The Upful LIFE Podcast
029: KENDALL DEFLIN (Backline), CHRIS PERELLA (Ardmore Music Hall), BILLY IUSO - Isolation Station v.1

029: KENDALL DEFLIN (Backline), CHRIS PERELLA (Ardmore Music Hall), BILLY IUSO - Isolation Station v.1

April 1, 2020

Episode 029 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* switches the script in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Welcome 2 ISOLATION STATION v.1. For this episode, we'll have three shorter form interviews that directly address the fallout from the virus and it's paralyzing effect on the music culture, industry, and communities. I wanted to give people a platform and program that can communicate and connect different geographic areas, artists, activists, producers, promoters, movers, shakers, fans and the like. My intention is for this podcast to transition, and organically be in service to anyone it can reach, educate, entertain, inspire, and humor. Now is the time to live our Upful LIFE.


Kendall Deflin Intro @ 9:00

We kick things off by checking in with KENDALL DEFLIN of BACKLINE, a non-profit that connects music industry & mental health professionals. Kendall comes on to discuss Backline’s Case Management Program, wherein trained mental health professionals work one-on-one with individuals to connect them with mental health resources specifically catered to the music industry lifestyle. Also : “Come Together: COVID-19 Crisis” initiative, offering bi-weekly support groups, movement and meditation sessions in partnership with like-minded organizations to help bring mental health and wellness to the music industry. Beyond the work, Kendall brings her own brand of everyday sunshine and positive energy, (as well as a sailor's vocab) to the enlightening dialogue, with a few silver linings taboot. 





After Kendall, we hear from another former boss and forever friend, CHRIS PERELLA, owner/talent buyer at Ardmore Music Hall, just outside Philly. The legendary CP, who hired me at now-defunct Philly haunt The Blockley, returns to the show to break down how he and his teams have deftly navigated the concert industry grinding to standstill. Includes very profound perspective on how things might shape up differently for independent/small businesses and regional/local concert promoters and talent buyers, once we enter a new normal, whenever that may be. Astute observations and hella hot takes from the one & only Chris Perella. DONATE to the ARDMORE MUSIC HALL STAFF FUND HERE


BILLY IUSO INTRO @ 1hr 11min

Batting third is BILLY IUSO, our old friend and rock n'roll troubadour down in the great city of New Orleans. We take a few minutes to check in with Billy on how things have been for him as the virus and fallout have really put NOLA in a vice grip, on a lot of levels. Billy talks chill time, family hangs, live streams, and the foggy future, plus a good dose of positive vibes from the Crescent City. Check out Billy Iuso on Facebook for live streams, links to merch and more.


Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week:  


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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

028: JESSICA DORE  - @thejessicadore (Tarot, Psychology, Dancehall, NOLA)

028: JESSICA DORE - @thejessicadore (Tarot, Psychology, Dancehall, NOLA)

March 10, 2020

Episode 028 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes JESSICA DORE (@thejessicadore) to the show. On Twitter and Instagram, my longtime friend is a new-school tarot superstar, Jessica has hundreds of thousands of followers for her unique approach to tarot as a therapeutic tool. She's a licensed social worker, tarot practitioner and journalist/author interested in using tarot cards to help people understand the interplay between internal and external life.  I'd seen a variety of media features about her in recent months, and made a mental note that she'd be an ideal guest for this show, which came about rather serendipitously.

Introduction to Jessica Dore @ 8:00, Conversation @ 12:30

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Jessica and I go way back to Jazz Fest in NOLA some years ago, and we've stayed in touch sporadically. She's always been a friend on my radar, in spite of the many moons or miles between. Not long ago, we randomly bumped into one another on the streets of Oakland, and I knew it was a cosmic re-connection. Jessica was kind enough to invite me up to her idyllic treehouse studio in the Berkeley Hills for an interview that was really like a conversation between friends catching up.

