Songs And Stories With Tom Rush

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

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

(see Bur Oak Covid policy here)

Photo: Bob Stegmaier

Backyard Tire Fire Is Back

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

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

Under Tito Jackson’s Spell

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

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

New World Blues With Alastair Greene

As Alastair Greene’s prolific and acclaimed career rounds the corner into a third decade, he finds himself arriving at a new, yet familiar destination. Following a 2018 live album that celebrated the 20th anniversary of his noteworthy Alastair Greene Band, the singer-songwriter/guitarist returns with an inspired solo collection, “The New World Blues”, and a tonic for these times. “I’m not a prophet by any stretch of the imagination,” Greene says. “But, this record is even more relevant now than when I wrote it in 2019. A much in-demand guitarist and vocalist, Greene traveled the world, touring with the legendary Alan Parsons Live Project from 2010 – 2017, as well as stints with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas and, most recently, Blues Music Award-winner Sugaray Rayford. His work with Parsons, in particular, sparked a conversation with renowned multi-instrumentalist and producer Tab Benoit at a Las Vegas blues festival. In 2019, Greene signed with Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records label.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Alastair ahead of the August 11th show along with Tab Benoit here in Madison at The Barrymore Theater.. We painted a brief picture of what is to be expected when he hits the stage. Believe me, if you are fans of Tab Benoit, you’ll want to pay attention to this. We spend a good amount of time talking about the album that came out late last year that he is touring on the back of “The New World Blues” and how it was recorded and where some of the songs originated from and how the openness of working with Tab opened new sonic doors, thus created an album of songs that have a feel of each artist within it. Alastair was also kind enough to think of a few artists he might build a set around one of the tracks off this brilliant album, to me that list could really extend all over that bluesy/rocksy scene and well beyond. Check out the show, check out the album and feel this music for yourself.

Cole Bales Of Black Light Animals

Black Light Animals are a psychedelic soul group hailing from the Midwest. Taking equal influence from ’70s Italian horror soundtracks, Wu Tang samples, and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, their sprawling debut album explores themes of humanity, social media obsession, political division, and the concept of “amusing ourselves to death.” Sonically rich and full of spaghetti western guitars, psychedelic keyboards, hip hop rhythms, and lush vocals, “Playboys of the Western World” comes off as some forgotten ’70s film soundtrack, while exploring themes very much relevant to today. Black Light Animals’ “Playboys of the Western World” will be available August 20th on limited vinyl, CD and streaming/digital formats via Groove King Records.

I had the chance to catch up with frontman of Black Light Animals, Cole Bales recently to dive a little deeper into the creation of both the band and this stellar debut album, “Playboys of the Western World”. We get into how it all went from there to here both as a group and as song creators. We chat a bit about the differences for him between B.L.A. and another group ole is in, a more soul oriented outfit, The Freedom Affair and Cole even takes a little time to choose a track off the new album that he would build a set around for the radio show, and what other things he’d surround that track with. It is always a pleasure to dig into an album and after several listens and shares, and still be unsure what to actually call the sounds.. Hoping you all with dig in and wonder with me.

Joe Marcinek Talks JMB4

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 that magical Jazz Fusion. Joe tours nationally from New York to LA and everywhere in between. Most of the lineups will only happen one time making every night a 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), 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 that list keeps growing.

I had the chance to catch up with our brother to the proGram, Joe Marcinek about the brand new release,JMB4, We get into the process leading up to these songs on this album, the songwriting experience and this all-star band featuring himself, drummer Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), bassist Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk), and keyboardist/organist Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy). In addition, JMB4 includes special guest appearances from a pile of talented friends including Eric Gales, Roosevelt Collier, Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce), and Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident). We are even able to talk a bit about getting back out on the road and we don’t hesitate to give props to the visual and concept artist behind the art, Yhali Ilan. Always spreading the joy and love of the music and the art, Joe Marcinek with whomever he’s playing with is going to be a fun and “in the moment” time.

