expect as well as spending time discussing the latest release, “El Cantos de Todos”, a celebration of the musical traditions and songs of Violeta Parra. Mr. Coulon and I talk about the process of taking these historically important songs and giving them a slightly more modern touch/feel. We talked a little about how it feels to land in the USA of today and I would have been remiss not to bring up a least one of the humanitarian efforts this dynamic group has made a difference in the world by getting involved with. Find out what Mr. Coulon has to say about these things by clicking play above.
Hilario Duran makes a triumphant musical homecoming on his new album, “Contumbao” (released on ALMA Records on September 23, 2017). Internationally recognized as a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader of the highest order, the Cuban-Canadian Duran has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth. With “Contumbao”, Mr. Duran has created another compelling entry in a rich and rewarding discography. His earlier albums have earned him three Juno Awards (Canadian music’s most prestigious award) and a Grammy nomination (for 2006’s From the Heart, by Hilario Duran’s Latin Big Band, featuring Paquito D’Rivera and Horacio Hernandez). His playing has also been featured on many other award-winning albums.
I spoke with Mr. Duran about how he was able to take the idea of going back to Cuba to create not only a record, but a family album or sorts. How he walked down the same streets in the now of his life and how that inspired the stories and memories of his Life. We talked about working with the master, Mr. Chucho Valdés on portions of this new record and how as a young man, Mr. Duran used to copy many of Mr. Valdés’ solos with an unmatched respect and a source of inspiration. We discussed the track entitled “Parque 527”, the address from which Mr. Duran spent many years growing up, and the significance of the time spent there on him as a player, but also as a man. We both agreed that the goal of this album was to try and reach out to a wider base of listener-ship, this album has many layers that leave the sophistication of jazz music at home sometimes and goes off into a more dance-able groove, so not only can this record captivate the mind, but also the dancing feet of its listeners. Towards the end of the chat, I found it very interesting to hear Mr. Duran’s response to my question about having a “special place” to go and either create, seek inspiration or just be with yourself.
On Friday October 13th at 8pm, we in Madison will once again be treated to the sounds of Gov’t Mule as they head to The Orpheum Theater in support of their latest release “Revolution Come…Revolution Go”. For me it is hard to imagine people not knowing of this powerhouse of a group, they have been a staple in my ears and on my shows for years, and I am proud to be a part of the family circle. But just in case, for those who may not be aware, I got together with Warren Haynes to discuss what to expect from the show.
Not only did we take a brief walk through the history of the band, but we painted a quick picture of what new blood to the scene can expect to be a part of. We dove into the new release and discussed the process behind their 10th studio album after 20 years as an evolving entity. We dissected a couple of tracks, the title tune “Revolution Come…Revolution Go” and how it grew and transformed into its final state and how it was almost divided into separate tunes. We got into “Stone Cold Rage” and how if this song does its job, people will understand d the message of the lyrics and the pace and intentness of the music as it fits into the climate of a country poised to become divided. Both Derek Trucks and Yonrico Scott talked to me of the influences of specific “Sages” in their lives, such as Col. Bruce Hampton, and Warren and I got into the importance of remembering where the music originated from with those who played before, and how surrounding one’s self with the right people can inspire the inspiration.
Now, I have been listening to this band since the very first show, which I still have the stub from and Warren and I actually shared in a unique remembrance of the venue and it’s potential wrong way doors. Take a listen, have a laugh and if it fits your space, check them out when they are in town near you.
Even though its members are originally from Timbuktu, Mali, the band formed in the city of Bamako after they were displaced from their homes in 2012 during a civil conflict. They decided to start a band to play music for their fellow refugees. In 2015, Songhoy Blues released their debut album, Music In Exile. The new album, Résistance, released on June 16th via Fat Possum Records, shows the bands maturity as artists and melds their vast traditional sounds with the elements of soul, R&B, hip-hop, and rock. The album is full of imagery that takes a listener through the African places built on what feels like foreign tradition, but can be as known to the rest of the world as a stroll down their very own community streets. The album takes the energy of the art and culture and combines it with the groove to make the energy move with its creators and listeners alike. There is even a guest appearance from Iggy Pop to add to the uniqueness of the stories being told.
