4WedDecember 4, 2019Samantha Fish
Samantha Fish knows that all too well, and it's been evidenced in the music she's made her entire career. While she's well known as a purveyor of blues, having been lauded by such legends as Buddy Guy, the Royal Southern Brotherhood and Luther Dickinson, her real love is simply raw, scrappy rock and roll. "I grew up on it," she insists. "Working with Luther on my last album further instilled that spirit in me. It made me realize just how much that basic, unfettered sound means to me, and how well it ties into soul music, R&B, country and so many other forms of music that are essential even today."
It's little wonder then that when it came time to record her new album, Chills & Fever (released March 17, 2017), Fish ventured off in another new direction, one she was exploring for the first time in her career. She traveled to Detroit and joined forces with members of the Detroit Cobras, a band whose insurgent ethic has made them darlings of the Midwest punk/blues scene. The two entities -- which included Joe Mazzola on guitar, Steve Nawara on bass, and Kenny Tudrick along with Bob Mervak on keys, and the New Orleans horn section featuring Mark Levron and Travis Blotsky on trumpet and saxophone -- bonded over a common love of classic soul and rollicking rhythms, so much so that the results testify to a seemingly timeless template. Covering songs from the '60s and '70s -- indelible melodies from the pens of legends like Jackie DeShannon, Jerry Ragavoy, Bert Berns and Allen Toussaint -- and revisiting some earlier demos she cut along with producer Bobby Harlow, Fish and the Cobras created an album that's best described as a pure slab of rocking rhythm n' blues.
"I listened to a lot of soul music, and I dug deep into people like Otis Redding and Ray Charles," Fish recalls. "I was also influenced by people like R.L. Burnside and North Mississippi's Junior Kimbrough. It's a lot less restrained style of music than the sound people may be used to hearing from me, but it's definitely a different facet of my personality. It's far more straight forward."
The fact is, Fish has never been bound by any expectations whatsoever. Growing up in Kansas City, she switched from drums to guitar at the tender age of 15. She spent much of her time in local watering holes listening to visiting blues bands. Samantha caught the attention of Ruf Records. The label subsequently released her album, Girls with Guitars, which found her co-billed with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. That led to her forming her own trio and recording three more albums, Runaway (2011), Black Wind Howlin' (2013) and Wild Heart (2015), as reaping an awards for Best Artist Debut at the 2012 Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Along the way she found herself working with other artists as well -- Jimmy Hall, Devon Allman, and Reese Wynans, among them.
Still, nothing she's done before can prepare her faithful fans and followers to the seminal sounds of Chills & Fever.
I don't think I ever enjoyed making a record quite as much as I enjoyed making this one," Fish insists. "I love the sound of the brass and the edgier intensity. One thing's for sure. Nothing ever felt so authentic."
5ThuDecember 5, 2019
Comprised of Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards, the group has established a unique, personal connection with audiences. In addition to dazzling musicianship and interplay, The California Guitar Trio's (CGT) shows are full of captivating stories and humor that enable concertgoers to feel like they're part of the music, not just spectators. In fact, the group's goal is to transcend their instruments, so people focus on the music first, and its considerable technical prowess a distant second.
CGT's 16 albums, streamed over 65 million times on Pandora, offer diverse snapshots of the group's mercurial muse. The trio's most recent release Komorebi showcases its acoustic side, with beautiful lush originals and innovative cover arrangements of Beatles, Beach Boys and more. Other highlights include Masterworks and album of classical works, with expansive takes on Bach, Beethoven, Arvo Pärt, and Schubert. Andromeda, which combines their many influences into a visionary album of original material; CG3+2, an exploration of kinetic rock territory in collaboration with bassist Tony Levin and drummer Pat Mastelotto; and Echoes, which reimagines timeless material by artists such as Mike Oldfield, Penguin Café Orchestra, Pink Floyd, and Queen.
The trio's output has made a major global impact, having served as the soundtrack for Olympics coverage, and programs on CNN, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. They have fans in high places too: NASA used their music to wake the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
CGT's lineup is truly the sum of its distinct parts: A Utah native now residing in Los Angeles, Paul Richards immersed himself in rock, blues, jazz, and folk during his early days and while attending The University of Utah's jazz guitar program. Bert Lams, originally from Belgium, graduated from the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, specializing in classical guitar. Tokyo-born Hideyo Moriya began his guitar journey with surf music and British rock, before relocating to Boston to study at Berklee.
