Friday, June 29, 2007

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 .... a night in pictures

Seun Kuti with horns blowing in background

Crowd Partiseepaayshaaan

Mr. Keyboard man

Lady dynamos

Seun shaking his stuff

A carbon copy of his father

- more pictures to come so keep a look out - Malliman/AM

Opening Night at Summerfest 2007

Rylee, Todd and Eric from Matador were at Summerfest last night for the opening. Here is a paste from Rylee's blog:

Headed over to Milwaukee to see the opening night of Summerfest. Arrived around 6:30 to a very cool but beautiful night on Lake Michigan along with some great music and even fireworks. Our four year-in-a-row German guest and musician extraordinaire, Chris, was really excited about seeing grunge/rock bands Flyleaf and Puddle of Mud. Of course, I had never heard of them, but I'm a believer now. I really liked Flyleaf - the woman's voice is amazing. Puddle of Mudd was Seattle-grungy. Good sound but jeesh, the singer looked to be channeling Cobain right on stage.....

read more at Rylee's page at:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Say "Ya Yeah!"

Those of us who witnessed the North American premier of Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 felt truly fortunate. This is a show that will be remembered for decades. Egypt 80 came out and warmed up the audience and there was lots of groovin' in your seat, but only a few brave souls up dancing. That all changed when Seun took the stage.

Frankly, I can't remember the last time I was at a Union Theater show where the audience danced like that. We tried fruitlessly to keep up with the fantastic background singers - who shimmied and shook for throughout the two hour set!

Too bad this picture is not in motion!

I'd forgotten how great the sound is in the Union Theater - perhaps the best acoustic venue in Madison, don't you agree? Imagine how great it sounded when the 18 musicians on stage in this band were groovin' together. To me - it felt like a privilege to see the original members of Fela Kuti's legendary Egypt 80 rhythm section - they were just solid.

A treat for those of us cooling off on the Terrace was the appearance by these "ringers" at Open Mike:

Say "Ya Yeah!" and look for more comments and photos soon from Malliman!

Upcoming Shows - Spoon

One thing I like about going to see live music is that I always get energized and excited by the anticipation of the show. And when I’m already a fan of the band, I pull out my whole collection of their music and listen to it again in preparation. So naturally I’ve been recently listening to my Spoon albums - Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight and Gimme Fiction – and enjoying them all thoroughly. . .

As some of you already know, Spoon is one of my favorite bands and "Gimme Fiction" is one of my favorite albums from last year. It was definitely part of my Summer ‘06 soundtrack! Their new album - “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” - holds that same potential for me! It's scheduled for release on July 10th, but for the time being it is being streamed in its entirety at So check it out! (I think its great, and have already placed my pre-order with Merge.)

Spoon plays on Thursday, July 5th at 10pm on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at Summerfest. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Do you have your tickets for Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 @ The Memorial Union Theater?

Fela was my introduction to AfroBeat music... Femi I have seen perform live at Bonnaroo 2004... and now it is time to experience Seun... and what could be better than seeing him lead his late father's band on his debut North American tour at The Memorial Union Theater! We are indeed lucky to host a world class big band of this caliber and have them kick off their tour in Madison on their way to Chicago's Millennium Park and venues in Toronto, Philly and NYC.

On to a bit about Seun - the youngest son of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Seun is no stranger to his father's music and has been playing with the band since he was a nine year old. With a deep singing voice that is often compared to that of Fela's, Seun blows hard on the alto sax and has fans shimmying to his shake. The 22-piece band is sure to get you grooving in your seats to the tight brass and rocking bass sections and a big band jazz/Afro funk sound complimented by pulsating rhythm and scathing social and political messages.

Mr. Bill and I (and a whole bunch of friends) are going to be at the show and hope that you can make it too. If you haven't already, go get your tickets now! See you there and while we wait to hear Seun and Egypt 80 live
here are some tunes for you to listen to/download.

Seun's MySpace page is here.

- malliman

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Countdown to Summerfest!

Milwaukee's Summerfest claims to be the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” but it is also certainly among the most venerable music fests – this year celebrating its 40th year!

Phred, Malliman and I will be going to several nights of Summerfest this year – as we do most years. One of the dates I’m most excited about is July 5th featuring Ratdog, Umphreys McGee and Spoon (and a host of other good bands).

Summerfest includes popular music at the 23,000 person Marcus Amphitheater. But I’ve always preferred the “free shows” occurring at the other 10 permanent stages. The grounds offer a real good selection of food & beverage vendors – and includes craft beers, in addition to the ubiquitous Miller brands.