She has been influenced by the people and landscapes of the places she’s lived and traveled including New Orleans, Jamaica, Central America, India, Northern California and New England. In just over an hour-long powwow, we share a dialogue that touches on her time in New Orleans, and Mardi Gras gone by. Plus her passion for Jamaican dancehall music, why she moved to Kingston, JA, only to subsequently leave dee-jaying behind. That narrative provides a launching point for an enlightening rabbit hole on the topics of roots, culture, family heritage, and the nature of our collective appropriation. From there, we briefly explore her daily and unwavering devotion to ashtanga yoga. 


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Yet the majority and priority of our conversation is focused on tracing the embryonic roots and rapid evolution of her work as @thejessicadore on Twitter and IG. She combines her knowledge from years of studying psychology, behavioral science, tarot and mysticism to support people during times of both change and stuckness. Her ideas and tarot practice have become wildly popular across social media over the past few years, and she's at the forefront of a revolution in tarot and psychology, so much so that she's out here in the Bay writing a book on the topic, contracted to a major publisher. In a language that everyone can easily understand, Dore breaks down how tarot entered her life, the connections she first discovered while working in psychology book publishing, and how they organically blossomed into @thejessicadore daily readings. How she interprets and interpolates self-help principles and therapeutic concepts into her practice and profession. The study of the soul at once ancient and brand-new.

Jessica Dore's avant-garde, revolutionary tarot practice has been featured in The New York TimesNew York Magazine‘s The CutVICETeen VogueYoga JournalPhiladelphia MagazineThe Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR’s Weekend Edition and more. Her writing has been featured in O, The Oprah MagazineVICE, and Psych Central. Jessica has studied behavioral therapies extensively and holds a level 1 certificate for essential skills in energy psychology.


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Episode 004 guest Katrina Brees, myself, and Jessica Dore in NOLA, Mardi Gras 2010


Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week:

BOASTY - Wiley, Sean Paul, Stefflon Don (Barisone edit)



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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

027: STEVE GORMAN (Black Crowes) Book Talk Live from San Francisco 1/19/2020

027: STEVE GORMAN (Black Crowes) Book Talk Live from San Francisco 1/19/2020

February 11, 2020

Episode 027 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes the legendary STEVE GORMAN (Black Crowes) for a very special edition of this program. The longtime drummer and co-founder of The Black Crowes is doing a ton of media work, podcasts and live appearances in support of his riveting rock n' roll bio "Hard 2 Handle: The Life & Death of The Black Crowes, A Memoir". I was honored and truly touched when Steve personally reached out and asked me to host/moderate his book talk in San Francisco. The event took place on January 19, 2020 and was recorded with a live audience in the SF Ferry Building Book Passage, moments after Steve's beloved Tennessee Titans lost in the AFC Championship Game. 


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STEVE GORMAN Live Q&A @ 20min mark

I've been a fan of The Black Crowes since we covered "Jealous Again" at my Bar Mitzvah back in 1991, and saw them for the first time at the Tower Theater in Philly back in 1993, and another two dozen or so times through around 2013. Steve Gorman was a founding member of TBC, and his masterful drumming an essential component to their sound and identity as a band. He drove the train, and provided the swing that defined their swaggering grooves. He permanently left the band (again) in 2013, and they apparently disbanded in a dust cloud of sibling rivalries and greed. Only to see Chris and Rich Robinson reconstitute a version of the Crowes without him, or any previous band members for that matter, last fall.  Before the brothers could announce a Live Nation summer shed tour, and now some acoustic dates to help move tickets in the softer-selling markets, Steve dropped a bomb in the form of his fascinating book, and with it burned that proverbial feathered bridge by bearing his truth, once and for all. 


