The Upful LIFE Podcast
020: ANNA MOSS (Handmade Moments) / HILARY GLEASON (Level)

020: ANNA MOSS (Handmade Moments) / HILARY GLEASON (Level)

July 17, 2019

Episode 020 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* returns in its new every-third-week scheduling, back in the saddle with a revealing interview with very special guest Ms. Anna Moss, one half of the quirky, funky, folky, jazzy, and downright intoxicating musical duo Handmade MomentsThe group, whom I've worked with a couple of times in the past few years, were coming through the Bay Area for an exquisite gig in a redwood grove at UC Berkeley's picturesque botanical gardens. In between soundcheck, their masterful performance, and a quick departure northbound for the iconic Oregon Country Fair, Anna Moss was kind enough to carve out some time for me: both before their set and after. Please enjoy a heartfelt conversation on a their unique path taken, tragedy and healing, overcoming adversity, and what the future may hold for the enigmatic singer and multi-instrumentalist, her partner Joel Ludford, and their magical musical project, Handmade Moments.

ANNA MOSS Intro > Interview @ 17min 30secs

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Giant Eye Photography

We begin with a brief discussion of our stunning environs and the towering redwoods in which we would enjoy their concert at UC Berkeley, before embarking on a trip into the way-back machine and their humble Ozark beginnings. The Eureka Springs, AR-bred singer/songwriter/saxophonist takes us into her formative years with two influential godmothers, progressive women way ahead of their time, who introduced Anna to the likes of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. From there she discovered Nina Simone, Etta James, and one begins to understand just what and who inspired this young woman to emanate a wisdom, voice and aura far beyond her years.

Moss then takes us to the moment when she first met Joel Ludford, and how their musical relationship and artistic dynamic took flight. Anna recalls the early days with the rock-band precursor to Handmade Moments, a larger ensemble called Don't Stop Please. Moss reflects on how she and Joel evolved into a new endeavor from the ashes of this band, and how one can trace the DNA of Handmade Moments to this embryonic project.

 

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photo: Jamie Seed

From there, we get into the thick of things, as Anna details how Handmade Moments made their bones on a 5 year grind of touring, traveling, busking, writing, gigging, and just keeping their proverbial nose to the grindstone. Yet on one fateful May 2016 afternoon in glorious Northern California, their beloved bio-diesel bus- that they spent six months laboring to build, and lived, toured and gigged in for nearly a year- was struck by two vehicles in a devastating head-on collision. In an instant, everything changed. In our conversation, Moss takes us through this experience in harrowing detail.

The resulting wreck required a Medivac for Ludford, who was severely injured from the waist down. He spent a month in the hospital, three more in a wheelchair. Moss herself had a concussion, two other passengers were injured as well, and all four called themselves lucky to be alive. At this point in our interview, Anna must excuse herself to soundcheck and then play their gig in the Redwood grove in the UC Botanical Garden.

For the pause in the conversation, please enjoy Handmade Moments' exquisite cover of Aaliyah's timeless "R U That Somebody?", and then we return to the interview after their performance.

 

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Handmade Moments at the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley, July 2019

After the riveting set, Moss was kind enough to finish up this story and share a little bit more about herself and the group. In the immediate aftermath of this accident, she and Ludford retreated into the nurturing bosom of Nevada City, CA to recover, and begin the healing process the only way they knew how, through music. Over the next three months, these meditations and ruminations fueled the writing, recording, and realization of Paw Paw Tree, their third full length LP, and first for Jumpsuit Records. 

From there, Moss takes us up into the present, including the pair relocating to the great city of NOLA, their tours of Europe, South America, and a recent coast-to-coast stateside excursion as direct support for their pals Yonder Mountain String Band. She exudes excitement for both Oregon Country Fair and Northwest String Summit. To close out this fascinating powwow, Moss touches on some of her favorite, best-kept secrets in the music scene back in Arkansas, making sure to shine a light on some friends, peers, and collaborators back home. She also gives us the scoop on their plans for the future, beginning with a long-awaited Handmade Moments covers album, and Anna's goal for a New Orleans jazz release, something she'd like to create and record right there in the Crescent City. 

Anna Moss is a very special artist and human being, and I feel lucky to be in her orbit, and Joel's as well. As I'm fond of saying, 'twas an honor and privilege to sit and share these conversations with her in such marvelous, majestic surrounds. Keep eyes and ears peeled for all things Handmade Moments, this duo is destined for greatness. 

 

HILARY GLEASON Interview @ 1:10:35

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Another inspiring female in our extended music family, Hilary Gleason is CEO of Level, a philanthropic consulting firm specializing in humanitarian efforts. Hers is a story of humble beginnings as well, and Gleason was kind enough to take a half-hour out of her extremely busy professional schedule, meet me in the lobby of SF's posh Park 55 hotel, to speak to Upful LIFE. (Please excuse the crowd noise, we did the best we could) Among her myriad goals, Hilary intends to inspire others to seek out their passions, and to take on missions that really matter, not just to ourselves, but to society, to the culture, and to humanity.

Her various benevolent endeavors including traveling to Africa and working with neurosurgical teams in Uganda, and also boots-on-the-ground efforts with US-based non-profit organizations like Headcount.org, as well as WinterWondergrass, among others. Gleason also shares a very cool story about how she first got connected with the very same music scene that brings so many of us together: the extended Lettuce/Soulive/Royal Family, taking us back a few years to when she initially landed in Brooklyn and found herself at Brooklyn Bowl's Bowlive, and how kind folks like guitarist Eric Krasno (Soulive) unknowingly helped Gleason identify her path and passion in life. Now she is in turn becoming a facilitator for others, leading by example and being the change; Gleason has dedicated her professional life to this mission. Hilary is a shining example of what can happen when you follow your heart AND the funk, only to find your purpose in life along the way. Keep shining, Hilary Gleason! 

