The Halluci Nation is Growing

As they enter a new cycle, Bear Witness & Tim “2oolman” Hill of A Tribe Called Red are reintroducing themselves as The Halluci Nation, to reflect the evolution of their music & mission. The Halluci Nation, takes its name from a phrase coined by John Trudell, to describe the vast global community of people who remember at their core what it means to be human. As a visionary artist & activist, Trudell recognized the connection between his accomplishments and what ATCR did intuitively through music & art. Trudell’s voice was the first heard scattered throughout the music. The Halluci Nation’s future revolves around collaboration. From hip-hop star, Yasiin Bey (AKA Mos Def), to the Indigenous Australian band, OKA, to the Wayuu-Colombian powerhouse, Lido Pimienta, the group has always sought out artists from around the world who would join the Halluci Nation family to form a like minded community as well as an international indigenous alliance. The Halluci Nation maintains focus on what they feel they can impact most: how Indigenous people are seen. Through groundbreaking stage shows & ever-changing visuals, Bear Witness & 2oolman are constantly working to create media that reflects today’s Indigenous identity. They see themselves simply as contributors to a necessary conversation around a subtle and complex representation of the contemporary Indigenous experience.

I am proud to say I had the chance to catch up with Tim “2oolman” Hill (Mohawk, of the Six Nations of the Grand River) and Bear Witness (of the Cayuga First Nation) ahead of the December 13th event at the High Noon Saloon. We get into what someone who may not quite know what they should prepare for will be preparing for. The collaborative spirt of The Halluci Nation is what always drives my ears and mind [and a good body shake] to the music, and the scene so we get into some of the going’s on and going downs when working with artists. The relationships, the family style and the understanding of where each other is coming from unites the people and the sounds as they’re being created. I found it real cool to hear how what they are doing with the music and the culture took on a responsibility – and just how that all clicked in and how they pay homage to those who came before and lend a hand to those on their way. Oh yeah, there’s also a set list built by 2oolman & Bear.

Photo by Jon Riera

Ben Tyree Talks Catalytic

A product of the diverse Washington, DC music scene, guitarist, Ben Tyree is a performer and composer of virtuosic ability, infectious groove & eclectic tastes. He studied both jazz & classical music in high school while writing his own rock songs and going to jam sessions at night. He continued his studies at DC’s prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and at Howard University before moving to New York in 2002. The template for his genre-hopping agility was set by the pioneering Miscellaneous Flux, the band that he co-founded in 1998 while still in residing in DC., the group fused jazz, hip-hop & punk rock into a crowd-invigorating mix, releasing 2 EPs & a full-length album before disbanding in 2005 following its members’ move to New York. Tyree’s longstanding trio BT3 continues in that vein, melding together jazz, funk & rock in an eye-openingly memorable way. The trio recorded their debut CD, re:Vision, in 2010 with special guests and both friends of the proGram, John Medeski& DJ Logic, no strangers to boundary-erasing grooves. In recent years he’s toured and recorded with the group of people who extended my ears, the eclectic Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber as well as the uncategorizable Memphis singer-songwriter Valerie June, whose unique blend of folk, blues, gospel & soul have brought him to the stages of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno & the Late Show with David Letterman. His compositions have also taken the leap from stage to screen. He has scored several independent films as well as pieces for television that have appeared on ESPN and in advertising campaigns for companies like Green Team USA.

I had the chance to check in with Ben about his latest project titled ‘Catalytic’ in a duo partnership with friend of the proGram, percussionist, Sameer Gupta. The new tunes are due out December 6 via Tyree’s Sonic Architectures imprint. We talk about the process that shaped the new music starring right around the time that the two neighbors put out their Unruly Neighbors record. We discuss the trust that defines an understanding within each other, of each other and the directions the music takes, knowing when an improvisational moment is concluding or shifting. Ben takes time to define how each track took shape and where or how the titles came to be. There are so many relatable moments to this process and this music that make sense to me, and I truly believe that if you approach this listening the same way, with an openness to go with each flow, you’ll find your daily, hourly, momentary moment that fits just right. The key is the desire to be adventurous and look for the unknown, these two creators have it and sharing it has a second part to it…..you need to go find it. Be your own catalyst in finding your adventures. Start here.

