Metamorphosis Third Coast Percussion

Third Coast Percussion is a GRAMMY® Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet and GRAMMY®-nominated composer collective. For over fifteen , the ensemble has created exciting and unexpected performances that constantly redefine the classical music experience. The ensemble has been praised for “commandingly elegant” (New York Times) performances, the “rare power” (Washington Post) of their recordings, and “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). Third Coast Percussion maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 38 of the 50 states and Washington, DC, plus international tour dates across 4 continents. A direct connection with the audience is at the core of all of TCP’s work, whether the musicians are speaking from the stage about a new piece of music, inviting the audience to play along in a concert or educational performance, or inviting their fans around the world to create new music using one of their free mobile apps. The 4 members of Third Coast are also accomplished teachers, and make active participation by all students the cornerstone of all their educational offerings. The quartet’s curiosity and eclectic taste have led to a series of unlikely collaborations that have produced exciting new art. That will be on display on January 27th in Madison for an all senses in, spirit bending performance titled ‘Metamorphosis’. I had the chance to get together with Sean Connors from the ensemble to discuss just how cool this upcoming event is going to be. Sean teases us just right with what one can expect if they go in to the show as a blank slate. We discuss the latest album, “Archetypes” (nominated for 3 Grammys) and how that was born and how it grew to into is final form and of course coming to the University means you have to go to class…so we talk briefly about the educational workshop with UW–Madison percussion students the ensemble will take part in on the 28th. A complete package indeed.

Third Coast Percussion joins forces with the groundbreaking choreography of Movement Art Is (co-founded by Lil Buck and Jon Boogz) for an intimate, evening-length program that explores the duality of human nature. At once intensely personal and fiercely virtuosic, two disparate styles of street dance blend seamlessly with new music by Jlin and Tyondai Braxton, as well as Third Coast Percussion’s critically-acclaimed arrangements of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia.

This performance is presented by Wisconsin Union Theater, and will take place in the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall at Hamel Music Center.

Metamorphosis:

PHILIP GLASS (arr. by Third Coast Percussion) Metamorphosis One
JLIN Perspective
TYONDAI BRAXTON Sunny X
PHILIP GLASS (arr. by Third Coast Percussion) Amazon River

Movement by Cameron Murphy and Quentin Robinson
Choreography by Movement Art Is
Lighting design by Joe Burke
Stage direction by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Click here to watch the Metamorphosis trailer, with videography by David Javier, Tim Salaz, and Dakota Sillyman.

Robert Finley Sharecropper’s Son

Robert Finley’s singing is as primal as an alligator & sweeter than late-summer honey. And on the new Sharecropper’s Son, he uses his marvelously expressive voice—which can glide from a gut-deep growl to a soothing purr to a transcendent falsetto all in one single phrase—to tell the story of his life in song. The album’s 10 numbers, produced by Dan Auerbach for his Easy Eye Sound label, are blues, soul, gospel, & rock-infused chapters from that life, weaving Mr. Finley’s own stories of picking cotton, country childhood, hardship on city streets, jail time, the pain and joy of love, the search for a better life & the dream of salvation into a spellbinding musical tale. You can hear that in how Mr. Finley and the band nearly breath together in songs like the gospel “Souled Out On You,” where the singer’s heart-piercing falsetto rings sharp and clear as an angel’s horn—underpinned by Auerbach’s fuzz-sweetened brown-butter guitar tone—and “Sharecropper’s Son,” where the musicians mine a deep, funky groove as Mr. Finley sings about his raising “out in the red hot sun, where the work is never done.” Cut-by-cut, this follow-up to his 2017’s Easy Eye Sound release “Going Platinum!” bristles w/the visceral energy that can only be captured by creatively charged musicians playing live & spontaneously in the studio. Of course, the fire behind the conflagrant performances on Sharecropper’s Son is Robert Finley, who was so deeply in the zone throughout that his lyrics & vocal approach for 2 of the album’s songs, the autobiographical “Country Child” and his manifesto of love and struggle, “Country Boy,” were improvised as he and the band rolled tape. Although he has long been a potent artist, for most of the past 20 years, after his blindness led him to semi-retirement, he’s mostly been playing little joints within an hour’s drive of Winnsboro—like Riverside Coney Island, which specializes in boiled crawfish, and Enoch’s Irish Pub & Café, both in Monroe, Louisiana. But his ascent has been swift since he was discovered in 2015 busking on the streets of Helena, Arkansas. In addition to touring more than 10 countries in the wake of his two earlier albums, he was also a contestant on the 2019 season of the TV competition America’s Got Talent reaching the semi-finals and quickly became a fan favorite during his run. His daughter Christy Johnson, who appeared with him on the show, also provides some backing vocals for Sharecropper’s Son.

I had the complete please of chatting with Mr. Finley about his upcoming performance here in Madison on January 22nd at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what folks in attendance can expect from that night’s show, including learning how you, the people there to see this show, are the most important thing in that moment for Mr. Finley. We take time to discuss how the new album went from there to here, then to now and how the stories seems so real, because they are. Certainly after listening to the new album, I do wish Mr. Finley was a name we all caught on to earlier….I bet the live show will back that up 100%.

UPDATE: This event has been moved to Feb 15th.

