Daily Discovery: Luna Shadows Blends Pop Vibes On New Single “millennia”

On Wednesday, Luna Shadows — a former touring-member of the New Zealand-based synth-pop group, The Naked and Famous — released her newest single “millennia.”

The product of a writing collaboration between Shadows and Chelsea Jade, “millennia” was produced by Bradley Hale of Now Now and Thomas Powers of The Naked & Famous in Shadows’ Echo Park home studio. The single is expected to be on Shadows’ debut record, due sometime later this year.

The track is an immersive journey through a mesmerizing landscape of drums, synth arpeggios, and dream-like vocals. Shadows’ performance captures the blend of charisma, charm and disillusionment that is embodied by so many in the now-maturing Internet generation (The “Zoomers” as some refer to them).

“I was having a great writing day with my friends Brad Hale (of Now, Now) and Chelsea Jade. I had written down the word ‘millennia’ on my iPhone notepad prior to the session, so that was the starting point,” Shadows told American Songwriter. “I had the word before I had the meaning. It’s the plural of ‘millennium,’ so in my head, I began to hear it as another way to say ‘forever.’ There are so many songs called ‘forever’ or that play with the concept of ‘forever,’ so I thought it was interesting and original to use a new word to describe an old feeling. I’m always looking for a new way to say things. Anyway, this song wasn’t the classic romanticized lightning strike of inspiration as seen on TV but rather the result of hard work and good company.”

While not exactly entirely in the “bedroom pop” camp — Shadows’ music blends many elements of many strains of modern pop — “millennia” was recorded with the traditional DIY ethos. 

“I mostly recorded this song at my home studio in Echo Park, Los Angeles,” Shadows said. “I like recording at home — I get as many tries as I need to get it right. Fortunately, I didn’t have to record this particular song too many times. I actually had a good singing day, for once! Think I got it pretty much on the first try. That doesn’t always happen.”

With millions of streams already racked up with no album released yet, Shadows is certainly positioned to have an exciting 2020 — one that any pop fan should keep their eye on.

Listen to Luna Shadows’ new single “millennia” below:



New Orleans Jazz Fest 2020 Lineup Announced

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The full lineup for the 2020 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been announced. Along with the jazz and blues we’ve all come to expect, major headliners include iconic rock bands, legendary soul and R&B artists, hip-hop, Gospel, bluegrass, reggae and Americana artists along with tributes to Dave Bartholomew, Art Neville and Dr. John.

This year’s official poster was conceived and created by native New Orleans artist and musician Scott Guion. The poster honors the late Dr. John, who “occupies an eternal, ethereal and majestic place in hoodoo heaven – a New Orleans otherworld he conjured from the tendrils of reconstructed history for all to savor.” This year’s slogan for Jazz Fest is “Right Place, Right Time” paying further homage to one of NOLA’s favorite sons. Artist prints of the poster can be purchased here.

With hundreds of acts spanning 8 big days, the event takes place over 2 weekends: Thursday thru Sunday, April 23rd – 26th and April 30th – May 3rd. While there is no possible way to see all the acts performing, we’ve listed them here for your perusal. (With special thanks to nola.com)

THURSDAY, APRIL 23

The Beach Boys, Maggie Rogers, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, New Orleans Recording Legends featuring The Dixie Cups, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Wanda Rouzan, and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson with Bobby Cure & the Poppa Stoppas, GIVERS, Deacon John, Arturo Sandoval, Bettye LaVette, Honey Island Swamp Band, The Cowsills, Banu Gibson with special guest Shaymus Hanlin featuring Ronnie Kole, Plena Libre of Puerto Rico, Michael Stuart, Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jr., Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, Batiste Fathers & Sons featuring Russell, Damon, Jamal, Ryan, David Batiste & Special Guest, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Great Gambian Griots: Jali Bakary Konteh and Pa Bobo Jobarteh, Quiana Lynell, Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue, Uncle Nef featuring Shannon Powell and Darren Hoffman, Kinfolk Brass Band, Kristin Diable & The City, Willie Tee and Cypress Band, Wendell Brunious & The New Orleans Allstars, Marlon Jordan, All For One Brass Band, Women of Class and Lady Prince of Wales Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Darcy Malone and the Tangle, Alexey Marti, Johnny Sansone, Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys, Corey Ledet Zydeco, Javier Gutierrez & Vivaz!, Lynn Drury, Charley Crockett, Las Cafeteras, Pocket Aces Brass Band, Michael Skinkus and Moyuba, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors, Ever More Nest, Joe Lastie’s New Orleans Sound, Dawn, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Virginia Aires, Black Mohawk and Young Seminole Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Clive Wilson’s New Orleans Serenaders, Ted Hefko & the Thousandaires, The Betty Shirley Band, The John Mahoney Big Band, Glenn Hartman and The Earthtones, Sons of Jazz Brass Band, Harold Holloway & Company, Evangelist Linda Wright and The Heartbeats of Praise, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir, The Daiquiri Queens, La Rai?z of Puerto Rico, Native Nations Intertribal, Lyle Henderson & Emmanu-EL, Treces del Sur, Higher Heights Reggae, 21st Century Brass Band, Sisters of Change, Devastation, and Sisters of Unity Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, On the Levee Jazz Band, Xavier University Jazz Ensemble, New Orleans Music Interns directed by Donald Harrison, Jr., Audrey Ferguson & the Voices of Distinction, Joanna Hale-McGill, Pastor Mitchell J. Stevens, Creative Arts Momentum, Kat Walker Jazz Band – Scat with Ms. Kat, Donald Lewis Jr., Dancing Grounds Elite Feet Dance, Calliope Puppets.