Into The Spiral With Marshall Allen

The Sun Ra Arkestra is a sonic explosions recreating itself with each note and was formed in the mid-1950s and led by keyboardist/composer Sun Ra until his death in 1993. They are certainly considered a pioneer of afrofuturism. The Arkestra is still led by saxophonist Marshall Allen, an member since 1958. To this day, the outer shell of the travelers on stage are still draped in their cosmic entrance gear, expelling from the ever-evolving swirl. In jazz, unity could emerge — even as individual notes seemed in disarray and rhythms seemed uncountable. Jazz demanded discipline and precision, but also an open mind. “A lot of things that some men do… come from somewhere else,” Sun Ra said, “or they’re inspired by something that’s not of this planet. And jazz was most definitely inspired, because it wasn’t here before.” Jazz was the road to a mystical experience, a sort of reasoned ecstasy. It was the music of elsewhere. Sun Ra called his band the Arkestra, though it went far beyond the limits of a band. The Arkestra was Sun Ra’s grand Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work that crossed the boundaries of art and life for Sun Ra and his musicians. Arkestra performances were music, theatre, dance, philosophy. They combined the ancient and the radical future, African rhythms played with fists and synthesizers played with the elbows. Arkestra musicians followed Sun Ra’s style, wearing Egyptian headdresses and African robes and Mardi Gras beads. Onstage, they laughed and danced and walked arm in arm. Sun Ra wanted to show his audiences an expression of pure possibility. And yet the Arkestra was more for the musicians than the audience. Musicians lived together (for a long while in a building Sun Ra bought on Morton Street, in the Germantown area of Philadelphia) worked together, thought together. When they weren’t onstage, they were rehearsing. They played music in place of social activities, in place of sleep. The Arkestra breathed music together, abandoned themselves to it, like one single enlightened organism with Sun Ra as their guide. Sun Ra’s compositions were famously difficult, even for the most talented instrumentalists. Arkestra musicians tell stories of being baffled sometimes for months before they could hear music in the written notes. The intervals were mad, impossible. Sun Ra was patient though, often choosing musicians who were more intuitive than knowledgeable, who could be developed (intuitive people had more space in their minds). One could imagine the Morton Street building like a monastery, and Arkestra rehearsals akin to liturgical chant, with Arkestra players embodying the music through repetition until playing was an ecstatic experience. For this experience of both the past and the future, breathing and being altered in the now, we find Marshall Allen continuing to be a director from which it came – within the spiraling sound landings of The Sun Ra Arkestra.

I had the honor of checking in with Mr. Marshall Allen ahead of CODAFEST 2022 – A Celebration of Creative and Cultural Music’. Highlighting this 5-day event will be the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra, led by the 98-year-old saxophonist and protégé of the late/great Sun Ra. This event will be on November 19th at Cafe Coda. We discussed how the moment, any moment is about the vibration of that day, that moment, that time. This translated into how the group will be proceeding into the spiral while here in Madison, avoiding the square and adding the feeling of the audience to the building blocks of notes to be. This little conversation reminds me to always listen in to what those who’ve been to and from – and how/why there is the reason what the Arkestra did/does resonates within me. Its the moments within each. Take a moment. Make a moment

DA CRUZ Scream Baladas da Luta

The 6th album by DA CRUZ (Bern/São Paulo) is called “Baladas da Luta” (“Ballads for the Fight”), and that’s exactly what it sounds like. Profound, Brazilian urban music in an attack position against hatred, delusion & political short-sightedness. There are guests on this album like the British-Nigerian pidgin rap guru Magugu or Arnaldo Antunes, who was chosen by “Rolling Stone” as one of the hundred best artists in Brazilian music. There is heavy-blooded Afrobeat, angry Hip-Hop or a Brazilian disco flair. There are touches of Krautrock, Baile Funk or Soul – all held together by the warm voice of Afro-Brazilian singer Mariana Da Cruz. Mariana Da Cruz grew up as the seventh child of a cotton picker and a cook in Paranapanema, a small provincial town in the state of São Paulo. Recordings, concerts, music lessons; all that was unaffordable. Music, however, was an escape point even then – Mariana absorbed it through a small transistor radio in her nursery. She was already singing as a teenager in a club in the nearest big city, Campinas, where she studied to become a teacher: Bossa Nova, MPB, Elis Regina, Jorge Ben – all the classics – it was her basic research. But curiosity drove her first to Lisbon in the early noughties, later to Bern, where she lives today. It stands to reason that she would reflect on the world’s dislocations through her first home, Brazil. A country that anticipated all the developments we see everywhere today. “There is a fundamental alienation between politics and the people, there is burgeoning racism, social divisions, there is an ever greater injustice in the distribution of wealth, and there is this inexplicable yearning for authoritarianism”, she says. And she sings against all this. For more than 15 years. A key driver of her music is her engagement with her African roots. Whereby the situation here – as for all Afro-Brazilians – is somewhat complicated: “We know that our ancestors come from Africa, but we don’t know from where. You can’t do any research on that,” explains Mariana Da Cruz. “We’ve travelled a lot in the last few years for this search for traces, been to Burkina Faso, Bahia, Rio – and all these experiences and impressions flow into my music. Da Cruz is a radical independent project. All of their albums so far have been recorded, mixed & produced in their own studio. They have been released on their own label Boom Jah Records, except for two albums released with the American label Six Degrees Records. The core of the band besides Mariana includes Ane H., former singer and programmer of the industrial band Swamp Terrorists, Bernese guitarist Oliver Husmann and drummer Pit Lee.

I had the honor of chatting with Mariana and Ane H. of DA CRUZ about the new release, “Baladas da Luta”. We get deep into the need and reasons behind this album and how the music stands with Brazil as times get very unrecognizable. The power of the songs are clearly explained by Ane and Mariana and if you wonder if music does have the power to make a stand against or stand with a group who is in need of a shouting voice, this album will take you by the ear and show you. Not only do we talk about the music, the situations on a global level that do affect us all, there are questions asked on how we find one language to speak…to SHOUT…to unite. For me, these people making this music always opened my body to the grooves of the sound, but this record has my eyes and mind in concert with my heart and sense of equality and justice. There is power in these songs. Check for yourself.

