The Planets at the Symphony

Witnessed this performance at the Overture Center as part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra:

Music Program:
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I. George Enescu | Romanian Rhapsody No. 1
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II. John Corigliano | Chaconne from The Red Violin
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Intermission
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III.Gustav Holst | The Planets
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*Featured Artists
Naha Greenholtz, Violin
Madison Symphony Women’s Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Chorus Director

The first half of the show was simply energizing and enlightening with both power and precision highlighted. The Planets took it to the next level with the HD video presentation that made the sounds guide a tour that was unmatched in this setting. If you were ever enthralled by the vastness and wildness of the colors and sounds of space and it’s mighty giants, this show would certainly add another level to your imagination and desire to explore.

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Raul & Habib in Madison

The niGht was cold but inside the Overture Center for the Performing Arts the heat was just getting turned on. Sitting in the center of the orchestra section was the best place for my ears to be when our friend, Raul Midón took the stage. As he got everything situated, the moment of true readiness was known with the first breath taken into the mic and the first note played on his guitar. The fluidity and sincerity of his voice certainly hit home with the Madison crowd, as they gave him the handclapped approval every artists likes to hear. His guitar work left many speechless as he plucked ans picked and slapped his way throuGh many tunes you can find on his live album, as well as a few off the upcoming album that he and I discussed on the proGram a week earlier entitled “Don’t Hesitate” which left the people ready to reach into their pockets and walk home with it. They’ll have to wait at least into early spring to be able to take it home. Then they can take all that positive storytelling upliftedness home with them in more than a memory form. Raul was on before our other friend, Habib Koité. Habib and the band brouGht a fire with them that comes from the motherland, the homeland. He gave us great tales in music form as well as between the songs, telling the audience of how the homeland sufferings makes the music even more meaningful to the world, and how sharing it with us was/is a true joy. Then he and the band proceeded to give us plenty of new tracks off the brand new release Soô, all done with large smiles upon their faces, which easily translated into smiles on our faces. It was hard to contain the bodies from wanting to get up and move, so we didn’t. When the liGhts went up and Habib saw all of us, you could feel how honored he was to have us all (and it was an ALL) there with him sharing in these moments. This show was filled with these positive moments, both in the audience and on the staGe, it would be well worth your time to catch one or either of these friends of the proGram as they make their way around the world doing the things they do.

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an Evening at the MSO

I always enjoy getting a chance to sit in a box at the symphony. Tonight it was the opposite side as usual, so a different perspective was gained. Which is always a good thing. The night was wonderful with Guest Trumpet player, Tine Thing Helseth. While each piece did hit me in ways mentionable, it was the Adams piece Doctor Atomic Symphony that just blew my mind….Smashing….Stunning piece.

Here’s the proGram for the evening:

Madison Symphony Orchestra

John DeMain– Music Director/Conductor
Tine Thing Helseth– Trumpet
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Jean Sibelius
Finlandia, Op.26, No.7
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Joseph Hayden
Concerto for Trumpet & Orchestra in E-flat Major
Allegro
Andante
Allegro

Ft. Ms. Helseth
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John Adams
Doctor Atomic Symphony
The Laboratory
Panic
Trinity

INTERMISSION
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Alexander Arutiunian
Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major
Ft. Ms. Helseth
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Richard Strauss
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

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Madison Symphony Orchestra

The niGht was as expected. With Alban Gertardt blowing us away with his cello-stry during the Prokofiev piece and a srunning solo thereafter…. Here is the Saturday evenings proGram:

John DeMain: Conductor

MAURICE RAVEL
Rapsodic Espagnole
Prelude a la nuit
Malaguena
Habanera
Feria

SERGEY PROKOFIEV
Sinfonia Concertante (Symphony-Concerto)
for Cello and Orchestra, Op. I25)

