As part of the day working with young minds, it is nice to be able to share all kinds of experience with them. Especially something like this. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 23 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents. Today, the Company continues Mr. Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 200 works by over 80 choreographers are part of the Ailey company’s repertory. Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey designated Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the Company to unprecedented success. In July 2011, Ms. Jamison passed the mantle to Robert Battle. In announcing his appointment as Artistic Director, Ms. Jamison stated, “Combining an intimate knowledge of the Ailey company with an independent perspective, Robert Battle is without question the creative force of the future.” I saw people turn their body into water, reenact the history of a people and take a new level of movement as the clock moves.
I was fortunate enough to catch Sir Elton John this evening at the Alliant Energy Center (thanks Steely). It is always thrilling to scratch a star off the list of “must see”. I was caught off guard when Sir Elton announced that Croatians Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, known together as 2 Cellos would open up the night’s music and then sit in on a number of tunes throughout the evening. I am a big fan of the interpretations to rock classics that these two put forth on their cellos, and just how must rock is in them. This tour has been billed as featuring number one chart hits and classic album tracks from throughout Elton’s incredible five-decade career….and did he ever. The band includes Davey Johnstone on guitar, Bob Birch on bass, John Mahon on percussion, ( from Elton’s original band) Mr. Nigel Olsson on drums, and Kim Bullard on keyboards…but also featured an original Family Stone member Rose Stone…and this band was spot on all night. The songs which we have all hEARd many times still managed to sound alive and fresh in a live setting, due to just that, Sir Elton live in a show is as professional as it gets. The energy in the venue semmed to recharge him with each key he pressed. He was a workhorse who only took short breaks to skip around the stage and introduce the tunes. Almost three hours of hits and man, he could have just kept going and going. His wave to the audience was meant for everyone, just like these songs.
While swing is only a part of their thing, I was able to catch Caravan of Thieves at the High Noon Saloon, doing an early set opening for The David Wax Museum. This gypsy swing pop rock-a-cana band put on a short gem of a set filled with good times and the want of more. I am happy to have guitarists and vocalists Fuzz and Carrie on the proGram this week to discuss the Madison show, the new album “The Fun House” and the journey of Caravan of Thieves. The crowd of people, few familiar with this band were definitely left with that feeling of more more more, especially after their energetically rearranged version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I am a sucker for the stand up bass, and Mr. Brian Anderson thumped and stamped the reasons for that all evening, while violinist, Mr. Ben Dean roused the crowd with his swing string thing. To close this and many of their shows, Caravan of Thieves played “Raise the Dead”, which takes your spirit out for a remembering walk and unites the people in attendance in a shared moment.
The David Wax Museum won me over instantly with the voice of David Wax. The words that rolled off his tongue were like familiar waters I used to play in years gone by ago….the harmonies of the band are as contagious as an autumn cold which easily captured my ears, and they didn’t try to escape. I look forward to the returns of both acts with more stage time in the future the next go around.
The Orpheum Theatre had a niGht of beats that spilled out into a crowd of wanting ears and bodies readied at the starting line to get on their individual moves and motions. Poised with colors glowing and smiles wrapped around the interior of the building, this audience quickly embraced the working beats of friend to the program Eliot Lipp. Just as we spoke of in our conversation during the last show, you could hear the inspiration from visits to great buildings housing great art….you could hear the difference, which quickly translates into “feelin’ it”. The symbiotic relationship between the drawn line and the sound line wasn’t lost on me as I soaked it in deep, with my own doing as it does. Eliot crafts his shows around the beats, not merely in the beats alone….it is within those spaces between the grooves where my ears meet Eliot Lipp’s miXes. I wonder what they miGht do for you?
The High Noon Saloon is always a great spot for a CD release. In support of their latest release, 20th Century Folk Selections on Royal Potato Family, good friend of the proGram, Todd Clouser brougt his mind-bending group A Love Electric to town with ear-original excitement combined with interesting versions of familiar tunes done as only this neo-jazz-rock quintet can do. I have seen this act many times now, a beast on trumpet, combined with Todd’s ability to translate sound into feeling…..and I have to say that in this rare occasion, they managed to do something I consider a rare feat, they keep on getting better each time I go out and see ’em. The style, sound and personality of this group allows me to proudly support Todd every time he keeps coming to Madison (and I hope that keeps happnin’), and I can easily categorize “A Love Electric” as one of my favorite acts around. You can be sure that the next time they’re here, I’ll be there….I hope you adopt this same practice and I’ll look for the thank you cards in my email.