All three felt the call to push themselves to the limit by enrolling in Robert Fripp's challenging Guitar Craft courses, where they first met in 1987. They went on to tour together as part of Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists, before forming the California Guitar Trio in Los Angeles four years later.
Recently, the trio expanded its collaborative possibilities by working within a six-guitar format with the Montreal Guitar Trio. During these groundbreaking, highly-entertaining shows, the acts perform inventive arrangements of each other's repertoire, and new music for guitar sextet.
28 years and 1,800+ gigs later, the CGT remains intensely committed to explore, evolve and communicate a wide-ranging musical worldview.
6FriDecember 6, 2019
The band's infectious energy is equally evident in their live performances, as critics and fans hail their shows as forceful and intoxicating. It is their humble devotion to music, and a commitment to achieving their musical goals without compromising the integrity of their musical vision that make The Steepwater Band such a refreshing find. In 2010, the band released the highly lauded live record entitled "Live at the Double Door" which contained tracks from their previous two LPs, "Revelation Sunday (2006)" and "Grace and Melody (2008)."
The Steepwater Band has maintained a grueling schedule throughout the last 10 years, averaging about 125 shows per year. They have toured and shared the stage with acts such as Gov't Mule, Buddy Guy, Wilco, Taj Mahal, Marc Ford, ZZ Top, T-Model Ford, North Mississippi All Stars, Leon Russell, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and Heart. In 2005, the band made its European debut, performing at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. In the following years, the band has returned to the United Kingdom and Europe for multiple club and festival tours, increasing their loyal overseas fan-base.
7SatDecember 7, 2019
11WedDecember 11, 2019
Although the ensemble cast enjoys a seasoned pedigree that reads like a late-night summer festival all-star jam, this fledgling "nu-sion" project is growing a unique and rabid following by commanding audiences at theaters, clubs, and major national festivals since 2012.
Kung Fu features Tim Palmieri (guitar & vocals), Robert Somerville (tenor sax & vocals), Beau Sasser (keyboards & vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar & vocals), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion). The powerhouse quintet's live show has been described by critics and fans alike as "lethal funk", "explosive", "jaw dropping", and "musically mesmerizing". For the uninitiated, the experience is typically shocking yet the focus is simple: just sit back and enjoy the ride!
13FriDecember 13, 2019
Formed in 2014, two years after INXS stopped touring, KICK - The INXS Experience has beautifully managed to capture the spirit of INXS in both its sound and live performance, bringing the highest level of musicianship to the audience while showing a true passion for the music of INXS. Vocalist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter Cory Massi is the founding frontman of KICK, and has long held a respect and admiration for the late great Michael Hutchence. Massi even auditioned for the reality TV show, Rockstar: INXS, in 2004, where contestants competed to become the new lead vocalist for INXS. What convinced him to audition? "I loved Michael's singing and his personality," notes Massi. "I saw INXS when I was a teenager in '88 and '89; they were great, and the people were just gaga over them. Michael left a big impression with his star power; he really had it, that guy. Our range is similar and I just went for it. I had to sing "Mystify" acappella so I was kind of nervous because I didn't have a band behind me. There was a camera a foot away from my face and it was out of my comfort zone; I would probably still feel uncomfortable today. I didn't get the gig: I was one of the last people to try out and I think by the time I auditioned they had already made their selection. No excuse: it was a good experience. We include "Mystify" in our set and when I sing it, I have my band with me and we love the music, so we play it with a lot of heart."
KICK is already garnering the attention, admiration, and accolades of well-seasoned "ears" in the music industry. Radio personalities in several markets have been quick to offer praise; WZXL / Atlantic City program director Steve Raymond, a longtime fan of INXS, raved after listening to only part of one song, "Wow! These guys have got the vibe down. Really impressive!" 107.1 The BOSS (WWZY)'s midday air personality Michele Amabile concurred, "I had to go back and listen again with my eyes closed.... I could have sworn I was hearing Michael Hutchence!"
