The treat during winter time is when artists come on into Madison and warm the place up. That is exactly what the uncanny charm of Keller Williams seemed to do tonight as he brought his guitar goodness to the Majestic. He has his stage set up for antics and “in the moment”-ness, but it’s the sound and crowd involvement that really sets the show apart. He quickly got the “MADISON” portion of his show nailed down, including the city in many of his tunes. His bass loops gave the show it’s heartbeat that danced on into the night. It is always a festival feel when Keller gets it going. The environment was filled with happy-go-lucky listeners and groovers that stayed with him in the moment. As some Dead came off his strings, you just had to poke around a few steps away for the heart of the crowd. As usual, Keller put forth many covers done in a way only a loop-star can pull off and there were plenty of KW originals in the mix to keep the crowd on their improvisational toes. Whenever I see Keller Williams live, the one thing I can always appreciate is the “expect the unexpected” and that is exactly just what I believe live music is mostly about.
A dream line up for my ears. I have been a fan of Forro in the Dark for many years now, interviewing friend of the program, Mauro Refosco on a couple of occasions~most recently this past show on greenarrowradio. Forro opened up the evening with a blend of tradition and danceable party music that had bodies moving instantaneously and this Halloween audience was ready to party. The humble nature of this band settled in nicely with the folks in Madison at the Overture Center, who must have walked away from Forro in the Dark thinking of inviting them back into their community anytime. Next was Gogol Bordello, who was a perfect treat on a night of tricks. The energy dripped off onto the crowd, raucous rowdy organized chaos ensued with heavy rock and hearty rolls that there was no where to go but up up up. The messages rang loud and clear and to people who were listening. I’d have to say that the world of music is a better place for having Gogol Bordello around doing it as they do. Its mayhem that makes pure sense. If the chance arises, theses are acts not to be missed.
Stopped through at Library Mall (yes, the same place President Obama was less than a week earlier)for the 40th annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival for a little bit and caught some tunes, but mostly caught on to some good vibes from people who are working on a cause. Whether it is a cause you personally believe in or not, the times surrounding this festival are certainly peaceful high times. I had a chance to listen to some speakers discuss why medical marijuana is still needed to be taken more seriously, and others about how we could balance the budget with some swift smart moves based around this free growing source. Caught some of Nama Rupa‘s happy time good vibe music and the day was picture perfect to just lay down and look up.
The 2010 Madison World Music Festival once again had a brilliant line-up that kept the innovative movers and shakers around here very happy. The smell of foods and incense filled air coupled with mini-parades and street acts made the intermission times as easy to celebrate as the acts I went out to catch this year. I was pleased to catch two separate performances by Cimarrón. They are the most accomplished llanera group in Colombia. A seven piece led by harpist and composer Carlos Rojas, they have been working for over twenty years and have performed the world over. These musicians are immersed in the sounds of ‘los llanos’; they seek to explore and experiment with their rich heritage whilst retaining the essence of the tradition. And it really had a feel to it that was unearthly at times, too rich and true to be of here. Then, called the “Nightingale of the North”, Khaira Arby from Mali brought her rockin’ band here for some business. Her beautiful voice cements the sound of a tight, jammin’ of traditional Malian bluesy riffs (more like Vieux Farka Toure than his Father Ali), combined with a colorful modernization makes her stop her very pleasing to me. I would have to say, look on her calendar and see when\/where you might get the chance to be a witness. Her new album “TIMBUKTU TARAB” will lead you there, but it’s the live sound that really clears things up. She’s got it! The final act for me on such a night (with the local brews flowing like the Mississippi River), I was psyched to get my dose of the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars….there was the kitchen sink for me. Filled to the rim with danceable afro-rock sounds with a message of oneness and rebel spirit….I immediately felt that connection I search for with music. Their groove is my groove and I share their celebration of culture with a breath of unity, and the sound of their music….the roots, the stems, the seeds……the whole plant and the soil is where the Sierra Leone Refugee All Star’s sound comes from, it creates.