 

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 Hilary Gleason and neurosurgical teams in Uganda

 

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* 

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The white-hot Austin, TX-based project Black Pumas unveil "Colors", recorded live at Studio 1A earlier this summer. What a powerful slab of emotion, an aesthetic and an undeniable vibe that feels not just authentic, but is nothing short of cathartic for the listener. WARNING: Goosebumps!! Shoutout to Randy Bayers at FunkitBlog and John Speice IV (Brownout, Grupo Fantasma) for putting me onto these phenomenal cats outta Tejas. Stoked for what the future holds for this group, but for now, sink into "Colors."

The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
019: LUKE QUARANTA (Toubab Krewe) / THE QUICKENING (Rachel Murray & Blake Quick)

019: LUKE QUARANTA (Toubab Krewe) / THE QUICKENING (Rachel Murray & Blake Quick)

June 25, 2019

Episode 019 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes our good friend LUKE QUARANTA to the show for another long and winding discussion, the last interview I conducted over two weeks in NOLA during Jazz Fest 50. I first encountered Luke and his band TOUBAB KREWE at Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival, at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, around 2008 or 2009. Ever since, I've been a big fan of his percussion magic, and of course the amazing Toubab Krewe, who released their latest LP Stylo in 2018. Toubab Krewe is always very active over Jazz Fest, and the members play in a lot of other bands as well, not the least of which is Luke himself. Nonetheless we were able to track him down at the end of our stay in NOLA, and he more than delivered with a fascinating interview that was at once informative and entertaining.

 

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LUKE QUARANTA Intro>Interview at 11 Mins

Quaranta takes us on a lengthy journey of his inspiring career as a drummer, starting with his humble beginnings growing up in New Rochelle, NY and spending some time in the Bronx as a young adult. He discusses formative influences on him as a youth, and how he developed an interest in the different drums he employs when creating with Toubab Krewe. Originally and primarily based in Asheville, NC, Toubab Krewe members came together in organic fashion, shared a passion for West African instrumentation and it's music, and a strong curiosity to make it something new and evolved of it, yet still in tribute to the traditions. Over time, Luke began working with Djembe, Congas, Dundun, Sangban, and KenKeni drums, and he explains how he came in contact with these instruments and where he picked up knowledge and understanding of these ancient drums along the way. From there, Quaranta describes the context of these instruments, music from Mali, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast, and how he/his bandmates internalized it, and then repurposed it as their own creation, with permission and a blessing.

Quaranta discusses mentors and friends from his travels in West Africa. I asked him how he was able to get together and study at length with master drummers in Africa and in the US, to such depth and understanding. He describes several trips to Africa to live with and make music among the people in Mali, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Quaranta explains how they received blessings from the master teachers to take this music to the West; they were invited to live with them and their families, spending a month a time, on more than one occasion, to get a proper orientation from the musicians who know it best. We talk a bit about Toubab Krewe in the early days, and Luke appears to have a fond time reminiscing on the start of this band and it's journey in the early 00's, he takes great detail in the narrative of how the music was instilled in them in Africa, how they hosted master drummers here in the States and traveled extensively with them and traditional dance groups too, and how it all tied together with the embryonic phase of Toubab Krewe.

 

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Luke explains how Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, but are ambassadors of the music into the future, they are not bound by the same traditions, and the Krewe was encouraged to play this music from their own hearts.  From there, Quaranta explains the etymology of the name "Toubab Krewe", how it pertains to non-Africans AND is a nod to the heartbeat of jazz music, New Orleans, where our conversation was taking place. Which brings us to the discussion around current Toubab Krewe drummer Terrence Houston, who's been George Porter Jr's drummer for several years and is very admired in the local community and around the US. Quaranta explains how Houston came into the Toubab picture, and how his inclusion has informed the sound of the band in their modern era, most specifically with regard to the material found on STYLO. We finish up the conversation on Toubab with discussing their newest LP STYLO, including the writing and recording processes for both studio and live efforts past and present.

 

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After a lengthy powwow on all things Toubab, we take some time to talk about the incredible Weedie Braimah, who appeared on Episode 004 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast*, a master djembefola whom Luke has studied with, collaborated with, and befriended for many years. They both live and work in New Orleans, and the two have united for some amazing musical endeavors, not the least of which is Weedie Braimah & the Hands of Time. Quaranta takes a few minutes to flesh out the concept for this group and explain the nature of their music in a language everybody can easily understand. This is a powerful collection of world music masters and it was quite informative to hear about what goes into making the Hands of Time happen. A little bit about Jazz Fest, and the myriad of side bands that come to life in NOLA that Weedie, Luke, and collaborators include Raja Kassis (Antibalas), and Terence Higgins (Mad Skillet, Ani DiFranco). We touch on Luke's role in some of those bands, such as Pirate's Choice, Wahala Boys, FuFu All-Stars, and MEGAWATT, a project spearheaded by Kassis that include's musicians from outside of NOLA, such as Lettuce's Adam Deitch, Break Science's Borahm Lee, among others.

Blake Quick/Rachel Murray (THE QUICKENING) Interview at 1hr 11mins

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After Luke's chat, we pivot to a NOLA-based buzz-band I'm very fond of, The Quickening, with a sweet 22-minute interview with founder/guitarist/vocalist Blake Quick and vocalist Rachel Murray. Their 2018 LP Begin Again made Upful LIFE's Favorite 18 Albums of 2018, and we've had our eyes and ears on The Quickening for a couple years now. Enjoy a peak behind the scenes of a Crescent City band cutting their teeth in that great environment, and some perspective on the hard work and grueling efforts it takes to make or break a band in this crowded, vibrant, and often cut-throat music scene. Both Quick and Murray also shout out some of their favorite underground NOLA musicians.

Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week

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Garage-a-Trois debut EP, vinyl only, "Mysteryfunk". Fog City Records, 1999. I just let the whole 24mins EP ride out. 3 full songs and a minute-long outro. This features the original lineup of Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, and Skerik, Produced by Dan Prothero. You may think you know these guys as players, or even GAT, but you likely haven't heard them quite like this. Almost an electronic album, Moore unfurling boukou trip-hop breakbeats and drum & bass jungle riddims, underneath the kaleidoscopic eccentricities of Hunter and Skerik in full bloom.

The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

018: JON PHILLIPS (Silverback Mgmt: Stoopid, Fishbone, GPJ. Dumpsta, ex-Sublime) / SAM D’ARCANGELO (Cannabis Voter Project, Headcount, Journalist)

018: JON PHILLIPS (Silverback Mgmt: Stoopid, Fishbone, GPJ. Dumpsta, ex-Sublime) / SAM D’ARCANGELO (Cannabis Voter Project, Headcount, Journalist)

June 7, 2019

Episode 018 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* returns with very special guest JON PHILLIPS, founder of Silverback Music, a management company based in Southern California. Jon is the former manager of Sublime- going back to the early 90's - and currently works with George Porter Jr., Fishbone, Dumpstaphunk, The Grouch and Eligh, Slightly Stoopid, among other successful contemporary artists. Jon and I have a little bit of a personal friendship and professional relationship over the past few years, but I don't really know him well at all. As such, it was like a class in session, as Jon took me back to the beginning of his long, strange trip in the music industry. Jon tells the tale of how he has carved his own lane in the game, doing so based on super-solid relationships, an ear for what's next, his penchant for putting the artist first, and he reflects on a humble and efficient approach to managing his eclectic roster at Silverback.

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Episode 018 begins with a short tribute to JamBase.com on the occasion of their 20th anniversary. Just wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the impact that JamBase had on my life, my career, the culture, and so many other fantastic individuals who were crucial to La Costa Nostra for many moons. JamBase remains a crucial part of chronicling the culture and it was an absolute joy to celebrate their two decades of covering various jam scenes.

JON PHILLIPS INTERVIEW STARTS AT 17:00

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Jon Phillips with Angelo Moore of Fishbone

We begin with a bit about the city of New Orleans, and Jazz Fest, as that was where and when this interview was taking place. In addition to his personal history going to NOLA, Jon touches on the cosmic connection between Grateful Dead culture and New Orleans, from the Neville Brothers to getting busted on Bourbon and many points between. We also spoke a bit of the evolution of Jazz Fest as an event, and a culture unto itself. This was an interesting launching off point that connected our talk to Fest culture and NOLA funk, but allowed us to branch out as the conversation rolled on. We would return to NOLA a few times throughout the convo.

 

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Bradley Nowell with his son Jakob and Lou Dog, shortly before his passing

Jon’s experience in the music business had humble and serendipitous beginnings in SoCal, as he first connected with Bradley Nowell and Sublime. Jon was a major cog in the young band’s operation as they rocketed towards success. He was personally asked by Bradley to be their manager, and he made it his personal mission to get Sublime signed, after much effort they made it happen at Gasoline Alley. Phillips was somebody who helped light the fuse for Sublime's meteoric rise to stardom, a gargantuan level of success, not just unprecedented but also something that Bradley sadly didn’t live to enjoy. From the magic of the early days, to the special nature of his relationship with Nowell, to the warning signs and demon fears, when KROC first played “Date Rape” to Sublime trying to refuse to play the song at the KROC Weenie Roast, Jon takes us all down an emotional memory lane. Inevitably we discuss Bradley’s tragic death from an overdose in May of 1996, and Jon is brutally honest about the way it all unfolded. Jon keeps it classy and places a focus on the triumph of the music that cannot and will not ever be denied. This is a powerful segment from someone who saw it all from the front lines. He pulls no punches yet at the same time shows such reverence for his fallen friend and his musical legacy. This is some of the realest shit this show has ever spoken. Rest in Power Bradley Nowell.

 

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From there he embarks on his life’s work with Silverback Music, creating the company, signing the legendary Fishbone, and then setting out to develop another young band’s career, this time with Slightly Stoopid, who came out of the Sublime diaspora. What Jon has overseen with the evolution of Stoopid is remarkable, and he explains a little bit of the grassroots nature of how the band built an empire, while the rest of the music industry chased it’s tail in changing times. Stoopid has stayed ahead of the curve in developing their scene, their brand, and their culture, by staying true to themselves as fads come and go. Jon pulls back the curtain a little bit on how this band has set the bar for independent music, in so many creative ways.

 

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Jon Philips hangin with George Porter Jr. & Bob Weir

We also discuss his NOLA clients like Dumpstaphunk, and his long-standing relationship with Ian and Ivan Neville. And of course we had to touch on George Porter Jr, who Jon has been working with for several years as well. Jon takes us through the blow-by-blow of how Foundation of Funk with Eric Krasno beckoned Phil Lesh to jam at the House of Blues in NOLA, and what Phil was like to hang with late night at Jazz Fest. Not to mention a bit about the Funk & Co LOCKN set that featured George, Zigaboo, Ivan and Cyril Neville. Finish strong with a quick reflection on his clients The Grouch & Eligh, a West Coast underground hip-hop institution. Large up to Jon Phillips of Silverback Music for the phenomenal history lesson and engaging storytelling.

