I’ve been spending alot of time lately thinking about sharing music in a way I never have and so the radio station Strangeblood Radio was included in the Radionomy lineup. It’s my hope that many of the US and international artists I’ve followed over the years get introduced to new audiences. I hope you will take the time to stop by from time to time. The starting format will be to release 4 hour shows weekly. You will be able to hear repeats during the week from last week’s show (among others). Get some!
A small batch record company from Minneapolis has been quietly making its mark on the creative new musical world for 18 years. Founded by James Lindbloom, the label draws its name from a musical piece by late composer John Cage by the same name. The composition by Cage sought to bring literature (Namely that of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake) to performance. The record label has released 46 recordings to date featuring Sun Ra, Joe McPhee, Steve Lacy, Pauline Oliveros and Daniel Carter to name a few.
According to Lindbloom, most of the label’s releases are limited to around 500 copies while the titles for Sun Ra and a few other titles had as many as 1000 to 1500 copies. To date, Roaratorio has released 3 recordings by late accordionist Pauline Oliveros, who developed the musical vocabulary referred to as Deep Listening and taught at UCSD and Mills College. The most recent release featuring Oliveros was as a member of the Thollem Cline trio, entitled Molecular Affinity. Thollem/Cline trio is conceptually like drummer Samm Bennett and late Cellist Tom Cora’s band Third Person, a “trio” that included the third artist as a guest in performances. Pianist Thollem McDonas and Guitarist Nels Cline’s (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers) previous collaborations as a trio include the Gowanus Session featuring William Parker on Bass and Radical Empathy featuring Michael Wimberly on drums.
On Roaratorio, Oliveros can be heard with Argentinian electronic group Reynols on the 2003 release, The Minexcio Connection: Live at the Rosendale Cafe and on her 2011 release To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe In Recognition of their Desperation. The latter contains 3 recordings from 1970 and 1977 with a large ensemble.
Released one month after Ms. Oliveros passing, Molecular Affinity contains two improvised compositions, each approximately 19 minutes in length. Each of the pieces are works showcasing the trio’s breadth of talents, with all 3 musicians drawing both distinction and commonality. Oliveros can make her instument sound electronic as it entwines with piano and electronic effects, including guitar and dobro making the giving the recording the feeling of a soundtrack. The recording has moments sounding like a work out of time, Molecular Affinity also has an air reminscent of recordings from contemporary composers on the Nonesuch record label back in it’s heyday of the late sixties and seventies. For fans of Oliveros or improvised music in general this recording isn’t to be missed. LP/Digital copies of Molecular Affinity are available individually from Roaratorio Records. The 3 Thollem/Cline trio recordings were also released this year as part of a digital only format compilation earlier in 2018.
Argentenian composer Nelson Gastaldi (1932-2009) has what is known to be a treasure trove of recordings, however to date Symphony #3: Siddhartha Gautama O El Poder De La Nada is the only recording to be officially released. The recording was discussed on the podcast #37 for Free Form Freakout. Interestingly, in the podcast, Lindbloom discusses how he did “these home recordings, symphonies as he called them–, were made through a crude overdubbing setup– He would record them on a boom box, play them back on a separate deck while recording another layer of the piece, then play back the new cassette while playing along to it once again, and so on until the piece was complete.” It’s really surprising to imagine someone merging musical expression and composition in such a manner and having a result that is so indescribable. The recording was composed and recorded between 1972 and 1997. This is an essential recording for collectors of contemporary electronic composition.
Another direction of musical exploration on Roaratorio is Lebanese based The A Trio, who have a number of recordings including a 2018 release with the UK based renowned experimental band AMM. Their music is fairly indescribable as on listens to the 40+ minute improvisation and would likely have difficulty in knowing what instruments were being played (without looking at the cover). The group has also collaborated with Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls on their 2015 recording Burj Al Imam. Trumpet player Mazen Kerbaj utilizes his instrument not for melodic means, but instead at times it sounds like a new form of sound has been created, in a way like the first time one hears Tuvan throat singing and ponders that it really is vocals. Their style on Live at Nickelsdorf can be at times percussive, sounding like springs and whirligigs bouncing with a motor puttering along while high pitches overtake the moment sounding like a violin bow is being used on a cymbal.
