Archive for the ‘Featured Articles’ Category

NORTH COAST| Chicago Shedell Show

Friday, September 30th, 2011

This past Labor Day weekend, TheRFW partnered with Rose Mountain Photography to produce the Chicago Shedell Show at North Coast Music Festival.  Below are highlight links to several interviews captured.

“The Chicago Shedell Show” Live North Coast Music Festival 2011 Brought to you by: Rose Mountain Photo, Roving Festival Writer, & MADHATTER PROMOTIONS.

“The Chicago Shedell Show” Live @ North Coast Music Festival w Interactive Amy By: RoseMountainPhoto

“The Chicago Shedell Show” w The New Mastersounds @North Coast Music Festival By: RoseMountainPhoto
The Chicago Shedell Show @ North Coast w The New Mastersounds [HQ]

 

“The Chicago Shedell Show” Live @ North Coast Music Festival w GHOSTHOUSE By RoseMountainPhoto

 

The Chicago Shedell Show Live at North Coast Music Festival with The Coop By RoseMountainPhoto
The Chicago Shedell Show w Midwest Hype @ North Coast Music Fest [HQ]

Americana Outlaws | Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Americana Outlaws – Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.RayLaMontagne.com

Ray LaMontagne makes me feel like a teenage girl.

Screams of joy escape my lungs when I find out he’s nearby. All my friends grow weary over my constant babbling about him. If there were a life-size poster available, I’d probably buy one.

His music is just that good, just that ideal sense of wonder and comfort, making those dark days seem bright again.

For the better of a decade, LaMontagne (who reportedly heard “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills and quit his job at a shoe factory to pursue music) has won over fans and critics alike with his smoky voice and poignant wisdom hearkening back to an era dominated by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison.

Though a reclusive artist, he has a bright spotlight aimed in his direction. He symbolizes honesty, clarity and tradition, a perception few and far between in the studio and on the radio. With his phenomenal backing group, The Pariah Dogs, their latest release (God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise) is a shooting star of style and grace across a musical industry congested with the smog of mediocrity and its own inconsequential priorities.

Moseying into Essex Junction, Vermont for a rare performance, LaMontagne found himself at odds with Mother Nature, who teased her unpredictable chaos throughout the day with severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.

The Midway Lawn at the Champlain Valley Exposition was a fresh vat of mud soup. Innumerable rain boots and Crocs made the hop, skip and a jump around the premises, drenched from weeks of unrelenting rain and improper drainage. Patrons sipped on hot coffee and cold beer in order to find some small piece of luxury amid the dampness.

LaMontagne emerged from the backstage darkness. “Hold You In My Arms”, like gravel wrapped in silk, silenced the raucous beer tent and left burning cigarettes dangling from astonished mouths (“When you kissed my lips with my mouth so full of questions/My worried mind that you quiet/Place your hands on my face/Close my eyes and say/That love is a poor man’s food”).

“Where does that sound come from?” a curious voice was overheard remarking.

Raindrops, teardrops and guitar notes trickled onto the cold ground. Like a farmhouse chimney in the winter, his calming breaths of lyrical magic (“For The Summer”) drifted into the crisp night air (“Can I come home for the summer/I could slow down for a little while/Get back to loving each other/Leave all those long and lonesome miles behind”).

“Thank you very much, thank you,” the aw-shucks singer modestly said after each selection.

The ensemble, resembling a gang of Americana outlaws in tone and appearance, is a well-oiled machine of grit, natural talent and playful ambition, pushing deeper into not only their minds, but also the psyche of those they play for and about.

Though hands held jackets tight against their bodies, gyrating legs in the audience splashed merrily in giant puddles ready to be classified as small ponds. Constantly yearning for the simple life, LaMontagne preaches pure freedom (“New York City’s Killing Me”), one that many often overlook or all too easily forget (“I get so tired of all this concrete/I get so tired of all this noise/Gotta get back up in the country/An have a couple drinks with the good ole’ boys”).

