What can I say about my friend Brother Larry McDonald? He is one of the roots of Jamaican percussion that was instrumental in creating the innovative sounds that have been flowing from the island for so many years. As an originator and sound innovator, he has played with and been involved in some of the most well recognized music of all time. Whether it is friend of the proGram, Toots Hibberts and the Maytals or the legend himself, Mr. Bob Marley, you can find the creations of Brother Larry keeping the rhythms pulsing and the feelings positive. For over 50 year now, Brother Larry’s credits are too numerous to list, but for me his involvement with other originals like Gil Scott Heron and Taj Mahal stand out to me as momentous works. In 2009, Larry put out his first solo effort, Drumquestra, (which was the # 1 album for this radio host for that year) which featured many former collaborators, including Sly Dunbar, Uziah Thompson of Bob Marley and the Wailers and the former Count Ossie drummers known as the “Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari in an orchestra of drummers. Drumquestra also featured former frontmen from bands Larry performed and recorded with, including Toots, Bob Andy, Mutabaruka, Stranger Cole and Dollarman. The album was recorded at a live session at Harry J Studios in Kingston Jamaica by Steel Pulse producer Sidney Mills for Malik Al Nasir’s MCPR label.
I had the pleasure of catching up with my friend Larry as he prepares to set back out to perform with Lee SCRATCH Perry and Subatomic Sound System on the Super Ape returns to Conquer tour. We talked about how working on this album and tour was as a man who has nothing more musically to prove to anyone. He was on many of the original tunes off off Scratch’s “Super Ape” release, so he was able to truthfully talk about similarities and differences in this new album. This work was a redo not a remix! We talked about how Brother Larry feels like he is just finally understanding all he has learned form the years of experience and how he uses his PhD is drum-ology to read a live crowd in order to help keep the groove fresh. We also shared a moment of toGetherness in remembrance of a mutual friend, Richard Segan, who was an influential man in the scene of the world’s music who Larry and I got to know from the heart outward. This is an insightful, fun lovin’ and real cool conversation with a true legend. There might even be talk of a possible itch to create a new album.
Rebirth Brass Band is known for combining traditional New Orleans brass band music, including the New Orleans tradition of second line, with funk, jazz, soul and hip hop. Rebirth’s longstanding regular Tuesday night gig at the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans is one of the pillars of the New Orleans music scene, and has served as a reliable introduction to the city’s nightlife for many new arrivals to the city. During his speech commemorating the 10th year since Hurricane Katrina, President Barack Obama jokingly mentioned that maybe he’ll “finally hear Rebirth at Maple Leaf on Tuesday night” after he is out of office. The band regularly tours North America and Europe. In 2011, Basin Street Records released the album Rebirth of New Orleans, which reached No. 1 on the CMJ Jazz charts and earned the group a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Rebirth also has received an award for “Best Brass Band” from OffBeat Magazine.
I had the honor of speaking with Co-Founder and bass drummer, Mr. Keith Frazier ahead of the January 7th show in Madison at The Stage Door. Mr. Frazier and I painted a little picture of what to look out for at the upcoming gig as well as finding out the difference between featuring on another artist’s album versus getting down to it themselves. I ask about the possibility of a new release as well as the importance o=f community and family in their scene. We find out whether or not, President Obama has had the chance to catch them at their reGualr spot, the Maple leaf and what would happen if Donald Trump asked to come check them out. Great stuff, great band, gonna be a usual great party atmosphere.
Note: This show has been moved to the Ruby Lounge at Liquid.
Rebirth Brass Band
In the middle of one of their most prolific periods to date, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood are riding a creative wave with a slew of studio and live records coming out amidst a rigorous tour schedule that only seems to fuel their fire even further. Their jaw-dropping new album, ‘Barefoot In The Head,’ marks the CRB’s third studio release in just two years, and it finds them pushing boundaries and breaking new ground with more joy and wonder than ever before. Overspilling with stunning musicianship and infectious energy, the album showcases the continued growth of Robinson’s songwriting partnership with his bandmates: guitarist Neal Casal, drummer Tony Leone, keyboardist Adam MacDougall, and bassist Jeff Hill. It revels in the kind of adventurousness that can only come from five artists tuned into the same sonic wavelength.