Andante
Allegro giusto
Andante con moto

Mr. Gerhardt

*Intermission*

LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60

Adagio–Allegro Vivace
Adaigo
Allegro molto e vivace
Allegro ma non troppo

elanorcello

Wax Tailor was the House

After having “Wax Tailor” on the proGram to talk about the latest release, and what one could expect from the show on February 6th at the High Noon Saloon, one would think we would have been prepped for the event, you know, be ready for it. But as quick as the stage was on for Wax Tailor, we were brought into a story, a plot-line…an individual experience within a shared doing…..we we all going. We were featured in this film. The set was an experience pieced together by the visual minds eye escape as well as the surveyor of the crowd, the watchers of their surroundings got more than bargained for as well. The infamous WT soundbytes were the laces on the grooved up beat shoes, it held the story tiGht. It all made no…yet sense all at the same time. The music made it happen. The tunes got lush with funky lounged down and up grooves surrounded by a hip hop facilitation by Mattic on the Mic. He said it, he felt it and he meant it. When Charlotte Savary was on the stage, we were lured into a state of the otherworld, a hypnotic voyage where the words were ridden over the music, over the crowd….toGether but solo. When the show came to a close, it was one of those were you gather yourself back, and I swear I saw my name rolling down within the credits.

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Pokey LaFarge & South City Three

The Stoughton Opera House was a perfect spot to not just catch this show, but to be a part of it. Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three put on one hell of a rockabilly-jazz-jam with a side of Midwestern Blueswing that had the crowd hooked even before the first note was played. Pokey and the boys obviously had a great time playing and being in Milwaukee the night before so they guys were on a roll. These guys have a rolling commentary reminiscent the good ole days, with call backs from within the group to audience participation and all of this made the show get under your seat and light a fire. Even if you tried you miGht not be able to have a bad time. The sounds were ever more the hiGhlight. It is always a thrill to get samplings of the new material, and the boys brought some of those tunes to the front, while getting the point across with tunes like “Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight”. This type of scene is more than a show, it is an event. One to look forward to as you mark it on your calendar’s the next chance you get. Certainly an event that was unique to that night, with no thought of doing the same ole thing on stage, we were laughing, stomping and clapping along. With the new album set to drop in the early spring, it was nice to hear those new tracks done, and done good. When Pokey and I chatted on air, he recalled how making the old sound new is really up to the listener, and I must say, the diversity sitting in the crowd proved one thing, dated or new, old or young….it sounded right on this night or any other.

JD McPherson’s High Noon

First off, I want to thank JD’s people for taking such good care of me with an invite to check out the show at the High Noon Saloon. The last time JD McPherson and the boys were in town was for the Orton Park Festival in last Summer and he and I had a chance to chat about what people could expect. And the people came out and they got what they wanted. The same can be said this time around at the High Noon when a big ole crowd got more of the same good times. JD (obviously nursing a sore throat or cold) and the boys took the roof and flipped it into a dancefloor with the rhythm-arock-a-billy stylin’s that can be listened to with ease. Jimmy Sutton on stand up bass too his whapp-a-bass stroke to higher levels and with a constant smile. The band was as tight as ever and oh so fun lovin’, if ever there were crowd pleasers, they can be found hanging out with these guys keepin’ the rocks-a-rollin’ and the feets-a-stompin’. JD featured many tracks off the wonderful 2012 release “Signs and Signifiers”, while the Jimmy led Bo Diddly moment brouGht back good memories of a friend. You can check out JD and the boys if they come to a town near you, but also on December 4th, they” be on Letterman. If they do come to a spot nearbye, maybe dress the part and follow your ears on down. Open the show was Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds, who were a perfect match for this event.

Sunday Afternoon Chazen

This is the 34rd season of chamber concerts, broadcast on Sunday afternoons and hosted by Lori Skelton of WPR.. Listen live, or join us in Gallery Three in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building at the Chazen Museum of Art, Sundays from 12:30 – 2pm.
This Sunday featured a performance of the Sch’s, as brouGht to us by Eliza’s Toyes. They sanG lesser known sacred and secular music by early Baroque German composers Heinrich Schütz, Johann Schein, and Samuel Scheidt.

