Free Radical’s White Power Outage Vol. 2

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.

Talkin’ Cree Country with Tomson Highway

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.

50 Year Of Imagine with Saint Disruption

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.

Time With Juana Molina

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

The Bogie Band Ft. Joe Russo

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.

Club d’Elf You Never Know

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.

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni

Why would one of poetry’s most revered voices want to curate a jazz saxophonist’s album of gospel hymns and spirituals? “These songs are so important,” says Nikki Giovanni, one of Oprah’s 25 “Living Legends” and a Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. “They comforted people through times of slavery, and during recent years we needed them to comfort us again. But a lot of the students today do not know about the history of these songs, and they should. So I’m out here putting water on the flowers, because they need a drink.” Giovanni’s historic collaboration with saxophonist-composer and former Jazz Messenger Javon Jackson has yielded The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni, available today on his Solid Jackson label. “The spirituals have been around so long,” says the renowned poet, activist and educator, who came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s as a foundational member of the Black Arts movement following the publication of such early works as 1968’s book of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment and 1970’s Re:Creation. “Some spirituals have been updated and stayed around and some have been lost over time,” Giovanni notes “So for me, it’s just helping to keep something going. And I do it because there’s a need.” Jackson brings his bold-toned, Trane-inspired tenor lines to bear on a series of hymns, spirituals and gospel numbers hand-picked by Giovanni, who was also the first person to receive the Rosa L. Parks Women of Courage Award. And the 78-year-old poet makes a rare vocal appearance on the tender ballad “Night Song,” singing a song identified with her close friend, the late civil rights activist and High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. Joined by an outstanding crew comprised of pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter — the same lineup that appeared on Jackson’s 2018 album For You and his 2020 follow-up, Deja Vu — Jackson interprets gospel staples like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Wade in the Water,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” with authoritative tenor tones, deep walking bass lines and an organic sense of group swing. “It’s the first time I worked in a collaborative manner,” Jackson says. “The project is personal for me. I come from a lineage of devout Christians, and that has afforded me the chance to connect with that ancestral stream. Captured live at Telefunken Studios in South Windsor, CT, the 10 tunes were all done without the use of headphones, another first for Javon. “This music is something that people will probably be a little surprised to see coming from me,” he says. But given the state of the world, it could be just in time. Both poet and saxophonist stand on the shoulders of their ancestors on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni.

I had the complete honor to connect with Mr. Jackson to discuss the creation of this project – the way the seeds were nurtured into the beautiful and important flowers released today. We talk about the choice singing by Nikki Giovanni to honor her friend, Nina Simone – how the interpretation of well know tunes made him feel and how one of the miGhty poet’s poems was placed ever so perfectly in a familiar tune. My words cannot express the depth of cool within these 10 tracks, nor the conversation Mr. Jackson and I share in discussion of it. Please earGrab both and let them take you where they will.

Nine Lives from Kendra Morris

Kendra Morris’ new LP Nine Lives, due to be released on Karma Chief Records in early 2022, marks not only the culmination of the decade since the release of her first LP Banshee, but also a turning point in Kendra’s life professionally/personally. This album heralds the beginning of a new chapter; a new label, and an evolution to the next level of adulthood. Nine Lives is a collection of her original songs encapsulating moments from what could be nine lifetimes lived over a chronological time period, or nine lives lived simultaneously in parallel and convergent realities. With zero plans of slowing down and an innate belief in only evolving, the question lies in what will be her next nine lives?

Nine Lives will be available February 18th on vinyl, CD and digital/streaming formats via Karma Chief Records

I had the pleasure of hanGin’ out a bit with Kendra to dive a little deeper into how this new album, Nine Lives got to where it is today. The stories of the songs, the title, the words and feelings are all felt when we talk about the process between the then of the last music, to the now of this one. It is very endearing to hear people, artist go a little back in time with the them of those days….and the now of Nine Lives is easily relatable as a gift for the here we are. We talk a little bit about events and NYC, what she would spin off the new records along with a couple other tracks to build a set and we just talk. Be refreshed with our chat and get a taste of the new album to see how you relate…I think it has a lot of somethin’ for everyone.