In my days as a radio show host, I have met up with many interesting people and shared many interesting tales. On a night like this I was able to share words with another legend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. We shared stories of life together (I did a lot of listening), we caught the opening act together after sneaking around the underworld of the Stoughton Opera House from the backstage to the front room, and we made a “Cowboy” like connection. Hanging out in a stairwell telling stories has never been such a good time as it was with Jack, he is captivating beyond believe and genuine and sincere as a gentleman could be. Oh, and he ended up ditching me to go on stage and play a show that was much like the stairwell, opening the cover of the old book to add some new pages into it. His arrangements of other’s tunes has you in the prairie at times, riding a stallion at others but most of all, you, like me……could feel as if you were side by side with Jack living it for the first time together. Opening the show was friend of the proGram, Miss Meaghan Owens. Meaghan is a sweet songwriter with a Nashville appeal that captivated this night’s audience and is sure to make more splashes down the road with her beauty on stage as a person, her witty stylings and songs that ring true and remain in your mind after the show has ended. Oh yes, this was a good night.
all images by SWEET WILLIAM images.
Well, let me first thank the fine people at Rhymesayers Entertainment for bringing the Minneapolis feel of hip hop/rhythm & Blues and some damn heavy soulfulness to Madison. We sold out the Orpheum with a sea of ready for action fans of the heavy hitting group Atmosphere. This was the first night of their “To all my Friends” tour and it was easy to see how electric the crowd made the band feel and come to life as the building became one united front conquering rhyme, rhythm and beats together. One of the most accomplished MC/producer duos Slug & Ant certainly are the blood within the touring bands heart but man, the heart itself on stage is a sick combination that brings some sweet sounding old soul and R -n- B to the front while being painted with deeply thought out, story boarding lyrics that are at times heavy on the mind and other times catchy to the vocal cords….many chances for a great crowd like we had in Madison to be in the driver seat along with Atmosphere. The extra heart pieces on the tour front are: Mankwe Ndosi on Vocals and Spirit, Nate Collis on guitar & Erick Anderson on keys. Surely a show to catch if you get a chance, as is any artist associated with this Minneapolis independent entertainment group known as Rhymesayers.
Big Thanks to J Web for all she does!!
I have been spinning Oliver Wood’s music for so many years now…from King Johnson to the Wood Brothers, this soulful sound has accompanied my sets as focal points and finally I got the chance to see the Wood Brothers and say an overdue face to face hello to Oliver. We got dashes from sounds off the new album (out soon) and many of the classic Wood Brothers tunes (Atlas, Chocolate on my Tongue) that make me lick my lips in a savory satisfaction. The crowd was deep, sweaty and into the steady rockin’ smooth groove of this trio had in store for us on that particular Madison evening by the lakeside. We had many the opportunity to get our deep moves on but the key to the success of these guys to my ears is what they do does to my soul. I feel the music and I truly feel like I am sitting on a bus stop bench waiting with some of the words that are put to the music that has me captured. This is a band that the music really moves me.
Well, it was a joy to be able to hang out with an old friend Marcus James Henderson (Keys/Flute/Sax/Vocals) as Marshall Tucker invaded the Ho-Chunk Casino with opening act The Georgia Satellites. The set for MTB was filled with exactly what one would expect…except for those on stage as they never no what frontman and the true original member of the band, Doug Gray is going to call out from song to song. And with over 39 years of making music there is a whole lot to choose from. It is a show still worth getting involved in as these fellas sure know how to get the crowd frenzied into a Southern Rock mentality and the jams are still as fresh and filling as ever. With their true soundman taking care of some personal things back home, the boys took care of business…just as you’d expect the Marshall Tucker Band to do, and they will do it for you the next time they are in town.
It was easy to see why so many people are paying attention to Ontario’s Great Lake Swimmers, the songwriting and expression are easily shared with the band and the audience, just like at the Marquette festival. A shower of rain was fitting as was the moment when the sun peeked out to stay at the wail of the vocals calling it to……This is a band that tells a story, with its storytelling.
Great Lake Swimmers at the Marquette Waterfront Fest 6/13
The Tony Allen Band at the Marquette Waterfront Festival 6/13
Now this is what it is all about for me. I felt the moment the drums were struck that I was back home…wherever that truly is. Tony Allen and his band made the music festivals are all about, but more importantly to me as an individual…it is the music I feel so close to. Afro Beat is, and that’s because of Mr. Tony Allen. It was an honor to hear him and his band smoke it live and it was filled with grooves that make the spot you are in feel so close to home.