I’ve had the pleasure in the past to speak with Neal about upcoming shows in Madison as well as the last 3 new releases. This time around I got a chance to pick the brain of Drummer, Tony Leone. We discuss what the show on Sunday, November 19th at The Barrymore Theater will be like for those who miGht be new to the Brotherhood scene as well as why he has the best seat in the house possibly. We dive a little into the making of the new release and how returning to a familiar spot to create, went from black sheet to final product in a couple to few short weeks. We discuss one of the special guest collaborators on the track “Glow” off the new record, Alam Khan, and how his sound and being melding into their sonic and personal scene. It was interesting to hear what Tony said in comparison to Neal when in discussion about the band’s relationship and how, after being together for MANY tour dates and MANY albums in such a short period of time, these brothers keep making a tighter sound for us, and for each other.
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:
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 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
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.
As the son of legendary drumming icon Ginger Baker, Kofi Baker has a name that’s synonymous with drumming excellence. Kofi certainly lives up to his namesake; with his outstanding skills, drive, and dedication, he continues the great Baker legacy.
Kofi’s first live performance was with his father on the UK television show “The Old Grey Whistle Test” – at just six years of age he proved he had inherited more than just his fathers name.In the early 80’s, Kofi and his father played drum duets throughout Europe, amazing audiences with complex African polyrhythms. Later, Kofi toured with the miGhty John Ethridge (Soft Machine), and gigged in London with Steve Waller (Manfred Mann), and with Randy California (Spirit). He also toured Europe with Steve Marriot’s Humble Pie.
On Saturday, July 29th on the Madison Heritage Stage at 4:15P.M., Kofi brings the Cream Experience to Madison Wisconsin to help celebrate Summer with a good strong, innovative jam as part of AtwoodFest. I had the opportunity to talk with Kofi about what those in attendance will see and hear, more than the original sounds accustomed to the band, Cream, there will be other interpretations of Hendrix, Blind Faith and even The Beatles. Kofi hope to meld the older crowd who dig his father’s legendary music with a younger festival going crowd to take this Jam Band scene to the next level. Sounds like something to be a part of as it is equally exciting for the band while turning on a family friendly, open-minded Madison crowd. Rest assure, Kofi states that while the backbone of the familiar is there, the spirit of Cream as being a founding Jam Band scene creator, will be in full bloom with in the moment improvisational music making. We spoke about how he has high quality musicians stashed throughout the U.S. for touring and creating purposes and in Madison, it’ll be obvious that he always picks the cream of the crop.
It is always nice when family comes back to town for a sweaty squeeze. I cauGht up with my brother Manny Sanchez of GrooveSession as they make their way back to Madison on Friday, June 23rd at the Alchemy. I am proud to call these grooveanauts my family as their vibe of spreading goodness and love through music is a contagious thing that hopefully catches on with you, the listener and the ones who see them live in concert. Clearly, each time they head out to a venue, they will loudly threaten you(s) with a good time!! We spoke about what a GrooveSession is and how sweaty does one have to be to know you are doing it right. Manny shared some thoughts on this years Steel Bridge Songfest that they had a chance to be back and a part of, as well as when we might be expecting a new release. Ultimately, you can read about and listen to this group and get the idea, but it isn’t until you go sweat and dance and become friends with this power trio that you fully “get” their true mission of spreading kindness through their grooves.