Art by: Yhali Ilan

Whole Nother World with Patti Parks & Kenny Neal

It is always nice to et introduced to a new artist. For me, the new album by blues/soul singer Patti Parks is my first ear meeting with her. She’s releasing a new album entitled Whole Nother World, which is produced by GRAMMY AWARD-nominated blues great Kenny Neal. Patti, a Buffalo, NY native and a Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee, is, as expected, really excited about the release of this collection of songs. Recorded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at Brookstown Recording Studios (Kenny Neal’s studio), Whole Nother World was released on May 28 on Mr. Neals’ Booga Music label. Along with producing the album, Mr. Neal arranged and also performs masterfully on it. A riveting live performer, Patti has a soulful, sensual voice that does immense justice to her uplifting blend of Chicago blues, Memphis soul and tasty funk.

I had the opportunity to cacth up with both Patti and Mr. Neal to dive in a little deeper into this fantastic new release. We get into the history of some of the songs, including a story of loss and regain. We learn both how Patti worked differently on this album that work previous, with her being in a whole new element Mr. Neal’s hometown and in his revered studio. It was also really fascination to get an idea of how Mr. Neal goes about creating, using his ears to see what the story is and how it gets to the place he might have heard it in his mind….legends do! Of course, there’s the music and then there’s the give back. Patti has been a working nurse and is creator of the Nurs’n Blues education program, which she developed to help high risk children at drug rehab centers, so we made sure to give some shout outs to this great work.

Truth In Sound: Marcus Rezak

Marcus Rezak carves out a distinguished style in the world of guitar with several cutting-edge groups such as Shred is Dead, Digital Tape Machine, Stratosphere All-Stars, Katharsis, Supernatural Beings in addition to frequent engagements as an artist-at-large. Known as a master of jazz improvisation and a seasoned artist of the sit-in, Marcus is a frequent call among bands and musicians. His 2018 debut as a bandleader saw him collaborating alongside Kris Myers and Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee, Arthur Barrow of Frank Zappa’s band, and legendary saxophonist Bill Evans. Since then he has toured across the US with eclectic lineups featuring the likes of Ike Willis, Kris Myers, Jay Lane, Scott Page, and more; led his band through two tours on the US Virgin Islands; spearheaded official Umphrey’s McGee afterparties, and continued to hone his chops in his home studio and licensing endeavors. ‘Truth in Sound’ is his most recent work featuring members of Trey Anastasio Band, esteemed percussionist Kalyan Pathak, and more. His adaptability and exceptional skill have garnered Marcus much deserved respect in the music world and have leveraged his ability to take his craft to integral heights.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Marcus to talk about the brand new music of “Truth In Sound” out now on Color Red Music. We dive into how the EP came together and the parts were put in place. We talk about working with the folks who signed on to get the project off the ground, their contributions to complete the vision within and ready for consumption and the ear share. There is a twist of course. Shortly after the release, one of those perfect fits to complete the project, Mr. Tony Markellis suddenly passed away. Marcus talks about the feelings that come with the release now versus the moments shortly before and how this music will be able to help carry a well deserved and very brought torch in Tony’s name. Check out the chat and help celebrate the more that comes with this release.

Todd Clouser And Cinema Music Plus

Todd Clouser is a composing guitarist, songwriter & performer based between Mexico City and the USA. Combining elements of rock, jazz blues, spoken word & improvised musics, he has toured the world with his group A Love Electric, as a solo act and performed alongside luminaries from John Lurie to John Zorn, Flea, Cyro Baptista, John Medeski, Keb Mo, and more, performing at rock, jazz and world music festivals across the globe. His prolific output & genre-evading creativity had NPR call Todd “a fascinating musician ….. (he) doesn’t belong to any scene and doesn’t want to”, and Mexico City’s La Jornada mentioning the group as “one of the most important acts of recent years”. A native of Minneapolis, MN, Todd grew up traveling the USA following his favorite artists & self publishing poetry/recordings before being signed to Ropeadope Records for his first “proper” release, entitled “A Love Electric”. As time/tours passed, A Love Electric became a band, first an instrumental act joined by NYC downtown scene heroes Steven Bernstein, Cyro Baptista, & Billy Martin, eventually settling as a trio that explores Todd’s songwriting while honoring the inquisition and fearlessness or jazz tradition, w/Hernan Hecht on drums & Aaron Cruz on bass. The trio has gone on to release 6 records on labels in the US & Mexico while performing nearly 1,000 concerts in the span of 7 years. So much has happened since those early days. Philanthropy/community outreach work has been an important of his work in Mexico and beyond. With the founding of his “Music Mission” initiative, Todd and patrons have donated thousands of dollars worth of instruments, education materials, workshops and basic needs support to communities in Nicaragua, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Durango etc. Todd is also the founder of Ropeadope Sur, a record label based out of Mexico City with a focus on Mexican acts in search of increased projection of their music, the first act signed being Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz, an acapella group singing slave-era songs on the ranches on northern Mexico.