And it’s all set against the Lake Michigan shoreline and the downtown skyline, creating a fun, festive environment. Here’s a good map of the Summerfest grounds.

Bob Weir and Ratdog
I've been a fan of Weir's for 30 years – and a big fan ever since I had the good fortune to score front row seats for the Dead at the Uptown Theater in Chicago (17 Nov 1978) – They opened with a mind-blowing Shakedown, and my seats were right in front of Bobby. . . Needless to say, I paid a lot of attention to his playing at that show, and it gave me a huge appreciation for his rhythmic versatility and creativity. I have never listened to him or the Dead in the same way since.

Coincidentally Ratdog’s stop at Summerfest will be almost one year to the day since their appearance at last years festival. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition for the Dogs!

Ratdog will be on the Big Backyard stage at 8:30pm on Thursday, July 5th. I'm already getting excited, and I hope to see you there!

Here are photos from Ratdog’s performance at Summerfest 2006

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Live Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - June 14, 2007

This was my first evening of the year at the UW Memorial Union Terrace - one of the greatest spots in Madison on a warm summer evening - and there was a welcoming crowd gathered there to hear Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

You can’t help but like Grace Potter. She’s a soulful and charismatic musician, who seems to be really enjoying herself while performing. And GPN puts on a real entertaining show.

Grace started the show with a solo gospel-tinged song sung a cappella – before moving onto the Hammond B-3 organ and more bluesy song selections - including the thoroughly enjoyable "Treat Me Right." Another favorite song for me from the set was the Dylanesque “Aint No Time.”

The band had some cool vintage and custom equipment. And you have to love any woman who chooses the Gibson Flying V as her rhythm guitar!

Those present learned that this particular guitar is new. And with it, a new song “If I Were From Paris,” which has nothing to do with Paris Hilton – of whom Grace is apparently no fan. (But who shall bring glamour into our boring lives?) However, I will say that she carried the rock n roll thing a bit too far when she encouraged the audience to show her the devil horns. Perhaps the Flying V made her do it!

Early in the show, Grace apparently suffered technical difficulties with her sound monitors, but it certainly did not impair her performance. . . And I’m always impressed by musicians that manage to keep their cool under duress!

Scott Tournet and his rock star sunglasses

Bryan Dondero rocked solid on bass

All in all. A fun time on a great night in Madison!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
at Memorial Union Terrace

One of the wonderful things about living in Madison, Wisconsin is the ability to sit outdoors on the Terrace at the UW Memorial Union, watch the sun set over Lake Mendota and listen to some great live music...for free! This week you might try to catch Grace Potter and the Nocturnals performing Thursday, June 14th at 9:30pm.

GPN has a new release coming out. Preview it here:

Click here for a real good bio from JamBase.

Video: "Treat Me Right" Live at 8x10

Monday, June 11, 2007

Live Review: The National w/ Shapes & Sizes and Talkdemonic @ High Noon Saloon (June 9th)

Madison Music Review attended The National show at High Noon Saloon. Fortunately, we were able to snag a couple tickets earlier in the week before show had sold out.

Taking on the opening duties was, Talkdemonic, an electronic-acoustic hybrid act featuring Lisa Molinaro, violist/vocalist on the Decemberists' last tour, (also co-star of the "O Valencia video). Molinaro and drummer, Kevin O’Connor worked off each other (playing to a pre-recorded track) building on the dynamic sound that held on just long enough to leave you wanting more. Following Talkdemonic was Montreal’s somewhat skewed Shapes and Sizes. Their quirky art-rock instrumentation melted into a contagious elixir of pop mayhem reminiscent of Deerhoof.

Finally as the dark droning sounds of Yo La Tengo’s "Everyday" came over the PA system, you suddenly had that feeling that something great was about to go down. Brooklyn’s The National took the dimly lit stage to bring out their melodious and inspiring compositions. As singer Matt Berninger belted out the words “It went the dull and wicked ordinary way” in the song “Secret Meeting”, you could feel the energy they were about to release on this High Noon crowd. Throughout the night Berninger would proceed to lead the audience to the dark corners of his mind and then turn it around only to build on your emotions.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner's twin guitars created a beautifully unified layer which portrayed the backdrop for the other instruments and gave room for touring member Padma Newsome strings to infuse the songs with his energy. “Fake Empire” climaxed with Newsome taking the lead the lengthy solo.

