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.
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’ 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
The Gabe Stillman Band hits the stage in high gear and only goes higher as they embrace all corners of American Roots Music with their impromptu selection of original gems and a few carefully chosen covers. Since landing in the final 8 of the 35th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, and further honored as the recipient of the esteemed Gibson Guitar Award, Gabe and his band have been focused on expanding their footprint on a national & international level. Based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Gabe formed the band in 2015, shortly after graduating from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. His first self-produced release “The Grind” received wide acclaim. The 2nd release, “Flying’ High” is backed by the legendary Nighthawks. Gabe’s most current project, his first full-length release “Just Say The Word” features 15 tracks with 13 originals, is on the Boston-based, Vizztone Record Label. This robust project was guided by famed musician and producer Anson Funderburgh.
I had a chance to catch up with Gabe ahead of his upcoming Mid-west tour where he will be closing out Atwoodfest22on the Madison Heritage stage Sunday, July 31st. We get into what makes his live shows something people are always left raving about, how he looks forward to his first trip into Madison and the creation of his album, “Just Say The Word”. There may be new music that we talk about as well as the potential upcoming honor that comes with the name of one of Gabe’s musical heroes, Mr. Sean Costello.
image by Kirk Hansen
Joe Marcinek Band is an experience you will never forget. That is because each show features a different lineup of musicians creating a different set of music every night. The music is equal parts Chicago Blues, New Orleans Funk, Grateful Dead Psychedelia, and Jazz Fusion! JMB is an ever evolving mixture of original compositions and incredible musicians. Each show has a slightly different lineup and interpretation. Joe tours nationally from New York to LA and everywhere in between. And since most of the lineups will only happen one time, it makes every night that ‘can’t miss show’. The group has featured many prominent special guests including Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking Heads), Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band), George Porter JR (The Meters), Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), Alan Evans (Soulive), Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk, Dave Mathews & Friends), Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy, Kirk Franklin), Allen Aucoin (the Disco Biscuits), Marty Sammon (Buddy Guy), Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident / EOTO), Erik “Jesus” Coomes (Lettuce), Borahm Lee (Break Science), Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), Mike Greenfield (Lotus), Borham Lee (Break Science), Steve Molitz (Phil Lesh & Friends / Particle) Joey Porter (The Motet / Juno What), Fareed Haque, Scott Metzger, Nate Werth (Snarky Puppy) Garrett Sayers (The Motet) Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain String Band), Freekbass, Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin (moe.) and more!
This time around Joe and I continue our conversation when JMB4 was the topic as it was the riGht time to drop ‘JMB5’, The band’s 5th record out now on Vintage League Music. We dove back into how this when went down and getting the studio work in and all the stars aligned from the beginning. Friend of the show, Mr. Robert Walter adds his flare and fire to this one and to me, it has that feel good, heal right thang going on. We get into something solo he put together when coming off the bi that hit so many, and we even tease a little of what the next record will be like and who will be a part of it. Another Dead Funk Summit is right around the corner once again AND an upcoming George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners tour featuring Joe Marcinek is just about here, so we make sure to get a little pitch in for the things you maybe didn’t know you needed to know about.
Over the years, Charlie Wooton and I have gotten together to talk about all the projects he has been touching for many years. We go back. From the times with Bonerama and Royal Southern Brotherhood, to his work with/as Zydefunk and his very own Charlie Wooton Project. The guy can play that bass in ways we have only seen a few do before and that can certainly lead to gigs, jobs and music that comes from certain places. Charlie can groove and funk with the best of them. He can make Zydeco sound like it did when it was born or add a little future to it even. This time around, he is heading up to Madison as part of friend of the proGram, Mr. Sonny Landreth‘s band at LA FÊTE DE MARQUETTE on July 16th.. We get into just how the opportunity to make some live music happenings with a childhood hero came about. That story starts off in a space we know well. Charlie relives a moment in Japan with friend of the show, Rafael Pereira, São Paulo native who brings his rich understanding of Brazilian rhythm to Janelle Monae and many others and how their collaborative groove was an introduction to their band Zabadodat, and from there, we get to Mr. Landreth. The tales wander, just like the innovation of the onward mobing artist – and Charlie has some stories and ways to share that will entertain, make you shake your head and of course probably gives you a want to catch this event live.