It’s always nice to visit with family and Todd and I had a chance to catch up as he is heading to Madison on May 124th to play Garver Feed Mill in a trio with Alex Mercado and Rodrigo Villaneva. We get into the event which is entitled Cinema Music for Unmade Film and the tour that it is a part of. We spend some time also talking about his latest releases, “Fake Dudes” by Magnet Animals on Rare Noise Records, and a brand new live album on Ropeadope Sur called “Live, Loft, Köln”. The best part of all the things Todd is a part of is that there are so many kinds….it really provides me, a listeners and a sharer of music to learn so much about so many. I think this latest conversation will do the same.

Black Eyed Peace

Atlanta based producer Matt Mansfield aka Piper Street Sound has created a stunningly beautiful & collaborative EP of instrumental Reggae music with legendary Reggae guitarist Andy Bassford (Toots and the Maytals, Dennis Brown, Horace Andy, Culture, Roots Radics). Black Eyed Peace follows 2020’s Small Plate / Rid Them EP but puts a focus on guitar melodies masterfully executed by Maestro Bassford. The songs still bear that special Piper Street customary horn heavy & dub infused stylin’ but on this release, the flow moves into some new territory; elements of Rocksteady, major keys now bouncing alongside their minor key brethren, Yaya Brown’s akete drumming prods and propels the rhythms carved by the uber-tight drumming of Brian Daggett and the bass of Mansfield, Chris Case’s keyboard mastery blazes alongside, almost at times within the horns of Will Scruggs, Jonathan Lloyd and Dashill Smith. Black Eyed Peace is a collaborative affair pieced together gradually over the course of the pandemic, the horn sessions miraculously took place the week before everything shut down, and all other elements were recorded in home studios and electronically gathered by Matt, who then helped to guide them through the forest of the unknown into a toGetherness of today, many of us seek to find.

I had the opportunity to spend a little quality time with Andy Bassford to get a deeper look and feel into what led to his accepting this fantastic project as something he could feel ready to attach his name to. We get an inside look into his decision making, the vibrancy of the newly found relationship with Matt and even the possibilities of what comes next sonically. When you listen in, it sounds like the discovery of what could be has just beGun. Andy has been around so many of the great artists and sounds of a genre specifically, but I believe after listening in on this conversation, you’d agree that he is clearly in the business for the music, and I am so excited that Matt and he have found each other, and as that door keeps opening, we will all benefit from future collaborations and new found friends.