Metamorphosis Third Coast Percussion

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

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

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

Metamorphosis:

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

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

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

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

Enter The Kettle From OSS

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

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

Taj Weekes: Pause and Ghana

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

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

Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber: Angels Over Oakanda

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

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

Overpass By Marc Johnson

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

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

Liv Warfield Is All That And More


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

imaGe used w/permission from LiV

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

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

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Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few

Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Fewfully explore moments of the past, present, and, yes, even the future. The new album Cosmic Transitions is a Five-part suite that addresses interpersonal relationships during a Retrograde period. The recording of this project took place on September 23rd, 2020 at Rudy Van Gelder‘s legendary studio where greats like John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and many other great musicians expressed what they felt in those moments. Isaiah Collier is a Chicago/Brooklyn based multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, curator, activist, motivational speaker & educator. He is probably most known for his work as a saxophonist, and drummer with this group. His sound/approach is drawn from the influences of John Coltrane, Roscoe Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Ari Brown and Gene Ammons and he has shared the stage with many distinguished artists—Chance The Rapper, Lewis Nash, Waddada Leo Smith III, Junius Paul, James Carter, Rene Marie, Marquis Hill, Bennie Maupin, Rudy Van Gelder, Angel Bat Dawid, Kahil El’Zabar and many more. He is one of many bright stars from Chicago and will bring the Chosen Few to Madison on June 12th for two shows at Cafe Coda as part of the Madison Jazz Festival.

Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few are heading into the festival on the heels of a fresh new music release. A release filled with a wide range of human emotions and musical possibility, Cosmic Transitions was crafted with the full intention to awaken those who hear it. Each part of the Suite weaves into the next. Not for the faint of heart, the album sets out to be a timestamp for before and after. Enjoy the journey. And enjoy our conversation about the upcoming event (who will be making the moments with us),the creation of these newest sonic adventures and the giving of and beyond the music.

DQB Heading To Madison

Dirk Quinn is the guitarist for the jazz/funk band that coincidentally bears his name. Based out of the beautiful city of Philadelphia, the Dirk Quinn Band (DQB) travels extensively throughout the US and Canada e=where they are met with smiling faces and ready to groove bodies. Utilizing over a decade of steady performing, they have developed a unique and in the now style – one that appeals to a wide variety of music listeners with a wide array of fans always seen in attendance at their events. It is the band’s infectious energy and interplay along with great melodic sensibilities, rhythmic experimentation and an accessible modern edge, keeps the Dirk Quinn Band as a mainstay atop any list of all that jazz and funk improvisations at its most engaging. I have been a fan of their musical creations for a long time, personally.

I had the chance to catch up with the four cats that’ll be heading to Madison at Garver Feed Mill on June 9th to tear things up and bring those good feelings. We got into what people in Madison can expect from this foursome as they get prepared for an evening of in the moment groves that can twist and turn on a dime. The main theme seems to be “That Feel good energy”. Speaking of feeling good….we had to talk about their latest release “The Milton” and find out how the new music came toGether during some of these crazy times. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know all four cats were gonna join the call, but it was a great chance to feel their energy as individuals, and listening to them talk about what song off the new album they’d choose to build a radio setlist out of was fascinating. I think it was for them too. Check out our chat, checkout the band live and hey, check out all the years worth of music the DQB has put out just for you.

Brood X and Joseph Yoon

My pal Joseph Yoon is pretty cool. His mission is to raise appreciation and awareness for edible insects through delicious, educational, and creative programming. His work has been featured on the Smithsonian Channel, New York Times, NPR, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and Forbes, as he and his colleagues help explain why the United Nations endorses edible insects to address food security and sustainability. He strives to introduce edible insects and normalize them in America as a sustainable source of protein with broad applications that can be found in your pantry, eaten as a snack, and beautifully plated by chefs. A couple years back, I had Joseph on the program to talk about how he goes about his mission. It’s impressive to say the least. We also discussed an event he was part of here at the University of Wisconsin, where I got to be a part of an incredible spread of deliciousness. This time around, we did remind folks of the mission but we mostly wrapped our heads around Brood X. Brood X, otherwise known as the great cicada hatching of 2021, is starting to happen now as soil temperatures in some parts of America move closer to 64F which is the trigger, according to scientists, for trillions of the insects to push up to the surface and into the world to mate. It is an absolutely amazing 17-year-life cycle for the heaps of bugs, who form different broods emerging at different times- all after remaining underground for almost their entire lives before briefly emerging to mate and then die. Brood X is the group of cicadas that spread over tracts of the north-east of the US, including New York & Washington, as well as parts of the Midwest & West Virginia. And… there is so much more to the entire story.