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As has been the case with all of his book interviews - and the book itself, Steve pulls no punches and leaves nary a stone unturned in his various recollections, delivered straight no chaser. This book talk was more of an opportunity to let Steve just tell stories, so I prepared a dozen or so questions for him, then opened it up to the audience for some of their personal inquiries, of which I edited some for length/clarity. Most of the content from the conversation is rooted in his tremendously detailed memoir, or random asides from the cutting room floor. Steve reflects on everything from Ringo Starr to Jimmy Page, recording the Crowes' legendary run of 90's albums, including 2 which never came out until many years later. Steve goes down different random rabbit holes, explores the concepts of co-dependence & closure, he sets the record straight about a number of hot topics in the Crowes community. Much like the book itself, you need not be a Crowes fanatic to enjoy this colorful interview about an American rock band that is as iconic as it is divisive, and whose catalog, legacy, and career narrative should stand the test of time. It's certainly an afternoon I will never forget! Thank You Steve Gorman!



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Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week:

"Descending" by The Black Crowes, off of 1994's Amorica


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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

026: RYAN JALBERT (The Motet)

026: RYAN JALBERT (The Motet)

January 13, 2020

After a brief pause for the cause, *The Upful LIFE Podcast* is back with Episode 026 featuring Ryan Jalbert of The Motet. In late December, on the heels of The Motet's co-headline funkstravaganza at the Fillmore with KDTU, Ryan and I finally caught up for an hour in downtown San Francisco. Jalbert was on his way to a jazz show at the Black Cat, but took timeout to make sure we got the proper time for a powwow. I've been a fan of his for several years now, and Ryan has been a listener to this podcast since almost the beginning too, as such it was a pretty cool dynamic for the interview. We basically just kicked it for a while, chopped it up about his path taken, with some attention to detail and the typical musical/cultural rabbit holes.


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RYAN JALBERT INTRO > CONVO begins at 14:30

First, a contest giveaway! VI Jam Fest in St. John, US.VI!! Enter to win two free tickets with camping, value $630 USD! Just share this post on the Upful LIFE Facebook page,  OR LEAVE A REVIEW ON UPFUL LIFE iTUNES & send an email to

After the contest information, we jump into the interview with Ryan Jalbert. This conversation covers his entire musical journey, from his childhood in Western Mass, learning the guitar, loving the blues as a kid, up through college, Phish tours, the music scene in the Northeast in the early 2000s, working with Brett Dennen, Leslie Helpert, joining The Motet, and then his 15-year odyssey that continues up through their most recent LP Death or Devotion. We finish with a little bit on his side project Jalbatross with brother Colin, as well as some of his recent favorite artists.

Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week:

"When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can" from the The JB's 1969 demo tape More Mess on My Thing. Recently uploaded after being vinyl-only for a couple of years. Otherworldly 22-minute excursion into the netherworlds of primordial funk, rock, and soul.

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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE





025: ERIC KRASNO (Soulive, ex-Lettuce) / LEAH CONCIALDI (Color Red, ATOMGA, Tnertle)

025: ERIC KRASNO (Soulive, ex-Lettuce) / LEAH CONCIALDI (Color Red, ATOMGA, Tnertle)

November 23, 2019

Episode 025 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes the legendary Eric Krasno to the show for a pretty sweet powwow on a number of salient topics from the guitarist/producer's illustrious career. Co-founder of Soulive, co-founder and former guitarist of Lettuce, Kraz was in the Bay Area in late September for a quick run with E3- (Eric Krasno Trio), at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, a club owned by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. In between soundcheck and the gig, Kraz and I sat down and chopped it up for nearly an hour, and trust it was a thrill to have this conversation after so many years of being a superfan of so many of his projects.

Krasno Introduction & KRAZ "Leave a Little" at 7:30
Eric Krasno Interview at 15:00

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We start chatting about the present tense, beginning with his formation of E3, a little about his bandmates and loosely defining what the mission is. From there we pivot to his brand new KRAZ project, and the album Telescope, released on Sept.27. Eric lets us in on why KRAZ is such a departure from his established norm, and what went into the creation of this new lane for the longtime Soulive shredder. Krasno also details his departure from Brooklyn after 20 years, and how that figured into the conception and realization of the concept album Telescope. We also touch on his stoke for his new digs and studio in Los Angeles, and some super funky neighbors.