On Friday October 6th at 8:00 P.M., Songhoy Blues will bring this energy and their musical bridge to Madison at The Sett, Union South on the campus of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I had the opportunity to talk briefly with lead vocalist, Aliou Touré about what the people in attendance are in for at this upcoming event. We spoke about the energy, and the power of of music and how traveling the world has opened up so many eyes; the band, the listener come and go sometimes with different views and feelings than when the day started. We got into the new album and how the vibes may at first sound like they come from so far away, the meanings, similarities and differences are universal.
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!!
On Wednesday, September 27th at the High Noon Saloon, I am pleased to say that Antibalas is heading to Madison. They will arrive on the heels of a brand new release that is drenched in traditional form but also as current that the air we breath today. While the wait for the new album might have seemed long, it is certainly well worth it. Where The Gods Are In Peace released Friday September 15th on Daptone Records, pays respect to the forefathers of Afrobeat with compositions spanning nine to fifteen minutes in length. With a blessing from the Fela Kuti legacy early in the band’s career, Antibalas has long been blessed to be re-popularizing and re-energizing the classic Afrobeat sound while adding their distinct New York City grit into the mix. Influences of punk rock, free jazz, and hip-hop are known to seep into their expansive works to define a truly 21st century translation of the Afrobeat genre and beyond.
I had the privilege to have a conversation in support of the show and the album with AMAYO (Vocals & Percussion) to get the vibe and mindset balanced with the ears and entire body. We spoke about the way the new album came together through real life moments that glued the pieces toGether that were floating around the band’s sphere for years. The feeling and power of the energy behind the music shared with other beings was something we seemed to really get, the way the music does form a bridge between spirits of people, and connect them by the Afrobeat grooves. We spent a good chunk of time talking about our mutual friend, and AMAYO‘s brilliant colleague, Miss Sharon Jones and how she was a force, like a guiding lightning bolt that navigated the process of the musical shifts all artists face. We got into how the artists of the Daptone family were altered by her mere presence and that she was the leader of the house of soul. I love it!!! This conversation admittedly was one soul’s opinion and vision of how it is, in order to get an even better feel of how it all pieces together into a severe mind & body changing groove, there are man opportunities to catch them live.
Antibalas – Where The Gods Are In Peace – Daptone Records
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
2017 marks the return of Dub Gabriel with his 5th full-length solo album entitled “ADSR DUB” on his pwn record label, Destroy All Concepts. After his critically acclaimed 2013 album, Raggabass Resistance, he locked himself away in the studio and went into complete isolation in what he refers to as “one of the most prolific times of his 20 year career ”. Mixing his love for classic dub productions with vintage analog tape echoes, spring reverbs and tubes, with his love of krautrock and his collection of Moog, Arp and Korg analog synthesizers, to provide the listeners with one of the most original albums to come out in recent memory.
The album Features guest performances by Addis Pablo, son of the legendary Augustus Pablo. Ranking Joe, who rose to prominence in the 1970’s on such legendary labels as Studio 1, as well as his collaborations with King Tubby. And, The Spaceape, who became the voice of U.K. Dubstep through his groundbreaking work with Burial, Kode 9 & The Bug. Recorded in San Francisco at d/a/c Laboratory for Research & Development, mastered by the legendary, Kevin Metcalfe, at Sound Masters in the U.K. and cover art by acclaimed French illustrator, Olivier Bonhomme.
We took some time to dive into the new release, how for me it takes me out and away from the current state of the real that seems to drag me down. We talk about the balance one must find within creation of a project from start to finish and starting and making a family of three when it once was two. I have been listening to creations of Dub Gabriel’s for a long time and it was nice to hear about his take on what my thang (taste maker) involves as well as which toys from his studio would he choose if he could only have a few. We talk about the flow of the music and art and how as creators, we have to let the story, the narrative speak for itself. Check out our conversation to take the canoe ride within the story.
cover art by acclaimed French illustrator, Olivier Bonhomme.
I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Missy Andersen as she and her husband, Heine, bring their dynamic duo of Soul Americana to The Brink Lounge this Saturday, August 26th. We had not spoken in an interview type format since 2014 so we played a little catch up learning what has filled the great space between chats. Award nominations, festivals and judging incredible performers shows and always bringing it back to the duo seemed to be what’s been happening. We talked about how with just the two of them up on stage, it will most likely not sound like there are just two people going at it, Heine’s ability to make one sound like many is showcased along with Missy’s “soulstress” vocals and cool delivery, this is one of those events that you’ll be thanking me after you catch it.