Chico Trujillo at the Marquette Waterfront Festival Saturday 6/12
Chile’s Chico Trujillo made themselves known at this festival with music that has a happy grin attached to it. The style and flare of the Chilean culture brought magic to the waterfront with interpretaciones de cumbias tradicionales, lo que dio como mezcla una banda tocando cumbias, boleros y ska….but what did it for me was the way the music made my insides feel while the rest of me shook to the sound. This is a band not to miss at a festival or in a small room. They pack a punch that is filled with happiness.
Grupo Fantasma at the Marquette Waterfront festival 6/12
After interviewing producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada and going over his resume,( I have been spinning his works in many shapes & forms for years now) I know what I was in for, but could tell not everyone else at the festival was….and man, they were blown away. The weather was warm and the funky Latin orchestra sounds were ten paces to the hott side of that…….While there is definitively some nostalgia to the music, this band is moving/shaking into new territories musically (as one might expect from a band that routinely backs Prince) and while their newest album is just hitting the streets…..this band has been running strong for some 10 years now and is a must see wherever you are, when they come close. I have few words to tell you other than….it’s a must see.
I felt as if I had been thrown back in time just a little, and maybe even displace to a place I long for…..the Marin County scene….ok, I’ll awaken from it now. But Moonalice brought me to a place in space that I always long to go back to, the psychedelic folk rock scene. But when I looked around more clearly, I recognized the perfect venue here for this show, the High Noon Saloon. When I interviewed Roger Mcnamee of the group, I was excited for the sounds I knew I would get live, but it was the innovative ideas of being able to watch the show back (they video the shows and you can be part of the “Music Video”). Along with Roger (bass,guitar & vocals) is Barry Slessâ€“bass, guitar, pedal steel, vocalsâ€¨/Pete Searsâ€“ bass, keyboards, accordion, guitar, vocalsâ€¨/John Moloâ€“bass and drums/Ann McNameeâ€“bass, keyboards, percussion, vocalsâ€¨. This is a band devoted to bringing that very scene I missed out on, back into our lives. While the sets were building and the band was transporting people into plains of being only sound can penetrate…I stepped outside and had myself the time so many people wish for, I got to hang with Jerry Garcia’s main man, Mr. Steve Parish. What a truly cool time is was listening to tales being woven and memories being re-lived. Somehow, on this night….it was even better than expected and if Moonalice is near your neck of the woods….I am a believer that they will bring that same sort of experience into your world, if you just let ’em!
Man, did I not believe it when I heard the albums or what? Just like guest to the show and founder of the band David Skogan said in our interview on yesterdays show, the Youngblood Brass Band makes rhythms and brass beat you up and down with dancing feet and free jam sound. There is a mixture here in the live setting that allows the different styles to take off into their own, from the unknown nature of the jazz behind it all to the N’Orleans second line procession march rhythms all the way to the Michael Jackson covers and hip hop rhymes…..this is an act I would go see anytime anywhere. It was no wonder that local boy David and the band had a sold out High Noon Saloon to party with like it was a bunch of friends…and it was.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound brought it to the Terrace in such a hip soulful way tonight that I left the place not only in a buzz, but hearing a buzz coming from the crowd as we grooved past one another in front of the stage, by the lake and even on the way to the car. Little did I know that good friend, Mr Greenweedz was the nights MC of sorts. His on the spot word rhyming machine that keeps the interludes as fresh as the new sound this band creates. One part James Brown, one part Soul Train and one part Liquid Soul mixes up brings on a true reason to be happy that your soul survives. JC Brooks has the charm and presence that commands your attention, because you WANT to hear what he is sayin’ as he walks you into a song……The horns were tight and the guitar work ripped nasty…but Greenweedz in the moment rhyme attack put a hip hop hug on an already well wrapped musical package. One with a soul’s soul. I was happy to run into my old friend and glad to make more musical friends like JC and the band to encourage new ears to open up for…This is a band that realizes that soul music ain’t only just begun….but its always in it’s beginning stages. They have borrowed something from the great legends and added the right amount of themselves to be worthy of such danceable now times and look back times that’ll last decades. Speaking of making music that lasts…JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound had the pleasure, wait maybe it was our pleasure, of opening up this night for The Heavy.