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Since we were at Bob Weir's club, it only felt perfect to get into the Grateful Dead. With reverence, Kraz takes us back to his first GD shows in the late 80's, all the way up through sharing the stage with Phil Lesh, Bobby and the Rhythm Devils. Kraz also tells a few stories about father and son, his own pops, & later Phil and Grahame Lesh for a couple nights out on the NOLA town over Jazz Fest. Naturally, we had to dive into two decades of Soulive, and why they were such a revolutionary band at the turn of the century. Kraz walks us down memory lane a little, but chooses to focus on how fiery the most recent Soulive performances have been.

After taking the temperature of Soulive, Kraz opens up a bit about Lettuce. The guitarist reflects on the early days, their meteoric ascent, his decision to walk away (and why), and brings it full circle back at LOCK'N when LETT paid tribute to JGB with Bobby, John Mayer, Oteil and others back in August 2018. Eric then takes a few moments to explain what was behind the difficult decision to step up and perform with Circles Around the Sun, in honor and memory of his dearly departed friend Neal Casal. We finish up our riveting conversation with some guitar shop talk, focusing on the PRS Silver Sky, John Mayer signature model.




LEAH CONCIALDI Inteview begins at 1hr 11m

Following that interview is a short, sweet conversation with Leah Concialdi, a saxophonist (and more) with ATOMGA and Tnertle, as well as a major cog in the wheel that is Color Red Music out in Colorado. Over the summer, we got a chance to hear all about the label, the concept and the people behind Color Red, as well as a little bit about both of her bands and her experience in the music industry for the past decade.

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*"Telephone" by Erykah Badu.  Enjoy my look back at Badoula's 7-minute elegy to J-Dilla, written the day after his funeral, about how ODB acted as Dilla's visionary guide to the afterlife. Celebrate Tonight! 


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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

024: WIL BLADES (Organist - Adam Deitch Quartet / Amendola vs Blades)

024: WIL BLADES (Organist - Adam Deitch Quartet / Amendola vs Blades)

November 5, 2019

Episode 024 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes Hammond B3 organ maestro WIL BLADES to the show for a lengthy conversation about his career, Bay Area music culture, saddling up to jazz and funk legends, the Adam Deitch Quartet, Amendola vs. Blades, and beyond. From bright eyed young cat in Chicago, to one of the rising stars in jazz and groove music, he's among the more impressive organ players in the culture today.

Just a few days before he was moving to SoCal, Wil invited me over to his home in Berkeley, CA to have a spirited discussion, and was game to go deep about his own journey, the nuances of Hammond B3 organ, his passion for rare groove, the oral tradition of music, the history of the Boom Boom Room, and so much more. It was an honor to give Wil a chance to really let the people know who he is and how he got to be such a respected and celebrated musician, and to shed a lot of light on historical cats along the way.

7:00 - Wil Blades INTRO

12:45 - Amendola vs. Blades "Hi Lo" 


1:33:30 "Art Bar" - Adam Deitch Quartet

  adam deitch quartet egyptian secrets, adam deitch egyptian secrets, adam deitch quartet album, adam deitch album, adam deitch, adam deitch quartet


We start the conversation in Wil's youth growing up near Chicago in Evanston, IN, learning both the drums and guitar as a youngster, taking ques from his older brothers. We also spend some time talking about how we discovered music as kids in the 90’s, and how that is so markedly different from how Wil’s teen children find their favorite artists today. From there, he takes us back to the late 90’s, moving across the country to the Bay Area to join an Oakland jamband and attend college. Wil explains how SF and Oakland were very different back in those days, and how a particular college professor with a heavy resume and unique teaching style put him on to the importance of the oral tradition in music.

At the time of the interview, Wil was preparing to move to Los Angeles after twenty years in the Bay. Wil gives us a colorful reflection on the music scene when he first arrived in the Bay Area, and for much of the convo he continues to tell the tale about how the music and culture would evolve over the next two decades. Wil was/remains also a huge part of the scene at renowned SF venue Boom Boom Room, a hotbed for blues when he arrived, but later evolving into the epicenter for all things NOLA and funky here in NorCal. Wil breaks down what it was like as John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room, and how talent buyer Alex/Xander Andreas's vision has helped the club to continue to flourish with the funk.