Sounding like legendary frontman Michael Hutchence is no easy task. "I guess the hardest thing, the most challenging thing when I started KICK," acknowledges Massi, "was capturing the great variety in Hutchence's voice. He can sound sensitive and soft and he can be super strong and really belt it out and sometimes that all happens within one phrase or even a word. It took a lot of self-control to capture how he projects his lyrics and the music. It's impossible to really sound and look like him; he's an Adonis, another Jim Morrison, Morrison in a pop sense. I can't mimic that; all I can do is do my best to capture his spirit."
The focus has been on faithfully recreating the music in its most powerful sense; an in-the-pocket bottom end from bass player Don Leslie and drummer Johnny Dee, a brilliant combination of piano and synth by Mark Goodnough, the signature guitar tones produced by guitarist Todd King and Jason Taylor, the saxophone by Nottingham, England's Tom Wheat, and the spot-on lead vocals by Cory Massi, all lend to a powerful high-energy show. KICK - The INXS Experience will take you back. It will reignite your passion for INXS. It will introduce you to music that is still as fresh today as the day it was written; from "Original Sin" to "Elegantly Wasted" and everything in between, including (but not limited to) "Need You Tonight," "New Sensation," "What You Need," "Don't Change," "Listen Like Thieves," "The One Thing," "Bitter Tears," "Suicide Blonde," "Not Enough Time," "Beautiful Girl," and "Devil Inside." The band hears it, time and time again.
14SatDecember 14, 2019
show detailsDecember 16, 2019The Sleighriders
20FriDecember 20, 20198:00pm $6.00Pat McCurdy is a singer/song writer from Wisconsin. He tours the mid-western part of the USA, his shows usually consisting of just him and his guitar. While the majority of his audience is made up of a college-age crowd, McCurdy manages to appeal to a large number of people of all ages with his interactive shows. Performing well over 300 shows a year, his large catalog of original songs (nearly 600 and growing) covers a variety of topics such as lost loves, politics, family vacations, the joys of Asian cuisine, and the sex organs of long-dead French Emperors.
Classifying McCurdy's style has long been a problem since he tends to follow wherever his muse takes him. Many of his songs could be classified as rock/pop, though he's been known to wander into folk, jazz, country and even Gilbert and Sullivan. Whatever style he chooses, his songs often include memorable lyrics.
21SatDecember 21, 2019
Milwaukee native Greg Koch has forged a successful career as a guitar player's guitarist. He has been called "fiendishly talented" by author and former editor- in-chief of Guitar Player Magazine Tom Wheeler and "scary good" by guitar phenom Joe Bonamassa. In addition to his 15 releases on multiple record labels which feature his unique take on a variety of American guitar styles and his versatile compositions, Koch is widely known for his lengthy tenure as an international ambassador for Fender Guitars which listed him in their "Top Ten Unsung Guitarists" on Fender.com. He is also a best-selling author and video instructor for music publisher Hal Leonard. Greg is a contributing columnist for a variety of guitar magazines including Guitar Player Magazine which listed Greg's "Chief's Blues" in their "40 Badass Blues Solos You Must Hear" and Premier Guitar. For the last few years Greg is renowned for his wildly popular internet videos (which number in the thousands with views exceeding 50 million) originating from the legendary Colorado guitar shop Wildwood Guitars.
Dylan Koch gravitated to the drums early on in his life using kitchen utensils to play along with music as soon as he could walk. After digesting an early diet of Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell and John Bonham, Dylan was mentored by the legendary Tom Brechtlein (Chick Corea/Robben Ford). In high school Dylan participated in the Jazz Institute at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and furthered his studies at the McNally Smith School of Music in the Twin Cities. While still in his teens he performed with young guitar guns Tallan Noble Latz and Jared James Nichols and has performed alongside his father with such artists as Robben Ford, Little Feat's Paul Barrere, Jon Cleary, David Grissom, Roscoe Beck and Malford Milligan. Dylan was recently nominated for drummer of the year by the Wisconsin Area Music Awards (WAMI).
