Lady Wray Comes To Play Circle At Wisconsin Union Theater

Like most artists, Nicole Wray’s life in music has always reflected her real life. As a fifteen-year-old in Virginia, she auditioned for Missy Elliot in her mother’s home. Even then, with her voice so full and arresting—Missy signed her on the spot. Later, in 1998, merely two years after that tryout, she had a debut solo album and a single that smashed up radio and TV, quickly going gold. But back then—young and unsure—Nicole was essentially following someone else’s lead, signing the lyrics they wrote for her and in the way they wanted them sung. Fast forward to now, after a few fits and starts with other labels and projects, and you’ll find a very different Nicole Wray. Today, she’s a mother, a wife, and living for herself and her family. So naturally, this evolution followed into her music: she sings how she wants to, expertly writing lyrics for herself and others. To hear her tell it, it’s these things—and most importantly, an unflinching self-belief that help lead a young and raw Virginian singer named Nicole to become Lady Wray. The most recent step for Lady Wray is her latest album, released on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records. Called ‘Piece Of Me’, the record is on the one hand—a continuation, picking up where Lady Wray and label co-owner/producer Leon Michels left off with her project Queen Alone. But ‘Piece Of Me’ is also a kind of homecoming for Lady Wray. That first record sonically showcased the dexterous range of Lady Wray’s voice and songwriting by leaning toward soul & R&B with tinges of hip-hop. On Piece of Me, it’s still R&B with a heavy dose of soul, but you’ll hear boom-bap-smacked drums and chunky basslines front-and-center, all creating a head-noddingly dense backdrop for Lady Wray to traverse, much like the era in which she was first introduced to us. In some ways, Piece of Me is like a Big-Crown-ification of late 90s R&B and Lady Wray is right at home.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Nicole ahead of the Lady Wray event that is going to provide a much needed soul-lift to the Play Circle at the Wisconsin Union Theater on February 29th. I have long been a fan of Nicole’s powerful and commanding voice. She can control time with this talent. We get to hear from her what she intends to brinG to Madison for a special and intimate evening. We talk heavily about the creation of her album ‘Piece Of Me’ and her wonderful relationship with her label, her family, Big Crown Records, and how much both her ancestors and her in-her-belly baby helped form, shape and gave strength to her. We chat about label mate Suprise Chef‘s remix of one of her tunes and it is a joy to hear her give props to anyone who has ever touched any piece of her project. We talk about late Summer 2024 and a dream event to be, we pinched ourselves and yep it’s still true, and to wrap up the fun time we had toGether, Nicole build a setlist of vocal phenoms, and she sure does slide right in there nicely.

Talisk Brings The Energy To Stoughton Opera House

One of the most talked-about folk bands of the 21st century, Talisk have been tearing apart stereotypes and redefining the genre for almost a decade. With over fifteen million streams and ten thousand albums sold worldwide, and sell out shows across five continents – from Paris to New York, London to Tokyo, Glasgow to Vancouver – alongside headline appearances at major festivals across the world, the Scottish trio have amassed a global, die-hard following. I am one of them. Never afraid to push musical boundaries, or test the live production capabilities of just three people, which I am sure is part of the reason why. Wielding instruments that have rarely seen the likes of their music, Mohsen Amini (concertina), Benedict Morris (violin) and Charlie Galloway (guitar) have stacked up major awards for their explosively energetic sound – including five between BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Scotland, and two highly coveted BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. At New Year 2022 they played BBC One’s Hogmanay show to a television audience in excess of one million, and – as the only folk act alongside pop headliners – quickly amassed a vast, mainstream audience that continues to propel the group to some of their largest live shows to date. Headlining Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland Ballroom in 2024 – during Europe’s largest winter festival, the legendary Celtic Connections…Talisk’s upward motion remains a positive force to be shared.

I had the pleasure of hanging out a bit with Mohsen Amini ahead of Talisk making their way to the Stoughton Opera House on February 17th. We get deep into the live scene that seems to really be the wheelhouse for this power trio. The energy shared and transferred is magical and brinGs people together with such ease. We also make it a point to talk about a new track, ‘Maverick’ and how they tried to bring that live setting feeling into this track, such an hefty goal, but after hearing and airing, perhaps they have gotten close. We talk about how Talisk and it variety of members over the years have come to make music and how this trio, were born to play as one. Mohsen as a great story wen asked if anyone as ever run away form him when he busts out his concertina. Don’t thumb-wrestle this guy!! You can tell wen chatting with Mohsen just why people may be attracted to this guy, this band – real feeling-based people making music that is meant to unite.

Eddie 9V To Charge Up Madison

All his life, Eddie 9V has been acting on instinct. Aged just 15, this old-soul artist turned away from the path of college & jobs to burst all guns blazing onto the roots & blues club circuit of his native Atlanta, Georgia. Eddie 9V specializes in the sounds of the 1960s: he punctuates this sound with live shows that keep people talking. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Eddie 9V (born Brooks Mason in 1996) started playing local blues clubs when he was just 15 years old. Drawn to older blues & soul records, along with such Atlanta players as Mr. Sean Costello, he found a musical partner in his brother Lane Kelly. The pair played a lot of music toGether, especially focused in the blues. After some of these early projects wound down and looking for a place to channel his love for the blues and soul music, Brooks Mason reinvented himself as Eddie 9V, playing most of the instruments on Left My Soul in Memphis, a 2019 debut album recorded in large part in Lane’s bedroom. Within time, Eddie 9V caught the attention of Ruf Records and that contract gave the singer/guitarist the opportunity to hire local blues musicians for ‘Little Black Flies’, which the label released in 2021; the record was produced by Lane Kelly. Eddie 9V headed to the famed Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia to cut his next album. The aptly titled ‘Capricorn’, which was again produced by Kelly, which dropped in early 2023.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Eddie 9V ahead of his February 18th event at The Bur Oak here in Madison. After digging into his catalog over the years, what I always thouGht was ‘this kid has it’, and I’d bet his live shows are something else. The chance in Madison to be proven correct is here and Eddie and I get into what a live event is like once that first note is struck. We dive into the seed to flower of his latest release on Ruf Records, ‘Capricorn’ and how to me sounds like a dream come true time in Macon, GA pitting it together. Eddie and I have more than one person in common when it comes to some of our earlier years of ears, Mr. Sean Costello is one of them so we get into what it is about Sean that we both sorta felt. Before I let Eddie go, he choose one track (same track I’d have chosen) from ‘Capricorn’ and builds a sweet set list. You can thank me later after you catch this cat and his band out in the world live, it’s one of the somethings you are probably looking for.