Wil Blades has studied with some of true legends, and talks in great detail about his time with master organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, the late iconic funk/jazz drummer Idris Muhammed, an beloved late hollow-body guitarist Melvin Sparks. Wil has spent time with and performed alongside each of these giants, and it was riveting to hear how he organically and serendipitously came to connect with such luminaries, and what a thrill it was to hear of ho w each of them put him on game. 

Wil makes sure to explore the essential particulars of organ/drums relationship. Two thirds of the way through the interview, we finally arrive at the Adam Deitch Quartet, Wil’s fantastic project with the Lettuce/Break Science drummer wunderkind. We play a portion of the Blades-penned "Art Bar", then return to our dialogue.

Wil retraces the steps on how that relationship came together, and gets into the magic that makes it all happen with Deitch, Eric Benny Bloom (trumpet) and Ryan Zoidis (sax). We discuss the making of their critically-acclaimed LP Egyptian Secrets, and reminisce on some classic AD4 gigs thru the years. Wil spends some time discussing his tremendous Amendola vs. Blades project with Bay Area groove merchant Scott Amendola, and their new LP Everybody Wins (Royal Potato Family), and their short West Coast tour. Wil Blades finishes out this phenomenal interview by talking about what’s he excited about in moving down to LA after two decades as a prodigal son of the Bay.


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Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week (2:04)

"11th Hour" by DROPICAL, off his new EP Circling Out (Jumpsuit Records)


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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE


023: REUBEN SADOWSKY (Guayaki Yerba Mate) / BEAU WILLIAMS (Lettuce TM/PM)

023: REUBEN SADOWSKY (Guayaki Yerba Mate) / BEAU WILLIAMS (Lettuce TM/PM)

October 10, 2019

Episode 023 of *The Upful LIFE Podcast* welcomes the one-and-only REUBEN SADOWSKY, ceabador with Guayaki Yerba Mate, close friend/former tour manager to Rising Appalachia, awe-inspiring action sportsman, festival fixture and 11-year Burner. We caught up with him for nearly an hour during Planet Home, a 3-day solutionary conference that took place in San Francisco in early September; Reuben was there on behalf of Guayaki's Come to Life program. Fascinating conversation with one of the most interesting people I've ever met. After a 5 minute poetic interlude from a dear homie, the second interview is with Beau Williams, Tour Manager/Production Manager of LETTUCE.  Closing things out, the *Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* is MORiLLO's brand new single "Booty".


Reuben Sadowsky Intro at 8:30, Interview at 12min

Beau Williams Intro at 1hr 13min, Interview 1hr 17min


Reuben and I start with a little about the Planet Home event, and discuss Come to Life’s presence, the experience and the initiative's greater missions, before diving into his expansive role as a ceabador with Guayaki, and how that serendipitously came to be. Reuben explains how Come to Life is a “Good News Network”, and takes us around the world, following wherever the mate takes us, full-spectrum storytelling delivering a regenerative message. Reuben reflects on what it’s like to work for such a progressive company that places priority on it’s ideals and is so focused on fostering community, from the rainforests of South America to permaculture farms in Salt Spring Island, city to city around the globe.

CLICK HERE to watch Reuben speed-flying on skis! 

We take a deep dive on his relationship with the core four members of Rising Appalachia, including his time as Tour Manager (as well as their extensive adventuring together). Plus his gratitude for growing up with "cool parents" in Aspen, CO, and how that upbringing fostered a spirited zest for life, fueling a passion for action sports like skiing, surfing, paragliding, speed-flying, and beyond. An 11-year Burner, of course we had to touch on the topic of Black Rock City, as well as our meeting at Envision Festival 2014, NOLA Jazz Fest, & a number of festivals, activations, and transformative gatherings across this great land. Throughout our conversation, Reuben Sadowsky articulates and illuminates the perpetual seeking a 'flow state' and delivers a message of regeneration, community, and inspiration. Booyah!