FRIDAY, APRIL 24

Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Anthony Hamilton, Big Freedia, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Jon Batiste & Friends, Playing For Change Band, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers, The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Jeremy Davenport, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, John Mooney & Bluesiana, The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, Adonis Rose and the NOJO Tribute to Allen Toussaint, Les Filles de Illighadad of Niger, Flow Tribe, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Jason Marsalis, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Charmaine Neville Band, Michael Stuart, Plena Libre, La Rai?z and Plena Callejera of Puerto Rico, Orange Kellin’s New Orleans DeLuxe Orchestra: A Celebration of Jelly Roll Morton’s 130th Birthday, Tribute to Jabbo Smith featuring Jamil Sharif, Great Gambian Griots: Jali Bakary Konteh and Pa Bobo Jobarteh, Baby Boyz Brass Band, George French & the New Orleans Storyville Jazz Band, Keep N It Real, Scene Boosters, and We Are One Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, New Orleans Guitar Masters featuring Jimmy Robinson, Cranston Clements, and John Rankin, Mem Shannon & the Membership Band, Big Chief Bird & the Young Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Alex McMurray, Free Spirit Brass Band, Go Getters and Big Nine Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Pastor Tyrone Jefferson, McDonogh 35 High School Gospel Choir, McMain International “Singing Mustangs” Gospel Choir, Jamie Lynn Vessels, Papo y Son Mandao, Las Cafeteras, Adella Adella the Storyteller, Native Nations Intertribal, Javier Olondo & AsheSon, Midnite Disturbers, Les Freres Michot, Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard, Bon Bon Vivant, Black Seminoles, Young Cherokee, and Golden Sioux Mardi Gras Indians, Riverside Jazz Collective, Paky Saavedra, New Wave Brass Band, Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans, 79rs Gang Mardi Gras Indians, Sabra & The Get Rights, John Rankin, The Jones Sisters, Ty Morris & H.O.W., Derek Douget, L.Y.O.N., Blato Zlato, Loyola University Jazz Ensemble, DJ RO, Kid Simmons’ Local International Allstars, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Wild Apaches and Wild Mohicans Mardi Gras Indians, Grayhawk Perkins, Young Cajun Band, Ladies of Unity, Akia J. Nevills, Kathryn Rose Wood, Landry Walker Charter High School Choir, KID smART Showcase, ISL Circus Arts Kids.

SATURDAY, APRIL 25

The Who, The Avett Brothers, H.E.R., The Revivalists, Charlie Musselwhite, David Sanborn with special guest Randy Brecker, The Subdudes, Sonny Landreth, The Soul Rebels, Shovels & Rope, Rickie Lee Jones, Playing For Change Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band pays tribute to Dave Bartholomew with Elvis Costello, Jon Cleary, and Al “Lil Fats” Jackson, Samantha Fish, The Gospel Soul of Irma Thomas, George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners, James Rivers Movement, Puss N Boots, Little Freddie King Blues Band, Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band featuring Thais Clark, Erica Falls, Antonio Sa?nchez & Migration, Pell, Low Cut Connie, Leah Chase, Treme Brass Band, Hardhead Hunters and Semolian Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Tuba Skinny, Trumpet Mafia, Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs, Free Agents Brass Band, Tribute to Lil’ Buck Sinegal featuring Sonny Landreth, Carol Fran, Lee Allen Zeno, and CC Adcock, Young Fellaz Brass Band, Dumaine Street Gang, Divine Ladies, and Family Ties Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, The Revelers, Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, Creole String Beans, The Dynamic Smooth Family Gospel Singers of Slidell, The Bester Gospel Singers, Helen Gillet, Bill Kirchen, Esencia, La Rai?z, and Christian Nieves & Herencia Musical de Puerto Rico, Tribute to Bessie Smith featuring Meschiya Lake, Barbara Shorts, and Jolynda “Kiki” Chapman with the Lars Edegran Jazz Band, New Orleans Spiritualettes, Mikayla Braun, Lane Mack & The Balladeers, Sasha Masakowski Art Market, Michael Doucet, Sarah Quintana, and Chad Viator, Dr. Brice Miller & Mahogany Brass Band, The Johnson Extension, New Orleans R&B and Hip Hop “Next Era” featuring DeeLow and Kris Baptiste, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section, Matt Lemmler presents “New Orleans in Stride”, Michael Juan Nunez, Louis Ford & New Orleans Flairs, Rick Trolsen’s Neslorchestra, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Mount Hermon Baptist Church Praise Delegation Choir, Archdiocese of New Orleans Gospel Choir, Native Nations Intertribal, Plena Callejera and Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Apache Hunters, Black Hawk Hunters, Washitaw Nation, and Wild Red Flames Mardi Gras Indians, Kumbuka African Drum & Dance Collective, Jourdan Thibodeaux et les Ro?dailleurs, Major Handy & the Louisiana Blues Band, David & Roselyn, Rising Dragon Lion Dance Team, Christian Unity Baptist Church Youth Choir, Brother Martin Crusader Stage Band, Theatre on Tap, Antioch Baptist Church San Antonio Umoja Choir, Young Guardians of the Flame and Congo Kids, The Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, The Chosen Ones Brass Band, New Generation, Nine Times, Single Ladies, and Single Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre.

SUNDAY, APRIL 26

Foo Fighters, Brandi Carlile, Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, Buddy Guy, Chris Isaak, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Asleep at the Wheel, Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, Marcia Ball, Rebirth Brass Band, Ladies of Hip Hop featuring Mia X and 3D Na’Tee, Zachary Richard, Royal Teeth, Dottie Peoples, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots, Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & The Golden Eagles, Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter Wolfman Washington, Martha Redbone, Blind Boy Paxton, Wycliffe Gordon, Nicholas Payton 2020, Robert Finley, PJ Sin Suela, Esencia and La Rai?z of Puerto Rico, John “Papa” Gros, Maggie Koerner, The Rayo Brothers, Andrew Duhon, The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Rumba Buena, Gregg Stafford & His Young Tuxedo Jazz Band, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Cha Wa, Stooges Brass Band, Big Chief Kevin Goodman & the Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indians, New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra, Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony, The Knockaz Brass Band, Big Steppers, Untouchables, and The Furious Five Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, New Birth Brass Band, Jambalaya Cajun Band, New Orleans Gospel Soul Children, Jai Reed, Tyronne Foster & The Arc Singers, William Prince, Christian Nieves & Herencia Musical de Puerto Rico, The Jesse McBride Big Band, TBC Brass Band, The Baby Dolls of New Orleans, Big 6 Brass Band, Young Men Olympia, New Look, First Division, and Uptown Swingers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Lars Edegran & the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Native Nations Intertribal, Julio y Cesar Band, Tribute to Al Gray featuring Craig Klein, Michael Watson, and TJ Norris, Spencer Bohren Remembered featuring Dave Malone, Harry Tuft, Andre Bohren, Aurora Nealand, Alex McMurray, Paul Sanchez, Jim McCormick, John Magnie, and Dave Pomerleau, Plena Callejera and Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Shining Star Hunters and Uptown Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Libby Rae Watson with special guest Bert Deivert, Black Magic Drumline, Jacye, Debbie Davis with Josh Paxton, Jonte? Landrum, Terry Huval and Friends, Pardon My French!, Electrifying Crown Seekers, Big Chief Trouble & Trouble Nation, Young Eagles, and Young Brave Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, St. Joseph the Worker Music Ministry, Willi Carlisle, Jessica Harvey and The Difference, Magical Moonshine Theatre, Ashe? Cultural Arts Center Kuumba Institute, Baby & The Brass Hearts, The NOCCA Student Dance Collaborative.