Update on Lee Fields: Faithful Man – The Film

Mr. Lee Fields is a funk and soul legend, over fifty years in the making, and family to greenarrowradio. In this feature documentary, his journey through soul music history will take you from vinyl to virtual — and back again. A little over five years aGo, I had the chance to catch up with the folks putting this documentary together. That chat can be found here. Jessamyn Ansary and Joyce Mishaan had a specific target and goal in mind at that point to get this project way off the ground. After our conversation the first time, goals were met and onward and upward. Fast forward until now, after shopping the film, going through the change that is/was COVID, edits and more edits and eventually winning awards and garnishing the type of chatter a great subject and story do. As we sat down to talk this time around I could feel the extra energy within myself as looking to catch up must mean things are in great shape. As it turns out, the film just received great news with an offer for streaming distribution. With that comes new financial hurdles. So with the finish line hanging in the balance, Jessamyn and Joyce are reaching out to our/their amazing community for help getting this film to break the tape and out into the world! Last time, I truly believe greenarrowradio and its reach helped make that part of this dream come true. Come be part of this amazing journey and get the excited feeling I have in my SOUL. Once again there are all sorts of VERY cool premiums to commemorate your part in the success of this film.

Go HERE to see the list of ways you can help, info on a small set of people who assisted in the journey and did I mention ways you can help and cool premiums to take with you?

Here is the pre-sale link so you can get this film in your living room.

Heather The Jerk – Surreal Good Fun Exciting Tape – Tape

After what could have been a great Adult Swim album, “Cable Access TV” from 2021, Heather The Jerk (The Hussy & Proud Parents) is back with 4 new garage rock/punk super fun tracks. Heather the jerk is the solo project of Heather Sawyer based riGht here out of Madison, WI. After playing a few shows HTJ released a 4 song ep titled “The Rick Shitty Sessions” recorded by Rick Freuhling of local bands Fire Heads & Dumb Vision. In between now and then Heather played in a couple touring bands and was pretty busy with that. Fast forward several years and a pandemic later, Heather wrote a bunch of songs and decided to record them all as a full band this time around. Cable Access TV is the result of the recording sessions. Recorded entirely by Graham Hunt at their practice space this last fall, CATV also featured Graham, and friend Tyler Fassnacht on some guitar and bass help. Cable Access TV is the result of some breakups, a pandemic, and smoking up. Now she is back with “Surreal Good Fun Exciting Tape”. The tape is comprised of her and her BF Josh and out now (if physical is still sold out – the digital is not) from Italy’s Goodbye Boozy Records. It was fun to hear how this record came toGether for Heather, what Josh adds to her thang and what is happening on February 17th at the Crystal Corner Bar – what’s this, a birthday show for the Jerk herself….she nEEds that. Check out our catch up chat around the new music below.

Blue Note’s 85th Anniversary

85 years ago on January 6, 1939, a German-Jewish immigrant and passionate Jazz fan named Alfred Lion produced his first recording session in New York City founding what would go on to become the most iconic and longest-running Jazz label in the world. For 85 years Blue Note Records has represented The Finest In Jazz, tracing the entire history of the music from Hot Jazz, Boogie Woogie, and Swing, through Bebop, Hard Bop, Post-Bop, Soul Jazz, Avant-Garde, and Fusion, and—after being relaunched by Bruce Lundvall in 1984—has remained the leading label dedicated to documenting today’s vibrant and creatively thriving Jazz scene under the leadership of current President Don Was, who took the helm in 2012. A concert celebrating the 85th anniversary of the longest-running jazz label in the world, called Blue Note Records, will come to Madison, Wisconsin, on Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Wisconsin Union Theater’s (WUT’s) Jazz Series. The 90-minute Blue Note Records 85th Anniversary Tour event at Shannon Hall in Memorial Union will feature a collective of jazz stars that includes pianist and musical director Gerald Clayton, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, vibraphonist Joel Ross, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer. The collective’s tour performances around the country celebrate the label, which has a history that includes many music styles – including hot jazz and blues to cool jazz, bebop and fusion – and that built the bridge into today’s avant-garde jazz. “Blue Note has been such a wonderful home for the community for incredible musicians, for creativity for all these years,” Clayton said.

The visionary young voices of jazz have long been the lifeblood of Blue Note Records, and The Blue Note Quintet continues the tradition of rising stars of the roster joining forces to celebrate the label’s unparalleled legacy including Out of the Blue, Superblue, New Directions, The Blue Note 7, and The Blue Note All-Stars.

Mr. Gerald Clayton joined Blue Note in 2020 and has released two albums—Happening: Live At The Village Vanguard and Bells On Sand—as well as performing on Blue Note albums by Charles Lloyd, Ambrose Akinmusire, & Bill Frisell.

Mr. Kendrick Scott signed with Blue Note in 2015 and has released three albums for the label—We Are The Drum, A Wall Becomes A Bridge, and Corridors—and appeared on Blue Note albums by Terence Blanchard, Walter Smith III, & the Blue Note All-Stars.

Mr. Joel Ross came to Blue Note in 2019 with the release of KingMaker and has since released Who Am I? and The Parable Of The Poet with his latest album nublues due out in February 2024. He’s been featured on Blue Note albums by Makaya McCraven, Johnathan Blake, Joshua Redman, & Meshell Ndegeocello.