It’s not so much that Ray LaMontagne is doing something new, insofar that it’s about holding onto to something time-tested and aged to perfection. What he represents is sincerity and vulnerability, something missing from modern music that, like good whiskey, will only get better with age as not only he, but us, journey further down the desired path of righteousness and truth.

Shpongle Interview

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Interview with Shpongle (Simon Posford)

Contributing Writer : Brooke Kettering

Make sure you check out the live experience Simon Posford creates at Electric Forest Music Festival!  For more information, check out the event website: ElectricForestFestival.com

B: How are you doing?

S: I’m good, a little tired, but umm feeling good. Excited for tonight’s show.

B: Have you been touring like crazy?

S: Yea, I’m on an eternal tour. We’ve done, I don’t know, ten days or something like that. We’ve only just started I guess, and it’s fifty shows in total.

B: So you’re touring as Shpongle right now, correct?

S: The Shpongletron, ya, exactly.

B: Right, how was Coachella?

S: Coachella was amazing. A lot of people, and fantastic production.  So everything just conspired for a great show.

B: When you go to festivals like that, do you ever get time to enjoy yourself?

S: We did. Um, commercially I suppose Coachella isn’t really my type of festival but um, the only people we really wanted to see were Trentemoller but because all the people and stuff we got stuck by Duran Duran for some reason.

B: So you got to hang out for a few days or were you back on the road right away?

S: We stayed for two days, we saw Duran Duran and Kanye and a few other people.  But pretty much had to go straight out.

B: So, I’m more of a conversationalist than a journalist, but, hopefully we can just have a nice conversation and I’ll able get some interesting stuff out of it.

S: Ya, I mean ask me anything you like and if you want me to expand further I always can.

B: Something that I found interesting…have you heard of CouchSurfing, the website?

S: Couchsurfing?…yes.

B: So I’ve been doing that for a while…just hosting not traveling myself…

S: Really? How is it?

B: It’s been awesome! I’ve had all great experiences.  I hosted this one guy from Israel and, I always try to find a common ground in music, and in saying that I listen to some electronic music, he said he listens to Shpongle.   And then I was in this remote part of Mexico (Mahahual), where I became friends with these Mayan dancer dudes, and in talking about electronic music, Shpongle was our common musical ground.  You obviously tour all over the place…why do you think Shpongle is soo…can appeal to anyone?

S: Um I think, you know, Shongle is very universal.  The other guy in the band, Raja Ram, is 70 years old.  I’m obviously a bit younger than that, so you know, it seems to attract everyone from kids to grandparents. I know that he has plenty of people his age who like it.  I have a letter from somebody who works with autistic children, doing music therapy, and they play Shpongle for them as well.

B: Really! Do you know how they use it?

S: I don’t know what sort of music therapy involves, sort of playing the music and getting them to engage with it in some way I guess.  And one of the kids, he didn’t talk to anyone, he didn’t talk at all, he sort of learned the Shpongle music, he really digged it and the first words that he said in the class were,  “Shpongle! Shpongle!”  So that’s nice…I don’t know why it has that universal appeal…I mean the music…I guess, there’s something there for everyone.  I mean there’s certainly something in there to piss off everyone, we use so many different influences from Indian to Moroccan, to jazz to classical, dub, psychedelic, but you know there’s gonna be something in there for someone not to like, but you know also something for someone to like, maybe.

B: It seems like dubstep is becoming huge, becoming more mainstream.  Do you see the music you’re producing incorporating dubstep more?

S: I’m not particularly into dubstep myself, so I’m not going to suddenly start producing dubstep just ‘cause it’s trendy.  I mean I’ve never done that with any sort of music.  I incorporate what influences me and what I listen to, so I guess if I start listening to a lot of dubstep then it might creep into the music but as of now I haven’t.  I think dubstep seems like any musical fad, I think it will probably die out.  Or not die out, but you know these things always diversify, they incorporate other genres. So rather than me incorporate dubstep it’s much more likely that dubstep will incorporate other styles of music and splinter into different versions of itself and different genres within the genre.