Scheit: Miserere Mei Deus
Schein: Ach Herr, ach meine schone
Scheidt: Schrist ist erstanden
Schein: Nun danket alle Gott
Scheidt: Lobet ihr Himmel den Herren
Schutz: Alma afflitta, che fai?
Schein: Amor wie ist dein Lieblichkeit
Schein: Frischauf, ir Klosterbruder mein
Schein: Suite #4
Schutz: O Primavera, O dolcezza amarissime d’amore, Vasto Mar and So Fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ

Thollem in Madison

Last niGht I took myself out to the Frequency to catch some solo Thollem McDonas. After airing some tunes from Tsigoti and his Thollem/Parker/Cline – The Gowanus Sessions album on the proGram, I was thrilled to find out from him he’d be in these parts. In meeting Thollem I confirmed that cool is. He makes music that speaks to me and tonight (he actually let the opening act be the headliner as it was Grimm’s first time doing what he was doing in a live setting on his home court) the language was clear to my eyes and ears. It was like reading the book as it was being written. Notes running to and through and holding each other close by in a race to the end, a Black Friday frenzy in fact, ended his set, and visually I could see all the people that had been waiting in line for deals, leave the starting blocks as the doors finally opened. And the reasons they were there stayed only known to themselves. It is just there that I met and shook hands with Thollem and his music. There is a welcoming and comfortable moment with person and sound and I look forward to the next encounter. If you get the chance to have this encounter before I do aGain, I say make sure you put on your open minds and be prepared to write that new story.

The Wood Brothers in Madison

Since I decided to make radio a part of my world, an active part, there have been certain artists that I feel a connection to because of their stories within the music. The Wood Brothers are just as important to me as the early on nursery rhymes and Richard Scary books. Chris’ band MMW produces sounds that are engrained within my mindsapce as a staple in my musical diet, and Oliver’s former band King Johnson is like a reunion of favorite uncles gathered toGether doing things that they tell you: “Don’t tell your parents”. After interviewing Chris and talking about how they have left such a mark, it was easy to hear in his voice that he was pleased that I get where they are coming from. And that I convey that to the listeners in story form and track selection. And get it we did on this night when they came to Madison and did their thing at the Majestic Theater. They graced us with new renditions of some old treats, some teases of new tunes but mostly it was a continuation of familiar tales, told in a voice that has an extra something, a lunging forward rocking chair step that kept making me feel like I was on the front porch and the dinner bell was ringing. I can hear the screen door closing now….BAM. Satisfied but not too full is how I left this show. Sound like a musical meal you’d like to try. I’d hope so.

Madison Symphony Orchestra

With John DeMain as the Music Director and conductor, featuring guest violinst James Ehnes:

Hector Berlioz
~Overture to Beatrice and Benedict

Béla Bartók
~Concerto No. 2 for Violin & Orchestra
Allegro non troppo
Andante tranquillo
Allegro molto

Mr. Ehnes
*Encore by Mr. Ehnes of Paganini’s Caprice No. 24*

INTERMISSION

Johannes Brahms
Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Allegro non troppo
Andante moderato
Allegro giocoso
Allegro energico e passionato

The Bartók selection is right up my ear-alley and it blew me away, as did Mr. Ehnes’ renditon of Paganini’s Caprice 24.

Alan Akaka at Pyle Center

Alan Akaka, one of the world’s great Hawaiian lap steel guitarists and director of the Ke Kula Mele Hawai’i Music School in Kailua, Hawaii visited us in Madison. Mr. Akaka discussed Hawaiian music through the history of music and played examples, and Mr. Akaka performed traditional and new Hawaiian favorites. It was interesting to listen to Mr. Akaka talk of his former teacher, mentor and friend (one with tough musical love), Jerry Byrd. Jerry Byrd is someone whom I have enjoyed listening to for years, and his music never got old to me as it allowed me to travel by just opening my ears and closing my eyes. I was also thrilled to find the association between him and Debashish Bhattacharya, an Indian classical musician who plays the lap slide guitar. These kinds of musical friendships and fusions always capture my attention and while I wanted to hear more of his live playing and less talking about it, the event did have me searching through my musical collections looking for more of these fusions. Mr. Akaka is the past president of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association an organization with members throughout the world that strives to perpetuate the Hawaiian steel guitar… I saw forward on to the Islands, even if it is with eyes closed and ears wide.

Todd’s A Love Electric trio version

We got to see our good pal Todd Clouser with a trio take on A Love Electric. This event featured new tunes from a forthcoming album (early 2013?), which showcases Todd’s singing with his already mind opening instrumental work. When watching Todd play, every note from the very beGinning is filled with face twitching emotion, and now the addition of his voice adds an even more raw feel to the music. I was excited to have this opening the gifts on your birthday feel to the new music, when Todd mentioned the new portion of the show to me on air the week before, it was a schwinGG moment and it lived up to it for me live. The dimension is new. In any shape A Love Electric takes, there is always reason to go support the act as they travel through and to your town.