Mr. Immanuel Wilkins released his Blue Note debut Omega in 2020 followed by The 7th Hand in 2022. He is a member of Joel Ross Good Vibes & Johnathan Blake Pentad and was part of the Leonard Cohen tribute band Here It Is.

I had the honor of checking in quick with Mr. Clayton about this historic event and what someone in attendance will be in community with in Madison on January 26th at the Wisconsin Union Theater. We took a walk through how these artists will be working together as they play original tunes, some versions of Blue Note artists works and ‘surprises’ that will be welcoming individuals to feel this music. As good as the concept of this show sounds, I firmly believe this is a group that is poised to be discussed well after the fact as an event that united people with shared stories of records they used to spin and new music they are now going to seek. I would have been remiss not to talk a little about how spending time with and working with both Mr. Roy Hargrove & friend of the program Mr. Billy Childs added some new edges and ideas, as well as friendship. This is the kind of thing that will also be felt here in Madison on the 26th. Digg.

Whatsup With Cee Knowledge

Cee Knowledge, better known as Doodlebug of the Grammy winning hip-hop jazzified topic spittin’ trio Digable Planets, adopted the moniker Cee Knowledge while studying at Howard University. Cee-Know grew up in a city full of musical traditions from the cosmic jazz of the Sun Ra Arkestra to the new Philly soul of Bilal and Musiq Soulchild and that ground-breaking hip-hop force that is The Roots and Eve. He also forged that Cosmic Funk Orchestra combining and united jazz & hip hop artists from Delaware & Philadelphia. We all know about the genre-crossing star falling to Earth sounds of Digable Planets but that vision didn’t stop when DP stopped making music for some time, that same energy brought creative forces like Roy Ayers, Sun Ra Arkestra & friend of the proGram, Ladybug Mecca toGether to remix some CFO tracks. A winner of the NAACP image aways and a Sony Innovators award. I call him a friend.

I had the chance to set up a long overdue hanG with Cee recently to go over so many things that have been happening. First off we touch on why it was I saw my Digable Planets fam on my TV?! CBS hosted a Grammy salute to 50 years of Hip Hop and so many of the legends were there to honor, be honored and help build off the past. We got a chance to talk about the music and the feels of then and now of 30 years of their ‘Reachin” album. We both were astonished at how some of the ‘topical’ talk of then is still relevant today, and out on tour, how the crowds are filling up the spaces with diversity of all peoples’ is represented. One of the main reasons I wanted to catch up w/Cee this time around was his dippin’ his toe into Co-authorship on a graphic novel entitled: The Epic of the Heaven and Earth Association. We go from how this idea kinda developed with his love of comics, developed over time and is now almost to the point of another edition. There’s also a podcast and you can subscribe here. Cee details how the view from the lens in this podcast is not from the humans on Earth as we know them. Get heavy with this. of course our time toGether would not be complete without talking NBA hoops, especially where our rival teams are currently sitting in the division and who is ballin’ that we respect. Always a classic(ish) time with Cee & G.

Texas Scratch

Blues-rock band Texas Scratch released its new self-titled album on Quarto Valley Records. Texas Scratch is made up of three born-and-bred Texas guitarists, Jim Suhler from Dallas, Buddy Whittington from Fort Worth & Vince Converse from Houston. This mighty threesome of big dog guitar slingers takes no prisoners when it comes to red-hot guitar performances, both live and in-studio. This trio of six-string guitar beasts are accompanied on the album by drummer Jeff Simon and bassist Nathaniel Peterson. Their combined efforts have resulted in a debut album consisting of fiery, passionate guitar licks everywhere you turn, soaked in the blues and kicked in the ass by the blues-rock they all love to play. Some of the song titles on the album alone lets the listener know what they are in for – What the Devil Loves, Trip Hammer, Showdown and Louisiana Cock Fight – give a few clues as to what to expect musically. But the album is far from just a six-string shootout or shredding contest between top gun guitarists; the 9 total songs on the album feature 7 original songs written by a combination of Suhler, Whittington & Converse with killer arrangements, passionate vocals, tight ensemble playing, & clever lyrics. Suhler’s & Simon’s day jobs are longtime members of George Thorogood and the Destroyers,in fact, Mr. Simon is an original member of The Destroyers (he co-founded the band with Thorogood in 1973) and Suhler has been a Destroyer since 1999. Suhler is also a founding member of the band Monkey Beat since 1991. Whittington recorded/toured with blues legend John Mayall for 15 years before heading off to an acclaimed solo recording/touring career in 2008 that continues to this day. Converse made his bones with heavy blues-rock power trio Sunset Heights, touring with acts like Johnny Winter, Peter Green, Fats Domino, & Kenny Wayne Shepherd. A devoted blues musician, he now kicks ass with his band, Vince Converse and Big Brother. And Nathaniel Peterson was a member of Savoy Brown. For one reason or another through the years this HOTT blues album never got to see the light of day. That didn’t stop the stories from spreading throughout the music world about what a tremendous album it was. Recorded in October 2009, the album’s release took 14 long years to finally see the light of day as the musicians initially got together in New Jersey to jam and lay down each other’s tracks at the legendary Showplace Studios in Dover, NJ. The album was recorded in four days and produced by the late, great Ben Elliott.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Jim Suhler to get down and dirty into the new self titled album from Texas Scratch. We talk about songwriting and songs, dissect a couple of tracks including ‘I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good, which he co-wrote with Tom Hambridge. We discussed the choices of stretching out tunes in a live setting and sometimes not. It is clear where some of the influences of this music seem to come from, we do mention some of the pivotal music that helped shape Texas Scratch and most obviously, ZZ Top. Jim even shares an incredible tale of how Billy F. Gibbons officiated his wedding! By the end of the chat, I was very interested to hear what tune from the new record he would chose to build a setlist around and what other tunes/artists he’d combine to build that set. Always insightful and this was no less. At the time of this call, the Dallas Cowboys & Green Bay Packers had yet to play their playoff game, we share a quick ‘good luck’ to each other, and he once again, has a story of meeting some leGends of the game down in big D.