At Home With Alsarah

ALSARAH‘S RECIPE FOR EGGPLANT SALAD

Ingredients:

One small eggplant – fried in vegetable oil
1/2 onion chopped (can be caramelized)
1 plum tomato chopped
One handful of parsley, dill, and cilantro mixed together
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 lime
ground cumin – the holy spice
3 tbsp of natural peanut butter – no sugar added
chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl – use peanut butter per your preference and for a smooth texture. If you like the salad tart, the way Alsarah does, then use the juice of 1 full lime instead of a 1/2. Enjoy!

Enter The Kettle From OSS

“Enter The Kettle” is the second album on Alex Paterson from The Orb’s new label Orbscure. Released November 19th on CD, download & stream with the LP to follow in 2022, it’s primarily an album with him and old friend Fil Le Gonidec, who together are OSS. Other guests on the album include official-other-half-of-The Orb Michael Rendall, plus Jah Wobble, Roger Eno & George Holt – whose credits include Depeche Mode & Erasure. OSS have played at Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, supported Kraftwerk and played chess with Robbie Williams, who also stole their speed. They were originally known as Orb Sound System – a half DJ/half live version of The Orb, which could gig more nimbly than the main machine. Early shows saw reggae-heavy selections and sometimes featured toasters, but seeing as they never actually had a soundsystem, can’t play out at the moment and have made a record – it’s currently just OSS, which now stands for On Sum Shit. Loosely speaking, on“Enter The Kettle”, the hard-edged metallic clang comes from “hardcase Yorkshireman” Fil, while Alex’s soft southern influence brings dubwise steppers, ambient house & a trademark surrealist humor. In case that wasn’t enough, Omnibus Press recently published Paterson’s new book ‘Babble on an’ Ting: Alex Paterson’s Incredible Journey Beyond the Ultraworld with The Orb’, the first full account of his life story, featuring first-hand interviews with Youth, Andrew Weatherall, Primal Scream, Jah Wobble, Jimmy Cauty and a parade of other friends, collaborators and starship mechanics.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Alex to talk about the new release from OSS, “Enter The Kettle”. We got into how it went form nothing to something and how his relationship with Fil made the smooth move forward. We talk about the plans for the label *and its mates) to make music and tour and how the interchangeable pieces will make up some amazing wholes. We even get into the new book about…well…him. Of course, one of the common threads of this conversation is the music of and the versatility of The Orb…sounds that helped shape my inner being.

She Walks In Beauty with Jim McCarty

Jim McCarty is the original drummer in the legendary Yardbirds, a musical force of nature since the 1960s and still active today with Jim as the sole remaining original member. Acclaimed as one of the most influential rock bands of all time, their music is rooted in the blues, but their amazing forays over the decades into jazz, folk, rock, pop, raga, improv, distortion, guitar feedback and, of course, the blues, is the stuff of legend and incredible influence…so much so that the band was deservedly inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame in 1992. The Yardbirds dazzling guitar pyrotechnics, which in the band’s earlier days featured the talents of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, are the stuff of rock legend. Jim was and is the steady anchor for this high-flying outfit…his rock-solid drumming keeping the band grounded during the band’s awe-inspiring flights of musical frenzy, both then and now. He’s the only band member to be a member of every lineup since the band was founded in 1963 up through the present day. Of course, you may remember, the last lineup of the early Yardbirds, called The New Yardbirds, which included Jim and Jimmy Page, eventually morphed in to Led Zeppelin. Jim, who is also an accomplished singer and songwriter having released numerous solo albums over the years, has just released the second installment of his memoirs, entitled “She Walks in Beauty”, which is a follow-up to his initial autobiography, “Nobody Told Me”, which was released to great acclaim in 2018. “She Walks in Beauty” continues with Jim’s life journey – inside and outside of music – expanding on his storied musical career while also giving the reader a very personal and intimate look at Jim’s personal lifelong quest to unravel the mysteries of the life that exists beyond the world in which we live. The book tells of his travels to remote areas of the world – including China, India, & the Himalayas – as his search explores the world hidden just out of reach, the shadows that are just out of sight and the certainty that there is an enduring connection between the living and the dead. It’s an intimate, honest, fascinating look inside the life of a rock legend whose boundless curiosity for a life often unseen and/or understood makes for a compelling read.

I had the honor of catching up with Mr. McCarty to discuss “She Walks In Beauty”. We got into the reasons now was the time for these stories to not only be told, but shared. We speak of things that many shake their heads about, but many others have experienced and I believe this book is a great way to think back through the nw and then but also the here and there. I can tell you about our conversation, but ultimately you either have to check it out, or better yet, find a way to get the book and find the common threads you may have neglected to remember or notice. Be open. I am thankful for Mr. McCarty sharing these stories (not a whole lot about music in this chat or in this book), they really open a window into him and beyond.

