Artists

artists

Cooking with Cornmeal

Whenever any loosely-based bluegrassy band comes to Chicago, Cornmeal is always called upon to make the touring band feel welcome, usually by whipping up the audience into a frenzy before they take the stage. They've shared a bill with Yonder Mountain String Band, Blueground Undergrass, and the wildly innovative and popular band, Railroad Earth.

Heating Up a Batch of Extra Golden

Merging American rock with African benga music from Kenya is a bold mix, but Extra Golden has the daring and the chops to do it. Ian Eagleson (guitar) had been studying African music since 1995, traveling as often as he could to Kenya to document traditional popular music played by the masters of the craft. When Eagleson got a visa to live and conduct his research on his Ph.D.

Trey Anastasio, Don Hart & Orchestra Nashville Debut "Time Turns Elastic"

On September 27, 2008, Orchestra Nashville and Trey Anastasio will give Time Turns Elastic its debut performance at the orchestra's 2008-2009 season opener at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium.

Trey Anastasio | Original Boardwalk Style | Review

"The time has come for you to be alive again!" shouts singer/songwriter/guitarist Trey Anastasio during a ripping rendition of "Alive Again" from his latest live release, Original Boardwalk Style (Rubber Jungle Records).  The time has definitely come for Trey to be alive again, since he has just completed his one year court-ordered drug treatment program, and is gearing up to hit the road for a handful of solo performances before staging what is sure to be a grand fall tour.

Power to the Peaceful Announces 10th Annual Event on 9/6/08

photos by Forrest Dudek and Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

September 6, 2008, will mark the 10th anniversary of famed musician, filmmaker and activist for peace Michael Franti's free 911 Power to the Peaceful Festival (PTTP) in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  Beginning in 1998, this music, arts and yoga festival, dedicated to educating attendees on issues of social justice, non violence, coexistence and environmental sustainability, has become a staple of San Francisco.  Growing from a crowd of 6,000 ten years ago to an estimated 60,000+ for this year's weekend event, PTTP is one of the nation's largest free annual music, art and action festivals with a variety of international musicians and artists, renowned keynote speakers and over 200 exhibitors/vendors.

The weekend-long festival begins on Saturday, September 6, with appearances by such musicians as Michael Franti and Spearhead, Ziggy Marley, Warren Haynes, King Britt, Cheb i Sabbah, and a variety of renowned DJ's and other international acts.  Throughout the event, various speakers including Namkha Rinpoche Lama, will address these various issues on the main festival stage and participate in the Amnesty International Sponsored Social Forum Speaker Tent. The Mezzanine in San Francisco will host the Festival AFTERPARTY, featuring an Allstar Jam Session and DJ dance party.  Sunday, September 7 will offer a day of yoga at Yoga Flow Castro hosted by Power to the Peaceful Yoga. PTTP is committed to working with the best teachers available to provide free yoga to those in need and to bring yoga to people and places around the world (prisons, schools, developing nations) who have never had the opportunity to experience its many benefits. Visit www.powertothepeaceful.org/yoga for class schedule and other details.  Again this year, Conscious Alliance will host a Food Drive.  PTTP attendees are encouraged to bring ten non-perishable food items to redeem for an exclusive PTTP Food Drive Poster.  All donations will go to benefit the San Francisco Food Bank (www.SFfoodbank.com).

Past artists and speakers of the event include: Indigo Girls, The String Cheese Incident, John Butler Trio, KRS-1, Digital Underground, Woody Harrelson, Angela Davis, Saul Williams, Dennis Kucinich, Ram Das, Blackalicious, Alice Walker, Talib Kweli, The Coup, Keller Williams, DJ Spooky, Lyrics Born, graffiti artist Vulcan, Youth Speaks Poets, Julia Butterfly Hill, and many more.

International recognition of this event reached a new level in 2007, when PTTP went abroad, initiating events in both South America and Africa. No matter where this Festival takes place, it is committed to sustainability via innovative recycling programs, initiating partnerships with other sustainable organizations and encouraging the use of "green" yoga products.

10th Annual Power to the Peaceful Music and Arts Festival Schedule:

Saturday, September 6th
Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Admission is FREE

         Power to the Peaceful After Party
         9pm, Mezzanine (444 Jessie Street @ Mint)
         Music by Michael Franti & Spearhead, PTTP All Star Jam Session
         with special guests 
         Plus live DJ sets  
         Tickets are $15.00 and available now at www.powertothepeaceful.org.