CODAFEST 2022 and Ugochi

Her created sounds have been described as ‘lively, energetic music that makes your feet move & heart think’. With over 2 decade of experience in the literary & music industry, UGOCHI has gained quite a notable reputation for her solo career & collaborations. Not content to rest on her gnash, UGOCHI are always laying foundations for the next release, adding more classics to their repertoire. She has shared the stage with several established artists such as Common, Eric Benet, John Legend, Femi Kuti, Edwin McCain, Seun Kuti, Maxi Priest, Malik Yusef, Umphrey’s McGee, Richie Stephens, Blitz the Ambassador, Yellowman, J. Ivy, Queen Ifrika, Luciano, Wayna, Femi Kuti, Shaggy, Richie Stephens, Queen Ifrika, Vieux Farka Toure, Tony Allen, Bushman, Fatoumata Diawara, Wayne Wonder and Stephen Marley, King Sunny Ade, Me’Schell Ndegeocello. Ugochi & A.S.E.’s music is not just a unique flavor of soul music cooked up in her cosmic kitchen of sounds, styles & accents; it is also an introduction to world affairs for Africa enthusiasts all over the world. Her music honors her musical influences thru the expression of heart felt lyrical poise & soul swept instrumentation, giving birth to an incredible sound that fills a need that may have been previously unknown.

I had the complete pleasure of catching up once aGain with family to the show, UGOCHI as she and A.S.E. are heading back to Cafe Coda on November 17th as part of CODAFEST 2022. We discuss how a live experience like this is an opportunity to leave all that other stuff somewhere else and make this shared moment an opening to joy and healing. The band always finds this togetherness on a stage, with a community to be healing. Some of the styles of sounds/rhythms are discussed – hint – very similar to the way greenarrowradio flows and the love of how a place like Madison come with open ears, open hearts and especially open minds really is not lost on Ugochi or A.S.E., so, if anyone round here has a couch that is just right for that stage……

Timo Vollbrecht’s FLY MAGIC presents Givers & Takers

FLY MAGIC is saxophonist-composer, bandleader & scholar Timo Vollbrecht’s longstanding signature ensemble. A genre-exploding unit with a bold sense of creativity & intent. After 2 acclaimed records and performances in over 30 countries, their 3rd album, Givers & Takers, marks a new chapter: It conjures acoustic delicateness with otherworldly electronic soundscapes of orchestral width. Recorded in the studio while on a 12-date-tour, it captures the unique chemistry the 4 musicians developed on the road while using the stage as their laboratory. It is out now on BERTHOLD Records. Originally from Germany and based out of New York, Timo is a celebrated creative force on the Brooklyn music scene who fuses jazz with post-rock, electronics & instrumental songwriting. Described as a “luminously-fine bandleader” by the NYC Jazz Record, he has performed at landmark stages like the Village Vanguard. He is also the new Director of Jazz Studies at Brown University. Together with Keisuke Matsuno (guitar), Elias Stemeseder (piano & synthesizers) & Dayeon Seok (drums), he formed a band with no bassist. Instead, Stemeseder – who just led his residency at John Zorn’s iconic Stone venue – plays synth-bass while his other hand operates other keys. Thematically, Givers & Takers refers to Timo’s underlying sense of community through music. The album emerges from this place of human interactivity. It features four musically synergetic friends of diverse backgrounds entering into an improvisational dialog marked by mutual trust. Giving & Taking is a natural part of this process. The fact that Givers & Takers is also the name of their favorite bar in Brooklyn underpins the importance that Timo and his bandmates assign to the gathering. With Givers & Takers, Timo is presenting his vision of a band that is truly original, avoids easy categorization, and blends acoustic and electronic sounds enveloped in intricate song forms.

I had the pleasure of getting toGether with Timo to dive into the creation of this project. We got into how one records this open music without a bassist, how working this music out live during a tour assisted in the heart of the music and how this is really friends making music, and how THAT is part of the entire process of seeing the initial vision through. We talk about the diversity of the individuals making the music and how that fits into the music itself with the live spirit of an audience helping to wrap this into its final building. Once again, this kind of music that encourages spaces for created improvisation and the ‘I Don’t Know’ also does the same for a listener in my opinion. Timo tells me what he would drink at the bar with these friends as well as building a setlist choosing two tracks off the new album. FLY MAGIC does just that for me.

Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion W/Dave Hagedorn

Miguel Espinoza Fusion twists jazz, flamenco, Cuban and classical Indian musical forms into intoxicating journeys that thrill audiences! Described by Guitar Player Magazine as “mesmerizing”, Miguel Espinoza has recorded and performed with Bela Fleck, Kai Eckhardt, Kitaro, Tuck and Patti, Rita Moreno and Ben Vareen. April 2022 saw the release of their third CD – Living in a Daydream – featuring Grammy-winning pianist and Hamonicist Howard Levy. Miguel Espinoza Fusion performs to sold out audiences across Colorado, and were the honored winners of Denver’s Westword Magazine 2019 “Best of World Music.” Their first CD, Turtle Dreams, is the winner of Indie Acoustic’s Best Instrumental Album of 2019 – full of original music that has been described as “colorful and vibrant”, “emotional”, a “stunning combination of jazz, flamenco, and subtle world music”, and ”sophisticated rhythmic elements…emotional, natural and organic”. Their second CD, Veneta, was released in August 2020. Visually and aurally stunning, with flamenco/jazz guitar, fiery cello, riveting salsa and Indian tabla, a Miguel Espinoza Fusion show is like nothing else!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Dianne Betkowski and Miguel Espinoza ahead of the November 4th Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion W/Dave Hagedorn event at the North Street Cabaret in Madison. Special guest, Grammy-nominated vibraphonist Dave Hagedorn, will join Flamenco Fusion for a limited series of Midwest showsand this is one of them. Dave is a world-class performer who has recorded with the George Russell Living Time Orchestra on Blue Note Recordings (nominated for a Grammy award), Brian Setzer Big Band, Pete Whitman X-tet, Phil Hey Quartet, the Out to Lunch Quintet, and also with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on Teldec Recordings. Dianne/Miguel and I talk a bit about what working with Dave adds to this already unique sound and stylings. They share an idea of the who and what’s making this group go and what to expect in a live setting. We also talk about their latest release ‘Living In A Daydream’ featuring Howard Levy of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. [sounds like he and others will be on an upcoming release as well – stay tuned]. We close out the chat with a little discussion of the give back with the work they are doing through Urban Arts Music. Yep, complete package.