Ready, Set, Go! With Divinity Roxx

This fall brings the release of Ready Set Go!, the energetic debut family album from the internationally acclaimed, award-winning bassist and songwriter, Divinity Roxx, released November 5. Ready Set Go! is a celebration of self-love and positivity specifically designed for kids aged 8 and under. The upbeat and sunny collection features 8 original songs filled with powerful messages that encourage kids to become the best versions of themselves. Divinity made her entrance into the family music scene earlier this year and instantly gained attention with her infectious bass beats & unique approach to meaningful music for kids & families. The lyrics of two of the songs from the album, ‘Happy & Healthy’ (11/15/21) and ‘Me + You,’ (12/1/21) are being released and published as picture books by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, as part of the Company’s ongoing commitment to provide authentic and inclusive books to support family and community engagement. The books are illustrated by NaShantá Fletcher. The mighty Divinity is a Grammy-nominated recording artist, composer, & musician, with three solo albums (Ain’t No Other Way – 2003, The Roxx Boxx Experience – 2012, ImPossible – 2016). In addition to her own work, she is well known for touring and performing with Beyoncé (2006–2011) as her bassist & Musical Director. Her career as a bass-player skyrocketed after attending a bass camp led by the legendary 5 time Grammy award winning bass virtuoso, (and friend of the program Mr. Victor Wooten where she was invited to join him out on tour.

I had the honor of chatting it up with Divinity about this brand new and first time family/kids album. We talked about the timeline of events that got it from seed to flower, the wonderful array of talent she surrounded herself with on the endeavor and most of all, we talked about the reasons why making music for this important demoGraphic, the kids was definitely in her plans for a long while. Divinity is the type of person who gets it, and wants to share it with all of us, but she isn’t about to forget the ones who matter the most. Not only will this music make the kid in all of us shake our parts all over, it will surely strengthen egos, guide others to think of others and mostly…thru it all….BE YOURSELF.

Celebrate Tony Rice With Barry Waldrep

In the era of modern music, describing any artist as the “greatest of all time” can often be met with resistance — if for no other reason than the ever-evolving tastes of both musicians and fans alike — but if the topic is bluegrass guitar players, there’s a universally correct answer to “who’s the best”; the late, great Tony Rice. Rice was unequivocally one of the most influential, inventive, and beloved musicians in all of bluegrass & Americana music, and after he passed away in late 2020, his songs and stylings continue to live on in the droves of musicians he inspired. This year, on the one-year anniversary of Rice’s passing, bluegrass instrumentalist and producer Barry Waldrep will be releasing quite the tribute to Mr. Rice with the 21-song, special-guest laden Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice. When looking through Waldrep’s list of friends, its apparent how far Rice’s music reached beyond just bluegrass. Americana greats Rodney Crowell and Jim Lauderdale and Jam-band royalty Warren Haynes and Oteil Burbridge make appearances alongside Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Spooner Oldham and Patrick Simmons & country superstars Vince Gill & Emmylou Harris. And that’s just a fraction of who’s contributed to this celebration of the music of Tony Rice. “Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice” will be available everywhere on December 24th.

I had the chance to catch up with Barry Waldrep to talk about someone we both grabbed onto early on in our ear careers. We talk about what is is about Mr. Rice’s ways that attracted us to him. Barry and I spend a whole lot of time dissecting the new album from songs to artists to give an insiders perspective into how this special collection became a reality. It is so clear that an open mind is part of the key to feeling the true impact of Mr. Rice’s music. There should be no boundaries. Our chat is not quite as great as the album – but I think the two go hand to ear or ear to hand. Check out some of the specifics:

Street Survivors with Artimus Pyle

44 years ago this past October 2oth, the music world endured one of the greatest tragedies in its history when a Convair CV-240 passenger plane carrying several members of Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, including founding member and vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, crashed into the woods near Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing six including Van Zant. The event has been memorialized in both song as well as in the hearts and minds of music fans the world over. Most recently, this singularly devastating accident was dramatized on film in a full-length feature Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash. Told from the perspective of Skynyrd drummer, Artimus Pyle, who not only survived the crash but helped rescue other members from the wreckage, the movie is a powerful testament to enduring legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that the band had to overcome in its incredible career. The accompanying soundtrack to the film converts the inspiring true story into musical form, taking selections of the film’s orchestral score and blending it with original music inspired by Skynyrd with guest appearances by Pyle as well as blues rock legend Pat Travers. Artimus was the drummer in the band’s classic lineup at the height of the band’s fame in the 1970, performing in the band from 1974 to 1977 and again from 1987 to 1991. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member in 2006. Artimus is considered a hero in the sense that after the crash, although injured himself, he pulled the remaining survivors out of the wreck and somehow was able to walk to a nearby farmhouse and secure help for his injured bandmates. He currently tours with the Artimus Pyle Band, a rockin’ crew that plays both original music and note-for-note versions of Skynyrd classics in the true spirit of the classic 70s lineup.

I had the complete honor and pleasure to get together with Artimus Pyle for a chat about this tragic event that changed the landscape of rock and roll…heck, let’s not limit it….the landscape of music. We talk about the day of the events, the deep honor of the man (Ronnie Van Zant) and his ability to write hit records with songs that will withstand whatever we humans can throw at it. While talking about the music, we discuss what his band, Artimus Pyle Band does to honor the Skynyrd family while moving the music forward We got into the making of the Street Survivors movie and soundtrack and how Artimus doesn’t get a single penny from either. Cleopatra Records & Films released Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash that depicts Pyle’s memories of the before and aftermath of the crash back in October of 2020. Artimus wrote the outline of the story that was made into the film. Cleopatra Records also released a soundtrack to the film that features performances by two of his sons: Marshall & Chris. I am here to help with the “reboot” of this project as the COVID world has certainly caused many to miss the original release. After spending time with Artimus and hearing about this tale many of us think we know about, getting deeper insights shared by him into him, as a person to be in awe over and well, frankly, there so much in this chat my words cannot touch it. But, listen for the part about Dolly Parton when you get in there – there’s so much cool here for you.