THURSDAY, APRIL 30

The Black Crowes, Jimmy Cliff, Brittany Howard, The War And Treaty, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, John Scofield & Dave Holland Duo, Ellis Marsalis, Cimafunk of Cuba, Wayne Toups, Jimmy Hall, Walter Wolfman Washington & The Roadmasters, Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars featuring Tab Benoit, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Leyla McCalla, Ronnie Lamarque, iLe, Pirulo y La Tribu, and Viento de Agua of Puerto Rico, Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Astral Project, New Hope Baptist Church Mass Choir, The Boudreaux Family of Feathers, Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders, SOUL Brass Band, Ranky Tanky, Mark Braud, Glen David Andrews & the Andrews Family Band, Forgotten Souls Brass Band, Lil’ Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers, Black Lodge Singers, Feufollet, Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole, Music Maker Blues Revue featuring Willie Farmer, Robert Lee Coleman, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, Alabama Slim, and Lee Allen Zeno, Tracksuit Wedding, Shiny Ribs, High Steppers Brass Band, One Mind Brass Band, VIP Ladies and Original Four Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Seratones, Jonathon Long, NOLA Reggae featuring Renard Poche?, Water Seed, Lisa Knowles-Smith & The Brown Singers, Square Dance NOLA, Daria & The Hip Drops, White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Son del Batey, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Sporty’s Brass Band, Revolution and Men Buckjumpers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Tom McDermott with Evan Christopher, The Pfister Sisters’ Tribute to The Andrews Sisters, Otis Wimberly Sr. and The Wimberly Family Gospel Singers, Tommy Sancton’s New Orleans Legacy Band, Phillip Manuel, Buffalo Hunters and Cheyenne Mardi Gras Indians, Andrew Hall’s Society Brass Band, Mark Brooks & Friends, Khari Allen Lee – Tribute to Grover Washington Jr., Betty Winn & One A-Chord, Caren Green, Marina Orchestra, Keyla Richardson, A.J. Loria, Roadside Glorious, Huval-Fuselier Cajun Band, Shades of Praise New Orleans Interracial Gospel Choir, Craig Adams & Higher Dimensions of Praise, Anne Elise Hastings and her Revolving Cast of Characters, Fermi?n y Merengue4FOUR, The Trio Plus One, Rosa Metoyer, Kurt Hunter Marionettes, Muggivan School of Irish Dance, Young Audiences Performing Arts Showcase.

FRIDAY, MAY 1

Lionel Richie, Wu-Tang Clan featuring The Soul Rebels, Aaron Neville, Of Monsters and Men, Irma Thomas, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Leo Nocentelli, Davell Crawford plays James Booker, Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas, Sweet Crude, Bonerama, Savoy Family Cajun Band, The Brubeck Centennial Celebration with The Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Bobby Millitello and Joey DeFrancesco, Hot 8 Brass Band, Le’Andria Johnson, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Charlie Sepulveda and The Turnaround, Pirulo y La Tribu and La Tribu de Abrante of Puerto Rico, Motel Radio, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars, Eric Lindell & Marc Ford’s West Coast Reunion, New Orleans Suspects, Shannon McNally, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Comanche Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Nigel Hall, Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes, Stanton Moore, The Iguanas, Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds, Charlie Gabriel and Friends, Herlin Riley, Jason Neville FunkySoul Band, Jazz Violinist Michael Ward, Gregg Martinez & the Delta Kings with special guests Johnnie Allan and T.K. Hulin, Kim Che’re, Palmetto Bug Stompers, Josh Kagler & Harmonistic Praise Crusade, Germaine Bazzle, Bamboula 2000 with special guest Deacon John, Viento de Agua and Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Tribute to The New Orleans Rhythm Kings featuring Steve Pistorius, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Wild Tchoupitoulas and Black Feathers Mardi Gras Indians, Marc Stone, James Martin Band, Herbert McCarver & The Pin Stripe Brass Band, Charlie Halloran’s Tribute to Louis Armstrong and the Allstars, The Mid-City Aces, 7th Ward Creole Hunters and Golden Comanche Mardi Gras Indians, The Wanting, Black Lodge Singers, Panorama Jazz Band, Kerry Grombacher, The City of Love Music & Worship Arts Choir, Seva Venet’s New Orleans Banjo Celebration, Micaela y Fiesta Flamenca, Jackson Square Allstar Brass Band, Men of Class and Original Big 7 Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Voices of Peter Claver, The Swing Setters, Gina Forsyth and Friends, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Spy Boy J & The Young Generation Mardi Gras Indians, Sylvia Yancy Davis, Pastor Terry Gullage and Kingdom Sound, Nineveh Baptist Church Mass Choir, New Generation Brass Band, Lady & Men Rollers and Perfect Gentlemen Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Delgado Community College Jazz Ensemble, The Showers Family, New Orleans Council on Aging Community Choir, Quincy Avenue Rhythm Band, Arte Reviver Capoeira New Orleans, Puppet Arts Theatre.