After all is said and done, Charlie not only opens up about changes to himself thru the years of our hanGin’, but also to where the desire to give back starts and grows. Blue Monday Mission is a nonprofit that takes care of elderly musicians that can’t work anymore. Most musicians live hand to mouth. Blue Monday Mission folks come in and help in anyway possible, from medical help to cutting lawns to just visiting. Blue Monday Mission is also educating younger musicians about the business so they can one day return the favor. It’s run by John Williams. Charlie also shared his thoughts on a potential Congo Square music-documentary that resides in his thoughts but seems ready to spill out in the world.
Anteloper is a duo of psychedelic sonic compatriots starring a pair of raggedy celestial sound warriors: trumpeter jaimie branch and drummer Jason Nazary. These longtime friends/collaborators met as young explorers and consider this electrified duo a continuous experiment into an unknown sonic abyss. Improvised organisms, abstract bangers, and mind-bending head boppers are guided by a unique desire to hear what has not been heard before. This here is music made of and for the moment, tipping towards the future, moving feet to the new-new beat. When prompted about the duo’s name, branch comes back rhyming: “An Anteloper, is an antelope, interloper,” adding in a jovial manner, “an antelope walks up to a party, but you know, people don’t want him around.” Turns out, she had the name before the band was formed, and once the duo started rehearsing, it was apparent that THIS was what an Anteloper sounds like. Another creature pops up in the title of the duo’s new album: Pink Dolphins. branch explains that the name is in part a nod to her Colombian heritage (from her Mother). “There’s these amazing pink river dolphins that live in the Amazon – they can swim in salt water, they can chill in fresh water, or they can rock in mixed up brackish waters. They are uniquely ‘aquadelic’ in that way. Aquadelic and super endangered.” In many ways branch & Nazary are like those dolphins – adaptable to varied terrain and moving in many directions through sound. What makes this album special is the way that the duo bravely abandons the known as they leap forward into a path less-travelled. There’s no pre-made template here, only sound. Only a starting point, the destruction of that point, and the telepathic creation of a new way out. The electronics incorporated by both players are navigational devices, transportation sound-crafts. The resulting output is freewheeling, other-worldly, improvisational music, inspired by the unknown and at home in the astro-world. But the driving force behind Anteloper’s psychedelic space-music is not escapism, rather a complete immersion in the hyperreality of the present. Their music is made for destroying concepts of a past & a future, for confronting and embracing the moment, for the betterment of the here and now. It’s music that is as rare and bewilderingly beautiful as that aquadelic pink dolphins surfing through the Amazon River.
I had the opportunity to catch up with jaimie and Jason ahead of the July 13th Anteloper event at The Bur Oak here in Madison. We created a mental mosaic for anyone unfamiliar with the scene that is created live by jaime and Jason. We spent time discussing the brand new release, ‘Pink Dolphins’ and how it pieced toGether, which is a whole lot like what we will experience in a live setting. The starting point, was in fact, also the whole point. I get that. We talk relationship and vibrational connection and how the two put aside each one, and become….Anteloper.
Photo by Tim Saccenti
Harriet Tubman is a musical collective formed in 1998 by guitarist/vocalist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs & drummer JT Lewis. Harriet Tubman was an African-American woman born into slavery in 1822 in the southern US state of Maryland. Tubman is renowned as a liberator of other African-American slaves who like she, chose to defy the system of Slavery and seek freedom by escaping to the North. She accomplished this with the help of a secret network of safe houses, or “stations” on what was known as “The Underground Railroad”. Far from being underground, Ross/ Gibbs/Lewis have collectively performed w/some of the most important musical innovators & visionaries of the last half of the 20th century: Herbie Hancock, Henry Threadgill, Tony Williams, Don Pullen, Tina Turner, James Blood Ulmer, Sonny Sharrock, Leroy Jenkins, Cassandra Wilson, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Oliver Lake, Muhal Richard Abrams, Aretha Franklin, Lawrence Butch Morris, and so many others. The music of Harriet Tubman is both familiar & fresh, while allowing the listener to experience the music free from distracting labels of style or genre. At the same time, it is easy to perceive sources that have seeded the musical development of the trio. From the electric explosion of fabled Miles Davis bands of the 70’s; to the transcendent spirituality of the music of the Mississippi Delta & beyond; to the anointing cry of John Coltrane’s musical apex; to the open rhyme scheme of the rhythm invention of the American Urban 80’s; to the imagined sound of the endless expanse of the African savannah – Harriet Tubman uses ALL of their musical experiences to communicate a vision of musical freedom and musical invention for those who choose to take the journey.