Joseph and I get deep into the entire Cicada scene as part of this amazing Brood X happening. We get into the hunt, the love and respect of the living beings and the ways to prepare and enjoy this nutritious and amazing insect. To Joseph, this is way more than just a cool thing to do (which there is no argument from me that it truly is way cool), this is something that is going on globally for so many right reasons and how do we turn the page in places that still see the “bugs” as mere pests. One of the many things I dig about Joseph is how the whole thing for him has such an artistic twist to it, from the selections of foods, to the accompanying additions of an meal , to the beings themselves and how they live their lives. You can hear the love of the creatures, the love of what Joseph is doing – just listen to him talk about all the possibilities with each part to the cicada’s lifecycle. This is a guy with the passion I think we need! For me, I was super excited to touch on the “chorus” of cicadas during our conversation as well and when you grab an earful, you’ll hear what cool thing he and Grammy nominated saxophonist Jay Rodriguez are up to.

Cicada Nymph Spring Salad w/asparagus, peas, red onions, chilis, garlic, butter, lemon, mint.

Famous Yet? Ivan FUNKBOY Bodley

Funkboy aka Ivan Bodley is a bass player and music director for the stars. He has performed with 50 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and counting. He has been musical director for Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Tokens and has performed with Sting, Elvis Costello, Temptations, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, Eddie Floyd, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Bo Diddley, Buster Poindexter, Uptown Horns, Paul Rodgers, Wynonna Judd, and David Foster. Funkboy is a magna cum laude graduate of the Berklee College of Music and an inductee into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. To date, he has traveled to 29 countries around the world and played to audiences of up to 82,000 people in performance settings ranging from jazz duos to 150-member symphony orchestras. Appearances include Carnegie Hall (featured soloist with the Rock Concerto), Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize (with Cracked Ice led by Crispin Cioe), 12 Broadway shows including “Rock of Ages,” “Spider-Man,” “Hedwig & the Angry Inch,” “Kinky Boots,” “Fun Home,” and “Ain’t Too Proud,” Obama Inaugural Ball featured in the Barry Levinson documentary “Poliwood,” Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Today Show, Emeril Live, Imus in the Morning, Charlie Rose, Live with Regis & Kelly, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Istanbul State Symphony and Israel Symphony Orchestras. So you can see that this Funkboy is a FunkMAN of the world.

All the above happenings come with more stories than one could imagine. Luckily for us, Funkboy has put many of them down into his new book: “Am I Famous Yet? Memoir of a Working-Class Rock Star”. I had the opportunity to catch up with him recently to garnish a little insight into some of the types of tales told within the pages (the ones he shares will certainly tease you into wanting a little more). He tells stories of circles being complete in a way where they seem drawn by fairy dust and an incredible gig, for two. That’s right…Just two people. Not only is this a page turning, but it is a head-shaer as well, people never stop amazing and I am thankful we had FUNKBOY’s keen observational skills taking notes. We also dissect his new tune (and first of hopefully many) on Color Red Music called “Crab Walk” and find out what it was like creating the music during a wacky time in the world.