CLICK HERE to watch Scott T bless up St. Augustine, FL before Rising Appalachia show in May 2014


Beau Williams Intro 1hr 13, Interview 1hr 17m


Also appearing on Ep.023 is Beau Williams, Tour Manager/Production Manager with Lettuce, member of the Bear Creek family, and formerly the longtime FOH engineer with Papadosio. Likewise a tough cat to nail down, Beau and I caught up for about 20 mins backstage at Suwannee Rising back in early April 2019. Lots of sweet Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park reflections, and a bunch of LETT chat too (obviously)- from the Colorado Symphony to the recording sessions for Elevate, and more!

*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* 

MORiLLO's brand new single "Booty" (colibri out 10/18)


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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

022: SMASHELTOOTH (West Coast DJ/Producer)

022: SMASHELTOOTH (West Coast DJ/Producer)

September 17, 2019

Episode 022 of *The Upful Life Podcast* w/s/g Smasheltooth is live and direkt! This celebrated, colorful, & outspoken West Coast selectah looks back on a decade in the DJ game, but of course we dig deeper into myriad topics. Ever since I first came upon her at the Haven in Nevada City, CA opening for Mad Zach in 2016, I've been intrigued by this dynamic persona. Began following her on social media and over the past few years, have become a big fan of her DJ sets and out-sized personality.




Smash was in the Bay Area for a benefit concert for my dear friend Greg who'd lost his leg in a tragic hit & run on his motorbike. We linked up in an Oakland warehouse recording studio for a lengthy, spirited, and emotional powwow. As she reminds us throughout our chat, everyone has a story. And rest assured, hers is one worth telling.



Ashley leaves nary a stone un-turned as she reflects on her fairy-tale marriage to The Pirate & reveals quite a bit about how motherhood has reshaped her life and worldview. From there she ruminates on the circle of life & death - with regard to the Ghost Ship tragedy, and giving birth to her son Johnny Ryder in the immediate aftermath of that deadly fire. Smash invites us into what it's like being a confident female in a male-dominated industry, details her overcoming sexual and emotional trauma thru pornography and Trap music, pontificates on the allure of pussy-power, the carnage from substance abuse, and beyond.

We discuss the omnipresence of the Grateful Dead, finding one's self within festival culture, curating an original vibe on the dancefloor, empowering women on the dancefloor, a deep dive on the late, great Bay Area hip-hop icon Mac Dre, and more DJ-related content. Towards the end of this 90-minute interview, I pose a rather serious and emotional question to Ashley: is she conflicted supporting LGBT & lionizing Sizzla Kalonji? The supernaturally-gifted yet uber-controversial Yardie legend who's militant Rasta intolerance of homosexuality is a divisive topic among fans. This particular segment is a good talk.

All in all, a riveting dialogue beginning to end, with the one and only Smasheltooth Tiger! 



Real talk, this is among the best interviews I've ever conducted. Ashley was a natural and we went places in the dialogue that quite frankly I never imagined . When it was over, I was HIGH off the conversation. On the way home, I actually had to pull over, get out of the car and walk it off for a few mins. THANK YOU MADAME SMASH!! 

Check out all things SMASHELTOOTH on Soundcloud

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Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week:

"Dirty Daddy"- Great Dane (OAKK Remix)




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Theme Song: Mazel Tov by CALVIN VALENTINE

021: NIKKI GLASPIE, NICK CASSARINO (The Nth Power) / CLAY McCABE (Zipper Rescue, artist)

021: NIKKI GLASPIE, NICK CASSARINO (The Nth Power) / CLAY McCABE (Zipper Rescue, artist)

August 13, 2019

Featured guests NIKKI GLASPIE and NICK CASSARINO of THE NTH POWER, as well as an introspective chat with Oregon-based artist/entrepreneur CLAY McCABE (of ZIPPER RESCUE). I am lucky and honored to call each of these inspiring human beings my dear friends in real life. The music of The Nth Power often reaches me with an emotional impact that is unrivaled in the culture today, and in that resonant reaction, I know I am far from alone. Nikki and Nicky Cake were kind enough to make some time for separate interviews, conducted in the cozy confines of the legendary High Sierra Music Festival 2019, over the 4th of July weekend in Quincy, CA.