I had the honor of catching up with two thirds of one of my guilty pleasures out there in the sonic landscape creation, Harriet Tubman and the collective within/around it. Friend of the proGram, JT Lewis and Melvin Gibbs took a moment to discuss what the scene on June 24th at Cafe Coda in Madison has the potential to be. We get deep into the paths of the music, from an ancestral calling and receiving to a future moment that awaits. We share in the belief of the unity and togetherness of the music, and how in a live setting, that can enrich the exploration and experience for both artist and audience. Whether you can make it to this show or not , and we are just a few of the lucky ones, if you have yet to discover these cats or this project – there is not better time than now. They can help you locate what your freedom feels like.
Photo by James Andrew
After hearing a bunch of the amazing albums from Daptone & the Truth and Soul Records artists such as El Michels Affair, Menahan Street Band, Budos Band, Lee Fields, etc., Tim Felton (organ/electirc piano) was highly inspired and realized he needed to put together an ensemble to make gritty recordings & perform this music fused together by all of his eclectic influences. These influences ranged from Afrobeat, Soul-Jazz, Trip Hop, Soul/Funk, Ethio Jazz, Jazz-Funk, & psychedelic music from around the world. Tim started in a few smaller soul-jazz & instrumental funk quartets, but he was craving a bigger sound. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble was fianlly born in 2012. Under Tim’s direction, SFSE started with some material he had been working on for a few years, and before too long, they collectively began writing new tunes. The band have also partnered with one of the top independent Funk/Soul labels in the world: Colemine Records.
I had the pleasure of catching of with Tim recently to get the low down on the brand new album from Colemine Records, ‘Step Down’. We got into the seed to flower of the album and it’s tracks, finding out a couple of ways certain songs were brought into this world. Tim also is in his element when he build a setlist out of songs off the new record and other artist’s art. Since I have shared almost all the tunes on air, this was certainly a path listeners will want to walk down. Speaking of walking down…Tim is based out of San Diego and is an avid hiker and tester of new beers, so he provides a trail recommendation to take with a certain new beverage of choice. To know him is to well, have words with him. Tim is also the editor/engineer for one of my favorite radio proGrams, ‘A Way With Words‘. [Martha & Grant are friends of the program] so we find out what a day in the life is for that Tim and I may have wondered out loud if there’s ever going to be a segment where he answers questions around the ‘music’ topic?
Thaddeus Warren Tukes is a vibraphonist/composer/arranger/pianist & bandleader. A Chicago, Illinois native, Thaddeus began playing the piano at the age of 5, & quickly began inclusive percussion instruction w/the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Percussion Scholarship Program, while attending Edgar Alan Poe Classical School. Although classically trained, he was inspired to play Jazz vibraphone after hearing vibraphonists Lionel Hampton & Stefon Harris. He played percussion instruments & piano in the Jazz Combo/Band/Orchestra/the Wind & Percussion ensembles at Chicago’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the school’s band, he received superior ratings in solo competitions, & recognition as the best Illinois Jazz vibraphonist among high school competitors by the Illinois Music Education Association. Mr. Tukes graduated with a combined bachelor’s degree in Jazz piano & vibraphone studies at Northwestern University, the first Jazz vibraphone degree program at a non-conservatory university, where member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Victor Goines is Director of Jazz Studies. Tukes earned the honors of being a Ravinia Jazz Scholar, Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Kewitt-Wang Scholar, Luminarts Fellow, Vivian K Harsh Society awardee & Percussive Arts Society/Yamaha Terry Gibbs Vibraphone Scholarship recipient. As a former apprentice of Chicago’s Gallery 37/After School Matters Center for the Arts Jazz Band program during high school, Mr. Tukes is currently its director. In the summer of 2020, he and a group of local musicians formed the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, a music performance & social justice advocacy organization. Through the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, he has supported led protests, provided political and financial literacy for the local music community, conducted jam sessions throughout the city, & created a citywide network of young muticulturalinstrumentalists. Thaddeus has released 3 albums under his self-owned label, Vibetown Studios. He performs as a bandleader & special guest w/the Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, South Side Jazz Coalition, Inc., & various Jazz clubs and ensembles throughout the country. He is a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra & the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. When not performing, he can be found teaching percussion ensembles at various elementary & high schools in the Chicagoland area.