 

SAM D'ARCANGELO of CANNABIS VOTER PROJECT : 1hr 11mins 

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From there we transition to SAM D'ARCANGELO, Director of the Cannabis Voter Project, an arm of Headcount.org. Sam is a journalist and activist, and a Masters student at University of Texas in Austin. Sam also is a Louisiana native, and spent many years of his life in and around NOLA. Sam and I discuss Austin and the Crescent City early in the convo, before transitioning to the political process, cannabis law, and of course cannabis politics. Sam breaks down Headcount’s Participation Row, and his role in the Cannabis Voter Project, which is on the road with Dead & Co, and has worked with Lettuce, among others. He and I have a spirited discussion around legalization that doesn’t go precisely how you’d think. Stoked to be able to offer a platform to people like Sam, and organizations like Headcount and Cannabis Voter Project.

 

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*

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I received the news of Dr. John's passing just before this podcast went live. Scrapped the original Vibe Junkie JAM and instead we will have a tribute to Mac Rebennack, aka the Night Tripper. Please enjoy "Gris Gris" live from the Piknic Dutch Festival in Velsen, 1970. Condolences to Dr. John's family, friends, and millions of fans around the world. His music and legacy shall live on in the hearts and minds of all who were blessed to enjoy his myriad gifts.

 Malcolm John Rebennack (November 20, 1941 – June 6, 2019)

 

Upful LIFE says *THANK YOU* to the great CITY OF NEW ORLEANS!

 
The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

 

017: BILLY IUSO (BIRN, GPJ, Anders) / ERIC BENNY BLOOM (Lettuce, ex-Pretty Lights A.F.B.)

017: BILLY IUSO (BIRN, GPJ, Anders) / ERIC BENNY BLOOM (Lettuce, ex-Pretty Lights A.F.B.)

May 22, 2019

 

Episode 017 of *The Upful Life Podcast* gets Big Easy-busy with two crucial members of the Crescent City committee, as I sit down with NOLA-based rock n’roll troubadour Billy Iuso (BIRN) for a lengthy powwow, and chase that with 40 minutes of pure, uncut Eric Benny Bloom (of Lettuce.) Super stoked to continue riding high on N’awlinz and Jazz Fest with these two fascinating pals.

 

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BILLY IUSO interview starts at 9min 30sec

Billy Iuso is Ep 017's featured guest and we set up shop in his uptown NOLA backyard hang, for a lovely conversation. Early on, Billy touches on our shared love for the Grateful Dead, and how he found his way from touring with them to stepping on stage himself. We go back to late 90s jam scene in the NorthEast, his late friend Jaik Miller, and Iuso's path to New Orleans b/o Athens, Ga. Billy recalls how Deadheads were fairly few and far between upon his arrival, and how he was always labeled "a Dead guy" around this town, and somewhat still is. Nonetheless, since he planted the Iuso flag in the Crescent City, Billy has done plenty in NOLA to establish his own name and voice. This recognition didn't come easy, nor happen overnight, and not without the benevolence of some living legends. So I set out to have Billy Iuso tell his story.

 

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Billy pulls back the curtain on his amazing relationship with George Porter Jr., their shared history, and the ways that Billy has worked for/helped out/learned from GPJ. We also discuss Billy’s time with Anders Osborne, before really delving into his life’s work with BIRN aka Billy Iuso & Restless Natives. Every step of the way, Billy breaks down the band members and the music, all the while schooling us on the realities of being a working musician, making original music, based in New Orleans, in 2019. Kudos to Billy for keeping it 100 and doing so with dignity and respect. We close out with a powerful passage between Billy and I on addiction, kratom as medicine, and a new lease on life. Moving, engaging, powerful stuff from a super solid cat in Billy Iuso. Check out his website HERE

 

ERIC BENNY BLOOM Interview Starts at 1hr 08mins   

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Down the road, Upful Life will have a full-length feature interview with Eric Benny Bloom, where he gets his own episode, however I just had to share this 40 minute gem that was recorded in mid-April in SF. On the heels of a heady AF wine-tasting AND an epic supper at Statebird Provisions, Benny and I retreat to the calm serenity of his posh hotel room for a brief, hilarious, and informative discussion: including John Scofield collaborating with Lettuce, obviously a quick-but-deep dive into NOLA- the music and the vibe of calling the Crescent City home. Benny expounds on why he supports Nick Payton’s BAM mission, and how playing jazz is different than jamming funk, as evidenced in his solo project(s) which he briefly discusses. We delve into (still) being the "new guy(s)" in Lettuce, a little bit on the new LETT LP Elevate, dropping June 14. We geek out on why Russ Elevado is the secret weapon for the glorious sound of the new album. Plus staying inspired on the road, The Lettuce Horns (EBB and Ryan Zoidis) passion for natural wines, finishing up the convo with their exciting new business endeavor Sauvage Selections.

 

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*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*

Sexual Healing”, “Grapevine > Heavy Love Affair”The Nth Power & Friends- Marvin Gaye Tribute Time to Get it Together. Jazz Fest late night, One Eyed Jacks’s, 4.27.19. Plus a few words from the host on this unforgettable performance, another instant classic from the OG squad and familia. LARGE UP Randy Bayers & Funk It Blog for the sound. #TheNthPowerLovesYou  

 

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Upful LIFE says *THANK YOU* to the great CITY OF NEW ORLEANS!