Feeling Timeless With Adam Rudolph’s Hu Vibrational

Hu Vibrational‘s 5th album ‘Timeless’ offers up 9 tracks of gorgeously rich & densely textured music. The spiritually intoxicating grooves of Hu Vibrational are the brainchild of Adam Rudolph, who calls them “Boonghee Music” — a cascade of world-inspired beats mixed with jazz, hip-hop & electronica. The result is music that thrives on the balance of simultaneously reaching backwards & forwards in time. While ‘Timeless’ finds Adam playing most of the instruments, he is joined on several tracks by some of his longtime associates: Norwegian guitar sound painter Eivind Aarset, drummer Hamid Drake, and several members of his Go: Organic Orchestra. Moroccan percussionist Brahim Fribgane and North Indian performers Neel Murgai (sitar) and Sameer Gupta (tabla) bring unique sounds that Rudolph weaves into the compositional fabric. Hu Vibrational combines world music with electronica and improvised jazz to create music that is all encompassing with the sketchbook of new feelings being drawn out in real time. Adam employs his “organic” orchestrations, arrangements, and electronic processing to shape the compositions, he works with his musicians in his “sonic mandala” concept to build layers of percussion, electronics & otherworldly sounds. Beats are the core, and influences range far and wide, yet these influences only provide a foundation. This audiophile LP was beautifully mixed and mastered by James Dellatacoma, Bill Laswell’s (and Rudolph’s) longtime engineer at Laswell’s Orange Studio. The gatefold album opens onto nine gorgeous pen and watercolor paintings by Nancy Jackson that, like the art of Robert Crumb, are both humorous and deeply philosophical. It is the second time Rudolph and his wife Nancy have collaborated, the first being the 1995 book and CD release The Dreamer, an opera inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy.” Besides leading his own ensembles, Go: Organic Orchestra & Moving Pictures, Adam may be known for his work over the last 4+ decades with innovators such as Yusef Lateef, Don Cherry, Jon Hassel, & Pharaoh Sanders among others. Maestro Rudolph was hailed by the New York times as “an innovator in World Music” and indeed his experience is long and varied; In 1978 he co-founded, with Foday Musa Suso, the Mandingo Griot Society, one of the first groups to combine African and American music and in 1988 he recorded the first fusion of American and Moroccan Gnawa music with sintir player Hassan Hakmoun. His creative methodology and philosophy has been outlined in two books, “Pure Rhythm” (2006) & “Sonic Elements” (2022). The compositional concepts are applied in all his creative output: from his through composed string quartets to his newest Hu Vibrational release. Intuition & Inspiration. I am proud to get it and call him family.

BOONGHEE MUSIC 5 Meta Records 2023

Compositions, organic orchestrations, arrangements, and electronic processing by Adam Rudolph

Published by Migration Music BMI
Recorded by James Dellatacoma at Orange Sound Studio and Adam Rudolph at Clear Lake Studio, New Jersey
Mixed and mastered by James Dellatacoma
Art and words/poetry by Nancy Jackson
Design by Sylvain Leroux

Produced by Adam Rudolph assisted by Mas Yamagata & Carlos Nino

Adam Rudolph – keyboards, thumb pianos, marimbula, cajon, mbuti harp, mouth bow, vocal, slit drums, udu drums, wooden and bamboo flutes, double reeds, gongs, kudu horn, zither, caxixi, kongos, tarija, gankogoui, bells, percussion

Alexis Marcelo – fender rhodes, organ (Hittin, Proto Zoa Gogo)
Brahim Fribgane – tarija (Oceanic)
Damon Banks – bass (Hittin, Proto Zoa Gogo)
Eivind Aarset – guitar and electronics (Serpentine,Timeless, Honey Honey, Proto Zoa Gogo, Psychic)
Hamid Drake – drum set (Space, Oceanic, Hittin, Jammin, Proto Zoa Gogo)
Harris Eisenstadt – bata (Hittin, Timeless)
Jan Bang – sampling (Timeless, Honey Honey, Psychic)
Kaoru Watanabe – noh kan flute (Proto Zoa Gogo)
Marco Cappelli – guitar (Hittin)
Munyungo Jackson – tambourine, shekere (Oceanic)
Neel Murgai – sitar (Hittin)
Sameer Gupta – tabla (Space, Timeless)

It’s always a special time for me when I get to talk music and art with Adam. We dive deep into how this offering “Timeless” took form and some of the participants spaces that are filled. We also find out a little bit about the title track but also it is a peek into most of the tracks I think on the record. Speaking of vinyl, we talk about the art his wife shared for this album, and the relationships the music helps to form and the importance of creative listening as an activity. My words here cannot come close to the ebb and flows of our conversation(s), and this one is no different. At the end of the day, this time it is centered around Hu Vibrational’s new album, but all of the things Adam touches offer insight into so much, including ourselves.

Awaiting The Drip

The middle part of this week’s proGram knew it would, but just when was to be a surprise.