FREQUENCY EQUILIBRIUM KOAN by MGJ

One of the most influential guitarists to emerge during New York’s avant-garde loft jazz scene has returned to influence a new generation of edge-pushing, genre-hopping musicians. Michael Gregory Jackson has tread a winding musical path over his 40+ year career, embracing everything from creative music, jazz, blues, rock and electronica soundscapes to harmonically rich & lyrically-deep vocal tunes, with the complex arrangements & subtleties that are a signature of his music. His ability to span musical genres was best captured by one reviewer’s depiction as “Musical Mercury.” He was barely of his teens when he served as co-creator in the Oliver Lake Quartet, one of the most critically acclaimed & far-traveling ensembles working jazz’s outer fringes. Michael’s brilliant technique on electric & acoustic, flavored with quicksilver runs, volume pedal swells and sudden shifts from crystalline melodic to fuzzy dissonance, has been name-checked as a critical-influence, and can be heard deep in the musical DNA of six-string legends like Bill Frisell, Vernon Reid, Pat Metheny, Marc Ribot, Mary Halvorson & others. His journey from the avant-garde to what the industry regarded as a more commercial, song-based sound was thankfully and intriguingly gradual. It gave fans with inquiring taste a ringside seat to an evolution that unfolded subtly over a series of superb albums, ones that continue to be favorites of critics and his fellow musicians. Jackson’s newest release, Frequency Equilibrium Koan, will come out on Golden Records in February 2021. Frequency Equilibrium Koan is a 1977 recording of an extraordinary concert of Michael’s music at Joe Lee Wilson’s New York City venue, The Ladies’ Fort, performed by an extraordinary quartet: Michael Gregory Jackson (guitars & percussion), Julius Hemphill (alto saxophone), Abdul Wadud (cello), Pheeroan aKLaff (drums). Featuring 40 minutes of music and liner notes by Michael and guitarist Bill Frisell, Frequency Equilibrium Koan offers listeners a priceless opportunity to experience a key moment in NYC’s long lost Loft Jazz Scene of the 1970s, with Michael at that scene’s heart.

I had the honor of connecting with Michael Gregory Jackson primarily about this particular release to get deeper into the who and what, the now and then and the journeys between. We talk the scene, the people and the magic of not missing moments. I have been listening to and sharing his music for many years now, and this release makes me feel as close to that NYC Jazz Loft scene as I have ever felt, I believe some of those notes are still ringing thru the streets of the city. Head over to his bandcamp page to get your own taste and see what I mean.

Larry Keel’s American Dream

Larry Keel is an award-winning innovative flat picking guitarist and singer/songwriter hailing from Appalachia. Raised in a musical family steeped in the mountain culture of the region, he began from an early age to forge a distinctive sound, taking traditional music and infusing it with modern light. With the acoustic guitar Larry has brought the flat picking form to its highest level of sophistication and sonic power with his muscular, yet refined style of playing. As a composer and singer, he integrates raw honesty and charming grit to form a unique brand of music he calls ‘experimental folk’, songwriting that is filled with reality, imagination, imagery and mood. He has appeared on over 20 albums, 12 of which he produced, and has written songs that have been recorded and performed by distinguished artists including Grammy-award winners Del McCoury and The Infamous Stringdusters. Mr. Keel has collaborated and continues to merge creative forces with some of the greatest artists in modern roots music such as Tyler Childers, Billy Strings, Al DiMeola, Tony Rice, Keller Williams and Sam Bush, to name a few. His latest creation is a solo album titled American Dream, whose every component—from the writing and arranging, to the instrumental and vocal performances, to the recording and production—spring straight from the mind, soul, and hands of the Virginia-born artist. Each of the album’s 10 tracks were composed by Larry and serve as an autobiographical overview of his life and career, as well as the influences and episodes that have shaped his personal perspective along the way.

I have the honor of calling Larry a friend. He and Jenny are like family to this G. it is one of those things that right from the first moment…it was more then just about the music. That being said. Larry and Jenny and I get into the new American Dream record and talk about it’s seed planting into it’s crop yield. We talk a lot about the real “solo” aspect of this recording and even get into the nooks and crannies of a couple of tracks, including a: “It’s Not Nice To Fool With Mother Nature” quote. And…if Jenny all of a sudden comes out with a solo bass album in the near future, you can thank this guy for that! Take a few moments a walk through the fields of this new album with Jenny, Larry and I and then maybe go get some of the music into your ears and collection, I think it belongs in both places.