The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

 

016: ROBERT WALTER (Greyboy Allstars / RW20 / Mike Gordon) & JESSE PAIGE (Owner: Blue Nile NOLA)

016: ROBERT WALTER (Greyboy Allstars / RW20 / Mike Gordon) & JESSE PAIGE (Owner: Blue Nile NOLA)

May 9, 2019

Episode 016 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* features a thoughtful conversation with stalwart keyboardist ROBERT WALTER, founding member of The Greyboy Allstars, leader of his own Robert Walter's 20th Congress (RW20), and of late, Mike Gordon. I was lucky to track down Robert at his rented crib in the Lower Garden District in NOLA, during the comparatively mellow 'daze between' Jazz Fest weekends. The interview actually took place the day before his 49th birthday, and Robert was in a great mood and eager to share some memories and perspective. Since it was Jazz Fest and (naturally) he had a crawfish boil to get to, and then two late night gigs after that party. As such we kept the convo fairly short, about 40 minutes, which ended up being a perfect length for this kinda chat while down at the Jazz Fest.

 

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ROBERT WALTER INTERVIEW STARTS AT 14 MINS

 Since we were talking in NOLA, it was obvious where we should start the dialogue. Robert recalls his earliest trips to NOLA and how he became fascinated with the music and culture of the Crescent City. He touches on the different connections he shares with musicians down here, and how those relationships bear thrilling, kaleidoscopic fruits each and every year at Jazz Fest. He speaks about the humble beginnings of his collaborations with Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, and how that friendship has spiraled into a variety of fascinating endeavors. Specifically, we visit his projects Frequinox and Worship My Organ, both annual Jazz Fest special events that Robert is a major cog in. From there we rap a little bit about NOLA Jazz Fest booking trends, and the evolution of the Jazz Fest late night show. Plus the Cali ---> Crescent City funk connection, by way of Dan ProtheroFog City Records, back in the mid-to-late 1990s.

 

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After getting the 411 of how Robert made his way from punk rock and hip-hop of the late 80's and early 90's to rare-groove and jazz-funk of decades earlier, I was sure to ask Robert how the Greyboy Allstars first came together, and the roots of their connection with DJ Greyboy, and of course the San Diego scene that gave birth to both. Robert retraces that history and gives us a peek into how the Greyboys set a whole retro-jazz-jam-funk scene into motion, and how these pioneers then created their individual "sidecar projects" including his own Robert Walter's 20th Congress. We talk a bit about the different incarnations of RW20, including the most recent lineup for his Spacesuit album from 2018. Robert is candid about his admiration for current 20th Congress drummer Simon Lott, and he offers a bit of insight into his creative process when writing for RW20 versus his own solo endeavors.

 

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Robert and I finish up with a look into his "jam" explorations, beginning with a deep cut of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" that was recorded back in 1999 during the Money Shot RW20 sessions, and (appropriately) found on last year's Lagniappe Sessions. It was a natural transition to discussing his role and contributions in Phish bassist Mike Gordon's band. Robert was really open about how he sees this project, and why it's evolved into a true collective, instead just fulfilling a bandleader's singular vision. 

JESSE PAIGE INTERVIEW BEGINS AT 54 MINS

 

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Jesse Paige of NOLA's Blue Nile flanked by the host B.Getz (left) and master keyboardist Wil Blades 

Then we take about a half-hour to drop in with JESSE PAIGE, owner/operator of the NOLA nightclub Blue Nile, located in the heart of the Frenchman Street madness. The Blue Nile has always been a crucial part of my Jazz Fest experience for as long as I can remember, but in the past couple of years, since Jesse has owned the joint, it's become essential. So has his work with Backbeat Foundation, in promoting a diverse late-night musical menu every year during Fest. Jesse has always gone the extra mile to make sure that musicians, fans and staff are all properly taken care of, not just during the craziness of Jazz Fest, but year-round. His reputation and relationships speak for themselves, and it's not uncommon to meet some musical heroes when hanging out with Jesse at his club. After the 50th Jazz Fest finally wrapped up, I stopped through the Blue Nile and got a few minutes to discuss Jesse's journey from Blue Nile bouncer to owner, and to geek out on his favorite band, Jamiroquai. LARGE UP to Jesse Paige for making the time, and for all that you do for NOLA musicians, out-of-town talents, and international music fans alike.

 

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*

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THE QUICKENING: Use the Breeze (Pawty Remix)

Upful LIFE says *THANK YOU* to the great CITY OF NEW ORLEANS!
The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
 
015: EDDIE ROBERTS (New Mastersounds/Matador! Soul Sounds), SPUT & NATE (Ghost-Note), NOLA JAZZFEST AFTER DARK (Preview)

015: EDDIE ROBERTS (New Mastersounds/Matador! Soul Sounds), SPUT & NATE (Ghost-Note), NOLA JAZZFEST AFTER DARK (Preview)

April 18, 2019

Episode 015 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* features the one and only EDDIE ROBERTS, guitarist/founder of New Mastersounds, and more recently, of Matador! Soul Sounds. Eddie is also one of four men at the helm of Color Red, a record label/brand based out of Denver, Colorado. For well over 20 years, Eddie has been an omnipresent force in the jazz/jam/funk scenes from the UK to the Bay Area and all points between. During a mid-February three night stand at Boom Boom Room in SF (with The Eddie/Logic Project, and his own Eddie Roberts' West Coast Sounds), Eddie made himself available for a long-form interview at the exquisite Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco.

 

EDDIE ROBERTS INTERVIEW STARTS AT 16 MINS

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We start out talking about his charity organization Eddie Roberts' Payback, which was initially created to help the plethora of suffering people in the Tenderloin neighborhood of his former home in SF. He explains how the org continues to do the good work in his new residence (of four years) in Denver, CO. However, Eddie’s roots are in Leeds, England, and he briefly takes us back to his youth, when he was originally a pianist, before he became infatuated with electric guitar and at 10 years old he begged his parents for an axe. Eddie grew up idolizing Jimi Hendrix and then really fell hard for the late jazz guitar great Grant Green.