You can purchase the Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash film here.

Stream or download the film soundtrack here:

Eclectic Electric With Joe Louis Walker

Friend of the proGram Joe Louis Walker is one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. He is a four-time Blues Music Award winner and 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who has appeared on multiple Grammy-winning albums. He is known worldwide as one of the genre’s top musical trailblazers—a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist. The New York Times raves, “Walker is a singer with a Cadillac of a voice. He delivers no-nonsense, gutsy blues. His guitar solos are fast, wiry and incisive, moaning with bluesy despair.” Rolling Stone simply calls him “ferocious.” And Billboard writes: “His playing blows all over the map…gutbucket blues, joyous gospel, Rolling Stones-style rock crunch, and aching R&B. Walker’s guitar playing is fine and fierce.” Joe won the 2016 Blues Foundation Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year award at the Blues Foundation Awards ceremony in Memphis. The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest accolade afforded blues music performers. The annual Blues Music Awards ceremony is the premier event for blues professionals, musicians, and fans from all over the world.

I had the opportunity and pleasure to catch back up with Joe as he is set to release a brand new album on November 12th on Cleopatra Recordss titled “Eclectic Electric”. We spend some time talking about the songs and the guests and how people close to him kinda like to hear the way he spins the classics. We dissect a couple of the tunes so you know how they went down, like you were there yourself and we spend some time talking about our mutual pal, Bette Smith‘s work not only on the album, but perhaps a little more down the line as well. When you listen to Joe Louis Walker tell you about it….there is no wonder why he has been successful at doing what he does..it’s him.

Taj Weekes: Pause and Ghana

Bred in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia but shaped by intercontinental life experience, my friend Taj Weekes is also an unwavering, energetic humanitarian, who founded his children’s charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO). His efforts has garnered him the title UNICEF Champion for Children for St. Lucia where he implements and executes various programs designed to enrich the lives of Caribbean children. Aside from brains, a heart, and a great smile, Taj has six acclaimed albums of musically adventurous reggae that imbues his songs with a pragmatic, non-judgmental optimism that is not merely unusual in reggae, but almost unique. So what makes Taj Weekes special can be summarized in three words: MUSICIAN. POET. HUMANITARIAN. What makes him astonishing is the easy and unforced harmony among all these facets of his existence.

I have been doing a lot of checking in with family to the program recently, so it makes sense that Taj and I caught up to dive deep into his brand new album, “Pause”. We get into the many newness’s that went into this, his 7th release, an album I feel captures so much of the him that first lead me his way. We talk about how working on this album with Ziggy Coltrane, took him to new levels…in this chat, we experience some of those actions and the path to the flowering results is fascinating. We also, as followers to this program are well aware, get into the real important stuff with what he has been up to with his TOCO (They Often Cry Outreach) endeavors. This time around, Taj traveled to Accra, Ghana for his first humanitarian mission to Africa and performed and reached out to the Ghanaian youth with local and international charitable organizations. We circle back after talking about walking that African walk that many artists talk about, and feel how this is shaping not only the storytelling songwriter – and the plans for more intimate live shows – but the individual that is already one who reflects and understands the miGhty good feelings of the give back. #respect.

The Appice Perdomo Project: Energy Overload

One of the key figures in rock and roll history, Carmine Appice has joined forces with multi-instrumentalist and rising studio star Fernando Perdomo to form The Appice Perdomo Project (aka APP), whose debut album ENERGY OVERLOAD was released September 24, 2021 on Cleopatra Records. The album is an all-instrumental, rock-oriented tour de force with fusion influences also readily apparent. Carmine’s always-amazing drumming and Perdomo’s blazing guitar licks and riffs make Energy Overload a tour de force of sound, texture and non-stop heaviness. Carmine has pounded the skins for such iconic rockers like Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart (Carmine & Rod co-wrote the hits Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and Young Turks) and he is a founding member of legendary 60s rock bands Vanilla Fudge (You Keep Me Hanging On was the band’s classic hit in 1967…it was featured prominently in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and he’s a founding member of Cactus. Both the Fudge and Cactus still tour. His playing has also been a huge influence on drummers including Joey Kramer (Aerosmith), Neal Peart (Rush), Phil Collins (Genesis), Brian Taylor (Queen), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and countless others. He was inducted into the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2014. He remains on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Drummers of All-Time list.

