One basic but incomplete answer is that Taj Weekes is a dreadlocked Rastafarian musician, bred in the Caribbean but shaped by intercontinental life experience. A more significant answer would be that he is a creative, poetic singer-songwriter who fronts a dynamic reggae band named Adowa. And thereâs an additional, highly significant answer, just as true as the first two. Taj is an unwavering, energetic humanitarian whose dedication extends beyond his song lyrics into his social activism, an activism that has culminated in his official role with the United Nations as âUNICEF Champion for Childrenâ and his childrenâs charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO).
WHAT DOES TAJ WEEKES HAVE THAT MAKES HIM SPECIAL?
Aside from brains, a heart, and a great smile, he has four acclaimed albums of musically adventurous reggae. A fifth, âLove Herb and Reggae,â is arriving in 2015, to be supported by a year-long tour. Taj is remarkable too in that, although a formidable idealist, he nonetheless maintains an unblinking and sophisticated view of the world. This balance between seeing what is and seeking what should be clearly powers his social activism. It also imbues his songs with a pragmatic, non-judgmental optimism that is not merely unusual in reggae, but almost unique. So what makes Taj Weekes special can be summarized in three words: MUSICIAN. POET. HUMANITARIAN. What makes him astonishing is the easy and unforced harmony among all these facets of his existence.
Taj Weekes Band
Adowa is a disciplined team of talented musicians from differing cultures and with broad musical influences that backs Taj Weekes live and on recordings. The name salutes the battle of Adowa in 1896, which ensured sovereignty for Ethiopia and proved crucial in the advancement of African independence and pride. Adowaâs specific line-up alternates from time to time, but at a typical gig you might see a bassist from Dominica steeped in soca, a classically trained keyboardist with roots in Barbados, a Jamaican reggae stalwart on drums, a Trinidadian guitarist, and backup singers from yet another island. Whatâs consistent is that the eclectic styles and tastes of its members ensure a freshness and inventiveness to Adowaâs arrangements. The faces may change, but the excellent musicianship, and the vibe, remain.
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers with Special Guests Ezra John and Working Breed
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers will make a sprightly young groove doctor out of anyone. With spectacular energy pulsating from every member of the band, the Rainbow Seekers could illuminate the very chambers of Heaven. Lead singer Joe Hertler splashes through lyrical puddles of golden rain, leaving his audience wearing flowery crowns and bubbling smiles. A ride on the Rainbow will take you across the mountains of Motown, through the fjords of folk, over the archipelagos of Americana, and-at last-into a funky firth, where only the fiercest of friendships can be found.
The Rainbow Seekers began their quest beneath the fingertips of songwriter Joe Hertler. Bassist and producer Kevin Pritchard, recently thawed from an extremely rare prehistoric groove glacier, discovered the forlorn Hertler in a twinkling, mysteriously fortuitous place called The Quilted Attic. Alongside legendary glacier-hunter Rick Hale-who would later spend decades forging a drum set from pure, white-hot, ancient stardust to mark the occasion-Pritchard changed the world: He wrangled Hertler into musical collaboration. And the lonely little songsmith, it turned out, was not quite as alone as he seemed: With him came the irresistibly sexy blues guitar prodigy who is now known to the world as Ryan Hoger.
The core of the Rainbow was thereby established, and it didnât take long for the Rainbow Seekers to continue their expansion. Multi-instrumentalist and notable auxiliary percussion maestro Micah Bracken journeyed from the bowels of Atlantis when he heard tell of the Rainbow, and the earth trembled as saxophonist and all-around bad ass Aaron Stinson descended from Olympus on a golden rainbow of his own. Then came Stinson's little-known winged companion from the Far East, the debonair violist Joshua Barber Holcomb-When he saw the pure, unadulterated joy the Rainbow Seekers sprinkled on every crowd they happened upon, he had no choice but to join them on their quest.
As you'll know if you've seen the band, seeking the proverbial Rainbow is all about the live performance. "The live show is the purpose of the band. This is why we make music. Playing music is a symbiotic process, and without a crowd it is just a bunch of guys jamming," says Hertler. "We believe that performance is not a High Art operation, and that you should do anything you can to ensure that the crowd is having a good time. From piÃ±atas to confetti, to fog, to flowers, to drum solos, to strobe lights, to Thor, to sword battles-literally anything goes."