Missy attests that while they travel to many places around the world, there has been some “grey areas” when it came to the U.S.A. and they are filling in some of those spaces with a stop here in Madison. We discussed a new possible project of “Main Street Chronicles”; maybe I can be in the band? I think you can tell by the way Missy and I go back and forth that the evening will be filled with good time for you body, mind and soul. I think you deserve that.
Last year at Atwoodfest, we were introduced to Jane Lee Hooker who immediately made a lasting impression on many of the people who cauGht their set…..but truly….if you were fortunate enough to hang out with them, you learned right away that these people are real, genuine, cool rockers. They attacked the songs with a ferocious fierceness that seemed to explode out of them, did it all with this unmatched energy and took the familiar and gave it that NYC twists that doesn’t ever really hurt.
Well, they’re coming back!!!
On Sunday, August 27th at 4:30PM at the Orton Park Festival, we welcome our friends from Brooklyn New York back with open, ready to rock AND roll arms. Hightop and I caught up a little about how the band’s year has gone. With a successful album in the rear view mirror now, we spoke about the new release that will be coming out this October and how while there will be a couple covers, this release will be mostly JLH originals. What lead to that in part, was time spent overseas and how much the crowd of fans and now friends I am sure, reacted to their original tunes. I for one, think that getting to know JLH a little more through their own crafted art will certainly lead to another successful collection of tracks. We also spent a little time discussing what it is about places like Madison that help drive the van back to our neighborhood to melt our faces off at one of the many cool festivals this city has to offer.
JLH by Roland Kampfer March 2017
Get ready for a new sound you won’t soon forget! The Groove Master, Paa Kow (pronounced Pah-Ko), fuses rhythm and artistry from his home in Ghana with Jazz and African Pop. Fans from all over the world agree that Paa Kow has extraordinary talent and holds “the perfect groove.”
I had the privilege to of talking with this original rhythm creator, Paa Kow before he brings his band to Madison on Wednesday, August 30th at The Frequency. We discussed what people who go get into the sounds live in person will see and hear and feel when this show takes off the ground. We talked about the process of making a new record and knowing when to release it to the people to find out what they think of it, and how striving for that perfect sound can be fine tuned in many settings. The process talk led to words about the soon to be released album, “Cookpot” and how the crowd in Madison will be catching the album release tour, so they’ll taste the newness of these grooves when they are at their freshest. Similar to his other two releases, the album takes listeners on a journey that boldly explores the music of the African Diaspora by fusing Ghanaian Highlife with Jazz, and funk to create his original Afro-Fusion sound. Towards the end of the conversation, we find out what he listens to in order to stay inspired and allow his mind to be opened to the possibilities of creating and composing something completely different.
I had the chance to spend a little time chatting with Texanna, Brennan and Ben of King Cardinal before they head to Madison on August 17th to play The Frequency. Hailed by Marquee Magazine for their “excellently crafted Americana” and Westword for their “raw, gut-wrenching emotion,” Denver’s King Cardinal push raw roots rock into lush, sonically daring territory with hints of cosmic country and delicate folk. Building off the success of two acclaimed EPs as well as dates with Ben Sollee, Sam Outlaw, and Darlingside (in addition to a performance at the iconic Telluride Bluegrass Festival), the band is set to release their debut album, ‘Great Lakes,’ which was recorded over seven days at Texas’ famed Sonic Ranch Studio with GRAMMY-winning producer/engineer Ted Young (Israel Nash, Banditos).
In this conversation, the trio explains a little about what the Madison crowd can expect to see and hear when they get a live taste next week. We took a good amount of time discussing their first proper album set to be released towards the end of September and how all the time spent together has allowed for the release to be refined and and reflected upon while taking the bare bones and collectively providing the skin and orGans to be masterfully applied into place. We tapped into the Telluride experience and what I found very interesting was the “What have you been dialed into musically yourselves” question and what they have been putting into their ears as they get a little down time or on travel days. It also turns out that living near the Colorado mountains and all that it offers is a great place for these artists to relax, refresh and escape it all when needed.