I had the honor to catch up with Carmine and do a little diGGin’ into this blazing new release “Energy Overload”. We dissect a few of the new tracks and learn about the entire process (at times I think we did some algebra?). We talk about the new way of working happened in his new studio with Fernando on this project- and how long it was (and how many songs in) before they actually met in person. Fascinating stuff! We also get into new Vanilla Fudge, with the oriGinal line-up and how Carmine was able to help Tim Bogert (RIP) be a part of it. This was one of thse conversations where I cannot tell you more about it than is actually in it. You have to get an earful of the whole thing to get youself in the know. Carmine is “A Piece” of rock and roll greatness. diGG

Let Love Be Your Guide

Smithsonian Folkways has officially welcomed “Let Love Be Your Guide”, the first duo album by internationally renowned family musicians and family to the proGram, Claudia & Dan Zanes. The collection is a welcoming, freewheeling musical conversation about anti-racism, racial justice, and the joys of community. Conceived during the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings and coronavirus pandemic, the songs describe the new terms of togetherness – how we understand it, how we build it, and how we strive for more. Claudia & Dan like to describe their style – rooted in many different traditions including gospel, country, R&B, and traditional Haitian music – as electric folk. At the core it’s two voices and an electric guitar. The eclectic, warm, and accessible music the duo makes reflects the kindness and openness that underpin their message: out of isolation and hardship we can learn how to accept and heal the wounds of the past, and how to change and face the future with grace and compassion, regardless of our age. In addition to the usual ways that music enhances our daily lives, Claudia & Dan imagine that families will use these songs as a starting point for important and uplifting conversations at home. “Let Love Be Your Guide” was written and recorded in Baltimore shortly after the couple moved to the city from Brooklyn at the end of 2019. They had been there just a few months when the pandemic hit and they were left, like all of us, at home. In an effort to connect with others, they decided to record and share a new song online every day, creating a Social Isolation Song Series. The popular series, which was later acquired by the Library of Congress, delivered inspiration and hope by bringing people together when we were forced apart, providing light when things were so dark for the artists and their virtual audience. The series ended after two hundred days. The experience changed the couple as they realized more clearly what folk singers have always known: songs are here to inspire and uplift, but they’re also here to tell the stories and reflect the times, and these were indeed unprecedented and unforgettable times.

I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with family to the proGram, Claudia + Dan about the new release, “Let Love Be Your Guide”. We dive into how it formed out of the Isolation Song Series and how a new place to call home helped build onto the existing possibilities. Stories are told, laughs are definitely had and the inspiration of a first time duo album, by a duo meant to be, are easily felt when check ing out our chat. As always, the best way to dive into a new album is to find a way to get it into your earholes and heart and see how it wraps itself around you. I have a feeling you’ll see how an album about some serious themes can still be inviting to all and a celebration of each of us.

Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber: Angels Over Oakanda

Founded by Village Voice icon Greg Tate & co-led with Dayton Ohio monster bassist Jared Michael Nickerson since 1999, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber is a sprawling band of musicians whose prodigious personnel allows them to freely juggle a wide swath of the experimental soul-jazz-hip hop spectrum. Burnt Sugar was originally conceived as a forum for the New York area improvisational musician to compose, record and perform material which reflects the breadth and depth of American diasparan music in the 21st century. The intent of the Arkestra Chamber, through the deployment of Butch Morris’s conduction system, is to make every performance a fresh interpretation of its constituent parts. Rather than limit ourselves to the straight jackets that the commercial recording industry uses to market contemporary Black Music, Burnt Sugar freely moves amongst many styles, eras and genres to devise its own exciting hybrids. These hybrids are based on a solid foundation of various musical traditions and the use of cutting-edge music technology. In this sense the group mission honors its deepest inspirations, the first post-modernists of American music – Duke Ellington, Sun Ra, Parliament Funkadelic and The Art Ensemble of Chicago. This very accomplished crew has playing credits that range from Cecil Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite, Melvin Van Peebles, Lady Keir, Toshi Reagon, Vernon Reid, Arto Lindsey, DJ Logic, John Paul Bourelly, Gary Lucas, TV On The Radio, Tamar Kali, Mark Ribot, Phish, William Parker, Lizz Wright, The Holmes Brothers, Wadada Leo Smith, The The, David Murray, Thurston Moore, and Joseph Bowie to let you know. Arkestra Conductor Greg Tate says, “Burnt Sugar got the nerve to claim Sly Stone, Morton Feldman, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Jean Luc Ponty as progenitors. Our player-ranks include known Irish fiddlers, AACM refugees, Afro-punk rejects, unrepentant beboppers, feminist rappers, jitterbugging doowoppers, frankly loud funk-a-teers and rodeo stars of the digital divide.” All this above is from their website, I call them the daily best unplanned thanG that could happen then, and family.

I had the opportunity to catch up with my man Mr. Jared Michael Nickerson to take a deep dive into the brand new four-song suite titled “Angels Over Oakanda”, which is the group’s first new studio-generated album of original material since 2017’s “All You Zombies Dig The Luminosity”. The album is being released on CD and as a digital download by Avant Groidd Musica September 23, 2021 with a 12” vinyl release to follow in 2022. J & I get into the birth and beGinning life of each track as the entity they are, we talk what could have been, what it is and what is still gonna be for the Arkestra as we all move in a new world way. Truthfully, there are few words I can give you to add to our chat, the experience that is the Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber and mostly, the creative beings that comprised the sonic adventures created by beings clearly meant to get after it, as one. Live is the right way to get this kinda Sugar, until then, let this new music into you, and experience.