I had the complete pleasure of hanging out a bit with Thaddeus to talk about the upcoming show at Cafe Coda on June 16th, as part of the Madison Jazz Festival. We talk show expectations here in Madison, bringing that Chicago sound wherever he goes and the importance of the give-back. Thaddeus gets to go deep into what the Chicago Freedom Ensemble means to him and the opportunities for building a better community that have come from their work, as well as being a bridge to showing the youth that it IS possible to get out, survive and flourish. On May 20th, Thaddeus had a dream come true, and this serves as a reminder that, YES, YOU CAN. This Cat Right Here.
Brooklyn’s Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are fronted by Afrobeat/Juju veteran Leon Ligan-Majek a.k.a. Kaleta. The singer/guitarist from the West African country of Benin Republic lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria where Afrobeat was born. Kaleta’s guitar chops earned him decades of touring/recording with Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Lauryn Hill & more. Kaleta got his start in the late 70s performing in church & was soon after picked up by iconic Juju master & world music pioneer King Sunny Ade. A few years later Fela Kuti came calling. Kaleta would go on to tour the world playing guitar for the King of Afrobeat in his storied band Egypt 80 through the 1980s & into the 1990s. Now based in New York City, Kaleta has been leading Super Yamba Band since 2017. Their debut album “Mèdaho,” which was released by California indie label Ubiquity Records, draws on the group’s shared reverence for the raw, psychedelic sounds that captivated Kaleta as a music loving kid in 1970s Benin. Mèdaho means “big brother,” “elder” or “teacher” and is dedicated to Kaleta’s late brother Ligan-Ozavino Pascal who introduced him to funk and soul music at a very early age. The album was included on Bandcamp’s “Best Albums of Summer 2019” list and two of the songs were chosen for the ABC/Hulu series High Fidelity staring Zoe Kravitz. Kaleta & his band have also erupted onto the stages and video screens of major music festivals/music publications across the US. They performed at the historic Apollo Theatre in 2019. In 2017 they rocked Paste Magazine’s Emerging Music Festival in NYC & after that performance Afropop Worldwide fell in love with Kaleta, saying “his James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business!” The members of Super Yamba Band have honed their craft performing with a diverse range of artists such as David Byrne, Rubblebucket, Yeasayer & Between The Buried And Me, just to name a few.
My pal Kaleta [we have been sharing music for well over a decade now] fought jet-lag to make sure we chatted briefly about the upcoming event in Madison at the Marquette Waterfront Festival. Kaleta & Super Yamba Band will be closing out the Saturday night festivities. We got into the facts that the show will be more than expected or seen before, new music and how the sounds evolve and grow further/deeper as the group gets more time back in each others space. As far as the show goes on Saturday – Madison will be ready – I hope wherever you are, you get a chance to share time with Kaleta & Super Yamba Band.
Free Radicals, a musical, political, & cultural force in Houston for over 2 decades, just dropped their highly anticipated new album ‘White Power Outage Volume 2’. The 25-track project is the follow up to Volume 1 and continues their quest to put an end to white supremacy. ‘White Power Outage Volume 1’ (2020) made waves with the press, radio, & fans through its diverse sound & beautiful mix of vocalists & musicians representing shades of Black, LatinX, white, Asian, mixed, & indigenous people that make the up the culture of Houston Texas. They came together to make revolutionary music, and to demand an end to the white supremacy in the arts, culture, politics, the economy, and in their personal lives. Volume 2 is another genre-bending compilation packed full of highlights. Leading up to the album, Free Radz released the single ‘Bipartisan Baby Jail’ featuring Michele Thibeaux, Henry Alvarez & Karina Nistal. The single also includes 4 year old kids from Peace Camp Houston and combines singing, rap, & poetry over funk. ‘Mutiny On The Bayou’ features one of Houston’s longest standing and best rappers, D-Ology, and rips open the suppressed history of Houston’s 1917 massacre of Black soldiers. ‘Checkpoint / Dompass / Hajiz’ sees Lindi Yeni expressing her lifetime of experience with human rights & South African apartheid to this track. Yeni is joined by Jitsvinger, EQuality, and Prince Alfarra. On ‘Killer Bee Honey’, the Next Generation, Cherria Rattler enlists her daughter Marium to re-record & expand on the track originally recorded by Cherria 22 years ago, protesting the destruction of the planet by shortsighted & greedy men. Other highlights include the Karina Nistal led ‘El Ritmo Contra Gitmo,’ ‘Pokke Koebês’ by Jitsvinger who nails white conquest of South Africa in Afrikaans, Karega Ani’s poem ‘Crystal Stare,’ & instrumental track ‘Manifestación En El Centro Hoy.’