After having a chance to listen to the new album (self titled and dropping May 25th on Silver Arrow Records) and connect up with Smitty for a phoner, I was pretty sure that I was going to be digging on some live Truth & Salvage CO. in Der Rathskeller and man was I ever hitting that nail on the head. They were to play outside on the Terrace but the weather forced us in…I only wonder what the experience would be like in front of the lake? The bands parts hail from diverse Southern and mid-Western backgrounds, but make up a sound that feels so real and true, like these cats were all brothers that have made these songs grow together as they grew up individually and added their pieces to the sounds and words. They have recently done tours with the Black Crowes (Chris Robinson produced the new album) and the Avett Brothers, this six piece band is lyrically clever and witty, while engaging the listeners into some backyard story telling at times. But the side of the band that caught my ear as the night moved on was the complete rockin’ side. The groups riveting set closer “Pure Mountain Angel” and a healthy rendition of the Band’s “Shape I’m in” still have my ass kicked, the boot mark on my jeans proves it. These guys are booking around playing out in many places, I hope you’ll get a chance to meet up with them and say hello. Maybe some of you will catch them at Bonaroo on June 11th, and they still have a couple of gigs on the schedule left with the Crowes coming up mid summer. Either way, look for Truth & Salvage CO. to be knocking on your I-Pod’s door sometime in the nEAR future with an “ADD ME” sign, and I hope you’ll oblige.
The stage was set for a time that sticks into my memory, like all moments that tug at my emotions and feelings. Just as mentioned in my conversation with Anoushka the week prior, there were Indian Classical instruments that were being stretched beyond even some of the most captivating music I have yet to discover. As Anoushka mentioned, there was a piece that started the second “set” that was a mixture of the giant sitar sounds and a flamenco beat and rhythm, it had me moving in a way that my mind seemed to lead my tapping soul and I could feel the roof rising underneath this exploration. There were pieces written by Anoushka, by her father, as well as collaboration between Anoushka and the guys in the Project. Speaking of the band, for me there is a special energy that radiates from the vibe (not only the music created by) of Tanmoy Bose. He is famous for his tabla playing and has accompanied by Anoushka and Pundit Ravi Shankar for years….there is an unspoken something that he possesses with each other musician on stage, but the looks between he and Anoushka make the music travel….to well…places I am always thankful to be a part of. Ravichandra Kulur was stellar on the flute, it is easily recognizable why he is one of the most sought after flutists in India, performing solo and experimental music globally. He has mastered the art of playing the Kanjira (Tamborine) and that too was well evident in this evening performance. Pirashanna Thevarajah (joined in for the second set) is a speedy percussionist (Mridangam) playing both eastern and western percussion and showed off some rather speedy vocalizations that were bouncing off the walls like a rubber ball. Nick Able is a disciple of maestro Ravi Shankar and is an amazing artists in many spaces of media, tonight he was featured on the Tanpura. Those who know me and my likes of different sounds and how they weave into others sounds that one might not expect, will have to believe me when I say my respect and admiration for Anoushka Shankar grows immeasurably at time because of her vision gained through her sound exploration, she is on wavelengths I have not shared musically with many people and I am so honored to be a part of what she does. Here’s the evening’s performance from the Stoughton Opera House:
Ragu Vamsa Sudha
Voices of the Moon
As the Blues Tuesdays at the Frequency makes it weekly roll into our lives, there are times where I am certain the be there…you know, put things aside that I usually do in the studio and support the scene. Tony Brown graced the stage with AJ Love along side with drums and bass and man, this cat becomes part of the stage. More than a show of any sorts, Tony Brown delivers all kinds of music one way….from his soul. That’s why to me on what was obviously a night of blues music, it was all roots based and presented to us with love. I felt what this artist was feeling and that isn’t always the case, especially when the deepness of some blues gets digging down into parts of you where it hurts, Tony Brown brought that spot some sunshine and it was just what the whole space needed.
Tony’s new album!