If you're still reading this, at least one thing is true: The Rainbow Seekers have been waiting for you. If you'll only let them, they will shake the dust from your wildest expectations. They will roar into your life with rapturous frequencies, exuberant tone, and a joyfulness of purpose that has truly become a rare sight on stage. Join them in their celebration, and they will take you on a never-ending journey to a place you'll never be able to describe in words.
Morbid Angel with Special Guests Suffocation, Revocation, Withered
Steve and Trey: "We are excited to get back out on tour with longtime friends and death metal brothers SUFFOCATION as main support. We have also added the technical thrash metalers REVOCATION and newcomers THE WITHERED to what will promise to be a great night. The tour will also mark the unveiling of the new lineup of MORBID ANGEL featuring Scott Fuller (Annihilated, Errorgeist), on drums, and Dan Vadim Von ( guitarist / frontman of the American death metal band VadimVon) on second guitar." Trey and Steve are currently still in Mana's studios, continuing work with long time friend ERIK RUTAN on the new album which is planned for a 2017 release on UDR / JVC worldwide.
The Main Squeeze with Special Guest Shaq Nicholson
Ben "Smiley" Silverstein (keys), Maximillian Newman (guitar), Corey Frye (vocals), Rob Walker (bass), and Reuben Gringrich (drums)
The Main Squeeze, with deep musical roots sprouted in the Midwest, have scored their lives at each twist and curve. While starting out as a party band at Indiana University, their forthcoming April 28th release "Without a Sound" illustrates their increasing musical maturity and creativity inspired by their new home in Los Angeles.
If maturity comes with experience, "Without a Sound" reflects this. The Main Squeeze has spent several years building their foundation since being championed by producer Randy Jackson: they have played Red Rocks; shared the stage with The Roots, Aloe Blacc, Janes Addiction, Umphreyâs McGee, and Trombone Shorty; and performed at music festivals like Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, Summer Camp, and High Sierra.
The Main Squeeze is a blend of soul and hip-hop, funk with rock. They know their sound is "soulful, powerful, and unique" (Newman). Rolling Stone agrees in their recent critique of a live show: "Lead singer Corey Fryeâs powerfully soulful vocals forms the foundation of an energetic set."
These underpinnings are important yet The Main Squeezeâs true focus will always be to "strive to reach people" through their beat loving heart in their music. "We are devoted to making great music for people to get lost in and to feel real emotion and love, and also to dance and enjoy life. And it's only just the beginning" (Newman). Billboard believes they have touched on this goal: "Funk runs deep in their DNA. Dare you not to two-step."
The beats on "Without A Sound" are plentiful and it is balanced with emotion, a mix of vocals, and instrumentation of the band. Their vibe is simultaneously timeless and futuristic as they are inspired by the greats, yet have found a way to infuse their own genius into the mix.
The Main Squeeze appeals to your head, heart and body.
(Early Show) Adelaide In Autumn / The Wire Riots / All In Uniform
Easy Roscoe is in your face fun with the affection for replacing the dayâs worries with good vibes. Late in November of 2016 they headed into the studio to record a groovy little number, with an arrangement that has a little something for everyone. On the other end of those sessions came Empty Handed. A song that lures you in, pops you into the groove, and keeps you strapped in for the rest of the ride. Empty Handed follows up their EP, PiÃ±ata and LP, Keep the Dancin' Dancin' with a more honed and matured over all sound. From the beginning, in the depths of a dingy Nashville apartment complex to present day, the five piece continues to architect their brand of indie pop rock n roll with one goal, make you lose yourself.
The EP, PiÃ±ata, was a conduit to Easy Roscoeâs fun atmosphere and catchy story telling lyrics. Their affection for replacing the dayâs worries with good vibes shows up throughout the EP on songs like âGreen Leather Jacketâ and âRoll Baby Rollâ. âIf you canât bob your head to this, then you donât have a head.â This being the whimsical phrase uttered in the control room during the recording of PiÃ±ata and a motto that pretty much sums up this second record from Easy Roscoe.