Due to the hectic nature of their festival itineraries, which we discuss in detail, neither were able to sit down with me for the customary, career-spanning interview that we like to unveil here at the Upful LIFE, but I can assure you that in the future, I intend to wrangle both Nikki and Nick for all of the important historically-relevant rabbit holes we can tunnel. For now, I am grateful to have gotten 15 potent minutes with "The Evangelist" Nikki, and 25 introspective minutes with "The Master Prophet" Cassarino. Then, on the heels of that abundance we take a deep dive with Mr. Zips, Clay McCabe, most certainly a person of interest in his own right.


R.I.P. "POPPA FUNK" ART NEVILLE (12.17.37 - 7.22.19) 


Before getting into the three interviews, we had to take a few moments to pay tribute to the dearly departed Art "Poppa Funk" Neville, co-founder of The Neville Brothers and The Meters, and a true patriarch of New Orleans funk music. The legendary singer/organist peacefully passed on July 22nd after a lengthy illness. Few people have had the impact on multiple generations of fans and genres quite like Art Neville. The proof is in the music, and the music never stops. Condolences to his son Ian Neville of Dumpstaphunk, nephew Ivan Neville, the entire Neville family and the great city of New Orleans.





Nikki Glaspie has always held space for people in her life, through music, love, compassion and overstanding the human condition in a profound way. Just before taking the stage with her old friend Jen Hartswick and a phenomenal band, Glaspie sits down to explore a number of topics in a small window of time. We start with how to approach an mammoth endeavor like The Nth Power's tribute to Marvin Gaye (which we featured on Episode 017), prepping a big band for a tribute like this one or those that have come before. This discussion takes place after Nth had reprised the Marvin-homage a night earlier at HSMF. I asked her about Nth's emotional impact on their fans- in essence their "brand"- and their uncanny ability to inhabit the culture's generational greats and interpolate iconic songbooks of socially/politically relevant material. More on how those lyrics and messages are as important today as they were forty years ago.

From there, a bit on "being the change you want to see", the current trio formation of The Nth Power, and how they write and perform music that is intentional. We transition into some philosophical/cultural matters of importance, and to how people can be of service to communities. Nikki takes this opportunity to let folks know about the efforts with the HAROLD ROBINSON FOUNDATION, in SoCal, a non-profit organization that works toward inspiring and empowering children (primarily people of color) trapped in a cycle of poverty within the inner city. We finish up this brief but enthralling chat with a trip into the wayback machine that takes us to Vermont with the Godmother herself, Jen Hartswick, who's responsible for The Nth Power's entire existence, and the connection between these two women, plus Nate Edgar and Nick Cassarino. When these four touched souls take the stage together, Nikki is steadfast- the sum is far greater than the parts. Thank you Nikki Glaspie, you are love.

In between interviews, enjoy The Nth Power's brand-new track "Reach Out", recorded live from Paste Studios in NYC. 



Glaspie's bandmate and spiritual brother Nick Cassarino is among the more thrilling frontmen who is doin' the damn thing out there in 2019. His mojo has another gear, and the manner and fashion in which he connects with fans when performing is already the stuff of legend. We jump right into the J-Ha/Nth Power High Sierra takeover, how that all goes down, and why having the Vermont homie Bryan McNamara on hand was especially important to Nick. We touch on some of the same topics I did with Nikki, with regard to the Marvin Gaye tribute, stepping into the shoes of the giants, and how that sort of passion and purpose rubs off on The Nth Power's original music. Nick explains how the songwriting and performances for the forthcoming LP Reverence are about "focusing the vibe" and making the songs have the emotional impact necessary to communicate the salient messages within them, and do so inspired by the greats who've come before them, but delivered in their own unique Nth voice. 