Martin Barre: 50 Years of Jethro Tull

Martin Barre was the guitarist of Jethro Tull for over 43 years, his sound and playing was a major factor in their global success. Martin’s guitar playing has earned him a high level of respect and recognition; he was voted 25th best solo ever in the USA and 20th best solo ever in the UK for his playing on ‘Aqualung’. His playing on the album ‘Crest of a Knave’ earned him a Grammy award in 1989. One of the lauded & respected rock guitarists ever to walk the planet, Martin’s dynamic, expressive, explosive guitar playing was paramount to Jethro Tull’s live and recorded sound, starting with his debut on the band’s classic second album, Stand Up (1969), right up to the band’s eventual demise in 2012. As well as numerous Jethro Tull albums, Martin has worked with many other artists including Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa and Chris Thompson and has shared a stage with such legends as Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin. Martin has put together a band to play the “classic” music from the Tull catalogue. His band is a total commitment to give the Tull fans and a broader audience the chance to hear tracks not performed for many years. The band includes top musicians from a similar background. On Friday November 6, The Store for Music record label will proudly release worldwide Martin’s new album…a double CD affair entitled “50 Years of Jethro Tull”. CD1 features Martin and his band doing live in-studio electric performances of Jethro Tull songs…both classic tracks and deep album cuts from Tull’s earlier days….with new arrangements with Martin and his band putting their own stamp on these amazing songs. The 2nd CD features Martin and his band doing their own new versions of primarily classic acoustic songs from various periods of Tull’s legendary catalog. Martin and the band’s take on all these songs is fresh, inventive, interesting and, of course, extremely well done. His own band will be touring again at some point whenever the world is safe for him to do so, performing both Tull classics & Martin’s amazing original music.

I had the honor of catching up with Martin to get the buzz about this new double CD set into as many earholes as possible. We go through the creation of the records, including the respect Martin and his band mates have for the original music and the many people it shares an importance with. We talk songwriting and the addition of a new instrument, a female vocalists sound on some of the tracks. Martin is one of those people who is deeply rooted in many of our musical “family” tree and the new album(s), provide that same nostalgic sense as well as some real fresh, high quality newness, we all deserve to take a chance on.

Rez Abbasi’s Django-Shift

Guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi is among a rare breed of artists that continue to push boundaries while preserving the traditions he has embraced. Consistently placing on DownBeat’s International Critics Poll alongside luminaries (friend of this proGram) Mr. Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny since 2014, he continues to forge new ground with his many multi-dimensional projects. He has established an enviable reputation over the course of fifteen albums as leader and years of touring internationally: not simply as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, but also as a musical alchemist with the ability to parlay his continent-crossing range of influences into consistently fresh and innovative compositions and reframings of the tradition. His deep musicality has been applied with equal conviction to contemporary New York acoustic jazz, the Qawwali and Indian Classical traditions of South Asia and the heady fusion sounds of the 1970s, each time applying the filter of his own musical personality to deliver inimitable results. Commissioned in 2019 to present a project on Django Reinhardt by the Freight & Salvage’s Django Festival in California, Rez boldly redefined his engagement by turning the focus away from Django, the codifier of the Sinti guitar vocabulary, and onto Django, the composer.

I had the pleasure of discussion the wonderful new release, “Django-Shift” which was released on August 28th via Whirlwind Recordings with Rez. First off, I always love when the artists I speak with is as energized by the conversation as I am. I could feel that energy when Rez picked up the call. We dive into how the album went from a moment of “Sure, I can play that gig”, to that eureka moment when he realized this should become a project. We talk how it he arranged the pieces for a contemporary trio featuring Neil Alexander on organ and electronics and Michael Sarin on drums. The results offer a fascinating and unique insight into an often overlooked aspect of Django’s genius, his skill as a composer. I think you’ll find that this conversation will lead you to want to give this album a bunch of listens, but it also may assist in opening your ear into the different avenues of many artists you think you love already…that desire to know more about the sound, the style the person or people is something I think Rez’s music, whether this album or one from the past does, it leaves that welcome mat out in from of the house…just knock.