The Wood Brothers Head To Madison

Dubbed “masters of soulful folk” by Paste, The Wood Brothers formed after brothers Chris & Oliver Wood pursued separate musical careers for 15 years. Chris already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. With drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent 3rd member, it’s become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is most definitely the main act. Blue Note released their debut ‘Ways Not To Lose’ in 2006 & ‘Loaded’ 2008. The band moved to Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Artists for ‘Smoke Ring Halo’ with ‘The Muse’ to follow in 2013. After relocating to Nashville, The Wood Brothers released ‘Paradise’ in 2015 recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye studio. In 2016, the band returned to Levon Helm’s famed Woodstock Barn and recorded ‘Live At The Barn’ which captured their sold-out performance that night and showcased the kind of singularly eclectic & electrifying performance style that’s earned them devoted legions of fans around the world. On February 2nd, 2018, The Wood Brothers released their 6th album, ‘One Drop of Truth.’, the most independent album they have done and the end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date and was recognized as such when it received a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Americana Album.” That is until 2019’s ‘Kingdom In MY Mind’. To me, this album really has all cylinders firing and the dynamic ability of this group really taking on a new shape and sound. This one left me wondering what is next.

I had the pleasure of catching back up with family to the proGram, Oliver Wood ahead of the November 3rd event featuring The Wood Brothers at The Barrymore Theatre. Oliver gives us the low down on how he would describe the group to a friend’s friend. We get in there on the what that they do. We go a little back in time and talk King Johnson and think forward with other projects, but most of all the tease of what the soon coming album will sorta kinda be like. Oliver twists and turns through how the new music came together, including spontaneity, togetherness and using all the tools in the toolbox. Oliver even builds a setlist around those potential sounds, leading one to really be hankering for the album to drop. As always, it’s nice to talk music with friends.

Sentimental Fool Heads To Madison

Legendary soul singer Lee Fields makes his full-length Daptone Records debut with his long-awaited new album, SENTIMENTAL FOOL, which drops officially on October 28. Mr. Fields’ first new album in three years. The album was produced by Daptone Records founder ‘Bosco Mann’ – producer/musician Gabriel Roth – at his Penrose Recorders/Daptone West studio in Riverside, CA. Mr. Fields recently wrapped a West Coast headline run and will celebrate Sentimental Fool with an eagerly awaited North American tour, which got underway October 15 at Space Ballroom and then traveling through a very special New Year’s Eve show at Brooklyn, NY’s Brooklyn Made on December 31. Hailed by Rolling Stone for “his classic American soul sound,” Mr. Lee Fields is arguably the greatest pure soul singer alive today. His prolific 5 decades career spans more than 20 albums & over 40 singles, an ever-evolving body of work which continues to grow via samples by such artists as J. Cole, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, & A$AP Rocky as well as outside-the-box collaborations like the worldwide dance club hit, “Jealousy,” with French DJ/ producer Martin Solveig. In 2001, Roth opened the doors on Daptone Records, with Mr. Fields releasing a handful of singles. Now, more than 2 decades later, he has officially joined the Daptone roster, reuniting him with Roth on the 25th anniversary of their first meeting to record ‘Sentimental Fool’, a deep, blues-tinged collection expertly showcasing the beauty, power, and raw humanity of Mr. Fields’ voice. The album – features backing from an all-star lineup of Daptone family members including guitarist Thomas Brenneck, bassist Benny Trokan, drummer Brian Wolfe, keyboardists Victor Axelrod & Jimmy Hill, saxophonists Neal Sugarman & Ian Hendrickson-Smith, trumpeter Dave Guy, along with an array of additional guest musicians/ backing vocalists. It’s clear with this new album, the top of his game is where Mr. Fields is at.

I had the pleasure of catching up with family to the proGram, Mr. Lee Fields ahead of his Saturday, October 22nd show in Madison at The Majestic Theater. It is always thrilling to have an artist be their complete self during a conversation and this one is a fine example. Mr. Fields expresses himself completely with just how happy he is with the Sentimental Fool tour kicking off and how the new record of the same name has turned out. We get into how he and ‘Bosco Mann’ got back together and made the vision of one, the success of two. Oh…laugh when you’re happy.

