Posts Tagged ‘music’

An Interview with CHERUB.

October 27, 2016

CHERUB is a Nashville-based duo. They are playing Liberty Hall October 27th. Jason Huber and Jordan Kelley recently discussed their creative process, lyrical inspiration and favorite producers.

Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical? 

Jason: I come from a family of music lovers, but neither of my parents are musical. You should hear my dad sing along to Shaggy.

What was your earliest musical memory?

Jason: Recording mixtapes while I listened to the radio doing my homework so I could bring all the new songs to the carpool.

How did CHERUB first come together?

Jason: We all met freshman year of college.

What is your creative approach when crafting a song?

Jason: It’s really all about throwing spaghetti up against the wall and seeing what sticks.

Who are some of your favorite producers and why?

Jason: Butchvig- the way he layers guitars has always been really inspiring to me. Some of his records have been the most inspiring in my life. And Adam Baker from the Annuals because there aren’t any bands that mean enough to me to get a tattoo.

What inspires you lyrically?

Jordan: Life inspires me lyrically. That’s why there’s so many moods on our albums. You go through so many feels throughout a day. It would be hard for me to write an album that stuck with one emotional theme, to be honest.

How did “Doses & Mimosas” come together?

Jason: The funny thing about that song is we never picked it as a single when we were releasing the album, but it’s really grown legs and taken on a life of its own.

Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence is your new album. What was the first song written for Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence?

Jason: Technically it’s “Traveling Blues.” It was written about 3 years ago for another album, but instead spent some time in the vaults and is now getting to see the light of day.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Jason: My fear of microphone grills. Especially the grill part of microphones. They’re very hard and they’ll knock a tooth out if you get too excited. I already knocked my tooth out with a microphone once while singing karaoke in Tokyo. 

What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?

Jason: Be your own biggest fan. Because if you’re not, then who else would want to be?

Widespread Panic Fan Shows Up One Month Early for Show.

June 8, 2016

Widespread Panic logo

One of my friends recently showed up early to the Widespread Panic concert in Kansas City. One month early.

“I went down to Starlight at 3 pm to tailgate,” said the flustered fan. “I was ready to party. I didn’t realize the concert wasn’t until June,” he said. His yells for “Space Wrangler” echoing against the infinite sadness of an empty venue.

The dreams of nitrous-fueled spinning to epic jams will have to wait. We really need to get him a day planner.

The Glory of Sonic Spectrum.

May 30, 2016

Sonic Spectrum (Image via

Sonic Spectrum is my favorite radio show. The show airs on Kansas City-based radio station 96.5 The Buzz. Sonic Spectrum is a freeform radio show that focuses on new and classic indie rock.
Host Robert Moore’s passion for music is inspiring. You can’t fake great taste and Moore’s taste is exceptional. I think he is so hip, he probably can’t even see over his pelvis. He is flyer than a pelican. Moore has am ear for quality music. It’s almost like he gets on air and goes, “This track is so new, I time-traveled into the future to get it. It hasn’t even technically been created yet.” Some of his selections are trippy and excellent, “This track was recorded on a Norwegian ice flow with wood blocks.” It makes you want to learn more about great music you’ve never heard of before. I’ll often hear a track he spins and go, “I don’t know what the heck that was, but I love it and need more of it in my life!”
Radio shows like Sonic Spectrum, curated by someone with great taste, can help make your world a more musically joyous place. For an example of some of the tunes played on Sonic Spectrum, check out this playlist created by fan Patrick Morrissey. Sonic Spectrum airs Saturday nights from 8-10pm CST on 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City and can streamed live online at

The Entrancing Soundscapes of Your Friend Shine at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 11, 2016

Your Friend at Middle of the Map Fest 2016 5/5/16

Going into Middle of the Map Fest 2016, Your Friend was the set I was looking forward to the most. She was one of the best of the 20 sets I caught at the fest. Your Friend is Lawrence, Kansas-based musician Taryn Miler. Miller is signed to heavyweight indie label Domino Recording Company (Domino is also home to artists like Real Estate and Dan Deacon). Her debut album, Gumption, is one of my favorite releases of the year.
A large crowd packed the basement of Californo’s to see Your Friend’s set. Miller’s shifting soundscapes were entrancing. Her vocals had more clarity and depth live. Miller would jump from guitar to looping pedal to synth, often the same song, to craft her tunes. Songs like “Gumption” grew from soft murmurs into sweeping epics. Towards the end of her set, Taryn mentioned that she had had a live band until last week and that this might be her last show for awhile. She shouldn’t worry. Your Friend’s solo set at Middle of the Map Fest proved that she can go it alone and reach glorious heights.