Most of this show was comprised of the track lists from their two standout releases Alligator (2006) and Boxer (2007).
Drummer Bryan Devendorf stood out throughout the night, not only keeping everything in synch but actively thrusting the songs around. With his perfect precision and fluttering tom rhythms, the band belted out an amazing “Squalor Victoria" that brought almost everyone into the room to chant the lyrics from the chorus. By the time the band broke into “All the Wine” the crowd was encapsulated as Berninger assured the room “All safe and sound, I won't let the psychos around.”

As the band said their goodbyes to the Madison crowd and left the stage, the familiar horns of the “Gonna Fly Now"(Rocky Theme Song) was played over the PA. Somehow, hearing this song was a perfect closing for this remarkable performance (yes...we all get the Boxer reference). The National has gotten a great deal of press, become a media favorite and band’s live shows are not to be missed. Next time around you will probably be able to catch them at a much larger venue if you are lucky enough to get tickets.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Coming Up – 10,000 Lakes Festival!

I’m real excited about going to the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival this year! First of all, I’m going to be meeting up there with a bunch of friends from far and wide. Jonny and Tonja (Spartan!) are really responsible for getting me there. I met them at Jam in the Dam in March and they raved about 10KLF.

My friends know that I haven’t camped in years. I love nature! . . . but I prefer to sleep on a bed. What can I say? I’ve somehow grown soft and decadent over the years. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

But J+T were persistent. . . Then Ankur and Ashwini sealed the deal. They urged me to camp with them, and I agreed. Now, it looks like Rob and Laura (from Madison) and Aaron (from Berlin) are also going – all fellow veterans of JitD! And, if at possible, my own dear one will be coming along too!

But I’m also delighted with the lineup. Some of you already know that I’m a long-time fan of Bob Weir (over 30 years!) and recently a big fan of Ratdog (more later on this topic, I assure you!).

Other bands I’ve seen and really enjoyed are . . .

  • The Tragically Hip
  • Zappa Plays Zappa
  • The Disco Biscuits
  • Particle
  • Galactic
  • The String Cheese Incident
  • Little Feat
  • Umphrey’s McGee
  • Trampled by Turtles
  • Keller Williams
  • Toubab Krewe

And more bands that I have wanted to catch . . .

  • New Riders of the Purple Sage
  • Derek Trucks Bank
  • Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
  • Govt Mule
  • Kaki King
  • Dubconscious
  • Pnuma Trio

That’s a LOT of really good bands! . . . and there are 20 other bands playing also!! This promises to be a rollickin’ good time.

Think about it. . . I'm serious here.

WED – SAT JULY 18-21, 2007

Summerfest 2007

Here's some of the artists we hope to catch at Summerfest this year!
  • 7.02.2007 - The Wailers
  • 7.02.2007 - Femi Kuti
  • 7.05.2007 - Donna the Buffalo
  • 7.05.2007 - Ratdog
  • 7.05.2007 - Spoon
  • 7.07.2007 - Son Volt

How about you?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Movement 2007 - The Sights

The three days at DEMF was a treat for the ears... and the eyes and the body as well. It is hard to capture the abundance of energy, color, sound and motion that envelops you in Hart Plaza. You are constantly buffeted by the throbbing, pulsating bass emanating from the banks of speakers as a mass of twirling, twitching, grooving bodies whirls around you, heads nodding and bobbing in unison, hands raised up in the air, fists clenched, fingers stabbing the sky and chopping the air to the beats twisted and tweaked out of the dials and touch pads by the DJ's and artists. You raise your camera to take a shot but your body resists the need to stay still - the air pushes at you in time with the deep bass as the ground vibrates to the steps of thousands of dancing feet, urging you to join in, give in to the primal beat. Here is a snapshot of some of those moments...
Dance away

Detroit's finest checking out the scene

Losoul... intense concentration...

Interview with Robin Judge

One of the things that make music festivals so much fun is that there are usually i) artists whose music I know fairly well and am excited to see,
ii) artists that I'm not so familiar with, but know I should be, and iii) artists "unknown" to me that I get to "discover." One of the latter for me at DEMF was Robin Judge. I had the chance to meet Robin after her set, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions in a subsequent email interview.