Also premiering in November is the new Lee Fields Documentary

[here’s a earlier conversation I had with the co-directors]

Change Of Scene With Scott Sawyer

Scott Sawyer displays his musical diversity like a badge of honor, re-visiting his blues & rock roots while continuing to explore the jazz tradition & beyond. He’s performed at major festivals, concert halls, and beer-soaked dives here and abroad (Central America, Asia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East) including Monterey Jazz Festival, Herbst Jazz Festival, St. Lucia Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz, 2002 Silde Jazz; Ottawa Jazz Festival; Detroit Jazz Festival, Berlin Chamber Music Hall; Blue Note (NYC); Catalina Jazz Club (LA).Born in Chicago, Sawyer was introduced to jazz and other music at an early age via his father’s record collection, which included recordings by John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson and others. Early on, Jimi Hendrix & Michael Bloomfield caught his ear and that led to blues and blues/roots influenced rock. Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Tim Buckley, The Doors, & Tom Waits were early inspirations. By the time he was a junior in high school, Scott had lived in Chicago-land, Maine, & Texas. Already immersed in the Chicago blues, he was exposed to Southern roots/rock music fusion. Over time, jazz became a priority. Guitarist Jim Hall caught his ear and sparked a deeper interest in jazz guitar/harmony; lessons with friend of this proGram John Scofield & Mick Goodrick added fuel to the fire. He landed a steady gig in Greensboro at Sammy’s, with vibraphonist Jon Metzger & bassist Charles Dungey that lasted a couple of years. From 1984-1996 Sawyer’s trio and special guests performed most Wednesdays at the legendary Pyewacket in Chapel Hill, NC. Sawyer has shared the stage and/or recorded with many artists of note, including John Abercrombie, Charlie Byrd, David Murray, Oteil Burbridge, ‘prima ballerina’ Marie-Christine Mouis, Bob Cranshaw, Buster Williams, Ron Brendle, Ed Thigpen, Grady Tate, Kobie Watkins, Dave Finucane, Bill Anschell, Ed Paolantonio, Keith Waters, Willie Pickens, Tony Williamson, Kate McGarry, Nnenna Freelon, Lois Deloatch, Carolyn Ghezzi, Danny Aiello (to name a few). With many recordings under his belt now, it’s time for one more. Maybe a little Change Of Scene.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Scott as he is set to release a brand new album, ‘Change Of Scene’ with Oteil Burbridge and Scott Amendola. We got into the state of mind and being Scott was in when first approached about the idea of putting out a new album. Right off the bat you can hear how influential his brother and executive producer on the record, Jon is. It is always nice to hear that when a new energy is added to the mix the flow remains constant and forward. Sounds like that’s what happened when this trio got toGether and set forth the vision. It is always exciting to find out how a track or two developed into its final state, so we learn a little about some of the tunes, but the best way to do that – get your won copy.

Steven Wright At The Barrymore

Academy Award winner & legendary mind-bender Steven Wright is a prototype comedian that many others constantly try to emulate. When you’re funny, people want to figure out just how. Deadpan delivery is not for everyone. Upon graduating from Emerson College and holding many odd jobs, he attended an “open mike” audition and became a regular performer at Ding Ho’s Comedy Club & Chinese Restaurant in Cambridge, MA. It was during this time that he got his big break and was booked for his first “Tonight Show” appearance on Friday, August 6, 1982. The king of late night enjoyed the performance so much he invited him to appear again the following Thursday, a rarity. His back-to-back appearances helped put his career into high gear. He soon found himself performing his off-beat routines on “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” & several stops back to “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Mr. Wright expanded his comedy career to include comedy albums, film & television appearances. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award as a Producer on the 2014 season of the hit FX series, Louie and continued as a Producer for the 2015 season. He guest starred in two episodes of Louie in 2015 & 2011 and was in Louis CK’s critically-acclaimed web series Horace and Pete. Steven is a regular guest with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers and continues touring the U.S., Canada & overseas. The way he sees life and how it happens is presented in such a way that I for one, appreciate how much he has influenced my way of always questioning everything.

I had the chance to connect with Mr. Wright back just before the pandemic put a halt on everything. This conversation was recorded and placed on the shelf [with a mask]. The show was rescheduled a couple times and we set things up and then then things changed. Just like life. So, here is the re-edited, off the shelf and mask-less chat we had in 2020. Still fun and relevant. People here in Madison can catch him 10/8/2022 at The Barrymore and others can go right here to find out where they can get a dose of this special mind-bender in action. We get into the day in the life of, baseball, the perfect movie role for him and just the things that come up. Check it.

Little Feat Run To Madison

Little Feat is one of those bands that can and still does successfully weave many types of genres together into a fusion of an almost collectively unique sound, that seems to have been magnetized to the ears of many. They combined earthy, organic material with individualize talents [having the right pieces in place seems to really work] into a community that leaps over boundaries. Little Feat took California rock, head-boppin’ funk, stretched out jazz, old pick-up truck country/rockabilly, & a New Orleans swamp boogie that has that certain somethin’ somethin’ and stirred it into this rich and chunky gumbo, and continue to bring the life to the party. This is music that I love made by people that seem as real as the day is long, and it shows in how people react to the rhythm of the heartbeat within these tunes, like the pulse is shared by each and everyone one of us. The members of Little Feat 2022 are friends of the proGram, Bill Payne, Keyboards and Vocals; and Scott Sharrard, Guitars and Vocals and Tony Leone, drums; Sam Clayton, Percussion and Vocals; Fred Tackett, Guitars and Vocals, Kenny Gradney, Bass.

