The Upful LIFE Podcast
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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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

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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

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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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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

Also available on Spotify! 

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!


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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


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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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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

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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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The Upful LIFE Podcast is available on iTunes!

Also available on Spotify! 

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
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 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.


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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.

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.

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.




From there we transition to SAM D'ARCANGELO, Director of the Cannabis Voter Project, an arm of 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*

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.


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.

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   

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.


*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  


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