What Do I Look for in a Quality Live Show?

December 20, 2015


I have attended and covered over 400 concerts over the years. t got me thinking: What do I look for in a quality live show? You can listen to the audio piece here.

My Favorite Music and Concerts of 2015.

December 15, 2015

Kraftwerk at the Midland Theatre, in Kansas City.

With 2015 wrapping up, it’s time to look back on some of my favorite music and gigs of the year.

Canadian noise rockers Viet Cong put out my favorite album of the year. The sprawling, weird soundscapes of their self-titled debut make for quality extended listening. Serious shoegaze vibes that hit hard.

I also really loved the Chvrches album Every Open Eye. Their sound has really grown from their debut record. A track like “Keep You On My Side” peaks really well and brings the energy. The vocals are on-point (as always), but the beats hit harder and the songs are more epic.


German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk put on a show for the ages at the Midland this year. Kraftwerk perfected the idea of the “man machine” and raved the way for nearly every form of modern electronic music. It was my first 3D sit down rave. Visually, the show was stunning and the music wasn’t just a nostalgia trip. For something so robotic, it felt so lively, fresh and new. The show also marked Kraftwerk’s first Kansas City show in 45 years.

Stevie Wonder’s epic show at the Sprint Center was also one of the best of the year. He played for over three hours. The setlist included his classic album Songs in the Key of Life. He approaches music from a totally different angle. The hits were there, the jams were there, something for everyone. Janelle Monae sat in with Stevie in KC, which made the gig even better. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime show.

Favorite tracks:

The demo version of “Realiti” by Grimes is my favorite song of the year. Her whole sound really comes together on this track. An updated version of the song ended up on Art Angels, but the demo version has more rawness and punch.

I really dug the house vibes of Caribou’s “Can’t Do Without You.” I was lucky enough to catch him live at Pitchfork Fest in Chicago this year. It’s a glorious feeling hearing a song like this wash over a festival crowd.

New Orleans-based rapper Curren$y showed why he is one of the best rappers out there today with “Speed.” His vibe is singular and different. The production on this record is one of the best I’ve heard all year. This beat is so fresh!

The laid back, chill vibes of Martin Courtney’s “Airport Bar” made it one of my favorite tracks of 2015. The lead singer of Real Estate displayed a subtle shift in tone on his debut solo album. Courtney knows how to craft a really quality song.

What were your favorite music moments of 2015?

Something Fishy Going On: The Mainstream Emergance of the Hip Future Mermaid.

December 12, 2015


There is an important trend in indie rock/hip culture that needs to be discussed: The emergence of the trippy mermaid from the future. There’s something fishy going on.

It’s like some of these entry level hip chicks go out and buy their mermaid witch starter pack. Boom! You’re a mermaid now. It’s like people are saying, “Please pay attention to me! I’m relevant!”

How does one find a hip future mermaid? This can be a challenge, especially if you live in a landlocked urban hellscape. Cast a net outside of any Urban Outfitters and you might be blessed enough to catch a glimpse of one, shimmering by the ironic ice cube trays. At a local, artisan belt buckle shop, you’ll look into her glistening eyes, “Are you from the future? Your scales are so luscious. Can we grab a chai tea?” Some folks these days look like a discount version of Grimes. Once you notice the mainstreaming of mermaids, you’ll see it all the time.

American Eagle Outfitters Celebrates The Budweiser Made In America Music Festival - Philadelphia, PA - Day 2

Grimes. (Photo credit: Stereogum)

Granted, the visual impact can be stunning. The mermaids can really hook you in, but it means nothing without substance. I feel like the Internet helps to cheapen ideas that start off as something unique and original. It’s like making a photocopy of a copy, the quality goes down.