On Saturday, June 24th at 8pm, Arts & Literature Laboratory presents “Silver Ochre’s Hot Pursuit of Happiness with Thollem Electric”. Silver Ochre’s Hot Pursuit of Happiness is a rapid fire live audio/visual experience of an epic journey throughout the continental U.S. by videographer ACVilla and composer/keyboardist, Thollem Electric. Always somewhere between being pursued and pursuing, the bitter sweet existence in 21st century America. This is a distillation of the U.S. and its conflicts between security and liberty and competing ideas of freedom. Thollem and ACVilla have both been traveling around the country for decades and are currently working on a 3 year endeavor called “Who Are U.S.” Silver Ochre’s touring stateside from April 6th – November 19th.
With Thollem on an unruly electronic beast of vintage keyboards, stomp boxes, a microphone and occasional special guests, the music is an amalgam of infinite possibilities bringing together sounds and musics heard around this country. A sonic celebration from the immense array of diversity in our multi-cultural society amid the present and historical struggles for liberty and justice for all. Sometimes it will sound like a million people screaming from which distinct voices percolate, twist, turn and evolve into and out of everything else; a parade of characters that intermingle in love and fury.
I had a chance to catch up with Thollem to discuss this project and what it has turned into and what the future holds in store for both he and ACVilla as this journey adapts and grows. Find out more by listening in to our shared time and maybe even find out how you can experience the “what’s happening” around you.
Find out more here as well.
Thollem & ACVilla
In anticipation of the 20th annual WORT Block Party, this Sunday, May 21st from 11am – 7pm on the 200 Block of Martin Luther King Jr. BLVD in Madison, I reached out to Joey B. Banks to chat about Dr. Clyde Stubblefield and the Clyde Stubblefield All Stars as they will be headlining the party and hit the stage at 5:50pm. Joey B. and I got into the reasons a man like Clyde is so deserving of a tribute band, and how “The Original Funky Drummer’s” legacy will be kept alive and pulsing within the community here in his home of Madison Wisconsin since 1971. We got into discussing the Coalition for the recognition of Clyde Stubblefield and how the music impacted the entire world community and is still, and will always be impacting artists of now and the future. As much of an impact as Clyde was/is with music, he was also a strong believer in giving back and it starts with the youth, which is what make the Madison Area Music Association Clyde Stubblefield Scholarship such a priceless honor to have bestowed to our smiling friend. The music this ALL STAR band will treat the WORT community (which we hope to grow grow grow) to at the Block Party will be many of the easily recognizable and down right FUN-KAY tracks that were worked out with Mr. James Brown, as well as original tracks Clyde had put toGether over the years, so this will be a wide array of grooves that will finish off this event in style.
Clyde & Joey B. Banks – Phot Credit: Sweet William Images
On Friday, April 21st, we in Madison will be fortunate enough to take a musical journey together at Arts & Literature Laboratory. Those in attendance will exist in a space of time shared as one, with Karuna: Hamid Drake & Adam Rudolph. With their new Karuna duet Drake and Rudolph bring their unique and evolved rhythm languages to the fore, reaching to inspire any audience though spirited dialogue.
The name Karuna reflects their ongoing research into the connection of the inner life to musical expression and speaks to the idea of creative action as a gesture of compassion. To help get a sense of the show, I spent a little time with Hamid talking about what those in attendance could expect. We talked about the sounds, the spirit and the sharing that will take place, with percussion and human interaction being the vehicle that drives us to a place of one. Hamid explains the process as he and Adam, who have known one another since the age of 14, create a unique experience that is sure to open the mind’s doors. Both Hamid and Adam have worked with some incredible forces in the scene, from shared time with Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders to Bill Laswell, Yusef Lateef and Omar Sosa. These two innovators find the pulse of music from all lands, wide and far and translate those into a language that shines down into and onto the listeners. I am thankful to call both these creators friends and am pleased to bring you some of Hamid’s word straight from him.
Karuna, the new duet of percussionists Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph, performs at Arts + Literature Laboratory on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 9 pm. This event is sponsored by 89.9FM WORT.