Talkin’ Garage A Trois With Skerik

Garage A Trois return in the form from which they were born 22 years earlier with a new studio album, Calm Down Cologne, on RPF Records. Comprised by guitarist friends of the proGram, Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik and drummer Stanton Moore, OG GAT released their debut album Mysteryfunk to wide acclaim in 1999. The band evolved over the years in various configurations before eventually going dormant following its 2011 album, Always Be Happy, In 2019, the original 3 piece line-up reunited for a handful of shows. This would lead to an afternoon recording at Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho in Seattle, right across the street from where the band was playing a sold out, three night run at Nectar Lounge. Ace engineer Randall Dunn was invited to document the proceedings and captured the resulting album in one magical session. Dunn later took the tracks to AVAST! Recording Co. for mixing. With all but a few edits on the beginnings and ends of performances, Calm Down Cologne presents the music as it was played in the studio that day. The story about the album title might be that legendary underground Seattle artist Rick Klu gave Skerik the idea when he was describing a bouncer having to use some ‘calm down cologne’ on an unruly patron. I have been sprayed once or twice myself I think.

I had the chance to dive deep into the new music with Skerik. We talk about the creation of these mind-opening, ass-shaking tunes and how music – this music is the best thing they can do and capture this music in the now moment. This translates so beautifully when this band is live and amazingly, onto this record. We also got into some of the new music is is making with True Loves on Color Red Music, and recent music with Nels Cline. SAY WHA????? Skerik is also cool enough to build a setlist of things around one of the new tracks on Calm Down Cologne….click into find out what he choose.

Praying For Enemies with Joy Harjo

In her first new recording in a decade, Joy Harjo – the first Native American named Poet Laureate of the United States – digs deep into the indigenous red earth and the shared languages of music to sing, speak and play a stunningly original musical meditation that seeks healing for a troubled world – “I Pray for My Enemies”, released on Sunyata Records March 5. Collaborating with producer/engineer Barrett Martin on this unique new album, Joy brings a fresh identity to the poetry & songs that have made her a renowned poet of the Muscogee Creek Nation & one of the most authentic and compelling voices of these times. “The concept for I Pray for My Enemies began” says Harjo, “with an urgent need to deal with discord, opposition. It could have been on a tribal, national or a personal level. I no longer remember. The urgency had a heartbeat and in any gathering of two or more, perhaps the whole planet, our hearts lean to entrainment – that is, to beat together.” Latin Grammy-winning producer, composer and founding father of the historic Seattle music scene, Barrett Martin brings a new dimension to Harjo’s unique sound-world – her words and music spoken, sung and explored in a vibrant mix of classic instrumental sounds. Harjo and Martin describe it as “funkified spoken word” inspiring “elegant jazz, urban soul, and inner city, reservation grit.” She sings and speaks her poetry, as well as playing saxophone and flute, on an album she describes as “very much of-the-moment.” Martin holds it all together with drums, upright bass, keyboards & production duties. He assembled an all-star band to explore Harjo’s work, featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.) on electric guitar & feedback; Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) on electric guitar solos; Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) on acoustic guitar; and Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) on electric guitar solos. Additional players include renowned Iraqi oud master Rahim Alhaj; trumpeter Dave Carter & percussionist/backing vocalist Lisette Garcia. Joy’s stepdaughters sing harmony vocals, and her husband Owen Sapulpa plays surdo drum on the album. Joy defines songs and poems as distinctly different expressions, & both are featured in the 16 tracks that make up the album. Her words & music, older & newer, get a fresh new identity here. Some of Harjo’s defining poems appear here – “An American Sunrise,” “Fear,” “Running” & “Remember” – refracting her own experience as a Native American woman of her culturally defining generation. “Calling the Spirit Back,” from an early collection of Harjo’s poems, and the new song “How Love Blows Through the Trees” – written when COVID-19 reached her home in Tulsa, OK – echo the suffering of a world experiencing a pandemic.
Joy Harjo is the author of several books of poetry, plays, children’s books. In May, The Library of Congress will release Living Nations, Living Words: an Anthology of First Peoples Poetry: and in September a memoir Poet Warrior, A Call for Love and Justice, Oprah Winfrey recently picked her anthology of Native American poetry for her book club. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation; the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award; PEN USA Literary Award and many others. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

I had the complete honor of catching up with Joy about this brand new release and we dive into the seed to flower tale. How she got to work with Mr. Martin and the key of the rhythm. All the words above speak the truth about Joy, but to get a true sense of this album and how it sounds and more importantly feels, is up to you. Go hear, go feel.