Listening To The Music with Zephaniah OHora

Zephaniah OHora is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and a pillar of the burgeoning New York City Country-Western music community. Beginning in 2013, he served as frontman and vocalist for Honeyfingers. It was here, through two years and hundreds of performances featuring the music of Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Marty Robbins and others, that Zephaniah’s own musical vision began to come into focus. It was also during this time that he befriended fellow Honeyfingers collaborator Jim Campilongo. A series of conversations between the two revealed a mutual love for the Truck Drivin’ Country of Red Simpson, Del Reeves, and Dave Dudley. A few impromptu rehearsals later and The 18 Wheelers were born. Initially serving as a great excuse to play their favorite trucker anthems and country classics, The 18 Wheelers soon evolved into a showcase for Zephaniah’s original material. Assimilating a world-class band of musicians and a dozen songs that harken back to the golden age of country music, his debut album, ‘This Highway’ is an album that gives a reverent nod to the past before blazing a brand new interstate through the gridlock of contemporary country. By combining the brash edge of Bakersfield and the slick sonority of the Nashville Sound, Zephaniah Ohora with the help of The 18 Wheelers have forged a new brand all their own. ‘This Highway’ is a modern classic and a tribute to American Music. Fast forward to 2020 and we have a new album to dive into.

I had the chance to catch up with Zephaniah to talk about his new release ‘Listening To The Music’. We get into how the album went from songs he had written well before they were set into an album form, choosing a producer (friend of this proGram Neal Casal) that would take him out of his comfort zone and bring out some new things from within himself and we even let Zephaniah choose one of the new tracks and give us a clue as to some music that would go well with it in a setlist. When talking about our brother Neal, we get into a great story about the title track and how it went from not quite where it should be, into a real cool place that served the song perfectly.

The Reservoir by Kenny Roby

Kenny Roby knew from the start there would be a lot to say for his first solo album in seven years, the emotionally and musically expansive “The Reservoir”. So much had changed in his world and the world at large since his stately 2013 LP, “Memories & Birds”, an exquisite reflection on the experiences and apprehensions of crossing over 40. Kenny was now 48. He had been sober for half his adult life. Both his kids, somehow suddenly in their 20s, had left home. After more than two decades together, he and his wife had decided, rather amicably, to separate and try something else. Kenny’s band 6 String Drag—an iconic alt-country unit who were signed to Steve Earle’s record label and helped shape that very term as young North Carolina men in the ’90s—had reunited for runs of spirited shows and a barreling, but wise rock ’n’ roll record, 2018’s Top of the World. And then, of course, there was the wider social upheaval of the last decade, the feeling that all the progress Kenny had seen in his lifetime was in sudden peril. That was plenty to process for a dozen songs, right? Neal Casal thought so. The band met for a week in Woodstock in mid-October for sessions that were swift and natural. Kenny had culled 25 songs into 16, and the band captured many of them in only a few takes in the same room, with Kenny singing live as they played. They sound like a veteran ensemble on “The Reservoir”, with each of these numbers settling into deep and natural grooves. These tunes collectively summon the wealth of his experience, as a human being and as a musician.

I had the chance to catch up with Kenny t talk about the ins and out of the new album to be released August 7th on Royal Potato Family. We got into how the album took it’s shape from the beGinning moments of sharing out demos to trusted ears. We discuss in depth how our pal, Mr. Neal Casal (Rest peacefully) made it clear he wanted to be a part of these stories in one way or another…and how in any and every situation, it’s about being in the service of the songs. By the end of out talk, Kenny chose one track off the new album he would build a set around and his accompany tunes he’s pair off it made me want to try that set out on my home stereo. The album has a reason and I can feel why Neal was sure of it.

Photo by Gary Waldman.

Swallow Tales With Steve Swallow

Friend of the proGram, John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, aply titled “Swallow Tales” – made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts. “I love these songs”, says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: “Sometimes when we play it’s like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together.” Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. “What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'” Scofield says. “He’s a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard.” The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: “These two giants bring out the best in me.” Swallow’s compositions, John notes, “make perfect vehicles for improvisation. The changes are always interesting – but not too interesting! They’re grounded in reality with cadences that make sense. They’re never just intellectual exercises, and they’re so melodic. They’re all songs, rather than ‘pieces’. They could all be sung.”