ENTER COLOR RED's NEW MASTERSOUNDS CONTEST & WIN A 7" 'Shake It' PRIZE BUNDLE

A favorite of mine as well, Grant Green gives Eddie and I an opportunity for a short detour about the legendary guitarist, and how Eddie arrived at the tremendous tribute show he has often put together to honor Green. From there we go back across the pond to Eddie’s early days tailor-making bands and DJ nights in Leeds, and the earliest incarnation of his band, The Mastersounds. He riffs on his organ trio The Three Deuces, before explaining how he put together The New Mastersounds around 1999. We talk a little bit about “Acid Jazz” as a bad word, and the scene in England where Eddie Roberts style truly took root. Other topics include when the Greyboy Allstars visited England in 1995, and when The New Mastersounds returned the favor ten years later in Chicago. Analog recording techniques and the low-fi vibe, why Eddie’s records sound so authentic, plus the origins of the “shitty is pretty” aesthetic. Roberts reaches back for some humorous memories of Bear Creek in the early days, and explains his original idea and vision for the Suwannee Rising festival that took place earlier this month.

 

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I had to get the scoop on the Color Red label, as Eddie details the humble beginnings of the brand, and a little about his partners, including Sunsquabi bassist Josh Fairman. From studio equipment to musical connections, brand recognition and art-design continuity, Eddie expounds about why they are not exclusive to Colorado artists. Also a bit on the importance of making original music and why Color Red pays attention to remix culture. We also had to rap about the magnificent Matador! Soul Sounds project with Alan Evans, Chris Spies, Kim Dawson, Adryon de Leon, and Kevin Scott. How that band took shape, with regard to Soulive’s Evans and the pair of singers, as well as what’s on the Matador docket moving forward.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask Eddie about his penchant for fashion. We are talking about a sharp dressed man here. Naturally, I had to find out what was at the root of Eddie Roberts' patented look, and just give him some props for always carrying it with dignity, class, and panache. Unfortunately I had to go to work this particular afternoon, and that (plus some technical difficulties) caused me to cut the interview a little shorter than I’d like, but we left a lot on the table for a sequel. Thank you kindly, Eddie Roberts, for this enjoyable chat!

JAZZ FEST AFTER DARK Preview (1hr 11mins)

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A very brief rundown of some of the hottest night shows in town, as we approach this year’s musical Mecca. This is my blessed 17th year heading down to the Jazz Fest, and I thought it would be beneficial to offer a few options for folks on the proverbial fence about which gigs to hit after they leave the Fairgrounds, or on the days between. This preview is STRICTLY AFTER-DARK OPTIONS! And only a few suggestions, there's plenty more I do not have the time to touch on. Check it ALL out at Jazz Fest Grids.

Ghost-Note checks in at 1hr 35min

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Photo- Jeffrey Dupuis  

Backstage at the inaugural Suwannee Rising festival at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, I was lucky to snag a few minutes with Robert "Sput" Searight and Nate Werth of Ghost-Note, and both formerly of Snarky Puppy. These GRAMMY-Award winners have embarked on a serious new endeavor with Ghost-Note, so it was only appropriate to catch them at SOSMP, where I was first introduced to Snarky Puppy at Bear Creek nearly a decade ago. Sput & Nate were both amped to return to the music park, but even more stoked on NOLA Jazz Fest and their huge SWAGISM show on second Saturday at One Eyed Jack's. So for about twenty minutes, we retraced the making of their album in NOLA, and then they set the proverbial table for what's to come next week in the Crescent City. An abbreviated, print-version of this same interview is available to read on L4LM here!

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*

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Piano Prince of New Orleans! James Booker: "Slowly But Surely" 

SPECIAL THANKS to Path2Panacea Tea Blends!

The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

 

014: ADAM “SHMEEANS” SMIRNOFF (Lettuce) / J.A. on The Dirt

014: ADAM “SHMEEANS” SMIRNOFF (Lettuce) / J.A. on The Dirt

March 28, 2019

Episode 014 of *The Upful Life Podcast* welcomes the incredible Adam "Shmeeans" Smirnoff (guitarist, co-founder of Lettuce) to the show for an hour-long chat that I am quite proud of. It’s no secret that Lettuce is my favorite band and has been for some time; naturally I was stoked AF to host a member on the podcast. We linked up at the phenomenal Barbarycoastcollective dab lounge for a sweet powwow on all things SMZA.

SHMEEANS INTERVIEW BEGINS at 9 MINS

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Topics include the recent LETT run with John Scofield at SFJAZZ, as well as Lettuce’s humble beginnings and the early days. We touch on Adam’s reverence for the city of New Orleans and it’s musical heritage, Bear Creek, self-care and staying healthy on tour, the exponential joys of parenthood and how he’s Daddy DayCare when he’s not on the road. We naturally pivoted to emotional conversation with regard processing a parent’s passing. Very powerful passage from Adam.

As we transition back to the musical landscape, Shmeeans offers poignant perspective on the term “jamband”, and traces LETT’s patented hip-hop jam modus-operandi. We revisit the glorious LETT JGB set from LOCKN’ 2019. I asked him to reflect on being the lone guitarist in Lettuce over the past few years, and Shmeeans reiterates his reverence and respect for former Lettuce guitarist (and co-founder) Eric Krasno. He speaks on continuing to evolve as a player in the current configuration of LETT. At the very end of the conversation, Smirnoff lets the cat out of the bag as to when the next Lettuce album will arrive (soon!), and vigorously defends NY Knicks owner James Dolan when the Sixer fan in me tried to push his buttons. I feel like Shmeeans and I only scratched the surface, but yes indeedy, this was a fantastic first chapter of LETT on *The Upful LIFE Podcast*.