Thunder- C’ammafunk
The Last Dance (Bang Pow Zoom And The Whole Nine)- Prince & NPG
Something Funky (This House Comes) [Band Version]- Prince & NPG

Shame- Joel Culpepper
***pre-recorded conversation with Joel Culpepper***
Happiness Is Only A Few Miles Away (Intro)- Joel Culpepper
It’s Just A Broken Heart- Joel Culpepper

Revolutionary Act- Carvalho
Snow Day- The Holiday Hustle Club Ft. Claire Campbell

Georgia On My Mind- Stephen Marley
Thanks We Get (Do Fi Dem)- Stephen Marley Ft. Buju Banton
American Boy- Daymé Arocena
Micro Wave + House Band- Johanna Juhola
Lethe- The Maenads

Walking The Miles With Joel Culpepper

In the Middle pf November 2023, Joel Culpepper released his new EP ‘Happiness Is Only A Few Miles Away’ via Beyond The Groove. This five-track EP was produced by his good bud Tom Misch, and is his first new music since the release of his highly acclaimed and epic 2021 debut album Sgt Culpepper. The creation of the new EP began while Joel was on tour with Tom last year. The two had originally become friends after Tom heard a song of Joel’s ‘Afraid To Be King’ that he loved. As they toured across continents together last year they had some studio time and ‘Free’ was the first track they recorded with legendary American soul artist Eddie Chacon (of Charles & Eddie) in L.A. Most of the EP was recorded at Tom’s home studio as well as Joel’s friend’s studio in Perry Vale and Jimmy Napes Studio in North London. It came at a time where Joel found himself open to trying out and connecting to new things, finding inspiration in perhaps unexpected places. The songs here continue to be that retro-soul sound we are used to hearing, but it feels like there’s more of an ease, more feeling being or trying to be understood. There’s a lot of promise in the delivery of these tunes, hope and the knowing that there’s some healing around the corner, wherever that corner may be.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Joel Culpepper recently to dive head first into the new EP. We talked about how the project got lifted up off the ground and how Tom decided that he should just produce the new music. We spend a little time talking about the track “Free” featuring both Tom Misch and Eddie Chancon and how it went from that nothing to something special. Listening! Working with and being with one of your pals can allow you to open up to trying new things…and that is what happened with these two. We get into where some of the unexpected places are that took him out of his ‘comfort zone’ and how allowing Mother Nature in also was a door to finding more meaning and ways to look at things. We talk about his recent time playing to the sold out headline show at London’s The Lower Third at the end of November and how the give and take of the people really took on a life of its own, seems like everyone was ready. And, well…Joel builds a setlist around one of the tracks off the new EP and this one too will surprise.

Joel by Joth Shakerley

The Fighter By J.Wilms

GA based multi-instrumentalist J. Wilms is releasing his 3rd album as a singer/songwriter. ‘The Fighter was recorded, mixed, and mastered summer of 2023 by Kyle Spence at RJS in Athens, GA, produced by Wilms & Spence and will be released on 12” LP vinyl, as a digital download via Bandcamp and through streaming platforms from Cart/Horse Records on December 8th. After years as a much in-demand session musician in New York, Wilms stepped away from the grind of the city in 2020 during the beginning of the COVID lockdown and moved back to his hometown of Atlanta. There he returned his focus to stripped-down, honest playing & singing, writing songs that conveyed plainspoken but eloquent stories. J. was joined in Athens, GA’s RJS studios with by Nick Robbins bass & Bo Bedingfield drums, Guest musicians included Julia Haltigan on vocals on “Born to Die,” “I’ll Start Tomorrow,” & “Stopping on a Dime” and David “Smoota” Smith on trombone on “Props”. Jeremy “J” Wilms has had a long and varied career. He received his Bachelor of Music from Georgia State University and his Master of Music from CUNY Queens College, NYC. Jeremy’s jammed with Ornette Coleman at his loft and played Broadway revues at retirement communities in New Jersey (sometimes over the same weekend!) He was briefly in Chico Hamilton’s band playing guitar and played bass on Broadway in the musical Fela!. During the tour for Fela!, Wilms performed with Patti LaBelle and played with Fela Kuti’s son Femi at venues around the world including the Shrine in Lagos. He’s recorded with artists as diverse as Bebel Gilberto, Beyoncé, TV On The Radio, and many others. He has been a guitarist in the orchestra for MacArthur Fellowship winner Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History Of Popular Music as well as the bassist on ABC Network’s The Gong Show. He was the arranger and musical director for The Heathens and other acts based at the fabled McKittrick Hotel in Manhattan, home of “Sleep No More” immersive show. Wilms arranged strings and brass for songs on Run the Jewels’ RTJ 4 and Tim Fojahn’s I Dreamed a Dream. Jeremy is still busy working as a sideman in both NYC and ATL, scoring for film and other media, and teaching. Wilms also releases instrumental music as Jeremy Wilms and is the leader of the metal/prog band NOMOTO.

I want to thank Jeremy for finding some time to chat. We went through the part of life that brought the songs of “The Fighter” to life. Seed to flower was only a part of that discussion. We get into the who and the path of a few wheres and the challenges of a time of biG change. The reflection I hear on these songs has my face staring back at me in the ponds on the walk. We find out how our friend Smoota becomes a part of J.’s life and he shares a little bit about several key moments in his career – and there are some interesting words shared, especially when talking about the time shared with Mr. Chico Hamilton. We get into a nice discussion about how he is able to play so well in all kinds of sandboxes of sound and how that led him to folks like Smoota, Kendra Morris and Rev. Vince as well as the amazing names mentioned above.

Allison Miller Reminds There’s Rivers In Our Veins

A lauded drummer who’s mastered a vast array of musical settings, from guesting on late night TV, keeping time for some of today’s most beloved singer-songwriters, and being a renowned bandleader/composer in her own right, Allison Miller is always at the heart of the music. Her latest album, Rivers In Our Veins ( out now on Royal Potato Family), is a 12-song cycle embracing the concept of flow and renewal, and dedicated to our nation’s crucial rivers, watersheds and the organizations devoted to reviving and protecting them. Commissioned by Mid Atlantic Arts Organization & Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Rivers In Our Veins is the studio manifestation of an ambitious live multimedia production with original music composed by Miller featuring a deeply telepathic cast of improvisers, as well as, amazing tap & contemporary dancers. Rivers In Our Veins spotlights Allison Miller alongside longtime collaborators, including violinist Jenny Scheinman, Ben Goldberg on contra-alto and Bb clarinets, pianist Carmen Staaf, trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and tap dancers Claudia Rahardjanoto, Michelle Dorrance, Elizabeth Burke, Byron Tittle, & Orlando Hernández. This new record draws inspiration from what acclaimed writer Rebecca Solnit calls “human geography.” It’s a perspective that encompasses indigenous communities who depend on rivers and the vital role waterways play for survival throughout America’s often torrid history of forced migration for marginalized people, as well as the conservation movement dedicated to reclaiming historic rivers from pollution. Miller culls inspiration from the cultural histories of five East Coast rivers that have been polluted nearly beyond repair through industrialism and commercialism, she focuses on the James, Delaware, Potomac, Hudson, and Susquehanna.

