Song & Dance Ensemble of W.Africa

The two dozen singers, dancers and instrumentalists who make up the Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa create a rhythmic feast drawing on a variety of influences including traditional Griot songs, reggae, and the sounds of the kora, a 21-stringed instrument of the lute family used across West Africa. Blending the traditional music of Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana, Benin, the Ivory Coast and Mauritania with a contemporary flair, this show brought the land of stories right to our doorsteps in Madison. The players were in top form, challenging one another with style and speed. Rhythm never lacking. The women singers and dancers brought the feel of Mother Earth, or Mother Land clear into the forefront and the lush crowd at the Overture was often caught in rounds of applause. After the show, I had a chance to spend a moment with Mr. Dembele and the Ensemble with laughs shared, this was a show that keeps traditions alive.

bambadembele 003.jpg
Mr. Bamba Dembele and MisterG

Listen to my translated interview w/Mr Dembele Here.

Bamba Dembele

This Thursday at the Capitol Theater in the Overture Center, the Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa will take the stage. Bamba Dembele leads this group of traditional musicians and dancers which together is accomplished and respected. It is a high-level orchestra comprising many percussionists, musicians and dancers. They create a rhythmic feast drawing on a variety of influences including traditional Griot songs, reggae, and the sounds of the kora, a 21-stringed instrument of the lute family used across West Africa. The ensemble also features percussion instruments from the djembe to dounsdouns and other balaphons, excellent dancers whose muscles seem to be capable of any movement at any speed, and a an elaborate visual ensemble with colorful, inventive costumes. In my conversation with Mr. Dembele (with great assistance from both Claude and Madelaine-merci beaucoup!!), we discuss the differences between the Song and Dance Ensemble and the Super Rail Band, how traveling to America has broadened his opinions and his time with both Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate.

Listen in to our conversation w/translation here.


Dixie Does Madison

If you want to laugh, and I mean pee your pants over and over laugh…try heading to Dixie’s Tupperware Party. With the bar open and the uses for plastic products as surprising as who might just think it to be a good idea to use Tupperwares in the bedroom, it is as fun to look around and watch the party goers as it is to be an active part of the show (especially when you escape being chosen). Dixie has the run of the place at the Overture until November 2nd, so don’t deny yourself the need for plastic storage with a strange twist and a good laugh. This is a top notch Tupperware extravaganza complete with on the spot humor that reminds you just how much people want to laugh hard out loud….and buy bundles of that plastic crap. I walk away, still just regular friends—but I can say ” I had a fun time at a Tupperware Party”

Thanks Dixie.


Check out my chat with Dixie here.

RIP Brother Merl

Merl Saunders, a phenomenal person and funky keyboardist who collaborated with artists of all shapes and sizes including Miles Davis and the Grateful Dead, has died at the age of 74. In a statement posted on Merl’s website from the Saunders Family reads as follows:

Merl Saunders stood for music and love – his smile alone told you that. We loved him very much – and we know that you, his fans, did too. Sad as we are to lose him, we’re very aware of being comforted by the affection coming from all those touched by that smile and that wonderful music. He was a special man, a beautiful companion, father, grandfather, and family patriarch, and the proof of that spirit is in the way you’ve reached out to us at his passing.

From our hearts, thank you. And we know Merl thanks you too.

Keep on keepin’on,
The Saunders Family

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, October 29th, at 11 am
at First AME Zion Church, 2159 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.

I send my thoughts and positive vibes to Jr and the entire Saunders’ family as well as those in the circle through the music. Rest In Peace Brother Merl.


Check out my conversation with Merl Saunders Jr a few years back right here.