All the years of being a part of the family that radio provides has done my mind and soul quite well. I get to discuss art with artists and every now and then, I locate a being that is a similar being as I. I talked with Adam Rudolph for the first time on air a couple years ago and we hit it off like old friends, with the music being the guide. Well, Adam has a new album out with his Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures project called “Glare Of The Tiger” on Meta Records and through M.O.D. Technologies. You can imagine my delight when setting up another chance to run through this sounds existence from start to finish. We talked about how the relationships of the musicians transforms the music into something else, a research and development model based off concepts Adam has in mind and heart. How to take the music and feelings of then, and turn them into something fresh and traditional as the now. We talk about the feeling of the music created, not just how it makes you feel inside, but a way to truly relate to the sonic adventure the music catches you in ans where it can take you. Being able to share the work of people I believe in is something I hold high above my head, I wear it like a crown I am proud of, and Adam reminds me of why I always found a home next to a radio, music and the sharing of ideas toGether. It’s the people who share what’s within them that matter so much to me, and when I get time to bring the vice of the art to you, not just the saleable commodity, it truly feels like the circle is complete. Please enjoy this half hour conversation about the new album, but know that it is as much about living as it is about this particular moment in art, or art history.
Had the chance to catch up with our friends Janet Schiff and Victor DeLorenzo of Nineteen Thirteen as they prepare to put on two sets this coming Friday, October 28th at Arts & Literature Laboratory. As Halloween approaches, it will be quite the thrill to have the mystery and surprise of cello and percussion to hold your hand through the evening hour. In this conversation, Janet and Victor will tease you into needing to know more about the sound they create that has left audiences on their feet and momentarily weeping with emotion. We talk briefly about the growth of the music and compositions prepared and tinkered with by the duo as they create a sonic banter with the ease of friendly conversation. It’s these real people that make this for us. Together we explore how the newest album, “The Dream”, set to be release on 11/11/2016 and the release just put out on May 13th of this year, “Music For time Travel”, have been both a guide and a direction. As I have offered up an opinion when asked what this music is like, and we have had the pleasure of Janet and Victor’s time on the proGram often…..I can honestly admit that it is like nothing else I have ever soaked in, and it tickles your insides through each ear on its way down to your souls. But of course, who am I to tell you about it? Check out this conversation for a clue, and maybe we will see you down at Arts & Literature Laboratory to share in the mystique.
Check out of conversation here:
I had the pleasure of discussing life and music with Mr. Tony Moreno as his latest project, released on Mayimba Jazz, “Short Stories” is ready to hit your ears. The record is the culmination of over four years of playing with a group made up of close friends and artistic companions, and in many ways it represents a piece of the process of rebuilding for Tony. It also represents Tony’s gratitude — the recording itself was made possible by an outpouring of love and support from the wider musical community, from friends and strangers alike. Hurricane Sandy put a giant dent into the world of so many, and it certainly did a number on many musicians, Tony being one of them. In our chat, he talks about some of the people and ways people made a difference in his ability to continue on in his chosen career and love of music. We talk a walk down Jazz history lane when Tony reveals how he first met Mr. Elvin Jones and the ease in which they became fast family…..love. We learn of a unique bond between him and his mother, who always kept music as the pulse to their lives. There are many revealing moments in our conversation, from ballads to rebuilding, but most of all it is the true story telling nature of an educator, drummer and man who understands what makes the difference in this world….LOVE. Over the years I have had the honor of speaking with many people who show a love for what they do, I can add Mr. Moreno to that list of an appreciator of people, art and the sounds that bridge us all together. I hope you’ll take time to go enjoy his album as well as checking out this moment in time shared by two people who dig the stories, both short and long.