I had the complete pleasure of chatting it up with Allison Miller about this new project. I had caught her set at the Detroit Jazz Festival back in September and had some questions from my eyes and ears on the live show. We also go seed to flower on how this project took over, the waterways she focused on and the dreams of clean waters globally is certainly something her and I have in common. The one things that stood, well it did not stand still…out was the addition of the tap dancers both in the live performance and on the album. We got into the meaning, the connection and the talent of those tapping their ways into my ears. Of course, after talking music, water and tap-dancing with Allison, it felt appropriate for her to build a setlist in real-time if I were to give her the studio. I look forward to the day, when Allison and I and all the rest of us can listen to the sounds of the clean, safe riverways, wherever we may place our shoes on the beachy sand.

Carrying The Boombox With Mocean Worker

MOWO! INC presents ‘BOOMBOX’, the long awaited new album by Mocean Worker, dropped on out October 27th. An extremely funky, bass-driven mix of breakbeats, electroswing & jazz. Mocean Worker, a.k.a. Adam Dorn, has spent the last two decades galvanizing the sounds of electronic, jazz, soul, & funk to produce a singular and unmistakable style. Now, after an eight-year release hiatus, he returns with his tenth LP, ‘BOOMBOX’: a high-energy, deeply reverential, danceable, and genre-rejecting project that marks a fresh chapter in Mocean Worker’s acclaimed discography. Guided by the inspiration of Stevie Wonder, Wayne Shorter, The Gap Band, and Motown sensibilities, Dorn sees BOOMBOX as as stylistic arrival. Dorn’s bass playing is the heart and soul of the album. While his career originated with his virtuosic bass playing, he opted not to play on his own records for his first eight albums—he focused on hyper-detailed mini-sampling, digital production, & synthesizers. But now, bass hooks take center stage in this new record’s melodies, with a careful intention to avoid the overwrought cliche of the bass solo. After spending the last decade focused on composing for films & television, he reached a revelation about his own creative practice. The 12 tracks poured out of him in less than three weeks time, christening his new studio space in the woods of New York state. The boombox is equal parts metaphorical and material. Along with creating beats, a boombox allows blasting music for a party. Through recent years of societal upheaval, mass crises, and personal grief, Dorn offers a collection of upbeat tracks, but which never sacrifice substance. “BOOMBOX” is a metaphor for partying, community, and gathering. This is about people gathering and enjoying something” Many of the songs are tributes to Dorn’s personal friends, including the late Hal Willner and Gerald Lee, and his musical heroes like Wayne Shorter and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Above all, ‘BOOMBOX’ epitomizes the musical philosophy of Mocean Worker — it is at once an elegy to art and artists of a bygone era and an upbeat celebration of the sound of the present.

I had a great time hanGing out and talking this new music (and music in general) with Adam. I have been someone who has felt so much of what he been a part of over the years that it felt so right to be talking about this project. We go after the making of ‘BOOMBOX’ – with the passion that came with it. The image you see on the cover has a story, it includes his famous father and is something that as you hear it come out of Adam’s mouth, you can feel how special it is. The ability to apply some ‘back then’ into anything new where it actually fits in, is a gift that I dig, and anytime you hear a Mocean Worker piece, you’ll hear the expertise/knowledge getting dropped right where it needs to be. The bass – getting back to where it all started and having that bass anchor run the show most of the time, while honoring so many spirits that came before, this is another blending that enhances this new album deeply. We talk about album covers, as I noticed Adam has been reminiscing with some of his father’s collections cover art and I remembers swimming in the depth of many of those, and there’s a set list built. This is as close to two good buddies getting together at a record club discussing what’s what that I have been a part of – natural and fluid and I think that’s the reason why this new music feels me as much as I feel it. How often does Fonzie AND Mr. Jefferson get brought up in an interview???

Meeting At The Four Directions With Dirtwire

Dirtwire stands poised between ancient Mother Earth and modern technology, a blend of ethnomusicology and the psychedelic trance state, gut-bucket delta blues and what the band variously dubs “back-porch space cowboy blues, swamptronica, & electro-twang.” It’s a sound informed by Dirtwire’s travels & performances around the globe, where East meets West and North joins South. From the favelas in Brazil, Femi Kuti’s Shrine in Lagos, Tokyo’s bluegrass clubs, Ayahuasca ceremonies in Central America, Gamelan performances in Bali, desert festivals in the Australian Outback, and the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s modernized new capital Astana, the band spreads its message by building bridges across musical cultures in their own unique way. Dirtwire plays an array of instruments both ancient and modern, including West African kamale ngonis, jaw harps, space fiddles, whamola basses, Rickenbacher electric 12 string guitars, bowed Banjos and mouth harps from around the globe, all interwoven into modern laptop beat creation. Hailing from the underground west coast electronic bass music scene Dirtwire finds itself at the forefront of experimental electronic music production mixing in their wide array of world instruments with sampled beats & 808’s. Dirtwire’s live shows are a communal psychedelic journey, ranging from down home boot stomping get downs, to bass & blues electronic mashups, to ethereal cinematic beat driven soundscapes. Woven into each is the exploration of where live instruments meet computer production, and where tradition meets experimentation. This is the spot within thin spaces we seek sometimes.