Roaratorio is much more than the label that releases vinyl artifacts by Sun Ra and Joe McPhee’s awesomeness. But, don’t forget that they’re that too. Lindbloom has created one of the strongest labels in existence today and if you haven’t already done so, you should challenge your ears to check a few of their releases out.
Trombonist Jeb Bishop and Violist Dan Ruccia recently teamed up on a tour through the mid Atlantic states of the US to perform music from their 2017 release Scratch Slice Jag released on Out and Gone records. Bishop grew up in Raleigh, NC where he was involved in the punk rock band Stillborn Christians and the Alternative band Angels of Epsitemology. After moving to Chicago Bishop became a regular in Ken Vandermark’s bands as well as performed with Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet, Alexander von Schippenbach’s Globe Unity Orchestra and many other crucial members of the creative new music world. Ruccia hails from Durham and has recorded many of his own compositions, in addition to being at DJ at Duke University’s WXDU radio station in his spare time.
The two artists recently performed at the Revolve Sound Series in Asheville. They met when Bishop was living in the triangle a few years ago. Although Bishop has since moved to Boston, Massachusetts, both he and Ruccia colaborated on Scratch Slice Jag and the album was released to critical acclaim from the Free Jazz blog.
Asheville based guitarists Shane Parish and Tashi Dorji performed an opening set of improvised music then later joined Bishop and Ruccia for an improvised quartet performance to close the evening. Parish is a member in both Aleuchatistas and Dirge Duo as well as a collaborator with many artists. Dorji has performed with a number of musicians highly regarded in the improvised music realm including Sir Richard Bishop, Tyler Damon, Bill Orcutt, Joe McPhee and Mette Rasmussen. Dorji has recently released a duo record with Rasmussen on the Montreal based label Feeding Tube records. Parish and Dorji have released a recording together as well in 2016 on the MIE label entitled Expecting. In their duo Parish sounds at times like crafty guitarist Robert Fripp while Dorji shreds in a style similar to that of Fred Frith. The duos and quartet performances were both enjoyable but the duos were clearly the most coherent and strongest moments of the night.
Fresh off of his 2017 Grammy for best contemporary blues album, Fantastic Negrito performed at the popular free concert series ‘Downtown after Five’ on Friday, July 20th. It marked the first time the Oakland based artist had performed in the Old North State since performing at L.E.A.F. in 2017. FN’s lyrics are often political tales of a gritty world where we struggle and are often duped by our consumer society. It’s easy to hear the influence of classic blues artists such as Leadbelly in his songs such as the chant in Lost in a crowd. In last Friday’s concert FN performed his interpretation of Leadbelly’s Where did you sleep last night? The song was renamed In the Pines and has different lyrics created by the artist. It appears on the award winning ‘Last Days of Oakland’ recording.
As an artist, Fantastic Negrito has certainly experienced his shares of ups and downs over the years. After disappearing into obscurity for nearly 20 years he won a contest and received the opportunity to perform on the program gaining wider recognition on a national scale. Making the most of the opportunity FN has now relelased his third record in six years and has cemented a new, soulful woke af blues.
The newest record, released on June 15th of this year is titled ‘Please don’t be dead’ is a self released album on Blackball Universe. Songs performed from the new release on Friday included Plastic Hamburgers. Bullshit Anthem, Bad Guy Necessity and the Duffler. This is the 30th anniversary of the festival that occurs each third Friday from May through September on Lexington. Asheville’s The Get Right Band were openers. Upcoming performers include Memphis based Southern Avenue on August 18th and legendary West Coast Hip hop group The Pharcyde on September 21st. See you there.