Songs And Stories With Tom Rush

Tom Rush is a gifted musician & performer, whose shows offer a musical celebration, a journey into the tradition & spectrum of what music has been, can be, and will become. His distinctive guitar style, wry humor and warm, expressive voice have made him both a legend and a lure to audiences around the world. His shows are filled with the deep sincere laughter of terrific story-telling, the sweet melancholy of ballads and the passion of those gritty blues. Mr. Rush’s impact on the American music scene has been profound. He helped shape the folk revival in the ’60s and the renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s, his music having left its stamp on generations of artists. James Taylor told Rolling Stone, “Tom was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences.” Country music star Garth Brooks has credited Mr. Rush with being one of his top five musical influences. Mr. Rush has long championed emerging artists. His early recordings introduced the world to the work of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne & James Taylor, and in more recent years his Club 47® concerts have brought artists such as Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin to wider audiences when they were just beginning to build their own reputations. Mr. Rush has always displayed an uncanny knack for finding wonderful songs, and writing his own – many of which have become classics re-interpreted by new generations. Today, Tom Rush lives in New England when he’s not touring. His voice has grown even richer and more melodic, and his music, like a fine wine, has matured and ripened in the blending of traditional and modern influences. He’s written a number of new songs. He’s doing what he loves, and what audiences love him for: writing and playing …passionately, tenderly…knitting together the musical traditions and talents of our times.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Mr. Tom Rush about his upcoming show at the Bur Oak in Madison on September 28th. During this “Evening With Tom Rush”, he will be accompanied by a young creative talent, Matt Nakoa. Mr. Rush and I get into a little about how excited he is to getting back out there and sharing songs, stories and time with real people. We talk about the life of his songs and those stories as well as a what he has been up to during the times away from touring. We talk a little about this year’s 50th Shaboo Inn anniversary event he was a part of where one other bands in attendance did a song he does and did. We pondered if a superhuman can capo a pacemaker? And with many adaptations throughout the years, Mr. Rush continues to be a prominent musical voices for people who observe the every day with eyes wide. After tuning into this chat, the only way to really get why Mr. Rush is so important, is to be in a live room with him. Hope you can.

(see Bur Oak Covid policy here)

Photo: Bob Stegmaier

Backyard Tire Fire Is Back

Backyard Tire Fire is back! The Midwestern alt-country band’s forthcoming EP ‘Black Dirt Blue Sky’ dropping today via Black Dirt Records/Royal Potato Family. The five-song collection marks the first new music from Backyard Tire Fire in eleven years. The rebirth of Backyard Tire Fire springs forth with an undeniable burst of musical energy. Fans will cheer the band’s return the way families celebrate a long-awaited reunion. The music radiates a spirit of renewal, like a John Deere tractor turning over a patch of rich soil. And the musicians pack more passion into the material than a team of horses in their prime, eager to work. The recordings show how much bandmates Edward David Anderson, Matt Anderson, Scott Tipping and John Ganser are happy to play new songs together after a decade-long hiatus. ‘Black Dirt Blue Sky’ is loaded with moments that coax smiles and recall good memories. “Carefree Kids” inspires nostalgia, while “Truck Stop Shower” negotiates the ups and downs of a life lived hard with guest vocals by Garrison Starr. The band’s experience touring the USA and recording a series of timeless alt-country records in the early aughts informs the present-day energy of tunes like “Little Wren” and “House Of Cards.” Holding up alongside the best of Backyard Tire Fire from years past, the music shines with beauty and joy, like light at the end of a long tunnel. Backyard Tire Fire will return to the stage for a handful of select performances, including their own Black Dirt Music Festival in Bloomington, IL on Saturday, September 11 to be headlined by fellow Illinois band, Wilco.

It’s been a few years now, but I had a chance to reconnect with Backyard Tire Fire’s founding member, primary songwriter and friend of the proGram, Edward David Anderson. We talk about the new music, where it came from and how it was made ready to go down as a BTF collection. We dissect a couple of the tracks, so that feeling of being there when pen hits paper or strings get strummed for their birth is true. We also talked about life, where it was, where it’s been and some hopes for where it could be going and how all that translates into stories, the reason this band means so much to me…it’s the stories and how they are easily relatable for me as both a listener and a music sharer. A few years back when chatting with Cody, (Chicago Farmer), he and I discussed the influences they bounced off one another and same thing goes down in this chat. This is why is we his songs seem to “get us” is discussed. There might even have been mention of a children’s album and book. Say what? If you’ve been waiting, that part is now over and it’s time to get reconnected with a little Backyard Tire Fire of your own. I think this new EP is a great place to (re)start.