When last we spoke with Joe Marcinek, he was coming to town with friend of the proGram, Dr. Bernie Worrell. What a treat!! This time around he will be bringing the Joe Marcinek Band to the 5th Annual Schenk’s Corners Block Party on Friday, August 18th.
This stop through, Joe will be bringing an ALL-STAR cast (as usual) with him! Featuring Joey Porter from The Motet on keys, Pete Koopmans from Family Groove Company on drums, and Buddy Pearson from FREEK JOHNSON on bass. Joe tells me of the contributions each of these folks have played parts in throughout the history and the present of the band. We paint the funky landscape of what could be expected in an ever-evolving set from these cats and how the vibe of the people, those who go and show, create the newness of today while the jammin’ is happening.
Joe and I spend some time talking about the newest album, “Slink” and how it came to fruition, the impact of his circle of fans and friends alike to make this latest musical story complete, and how doing it in a way that fits right for the pieces of the puzzle, makes all the difference in an album’s creation. The band will be featuring much of “Slink” while here in Madison and as someone who has been sharing those grooves to the listeners, this is a much set get-down-to-the-sound event. It is clear that Joe appreciates the scene and those wo make it up here in Madison, so let’s return that love on the 18th.
As someone who puts his ears to the NOW and FUTURE of art being created, sonically or otherwise, it is always refreshing to find one of those group of people coming toGether to make something that I wish I was involved in. Music with a sense…art with senses. I believe that is what I have found in the group Sidewalk Chalk. They combine humanity with hip hop, jazz and soul to create a message for the body and the mind.
Sidewalk Chalk will be in Madison on Thursday, August 3rd at The Frequency. I was able to catch up with Charles and he helped chalk up a mental image of what those in attendance will see before the first note explodes. We spent time talking about the sharpness within their fourth full-length album, “An Orchid Is Born”, on Ropeadope Records which was produced by Grammy Award-winner Robert “Sput” Searight. This is the album that Sidewalk Chalk believes they have truly always been trying to make. They have grown as people in all sorts of directions since they first started and this release has woven many of these experiences and the happening of today into that next step of music, that next step of life and for us, the listener….that next step of listening and feeling. This album is cerebral, dance-able and thoughtful, and I as a sharer of sound, look forward to curating it into set-lists into the future.
Charles shared what he has been listening to on many of the long drives, as this group takes their show out and on the road often, and being with the people in different spots is key to driving them into their next set of experiences. We here in Madison get to be some of the lucky ones to share in a moment with them as they bring that sharpness and mind moving grooves here for us to join in the difference making.
PHO is a Twin Cities funk band creating a new “Minneapolis sound” utilizing modern taste and classic influences to break musical boundaries. While never forgetting the rhythms and grooves of those who came before them, PHO is striving to carry the torch into the instrumental future of funk with incredibly rich originals that take us back, while groovin’ us forward. They have been acquiring new fans with each appearance, they attracted a truly unexpected fan when Prince caught a live performance from their YouTube page, which prompted an invite to open for the incomparable Mr. Larry Graham (Graham Central Station) at the iconic Paisley Park . That performance triggered another Prince Tweet: “Come back anytime. Just Holla”. Having the blessing of “The Purple One” before his untimely death has pushed PHO to continue cultivating the Minneapolis sound’s legacy that has inspired so many to fall in love with the feeling. Truthfully, does it get much better than that for these young men, or anyone?
I had the opportunity to catch up with guitarist, Joe Paris, and trumpet player Lukas Skrove before they head to Madison for their Sunday, July 30th at 12:15 P.M. set on The Madison Heritage Stage for AtwoodFest 2017. We spoke about that moment when Prince reached out to them with an offer of a lifetime and how they have taking that gift from him and used it as a springboard to keep that special sound alive. They painted a picture of what unfamiliar fest-goers can expect when they hit the stage and why they love to keep coming back to Madison. We dove into how all their new found funky friends and experiences helped create the newest release, Two. For this release, there was no shortage of vintage vibe amidst a playground of old ‘70s synths and classic guitars, all articulated in the expansive array of musical colors ever-present throughout the mix. At the end of the chat, we find out what television show the boys think they could remake the theme song for….it will most likely make you hungry.
If you are close to Madison this coming weekend, maybe you need yourself a good funkin’….with the ins and outs provided by PHO.
The funky fellas of PHO