B: Younger Brother seems pretty different from what you’ve done in the past.  Do you enjoy doing that because you like working with the people or because you actually like that music more?

S: Ya, I just really wanted to do something with the band.  Younger Brother was the first project we performed with a band, taking electronic stuff and performing it with a band and enjoyed it so much that we then sort of got the people we were performing with, involved in the studio when we were recording.  Again, it’s a reflection, it’s another aspect of music I listen to, and another of my tastes.  You know, I like rock music, I like Radiohead, and Pink Floyd and those sorts of things. And then we have Ru singing which naturally lends itself to more of a band sound, with a song structure. It’s just another aspect of what I like to do…If I stick to any one thing for too long I get bored. Even doing Shpongle, as much as the sort of multi-colored , hyper-dimensional that shpongle is, I still get bored and want to do something different after I’ve done too much. And so Younger Brother was sort of like that. And although people say it used to be psytrance, it never really used to be psytrance. My project Hallucinogen is what I would call psytrance.

B:So then what would you call Shpongle?
S: Shpongle…is sort of genre-defiant.  I always say, you know trying to describe music, there aren’t really the right number of keys on the typewriter, you can’t translate music into language.  It’s like describing physics through the medium of dance, or mime.  Music itself is a translation of emotion and feeling, and possibly something spiritual.  I understand for journalists and marketing people and record labels, to describe it to people who haven’t heard it you need to sort of convert it to language, but I don’t really know how you do that for Shpongle.

B: Speaking music and spirituality, do you ever use sacred frequencies or anything like that?
S: I’ve messed around a little bit with that ya, the golden ratio and with whatever it is, 7 Hz. I don’t think it really makes much difference. Generally I don’t worry about that kind of stuff. I just do what I want to hear.  The basic rule of all the music I make really, is I make something I wanna hear.

B: How is the energy of the crowds different across the world? Or is it the same?
S: I mean the crowds, I guess they’re different. I only really see unity, of people that love music, and want to have a good time and be able to party and lose themselves in music and dance. That’s something very primal and shamanistic that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years, probably. How are the crowds different? I don’t know they speak different languages, they come from different countries, but I see more of the commonality between us all.

B: Back to how you produce music…are you kind of obsessive about making something sound the way you might envision it or is it more organic? How is that process for you?
S: The process in the studio has to be very flexible and you can’t, it’s a strong tide, to give a bizarre river analogy…to swim upstream is always going to be very difficult so you have to go with the flow wherever it takes you. But yes, I am very obsessive so I’ll get stuck in whirlpools and headies with a particular sound, I’ll obsess about the detail of a tiny sound that might be, in the final mix, might be so small and such a minor part of the greater landscape, it might’ve just been sort of one little rock pool of the giant river, but ya I get a bit obsessive of every sound I work on.

B: I saw a video of you guys in the studio recording sounds like a coin being stirred around a wine glass…have you found some sound that you especially enjoy creating?
S: I would say nothing in the studio is off limits.  My studio is a big combination of digital and analog.  Analog can be anything that works from a chip packet to rubber bands to coins in a glass. And then you know I’ll also use the latest high tech plugin. Whatever makes a sound is gonna be useful.  Nothing’s off limits.  I’ve gone through the trash and whatever’s lying on the floor, scrumpled it up or torn it and record it. Record a bowl of water, cups of teas…the state of computer technology now is such that you can crumple a crisp packet and make it into a giant cascade of falling trees in an enchanted forest. You can take a single coin and turn it into a liquid drop of nectar.

B: Ooo nice analogies. Do you ever get the chance to be an audience member.
S: Uh, ya sometimes. Not at my own shows obviously, I’d love to see a shpongle show.