J.A. TALKS MOTLEY CRUE 'THE DIRT' at 1hr 8mins

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Another check in from Philly correspondent J.A., with regard to the brand-new motion-picture The Dirt, based on the 2001 quasi-autobiographical book about Motley Crue. J.A. and I both loved Motley in our youth, and some of our first concert experiences were with the Crue, but it didn’t make this film any less troubling, or cringe-worthy. Please enjoy being a fly on the wall as two old friends look back at a shared glam-band past and discuss this long-awaited rock biopic, among other humorous asides. 

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* is The Time's 1982 classic "777-9311" (extended mix) 

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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
Contact the host at B.Getz@upfulLIFE.com

 

013: SHIRA ELIAS (Turkuaz vocalist) / IRMZIE takes the Bay

013: SHIRA ELIAS (Turkuaz vocalist) / IRMZIE takes the Bay

March 14, 2019

Episode 013 of *The Upful Life Podcast* welcomes very special guest Shira Elias of Turkuaz ! We caught up with the vixen vocalist on a SF tour stop in early February. Despite being the "newest member" of the band, Shira was among the first in the KUAZ clan that I connected with off the stage, and we'd been eyeing a proper long form powwow ever since I first interviewed her for L4LM a couple years back.

"The Question" by TURKUAZ 2.02.19 Fillmore SF (13min mark)

SHIRA INTERVIEW BEGINS AT 17MINS

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Shira explains just how she ended up singing with Turkuaz, one of the hottest bands on the scene; detailing her path from British Columbia to the Big Apple, from the theater world of Broadway dreams onto the stage with Brooklyn's finest funksters. The very-personable singer heaps hella praise upon her amazing bandmates, and pulls back the curtain a little bit on how the 'KUAZ keeps kicking so much ass, night by night. She tells a heartwarming story about an early The Nth Power performance, how she was spiritually moved that morning, and why that was the very moment when Shira realized she was right where she's supposed to be. I asked Shira no-holds-barred to share some of her personal and professional experiences with regard to being female in the male-dominated music industry.

Thanks to her willingness to be a veritable open book & go deep, we cover the past, present and future of Shira, Turkuaz, and more with a dynamic personality, vibrant vocalist, and wonderful human being. Thank you Shira Elias!

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Episode 013 special thanks & LARGE UP to Funk It Blog and the incredible Randy Bayers! One of the most essential assets to the scene, a true historian and collector. Peep game HERE.   

In keeping with the divine feminine vibe of the past couple of episodes, I included in Episode 013 a brief conversation with my own mother, Irma Feld Getz, aka "Irmzie". She was visiting the Bay Area from Philly in mid-January, just as *The Upful LIFE Podcast* was getting it's groove. My mom will be attending her 11th NOLA Jazz Fest this spring, is a lifelong music fanatic, and has hoped that I might interview her for some time. And for a while now, I've wanted to introduce her to the podcast audience. In this short segment, Irmzie describes how and why music culture is in our shared DNA, offers a little Philly music history, and some proper Jazz Fest chatter. Welcome to the podcast world, Mom!

IRMZIE Interview at 1hr 13Mins

 

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*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*: "The Riddle" by ROU (Goopsteppa Remix)

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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
Contact the host at B.Getz@upfulLIFE.com
012: NAUGHTY PRINCESS/ DAILY BREAD/ SHEPHERD MEADOW FARMS/ RIP KOFI

012: NAUGHTY PRINCESS/ DAILY BREAD/ SHEPHERD MEADOW FARMS/ RIP KOFI

February 28, 2019

Episode 012 of *The Upful Life Podcast* welcomes the lovely and talented Jasmine Fraser, a West Coast DJ best known as Naughty Princess. Jasmine is a rising star in the bass music underground, and we were lucky to get her on the show for fascinating conversation that lasts just under an hour. This took place the day after her huge set at Resonate in Oakland, and Jasmine was a really good sport this rainy San Francisco afternoon. We had to chase my phone down, because I dropped it somewhere in transit, and luckily a Good Samaritan scooped it up. Once I retrieved said device, we settled into her gold minivan on a random city block for a proper conversation about music... and life. 

NAUGHTY PRINCESS INTERVIEW STARTS AT 18:30

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Topics include her formative years in Melbourne, AUS, as Jasmine takes us back to the ashrams of her youth and how chanting to ecstatic states affected her as a kid. A little bit on Trance music, before we sort of time-travel into 2010 pretty quickly. She reflects on catching Bassnectar on his way up at a small SF club, and how that scene and community welcomed her at a transitional moment in her life. Fraser also discusses the mentorship of An-ten-nae, and details the nature their collaboration "Hearts".

Then things get a little heavy, in the best kind of way. Jasmine's father was Andy Fraser, bassist for legendary British band Free, a member of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Jasmine explains how it was Andy’s 2015 death that really propelled her to become a DJ, and the Naughty Princess was born. We recall our chance meeting at Burning Man 2016, both of us consumed by the grief of the loss of our respective fathers, and how that brief but potent exchange on Playa bonded us for life.

 

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Since she identifies as a feminist, I asked her to share some thoughts and feelings on the patriarchy, specifically in the music world and festival culture, We talk a lot about Trap music themes, and rap music's misogynist lyrics, with regard to how fans respond to the messages found within songs. Jasmine tells a potent personal story about a Burning Man performance, when a young woman reached out to her after the set, concerned about a single song Naughty Princess played. This reflection turns into a meditation on the innate power of language and how even she and I are affected. Naughty Princess also touches on some less controversial topics, like tabla-trap, ecstatic dance vs. urban dancefloors, Nevada City CA, and much more... with the consistently-amazing Jasmine Fraser.