Toby Lee Marshall's screaming B3 is the perfect compliment to the musical stew that is the Koch songbook. Hailing from the Twin Cities area he came from a musical family, playing piano for years until falling under the spell of the sound of the organ while at a baseball game at age seven. His fascination for the Hammond B3 took hold after his Dad took him to see Steve Cherewan playing with Dr. Mambo's Combo at their legendary residency at Bunker's in Minneapolis. Steve mentored Toby in the ways of the B3 and he hit the ground running landing a gig with bluesman Lonnie Brooks while still a teen. He would go on to travel the world as a member of Bernard Allison's band. After taking a hiatus to spend some family time, Toby is returning to music with a vehemence and the Koch-Marshall format gives him a long leash to let his freak flag fly, providing groovy bass lines, sinuous chordal work and incendiary solos.
The trio blends the explosive guitar manipulations of Greg, the groove-centric, power-pocket playing of his son Dylan on drums (who share many telepathic musical moments) and the glorious, Hammond organ stylings of the uber-talented Toby Marshall, Greg’s compositions are properly portrayed in the blues drenched, funk, chicken-fried, gospelly, jazz-rock panorama in which they were conceived.
27FriDecember 27, 2019
Joe Nosek founded The Cash Box Kings in Madison, Wisconsin in 2001 and, since 2007, has co-led the band with the charismatic, larger-than-life vocalist Oscar Wilson. Over 20 years apart in age and coming from vastly different backgrounds, the two form an unlikely pair, combining Wilson's indisputably authentic inner city Chicago blues vocals with Nosek's harmonica, songwriting and singing talents. The music they create is brilliantly displayed on The Cash Box Kings' Alligator Records debut, Royal Mint. According to Wilson, "The Cash Box Kings is a throwback to the golden age of blues with some kickin' fresh young blood. Joe is my best friend in the music world--the band is a marriage made in heaven for both of us." "Oscar is godfather to my oldest son," says Nosek. "We have each other's backs. We're family."
Royal Mint features 13 hard-hitting songs, including six impressive originals. From the wry, politically-charged Build That Wall to the chilling Blues For Chi-Raq to the funny and too true If You Got A Jealous Woman Facebook Ain't Your Friend to the timeless versions of songs by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Clifton Chenier, Amos Milburn and Jimmy Reed, Royal Mint shuffles, jumps and gets down and dirty, fueled by the band's unmatched musicianship. According Nosek, "Royal Mint is our strongest album. The band is at its absolute best."
Nosek refers to the group of top-notch traditional players who comprise The Cash Box Kings as "a blues collective." Live and on record, members of the "collective" appear in different combinations for different performances, creating an anything-can-happen experience. In addition to co-leaders Nosek and Wilson, the full ensemble includes world-class guitarists Joel Paterson and Billy Flynn, drummers Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith and Mark Haines, bassist Brad Ber with newest member Lee Kanehira (replacing their longtime pianist, the late Barrelhouse Chuck) rounding out the band.
In their first six years, The Cash Box Kings won a large and loyal audience across the Midwest. Wilson joined the band in 2007, bringing with him an instantly commanding stage presence and an authoritative vocal style that gives fire-breathing power to the music. A self-taught musician and singer with an encyclopedic knowledge of almost every blues song known to man, Wilson--standing 6'1" and weighing over 300 pounds--is a natural-born entertainer and a perfect foil for Nosek and the band. Born in 1953 on Chicago's 43rd Street (aka Muddy Waters Drive), Wilson grew up in the company of many famous blues artists. Junior Wells, Elmore James, Big Smokey Smothers and close family friend David "Honeyboy" Edwards were all regulars at weekly Friday night fish fries/jam sessions at the Wilson home. Throughout his adulthood, Wilson held regular jobs but was always welcome sitting in with Chicago blues mainstays Melvin Taylor and Johnny B. Moore. His vocal inspirations range from Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Albert King to Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter but he mostly sings like Oscar Wilson. Award-winning harmonica giant and vocalist Rick Estrin (leader of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats) says, "That guy can really sing."