Sunday, September 7th

SUNDAY YOGA JAM with special performance by Michael Franti 
YOGA FLOW CASTRO
97 Collingwood St. (@18th St.) in SF
Seane Corn
Shiva Rae of Trance Zen Dance with DJ Dragonfly
Nicki and Eddie of Maya Yoga
Janet Stone
Acro Yoga with Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauerklein
$35/class; $55 for two classes; $80 for three; $110 for four classes
Tickets available now at www.powertothepeaceful.org.

One of the most moving and politically charged writers, Michael Franti and his band Spearhead, return with their eagerly-awaited album, All Rebel Rockers, on September 9, via Anti-Records. Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, with reggae's most prolific production teams, Sly & Robbie (No Doubt, Alicia Keys, Sean Paul, Bob Dylan), this new release deviates from Franti's previous sound and comprises a hybrid dub-infused soul flavor with some hard-hitting dub rock production. Alongside Dave Shul (guitars), Manas Itene (drums), Carl Young (bass) and Raleigh Neal (keyboards), the album also features ZapMama founder Marie Daulne and Jamaican soul/dancehall star Cherine Anderson.

 

 

 

The 911 Power to the Peaceful Festival (PTTP) has become a premiere San Francisco tradition in its tenth year and is one of the largest free annual music, art and action events in the U.S. with over 60,000 attendees, 200 exhibitors/vendors, international musicians, DJs, athletes, artists and speakers.

 

Mission Statement: MUSIC. CONSCIOUSNESS. ACTION.

Power to the Peaceful is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural co-existence, non-violence and environmental sustainability through the arts and music.

By bringing people together through music and art it is our goal to highlight the similarities and celebrate the diversity of all of the world's inhabitants.

Through our many International concerts, social forums, film festivals and fund raising efforts, we invite people of all ethnicities and faiths to strive for Personal Peace, Community Cooperation, International Co-existence and Environmental Sustainability.

We work closely with grassroots organizations, businesses and other non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to put on events that raise consciousness about the needs of the world today and inspire action that addresses those needs.

We strive to make each of our events more energy efficient than the last by constantly finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint as well as highlighting new energy efficient technologies.

Michael Franti (PTTP Founder, Creative Director, Producer) is an internationally-renowned musician, filmmaker, human rights worker and speaker and is a leading voice in social justice, the peace movement, death penalty issues, prison reform and and advocate for independent media. Rolling Stone defined the San Francisco-based artist as "one of this generation's most prolific, staunchest and outspoken poets of lyrical conscience."  Michael has shared the stage with award winning and legendary voices for change such as Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Amy Goodman, Hurricane Carter, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Ralph Nader and Bill Maher and has given addresses at Yale, Princeton, Georgetown and Fordham Universities. In 2002, Franti received the Humanitarian of the Year Award presented by the international organization Global Exchange. 

Power to the Peaceful Yoga is committed to creating an awakening in fellow yogis to take its practices off the mat and into the world through personal peace, non-violence, world awareness, tolerance and sustainability. Its goal is to make yoga available to as many first time yogis as well as long term practitioners through teaching that is considerate of all levels. All proceeds from Power to the Peaceful Yoga go to the Power to the Peaceful Festival and Organization, an annual event bringing hundreds of thousands of people together under the themes of music, non-violence, consciousness and action.

RatDog/Gov't Mule | June 21st, 2008 | Seattle, WA

With more than just crowd pleasers at Seattle's WaMu Theater, Gov't Mule and Ratdog co-headlined a fine show!  Arguably an unlikely tour duo, Bob Weir and Warren Haynes delighted Seattle with this second stop on their Summer tour.

Here are just a couple highlights I took home from the industrial, cavernous, nouveau concert hall:

Hot Buttered Rum is Coming to Denver - Aug 14

HBR @ All Good Fest 2008 - photos by Sanjay Suchak- for the Grateful Web

In the Fall of 2006, itching to release their first live album, Hot Buttered Rum announced that it would be recording a handful of shows for official release.  Live in the Northeast (released May 2007) beautifully reveals the true core of live Butter: music that is forceful without being flashy, serious without being stuffy, intricate without being inaccessible, and diverse without being distracting.  The performances were professionally multi-tracked and later carefully mixed by Butter's long-time sound engineer, Josh Osmond. The result is striking, presenting the unique energy and improvisational spirit of a Hot Buttered Rum live performance in studio-quality sound.