SATURDAY, MAY 2

Dead & Company, Lizzo, The Isley Brothers, Keb’ Mo’, Nicky Jam, Tank and The Bangas, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, PJ Morton, Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph, Cyril Neville, Tribute to Art Neville featuring Aaron Neville, The Meters, and The Neville Brothers Band, Boyfriend, Doug Kershaw, Partners-N-Crime & The BIG Ez Band, Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, Cowboy Mouth, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Fred Hammond, John Boutte?, The Cookers featuring Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison, David Weiss, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart, Walter Wolfman Washington Trio, Pine Leaf Boys, Molly Tuttle, Mia Borders, Chris Thomas King, Yvette Landry & The Jukes with special guest Warren Storm, New Breed Brass Band, Kenny Neal, Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, Gathering of Chiefs: Walter Cook & The Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians with Friends, Westbank Steppers and Valley of Silent Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, La Tribu de Abrante, Pirulo y La Tribu, and Atabal of Puerto Rico, Tommy McLain + CC Adcock, Sweet Cecilia, Bill Summers & Jazalsa, Lena Prima, Tribute to George Lewis featuring Dr. Michael White, Sammy Rimington, and Tommy Sancton, Conjunto Ti?pico Samaritano and Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Tony Dagradi & Down Time, The Zion Harmonizers, Khris Royal & Dark Matter, Leroy Jones’ New Orleans Finest, New Orleans Nightcrawlers Brass Band, Blodie’s Jazz Jam, Eden Brent, J. Monque’D Blues Revue, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Smitty Dee’s Brass Band, Undefeated Divas & Gents and Original Pigeon Town Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, T’Monde, Mariachi Jalisco, The Palm Court Jazz Band featuring Sammy Rimington, Young Magnolias, Wild Squatoulas, and 9th Ward Black Hatchet Mardi Gras Indians, Mue?velo, Jermaine Landrum & The Abundant Praise Revival Choir, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries Choir, Da Truth Brass Band, Original Nine Times Ladies and Sudan Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Rich Collins, Grupo Sensacion, Claude Bryant and The Allstars, DinosAurchestra, Big Chief Juan & Jockimo’s Groove, Xeno Moonflower, Black Lodge Singers, OperaCre?ole, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Northside Skull and Bone Gang, Connie & Dwight Fitch with St. Raymond and St. Leo the Great Choir, NOCCA Student Jazz Ensemble, Neo-Tokyo 2020 featuring Takeshi Shimmura, Keiko Komaki & Satoru Ohashi, Jack Barksdale, Tonia Scott & Anointed Voices, Creole Osceola Black Masking Indians, Black Foot Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, The Legendary Rocks of Harmony, Curtis Pierre with The Samba Kids, Donate Puppets of Puerto Rico, Stephen Foster’s Foster Family Music Program, E’Dana & Divinely Destin, New Orleans Dance Collective.

SUNDAY, MAY 3

Stevie Nicks, The Lumineers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, John Prine, Kool & the Gang, Chick Corea: Vigilette with Carlitos Del Puerto and Marcus Gilmore, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Jenny Lewis, Lowrider Band, The Radiators, Tribute to Dr. John with special guests Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, Ivan Neville, Davell Crawford, Deacon John, and John “Papa” Gros with the Dr. John All-Star Alumni Band, The Campbell Brothers, Davell Crawford, Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, Zigaboo Modeliste and The Funk Revue, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters, Kermit Ruffins’ Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Original Pinettes Brass Band, James Andrews & the Crescent City All-Stars, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Jo-El Sonnier & Friends, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Mr. Sipp “The Mississippi Blues Child”, Bobby Lounge, Deak Harp, Naughty Professor, MoFess, J & The Causeways, .AM., Atabal and Conjunto Ti?pico Samaritano of Puerto Rico, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Da Souljas Brass Band, Original New Orleans Lady Buckjumpers and Prince of Wales Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Tim Laughlin, Preservation Brass, Amina Figarova Sextet, DJ Captain Charles, Lulu and the Broadsides, Esther Rose, Lawrence Sieberth featuring Michael Rodriguez, Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. & The Wild Magnolias, Joy Clark, The Caesar Brothers FunkBox, Young Pinstripe Brass Band, Leo Jackson & The Melody Clouds, Ninth Ward Hunters, Monogram Hunters, and Algiers Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Pastor Cynthia Girtley, Troy Turner’s Blues Band, Kim Carson, Gerald French & the Original Tuxedo Brass Band, Evangelist Jackie Tolbert, Zulu Gospel Male Ensemble, Dayna Kurtz with Robert Mache, David L. Harris, Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, Doyle Cooper, Davis Rogan, Johnette Downing and Scott Billington, Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, Patrice Fisher & Arpa with Eddie Balzola & Oriente Cuban Band, Black Lodge Singers, Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Mohawk Hunters and The Seminole Mardi Gras Indians, UNO Jazz Studies Allstars, The Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music Band, Southern University Baton Rouge Jazzy Jags, Val & Love Alive Mass Choir, Franklin Avenue Music Ministry, Real Untouchable Brass Band, Ole & Nu Style Fellas, Good Fellas, and Original C.T.C. Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Arthur and Friends Community Choir, The RRAAMS, Kai Knight’s Silhouette Dance Ensemble, Versailles Lion Dance Team, Burke Riley Cajun Quintet, Culu Children’s Traditional African Dance Company.

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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival



Documentary in the Works From ‘Wrecking Crew’ Director

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Filming has commenced in Los Angeles, CA on the latest feature film from director Denny Tedesco. His award-winning music documentary The Wrecking Crew shone an overdue spotlight on the most iconic session musicians of the ’60s, who backed practically every major American artist of the era including The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Sonny & Cher. Denny is the son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.

Immediate Family is something of a sequel to The Wrecking Crew, with Tedesco exhibiting another group of recording studio masters who have been at it from the early 1970s to present day: Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, Waddy Wachtel, etc.

Kortchmar, Sklar and Kunkel made up three-quarters of The Section, the instrumental rock band now best known for studio and stage work with acts top in their field. Individually or collectively, the musicians supported James Taylor, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Keith Richards, Neil Young, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Don Henley, Phil Collins, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Bryan Ferry, Lyle Lovett and Jimmy Buffett. 

Like The Wrecking Crew, this documentary proves enlightening for every music lover, featuring interviews from record producers Lou Adler and Peter Asher and the aforementioned megastars reflecting on their history with the players. The history here is unique, because unlike other eras and session artists, this crew is still extant. Still very much in demand for artists and producers alike. 

Another thing that makes the players’ story unique is that they’ve not only shared performances as hit makers, they have cultivated lifelong bonds as close friends. In recent years, Kortchmar, Sklar, Kunkel, and Wachtel have united once again to perform on stage and record as The Immediate Family. The four are joined by guitarist Steve Postell of David Crosby and John Oates notoriety.