B: What is the shpongletron experience anyway?
S: Oh it’s just a marketing name really but to try and describe what it is…it really has to be seen. It’s sort of a giant structure, visually it’s a bit like a pyramid, all the lighting is done with projectors and projections and 3-D mapping so it literally throbs and breathes with life. It’s super psychedelic.  And things move around.

B: Cool!  Have you read DMT: The Spirit Molecule?
S: Is that the Terrence McKenna one? I think Terrence McKenna is the best person at eloquating, is that a word?  At articulating the psychedelic experience, at translating, again, something that doesn’t really translate to language. He’s got the closest. I don’t know if you’ve heard any of his lectures about DMT and the psychedelic experience.

B: Ya, he is.  You can choose not to answer this, but do you often perform shows on some type of psychedelic?

S: No, I can’t perform under anything, even drunk. I might smoke a cigarette. Now I don’t even really smoke a joint cuz I sort of need to be clear..I get so nervous before I play, as well. I don’t want anything to enhance my nervousness.

B: Even after all these years you still get nervous?
S: Ya, I guess it’s a good thing. It’s better to be nervous than complacent.  Sometimes it’s a bit of a pain, when you can’t really relax before a show.

B: Ya, but then you get that release when it’s over.

S: Ya exactly. You get the high of it being immediately over, but then the inevitable depression a few hours later, when the endorphins run out.

B: When it comes to DMT and that whole experience, do you feel like it’s a good short cut and advantageous for people to experience something so spiritual like that, or do you think there’s something detrimental to experiencing something so sacred from something synthesized from chemicals?
S: No, I always take the short cut myself. Why take the long route? Sure you could do thirty years of yoga or meditation and serious study and probably get somewhere close to that experience. But, amazing, why not take a hit on a pipe and you can get there in a minute? Nah, I think it’s amazing.

B: Do you think you would be doing what you do if it wasn’t for those kinds of experiences?

S: Probably not, no.

B: You think you’d be a mechanic or something?
S: I can’t really do a lot else, to be honest so, I don’t know what the hell I’d be doing. I’d like to be a racing driver, that looks kind of fun. I’d like to be a writer as well. But I’d hate to be an unsuccessful writer.

The rest is off-the-record, small talk. J  All in all, Simon Posford seems to be a super down to earth, open, spiritual artiste.  Google 3-D mapping, and then go experience the Shpongletron and Younger Brother!   a

Lover Of All Things Beautiful | Interview with Fanny Franklin

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Lover Of All Things Beautiful – Interview with Fanny Franklin

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.Myspace.com/FannyFranklin

www.OrgoneSpace.com

The crowd buzzed like a frenzied hive.

Though a curious stick or hungry bear didn’t provoke these busy bees, they were prodded by the ultimate tormentor- cabin fever.

With fat snowflakes tumbling from above, I strolled through downtown Boston to Copperfield’s, a venue within range of a wandering foul ball from nearby Fenway Park. The space is full of sweat, spilled beer, sticky floors and unrelenting smiles from those eager to checkout the next big thing to radiate from the stage.

And fate made sure I picked the ideal night to find my soul vulnerable to the unknown.

Huddled in the backroom like a boxer readying themselves to hit the ring, Fanny Franklin sat in a dark corner, hooded sweatshirt pulled over her head, gathering all of her strength, physically and mentally, only to pour it onto the listener until her tank was empty.

These people came here to see something special as she takes that word and twists it into something extraordinary.

Fronting the phenomenal funk/soul project Orgone, Franklin commands the stage in the footsteps of James Brown, Janis Joplin or Sharon Jones. Her steamy voice sends chills up your spine like a cold breeze. Her body shakes, gyrates and mesmerizes any who fall into her trance.

Watching her do what she does best, I was awestruck by the power and style bubbling from her small frame. Her talents and stop-you-in-your-tracks soul conjure the memories and potential I felt upon initial glance of Grace Potter, some five years earlier in the same city.