Robin Judge performs at Movement 07 - May 27th, 2007

You have described your recent sound as “soundscape meets dance-floor occasionally.” Do you perceive any particular trajectory to your musical evolution? If so, do you have a sense of where you are heading next?
I want to continue making all kinds of different music. Whatever mood I’m in, whatever I feel like bringing to the table on that particular day. I love so many styles of music – so many sounds - that I have a hard time picking just one direction. Music can express so many different concepts, emotions and ideas - it is an expansive universe of thought that can forever be explored. . . I’m currently working on some minimal techno tracks and some ambient sound scape works.

I listened to your performance/interview broadcast on Art of Beatz, and understand that you became involved in composing and performing out of your involvement with the dance scene, fascination with the music and eventually wanting the make the music as well. How long have you been composing, and what software and equipment did you initially use? What was your learning curve like? What tools are you using today?
From the first moment I heard electronic music I was hooked on the sound. Whether it was dance, ambient, experimental or pop-electronic, I just couldn't get enough of it. In 1997-1998 I started messing around and learning how to make music with a friend on an old Atari running Cubase with loads of gear. I feel very grateful having had exposure to the instruments in that studio such as the vintage LinnDrum, Juno-106, SH-101, TB-303, TR-727, TR-808, TR-909, JP-8000, R-8, and the MicroMoog, to name a few.

Nothing ever came of the creations I made there, but it was good fun and educational. For the next few years I researched computers, computer music, and audio as a whole, in my spare time while attending art school. At one point I even contemplated dropping out of my studies and abandoning my degree in graphic design to enroll in audio production at a music school, but in the end, I decided to finish what I had started and obtained my degree and continued to pursue music in my spare time.

In 1998-1999 I built my first music studio. I built the computer myself from parts that I ordered, I made it as fast as I could by adding 7200rpm SCSII hard drives (which only professional recording studio's had at the time, nowadays that speed is commonplace in desktop computers) the first version of the Intel Pentium chip running at 233Mhz, running Windows 98 with Cubase. I had a pair of Alesis Monitor Two's, the Event Gina sound interface, Korg Z1 synth, Yamaha A3000 sampler, and the Yamaha 01V Digital mixing console. I was also getting heavily into VST's and VSTi's and expanding into various software programs. I spent years learning and playing around before ever making something significant.

In 2000-2001 I was very much in to software based music creation. I built a faster more powerful computer and stripped my studio down to just an RME Hammerfall sound card connected to the Yamaha 01V digital mixing console via fiber-optic-lightpipe.

In 2001-2002 I really started focusing my energy and nurturing my ideas. Those closest to me really pushed me to complete my tracks and see my ideas through to the end. In 2002 my first release came out on Mille Plateaux. Since then, I have added items such as a condenser microphone and Hi-MD recorder to my studio. I have added more software, even faster computers and still continue my quest to learn more audio production techniques and methods.

You’ve made several recordings with Tomas Jirku. What brought you together? And can you describe the collaboration process that you use with Tomas?
Over the years Tomas and I have had similar visions and similar musical aesthetics. We have a lot of fun working with one another. We work back and forth on tracks; he makes one part, I make another part and we do this moving from one track to another track. Usually joking around with working track titles along the way (no one ever sees those titles except for us) but they can get pretty silly. Hahaha.

I enjoyed seeing you at Mathew Jonson's set, and I noticed that many artists turned out to listen to one another throughout DEMF. What were your highlights from Movement 07?
I think that it was an amazing event. The Paxahau team strives to create a top-notch environment that showcases the music in the best possible way – and they succeed at it. There were so many great sets and moments at the festival and at the after parties, that it would be impossible to choose.

Robin performing in front of Robert Rich's analog patch panel "thing"

What music are you currently recommending to friends? What is on your turntable/ipod now?
About a 100 different things at the moment, but let’s see:
> Mathew Jonson – ‘Far Away’ Remix of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia
> Frivolous - ‘Midnight Black Indulgence’
> Luciano - ‘Drunken Ballet’ on Shut Up And Dance Updated

What question do you wish I had asked you? And how would you answer it?
You could have asked me ‘why is the universe expanding and where is it expanding to?’ … and I could have responded by saying 'there are many theories, most of which are too lengthly to discuss in this interview'. :)

I do want to hear more about the expanding universe, but I guess we will have to wait until our next interview!

Robin will be playing this Saturday 11:00 pm at Tini Martini in Chicago with Kate Simko. Catch this show if you can!

Recommended listening: Jirku-Judge, "Private Eyes"


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Don't Miss a Chance to See The National!