I had the chance to catch up with brother to the proGram, Scott Sharrard ahead of the October 4th event at The Barrymore here in Madison. Scott and I get into this special show as part of the 45th Anniversary of ‘Waiting For Colombus’, one of the bands – correction – one of the best live albums ever made. Scott shared a couple of the tunes from this tour that really tug at the nostalgia strings and one that gives him a moment of pause to think of Brother Gregg. If somehow you are of a certain age where maybe this music has escaped you, this is a great time to get yourself familiar with the sounds, the scene and the reasons why for so many people, this is a chapter of their lives bookmarked with album titles and dancing bodies.

GA-20 Is All That And More

GA-20 clearly is on to something big. It’s a movement, a new traditional blues revival. The dynamic, throwback blues trio are disciples of the place where traditional blues, country & rock ‘n’ roll intersect. Guitarist Matt Stubbs & guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, & drummer Tim Carman have been at the forefront of this traditional blues revival since they first formed back in 2018. It’s no wonder they skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard Blues Charts. Since day one, GA-20 has drawn inspiration for their old-school sounds from the music they love by artists such as Otis Rush, J.B. Lenoir, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Hound Dog Taylor, Lloyd Price, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and so many others. Performing with what feels like reckless abandon, GA-20 brings a timeless immediacy to every song they play with a sound that continues to grow & evolve. Matt Stubbs is a 14-year veteran of legendary blues master Charlie Musselwhite’s touring band, and has performed with James Cotton & John Hammond, among many others. Stubbs met Faherty in Boston, and their mutual love of traditional electric blues, R&B, & rock ‘n’ roll led them to write, perform & eventually record their modern vision of this life-altering music. GA-20 quickly drew a large following, and the band soon signed with acclaimed soul/R&B label Colemine Records/Karma Chief Records, releasing their debut in 2019 to widespread critical & popular acclaim. On ‘Crackdown’, GA-20’s 3rd full-length release, the band creates an unvarnished, ramshackle blues that is at once traditional & refreshingly modern. Expanding on their previous releases (2019’s Lonely Soul & 2021’s ‘Try It…You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor’) GA-20 finds inspiration on the edges of the genre, where early electric blues first converged with country & rock ‘n’ roll.

I had the chance to catch up with Matt Stubbs ahead of the October 4th event here in Madison at The Bur Oak. Matt gives a quick preview of the event and then we spend a little time getting into this fantastic new release, ‘Crackdown’. We find out how and where it really fits into the catalog, how the title track shaped up and I have to tell you, I cannot wait for people to hear any part of this album stretched out at a live show. Matt gives a peek into what he’s been listening tp and which track off the new album he’d choose to build a set around. This band…this album…this show.

Omar Sosa In Madison

Seven-time GRAMMY-nominated composer, pianist and bandleader Omar Sosa’s musical trajectory has taken him from Camagüey and Havana to touring in Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia and Nicaragua in the 1980s, to a sojourn in the African-descent communities of Ecuador in the early 1990s, to an extended presence on the San Francisco Bay Area Latin jazz scene, to his current engagement with artists from Spain, France, Brazil, Cuba, the United States and many African nations. Sosa fuses a wide range of jazz, world music and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original urban sound – all with a Latin jazz heart. I am excited to announce that he will be heading to Madison this year and it could be a highlight for anyone who decides to make this an event not to be miss. For his Overture performance, Mr. Sosa brings his new Quarteto Americanos, featuring Bay Area artists Josh Jones on drums, Sheldon Brown on saxophones and Cuban bassist Ernesto Mazar Kindelán.

I had the honor of getting a little bit of friend of the proGram, Mr. Sosa’s time as he was between rehearsals/shows/family time. We got into providing the imagination of people a view into what the scene will be like on Wednesday, September 21 in the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center For The Arts. Mr. Sosa provides a window into how this group of talented ‘family’ friends ended up getting together to create. The window opens a little wider to learn what the quartet will bring sonically, experimentally and spiritually as together, we all will be in one unique universe as the sounds surround. We learn a little about each musician – why Mr. Sosa believes he is still on this planet and believe me, if you go catch this event, you too will be grateful.

Two For The Road lead to Madison

Eric Vloeimans (trumpet) is one of the best-known musicians in his native country, the Netherlands. He has led a wide variety of ensembles over the years and is a frequent guest soloist with bands & orchestras of all sorts. He has won 4 Edison prizes (the “Dutch Grammy”) for his recordings and has toured throughout Europe, Asia & the US with his own groups & artists such as Mercer Ellington, John Taylor, Peter Erskine, The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Wayne Horvitz, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and so many others. Will Holshouser (accordion) is a veteran of the New York music scene who has performed all over the world with artists including violinist Regina Carter, clarinetist David Krakauer, & improvisers Han Bennink & Michael Moore as well as with his own projects. He has also performed with Antony & the Johnsons, Kiran Ahluwalia, Uri Caine, Guy Klucevsek, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera, Martha Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright, Suzanne Vega, & many others. This dynamic duo hit the road September 11 – October 2 for a twelve city tour of the US & Canada to celebrate their expressive & playful live album ‘Two for the Road’. The album was officially released September 1, 2022 via V-flow/Challenge Records. The album was recorded during a live concert tour of the Netherlands in 2021, during a window in the pandemic when musicians & audiences could finally come together. The 2nd album from this duo, it showcases their expressive writing, playful & virtuosic improvising, & omnivorous range of influences, stretching the format to include a colorful range of sounds from their vibrantly vast musical backgrounds.