Often described as a rock band playing bluegrass instruments, no prior Butter recording has so perfectly displayed the band's bolder and heavier side.  Their full sound permeates Live in the Northeast - from the reggae-tinged "Return Someday" and psychedelica of "Desert Rat" through definitive covers of the Grateful Dead's "Cumberland Blues" and Leo Sayer's "Feel Like Dancin'" - winding the listener through a robust and intense set of acoustic rock.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, the guys of Hot Buttered Rum grew up on the trails, in the mountains, and on the slopes.  Their ties with nature have only grown and as a group, the band has dedicated much time and energy to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting alternative fuel sources.  As a heavily touring band, Hot Buttered Rum had to face the tough reality of how a national tour can affect the environment and counter it with a positive change.  In response, the band helped to promote the biofuel renaissance, touring the country on recycled vegetable oil and biodiesel as early as 2003.  Band members have participated in numerous Renewable Energy and Biofuel conferences, as well as sitting on discussion panels at such renowned music festivals as Bonnaroo and High Sierra.  Highlighted in the November/December 2005 issue of E: Environmental Magazine, Hot Buttered Rum is commended for trying to "leave an impact on its fans, and not solely on the road that passes beneath its bus tires as it travels from coast to coast".  For more information on Hot Buttered Rum and their greening efforts, visit the band's website, www.hotbutteredrum.net.

The band's current list of confirmed tour dates is as follows:

July 16 Mountain Village Sunset Concert Series Mountain Village CO
July 19 McCall Summer Folk Festival Donley ID
July 22 Neurolux Boise ID
July 25 4 Peaks Music Festival Bend OR
July 26-27 Trinity Tribal Stomp Junction City CA
August 07 Black Oak Casino Tuolumne CA
August 08 Dead on the Creek Willits CA
August 13 Live from Mt. Crested Butte Crested Butte CO
August 14 Oriental Theatre Denver CO
August 17 Yarmony Grass Copper Mountain CO
September 07 Rancho Nicasio Nicasio CA
September 13 Mulberry Mountain Music Festival Ozark AR
September 25 Domino Room Bend OR
September 26 Wonder Ballroom Portland OR
September 27 Triple Door Seattle WA Two Shows!
October 30-31 Las Tortugas at Evergreen Lodge Groveland CA
January 24 Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Utica NY
February 20-21 Wintergrass Tacoma WA

More dates to be announced. 

The widespread appeal of Hot Buttered Rum's music stems not only from the band's musical versatility and prolific songwriting, but also from the magnetic chemistry the group creates onstage together.  It is this chemistry that is propelling the band to ever greater success. The band has performed at festivals as diverse as the Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, Grey Fox, High Sierra and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and has shared the stage with such artists as Phil Lesh, Bela Fleck, Ben Harper, Chris Thile, Mike Marshall and Peter Rowan, the last two of whom worked with the band on its critically-acclaimed studio release, Well-Oiled Machine

Sonic Bloom: Winterpark 2008

Relentlessly winding upwards along Berthoud Pass, my brain lights up like a pinball machine in action and BAM my thoughts of needing to extol some elder wisdom on my co-hort becomes apparent. The event we are quickly approaching entry into, is unlike most of the "festivals" she has attended in the past.

Railroad Earth Launches RRE-Mix

RRE @ Gathering of the Vibes 2005- for the Grateful Web

RAILROAD EARTH's (RRE) new album, Amen Corner (released on June 10), brings music appreciation to the next level with its RRE-Mix interactive feature. The band's latest self-produced album goes a step beyond the traditional "purchase and listen," and will now allow fans to digitally remix three of the album's tracks through their personal computer, with the help of some simple editing software.
 
"Since we recorded this whole album ourselves, and since more and more people own computers with audio recording and mixing capability, we thought it might be fun to give fans a whack at some of the individual tracks from our new record to play with on their own time," said Johnny Grubb, RRE bassist, who also wrote the easy-to-follow tutorial included with the downloads.
 