I had the opportunity to check in with Nick Cooper, drummer and producer of Free Radicals along with one of the collaborators on ‘White Power Outage Vol. 2, EQuality. We get into the seed to flower construction of this new music, synchronizing with artists from around the globe on a mission for one, and EQuality dissects ‘America’s Blues’, a track he brought to Nick and away the went. We talk about protests they have attended and shared their sounds and beliefs at, and the desire to get more time with current and new collaborators. Maybe you can brinG them to you.
Writer, composer and musician Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He had the great privilege of growing up in two languages: Cree, his mother tongue, and Dene, the language of the neighboring nation, a people with whom his family travelled and hunted. He is the proud son of legendary caribou hunter and world championship dogsled racer, Joe Highway, and artist-in-her-own-right (as bead-worker and quilt-maker extraordinaire), Pelagie Highway. That’s them on the cover of the brand new record, ‘Cree Country’. Sung by the incomparable Patricia Cano, ‘Cree Country’ is a stylish collection of twelve new country songs from one of Canada’s most prolific artistic innovators. With a spectacular band including the very best of Canadian country players, the album’s compelling tunes speak of real life, love, longing, devotion, our connection with nature, and the courage it takes to strive for your goals. Produced by the award-winning John Alcorn, the virtuosity of each musician is given great room to shine, with backup vocals that recall The Jordanaires, the gospel quartet loved by Elvis. Cree is an Indigenous language spoken by 100,000 North Americans. Many of Canada’s most well-known place names are of Cree origin, including Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Chicoutimi, Québec, and Ottawa. It’s a very rhythmic language that lends itself naturally to music-making – and particularly country! Tomson recalls living in the Manitoba bush in the 1950’s and hanging a transistor radio high in the trees at night to hear country music waft north all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. The joy of hearing that music is the inspiration behind these tunes.
I am proud to say that I had the chance to catch up with Tomson Highway to discuss the seed to flower creation of this fantastic new release. It was incredible to hear how long this music, this show, has been a work in progress. The happiness and joy that this sound spreads is really incomparable to that which oozes out of Tomson…I am still noticing my smile is a little bit wider these days. Within these words, there are paths to inner healing and hints on ways to find that happiness that is clearly still all around – I think I will just climb the ladder a little higher and adjust my transistor radio…recalibrate and check out Tomson and Cree Country.
Saint Disruption, the spirit-driven music & art collective led by renowned improvisational keyboardist John Medeski and musician, scientist, and folk healer Jeff Firewalker Schmitt, has created a soulful rendition of John Lennon’s classic composition “Imagine.” The single features slide guitar work by Grammy winning vocalist, songwriter, guitar legend, >Warren Haynes, marking the first time that Haynes has recorded with his nephew Austn Haynes, cofounder of Asheville-based hip-hop quartet Free Radio. Out April 8, 2022 via Root Doctor Collective, the track also features impressively dynamic vocalists—Datrian Johnson and Grammy winning artist Debrissa McKinney (both of whom also work with Austn in Free Radio)—with the foundational bass parts played by Jake Wolf. “Such a cool, inventive take on this timeless tune,” says Warren. “It highlights the amazing strength and importance of the song while taking it into the future. It’s a real honor to work alongside my nephew Austn, my Asheville cohorts and my old friend John Medeski.” Medeski & Firewalker Schmitt had no idea they’d meet & strike up a friendship when they traveled independently to the heart of the Amazon to work with a shaman healer in 2008— but when they did, a collaborative creative relationship was born. Over a decade after that fateful meeting, in the midst of a global pandemic, the two felt an urgent need to join forces and make music as Saint Disruption. The group brings together musicians and artists to create works that support positive change in the world, with a spotlight on the rich artistic community of Asheville, NC as the creative hub. Firewalker & Medeski are pleased to have created the foundation to bring Warren & Austn Haynes together for the first time in a recording. Looking forward, Saint Disruption is planning to release more music & visual art collaborations, music videos, and their soon-to-be-launched No Simple Disruption Podcast/Video-show—released in conjunction with the No Simple Road Podcast and The UBC TV Network—which aspires to provide a platform for young visionaries to share their works and engage in deep dialogue with thought-leaders of their choice.