The Majestic had a certain feel and smell to it Sunday night, on an Easter Sunday with the students away there was a beautiful room of people that really felt their rockin’ grOOves together. John Brown’s Body and Toubab Krewe are sharing the bill, flopping headliner positions nightly on this recent tour and for me when the boys in John Brown’s Body opened up the show, I was ready to get ready. The dubbed reggae sounds filled the room with instant joy and plenty of innovative dance expressions. The trio of horns sent shiver me timbers down to my feet and took perfect care of my musical head. Overall this 8 piece outfit brings a sense of powerful journey to the future riddems landscape, like flying into the unknown in a Boombastic air balloon. After I interviewed drummerTommy Benedetti on the show last week, we chatted heavy on out Boston connections….Mr. Rourke, Micro and the Red Sox and we had a chance to catch the end of the home opener at Fenway together backstage with results that cause an ear to ear grin…and the Sox won too!! Toubab Krewe smashed onto the scene with their deep rock and roll rhythms accompanied by those traditional Malian instruments, causing a storm to blow over the crowd that reminds me that certain collaborations are just meant to be. I love the storm that takes over the group in a room as Toubab does that jamming thing that they do best in a live setting..So man, can you just imagine the positive vibes sent out into the cosmos as these two acts are touring around together. And even I got in some of those innovative dance grooves as the night quickly turned into morning time. Yes To Live Music.
A jam packed house at the High Noon Saloon got what they were looking for with P.O.S. who later on in the even ing mentioned to the crowd that it felt like this was the largest crowd to witness a P.O.S. show. NICE!!! Being ill didn’t stop Dessa and her producer, DJ Plain Ole Bill from setting the scene a blaze with timely serious lyrics and timing that made a duo like this seem like more. Doing tracks off her latest release “A Badly Broken Code” keep the start of my evening fresh and I think I could have done with even a few more moments with Dessa, which I will seek out from the album. Sometime after midnight P.O.S. hit the stage, and kept the truth spitting out deep and real. The crowd was more than willing to be connected to the performance, as it often is here in Madison and they made P.O.S. feel at home here. As the lyrics twisted around his tongue and slapped the faces out there, the beat was kept steady with DJ Plain Ole Bill and later on opening acts Dessa and Astronautalis (who I sadly missed) onstage separately, too, for a few right-on collaborations. Lesson….if P.O.S. comes back to town, get a ticket EARly. No NO, EARlier than that!
When I got there Break Science was just in the swing of that dub-steppin’ live mix drum sampling sweetness that was a sure fit opening up for the explosion that RJD2 had in store for the huge crowd inside the Majestic Theater. They got real nasty with the last jam, looping the soulful from the beat and keeping it sustained until it was in time with the crowd heart beat. This crowd had an identity of its own by the time RJD2 hit the stage with his massive turntable/production/mixing center. The visual stimulation is not a strong as those soaked in with the ears, but my eyes were left in a thankful state. Taking what he feels inside and what our togetherness brought to him, RJD2 ripped some serious funked up grooves without the need for headphones, with the feel of a fighter pilot he took us to a sound battle and we cam back a scene on a billboard. A moment in RJD2’s time is a place to be. He balanced time between mixing/singing some and strumming a guitar with the band….which added that rock-step to the live exploration going on, that bomb dropping with rhythm, a sonic scene with ears of its own that had a perfect musical guide. When a show makes me feel like I couldn’t get it back if I missed it, I am left remembering why it is we love the thing(s) music can do.
The Barrymore Theatre did on Saturday night and man, was it just what the doctor ordered. Opening the night was Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, with their reggae dub-rock grooves that satisfied the urges of the swaying masses, and got people ready to get ready. But it was G Love and Special Sauce that the people came to hear and feel and slap five with….they hit us hard in the beginning of the set with some heavy hip-hopped rock, that led right into a long drawn out jazzy versions of classic sounding tracks dripping with some special sauce~ a recipe special for a night made under a Madtown moon. After several Sauce heavy tracks, it was time for Garrett to get one on, well…way more than one as the balcony had little room left..he sat with his acoustic guitar and gave us some blues reminiscent of our old pal John Hammond Jr and the crowd really seems to dig that slowed down portion of the show, kinda personal….kinda cool. What was even better is when the Sauce dripped back out on the stage and we got to get down with our Superhero Brother, do a little wiggling like a worm and the question was finally asked at us….”Who’s got the ….?” and as it turns out, not only did many in attendance come prepared to answer that skunky kinda question, but even G himself seemed to have a little smoke pouring out of himself as the first note dropped..I always have a fun time checking on the current tour of G Love and Special Sauce and this time was no different as my ears were psyched to sample some new tracks sure to be on the next album. Thanks to Paco T for introducing me to this sound way back when I was a step taller than a shorty.