Shannon Shaw and her Clams brought their sound that combines punk and 50’s doo wop to the Grey Eagle nightclub in Asheville last Saturday . Fresh off the heals of a solo release by Ms. Shaw and the group’s wonderful Onion record the group continues to build a cult following and draws large audiences dancing to their driving tempo. Shaw and Cody Blanchard are the main songwriters for the Oakland based quartet. Onion contains songs written for the victims of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, Ca. The Ghost Ship was a concert venue and performance space where tragedy struck on December 2nd of 2016, when thirty six artists lost their lives in a warehouse fire. Don’t close your eyes is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to those lost from the incident in the band’s East Bay home town.
Both Onion and Shaw’s solo effort were released on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound record label. The albums were produced by the frontman for the Black Keys as well. The group previously recorded for the Sup Pop subsidiary label Hardly Art and the 1-2-3-4Go! label from the Oakland based record store of the same name.
The quartet also included drummer Nate Mahan and keyboardist Will Sprott. The concert began and closed with songs from the new album The Boy and Did you love me? Also on the set list was the title track to Onion as well as some of their most loved songs including Sleep Talk, Ozma, Rat House and Oh Louie. Shannon and the Clams were great and are a must see for fans of Leslie Gore ala the movie Hairspray. Charlotte based Paint Fumes and Asheville’s The Nude Party opened.
Did you ever listen to a new record and want to tell everyone about it? That’s how lot’s of writers get started including this one. Influences can be what people I know exposed me to or maybe a band I stumbled onto that had something to say. Bands from the central coast to the bay are writing new music, evolving and taking us in new directions and sometimes familiar ones. Today I’m taking a look at 3 new local releases.
Check out the song Mumbles or Refrigerator to get a sense of their sound. Mumbles is very much in the vein of bands like the Entrance Band or Ty Segall while Refrigerator shows a Rockabilly influence that can sound like Flat Duo Jets. Definitely a band making waves the Shoobies demo also features a pretty solid cover of the Sonic’s Have Love Will Travel.
One thing that’s for sure is there isn’t a shortage of bands playing Garage, Surf and Rockabilly, but guitarist/singer Jacob Ellzey, drummer Evan Hildebrand and bassist Alex Varelijian have carved out their space in the hullabaloo with their release. They will be performing at the Catalyst atrium on Friday, December 1st as openers for SF based Stone Foxes. Check them out!
Also from Santa Cruz, Loos Leaf is a band formed by Elliot Kay and Lucas Heinel. Taking a nod from deep grooves, their first S/T release shows quite alot of promise. Check out Full Moon Dub for a chance to hear some of their deepest instrumental sound. Utilizing a series of loops this song showcases their big sound with heavy horns filling out the Dub synthesizer piping out keys sounding much like a melodica.
The song Nicaragua is the first single from the record and features the vocals of Samantha Stone and Barbora Buzinskaite. The song Boketto has some hooks similar to some of the pioneers of Neo Soul like the Brand New Heavies.
Weaving a blend of vocal and instrumental songs heavily drenched in jazz, soul, hip hop and fusion Loos Leaf is sure to take you on a journey of some more mellow up tempo jams that can help you better appreciate all of the talent budding from local artists. Loos Leaf have two upcoming gigs at the Crepe Place, on November 15th and December 6th. More chances to see a great new band.
From Hollister comes a tall songwriter who is a talented musician and a friend. Zack has released several recordings over the past few years and has shown little signs of slowing down as he has performed across the central coast and as far away as Holland.
Freitas’ newest record is entitled Desolation Animals, a title that is loosely connected to the Jack Kerouac book Desolation Angels according to the artist. A record that goes in some new directions, Desolation Angels features songs like Dragonfly, one of the faster songs with Freitas pulling off some of his best vocals on the record.
Two to Tango, like many songs by Freitas sound influenced by the 90’s and while having vocal characteristics of some of the more popular artists of that era like Oasis, his songwriting can at times be a bit more expansive with nods to bands like Teenage Fanclub or The Lemonheads.