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. Steve Swallow about the way this album (out now on ECM Records), came together, from start to finish. We get into the way the three “generations” got to the working part of this piece of art. Talking with Mr. Swallow was a learning reminder of how things are born into change. Hearing him talk about how he had to wear a bassist hat rather than the person who brought these tunes into the world originally was just thrilling. Hearing a little of that mentor pride is his voice as he speaks about the way Mr. Scofield goes after it when making music, especially this music was equally ear-opening for me. As someone who loves to share these sounds with others and weave them into little neighborhoods over the airwaves, it is moments like this, getting a little mind-time with the artist(s) that reminds me why pushing those buttons and twisting those knobs is an important part of getting the entire story out there on behalf of these creators. Take a moment, and be in the room with Mr. Swallow and I.

Blues Comin’ On with Joe Louis Walker

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

I had the chance to catch up with this living leGend to talk abut his brand new album, “Blues Comin’ On” out on Cleopatra Records. We got into the how the album went from an idea, a few lines of a poem to the moments of now when I prepare to give the listeners a deep dive in. It is always nice to be able to see backwards with an artists on how they became the person they are, the shapes and molds that they took on along the way, and Joe and I discuss how he became such an open-eared and open-minded artists. Real cool stuff. Just like the new album, there’s more to it then the blues, but he is truly one of the fine-tuners of that blues language.

Wings Of A Jetliner With Nate Lee

Nate Lee is an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award-winning instrumentalist and renowned teacher of private lessons and music camps. The overlapping landscapes of folk, bluegrass, old-time, and new acoustic music offer a wide field to hoe and singer/mandolinist Nate ably covers every bit of that ground. Tuneful lopes, the muscular bounce of ‘grass, the sparkling charm of Grisman-Rice inspired “Dawg” music, and more are all in his comfort zone and he moves between them with uncommon ease. Nate is known as the kind of musician who is able to put his own stamp on whatever he plays and his forthcoming album, “Wings of a Jetliner”, brings that home and is set for independent release June 12 on his own Adverb Records.

I had the chance to take a little time to chat with Nate about “Wings Of A Jetliner”. We got into the parts to the whole when it comes to the band-mates chosen to work with AND the output they came up with. We dissect a couple of tunes and even take a moment to find out which track off the album Nate would choose to build a set around and then what he would add to it from other artists or albums. I could tell right there that he and I would have a blast trying to create set-lists in the moment. “Wings Of A jetliner” is one of those alums that immediately caught my ear (like what a David Grisman sound would do to bend my ear) and not only do I look forward to getting deeper into it, but now I have another artist to bookmark to pay attention to down the line. Check it all out for yourself. Start with out chat.

Sam Quartin of The Bobby Lees

The Bobby Lees are a bone-shaking garage rock-n-punk band out of Woodstock NY. Their new record Skin Suit was produced by underground punk rock legend and friend of greenarrowradio, Mr. Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion (and so many other great bands) and will be released on Alive Naturalsound Records on a new date of June 17th.

In the past year, they’ve opened up for The Chats, The Black Lips, Boss Hog, Shannon & The Clams, The Nude Party, and Murphy’s Law.They will be on tour in the US and Europe throughout 2020. Their sound mixes classic garage-punk hits with raw and emotive storytelling so pay attention, get a head start and find them when you can get out and see for yourself.

Lineup:

Sam Quartin – Vocals/Guitar
Kendall Wind – Bass
Macky Bowman – Drums
Nick Casa – Guitar

I had the chance to catch up with vocalist/guitarist of The Bobby Lees, Sam Quartin about the brand new album. We get into a few of the tracks especially their gritty-ass take on another friend of the proGram, Mister Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man”. We find out how Jon Spencer got involved in this project, and what a story it is and since we cant go see them out live right now, (and they were due in Madison in the Spring) we find out what Sam likes best about the live shows and how they are different form the album and just what it was like opening up for the mighty Murphy’s Law. I have to say, I listen to a lot of music, all styles do it for me and “Skin Suit” is high on top of my listening list, with an “I can’t wait until they make it to Madison still in the very front of my going out mind…or is that going out of my mind?