I had the chance to catch up with both Jeff and Austn about how they took such a life changing tune and made it into their own vision. We spoke of how the individual spirits combines to form this completely new rendition, the how’s and what’s that caused surprise and what are the possibilities for the future. We get into the healing and spirt side of earlier collaborations and how that music became the gateway bridge in/outward. There reflection on finding a new flow with new music, eldership and collaborations with the North Mississippi Allstars. Towards the end, we get into the coolness that is debuting n the Fall on thegiveback of the upcoming podcast/video show that brings true stories, from real people to the next generations. Deep fun times right here.
Juana Molina is a singer/songwriter from Argentina whose atmospheric blend of folk, electronica, & experimental pop have brought her international acclaim. Her career trajectory has been a unique one with her initial success coming as a massively popular comedic actress in the early-1990s. The subsequent abandonment of her television career in 1996 flummoxed critics at home where her newly launched music career failed to take hold. Nevertheless, Molina’s inventive and original songwriting was widely accepted outside of Latin America where, over the next two decades, she has established herself as a critically-lauded recording & touring artist. The daughter of tango singer, Horacio Molina, & actress Elva “Chunchuna” Villafañe, Juana was immersed in the arts from a young age and began playing guitar at the age of five. She actually made her first recorded appearance as a child alongside her father in 1967, singing the song “Te regalo esta canción” as a Mother’s Day gift to her mother. Her father secretly released it as a single and it became a hit, selling 45,000 copies. Now, after many diverse experiences, her passion and commitment to music prevailed, and worldwide recognition began to grow. After the release of her second and 3rd album, she quickly became the darling of the international indie/electronic/folk scene, and praise began pouring in from admirers in all corners. As her catalog continues to grow, more open minds and ears keep following, and I look forward to more opportunities for the incomparable Juana Molina to say yes to new projects that will continue her expansion.
I had the honor of catching up with Juana ahead of the April 29th solo event at the Stoughton Opera House. We get into what someone who gets out to go experience this show will try and prepare themselves for. We get into an interesting discussion about lyrics vs. music and how and when one become the anchor and one is the ready to move vessel. I’ve been sharing a few tracks off the new CRAMMED DISCS album ‘Find The One’ to be released on the same day Juana is in WI, from Congotronics International. This part of the conversation just keeps opening my eyes to that abality she has to find where and how she fits in and being such a valued addition to the scene, the people…..the art. After this conversation, I know I am even more interested in the moments of Juan and how the act/react to and within me.
photo by Alejandro Ros
Stuart Bogie was born in Evanston, Illinois & studied music at the University of Michigan & Interlochen Arts Academy. He has toured & recorded extensively w/the groups Antibalas, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Iron and Wine, Sway Machinery and performed as the featured soloist in the original Broadway production of Fela!, directed by Bill T Jones. As a composer/arranger, he scored the Oscar nominated documentary ‘How To Survive a Plague’ which featured performances by the Kronos Quartet alongside Stuart’s group Superhuman Happiness. He has appeared on several recordings by the above mentioned as well as those of Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady), Cass McCombs, Sharon Van Etten, Angelique Kidjo (2 Grammy winning albums), Medeski Martin and Wood, Yeasayer, Spencer Day, Holly Miranda, Foals, Passion Pit, Biloji, and legendary improvised conductor Butch Morris. He has performed on television with Public Enemy, Rob Stewart, Barry Gibb, Paul Simon, My Morning Jacket, Tune-Yards, The Fela! Broadway Cast, The Roots, Antibalas, Gomez, Craig Finn, Sam Fender, Erykah Badu, & Alabama Shakes. It’s all of these experiences that lead us to the moments of today. Currently, Stuart leads The Bogie Band feat Joe Russo, a nine piece Winds & Drum group that performs ecstatic music that’s half sit down and half get up. He has been performing daily solo clarinet concerts on Instagram throughout the Covid 19 Pandemic, and has featured remote collaborations with over 50 different artists. He regularly composes music for film, stage, & commercials.