Imani Winds at Mills Hall

Here is what the show looked like on paper:

West Meets East

Startin’ Sumthing – Jeff Scott

Cane – Jason Moran
i. Togo to Natchitoches
ii. Coin Conin’s narrative
iii. Gens libre de coleur
iv. Natchitoches to New York

Suite: Portraits of Josephine Baker – Valerie Coleman
i. St. Louis 1920
ii. Les Milandes
iii. Paris 1925
iv. Thank you Josephine

~Intermission~

Tzigane – Valerie Coleman

The Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky (Arr. Jonathon Russell)

Klezmar Dances – Trad arr. Gene Kavadlo
i. Kolomehke
ii. Frelekh

When Mister Jeff Scott and I spoke on the proGram a week prior to the show, I couldn’t believe him when he spoke of how the Stravinsky “The Rite of Spring” would rock like there was a complete orchestra, a rock N roll orchestra was in the room….Man, how he was riGht. Imani Winds played the parts build for their instruments but also made their instruments take on the beings of another sound producer, chameleons in the room. With each member introducing a portion of the proGram, the audience not only gets to know them through their agile playing, but with word from their voice, they’re way of describing what the moment was to bring, ever so slightly unique to our night with the band….I found this to be a very welcoming experience and very respectful to the piece of music about to be played. I was taken back and brought forward with Valerie’s piece “Portraits of Josephine Baker”, this moving story was captivating and challenging, and the way it made my mind dance was part of the reason I diGG the way Imani Winds hears, writes and makes songs. And just when we thought the evening was over, they came out for a second way to the crowd, and while standing, put on a great rendition of a great song….Coltrane’s “Afro Blue” took over the room and was the right way for me to walk, strut perhaps out of the room.


misterG/ Mister Jeff Scott of Imani Winds @ Mills Hall

Girl in a “FRUIT FEST” Coma

I was fortunate enough the other day to chat with the cool rock and roller Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma. We pitched their set at the 2012 Madison Fruit Fest and it was a rockin’ 50 minute blast of rock trio goodness. The setting was the blacktop parking lot on the East side of Madison and let me tell you this, the East side was represented it all shapes, sizes and that is what makes it special. The crowd was already wild in its ways already but having Girl in a Coma hit the stage changed it from Burlesque to something completely different in just two chords and a bass bump and the roll of Phanie’s drums. I can’t say enough about this band in it live home of the stage, except they were lively and raucous at times with a soft edge in the middle as needed. Mostly giving us tastes of their originals (including one of the absolute best renditions possible of “CONTROL”.) There was even a little time made to dance with a Velvet Underground blast as well. There were all types of audience members checking the girls out and I noticed many of them (even a less than a yEAR old) enjoying the sincerity of the music, and the reflection of the lyrics….but most of all…just like the Girls in a Coma crew….we just wanted to rock! These are the girls I want to smoke ciGarettes with out back during high school, but their music is something that I look forward to carrying on with me into the yEARS ahead.

And I couldn’t find one apple at this fruit fest.

Pro Arte Quartet

The story is amazing and the selections tonight were as well. The world premier of John Harbison’s String Quartet #5 was absolutely fitting and the ten movement composition with an arch like structure was ear dynamic. Check out more here. The evening program:

String Quartet in C major, Franz Joseph Hayden
Op. 54, No. 2 Hob.III:57 (1788) (1732-1809)
I Vivace
II Adagio
III Menuetto: Allegretto
IV Finale: Adagio-Presto-Adagio

String Quartet #5 (2011) John Harbison
(A Pro Arte Quartet Centennial (b. 1938)
Commission, 1st Performance)
I Melodia 1
II Scherzino 1
III Notturno 1
IV Visi (Faces)
V Notturno 2
VI Cuori (Hearts)
VII Notturno 3
VII Scherzino 2
IX Melodia 2
X Ripensamento
(all movements played without pause)
~Intermission~

String Quartet in D Major, M.9 (1889) Cesar Franck
I Poco lento – Allegro – Tempo I (1822-1890)
II Scherzo: Vivace
III Larghetto
IV Finale: Allegro molto