From an album that truly showcases Railroad Earth's remarkable songwriting and uniquely crafted arrangements, comes the innovative RRE-Mix feature, which will allow the band to engage its fans in a new and interactive way. Amen Corner was written and recorded at singer/songwriter, Todd Sheaffer's, 300 year-old house in New Jersey's rural countryside, and was the experience of a lifetime for the band's members. The non-traditional recording setting resulted in a collection of songs that truly resonate with the energy of what the band was experiencing during and around the sessions.
 
This idea of allowing fans to partake in the music creating and mixing process crosses a relatively new frontier in the music industry. To help fans navigate, the band has provided basic tutorials about how to use mixing software...as well as a free downloadable online program with a relatively easy to use interface. RRE-Mix is designed for individuals at all levels of digital mixing ability to enjoy.

 

Railroad Earth is currently on tour.  Confirmed tour dates include:

July 12 XPoNential Music Festival Camden NJ
July 13 All Good Music Festival Masontown WV
July 25 Floydfest Floyd VA
July 27 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Hillsdale NY
August 01 Dunegrass Festival Empire MI
August 02 Silver Maple Music Festival Comstock Park MI
August 13-14 YarmonyGrass Bond CO
September 04 9:30 Club Washington DC
September 05 The Fillmore at the Theatre of Living Arts Philadelphia PA
September 06 The Fillmore NY at Irving Plaza New York NY
September 13 Barrymore Theatre Madison WI
September 14 Miramar Theater Milwaukee WI
September 16 The Cabooze Minneapolis MN
September 17 The Englert Theater Iowa City IA
September 19-20 Fox Theater Boulder CO
September 22 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff AZ
September 23 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach CA
September 25 Roxy Theatre West Hollywood CA
September 26-27 The Fillmore San Francisco CA
October 18 Paradise Rock Club Boston MA
 
More dates to be announced soon.

Steve Earle: Renaissance Man and American Rebel

photo by Ted Barron- for the Grateful Web

There are vast depths to singer/songwriter Steve Earle. Not only is he one of the best creative writers in music, having received thirteen Grammy nominations and winning two for Best Contemporary Folk Album, but he writes soundtracks for movies and television (P.S. I Love You, Brokeback Mountain, Pay It Forward, The Horse Whisperer, G.I. Jane, Dead Man Walking, and many more).  He's also an actor, having appeared regularly in the HBO prison drama The Wire, and he paints a little, too.

Earle ran his own record label for a few years. "I started a label called E Squared with a friend of mine named Jack Emerson right after I got out of jail in 1995,"  Earle said in a recent phone conversation.  "I recorded for that label with one distribution scheme or another till about three years ago when Jack passed away.... Just having a record label kind of got to be anti art. It got to be sort of like owning a pickup truck and everybody calls you to help them move.  I was just so busy trying to keep all that going I felt like I didn't have time to concentrate on what I do." He now records with   New West Records.

He's been working on a novel for the past six years, hoping to get that magnus opus done in the next few months. He did finish a book of haiku, a full year's worth of little gems, written one-a-day from wherever he was on the planet. He also published a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses. In eleven stories, he told the tales of people struggling with drugs, trying to make it in the music industry, or living nightmares in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the literary world raked these human portraits over their ivory tower braziers. Earle never intended to create great art, just human art. And, he's been doing that for decades through multiple artistic genres.

"There's not as much difference as people would think between the job of writing and singing a song or acting or writing a book or a play," Steve Earle said. "The jobs aren't that far apart." Each one, calls upon the artist to walk in someone else's shoes to convey the story. "Some people get confused about that," he said, "but it is the way I approached doing it....That's the job. For me, it always has been."

Earle has the uncanny ability to create unforgettable characters, especially in his songs. Responding to a rough cut of the film Dead Man Walking that screenwriter/director Tim Robbins sent him, Earle wrote a gut-wrenching song about a prison guard called "Ellis Unit One."  "In The Horse Whisperer, I wrote a song based on the character as I saw it," Earle said, referring to the Robert Redford character, Tom Booker, who had finesse with people as well as horses. "I actually put words into the mouth of one of the characters in the movie."