Stuart and I got toGether to mainly discuss the fresh to the world release of ‘The Prophets In The City’ —the debut album from The Bogie Band ft. Joe Russo on Royal Potato Family. We dive right into the way this music was planted as a seed, ways it was allowed to grow and Stuart creates a set-list around the album with many local Madison artists, just to be even more impressive than being such a deeply sought after saxophonists in the business – his resume is long/diverse & amazing [just like the roster of friends on this new album]. Something tells me this is another one of those albums of sound that could be an instant addition to a collector of music with an open mind and a thirsty ear-hole.
To the naked eye, Club d’Elf looks exactly like a world-class instrumental band: 5 or 6 fierce players laying down heavy grooves & exploratory solos on distinctive original material, as audience members dance or listen in amazed attention. To its fans, however, and its large and colorful cast of musicians, D’Elf is all that & much, much more. The paradox & the power of the unusually named Club d’Elf become increasingly clear through repeated encounters. Unlike almost any other band, D’Elf’s personnel changes radically from show to show. Fans have their favorite configurations & players, but unlike groups where musicians’ tenures are finite, ‘D’Elf-ians’ revolve in & out, reappearing in endless combinations. Beyond the cast of characters, the music itself is in constant flux. Individual songs can vary dramatically from performance to performance as new alignments of players make every moment fresh. No 2 sets are alike. Yet the feeling & philosophy that animate D’Elf remain consistent, the product of the vision & dedication of leader Mike Rivard (aka Micro Vard) and the ongoing contributions of his talented collaborators. Club d’Elf’s desire to move beyond the world of appearances & venture into the realm of the eternal is at the center their music. This metaphysical quest is embodied – much to listeners’ benefit – within one of the best bands you will ever hear – and one that rewards repeated listening. You can enjoy D’Elf any old way you choose it, but make no mistake: This community of sound gardeners intends to move your booty, excite your intellect, & ultimately join you in transcendence itself.
This is always a special time for me, when Club d’Elf celebrates the release of new music. Micro and I dive way deep into the new music off You Never Know. We get personal…like the music tends to feel…and we learn how the sound formations took place, where the origins were and how the growth and friendship allowed a new bloom to blossom. The album offers a fusion of jazz, gnawa & other North African traditional music influences refracted through a prism of contemporary psychedelia—Morocco turned technicolor. Over an hour & 15 minutes, the record unfurls upon kaleidoscopic clouds of spiced smoke, shifting from chopped dub-jazz through trance epics that reimagine Boston as a city of bazaars. Micro talks of being inspired to make the record after overcoming a life-threatening embolism he suffered while on a spiritual quest in Peru. In the studio, he was joined by collaborators Dean Johnston (drums), DJ Mister Rourke (turntables), Paul Schultheis and John Medeski (vintage analog keyboards), Casablanca-native Brahim Fribgane (oud, vocals and percussion) and guitarists Duke Levine, David Fiuczynski and Kevin Barry—ceded the spotlight to the collective, allowing for free-play and improvisational dexterity. Through it all rides the trance, pulsing, calming and seeking mystic truths. I welcome you this community, in service of the Groove.
During her remarkable 22-year recording career, saxophonist/vocalist Mindi Abair has garnered 2 GRAMMY nominations, recorded with some of the biggest names in music, and built a substantial following among jazz and blues audiences with her soaring melodies and powerhouse style. In 2014, Mindi received her first GRAMMY nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns with Dave Koz, Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright, followed by a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP Wild Heart featuring the late Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg. You might know her as the featured saxophonist on American Idol, sitting in with Paul Shaffer on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, or from moonlighting on tour with Aerosmith and Duran Duran. Since her debut album in 2000, she has consistently topped the Billboard Contemporary Jazz and Blues charts. In 2018, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers won 8 Independent Blues Awards including Artist of the Year, and an Independent Music Award for Best Blues Song “Pretty Good For A Girl” featuring Joe Bonamassa. They won the 2019 LA Critics Award for Best Holiday Album for All I Got For Christmas Is The Blues. And in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 she was nominated by the Blues Music Awards as the Best Instrumentalist: Horn. As creator, designer and owner, she has successfully launched wineandjazz.com in 2019 as a lifestyle concept that brings together the worlds of wine and music through members-only exclusive wines paired with personally curated music playlists, label art and branded wine and music worldwide adventures and festivals. Phew…..But, I just proudly call her family to the proGram.