Anaïs Mitchell and her voice

CauGht the set that Anaïs Mitchell put on here at Der Rathskellar and I must say that she has one of those voices that so many people TRY to have, but she’s GOT it. The clarity of the story through the raspy storyteller’s vocal, made the start as equally interesting as the ending….speaking of the way it started….so, on tour with Anaïs and her band is a group called Cuddle Magic, and their lead singer, Kristin Slipp joined Anaïs and her bandmate, Rachel Ries doing a sweet acapella version of “Golden Bird”, a track Mr. Levon Helm (R.I.P.) made famous. Playing song off her latest release “Young Man in America” and mixing in others from along the way, Anaïs even took a request from those in attendance. I see why people have been talking about her. The flexibility and versatility of musicianship extended from her band in extension with those from Cuddle Magic that added horns and strings and the image I was left with was a sense of musical harmony, or should I say harmonies.

The only other thing I can mention on a personal note is that I hope to catch her again in a setting less noisy with “overmusictalkers” and clanking beers…with that said…”Cheers”

the Ragbirds in Madison

Sometimes you find yourself thinking a show will be good, and then you get a surprise when a big steps it up in ways you didn’t quite expect even though you were prepared with a bunch of listens to new a new album, an interview with the lead artist in the band (thank you Erin Zindle) and plenty of rah rah from friends in the scene. The Ragbirds brought sounds that took folk music(s) from around the globe and have them come together in a very easy to look at set right here at the High Noon Saloon. They use many traditional folk instruments including violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, acoustic & electric guitars, and harmonica. But the music goes beyond folk with its strong rhythm foundation of bass, drumset, congas and several layers of percussion. The effect is positive, creative music with the force of dance-able rhythm and melodies that won’t leave you when the show is over….the carry over is the type that you talk about for weeks….This is a band that I see people really getting their groove on to while in a small backdoor bar, or especially an outdoor festival filled with musics from lands we only read about (wherever we are) or hey, I could even see them in your backyard making the burger flippin’ a whole lot nicer…..just sayin’. Opening the show was Madison’s own The Whiskey Farm.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

The Wisconsin Union Theater got all and more from the show featuring the son of legendary Afro-Beat pioneer, Fela Kuti. Sean Kuti featuring his father’s band Egypt 80 was a hand and earful of connectivity. Before the show, I was fortunate enough to hang out with the members of Egypt 80 in the green room where we spoke of the unique percussion instruments made from rare wood in a secret and remote location. We spoke of the roots and to the roots of the music. I also got to meet up with and share a quick sentiment with friend of the proGram, Baba Ani. From backstage the band was smokin’ hot on stage with Seun being lead out by the sounds of his father’s originality and creativity…..once he joined the others…the hall was quickly up and moving. But listening was the key to this evening show. The show’s twists and turns led us down former and future political paths…the debate over how a leafed weed can be regulated beyond belief…but it was the heartbeat of the evening that kept the issues important and the spirit alive. And at this time in Madison..there is PLENTY of political spirit. If energy can be made through music, I am a believer in the ability of Seun Kuti and my friends Egypt 80, to fuel my way onward.

Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks

Let’s call in a night in Stow-ton, errr Stu-ton, OK, let’s just call it Madison. Tonight at the Stoughton Opera House, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks brought the good fun out to play. From the moment they all take the stage, until the moment the lights finally come up and it’s time to say goodnight, Dan and the band bring entertainment to their audience, through the songs we have all grown close to (and man, they brought out some goodies they haven’t played live in a while, you’ll have to go check them live to know which ones). For me, it’s like seeing that Uncle that always gives you the things your parents said you cannot have….The show has is whirls and twirls in sync, the spontaneous nature of the banter to the crowd is like that uncle turning to the kids table to get a quick laugh, and man….if that band isn’t sharp. While each audience member could tell you which song of the evening was their favorite….I am always going to be partial to Uncle Dan’s version and rendition of the Horace Silver classic “Song for my Father”, especially since I know how much Dan loves that tune. Call the show witty, sarcastic, clever or whathaveyou…..but the sold out crowd at the Stoughton Opera House called it a night to remember with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks and I for one am ready for that live album.

A big Mill Valley Family thank you to Clare for always making the magic happen.