Homecoming-GO Home

With homecoming weekend it has been a sea of red and a lot of traffic..all sorts. Bucky beat illinois and I gave away a pair of ticklets to the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival. Here’s what it was like:

Honey Be- Hot Buttered Rum (live)
Grateful Dawg- Jerry Garcia David Grisman (live)
Where no Mandolin has Gone Before-Nashville Mandolin Ensemble
the fifth Recruiter Deserted- Radim Zenkl
Welcome to the Moon- Radim Zenkl
Whiskey in the Jar- Jerry Garcia David Grisman
Little Sadie- Grisman, Garcia, Rice
Lives in the Balance- Richie Havens
The Way you do- Devil Doll
You Can’t Take it with You- EG Kight
Traveling Light- Jimmy Hall/Henry Paul/Bo Bice
Goin’ Home- BB King w/Dumpstaphunk
So Long-Big Chief Monk Boudreaux w/Galactic
Early in the Morning- Papa Mali
Break on Through- STP
Dita Dimone- Pop Levi
Losing Myself- the Brazilian Girls
All Night- Damien JR GONG Marley
Headz Gonna Roll-Lee SCRATCH Perry with George Clinton
Funky or What- Celia Baron
Funky Shoes- Celia Baron
Cantaloupe Island- Herbie Hancock
Special Request- Doug Wimbish with Bernie Worrell
Stuck on you- Nikka Costa
Lonely in New York- Sophie Milman
I’ll be Satisfied- Hope Waits
The Great Temptation- Pete Gitlin
Sugus Nectar- Razl
Gateless Gate- Sanjay Mashra w/ Keller Williams
the Portuguese Waltzes- Duane Andrews

The Listening G

man have I been exploding and exploring with sounds from all over, cannot always get them all on air but want to try to constantly make sure the names get out there as something I am appreciating, for whatever that is worth. The list is much greater than I will recall but here goes something:

Mad Juana: Bruja On the Corner
Neco Novellas: New Dawn Ku Khata
OGOGO: Linden
the Voodoo Organist: Darwin Dance Hall Days
Buzzy Linhart: Buzzy
Dayton Flic: Takin’ you Back to the Music Suite
Grant Calvin Weston: Nassira
Dub Gabriel: Anarchy & Alchemy

controlling digital-music lockers

For almost 10 years, Michael Robertson, the often controversial cofounder of and Linspire, has toiled to store music in the cloud, the term used to describe the seemingly limitless amount of data and services accessible with a Web browser. But in the past, Robertson’s efforts have led him into huge legal battles with the music industry. That’s where he finds himself once again. In November, EMI filed a copyright suit against him and his music service, More recently, Robertson has had to watch competitors generate headlines with an idea he helped pioneer. On Monday, launched a service that enables customers to upload songs into digital music lockers (or the cloud) and then stream the tracks to Web-connected devices. Before launching, Lala obtained licenses from each of the top four recording companies. The differences between MP3tunes & Lala are many but the most notable among them is this: Robertson doesn’t believe services such as his are obligated to obtain licenses to help consumers store legally owned music. How this legal case is decided could help determine who owns the keys to digital lockers. Little in EMI’s complaint indicates that the label objects to the storing of music in lockers, digital or otherwise. As a matter of fact, the document reads like a run-of-the-mill piracy complaint. The record label accuses MP3tunes of then handing users the ability to share access to their music lockers with anybody. According to EMI, MP3tunes only requires customers to submit an e-mail and password to access their music. EMI lawyers argued that such lax security enables a locker to become a “virtual drop box for this illegal distribution.” Robertson dismisses EMI’s claims and said Sideload is nothing but a search engine just like Google and Yahoo. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects service providers from responsibility for any crimes committed by users, Robertson said. He claims EMI’s lawsuit is designed to camouflage the record industry’s true goal, which is to prevent him and anyone else from storing music in digital lockers without first paying licensing fees….for more head to Greg Sandoval’s article for CNET here.

LA Theatre Works Double Bill


IN a time where everyday is almost unbelievable, it is nice to get out for a night and escape back in time and be a part of theater and radio, to remember just how far we have come. Or have we. I almost prefer the watching of radio to the radio itself. There is a thrill is watching the actors MAKING radio. Tonight at the Overture Center, L.A. Theatre Works did just that. They recreated and redefined radio theater with their performances of War of the Worlds and The Lost World. From thrill and chills to a few gut-wrenching laughers, this double billing brought it all to the audience–the remember when factor of being tricked into believing in a Marian invasion to the adventurous discovery into a world thought only was alive in children’s book, where dinosaurs lead the charge. The acting and scripting was enormously thrilling, especially noticing how many things each person on stage took control over, whether it sound effects or personality changes…each nuance was believable.