I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Johnny Kalsi, the founder and leader of The Dhol Foundation as they embark on their very first ever tour of North America toGether as a group. While they travel the globe with the mission to promote and expose the indigenous sounds of the Dhol Drum to the Masses, I am thankful that the 2016 Madison World Music Festival is one of their stops. We are so lucky. They will hit the stage at 9:30PM on Friday, 9/16 on the beautifully back-dropped Memorial Union Terrace. Always engaging the audience with the full Power and energetic performances. The Dhol Foundation have been wowing the crowds with their dynamics, whirling arms and thunderous beats. The group’s musicality is formed from a rich tapestry of culture, passion and their love for World Music. While they tour, they absorb influences from collaborators, record them on an album and deliver them on stage with the mighty muscle powerhouse that is The Dhol Foundation. Johnny and I had a chance to touch on what to expect from the show in Madison (although seeing i s most likely believing) , some of the history of the sounds created and the people who are influenced and influences as well as the process of the business and making art that sticks. We got a sneak peak into the new album coming out in early 2017, “Stick To The Drum” and we will be fortunate to hear a few of the tracks off it at this world music celebration. Johnny has been a part of many groups of artists that I have personally listened to and shared over the years, so the thrill of this chat was true and I hope you dive in deeper to this music if the spirit moves you.
I had the great honor to kick back (as much kickin’ as be can done on the telephone) with MR. Jamal Thomas. Perhaps best known as Mr. Maceo Parker’s drummer for 16 plus years and his longstanding work with R&B powerhouse The Sounds Of Success Band (the SOS Band) which left him with 4 gold records. After all these years of working with one of the hardest working people out there, Jamal has finally gotten a chance to be the mastermind and ear behind his very first solo album entitled, Family. I am personally excited for him and for all of you who tune into my show to catch these tracks as they will be spinning here very soon. This conversation couldn’t have gotten off the ground if not for one of the finest men in Macon, in music and in both Jamal and my life, Mister Skeebo Knight. So drop on thru and listen to my time with a FUNK original and learn who hi sfirst major gig was with, as well as a quick hint into who Jamal is most likely voting for this November…(Oh yes he did!!)
Listen to Jamal and I talk about FAMILY here.
Check out my conversation with Jason here.
EOTO will bring its amazing improvisational bass-n-drum-tastic dance in your house all live and non replicated, this once in a moment (or sort of) show to Madison on Friday October 3rd at the High Noon Saloon. In our conversation, Jason and I dive into what makes this unique musical experience different and how a live show is arranged and how surprises can show up in many forms. Known for his work in the String Cheese Incident, Jason team up with fellow string cheeser (ahh we love ’em in Wisconsin) Michael Travis to bring rare grooves and smashing dance beats to those ready to dance, and sometimes bend….with more than the body. We share some musical friends and speak about his time with Vinx, where he might dream drum if he could and also how this whole thing got started and where is has already taken them as musical artists and most importantly, as people.
I had the chance to speak with Brian Haas of the group Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and was quite pleased to have done so. Brian seems like the type of person I could sit with and talk about music with, and learn a bundle from. JFJO will be bringing its usually progressive post-modern jazz into Madison on June 26th at the Memorial Union Terrace starting sometime around 9:30. In this conversation you will learn what they intend to do differently this time around on stage, the concept and creation of the new album Little Tae Rides Again on not just one but 2 different types of labels, just what to do in case a person named Jacob Fred calls your daughter in the middle of the night.
Check out my conversation with Brian Haas here.
Akashic Record is the funk brainchild of drummer Tom Arey and hammond organ whiz Beau Sasser formerly of the perennial Boston jamband , Uncle Sammy. The group began as a trio, utilizing the guitar work and composition skills of Roman Zeitlin(Zap Mama), and quickly gained national notoriety with a performance at the 2003 New Orleans Jazz Fest. Morphing into a quintet lineup in 2004, the group solidified with frontman Brian Thomas on trombone, Timo Shanko on tenor sax and Johnny Trauma on guitar.Playing consistently in the Northeast, their floor shakin’ live show continues to thrill capacity crowds night after night. Beau and his band mates will bring this family friendly funking good time to Tyrone Farm in Pomfret CT this Sunday May 27th. Hey boo boo bring yer pic-a-nic basket.
Check out my chat with Mr. Sasser here.