Zack also tackles the theme song from Charlie and the Chocolate factory with his cover of Pure imagination. His version is acoustic and fairly straight up.
ABBEY ROAD, FAT MIKE AND THE JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK: AN INTERVIEW WITH VANESSA SILBERMAN
In early November Vanessa Silberman was in San Francisco to record some tracks for an upcoming ep and for a concert at Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco. I got the opportunity to sit down with her and talk with her about some of her experiences, favorite vegan hangs, and her upcoming ep.
SB: I learned that you’re vegan during your last tour. Have you ever been to Crossroads?
VS: I haven’t. I tried to go once, I had heard about it for a few years and it was closed. Me and a few of my friends we went to try to get some food there but that evening we got there it was closed for the night already. But, I’ve heard its amazing.
VS: What are some of your favorite vegan restaurants? I love Café Gratitude, which, they have that in LA and here. There’s a place, I think it’s called Millennium, and it’s in Berkeley, I think it used to be in SF, and the owners re-opened it, I think its Oakland/Berkeley on College and it’s amazing. Some other places I eat a lot, especially on the road are Whole Foods and if you’re on the road, I don’t know, I tend to go to a lot of grocery stores, because then you can make salads and stuff like that. Let’s see there also a few other grocery type stores that have really good healthy food. I guess in LA there’s one called Lassens. It a grocery store, kind of similar to Whole Foods and they do a lot of different vegan options, sandwiches and wraps and smoothies and pre-made stuff, raw food. There’s also another place I like that’s called Erewhon, which I really like a lot. If you’re a band on a budget and looking for something and there’s only fast food places I tend to eat at Chipotle or I’ve done Subway a couple of times. How about you, do you have any favorite places?
SB: Um, well there is a new place that just opened in Santa Cruz, it’s called Veg on the Edge, it’s West African.
VS: OMG, I love Ethiopian, is that similar?
SB: It’s a little different, One of the guys that owns the place is Nigerian. They (will soon) have Jallof rice, it’s a really spicy rice, and he (the owner) was saying that West African meals are easier make vegan than Ethiopian meals because they don’t use milk, whereas Ethiopian meals use dairy. It’s a really great restaurant. The next time you’re in Santa Cruz you should check it out.
VS: I’d love to, you know the last time when we were in Santa Cruz we ate at the Saturn Cafe. We liked it. Actually all of us went. Carissa, Mikel, Reed.
SB: You grew up in Berkeley?
VS: Yeah, Partly close to Berkeley. I was born in Berkeley, actually.
SB: What were some of you favorite clubs to go to see live music growing up?
VS: Growing up, I went to the Gilman a couple of times, like when I was in high school. But mainly, when I was going to school here it was a lot of punk shows at community centers or at school or at kind of random places. Just being younger and under age, you know I had friends and they kind of tended to pull it together you know more community center all age shows. But, like I mentioned I did go to the Gilman a couple of times and to some of the larger concerts. When the radio station Kamp KOME used to be around you know they had what now is the substitution for what they have now, the BFD from Live 105. One of those big festivals, you know Shoreline Amphitheater kinda thing.
‘I really want these songs to make a difference in my life and a lot of other people.’
SB: Why did you move to LA?
VS: For music. Yeah, I always, since I was pretty young knew I wanted to be in and go to LA. I just knew that it was going to kinda be part of my path and I just felt kind of drawn to it, and the entertainment world. Actually I ended up going to school in Sedona, you know my last year in high school but I didn’t really complete it. So, I got my GED and got into a music school in LA, and part of like you know growing up with parents and you know what parents might suggest to their kid about having some kind of backup path or plan, and I was just like I’m just going to go and do music and go there but at least do some form of school to get yourself kind of figured out and do some form of constructive stuff without just aimlessly going there you know. I went to a school there called Musician’s Institute and I did some guitar for a few months and then ‘intro to the music business’ and artist development kind of program and to me it was like, “alright you know if I’m going to make the money until I’m a successful musician I’ll just get a job in the music business”, so that was my whole concept of going to LA.