If you’ve been a listener to the proGram since its inception back on the Connecticut airwavesway back in the EARly 2000’s, you’d know how deep I go with the Little Barrie diGGin’. I have been spinning them since 2005, and haven’t looked back since. With a new album (King of the Waves), it has been four years since the last one, the trio from Liverpool made their way to America in support of Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, after many dates overseas opening for them. Little Barrie rocked the High Noon Saloon and opened the eyes of many in attendance who were definitely there to catch Mr. Bradley. For many of them, this was their very first taste of the incredibly catchy rock and roll of Little Barrie. They blew the roof off the place with many tracks off the new release, but for my ears, “Tip it Over” was the selection that was most remarkable—with all other tracks right there with it. In chatting with drummer Virgil Howe (son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe), I learned that the band would love to come back to the states and show off what they do best….ROCK!! I have a feeling that they’d welcome an invitation to a town near you.
Although nursing an obvious cold, Mr. Bradley’s pure emotion and meaning were felt over the crowd with each bead of sweat that fell to the stage. The band, as always was tight on and translated the soul of the night magically for a grateful Madison crowd. The love between artist and the appreciators is smile evoking and if you haven’t caught this show yet, you’re missing out on someone who IS all he appears.
It was nice to hear from friend of the program, Charlie Wooton while doing a fill in the a few weeks back. He rang the show to let me know he’d be in town with Bonerama doing a masters class at the University and then a free show at Mills Hall. In talking with a few of the students backstage, they were all so pumped to have hooked up with Bonerama and the experience is certainly one of those I am sure is on many people’s list of things they wish they could do. It was great catching up with Charlie as he has so many things going on including a new upcoming album and tour with the Royal Southern Brotherhood. The band taught thirteen or so “bone” players a couple of tracks and discussed the things that turn them on by music. The students ended up on stage during the free show playing with the band in a concert. How cool! The set was strong and filled with solos from our Bonerama gang as well as the students, Charlie kicked in a fantastic solo during one of the hottest renditions of “Whippin’ Post” I have hEARd in a long time. With a regular mix of their own originals and some horn heavy covers, the night was one to remember and quite unique with the addition of all those jammin’ trombones on stage…..
I was fortunate enough to interview Marco Benevento the other day to promote his show at the Cafe Redamte on Friday night. I enjoyed being able to chat more with Marco about the scene he’s been seen in, the recent tunes he was working on, (which he shared with the audience during the intermission) and of course how hot the new tune “Fireworks” sounded during the first set. After some time on the top of the stairs, the piano and keys were jamming into and out of Marco’s own tunes and a nice collage of covers that had the eerie places inside my mind dancing with their own goblins….. I really get what Marco is laying down. He has a way when by himself or in Garage a Trois or with Joe or whomever that calls to my senses directly through my ear-holes. His solo piano show is an excellent reminder why we diGG what Marco does. His ability to interpret songs we already hold nEAR is almost like he has been sitting in on family conversations from the long ago past, and remembered important details as to what we like. His own songs sometimes feel like they were written in my own songbook, in my own writing and perhaps even on paper I, myself have made. I am glad to be able to call Marco a friend of greenarrowradio finally, and look forward to the next opportunity to hEAR him live, or spin that fresh new tune he has gathered riGht from inside of me….. (a big thank you to Kevin for making these things happen.)
I was fortunate again this year to go with my class to the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Fall Youth Concert and again it was a pleasure to see an entire hall filled with young people enjoying the sights and sounds. The 2011 Fall Youth Concerts highlight the intersection between great classical music and the visual arts. Vivaldi’s Autumn Violin Concerto, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Copland’s El Salon Mexico will be accompanied by works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and other masters. The pieces were selected and played with great care while the visual art certainly made for a great collaborative spirit, as some of the students art was featured on the big screen as well as the above listed masters. The audience was attentive and the musicians were magnificent. Before we went to the show I played music that we would hear for the students and we water~colored to the sounds to inspire…..the spirit of togetherness was alive and the idea that art(s) can work together truly was achieved. A big thank you to the MSO for again providing us with a wonderful learning experience.
I have been a big fan of GIAC since I started doing radio and the combination of their sound and their placement on the Blackheart Records roster made me swoon with excitement many years ago. Since then I have interviewed Drummer Phanie Diaz and aired numerous worthy tracks on several new albums to promote shows here in Madison. This time at the High Noon Saloon was so rawwkkkin’ as this trio put forth a solid end of the tour effort, which combined their hooks and catches with that style they have all to themselves….better than the albums is the sound of a live show and Girl in a Coma sees to that, I guarantee. Lead guitarist and vocalist, Nina Diaz has apparently been referred to as “the female version of Morrissey” but in my opinion she is biGGer than that but doesn’t even know it. She is a star and the cool flows right off of her onto the stage. Jenn Alva and Phanie Diaz add to the cool that flows off the band, but theirs has rhythm and beat attached to it as they songs not only rock but resonate within. After meeting and hanging out with Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna, I would have loved to have been there when they first saw these girls back in In 2006 when the Girls played f at New York’s Knitting Factory as part of a cable TV show featuring unknown bands. Jett and Laguna were so impressed with the band that they signed GIAC to their label, Blackheart Records, on the spot. And I am ever thankful they come to Madison regularly, so lets support them on their journey through better next time, Madison rockers.