(1hr 8mins) PLUS a short chat with red-hot Atlanta producer Daily Bread, who checks in about his career momentum, dope collaborations and more. Rhett explains why D.I.T.C. and NYC boom-bap influenced this native ATLien more than the crunk and Dungeon hometown heroes. Shout-out to Whit Hawkins and the Hawk's Nest roster.

 

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Included towards the end of Episode 012 (1hr 27mins) is a humorous and informative interview with Shepherds Meadow Farms master grower Brandon. A Mendocino County, CA-based organic ganja farmer who (some of) you may recall heaved a giant sack of cannabis onstage to Jay Kay of Jamiroquai last April at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. After much hullabaloo, we finally get the 411 on that craziness, and while we were at it, a little Q&A about how a small farmer grows 100% organic craft cannabis. This conversation took place in December, on Sunday night at the tail end of The Emerald Cup, and it's safe to say that the weekend full of weed had taken a toll by the time I conducted this interview. Please excuse my blaziness. 

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*,

(1hr 39mins) we want to honor the memory of the late, great Kofi Burbridge. A true icon of our music community, friend, brother, otherworldly multi-instrumentalist. A first ballot Spirit of Suwannee Hall of Famer. Instead of a moment of silence, we will hear his music to honor his memory. I've chosen a celebrated collaboration in tribute to Kofi Burbridge, his appearance alongside trusty axeman Derek Trucks, both sitting in with the home team, Lettuce, at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, for Bear Creek's 2009 finale. If you were at this set, then you remember how truly special it was. Rest in Power, Kofi.

 

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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
Contact the host at B.Getz@upfulLIFE.com
011: JEFF FRANCA (Thievery Corporation, Congo Sanchez)/ BECAUSE Of The LOTUS

011: JEFF FRANCA (Thievery Corporation, Congo Sanchez)/ BECAUSE Of The LOTUS

February 14, 2019

Episode 011 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes JEFF FRANCA, drummer of Thievery Corporation and founder of Congo Sanchez and Natural Selectah, to the show for an informative and emotional powwow. Jeff is a rising star in the Denver music scene, and traces his musical and personal roots back to the District of Columbia. We took a solid ninety minutes to chop it up about a number of salient topics that ran the gamut and it was a thoroughly enjoyable conversation that I think will resonate with the Upful LIFE listeners.

 

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We begin by discussing the Washington D.C. music scene and the successful, trendsetting new venue there The Anthem, spiralling out into a few directions from there. His earliest memories of Pink Floyd hitting his ears, and the music that first reached him deep inside. Topics covered include his roots as a thorough study of iconic jazz drummers from the late 50’s through the early 70’s, such as Billy Higgins, Tony Williams, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobham, and Max Roach. He touches on themes and concepts native to each of their styles, and how those cats changed, and basically shaped, the game for decades to come. We also touch on his time at the University of Indiana as a double major, whether or not he wanted to try out for The Disco Biscuits, and his thoughts on jazz jamming verses jamband jamming.

Jeff then takes a deep dive on a topic that will resonate with anybody who listens in, the relationship he had with his late brother Nicholas, who died in 2011, after a lengthy illness. Jeff details how his music career intersected with the last months of his brother’s life, the cosmic Virgo/Sagittarius connections within it all, how his brother empowered him to forge onward as a musician and an artist. He recalls in emotional detail spending days at Sloan Kettering in NYC with Nicholas and then chasing John Zorn, Adam Deitch, hanging at The Stone, and the experiencing the downtown scene after dark. It was during this time that the seeds were being sewn for Jeff to begin playing with Thievery Corporation.

 

The courage of love
Jeff's late brother Nicholas Franca

Jeff brings us all the way back to Eighteenth Street Lounge music in D.C. and how stints producing records with Funk Ark and touring with See-I laid the foundation for his role as Thievery Corporation’s touring drummer. Franca explains the roots of Thievery in D.C. culture, and around the world, and how that heritage has taken shape over two decades. Jeff continues by meticulously breaking down his role playing live drums in an electronic music outfit, and it’s fascinating to hear him unspool it all, the nuts and bolts of how Rob Garza, Eric Hilton and company have evolved their live sets into a true live band performance, without sacrificing any of the thump.

We get a thorough introduction to Congo Sanchez, Jeff’s fantastic side-project that mixes it up in mysterious styles of world electro and future dancehall. He recalls some humorous road stories and a comical debut at Electric Forest 2012, before opening up a bit about the cultural and thematic concepts inherent in the Congo Sanchez trio. 

All that plus his presence on Eddie Roberts’ Color Red label in Denver, and why the music scene there is different then anywhere else in the States today. Having a partner as a tour manager, why the grind of touring is an authentic and essential element to making honest art. And a tribute to true East Coast OG, the late great Ryan Dewitt.

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Thievery Corporation on the road in 2015

 

We follow that up with another interview from the Emerald Cup cannabis event in Northern California, in early December. This time we chat it up with Moe Angelo and Pat Anglin of the immersive art installation Because of the Lotus, which is a festival favorite and a beloved part of the fabric of Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, which coincidentally just announced another fantastic event Suwannee Rising, April 4-6.

 

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The *Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* is a classic golden-era hip-hop jam from twenty-three years ago: Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers: Crooklyn Dodgers 95 featuring Chubb Rock, Masta Ace, and Jeru the Damaja, with DJ Premier production. Among my all-time favorite hip-hop jams. This is history. Word to fat asses and cases of Heineken!

 

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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!
Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE
Contact the host at B.Getz@upfulLIFE.com