SB: Can you talk a little about the work you’re doing now in the studio?
VS: Sure, myself and Reed Mullin from Corrosion of Conformity and Mikel Ross, they recently kind of started backing me under the last year as the Vanessa Silberman band and so we started touring together. They were fans of my music and what I’d been doing and we all actually met when I was a recording in-house assistant at 606, so I kinda knew them for a while and we toured on some of these songs and some of these songs we really knew and so right now we’re recording some songs and we’ve been working on the drums and they’re pretty rock and raw and I feel from what some people have said some of the best songwriting material that I’ve probably put together so far. It’s really cool to have these guys. They’re a real solid rhythm section, super supportive you know with my music and they’re also fun to collaborate and I think that’s part of why I’m doing solo music, because you know I had a band for about 12 or 13 years before but with solo music you know it kind of allows you to do a lot of different things and a lot of flexibility you know to work with different people and to try different things out you know and I just really wanted that you know and right now we’re just trying to get the songs as best as possible. I really want these songs to make a difference in my life and a lot of other people. I really want to bring a lot of positivity and hope through the songs you know the songs are pretty personal.
SB: Do you plan on performing more states together as a group in 2018?
VS: Oh, definitely yeah. You know, we’ve been talking and we have some plans in the works for SXSW, and I think we all want to do more shows so (we’re) indefinitely planning it out and just continuing to discuss it. But, I think for right now we’ve got some stuff in the works, there will be a single and music video coming out which actually is a song we actually recorded on an off day on our first tour that we did together in March. The song is called OK, and we’re going to be putting that out soon so people will kind of get a feel or an introduction to what that will be. But right now we’re just trying to focus on trying to get the best songs we can recorded and quickly after we’ll solidify our plans.
SB: When do you expect the new record to come out? What label are you currently with?
VS: I have my current artist development label you know that I’ve released my own music on and worked with other bands. I’m also an independent A & R. So, thus far I’ve put out my own music. But, I’m definitely looking and we’ve been talking and I want to team up with some other label for the release so I think we’ll be trying to figure that out for early 2018. No exact date yet, but definitely early 2018 for the ep.
SB: Can you talk about the women’s songwriting workshop (Girls Rock Santa Barbara) where you were a participant in Santa Barbara this year?
VS: Yeah, actually myself and Carissa Johnson, who opened up for us on our West Coast tour, we did that workshop (where) we played few songs and then we did Q&A, but actually with the whole artist development thing and my label that I do (A Diamond Heart Production) in addition to recording and being an artist, Carissa kind of does some of the same stuff. She has a company called Fuel Heart Productions and so A Diamond Heart and Fuel Heart kind of came together to offer a workshop for not just women, but everyone and all ages where it covers everything. I do consulting and sometimes with my label, (I) help bands come up with release plans or you know sometimes people don’t know their next step and its so helpful to have, say an artist or someone who has a hand in the business but has both views to help figure out what the next step is or it could literally be anything. I’ve worn every hat as far as releasing. Sometimes people don’t know if ‘I’m supposed to tour?’ or ‘am I supposed to release my music first?’ or ‘how do you go about booking?’. The fact is, a little over two years ago I completely started from scratch with all of my experience, I started touring solo and I played somewhere around 330 shows or something, so I can tell someone, ‘Ok, this is the experience I’ve had’. Carissa’s been touring a lot she’s also really big in her scene on the east coast. So we have two views, one view from the west coast, one view from the east coast. Someone who’s a little bit younger, someone who’s been around in the business a bit longer and maybe had different jobs but we both can give each other a fresh perspective for the audience to see and hear about, especially building from a beginning artist stage and up. Also (it’s about) building a team. Carissa helps beginning bands on the east coast. That’s pretty much what we’re doing and we’ll be doing that more and building that more. I think it’s really cool, you know, when I was an artist just starting out I’d have someone who had experience, (and) who’s already doing stuff to have some ideas to help to know where to go next. That whole thing was really helpful for me whenever someone helped me so to be able to offer that I think that is something valuable for a lot of artists.