I had the opportunity to catch up with these two open minded conversationalists ahead of their event on Friday, September 23 at Audio for the Arts, here in Madison. We got into the two great tastes of accordion and trumpet working it out toGether and we dive deep into the new record. While there are moments one could consider ‘jazz’, there much more to this sound and rhythms. We learn about Eric’s beautiful “Innermission” series composed during lockdown: several pieces that range from introspective, almost Schubert-like meditations to joyful rhythmic romps. We also get into Will’s long-form composition/suite “Redbud Winter,” which was commissioned by the American Accordionists’ Association, and touches many feelings during its play time. I think this is music to soak in live and be amazed, but also to take home and use as needed.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Singer/saxophonist/flutist Karl Denson fronts the Tiny Universe as if he’s preaching the gospel. Highly regarded as one of the best live acts on the planet, KDTU distills the sweeping stylistic range of its concert performances into their own authentic sound featuring Denson and his long-standing seven piece unit. His energy and spirit are contagious while his songwriting serves a larger message of fellowship—across generations, genders, religions and cultures. Not surprisingly, he’s none too pleased with the current state of political discourse. Thus the reason why KDTU’s last album, ‘Gnomes & Badgers’ (out now on Seven Spheres Records), is Denson’s hard-grooving answer to these tragically divisive times. He was a member of Lenny Kravitz‘s band and has co-founded and led The Greyboy Allstars. Denson has recorded with artists including Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Slightly Stoopid, Blind Boys of Alabama, Blackalicious, Stanton Moore, and Jon Foreman of the rock band Switchfoot. He amazingly continues to lead his own KDTU and Karl Denson Trio (KD3), while touring with the Rolling Stones since 2014 to date.

I had the pleasure of catching up quickly with Mr. Denson right before he was heading out on a well deserved and hardly gotten vacation. So a biG greenarrowradio thank you to him for making the time. We talk about the upcoming event Live on King St. Free Convert Series coming up September 16th and get to know a couple of the newer names in the Tiny Universe. Karl opens up about his writing process and his recent listening back to his varied catalog and how that is making him feel since he is one who is usually a forward listener. We also learn a little about how he gets into an artist he likes. Karl mentions why working with someone like PHILCO, helps keep that innovative/improvisational tool in his toolbox sharp. He may also reveal what solo he plays as a member of the Stones gives him a special feel…maybe.

View With A Room by Julian Lage

Guitar virtuoso Julian Lage expands his horizons on ‘View With A Room’, a collection of ten original compositions out September 16 that marks his second release for Blue Note Records. Having established a home base with his brilliant trio of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King—most recently heard on the guitarist’s acclaimed 2021 Blue Note debut ‘Squint’ Mr. Lage casts his gaze outward to discover new orchestrational possibilities with the addition of six-string icon and friend of greenarrowradio, Mr. Bill Frisell, who adds his inimitable voice to this stunning album. ‘View With A Room’ is enhanced by the production team that the guitarist has assembled and which has become an extension of the trio itself. The album was produced by Margaret Glaspy, Julian’s wife & musical partner who brings her own insights as a singer-songwriter to the lyrical/storytelling elements that make his compositions so singular. She worked closely at Brooklyn’s Bridge Studios with engineer Mark Goodell, who Lage credits with “wrangling this album into a sonic place that references what we love best about classic Blue Note records while still feeling utterly contemporary and unique to the sound of this band.” Longtime friend & collaborator Armand Hirsch added integral post-production elements that bring the emotional intent of each song into focus. The best part s for us in Madison, is Julian Lage is bringing his trio here on the day this album drops.

I had the chance to catch up with this former child prodigy recently to find out what we can plan on being a part of when he and his trio hit Madison 9/16 at the High Noon Saloon. We talk about what it is about that life, stretching moment of being one with a crowd. We spend a little bit of time walking our minds through the new record and how the added layer of a Bill Frisell helped take it into the beyond, from the seed of idea into the flower of songs. I am a fan of not only the music of Julian Lage, but after you listen in for a bit on our chat, it may be easy to feel our similarities in how we approach music…we talk about his recent time at the mecca of venues, Village Vanguard and also his being a part of the gang at the Alternative Guitar Summit. I find it easy to listen to him as it is his collaborations [which are many and vast] as well as his trio, each avenue opening a new path to something different. Come along.