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Jen Hartswick & Nick Cassarino with Trey Anastasio and Christian McBride

Nick then takes the opportunity to speak on his scintillating duo project with Jen Hartswick, who's album together Nexus made Upful LIFE's 18 Favorite Albums of 2018. So we riff a little a bit further on their Vermont roots that Nikki spoke of earlier, bound to cover just a little more ground. Nick then ties it all together, and announces that J-Ha/Nick and The Nth Power are actually touring together soon. Yep, these two magical artistic entities will spread the healing power of music from city to city each and every night. On the J-Ha tip, Nick reflects on the night that Trey Anastasio and Christian McBride performed the Nexus material with Nick and Jen in NYC. For the exciting end of the interview, Cassarino takes us through the situation when John Mayer decided to sit in with him at Cassarino's standing Sunday solo gig at NYC's Olive Tree. Truly a fascinating tale, and boy, is Nicky Cake ever the story-teller. When we find the time to take the deep dive on his career-arc, please believe I will be asking him to spin yarns like these for the full hour. 

Giving Thanks & Praises to both Nikki and Nick from The Nth Power for making the time for these wonderful shares.

LARGE UP The Nth Power bassist Nate Edgar, on general principle. He may not have been interviewed on this day, but he is. without question, THE MAN, no two ways about it. 

The Nth Power LOVES You.

Behold KING ZIPS!! Get Familiar at

To close out Episode 021 we welcome CLAY McCABE, aka MR.ZIPS to the show for a wonderful conversation that took place late at night at the ViBE JUNKiE Studios in Oakland Ca in the beginning of summer. For some context, I met Clay in the jungles of Costa Rica during Envision Festival in February 2014, and it's been a joy to check out his journey in this life ever since. He is the owner and proprietor of ZIPPER RESCUE, a patented zipper fix-it product kit that has become an invaluable item at festivals around the world, and most certainly in Black Rock City at the end of every August. Clay takes us through his international travels and meditations as a young man and how those experiences, plus his late father's death, prompted him to take the reigns at the family business, Zipper Rescue.

 In addition to being a festy celebrity of sorts for his handy product and his willingness to help hundreds of people at every event he frequents, from Burning Man to Global Eclipse Gathering to the event that has his heart and his roots, Oregon Country Fair, Clay is also an tremendous artist and sculptor, so we discuss his early days making art at OCF and how that culture has informed his work moving forward. We talk Da Vinci's Workshop at Burning Man 2016, and some of his primary intentions and philosophies in creating art. Clay also had a pivotal role in the building of OneDome, the interactive art experience and mixed reality playground in downtown SF that was my former place of employ. The ambitious startup endeavor, conceived and unleashed by many members of Clay and my shared festival family, unfortunately ran out of funding and abruptly closed earlier this summer, but at the time of this interview, we were still holdin' on, and frankly there's plenty to be proud of with regard to working with OneDome. All in all, a revealing discussion with an extremely unique and inspired fella who, like Nikki and Nicky Cake before him, I am honored and proud to call a friend in real life. 


*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week* 

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North Carolina emcee RAPSODY drops an absolute heater in Ibtihaj”, featuring GZA and D'Angelo!! "Ibtihaj" is named after Ibtihaj Muhammed, an Olympic fencer who won the bronze in the 2016 games and was the first American Olympian to wear a hijab while participating. Rapsody interpolates GZA's timeless 1995 classic "Liquid Swords" on her track, with the undeniable staccato groove that is burned into our skulls from so many spins through the years. R&B Jesus hops on the chorus, and somehow, D manages to take the Genius refrain "When the emcees came...", Gospelize it and make it his own, then GZA himself hops on for the ultimate co-sign, the guest verse. Such a lovely surprise, and Rapsody certainly holds her own betwixt these icons. 




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



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

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.

 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.

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



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, 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! 


*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