For more about this show and L.A. Theatre Works, click here for my conversation with Susan Loewenberg, founder and producing director of the group

Levi Stubbs-Rest in Peace

Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs, whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown classics as “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “Baby I Need Your Loving,” died Friday at 72. With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel. “Levi Stubbs was one of the great voices of all times,” former Motown labelmate Smokey Robinson said. “He was very near and dear to my heart. He was my friend and my brother, I miss him. God bless his family and comfort them.” The Four Tops began singing together in 1953 under the name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops to avoid being confused with the Ames Brothers. The Four Tops signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next 10 years, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown stable. “It is not only a tremendous personal loss for me, but for the Motown family, and people all over the world who were touched by his rare voice and remarkable spirit,” Gordy said Friday. “Levi was the greatest interpreter of songs I’ve ever heard.” Stubbs’ death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul “Duke” Fakir. Original Top Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. Renaldo “Obie” Benson died of lung cancer in 2005. Stubbs is survived by his wife Cliniece, five children and 11 grandchildren.

Two More Zeros

Wine and Women- Pedro Arevalo
Dreams-Jimmy Hall/Henry Paul/Bo Bice
Hootchie Koo Man- Poor Billy
Fly with Me- Topaz & Mudphonic
Long way to Go- Elliott Sharp’s Terraplane
Garden of Thieves- Jamie McLean
Silver Linings- Inca Maya
Two More Zeros- Leroy Powell
Truckin’ Leroy Powell
Shotgun Willie- Willie Nelson (live)
Graceland- Willie Nelson (live)
Old Joe Clark- Charlie Hayden with Jack Black


Grateful Dawg- Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
Desert Dawg- David Grisman Quintet
Mr Coolberg- David Grisman Quintet
Downieville- Bourgeois Gypsies
Angel Whiskey- the Zydepunks
Bury me Standing- Mad Juana
*Conversation with Susan Loewenberg of LA Theatre Works*

Descent- Ticklah
Spirit Made Flesh- Dub Gabriel w/Karen Gibson Roc
High Low- Michael Franti & Spearhead w/Zap Mama
Can’t Please Everybody- Nikka Costa
Sexy Side of You- George Clinton
time for a New Thang- Tony Bunn
Rockin’ Shoes- Doug Wimbish
The In Crowd- Javon Jackson
Blackness of Darkness- Cedric Im Brooks
KC Stomp- Timothy McNealy
Money is King- the Expressions
Who’s got the Weed- G Love & Special Sauce
San Francisco Bound- Pimps of Joytime
Feel like a Stranger- the Grateful Dead (live)
Funky Miracle>-Porter/Batiste/Stoltz (live)
Sing a Simple Song>- Porter/Batiste/Stoltz (live)
Rainy Day Women-Porter/Batiste/Stoltz w/Page McConnell (live)
Liberty- Ben Senterfit
Freedom Dub- the Sol Creech Band
Flatbush & Church Revisited- Vernon Reid & Masque
**Maggie Lakis of Ave Q Conversation**

Dixie Longate’s Tupperware Party

Who new that there are so many “different” uses for Tupperware? Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, packed up her uncatalogued, left her children in an Alabama trailer park and took Off-Broadway by storm! Now, join Dixie as she travels the country throwing good ol’fashioned Tupperware Parties filled with outrageously funny tales, heartfelt accounts, FREE giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage. She will bring her party to Madison from October 21st – November 2nd at the Promenade Hall, inside the Overture Center. Loaded with the most up-to-date products available for purchase, see for yourself how Ms. Longate became the #1 Tupperware seller in the U.S. & Canada as she educates her guests on the many alternative uses she has discovered for her plastic products!

check out my chat with Dixie right here.

Maggie Lakis of Ave Q

I had the chance to talk with Maggie Lakis who plays with puppets for a living….I know right…COOL. She spends a lot of her time hanging out in the neighborhood of Ave Q. That neighborhood will take shape on the stages of Overture Hall within the enriching walls of our Overture Center here in Madison from October 21st through October 26th. Maggie and I talk about the way she got this very cool and mind opening gig, something about the relationships between puppets and human (strictly professional) and why this show might just be that “something different” you have been looking for.

Listen to my conversation with Maggie Lakis here.

Maggie Lakis, Trekkie Monster, David Benoit

Change Rocks: The Dead/Allman Bros.