“We’re like a cover band that plays all originals,” cracks Kortchmar, referring to the band’s hits they either wrote or co-wrote for artists like Jackson Browne (“Tender is the Night” and “Somebody’s Baby”), James Taylor (“Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”), Don Henley (“Dirty Laundry” and “All She Wants to Do is Dance”), Warren Zevon (“Werewolves of London” and “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead”), as well as myriad others.

Immediate Family is produced by Greg Richling and Jonathan Sheldon of Pfonetic; producer Jack Piatt and co-executive producer Elmo Lovano (both of Jammcard), executive producer Cliff Burnstein, co-executive producer Caroline Hoste, and executive producers Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of BondIt Media Capital. Sales agents/EPs Dan Braun, Josh Braun, and Ben Braun of Submarine are representing the film globally.



Roomful of Blues Set To Release First Album of New Material in Nine Years

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Roomful of Blues, the world-renowned, horn-powered, houserocking blues band, will release In A Roomful Of Blues on Friday, March 13, 2020 on Alligator Records. The Rhode Island- based group has been delighting audiences for over 50 years.

In A Roomful Of Blues, the band’s fifth release on Alligator (and 19th overall), was produced by guitarist and bandleader Chris Vachon and features 13 wide-ranging songs, including nine band-composed originals—more than on any previous Roomful album. Eight songs were written or co-written by Vachon (including one authored with vocalist Phil Pemberton) plus one each by sax player Alek Razdan and keyboardist Rusty Scott. From the rocking “We’d Have A Love Sublime” to the funkified “You Move Me” to the closing-time lament “She Quit Me Again” to the up-to-the-minute “Phone Zombies,” In A Roomful Of Blues is filled with soaring blues, zydeco twists, late-night ballads, Latin-tinged funk and a touch of vintage, fifth-gear rock ‘n’ roll.

On record and on stage, Roomful of Blues continues to deliver its bone-shaking mix of original songs and carefully chosen covers ranging from jump, swing and proto rock ‘n’ roll to funky, contemporary blues. Their impeccable musicianship and larger-than-life vocals have earned Roomful five Grammy Award nominations and a slew of other accolades, including seven Blues Music Awards.

Roomful of Blues began in 1967 when a group of southern Rhode Island teenagers with a shared passion for the blues formed a straight-ahead Chicago-style electric blues band to explore the music of their heroes. They added a horn section (including Rich Lataille) in 1970 and released their self-titled debut album in 1977 on Island Records (reissued on Hyena Records), which brought them to the attention of fans and critics from coast to coast. The band has performed in cities around the world, traveling abroad to 22 countries including Lebanon, Poland, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey and Russia.

Vachon first joined Roomful in 1990, and has been leading the band since 1998. The band has maintained its signature sound through great musicianship and a stellar horn section—featuring tenor and alto saxophonist Lataille, whose masterful playing can evoke either the fat-toned, honking sax of the glory days of early rock or the cool elegance of big band swing jazz.

While Roomful of Blues has always been one of the tightest, most joyful blues ensembles in the world, they have never sounded fresher or stronger than with the current line-up. Along with Vachon and Lataille, the band includes vocalist Phil Pemberton, baritone and tenor saxophonist Alek Razdan, trumpeter Carl “Geerz” Gerhard, bassist John Turner, drummer Chris Anzalone and keyboardist Rusty Scott.

With In A Roomful Of Blues, the band has once again captured all of their frenetic energy and musical power in the studio. Roomful of Blues will be hitting the road and bringing the new material to their fans around the world, proving without doubt that this is a band built to stand the test of time. While keenly aware of the group’s half century of history, Vachon is quick to note, however, that they are constantly looking forward. “We always keep things fresh and we keep the excitement level high. Playing this music is an immense amount of fun for us,” he says. “And it’s just as much fun for our audience.”

Roomful Of Blues



Finn Wolfhard Returns to Music for ‘The Turning’ Soundtrack

Finn Wolfhard heads back to the Nineties (again) for his new song, “Getting Better (Otherwise),” from The Turning soundtrack.

Wolfhard stars in the upcoming adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw as Miles, a wealthy orphan who lives alone in a massive manor with his sister, Flora, and their housekeeper Mrs. Grose. Things start to unravel when a new governess, Kate, moves in to tend to Flora. It’s a tale as old as time (or the 1800s): Is the house haunted or is Kate just insane?

The original book takes place in the 1800s, but for the 2020 adaptation, director Floria Sigismondi decided to bring the story into the Nineties — complete with a era-matching soundtrack. For that, she enlisted Lawrence and Yves Rothman to produce an album featuring artists like Mitski, Courtney Love, Empress Of, The Aubreys featuring Wolfhard, Vagabon, Cherry Glazerr, Lawrence Rothman, Kim Gordon and Warpaint.

Wolfhard’s song premieres Wednesday with a video featuring scenes from the film. “It’s about someone who has a completely negative outlook on life but somehow — through weird and dark things that they like — they’re always getting better,” he tells Rolling Stone.

His character, Miles, turns to music for comfort throughout the movie — while simultaneously freaking viewers out as he grows more and more hostile toward Kate. Miles is a fan of both Nirvana and Daniel Johnston (both make cameos in his bedroom décor), so it’s safe to say he fancies himself a misunderstood outsider. “Music is Miles’ escape,” Wolfhard says.

Producer Lawrence Rothman says of the song: “Finn and his bandmate Malcom came to my studio and we had a chaotic eight-hour session where it all came together fast. Jay Reatard’s Nineties band The Reatards, we blasted [them] in the studio during our session breaks, and a bit of that influence came into the recording of the song.”

Both the soundtrack and the movie will drop January 24th.

As for Wolfhard, despite the fact his band Calpurnia split in November 2019, he’s still making music — this time with a new band called the Aubreys. “I started a new thing that’s more independent, that’s less pressure and a little more music,” he says.

The reigning prince of nostalgia is also set to appear in the gritty Ghostbusters: Afterlife, out in July, and the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, which doesn’t have a release date yet.

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The Story Behind The Song, “Change the World” by Eric Clapton

The Story Behind the Song: “Change the World”

Written by Gordon Kennedy, Tommy Sims, Wayne Kirkpatrick

Recorded by Eric Clapton

A Q&A with Gordon Kennedy

When and where did you guys write “Change the World?”   