Before GIAC hit the stage, Atlanta was represented properly by The Coathangers. This band rocks in so many undefined ways that it is hard to describe. If I was there for GIAC, I would have been so satified with the way this band rocked me in such a badass way. From avant punk jams to catchy weirdness of non conformity, I would go see them anytime again. Please do yourself a favor and try to define them on your own as words do do it after just one introduction.
Opening the night was Black Box Revelation a duo from Belgium whos fuzzy guitar work and booming drums were a perfect way to get ready for the night to come. They had a soulful touch that kept the rockNroll fresh and new with each lick and crash.
Every time I hit the EOTO scene it seems to get better and better for me. The whole experience. This time they were back at the Majestic with a crowd full of people who get it. And boy, we “Got It”. The impromptu nature of the music made the niGht’s sounds like our very own chapter together, a shared musical journey that we really get a chance to help write. Not only was the sound graBBed deeply by my ear-holes, but the light show and visuals attached themselves in concert with what Michael and Travis were creating in that moment. If for some reason you haven’t found the time to find this more than a dubstep act called EOTO, I’d hope you’d find a little room to let them into your life and I promise they’ll color your evening with new hues and expose you to new sounds/songs/ and in the right now feelings that I have found hits me when I Coltrane myself.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Nawal last week on the show and after seeing her and her band perform live as part of the 2011 Madison World Music Festival, I have to say that she reaches out to embrace, through her music and words but it is the undeniable meaning performing these prayers that stands out to me. When she and her bandmates sing/chant/utter/ “Shalom”, the very wish for peace leap out of me onto the universe. Through the instrumentation from her Indian Ocean roots consisting maGically of gambusi, flute, mbira, and daf; Nawal invites us into her dream of a peaceful world. The music caresses the soul and embraces the spirit. Thoughts and words disappear, and make way for meditation, introspection and inner peace. It is then and that I shared with you. Thank you for getting it. As a Muslim-born African woman who does not always adhere to traditional socio-religious codes, Nawal has faced many challenges in her career, yet she remains strong in her message and philosophy. Descending from the grand Sufi marabout of Comoros, El-Maarouf (1852-1904), Nawal invariably stays with the light of Islam founded upon love, respect and peace. In her music, she sings in favor of all humans, for education and for union. It is within our discussion that I realized she is a liGht, a person to follow…..I hope you’ll join me in paying attention to what she pours from her cup.
6:30pm – 8:00 pm – Chai Found Music (Taiwan) – Union Theater
7:00 pm – Film: “Cultures of Resistance” – Play Circle
8:30 pm- 10:00 pm – Nawal (Comoros Islands) Sufi Music- Union Theater
9:00 pm – Film: “Cultures of Resistance” – Play Circle
9:00 – 10:30 pm – Frigg (Finland) – Rathskeller
Had the opportunity to catch this show at the Overture as part of the work day. It was as fantastic as I remember Momix being and then some. The two videos on this page should give you a taste of what an entire show is like, but when you are in a seat there…you become a part of the goings-on on that stage. The intrepretations are stimulating and seismic, causing much bass to remix the beat of my heart. I was easily held captive by the show.
This year Henry Rollins turned 50 years old and to celebrate he set up some stops around the world to share some thoughts. The show was filled with the type of open minded stories and ideas that were very well received here in Madison. Mr. Rollins has some history here in Madison, which clearly makes his time spent here very special to him. He spoke for about two and a half hours with no break, no water……just pure anger with a purpose. He makes many in the audience contemplate, chuckle and even cringe at times with his tales of other lands. The “Who” he has met doesn’t matter as much as the situations that often present themselves to him as he travels. From times during Black Flag’s shows in the bottom of New York City’s underground scene to his time in Nelson Mandela’s personal mail collection, the show has twists and turns that were surprising, yet almost always seems to concluded with connection. I believe that Mr. Rollins truly gets the idea that we are ALL in this together and why the hell are some of us so blind to that fact. This is one show to catch, if it comes to a place near you. Your open mind will appreciate your efforts.