Now embarking on a solo journey, Franklin is currently putting together a slew of promising material reflecting her life, aspirations and rising career as a polished gem amongst the rockstars and pitfalls of an industry in dire need of pure, honest talent.

Garret K. Woodward: Who is Fanny Franklin?

Fanny Franklin: A mixture of a few things. I’m a teenager, an old lady, a lover of all things beautiful and an artist.

GKW: How would you describe your sound? Who are the influences?

FF: I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Janis Joplin and Motown growing up. Then I got into the whole modern era of the 80′s. When I got out of high school, I met the funk heads who led me to Parliament, Funkadelic and the black rock scene in LA, which included Fishbone, 24/7 spyz, Total Eclipse, Living Color.

GKW: When did you first know you could sing? Did you always want to be a singer?

FF: I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer, ever since I was a little girl. That was my first feeling, looking at a stage and saying, “ooo, I wanna do that” at the age of nine. The talent to be a singer/entertainer naturally had to comply with that little girls dream.

GKW: If your voice were an ice cream flavor, what kind would it be?

FF: Mint Chocolate Chip.

GKW: What do you love about the LA music scene?

FF: My job is to be out on the scene everywhere, so, when I’m home, I don’t really go out much anymore. But, my time on the LA music scene introduced me to all the amazing musician friends I have today. So many of them have gone on to do really big things, like my peeps Fitz and the Tantrums. I can say that anyone living in or visiting LA has the opportunity to see a variety of music on any given night, of almost any genre you could think of, and much of the shows are free. So, in that way, the LA music scene is alive and very accessible.

GKW: Where does that voice of yours come from?

FF: I had a few voice coaches when I was much younger, but mostly it’s been on the job training and absorbing. I went to cooking school, but it didn’t make me a better cook, it just taught me techniques. I think people are born with certain natural gifts.

GKW: What are you channeling onstage? What’s going through your head as you hit those high notes and climax of a melody?

FF: There are some definite moments of high vibration on stage when everything aligns with the instruments and the vocals. In those special moments I’m not thinking, but sharing in a moment. Just feeling.

GKW: How did your relationship with Orgone come about? Why did you decide to take a step back from such an incredible collaboration between you and them?

FF: Back in 2003, Orgone needed a singer to cover a version of “Funky Nassau”. A mutual friend, Dan Ubick (Connie Price and The Keystones), passed my number along to keyboardist Dan Hastie (Orgone) and he called me up. The session went well and they invited me to do some gigs. They had some cool covers they thought would suit my voice and we all got along, which is an important factor in moving forward with any group. From there, the relationship was born. My departure from Orgone happened for many different reasons, but mainly it’s time for Fanny Franklin to do Fanny Franklin.

GKW: Tell me about your new projects. What can we expect? How is this new chapter going to unfold and what are your hopes for it?

FF: I’m super excited about the music I’m writing right now. I can’t wait to put it out. It’s more personal whereas writing lyrics in a group is more edited to fit the group message. Writing for myself is about where I’m at now and how I want to express myself. I have faith that I will satisfy all of my desires as a singer and then some, which includes putting out amazing music and traveling the world playing that music live for people.

GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want to be different, or contribute to the evolution?

FF: With today’s technology, the world of music is at all of our fingertips. We no longer are subject to what the radio wants to shove in our ears. We are free to explore any country, any genre at free will, and it’s amazing. My hope is that reality inspires people to do the art they want to do without compromise, knowing that it will be heard. Recreating the concept of industry to mean the world of music, not the world of making money over the true expression of the individual or collective group. If people feel forced to make music that they think will sell over what they really want to do, they are shorting the world of their unique vision and of the change that is possible. I just want to be me and spread the message that to be “the best you” is important, ain’t no one else fixing to do it.

GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?