‘After I’d had this conversation with him (Fat Mike) I remember getting the record and when I went out to Joshua Tree, I decided to spend the night there and I spent a lot of time listening to Abbey Road and writing’
SB: Can you talk about the song ‘American Folk Rock’?
VS: There’s a lot of interesting back stories for that song. One, was that the song was inspired by when I was working as an Assistant Engineer, there was a period of about 3 months where I was working every single day and I’d been trying to go to Joshua Tree for a long time, through the desert and I just hadn’t had the chance and randomly one weekend we had a session where we were going to record that day. A week before I was assisting on a session with Fat Mike who started Fat Wreck Chords and we were talking about female bands and success and stuff and he was mentioning why there weren’t more female bands that were successful and he was like ‘Every female musician should go and buy Abbey Road’. After I’d had this conversation with him I remember getting the record and when I went out to Joshua Tree, I decided to spend the night there and I spent a lot of time listening to Abbey Road and writing and so the first line in American Folk Rock I mention Abbey Road and that was one part of the thought, but the rest of the song is extremely personal and (was about) times when I was feeling lonely. The other back story about that song is that it was recorded in South Africa when I did a producing label project with this recording studio called BOP Recording Studios and it was this old label connected to this big studio out there in northern South Africa in this region previously known as Bopa Botswana in this place called Mafikeng and I basically went out there to find an artist, group or band to do a singles project and I ended up finding a hip hop group and writing with a bunch of artists from that region and when I was there on the last day I had the chance to record this song and I did it in a live room with one microphone and it was kind of like a nod to old country blues artists where you can have the most expensive studio in the whole world and just use one microphone with the hopes that it would capture a song in a simple form and where I wanted to do stuff like that with my most recent ep. You know, I’ve got this incredible studio where American Folk Rock was done with just one mic and another song for example like Shine you know where I did some recording of the vocals in a bathroom and recorded everything pretty much in a box. So, I just wanted to show a bunch of diversity and American Folk Rock was different from anything I’d put out before in my prior material.
1 Rusconi + Fred Frith– Live In Europe-Qilin
2 Fred Frith Trio-Another Day in Fucking Paradise-Intakt Records
3 Pauline Oliveros, Roscoe Mitchell, John Tilburry, Wadada Leo Smith-Nessuno-I Dischi Di Angelica
4 Joe McPhee, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten-Bricktop-Trost Records
5 Rova Channeling Coltrane– Electric Ascension Live- Rogue Art
6 Rangda-The Heritic’s Bargain-Drag City
7 Dwarfs Of East Agouza-Bes- Nawa recordings
8 Unnatural Ways-We Aliens-Tzadic
9 David Bowie-Black Star-Columbia records
10 A Tribe Called Quest– We Got It From Here-thank you for your service-Epic records
11 Leonard Cohen-You Want It Darker-Columbia
12 Lin-Manuel Miranda-Hamilton (OST)-Atlantic
13 Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, Hamid-Drake- Song Sentimentale-Otoroku
14 Various Artists- This is Kologo Power(A Bolgatanga Ghana Collection)-Makkum Records
15 King Champion Sounds-To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom Excelsior Records
16 ICP Orchestra– Restless In Pieces-Instant Composers Pool
17 Terry Riley-The 3 Generations Trio-I Dischi Di Angelica
18 Childish Gambino-Awaken My Love-Glassnote
19 Solange– A Seat At The Table-Columbia
20 Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry– Must Be Free-Megawave
21 Tortoise-The Catastrophist- Thrill Jockey
22 Konono no.1– Meets Batida- Crammed Discs
23 The Dead C.– Trouble- Bada bing
24 The Avalanches– Wildflower- Astralwerks
25 Jeff Parker-The New Breed-International Anthem Recording Company