Overpass By Marc Johnson

Marc Johnson was born in Nebraska in 1953, and he grew up in Texas. By age 19, he was working professionally with the Fort Worth Symphony, and while at North Texas State University, he played & recorded with fellow student Lyle Mays. After graduating he toured & recorded with Woody Herman, before becoming, at the age of 25, the bassist with the Bill Evans Trio, following in the footsteps of masterful players including Scott La Faro, Gary Peacock and Eddie Gomez. Mr. Johnson’s many recording credits since then include discs with Michael Brecker, Bob Brookmeyer, Gary Burton, Jack DeJohnette, Eliane Elias, Peter Erskine, Bill Frisell, Stan Getz, Joe Lovano, Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny, Ben Monder, Paul Motian, Enrico Pieranunzi, & Wolfgang Muthspiel, among other visionaries. His first ECM recordings were with his own Bass Desires quartet, who released 2 important albums, Bass Desires & Second Sight. The bassist subsequently recorded for the label as a member of John Abercrombie’s trio and appears on the guitarist’s discs including Cat’n’Mouse & Class Trip. He has also contributed to ECM albums by guitarist Ralph Towner (Lost and Found), pianist John Taylor (Rosslyn), saxophonist Charles Lloyd (Lift Every Voice) and bandoneón master Dino Saluzzi (Cité de la Musique). Leader dates have included Shades of Jade and Swept Away – both featuring Eliane Elias, Joe Lovano, & Joey Baron, with John Scofield also appearing on Shades. Overpass, recorded in January and February 2018 at Nacena Studios, in São Paulo, was produced by Marc & Eliane Elias and is set to be released on 8/27 on ECM Records. With Overpass, recorded in Brazil in 2018, Mr. Johnson makes a decisive & intriguing contribution to ECM’s solo bass recordings. It is an album that takes note of that tradition and Marc has said that Dave Holland’s Emerald Tears was among the solo recordings that fired his imagination almost half a century ago and builds upon it in a personal & imaginative way.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Johnson about some of the ins and outs of the new album, Overpass. We dissect a couple of the tunes to get that feeling of being inside the music, as well as the process by which the album was put toGether. A Solo double bass album, this music while some may be familiar by name, provides me, as a listener and a sharer a chance to see/hear….feel the same differently. I invite you into that same feeling by checking out our conversation, but also by finding the tunes on this album, that do the same for you.

Liv Warfield Is All That And More


Liv Warfield began building her legend, in of all places, Portland, Oregon. Despite having no formal background in singing, she gained the respect of local superstars and became an icon in her own right. While she takes cues from musical influences like Nina Simone, Etta James, Sade, Tina Turner, & Mary J. Blige, Liv has carved out a style all her own, which can best be described as “alternative soul with a lil’ bit of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In 2006, she self-released her debut album “Embrace Me.” By 2009, she caught the eye of the one-and-only Prince and ultimately joined his group the “New Power Generation.”

imaGe used w/permission from LiV

After touring for several years & soaking up as much knowledge as she could from the ultimate music mentor, Liv made her big splash on the national scene in 2014, 1st as a featured artist for Vh1’s “You Oughta Know” campaign, and then with the release of her major label debut album “The Unexpected,” which was executive produced by Prince. What followed were show-stopping performances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and “The Arsenio Hall Show;” a 2014 Soul Train Music Award & nominations for two others; a BET Best New Artist Award nomination; & high-profile cosigns from Lionel Richie, Cindy Lauper, & Nancy Wilson of HEART. That same year, Warfield’s performance closing out Essence Fest was hailed as one of the most memorable after shows at the New Orleans House of Blues. In 2015, the accolades only kept growing, w/Liv and the NPG Hornz being named one of the top 10 bands to see at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. It’s no wonder she has left celebrities like Letterman declaring it’s time to “cancel show business!”

Fast forward a little closer to this moment today and the release of Prince’s Welcome 2 America certainly reminded me of just how much Liv has been instrumental in bringing a special joy to my ear, my heart and my radio proGram. I had the true pleasure of catching up with Liv about the music of Welcome 2 America being released out to the world, working with Prince and the trust & education that comes with it. We spend some time talking about the great new and fresh-feeling music being released very very soon with Joon Moon and how yet another music page is being turned with this effort. I am a true believer that Liv can turn as many musical pages as as can be held in the library. There are stores we share, there is some poetic waxin’ and of course there is the “So…how did you come to the attention of Prince?” was definitely run through. Although, Liv Warfield may be synonymous with the work she has done with a true one-of-a-kind, there is a reason this visionary of life’s art chose her to be on the “team”. Because of this unique dubbing by a king, I am not one to keep this chat only abut the music. Liv and I talk about the person, not just the powerhouse of an artist that she is and I think when you are done getting to know her, you’ll see why I believe now is the time for all of us to Liv better!