 It began in Nashville’s Omni Studio A in 1991. We were working on recording 4 new tracks that particular day when, on some down time, Tommy Sims played Wayne Kirkpatrick and me, the idea, asking if it was something that we could write together. Some months would go by before Wayne asked for Tommy to put the nugget of the idea on a tape. Wayne would write the chorus lyric, and all but one line of the second verse before handing me a tape with his additions. I had Wayne’s parts and I had made some musical changes so, I was confident enough that we could go ahead and lay down a demo. In April of ’91, I travelled to Columbus, Ohio, to meet Tommy and record the demo track. I still have the micro-cassette recording of me in the car, playing the track through the car system, and singing along into the micro recorder, trying to come up with the first verse lyrics, and Wayne’s missing second verse line. By the time I got back to Nashville, I went back to Omni B to put guitar and vocals on the demo. None of us were ever together, when we each wrote our bits for that song.

Step outside the song for a moment. How would you describe “Change the World” as a music fan?

I think it sounds timeless, and you can hear a multitude of influences that we all love. Looking back, I remember when Tommy unveiled the idea that day in the studio, I was thinking “it sounds enough like McCartney” that I liked it. I imagined Wayne thinking “Yeah…Fogelberg…James Taylor…”, and Tommy probably thinking “hope this doesn’t sound too much like Stevie Wonder to fit this project.” 3 guys bringing a host of heroes and influnces, and I think they all surface in that song.

Could you tell us some of the backstory of the song? How much or how little did you edit it, during or afterward? Were there any phrases or words you can remember that were especially tough to make a final decision on?

While the original title from Tommy might have been meant to be a little more of a social conciousness type thing, it was Wayne’s idea to make it into a love song. Once that was established, it was mostly just finding those phrases that sounded like the grandiose things we wish we could do to demonstrate love.

Did you guys demo it or simply worktape it? How did it wind up getting cut and becoming a single? 

The demo was done in a basement where Tommy had gone to work on a church choir project. He had a keyboard setup and we sampled sounds with a Shure 57, a la human-beat-box noises for the percussion. There’s even a laugh at the end of every bar as part of the percussion package. The initial track was keyboard driven, an electric piano that had a leslie effect going. In fact, when Dann Huff called me fro the Wynonna session, he told me he was playing my leslie guitar part on her track. I said “that’s a keyboard!” Tommy did some really cool strings, cellos mainly. I brought the 2” multi-track home and played a single guitar track on a ’46 Martin D-18, and added vocals and that was it.

Who was the biggest cheerleader of the song, besides the writers?

From my publisher and dear friend Doug Howard, and Polygram Music Publishing, it made its way to Tony Brown who played it for and recorded it with Wynonna. Her label wouldn’t single it though. But, before she recorded it, Tony played the demo for his friend Kathy Nelson, music supervisor from Hollywood. She would remember that later when she was casting music for the film to be “Phenomenon.” From her, it went to Robbie Robertson, who was exec producer on the soundtrack, and he got it to Clapton and Babyface. With all of these people, we were in really good company!

What do you enjoy most about writing songs in general?

I think we are made in the image of the ultimate Creator, and it is innate in us to want to create. I gravitate towards picking up the guitar which ultimately has me reaching for some device to record a new idea. The idea that there can be a moment that starts with a blank canvas, and perhaps within hours, yields something that wasn’t there before, is beautiful.

What has the overall experience been like collaborating with your co-writers on this tune?

Well, it was the first song that the three of us wrote together. And the journey it took us on was something we could have never dreamed. I remember one us saying right afterwards, “we should probably write another song together!” We went on to write 11 songs together and 9 of them got cut and some by more than one artist.

Is there a particular period or moment in your career when you were faced with adversity or doubt and had to dig deep to stay the course?

Always. Even with the song “Change The World,” we had initially wanted to get a record deal and that song was the last attempt at delivering what the label had called a “pop hit.” When they passed on us, we walked away saying that we failed. Then, when Wynonna cut it, we were told for 2 and half years before her album finally came out, that it would be a single. Her label put out three singles, none of which were ours. I saw Tony Brown on the row one day and he told me her label was saying they’re not singling it and that he thought they were crazy. We walked away again saying we had failed. Five years after the song idea was introduced, four years after the demo was done, Clapton recorded it and it spent 13 weeks at #1 and a record 81 consecutive weeks in the Top 20 AC charts in Billboard., and it was Grammys Song Of The Year.

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Thundercat – “Black Qualls” (Feat. Steve Lacy & Steve Arrington)

Thundercat always stays busy, but the Los Angeles bass wizard hasn’t released an album of his own since 2017’s Drunk. Fortunately, that’s about to change. In April, Thundercat is coming back with a new album called It Is What It Is, executive produced by Flying Lotus and featuring a crew of collaborators including Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and Zack Fox. And today, he’s sharing one of its songs.

“Black Qualls” finds Thundercat teaming up with one his heroes in funk icon Steve Arrington, who Thundercat has been a fan of since he was a teenager, and the Internet’s Steve Lacy, who Thundercat says is “the physical incarnate of the Ohio Players in one person — he genuinely is a funky ass dude.” (The album version of the song also features Childish Gambino.) Listen to “Black Qualls” and check out the details of It Is What It Is below.

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TRACKLIST:
01 “Lost In Space / Great Scott / 22-26?
02 “Innerstellar Love”
03 “I Love Louis Cole (Feat. Louis Cole)
04 “Black Qualls” (Feat. Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, & Childish Gambino)
05 “Miguel’s Happy Dance”
06 “How Sway “
07 “Funny Thing”
08 “Overseas” (Feat. Zack Fox)
09 “Dragonball Durag”
10 “How I Feel”
11 “King Of The Hill “
12 “Unrequited Love”
13 “Fair Chance” (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Lil B)
14 “Existential Dread”
15 “It Is What It Is”

Thundercat
CREDIT: Parker Day

TOUR DATES:
02/28 Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
02/29 Portland, OR @ PDX Jazz Festival
03/02 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
03/03 Arcata, CA @ Van Duzer Theatre
03/04 Chico, CA @ Senator Theatre
03/06 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
03/07 Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
03/08 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory North Park
03/10 Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
03/12 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
03/13 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
03/14 Minneapolis, MN @ The Fillmore
03/15 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
03/17 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre
03/18 Toronto, ON @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
03/19 Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
03/21 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
03/22 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
03/24 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
03/28 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
03/29 Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival
03/31 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
04/01 Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
04/02 Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
09/04 London, UK @ Roundhouse
11/04 Manchester, UK @ Academy
14/04 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
15/04 Paris, FR @ Elysée Montmartre
17/04 Berlin, DE @ Astra

It Is What It Is is out 4/3 on Brainfeeder. Pre-order it here.



Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band Announce Co-Headlining Tour

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Southern rock icons The Charlie Daniels Band and The Marshall Tucker Band announced the “Fire on the Mountain” tour, a national road show that will bring together two of the genre’s most beloved musical legends.

The tour hits the road this spring and will continue throughout 2020 with more than 20 live concert dates taking place by the year’s end.

“The idea of us touring again with the CDB leads to all kinds of possibilities,” says MTB lead singer Doug Gray. “It’s not just about the music, but also the friendships and the reunion with the fans who’ve been with us for many years. We’ll be playing all of our hit songs as well as material from an upcoming re-released vinyl album.”

The tour title is a nod to The Marshall Tucker Band’s 1978 hit song, “Fire on the Mountain,” as well as The Charlie Daniels Band’s 1974 platinum-selling album of the same name.
“We have played more shows with the MTB through the years than any other band and have worked together for over forty years,” adds Daniels. “We have so much history and so many memories and the music is so compatible that when we get together, the audience, CDB and MTB have a big ole southern-style good time.”

The tour kicks-off on April 23 in Enid, OK at the Stride Bank Center.

Fellow southern rock group the Scooter Brown Band will join the CDB and MTB on select dates.

The “Fire on the Mountain” tour is booked exclusively by APA Nashville.

“Fire on the Mountain” Tour Schedule:

April 23 – Enid, OK – Stride Bank Center (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
April 24 – Salina, KS – Tony’s Pizza Event Center (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
April 30 – Moon, PA – UPMC Events Center
May 1 – Washington D.C. – Warner Theater
May 2 – Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center at The Heights
May 3 – Evansville, IN – Victory Theatre
May 7 – Waterbury, CT – Palace Theatre
May 8 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo Performing Arts Center
May 9 – Westbury, NY – Theatre at Westbury
May 14 – Jackson, TN – Carl Perkins Civic Center
May 23 – Cherokee, NC – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Aug 14 – Cincinnati, OH – PNC Pavilion (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Aug 28 – Lancaster, PA – American Music Theatre (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Aug 30 – Webster, MA – Indian Ranch (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Sept 4 – Huron, SD – South Dakota State Fair
Sept 5 – Deadwood, SD – Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center
Sept 11 – Joliet, IL – Rialto Square Theatre
Sept 19 – St. Charles, MO – The Family Arena (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Sept 24 – Meridian, MS – Riley Center for the Performing Arts
Nov 6 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre (w/ Scooter Brown Band)
Nov 7 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall (w/ Scooter Brown Band)



All Of Frank Bey’s Dues Are Paid

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Fairly early on my notes for Frank Bey‘s All My Dues Are Paid say, “what’s his deal?” The question comes up because I can’t believe how seamlessly Bey synthesizes so many styles of music, keeping them recognizable while also maintaining a singular personal voice. It feels a bit early to be talking about best albums of 2020, but I’m ready to commit to Bey.

Bey is a powerful, soulful, blues singer. His voice, laden with emotion, yet able to subtlety adjust to different genres, is the heart and spirit of the album. His band works behind him, creating grand tableaus of sound from which Bey can launch, and land, his songs. And here a lot of the credit also goes to producer/guitarist Kid Andersen and co-producer Rick Estrin, who built-up tight arrangements that don’t dominate Bey (not that anything really could), and also stand on their own.

Bey does it all on the album. The title track is soulful funk with a bumping groove. An army of horns give the song a huge sound, but the organ purring beneath the tune gives it a down-home feel. “Never No More” also uses horns, but this time Bey is working in a big band/rockabilly formation. The track bounces, but the band has to do everything it can to keep up with Bey, who’s performing with an energy that would be impressive for anyone, let alone someone who will turn 74 the day this album drops.

If Bey had only worked with these kinds of more expected songs, All My Dues would still be a treat. But he throws in some real curveballs that are delightful. One is “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” made famous by country legend George Jones. Bey’s version uses his take on country twang over a standard country strum. Kimberly Kistler contributes some jaw droppingly beautiful violin. On paper, this is pure, faithful country, but Bey’s voice is just so rich and original that you almost have to ear squint to hear the Jones version. The power of Bey’s voice in an unexpected genre makes the track perfect.

Frank also takes on Lou Reed, which I didn’t see coming. Like his cover of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Perfect Day” honors the original while still allowing Bey’s essence to shine though. The horns give Bey’s version a classiness Reed’s wonderful original never hints at. Andersen provides some surprisingly essential Spanish guitar and Lisa Leuschner Andersen supports the song with background vocals that sweeten Bey without compromising any of his intensity.

Bey’s career arc is interesting. He sang gospel as a child, hooked up with Otis Redding as a teen (serving as Reddings’ opener), and wound up, as so many of us did, in funk in the 1970s. After James Brown stole a song from Bey, Bey left music for 17 years, eventually resuming his career in Philadelphia. The music industry is filled with these kinds of stories of artists getting hurt and retreating into private life, so it’s great that Bey found his way back into the spotlight.

One of my favorite moments of the album is Bey’s take on the iconic “Imagine.” In Bey’s hands, the song builds, becoming more spiritual than John Lennon’s original. It’s a reinvention of a well-known song, but I also appreciate seeing Lennon, and the Beatles, who borrowed a lot from African American artists for their own music, having an African American artist take something back. There’s a nice symmetry to the move. With Bey, all music is up for grabs; his gift is making every track he touches his own. That’s his deal.