photo by Shervin Lainez

More With Making Movies

As Making Movies delivers its 4th album, XOPA, the Kansas City band proves true the maxim which, in English, is like an encouraging version of “reap what you sow.” Meant to inspire to push forward, the phrase is chanted on the LP’s multi-movement epic, “La Primera Radio” — but it’s exemplary, too, of the band’s musical odyssey. This is a band that makes American music with an asterisk: because Making Movies’ sound encompasses the entirety of the Americas, not solely the country inarguably centered in mainstream everything. It’s through this broader perspective that they have crunched classic rock into Latin American rhythms — African-derived percussion & styles like rumba, merengue, mambo & cumbia — in a way that feels oddly familiar, yet delivers the invigorating chills of hearing something uniquely new. Each member: Enrique Chi, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter; his brother Diego Chi, bassist/experimental vocalist; percussionist Juan-Carlos Chaurand; & Duncan Burnett, newly incorporated into the band on drums, is enthusiastically committed to music history, to uncovering connections between genres & cultures both their own & otherwise. They’re all lifelong musicians too, hailing from disparate yet similar backgrounds, parents that cherished music, fathers that kickstarted cultural movements, families in which gospel is critical to their very existence. The band’s collective desire for exploration has attracted a several connections, many of them legendary players, like friend of the proGram Mr. Steve Berlin of iconic rock band Los Lobos, a recurring collaborator & steadfast champion of the band. An approach from beloved Panamanian musician Rubén Blades led to joint songs like “No te Calles’‘ & “Cómo Perdonar.” Making Movies has also created with indie-folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff, trumpeter Asdru Sierra of Ozomatli, Puerto Rican salsero Frankie Negrón, and all-female mariachi group Flor de Toloache. On the heels of Making Movies’ 2019 album ameri’kana, the band worked on a documentary series, through which they connected with the legendary organist Reverend Charles Hodges, an soul music pioneer who played alongside Al Green, and fellow Memphis, Tennessee, musicians the Sensational Barnes Brothers. At their live shows, they are wholly present, feeling every original groove with the same rush of as when they first found it. This approach has prompted many to proclaim: ‘This IS my new favorite band’.

I had the opportunity to catch up with family to the proGram, Enrique Chi ahead of the Making Movies sets on the weekend of August 13-14th at the McPike Sessions – the Pursuit of Happiness. We got into why coming to Madison is a no-brainer, we dive deep into the technology and songwriting sides of the new record ‘XOPA’ and we touch base on the give back the band is art of with a discussion around the upcoming AMERI’KANA Music & Arts Festival. Check them out live, listen to the music but definitely figure out a way to find out that the difference is why.

Hot Pursuit Of Happiness

Thollem is a perpetually traveling pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author & teacher. He’s spent most of his life living on the road throughout North America & Europe. His work is ever-changing, evolving & responding to the times and his experiences, both as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of artists across disciplines. He is known internationally as an acoustic piano player in the free jazz and post-classical worlds, as the lead vocalist for the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti and as an electronic keyboardist through a slew of projects. Born & raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Thollem began playing the piano, composing/improvising as a child, absorbing the sounds of his culturally diverse upbringing. As an adult he has continued to incorporate the breadth of musics he has experienced on his extensive travels. Since 2005, he has played over 1,500 concerts throughout North America & Europe as a soloist and in collaboration with other musicians, dancers & filmmakers. In that time span, as lead facilitator or co-leader, he has also released close to 100 albums on 23 different vanguard labels. A very brief cross section of his many collaborators include William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Stefano Scodanibbio, Nels Cline, Rob Mazurek, Ravish Momin, Michael Wimberly, Mike Watt & Carmina Escobar. The deep true list is as diverse as his ear.

Over the years I have had a chance to discuss several different projects with Thollem, but this one is unique. He was out of his element in some ways with his most recent work, ‘This Day’s Called Tuesday’ by his twenty first century one man band Hot Pursuit Of Happiness (HPOH). We get in there about what was different and how these tracks developed over time [and are still evolving as Thollem figures out what they will become in a live setting]. We talk about Thollem the singer/songwriter, the live beat maker and the sonic producer all in one in a real time environment…but it seems like the bottom line is just how this music, these songs make me, make him, make WE feel. There is something to this new music, I hope you will take a listen and share just what it is. It miGht just be special.

In Flower, In Song by Trio Xolo

‘In Flower, In Song’ is the debut album from Trio Xolo, an improvising group composed of bassist Zachary Swanson, saxophonist Derrick Michaels, and percussionist Dalius Naujo. With a telepathic ear toward musical interplay, Trio Xolo performs free-flowing stream of consciousness improvisations. The result is true, in the moment composition. The trio moves together dynamically as their voices simultaneously overlap and converge into one. In Flower, In Song was recorded live in one room and unveils a warm, organic sound: Swanson’s distinctive use of gut strings produce a dark, woody tone, Michaels draws robust color from a vintage saxophone, and Naujo expresses a nuanced control of energy and dynamics. Through explorations of melody, atmosphere, and texture, they can either embrace or dispel the traditional hierarchy of the trio format. At its core, Trio Xolo creates music that seeks to capture the essence of the moment through deep listening.

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with bassist, Zachary Swanson ahead of the album’s release. We got into how the moments were born, the flow of the sound and what we both found really cool was at the end of the day, the songs presented in an ‘order’ in a collection, we actually in the order that they were conceived. This in the now making of art, such as ‘In Flower, In Song’ has been in the front and back and even the sides of my mind, so getting more time with someone who lives in it, was special. Just like this record. The exploration finds will find a home behind your ears and gets right into the veins of my moods. This record will assist in taking your time and finding new ways to spend it, opening paths that were unseen and it’s up to you to go blaze that trail. Take Trio Xolo with you on the journey.

Release Date: August 19, 2022 on 577 Records
Compositions by Zachary Swanson, BMI