If you’re an organic, handcrafted mermaid, nothing fishy there. If something is real, it should be a natural extension of yourself. You don’t need to join in with the corporate indie mermaid culture, just be true to who you are.

Past Interview Subjects Nominated for 2016 Grammy Awards.

December 8, 2015

The 2016 Grammy nominations were announced today. Several of my past interview subjects received nominations this year. I choose most of my interview subjects. If I interview an artist, it is because I greatly respect their work. It is always a great honor to interview so many diverse, talented people.

Guitarist John Scofield is nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo (for “Past Present”) and Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Trumpeter Terence Blanchard is nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

The Punch Brothers are nominated for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for their song “Julep.” They are also nominated for Best Americana Album.

Jason Isbell is nominated for Best American Roots Song for “24 Frames.”  He is also nominated for Best Americana Album.

Pianist John Cleary is nominated for Best Regional Roots Music Album.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is nominated for Best World Music Album.

The Grateful Dead are nominated for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.

DJ/Producer Kaskade is nominated for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his remix of the Galantis track “Runaway (U & I).”


Gratefully Deadicated: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead.

December 8, 2015

Photo credit:


Friday (12/4/15) marked the 50 anniversary of the formation of the Grateful Dead. I have been fortunate to interview three out of the four members of the “Core Four” and several former members of the Grateful Dead throughout the years. When you see the name Grateful Dead come up on the caller ID, you trip over yourself to grab the phone. Here are links to my past Dead-related interviews:

On playing with the Dead, “I’d find myself playing, say the right hand being with Jerry, and the right foot with the bass. Each limb being with a different instrument. Maybe doing my own talking with the snare drum, but filling for the other instruments with those other limbs and breaking it up like that. It got so you could really hear the pieces, who is doing what. You would separate it that way.”

Mickey Hart:…/mickey-hart-dancing-with-the…/ (Audio)

Bob Weir:…/the-grateful-deads-bob-weir-…/

On song selection with the Dead, “You know, if Jerry was singing and I was up next. I would have the whole song Jerry was singing to decide what I was going to do next. I’d sort of feel it out while I was playing Jerry’s song. I’d just call out what I was going to do, and we would go into that. Then it was Jerry’s turn.”

Bruce Hornsby (who played keyboards with the Dead in the late ’80s/early ’90s):…/bruce-hornsby-interview/

On learning to play with the Dead, “I considered my self fairly well versed in their music, which meant I knew about 40 Dead songs. I thought that was a lot. They had a revolving list of about 160, that were on their list of songs in active rotation. It meant I had to learn about 120 songs. That was definitely challenging, but they were so loose about it. It was such a loose environment. They hated to rehearse, kind of like I do. I’m the same way. They would just tell me the key and just say, “OK, just wing it.” Some of their music is very simple, and some of it is very complex. “Help On the Way>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower,” that part in the middle isn’t something you can just wing. You can’t hear that and play it. You have to learn it. You have to spend time wood shedding it. There were several songs like that. Those would often be the most enjoyable songs to play, once you learned how to play them. There’s a little more meat on the instrumental bones. It was really fun, but they were a lot to learn. I could have probably done a better job of doing my homework. I did what I did. I can’t say I did my best. I probably could have been a little more studious in my wood shedding of the songs. I tended to just use my ears. Frankly, I would just lay out a lot when I didn’t know something. Often, the best thing to play is nothing. There’s a lot of players up there. Often, I would just sit there. People would think, “Why is Bruce not playing? He must be bummed out or something.” It couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was just trying to leave some space. Also, a lot of times, I wouldn’t be playing because I didn’t know what the hell they were doing. I didn’t know it, so why be up there sucking? All in the name of looking like I’m into it and playing. I would just stop.”

Tom Constanten (Grateful Dead keyboardist from 1968-1970);…/qa-with-tom-constanten-forme…/

On touring with the Dead, “The usual vicissitudes of travel. The music is the easy part, I’ve often said. Some people get stage fright. Not me. I get stage calm. After the day’s hassles with flight connections, hotel reservations, and all, it’s when I’m finally seated in front of the keyboard that I feel most in control.”