The National arrives in Madison this Saturday night (5/9/07) at the High Noon Saloon, following a sold out European tour and 5 straight sold out nights at the Bowery in NYC.

Sometimes I overplan an activity, and other times I'm too casual about it. I got burned earlier this week, when I thought I could waltz up to the door at the High Noon (as I so often do) and buy tickets for the John Butler Trio. My friend, Robbo, had recommended this show - and I trust his musical sensibilities. But as I prepared to post a reminder about the show for you, dear reader, a few days before, I discovered that it had already sold out!!

DONT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! Order your tickets from High Noon right now to see The National + Shapes and Sizes + Talkdemonic! Showtime is 9:30 PM / $12 cover; 18 AND UP

Here's how the High Noon describes the show:

"In its music, The National finds ways to combine the expressive depth of composed music with the urgency of pop. It's a sound built with guitar, bass, piano and drums and festooned with brass, woodwinds, backing vocals, strings, and organs. Their past albums have received rave reviews and comparison to artists such as Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham, Silver Jews, and even Tom Waits.

Joining them on tour, from Montreal, Shapes and Sizes wrote the melody that apexes in your brain when you were told for the first time that a tomato was really a fruit and that everything you’ve ever believed with certainty was a lie.

Not to be outdone, Talkdemonic open with their brand of self-described "Folktronic Hop - indie rock rooted in instrumental hip-hop." Critics have compared them to a band like Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor playing short pop songs where the lead singer happens to be a viola."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Memories From Some Of My Favorite Local Shows

The Replacements (Civic Center)

In 1989, I was in High School and I can recall always playing my cassette tape of Don’t Tell A Soul that my girlfriend gave me. This show was amazing; I can recall the opener, Night Club Jitters (from Pleased to Meet Me) and how a drunk (as usual) Paul Westerberg came out on stage grasping a martini glass and his microphone. After that, “The Mats” launched into cuts from Let it Be and Tim. I can remember this show getting extremely loud towards the end and how the lights came on in the venue during their second encore.

The highlights from this show were Skyway and Can’t Hardly Wait (both songs from Pleased To Meet Me).

Whiskeytown (Club Tavern)

Sometimes as I drive down University Avenue and pass the Club Tavern what flashes though my memory is a young, disheveled Ryan Adams sitting on a barstool reading a worn out copy of some paperback novel.

Whiskeytown played the small, but intimate Club Tavern on 3/22/98 and fortunately my wife and I were there to witness this great local performance. A year or so after this, Whiskeytown broke up and Adams launched into his prolific solo career.

J.J. Cale (Luther’s Blues)

An American icon with a full band in a great venue made for a remarkable experience in the summer of 2002.

We arrived early and moved to the front of stage left never really knowing that the microphone stand directly in front of us was Mr. John W. Cale’s. To experience this show up close was truly a life changing event.
The Highlights included Ride Me High and Travelin’ Light. Check out JJ Cale Live: A close match up to this show.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (Barrymore Theater)

A rainy evening and a great last minute decision to venture out to the Barrymore brought an intimate evening with two accomplished musicians.
After this show I became an admirer of David Rawlings. His guitar style, being truly unique and Welch’s guitar/banjo blended together so well with their indistinguishable vocal harmonies.

The highlights of this show included an out in front (no microphones) rendition of Long Black Veil. This was that kind of performance that left you speechless on the way out of the theater.

Tortoise (Barrymore Theater)

Around the time of this show I was really into the Standards album and how they started to initiate more eletronica into their already complex progressive sound. I had always wanted to witness Tortoise in live setting.

Autumn of 2002 at the Barrymore Theater, I recall talking to Dan Bitney (former Madisonian and ex-Tar Babies member) about their tour, the recording process and how I was excited to witness Tortoise for the first time. I was not prepared for what was to follow. As a musician, I was so intrigued at how each band member was so musically adept and could freely move about from one instrument to another.
The highlights from this show was when Herndon and McEntire got behind the drums kits and dove into TNT (from TNT) and Seneca (from Standards)

The latest rumor is that drummer/producer John McEntire (Sea & Cake) is hinting for a late 2007 Tortoise release!

Guided By Voices (Annex)

The Annex on Regent Street: What an amazing little place to witness a band up close…close enough for lead singer, Robert Pollard to
hand me a beer from his “stage cooler”. November, 19th, 2003 - his show was about one year before they had decided to announce the end of GVB.

Since then, the creative Pollard has put out several great solo releases. Also check out the new live release from GBV. See pictures from this show.