The Dead reunited last night (Monday, October 13) for the first time in four years, thrilling a sold-out crowd of devoted fans when they performed in State College, PA. The “Change Rocks” concert, which also featured the Allman Brothers Band, was held at the 15,000-capacity Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University to raise awareness for Senator Barack Obama and the upcoming November 4 election. The crowd–a mix of college students, longtime Deadheads and Barack Obama supporters–were on their feet from the first notes of show opener “Truckin,’” through the psychedelic explorations of “Dark Star,” to the end of “Not Fade Away,” the night’s closer. In a video-taped message shown between sets, Senator Obama told the audience: “For twenty months, I’ve been traveling this country from town to town-even developing a ‘Touch of Grey’ of my own. And on that journey, I’ve seen Americans who are hurting under the politics and policies of Washington. They need change, and I am running for President to bring about that change. “On November 4th, you’ll get to make a choice between two different candidates with two dramatically different visions for our future. You’ll get to choose which direction you want to take our country. I believe that now is the time to put Americans back to work and rebuild our middle class; to live up to the promise of affordable health care for everyone; to guarantee a quality education for all our children; to end our dependence on Middle East oil; and to bring this war in Iraq to a responsible end. We can do all that. And on November 5th, I hope to announce that we ‘Ain’t Wasting Time No More.’” The Dead last performed in 2004 on their “Wave That Flag” tour. In February of this year, Hart, Lesh and Weir played a “Deadheads For Obama” show at the Warfield in San Francisco, and last year Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart performed at a post-inauguration for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Obama Speech Video
The Daeds Set:
Truckin >
US Blues
Help on the Way >Slipknot >
Franklin’s Tower
Playin in the Band>
Dark Star
St. Stephen>
Unbroken Chain >
Other One >
Throwin Stones >
Playin reprise
Phil rap >
Bobby rap >
Touch of Grey>
Not Fade Away

The Allman Brothers
Statesboro Blues
Who’s Been Talking
Midnight Rider
One Way Out
And It Stoned Me
Dreams (w/ Ron Holloway on sax)
Don’t Think Twice (w/ Susan Tedeschi and Ron Holloway)
Anyday (w/ Susan Tedeschi)
Trouble No More
Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
E- Whipping Post


LA Theatre Works’ Susan Loewenberg


On Tuesday October 21st, L.A. Theatre Works, a top radio theater company for the last two decades, invades Overture Center for an evening of harrowing audio drama. The original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air sent the nation into hysterics over what they thought was an actual alien invasion. L.A. Theatre Works recreates that experience in gripping detail. The Lost World, based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, follows the expedition of a group of scientists to a remote part of the Amazon jungle locked in prehistoric times, complete with dinosaurs! I had the opportunity to chat with Susan Loewenberg, the founder and Producing Artistic Director of L.A. Theatre Works about the work involved in making these productions, the work her organization accomplishes to preserve and produce significant works of dramatic literature on audio with public access to all. We also talk about how we, as people can download a weekly nationally syndicated radio show, the Fund for Independence in Journalism and of interest to all, the Center for Public Integrity. Susan is an incredible person in my opinion and I am thankful for people like her keeping our radio histories alive for generations to discuss.

my conversation with Susan here.

Thanks to Ruth, Lucy and Susan for making this interview possible

Tommy Emmanuel Tonight

What can I say that I haven’t already said in regards to Tommy Emmanuel? The person I believe Tommy is makes him wonderful, the acoustic innovation of mammoth (extra fingers?) proportion makes him special – couple those two beings together and you walk away within awe. Tommy’s spirit takes his guitar art to new levels that leave people damn happy. This night at the Majestic in Madison had that magic, that spirit and Tommy’s guitars are being talked about by many of those first timers in audience. There are always so many highlights and most people have their own so I will share just one insight as for this evening—the sit down 70’s product of Michelle by the Beatles was edgy and altering, and for that I am thankful. Opening the evening was Anthony Snape, who played himself a nice acoustic sound with a crooners vocals to compliment, a nice billing indeed.

Thanks to Gina for making it possible.