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Under Tito Jackson’s Spell

Tito Jackson has spent his entire life tempting music lovers w/soulful harmonies interwoven w/curvaceous rhythms as a member of Motown’s greatest discovery, The Jackson 5, and presently as a multi-faceted solo artist. His unyielding passion for blues, R&B, pop, and other music forms is the secret to his boundless energy & unique achievements in the ever-changing & at times heartless business. In 1962, before the Jackson 5 & the Jacksons, Tito performed in a local group called The Jackson Brothers. After competing & winning local talent shows in and around Gary, the precocious brothers were victorious again on the most prestigious amateur stage of all — Manhattan’s Apollo Theater. In that same year Tito & his brothers made their first studio recording, titled “Big Boy.” Not only did it turn out to be a local hit, but it set the stage for a partnership with Motown Records and appearances on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Soul Train, & later, their own primetime television series in 1976, on CBS. In addition to this, Tito and his brothers’ soaring popularity with America’s youth was so captivating that they were captioned in a Saturday morning, ABC TV animation series. Tito and his brothers signed with Epic Records and officially came under a new name, The Jacksons, in 1976. In 1978 he co-wrote the songs “Everybody,” “Destiny,” and “Push Away” for his new record label. As the group The Jackson’s, including Tito, they self-produced the Destiny album. Later, for the Victory album Tito produced, wrote, and sang on “We Can Change The World,” which was featured on their popular Victory Tour. A father of three men (Taj, Taryll, and TJ), known to the music world as 3T, Tito works closely with his sons. This is consistent with the fine direction that he received from his loving mother Katherine & his caring father Joe. In addition to working with sisters Janet, Rebbie, & La Toya, Tito has worked with countless fine musicians, singers, and producers. One of the performing highlights of the remarkable career of Tito Jackson is the unforgettable reunion performance on one of histories most watched television specials, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983). The show signaled a pivotal point in his dazzling career and an auspicious focus on likely the greatest performer to ever grace a stage, Michael Jackson. In 1997 Tito and his brothers were ceremonially honored as inductees of the well-respected Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In September 2001, nearly 17 years after their last performance together, all 6 Jackson brothers reunited for 2 performances at Madison Square Garden for a 30th anniversary special commemorating Michael’s solo career. Tito’s initial success with the recording masterpieces “I Want You Back,” “Never Can Say Goodbye”, “I’ll Be There,” (best selling single in Motown’s history), and other mega-hits is the start of an amazing journey thru modern musical immortality. Tito also rocks the world through various riveting live shows with his brothers, his own band & the BB King Blues Band. His brother Michael had this to say about him, “Tito is very quiet and soft, but can be really strong when necessary. He’s always there when we need him and manages to project an inner calm which is vital within a family unit”. Those statements have proven to be consistently true through the ups and downs of the exciting but rigorous show business lifestyle. As an international artist, Tito has garnered great respect from peers & fans alike. His emphasis on fairness & loyalty in the music business community is a hallmark of his selfless style. This legend’s mark on music history & the rich legacy that he established is one that has stood the test of time and is one that will flourish for as long as there is a song to sing!

I had the complete honor to sit down and chat it up with this living legend, Hall Of Famer and a true gentleman, Mr. Tito Jackson. Mr. Jackson and I spent time discussing his new release “Under Your Spell” on Gulf Coast Records. We get into a few of the tracks and how the amazing lineup of accompanying artists added their “them” to the project. We talk about the lead single “Love One Another” and moreover, the video for this anthemesque tune that reminds us all about this simple thing…and its the list of the who Mr. Jackson has in the video to help get that message out. Of course, no good chat with a one and only member of the most influential family in pop music/culture goes on without some stories of the then and how it got all of us to the now, toGether. I am honored to have had the chance to do my little part to help spread this message and hope you’ll dig into the album and this conversation to see what’s what (and even a hint of what’s possibly next…did someone say Sly Stone?).

Greener Lines

The mid-section of tis week’s proGram added a hint of tint and tilt to the scope:

Rock Me Baby- Tito Jackson Ft. George Benson & Claudette King
Love One Another- Tito Jackson Ft. Stevie Wonder, Bobby Rush & Marlon Jackson

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I’m a Sinner- Bette Smith Ft. Jimbo Mathus
***pre-recorded conversation with Bette Smith***
Signs And Wonder- Bette Smith Ft. Luther Dickinson
Human- Bette Smith
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Is That You?- Tim Reynolds & Michael Sokolowski
Glow Worm- Photon
Estimated Prophet- Dave McMurray

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Basic Goodness- Danny Mayer
Born 2 Die- Prince
Same Page, Different Book- Prince
BF Holiday- Let Your Hair Down

The Good The Bad The Bette

Wild rock & soul singer Bette Smith traces elements of her life-affirming new album “The Good, The Bad and The Bette” to her childhood in rough Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Musically, it connects to the gospel music she heard in church and the soul music on the corners. This injection of soul music and gospel into rock & roll powered a breakout in 2017’s “Jetlagger,” which received raves from NPR, Paste, American Songwriter, Billboard, MOJO, and a feature in the New York Times. Not just a critics’ darling, the album rose to #1 on the Roots Music Report chart and topped off a banner year with a celebrated appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. For this latest release, out now on Ruf Records, the Brooklyn, NY native enlisted Drive-By Truckers’ Matt Patton and engineer/drummer Bronson Tew as producers at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS; Patton has previously helmed projects by Jimbo Mathus and the Dexateens as well as contributed to albums with Dom Flemons, Seratones, and Candi Staton. He played bass on “Jetlagger,” which was produced by Jimbo Mathus and the two found a kinship and shared vision. She says, “When I called on my producer Matthew Robert Patton, I told him that I wanted a southern rock soul/Aretha Franklin/’I once was lost but now I’m found’ theme.” He in turn enlisted guests North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson (guitar on “Signs and Wonders”) and fellow DBT member Patterson Hood (vocals on “Everybody Needs Love”) to join him on the new album.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Bette about the upcoming event at the High Noon Saloon on August 15th. We really get into how the people at the reason Bette brings it out on the road. She hopes to get to know the folks who feel the music, feel the stories and just feels it. We spend time walking, almost dancing though some of the tracks on the album, where they came from and how they piece toGether that almost diary feel to this record. This album has many angels to it, the soulfulness one would come to expect, the bluesiness one needs and that rockin’ feel that one might have been hoping for. Seriously now, if you like to allow your body, mind AND soul to be moved, Bette is your guide. Bette also takes a little about the artists she might think round out a set along with her new music and to me, I am think an extended set of Bette Smith is just what the doctor ordered.