I had the pleasure to share some energy with Evan Fraser & Mark Reveley of Dirtwire ahead of the November 17trh event in Madison at the High Noon Saloon as part of their The Four Directions tour. We talk about what the soup of a live Dirtwire event will be like in 2023. They set some goals for their live events and we discuss what those look and sound like as well as where they stretch during a set while fitting in some of the new tunes and how they have been exploring the journey of a continuous show, while dynamically moving through spaces. Those spaces are enhanced with the assistances of the global instrumentation and Americana folk world “swamptroinca’ elements that are combined. The new EP “The Four Directions” will be out November 10th and we get into the new grooves, we get deeper into the new track “Wanderer”and talk about both the visual side (David Satori’s Mind) and the musical bits as well. These artists are combining the world of then and there with the future of technology and the redefining the limits of where we are going and how we can get there. The key is they are building a foundation of all us us being invited to do it toGether. They tease all of our senses with many a surprise – keep your eyes and minds open for some Dirtwire in your world.

Where We Are Gathered by Opium Moon

Twice-nominated Grammy winners Opium Moon create sensuous, enchanting soundscapes that evoke ancient worlds while remaining thoroughly contemporary. Elegant yet deeply emotional, their distinctive sound draws upon the diverse backgrounds of its members: Iranian santoor master Hamid Saeidi, innovative Israeli bassist Itai Disraeli, sought-after American percussionist M.B. Gordy, & virtuosic Canadian-American violinist Lili Haydn. With original compositions that meld sacred/classical traditions of East & West with trance-inducing grooves, the result is at times both stately & rapturous, a sultry & passionate music that seems to emanate from a deep wellspring.

Toronto-born violinist Lili Haydn‘s 6 solo albums have been NPR favorites (“Heifetz meets Hendrix”), and her collaborations with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Sting, Roger Waters, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, George Clinton’s P-Funk Allstars, Hans Zimmer, and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are legendary, including performances at Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Opera House, and the Hollywood Bowl. She is also a distinguished film/TV composer with 18 feature films, Netflix’s hit show Ginny & Georgia, and various awards to her credit. Her work has been featured in more than 50 films. A dedicated social activist with a political science degree from Brown University, Lili has done 4 TED presentations, including one with Opium Moon in Mumbai, India, and performs regularly at benefits for such organizations as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, & The Feminist Majority.

Tehran native Hamid Saeidi studied santoor in the Radiff system of Persian classical music with Iran’s famous teacher Madjid Kiani, then attended The Iranian Academy of the Arts, studying composition under the music masters Farhad Fakhredini & Vartan Sahakian. Hamid has been acclaimed for his performances around the world, including his productions at Royce Hall and the Kodak Theatre.
He has scored over 30 films, TV programs, dance and theatrical presentations, receiving awards at the Beirut Film Festival in 2002, the Iran TV festival in 2002, 2004 and 2007, and at Iran’s Society of Critics of Theatre in 2005. In recognition of his work, The Farhang Foundation has commissioned his original compositions for their Nowruz celebrations.

Itai Disraeli was raised in one of Israel’s oldest kibbutz communities, the Mishmar-Ha’Emeq near Nazareth, co-founded by his grandfather in the 1920s. It was among the utopian social experiments that fostered a just, peaceful life of sharing and tolerance, but in his youth Itai lived under the constant specter of war; it was during the Yom Kippur war that he taught himself to play bass in a bomb shelter. An acclaimed, virtuosic bassist & composer, he co-founded the genre-bending band Maetar and has played with Jackson Browne, Larry Coryell, & Nishat Khan, among others. He founded and runs the acclaimed music program at Wildwood School. His music has been licensed for TV & film, and he is active with humanitarian and peace organizations, believing that music has the power to heal & connect.

Percussionist M.B. Gordy has played with such diverse artists as Beck, Frank Zappa, Michael Buble, Green Day, The Doobie Brothers, Josh Groban, Bill Withers, Guns and Roses, Neil Diamond, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, & The National Symphony, as well as his recent work for Adele, Childish Gambino, The Who, & Juanes. With an M.A. from California Institute of the Arts and intensive study of ethnic percussion, he has worked with producers Peter Asher, Don Was, & Rob Cavallo, to name a few. His groove has been heard in over 300 top box office films, including the Harry Potter series, Frozen, Batman, Superman, American Sniper, Transformers, & the X-Men series. His work is also ubiquitous on television, including Mad Men, The Mentalist, The Tonight Show, Battlestar Galactica, Good Morning America, and much more.

I had the chance to catch up with Lili, Itai & M.B. of Opium Moon to dive deep into the new album “Where We Are Gathered”. As in above, each discusses their feeling about the album, the feelings it brings out and was brought to the collection of grooves. I too share some of my thouGhts as I spent a whole lot of time letting these tracks wash over me and do their thang. This record bursts with energy and passion, the pieces to this whole excel and shine like a light unknown and as another step into the future, there are collaborations and other voices added into the worldly mosaic. Our mutual sound grabber, Ramin Sakurai of my guilty pleasure, Supreme Beings of Leisure is one we highlight, as I can happily feel the complement he adds. This album is a healer, a uniter and hopefully more than a dream-like feeling, but a movement forward, together, as only music can do.