On my way back to the capitol, stopped by the Overture Center to check out what was happening during the 30th Anniversary of the international Festival. There were foods and wares and goods from many nations and of course there was cultural enrichment via the arts. Took in some swinging reels and jigs with Last Gaspé, a little smooth guitar sounds from Cuba by Sergio, and the Madison Chinese Cultural Association brought out colorful dances, costumes and music steeped in the ancient traditions of the Chinese culture. Certainly the time spent here was enjoyable and a pleasant distraction from the true reason for being downtown, the crowd in and out of the Overture to be a part of this spectacular festival was strong and steady.
The High Noon Saloon has been home to many interesting shows for me personally since becoming a Madisonian, but I was truly curious as to what the Portland Cello Project would do to me as they prepared to have seven cellos spilling over onto the stage on this first Friday night in March. Opening artist and touring partner, Laura Gibson was such a treat for me with her vocals and arrangements together as unique as the moments shared together in a live music setting. Her touch to the words and sound altering microphone work gave me shivers at times and goosebumps at others. She had one and then two of the members of the Cello Project accompany her on a few tunes and then the night switched. The Portland Cello Project is a sight to behold and behear. I was blown away at the sound togetherness brings to songs that our ears are often trained to hear a certain way. From the Star Trek Theme to Rhianna, the Muppet Show Theme to Pantera, there were original Diva pieces in foreign tongue to a classic Duke Ellington standard. The lush plush nature of the instrument at times turned into a thumping terror and dance party leader. For me, when Laura Gibson came back out and did a rendition of the Leadbelly song, “In the Pines”, my night was solidified as a complete surprise and the joy of felling like I was part of something that was more memorable than I could have thought, reminds me why I support the scene.
….is so downright filled with meaning and sass that I don’t quite know how to describe it. Miss Meaghan Owens is a delight as a person and a treat as a story teller and stage presence. Don’t let her “cute’ fool ya either. She can sing you a song that’ll make you blush but the next one can make you want to watch your back on the way out and all the way home. This night she was playing at a local spot and while people enjoyed the dining experience, many made sure to wave goodbye and share a wink or a smile with Meaghan. She is a memorable singer/songwriter and I wouldn’t just take it from me, check her out and she when/if you’ll have a chance to catch up with her next.
The great hall of the Memorial Union here on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Madison has many faces on tonight. As the music began it was Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole causing a whole lotta happiness, dancing happiness from the first note all the way through. Playing songs that obviously had much meaning to the band, which carried right over to the crowd filling the hall. Ced went from fiddle to accordion and Lance Boston’s clarinet found a home right on the tips of my inner ear that I swear was the tickle of the band that I felt was personal to me. I would always make sure I’d see a show where this band, in any form was a part of the scene. A good time is sure to follow! Speaking of, right after Cedric and Bijou Creole, we were treated to the unique stylings of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. As Steve mentioned in our recent conversation on the show, this album “GRAND ISLE”, is a pot filled with “Survivor Joy” and gets much of it’s meaning and backbone from the Cajun people and their strong will through many struggles and such devastating atrocities. Both Steve and co-leader, David Greely take that energy while playing the new tunes but sure seem to add that “truth” to the tracks they played that came along before some of the more recent events in memory. A Madison crowd certainly takes to that real feel and the dancing was continued to be driven with smiles at the wheel. What a perfect billing of two incredible acts that share so much tradition being kept alive by the very people who reflect the sounds that continue to come from the souls of the Cajun people. From solo ballads to swamp pop blasts and funkified two-steps, this night had it all.
The feeling was easy to let you get away, as the Wailers were in town to bring their mighty soul and sound into Madison on a night where temperatures were hovering at 0 degrees all night long. The Majestic Theater was almost filled with an all ages Reggae fest that closed up with the HIGHlite of the night, the band that “Legends” were made from. Opening the night was, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds and Duane Stephenson. I caught a couple of tunes by Duane Stephenson which carried the roots/dancehall rhythms with it wrapped tightly in a positive vibe and a beautiful voice. The Wailers came on with the beautiful “Coming in from the Cold” off up UPRISING, which was the album they decided to sample throughout the night here in Madtown. The sound immediately took over the crowd with an ebb and flow that must have carried itself out onto the streets downtown, as a really interesting “I Shot the Sheriff” weaved its way past the renditions we all were accustomed to and led us off the path to familiarity where only live music can. As the show went on, the band took on a taste of the favorites with many tracks off of LEGEND, which had the crowd voice tested several times as they sang along as if they too were in the studio feeling the song for the first time. Aston Barrett’s bass thumps stretched out over the room as a center point to the groups legacy, and I for one was glad my ears got another chance at grabbing at that sound in a setting other than an outside large music festival setting. The sound of his bass was like a handshake between friends. This event was well attended by ages groups that covered a wide range, and here in Madison…..I think we like it that way.