A self-described blues fanatic, Nosek, born in Wisconsin in 1974 and raised in Chicago, spent his youth soaking up as much blues music as he could hear, both live and on record. In his teens, he began sneaking into blues clubs to watch Junior Wells, James Cotton, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Sunnyland Slim and others. Nosek recalls, "Seeing those guys work made a huge impression on me and propelled me into wanting to learn how to play the blues." He took up harmonica, quickly cultivating his own aggressive, fluid style.
After moving to Madison in the early 1990s, he began sitting in with artists such as Clyde Stubblefield and Luther Allison. Finding like-minded musicians hell-bent on playing raw, rough-edged, hard-charging blues, Nosek formed The Cash Box Kings. They released their first album, Live! At The King Club, in 2003, instantly earning praise from critics and fans, and gaining a reputation as one of the hottest live bands on the circuit.
The Cash Box Kings have earned devoted fans in both Chicago and Madison, the two cities where band members live. They regularly headline Chicago venues like Buddy Guy's Legends and Rosa's Lounge, and have played major festivals across the U.S. and Europe. They've blown away audiences at the Chicago Blues Festival, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, the Doheny Blues Festival, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Cincinnati Blues Festival, the Cambridge Folk Festival (UK), the Moulin Blues Festival (Netherlands), the Lucerne Blues Festival (Switzerland), the Baltic Blues Festival (Germany) and the Edmonton Blues Festival (Canada). They have also performed in Belgium, France, Spain and Uruguay.
With eight previous releases to their credit and hundreds of live performances under their belts, The Cash Box Kings have won widespread acclaim throughout the blues world. Their 2013 release Black Toppin' won the 2013 Blues Blast Music Award for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. It was also nominated for a 2014 Blues Music Award in the same category. Their last release, Holding Court, was nominated for two 2016 Blues Music Awards (Best Traditional Album and Album of the Year) and the band was also nominated for the Band of the Year Award. They've been featured on NPR Music as well as in the pages of No Depression, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Living Blues, Vintage Guitar, Blues Blast and many other publications. Living Blues said, "This accomplished band of musicians captures the vibe of traditional blues and flawlessly spins it in innovative ways."
According to Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, The Cash Box Kings are a natural addition to the label. "I love this band because they combine the classic Chicago blues style with contemporary lyrics, true blues vocals and terrific musicianship. Oscar Wilson's voice is a soulful roar like Muddy Waters' and Joe Nosek plays powerhouse harmonica in the James Cotton tradition. Billy Flynn and Joel Paterson are world-class blues guitarists. The whole band can deliver jumping party shuffles or down-in-the-alley gritty blues. Their fresh songs bring wry humor to subjects like current politics, the pitfalls of social networking and life on the tough streets of Chicago."
Nosek agrees, saying, "We're very happy about finding a new home with Bruce Iglauer and the good folks at Alligator Records. As blues musicians who grew up in Chicago, becoming a part of the Alligator roster is a great honor for us. It's the label that has released some of our all-time favorite blues records."
With blasting harmonica, soul-deep vocals, original songs and sizzling guitars, The Cash Box Kings boast an array of talent to satisfy blues lovers of every shape and size. On Royal Mint they make old blues new as they continue to create new blues classics, with, according to Elmore magazine, "just the right amount of juke joint grit." Living Blues says The Cash Box Kings are "straight from the golden era of the blues," boasting "an impressive line-up of A-list players. Joe Nosek feels Little Walter and Slim Harpo in the essence of his soul. Singer Oscar Wilson could be right out of [Chicago's famed] Checkerboard Lounge in its glory days. The Cash Box Kings are a dancing and listening pleasure."
28SatDecember 28, 2019SistaStrings
Nickel and Rose
SistaStrings formed in 2014 after undergraduate training (Chauntee from University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and Monique from Wheaton College and University of Wisconsin-Madison), and the sisters returned home to Milwaukee and started doing string arrangements for local hip-hop artists. This led to performances with Malik Yusef, Black Violin, Bone Thugs 'N Harmony, Lupe Fiasco, BJ The Chicago Kid, and The Roots. They perform frequently with Peter Mulvey.
Outreach and representation are important to these two young ladies as African American string players. They often perform and teach in schools and youth centers, encouraging educators and students alike. The ladies are advocates for diversity in the arts and promote social justice in all that they do musically.