Heavenly Cream With Malcolm Bruce

Composer, singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Bruce has toured, performed, recorded and appeared on records with some of the biggest names in music including Little Richard, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Dr John, Steve Cropper, Joe Satriani, Joe Bonamassa, Bill Ward & Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who, Jeff Beck), Leslie West & Corky Laing (Mountain), Tony Butler & Mark Brzezicki (Big Country) and his father, the late Jack Bruce of Cream. Malcolm curated a tribute to his father in October 2016 alongside Pete Brown (Cream lyricist) at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire and performed with legends such as Lulu, Eddi Reader, Maggie Reilly, Paul Young, Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Dennis Chambers (Santana, Parliament / Funkadelic), Gary Husband (Level 42, John McLaughlin), David Sancious (Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Stanley Clarke) & Ginger Baker (Cream). He released his album ‘Salvation’ in 2017, a collection of 10 songs recorded at Kevin McKendree’s (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer) The Rock House Studio in Franklin TN and mixed by Steve Orchard (Paul McCartney, Chris Cornell) and toured the UK and USA in support. Between 2017 and 2019 Malcolm played around 100 shows in the UK, US, Australia & New Zealand with ‘The Music of Cream’, a tribute to his father’s band, featuring special guests Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) & Robben Ford (Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell). Malcolm was also the bass player for the late Pete Brown’s final record ‘THE SHADOW CLUB’ featuring Richard Bailey (Bob Marley, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Incognito) on drums, Clem Clempson & Eric Clapton on guitars, slated for release in 2024. He’s currently working on a new album, ‘FAKE HUMANS AND REAL DOLLS’, to be released in 2024. In 2018/2019 Malcolm was co-executive producer, arranger & performer for ‘HEAVENLY CREAM’, a project headed by Cream lyricist Pete Brown and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, which featured performances by Ginger Baker, Joe Bonamassa, Bobby Rush, Paul Rodgers, Deborah Bonham, Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), Pee-Wee Ellis (James Brown), Abass Dodoo and many more. Produced by Rob Cass. The album along with a documentary, ‘THE CREAM ACOUSTIC SESSIONS’ will be released by Quarto Valley Records in November 2023.

I had the chance to catch up with Malcolm recently to get the low down on the project Heavenly Cream: An Acoustic Tribute to Cream. We discuss how the project took shape, including the roster of incredible participants (including some of the final recordings of a few leGends). It was not difficult to get people to want to be a part of this record, not a big surprise but when you consider the raw, almost naked at times versions (compared to what our ears are accustomed to), it does make me feel like I/we are able to be there as these songs get (re)discovered. Malcolm clearly has the chops as his own performer, which I would recommend getting out and seeing as much as he is a part of as well, but as many of you, the music of Cream will always summons special times as a person, both as a musical explorer but also as a human doing. The music comes with feelings. So, we do discuss some of that from Malcom’s feelings point of view. I apologies for the poppin’ P’s etc. Must have been the long-distance connection.

Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra

Tatsuya Nakatani is an avant-garde percussionist, composer, and artist of sound. Active internationally since the 1990s, Nakatani has released over eighty recordings and tours extensively, performing over 150 concerts a year. His primary focus is his solo work and his large ensemble project, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra. He teaches master classes and lectures at universities and music conservatories around the world. Originally from Japan, he makes his home in the desert town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. With his activity in new music, improvisation, and experimental music, Nakatani has a long history of collaboration. Nakatani’s distinctive music centered around his adapted bowed gong, supported by an array of drums, cymbals, and singing bowls. In consort with his personally hand-carved Kobo Bows, he has spent decades refining and developing his sound as an arrangement of formations of vibrations, incorporated in shimmering layers of silence and texture. Within this contemporary work, one can still recognize the dramatic pacing, formal elegance and space (ma) felt in traditional Japanese music.

I had the honor of catching up with Tatsuya shortly before his November 1st event at the Garver Feed Mill here in Madison with his Nakatani Gong Orchestra (N.G.O.). The N.G.O. is a touring large ensemble sound art project that functions as an extension of his solo work. He composes and conducts (and plays with) an ever changing orchestra cohort formed by musicians from the local community where the performance takes place. We had to dive into how this project works from community to community, finding out how amazed even he is when concluding his time with those in that current space. I am thrilled and filled with the feeling of falling into the (ma), so we get to discuss a little more on this concept and talk about his bowing and his bows. Based on the unique coolness of what Tatsuya presents, teaches, learns from – I tried to figure out how he goes about his art when being a collaborator with other projects, as a duo. I mean, who is calling the gong guy for a jam session? November 1st here in Madison (because we are lucky) and I hope he makes his way to you sometime. We joke about his vehicle and his “Food Network’ type Instagram updates form the road.

Ed Durocher Of Apollo Suns

Founded by Ed Durocher, Apollo Suns is a 9-piece instrumental collective from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The band fuses the influence of jazz, rock & psychedelic music, to create their own unique sounds with a full dancefloor in mind. They have self-released three EPs: ‘Each Day a Different Sun’ (2017), ‘Dawn Offerings’ (2019), ‘A Relationship of Force’ (Color Red, 2021), and were awarded “Instrumental Artist of the Year” at Western Canadian Music Awards in both 2018/2020. In 2022, Apollo Suns returned to the studio with Juno award-winning producer Ben Kaplan (Five Alarm Funk, Mother Mother, The Rare Americans) to record their latest album, ‘Departures’. The band is signed to the Canadian label Do Right Music, home to such soul-filled groovy artists: The Souljazz Orchestra, Soul Motivators, & Luvmenauts. Developed over many tours trying out different arrangements & grooves, their new single ‘Pluto’ became a fan favourite at live shows due to those heavy-ass horns, dynamic groove, & catchy melody. This band is definitely best known for their high-octane live shows, they have captivated audiences at Winnipeg Jazz Festival, Big Fun Festival, Vermont Jazz Fest, & Calgary Stampede. Some of their most notable shows include support slots for The Comet is Coming, Makaya McCraven, Anomalie, The Brooks, and Five Alarm Funk. The core group includes Ed Durocher (Guitar), Tim Iskierski (Drums), Erika Einarson (Percussion), Bryn Herperger (Bass), Garrett Malenko (Trumpet), Benjamin James Hill (Trombone), Aaron Bartel (Bari Sax) and Anatol Rennie (Keyboards/Synths).

I had the chance to catch-up with Ed from the van out on the road, as Apollo Suns will be making their way to Madison on November 5th to funk up The North Street Cabaret. We get into just what the scene will be like when this nine piece gives an evening’s worth of good times out into the Madison. There’s a new album, their first fill lenGth and it does not disappoint. Ed and I get into the roots and fruits of that labor – dissecting the process, the building of tunes and the evolution that will be on display in a primed up condition by the time they get into town. They have a brand new opportunity to grow within the roster of Do Right Music!, and it does seem like this band is ready to explode. At the end of the chat, Ed (and I) create a little setlist, and that too would have you up and having FUN!!!