FF: That’s a good question. I’m excited to see the reaction to my new project. With Orgone, my hope was that people would dance and party and have a good time, and that was generally what happened. There are many factors that play a part in how a crowd may react to me, or anyone for that matter. I know the day after New Year’s Eve, opening for the Roots in Reno, the crowd was understandably tired so they weren’t giving it their all. They were burnt, but committed to seeing the Roots and were glad to see a great opening band as well. The experience I plan to have with people, when I perform my music, will be different I imagine. We shall see.

GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?

FF: A really good feeling, a feeling of excitement about his or her own lives and what’s possible for each person, truly. That’s the feeling that I get when I see someone like Sharon Jones or even watching old live footage of Nina Simone. It’s a feeling of connectivity that happens amongst human beings when they come together, all excited about the same thing, whether they know each other or not. And, from that, you feel inspired to do something wonderful.

GKW: How has your stage presence or confidence changed onstage over the years?

FF: I have always felt pretty right at home on the stage, like I was meant to be there.  But, of course, the pure magnitude of shows over the last two years especially has been a great space for me to grow. There is always more to explore when it comes to live shows and stage vibe.

GKW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?

FF: Watching and opening for the Reverend Al Green, who I never saw backstage, he stayed on his tour bus until show time, was life altering. I felt like myself and everyone else in that building had the top of their skulls blown off and there were beams of light being poured in through the tops.

GKW: What’s your state of mind right now?

FF: Positive. Focused on the goal of finishing my record and sharing my music with the world.

Karl Denson Interview

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Contributing Writer:  Edmond Klotz

I had a chance to interview jazz musician Karl Denson the other day.  To be honest, before interviewing him I had never heard of him before, and through my research and phone conversation, I was able to discover that he is one of the most interesting and coolest jazz musicians around.  He has played with Lenny Kravitz and numerous other musicians over the years, now leading his own band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.  His music is definitely worth checking out. The more you find out about Karl’s music, the more you will want to see him live and get the experience up close.  He will be out on tour this summer, hitting a number of festivals including Electric Forest over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

For more information on Electric Forest, visit: ElectricForestFestival.com  (There should be a banner at the bottom of this post if you’re not feeling like typing. :)

Here is the interview I did with Karl Denson.

When did you music start for you.

When I was in 7th grade my brothers exposed me to bands such as Jimi Hendrix.

What is your biggest influence?

John Coltrane for me that is the biggest influence.

How did you Meet Lenny Kravitz?

I met him threw a friend and that’s how we started our working relationship.  I stayed with Lenny for the next few years.

How did playing with Lenny help you?

Playing with Lenny got me my record deal.

From there you formed the Greyboy Allstars.  How did it come together?

It came together cause of a lot bands at the time were sampling and making new and interesting music such as De La Soul and Guru.  The band came got together in 1992 with DJ Greyboy to fuse jazz and hip-hop togher to make something interesting.

On top of the Greyboy Allstars, you’re also in your own trio.  Tell me how that came about?

The record label asked me who I would like to play with and I said Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland.  I was star struck when we got into the studio cause they were musicians I have lot of respect for, and I couldn’t believe I was recording with them.

Who is the musician you like to jam with?

Warren Haynes is fun to play with and I enjoy it when we get together.

Finish this sentence: Today I am influenced as a musician by….

The Roots are at the top of my list, always doing something new and creative. I also like Patty Griffin and Bjork.

When you perform, how much is improvised?

We play music that is improvised in the middle of the song the beginning and end are always the same for us.

How different is playing a club to a festival?

They are a totally different beast.  At a club you can play a few sets and have them be completely different; whereas, at a festival, you have a short time and you need to trim the fat out of your music to fit the time limit.

I certainly can’t wait to see him at Electric Forest this summer.  My curiosity is peaked to see how this jazz great trims the fat, and still delivers a smoking set.  I can honestly say, “I AM NOW A FAN FOR LIFE!”