In a Worlds Fare Jar

Did a sandwich Fill in today, one hour at the beginning of my show and one hour after my show normally ends…

It was a 4 hour endeavor that at times had me wondering where it was heading next…

Africa/Brasil- Louie Vega
La Vicomte- SOEL
Mama- Baku
Charnaga E 350- the Spam All Stars
Sympathy for the Devil/El Cielo-Horacio Hernandez,Robby Ameen w/Ruben Blades
Jardin de la Verdad- Cuban Cowboys
La Temperatura- Ozomatli
**Conversation with Sara Wasserman**
Somehow Forever- Sara Wasserman
Blue Eyed Soul- Diane Durrett
VooDoo Woman- the NRG Band (live)
Senie Zelie- Angelique Kidjo (live)
Hound Dog- Macy Gray (live)
Fish in the Dish- Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
Honey Bee- Lucinda Williams
Wannamama- Pop Levi
Make you Crazy- Brett Dennen w/Femi Kuti
What’d I Say- Roy Orbison (live)
Take a Ride- George Soule
How Come People act like that- Tommy Talton
Hook Line and Sinker- ScrapOmatic
I’m Tore Down- John Hammond & G Love
Hey Baby- Bo Diddley
Musicology- Prince
Whole Lotta Lovin-Lenny Kravitz/Rebirth Brass Band/Trombone Shorty/Pee Wee Ellis/Fred Wesley/Maceo Parker
American Woman- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (live Jazz Fest 08)
Joytime Radio- the Pimps of Joytime
all About us- the Brazilian Girls
Mosquito Coast 94-96- Mr Gone
Domingo- Mad Juana
Revolution Avenue- Mad Juana
Luvin’ Blume- Sex Mob
Living for your Love- Dayton Flic
Heads Up- Jamal Thomas
**Conversation w/Mr Jamal Thomas**
Money- Jamal Thomas
Take your Time- the SOS Band
Speed Reading- Maceo Parker
What a Wonderful World- Maceo Parker
All One Tribe- Skeebo Knight
Breezeworld- the Poogie Bell Band
Thunder- SMV
I get High-Porter/Batiste/Stolz (live)
All Apologies- Herbie Hancock
Bogge Shewa- Abiyou Solomon
Dark Shades of Blue- Xavier Rudd
Hungry Ghosts- Club d’Elf
Talk to me- DJ VAdim w/Sena
ash- EOTO
the Revenge of the Black Widow- the VooDoo Organist
one Love Lets Celebrate-Perry Parrell’s Satellite Party

Mama Kia & Casa de Milagros

Our good friend and songstress Sara Wasserman recently took off from her normal (yeah, whatever that is) world and set off for Puru to spend time and learn from a group of special people at Casa de Milagros. Casa de Milagros (Home of Miracles) is a children’s home in the Sacred Valley near historic Machu Picchu, Peru. It was founded by the Chandler Sky Foundation to heal the mind, body and spirit of many of the thousands of orphaned and abandoned children living in poverty on the streets of Cusco, Peru and surrounding towns. Over 3,500 children live on the streets of Cusco many abandoned by families that could not feed them. Malnutrition, infrequent bathing, and inadequate care cause widespread health problems including skin infections, bronchitis, tuberculosis, rickets, and chronic intestinal infections. But the loneliness and fear experienced by these children forced to live on the street alone are the most painful afflictions of all. in this conversation with Sara we learn what a typical day for the children is like and just what inspiration she walked away with from this amazing experience. The Chandler Sky Foundation aims not only to heal the street children, but to educate them so that they may be able to return to their communities equipped with the skills and the spirit to heal the area’s economy. In addition to saving the lives of many needy children, the Foundation helps to conserve one of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests. Through teaching children methods of farming that allow the land to be used over and over again, there will be a decreased need for migration into the precious rainforest reserves that we, as a planet, need for survival. These programs, developed from a progressive global consciousness, place the Casa de Milagros in a category of its own. To help raise awareness and monies for these children, Sara is organizing a benefit in her home town of Mill Vally California with 100% of th efunds heading to Mama Kia….thusfar (and we’ll keep you updated, Sara has confirmations from her father Rob Wasserman , Bob Weir and Jay Lane many other fantastic people will follow in their footsteps so stay tuned.

Listen to Sara tell us more about it all right here.

Lovely Chara & Mama Kia (in the hat)…creator of the orphanage.