Mindi and I had a chance to play catch up while diggin’ into her new album, ‘Forever’, out now on her Pretty Good For A Girl label. We learn a bunch about the personal side of this music and how the pieces fall into place, as they sometimes cosmically do. We learn who just happens to be ‘hanging out’ in the recording process offering a little advice and eventually becomes a background Rainbow singer. There’s time spent talking about pairing wines and music – the give back and of course, Mind i is somehow always prepared to takeover my show and play one of her new tnes and have a plan for a great set of greenarrowradio music for the listeners. Family.
On each of his albums, Jack Broadbent is used to people saying that ‘this’ is this is a departure from his previous stuff. That’s something the British-born singer, songwriter and guitarist has heard to varying degrees, over the course of his 6 albums to date, and is certainly fitting of his latest release, RIDE. As someone who is as connected to the quality of his relationships with people as he is to the quality of his music, rest assured he considers that a compliment. Jack grew up in rural Lincolnshire, England. His earliest influence, his father, Mick Broadbent, plays bass on RIDE and is a well-established musician, including a tenure with Bram Tchaikovsky. “I fell in love with music at a young age,” Jack says, informed by the steady diet of music played around the house. Started with the drums but gravitated to guitar around the same time as he became interested in song writing, his slide guitar playing evolved from the busking he did during his early 20s. “It seemed to appeal to people as something that was both visually and musically exciting. This was interesting to me,” Broadbent explains. “I was already playing in altered and open tunings, so when it came to using a slide I was well-versed in how those patterns worked together.” He took some cues from influences such as John Lee Hooker and Little Feat, but ultimately he wanted to find his own sound as an artist. Jack found acclaim and an audience after the Montreux Jazz Festival hailed him as, “The new master of the slide guitar.” Bootsy Collins famously proclaimed him, “The real thang!” He won over more fans touring with the likes of Ronnie Wood, Peter Frampton, and other musical legends. His penchant for writing on the road ensured that there was usually an abundance of material whenever he was ready to return to the studio. That was the case with RIDE, although the album took a turn from what Broadbent initially intended. The band just went full steam ahead in the direction which brought the sound of this album into focus. They built on those grooves and ended up with the rock ‘n’ roll record Jack has been wanting to make for a long time. Working around travel limitations and within the uncertainty of the last year, this international collaboration translates that edge. Throughout RIDE, the listener can detect what Jack calls “this underlying theme of trying to get a feel for where you’re heading and recognizing how much distance you’ve still got left to travel.” Now, The next step, of course, is to take RIDE on the road, which will be happening throughout 2022. He knows the songs will only grow as he presents them on stage, but they’ll continue to speak to the experiences from which they were born. No matter what lies on the road ahead, fans can rely on his dedication to the music and to his evolving craft. Little Feat founding member [friend of the proGram] and current US tourmate Bill Payne says it best: “I love his voice. His playing is superb, showing an almost reckless abandon when he gets revved up. He is performing on the edge, and if he falls, so be it. The pieces will not break.”
I had the pleasure of catching up with Jack ahead of his April 13th event at The Bur Oak here in Madison. We defined what someone who never heard of him would experience – the realness of the music will take over from there. We dive into the new album and Jack lets loose on how it went from thoughts and ideas into the songs that are rock and roll tales that call out to be heard. After just a few brief moments chatting with Jack, the familiar feeling came over me like I had been waiting to chat with him for some time – and that is exactly the feeling his music has provided me. I am curious what it/he will do for you.
The middle part of the proGram saw the melt turn into a new form.
Endless Sea- Cat Power
I Had a Dream Joe- Cat Power
Up In Smoke- Ceramic Animal
Tangled- Ceramic Animal
Will You Still Be Mine?- Ron Jackson
Freedom Jazz Dance- Brian Auger Ft. Alex Ligertwood [Live at the Winter Garden]
I Wanna Take You Higher- Brian Auger
Soif, Chameau, Pinot- Kind & Kinky Zoo
Poulpe Fiction- Kind & Kinky Zoo
Landline Memories- Circles Around The Sun (Live Charleston Pour House 11/12/21)
***pre-recorded conversation with Mark Levy of CATS***
Pete Jive- Circles Around The Sun (Live Charleston Pour House 11/12/21)
Winner’s Eyes- Mamas Gun
The Last Dance- St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Milan, Michigan- Calibro 35