However, that ability to get inside a character once caused media to vilify him. When "John Walker's Blues," which he wrote in 2002 about the young man who came to be known as the American Taliban, started hitting radio stations, it sent a shock wave throughout the country, with some  stations refusing to play it and causing talking heads to smack their mouths in a media frenzy. Yet, anyone who actually listened to the song understood that Earle wasn't being un-American. He merely saw a human being in the eyes of John Walker Lindh.  "I have a son that's exactly the same age as John Walker Lindh," Earle said. "I was really relating to that as a father. I saw that kid on TV. He was strapped to board, a skinny 20-year-old kid, and I had a skinny 20-year-old kid of my own at the time."

Earle's skinny little kid, Justin Townes Earle, is now 26 and he'll be playing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this week. "He's been playing since he was 13 or 14," Earle said. "He was one of those post modern Nirvana fans. He was too young to have been a Nirvana fan when Cobain was alive. The acoustic thing, for him, kind of started from listening to the Nirvana Unplugged thing on MTV. Cobain was doing what he called 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' and I always called 'In the Pines.'  My son was talking about how much he liked that song and I told him it was a Leadbelly song. He got into my records and my Leadbelly records are right next to my Lighting Hopkins records. He sort of went from there." Earle also had video recordings of some of these roots players, including Lightning Hopkins. "He could literally watch those and watch where they were putting their fingers. He plays that stuff really well."

But six years ago, Steve Earle steeled himself for the onslaught that his songwriting would produce. Even before he wrote the lyrics, he ignored advice from fellow musician Elvis Costello and others not to write it.  "I knew people were going to freak out," Earle remembered. "I had to make a conscious decision to write it anyway. I wrote it because I was genuinely inspired to do it." Still, he knew that he would not be understood. "There are a lot of people out there who only listen to every third word. At that point in time, most people were reacting to the reaction of a handful of people whose job is to overreact to stuff for the entertainment value of overreacting, the Rush Limbaughs, the New York Post.....I mean, if you're not pissing off the New York Post like I did, then you're not doing your job."

Though Earle's latest recording, Washington Square Serenade, doesn't have a song like "John Walker's Blues" on it, the album is no less stirring. His "City of Immigrants" was written to remind TV pundits who rail against immigration that this country was founded by and continues to prosper because of immigrants. And, "Oxycontin Blues," which is probably the most rootsy cut on this album, is about the widespread addiction of this painkiller in the South where it's known as Hillbilly Heroin.

"Before everybody learned the word from Rush Limbaugh, it was in the news," Earle said. "I lived in Tennessee for 32 years. It was in the news in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. People were crushing it up and either eating it or injecting it or snorting it, and they would die. Tennessee is one of the most landlocked states in the United States; it borders seven other states. It has just never had a particularly dependable supply of class A narcotics. It's always been that way. They've always been expensive and hard to get them in there....Dilaudid was the drug of choice when I was using. Nowadays, it's OxyContin."

Earle is currently touring with his wife, Alison Moorer, (Mrs. Earle number seven, by the way).

He will bring a bus load of instruments: a bouzouki, a mandolin, harmonica, tamboura, harmonium, several guitars including a resonator guitar and a 12 string, and his trusty banjo, a copy of an old White Lady open backed model made by Bart Rider made it. "I only know how to play the kind of banjo that scares sheep. It's a very, very primitive instrument in my hands," Earle said. All of these instruments were used on Washington Square Serenade.


His shows will also feature a club DJ, which you would never expect from an organic roots performer like Earle. However, he does have a very good reason for bringing this guy along. "The way we arrived at this record was over beats," Earle explained. "I recorded loops for the most part and played most of the instruments myself. Much of that I could have done solo, and that would have been fine. But for 'Satellite Radio' and 'Way Down in the Hall,' I just couldn't figure out how I was going to do them live. Then, John King, who produced the record and was also a DJ, suggested that I get a DJ. As it turned out my monitor engineer was a club DJ, and we started experimenting with it, and it works. You just have to see it."

Earle sees another album in the near future, as well as a lot more acting. "I'm doing a film in the fall," he said. "And I'll probably be acting more because I'm starting to get asked to.  I like doing it, and the insurance is better."

But he keeps songwriting ever most in his creative repertoire. "Still, my day job is making records and writing songs.  But all the other stuff, I bring back to my home-base craft.  I found that it makes it better."

Steve Earle grabs life and wrings as much meaning—and stories - out of it as he can, giving this Renaissance rebel a deep understanding of the human heart and human hunger. Catch Earle live in his new tour or savor his latest album Washington Square Serenade.