The Grateful Dead helped change the face of modern music. Happy 50th! What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Grace Askew Interview.

October 8, 2015


Grace Askew is a Memphis-based singer-songwriter. She is a soulful artist and an outstanding live performer. I first met Grace when we were attending Loyola University New Orleans. Grace recently discussed her favorite songwriters, being a contestant on The Voice and her lyrical inspiration. For more info on Grace Askew, check out her website

Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical?
I grew up with very artistic, encouraging (non-musician) parents and an older sister who was very active in the theater and opera world.

What was your first musical memory?
I remember spending hours upon hours locked in my room dancing and lip synching to whatever cassette’s I could get my hands on, but I was particularly fond of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

What was the first album you bought?
Elvis Presley

Who are some of your favorite songwriters and why?
I favor Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams type of Southern Gothic, dark writing styles because I’ve always been attracted to what lies beneath the surface…the unseen, between-the-cracks depths of life. Their perspectives on the outside world have greatly impacted the confidence I have in my own strange, unique way of looking at things. They make it OK to not make sense sometimes, but to also be completely 100% raw with the truth — YES!

How old were you when you wrote your first song?
Hard to say, because I was writing poems and little stories long before I picked up a guitar at 13…but I suppose 13.

What’s your creative approach when songwriting?
My “creative approach” is never the same…when it hits me, I just try to seize the moment and immediately write it down or record a voice memo..otherwise, it pretty easily slips through your fingers.

How often do you find yourself writing a song?
Every night before I fall asleep, or right when I wake up, I’ll be hit with an idea. It can be quite frustrating at times. My subconscious likes those hours best, because I’m half asleep and still fuzzy-headed in dreams. It’s like my subconscious senses a green light to slink to the surface and make it’s presence known in a more comfortably vulnerable and open environment.

What inspires you lyrically?
Whatever makes me most alive inspires me…after all, that’s what we ALL should be sharing with each other. The world needs more people who are alive and ignited in their passions.

Your latest album is Scaredy Cat. What was the first song written for Scaredy Cat?
“Cinnamon” was a song I had gone back to and re-hashed time and time again for over 6 years, until one day I set it to slide guitar and I just knew the song had finally found its rightful home.

How did the song “Bad Habit” come together?
It’s pretty straight forward…I kept going back to a certain relationship over and over again, even though I knew that he was just a drug to me, so to speak..he was just a “Bad Habit”.

You are an very soulful vocalist. How do you approach covers to make them your own?
I don’t listen to the songs I end up covering very many times beforehand, so it doesn’t effect my approach. I simply like to learn the basic structure, and then I take it back to the drawing board – my guitar – and begin feeling through it myself to find my voice within the song.

You tour a ton. What have been some of your strangest moments on the road?
Deeeeeep, deep, South West Texas. So weird. It by far has been my favorite touring stops to date. Specifically: Marfa, Terlingua, Alpine.

What did you enjoy most about your time in NOLA?
Re-discovering my love for Memphis. Frenchman Street late-nights. Long walks in Audubon Park.

You put on an amazing live show. How do you create your set lists?
I like to make sure there is a good balance of up and down tempo songs, dispersed in proper measurements throughout the show. I want to take my audience on a roller coaster of the entire spectrum of emotion.

What do you feel are the biggest things you learned from being on The Voice?
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. The Voice was an incredible lesson on courage and confidence and a part of my journey that I will never deny. I had all of the power within me already to be a truly unique, great talent and The Voice pulled that out of me and put it right in my face…on a national level.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Questioning my art and my uniqueness is a struggle every artist deals with I think. Yes, everything has already been done…but never with MY voice..or with YOUR voice. The money isn’t always great either, but I’ve recently made a promise to myself to not allow my music and financial state to be mutually exclusive. That is how creativity gets murdered.

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?
A belief that I hold really dear to my spirit is that I am warrior, already completely equipped and empowered with everything I need to battle any dark forces that come my way. We are ALL warriors.

What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Give it your best, even on your worst day because the world NEEDS to experience the gifts that only you can offer.

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