Artist: Frank Bey

Title: All My Dues Are Paid

Label: Nola Blue

Release Date: January 17, 2020

Running Time: 54:55

Frank Bey

*Feature image © FOGIEFOTO Larry Fogelson



Downtown Charlie Brown – Chicago’s Delta

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Charles Brown (Downtown Charlie Brown) was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. While in high school Charlie participated in 3 Varsity sports (basketball, soccer, and baseball) receiving All State honors in basketball and baseball. He was also a member of “The Elusions,” an R&B band, where he played trumpet and added vocals on occasion. Like many blues and R&B artists he sang in the church choir. After graduating from Morristown High School, Charlie attended Lehigh University where he played basketball and graduated with a degree in economics and marketing. He scored enough points to be inducted into the Lehigh Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 1989 Charlie moved to Leawood, Kansas (Kansas City suburb) where he met Roy Searcy, a jazz and blues piano player who became his blues piano mentor. In 1994 Charlie moved to Aurora, Illinois working for AT&T. He spent some time honing his music skills at the Old Time School of Folk Music and formed the “Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band.” The band plays weekly throughout Chicagoland and Indiana, including Buddy Guy’s Legends in downtown Chicago. Charlie focuses on classic blues; primarily Delta and Chicago styles. He plays keys, slide guitar (primarily resonator), sings, and manages the “Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band.” In addition, he fronts the band with Dee Dee Hardy. He also performs as a duo with Harry Binford and a trio with both Dee Dee and Harry. He has opened for KoKo Taylor, Eddie Clearwater, Lil’ Ed, and a host of other blue greats. On occasion, Buddy Guy has graced the stage during his band’s performances at Legends.

Charlie’s musical influences include: Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Robert Johnson, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Charlie is school teacher during the day and a musician at night. He’s either playing a gig at Legends in Chicago, The Uptown, or Johnny’s Blitz in Westmont, Illinois, (Muddy’s last home) or hosting an open mic at Miss Kitty’s in Naperville.

Brant Buckley:

Who are your favorite Blues artists and why?

Downtown Charlie Brown:

My top three artists are Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, and Robert Johnson. In terms of artists around today it’s Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton. Muddy Waters brought Delta blues to Chicago. Chicago blues can be defined by what he did. I love playing slide guitar and I love Robert Johnson. I am trying to learn all of Robert Johnson’s songs. I have about 18 of them down. He recorded 29 songs. My goal is to learn everything he recorded. I like Pinetop because I started out primarily as a Honky Tonk piano player. Buddy is the king of the blues and he keeps it alive. Every time I have seen an Eric Clapton concert, he pays homage and gives credit to all the guys who came before him. On the big screens he may have Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters up, depending on what song he is playing.

Can you talk about your band Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band?

We have five people: Reggie Harrington on bass, Harry Binford on guitar, Glover Washington on drums, Cliff Williams subbing on drums or bass when needed, Dee Dee Harding on vocals, and I’m on keys, guitar and vocals. Dee Dee and I usually split vocal duties during our set, and we perform a few songs together. When we started out we played blues, R&B, and some Rock N Roll. As we started getting different gigs, I would cater to particular audiences. I’m from the east coast and I grew up on R&B, but blues is where my heart is. I was talking to Vino Louden, Koko Taylor’s bandleader, one day in Aurora after a blues fest and he said, “Nobody does Charlie Brown better than Charlie Brown.” At that point I decided to focus on blues. That is when blues became my primary focus. I do still play Rock and Roll; and R&B at times. When I play guitar, Delta blues is my primary focus. We play as a full band, duo, or trio. With the band we play both Delta blues and Chicago blues, Rock and Roll, with a little R&B. As a trio it’s Delta and Chicago Blues. As a duo Harry and I focus on the Mississippi Delta throughout the set.

You are one of the few Delta guitar players in the Chicago area: How did this come to be and why?

I have had a blues band for over twenty years called “Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band” and Harry Binford is the main guitar player in my band. About two years ago we started talking about playing as a trio. Pay for blues musicians isn’t that great and it’s tough when you have a five piece band. Sometimes it’s easier to get a gig when you have 2 to 3 people. We started learning Delta music and it’s something that I have always wanted to do. Harry bought a resonator and I went out and bought one. We started getting together once a week to learn and practice. Donna Herula, who is an excellent slide player, in the style of Bonnie Raitt, started giving me lessons. She’s an excellent teacher and also plays at Buddy Guy’s Legends. She showed me the licks, I practiced, and I went out and played. I still use Donna as a resource regularly.

How has your sports background helped you play in a band?

I think being well rounded and doing a lot helps you so you don’t get in a rut and get bored. When you play sports you are never going to win every game. It’s impossible. All of the ups and downs that you face in athletics makes them easier to face in life. Even in music you may get a gig and it may get canceled. You may try to get booked at a certain place and you don’t get the gig for whatever reason. It helps you with all of the ups and downs that you will face within music and helps you focus on what your real goal is.

Does your piano playing show up in your guitar playing? Has one inspired the other?

My piano playing definitely has inspired my guitar playing. Within piano, I already knew all of the chords and scales. Picking up the guitar was about learning the technique more than anything else. I already knew all of the blues theory. It was a pretty quick transition from piano to the guitar. I’m not a virtuoso on the guitar but when it comes to blues, I can hold my own.

You have Howlin’ Wolf power when you sing: Did you work on your voice or is it natural?

I think it’s a combination. Like a lot of African Americans I sang in the church choir as a kid. As I got older I started listening to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. I can’t do what they do but I try and keep their tradition. Part of my sound comes from just how I sing but, I do listen to them and I try to preserve the traditional style; especially since I am from the North East and not Mississippi, styles may be different.

Musically, what else do you want to accomplish?

I take my plans and goals day by day and they also change and migrate. I enjoy playing and I am getting close to the age where I can retire from teaching school full-time. I teach business classes. I am migrating to making music full-time and teaching part time. I am on the website for The Blues Foundation’s Blues in School. I want to start doing Blues in School. I love talking about the history of Delta Blues and where the songs come from. It’s interesting when you look at Robert Johnson. He was a womanizer and was married by age nineteen. His wife died in child birth and he wrote “Love in Vain.” Thomas Dorsey, that father of Gospel who has Chicago roots, went through the same situation. His wife died in child birth. He didn’t play for a long time and wrote “Precious Lord.” Robert Johnson went the total blues route and Thomas Dorsey went the Gospel route. It is very interesting to see what these guys did. Muddy Waters’ early stuff was just like Robert Johnson. I find it very fascinating and I love to talk about it when I am playing. Blues in School seems like a good fit for me. I want to continue to perform, teach school part time, teach the blues, and keep the blues alive. That’s my main goal.

Downtown Charlie Brown

*All photos © Joel Turner



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