Seemingly by fate, Easy Roscoe formed in a dingy, Nashville apartment complex by chance in 2014. Originally conceived as a singer and two guitar players, they played their good-vibes brand of rock around town acoustically. Gaining a bassist and drummer within their first six months, the band continued to trudge forward, playing as many shows as they could pack in. After a year or so, Easy Roscoe entered the studio to create their first record, Keep the Dancinâ Dancinâ (KDD). In January 2015, the light-hearted, summery, storytelling record was released and set out to spread its good vibes. The Deli Magazine said, âKeep the Dancin' Dancin' is a solid first effort that is going to get some heavy play as we inch towards summer.â and Capsule Reviews said, âThe songs all have that feel-good, infectious quality that can brighten up any day and get youâ¦well, you see the CD title!â
The single off KDD, Alright; Regina, received radio play from Lightning 100 and Radio Free Nashville, creating a launching pad that catapulted the band through the summer of 2015, landing them in No Country For New Nashvilleâs Local Harvest contest. Vying for a spot on the Sound Harvest Music Festival line up, Easy Roscoe won the contest thanks to their increasingly fun energetic show and performed at the Festival in October 2015. Rounding out the year was the conception of their next record, PiÃ±ata, where again, their good vibes and good times shine through in a matured, solaced sound, primed to hit the airwaves in June of 2016.
(Early Show) Walker and the Rebellion with Special Guest Lor
Walker and the Rebellion, an original three piece Americana roots rock band; is releasing their second album, "Present out of Balance". This is a raw, driving album representative of their live performances. Foot stomping "Big Coal River", 5/4 time signatures, stand up and yell "Get out of my Way", the band has unearthed something more primitive from americana. Feet on the ground hands in the dirt rock n' roll!
Wake Up On Fire! Presents THE ROOF with special guests
"Emotions and Math" is not simply the name of Margaret Glaspy's new debut album. That expression drills right to the heart of the New York singer-songwriter's proper introduction, a mission statement both artistic and personal.
On its surface, the title track talks about being a touring musician and figuring out how to see your partner, looking at the calendar and calculating how you're going to spend time together. But "Emotions and Math," which ATO Records will release on June 17, also sums up an epiphany she had while making the record.
"In a lot of ways, it's kind of how I operate," says Glaspy. "I've always considered myself a free spirit, someone who goes with the flow, but actually I'm not exactly like that. This record really taught me that I'm super analytical and process-driven. I think they really do go together, emotions and math. Nobody is just one thing."
As introductions go, these 12 songs waste no time in cutting close to the bone. This is a young artist with something to say, one who has found her voice, as both singer and songwriter, after years venturing down a crooked path.
After cutting her teeth in New York and Boston, where she was a touring musician and played in other people's bands, "Emotions and Math" signals an assured new direction for Glaspy.
Glaspy, who's 27 and grew up in Red Bluff, California, self-produced the album, which frames her revealing ruminations in shards of jagged guitar rock. Building on its early buzz - Rolling Stone hailed first single "You and I" for its "hot barbs of electric guitar," and BrooklynVegan declared it a "stomping rocker with a DGAF attitude" - Glaspy prepares for a big year in 2016.
She's a fierce believer in the power of specifics to tell universal truths, to capture emotions we've all felt but don't necessarily hear reflected in pop music. Some truths are uglier than others, but Glaspy never backs down.
Take "You and I," which opens with a sentiment so gripping that Glaspy initially worried it would send the wrong message. "Tonight I'm too turned on to talk about us/ And tomorrow I'll be too turned off/ And won't give a fuck/ About you and I," she sings with a punk sneer that turns up often throughout her debut.
"A lot of the songs are so specific but also feel like they apply to so much of my life," says Glaspy. "I realize more and more on a daily basis that if you're given a microphone to share what you have to say, then I hope to God that I don't encourage some fantasy of what we're supposed to be or how we should live our lives."
Glaspy would rather tell you the truth of the matter. On "Memory Street," she envisions her past as a small town dotted with old relationships and memories both fond and painful: "Why remember all the times I took forever to forget?" She salutes her self-reliance on "Somebody to Anybody," reminding both the listener and herself that, "I don't want to be somebody to anybody// No, I'm good at no one."
The album also showcases Glaspy's finely tuned ear for production. Throughout "Emotions and Math," she keeps the recordings clean and urgent, without an ounce of fat on them. She had plenty of practice; having recorded demos of the album twice at home before eventually ironing out the wrinkles at Sear Sound studios in New York. Glaspy auditioned her players and kept the sessions brisk and loose, running through songs a few times with musicians still reading the charts she had written out. "Everyone was on their toes, waiting for the right moment," she says.
That freewheeling vibe ended up imbuing the songs with the same brittle energy and warm intimacy Glaspy brings to her live performances. In a bit of comic relief, "You Don't Want Me" is a duet with herself, an imagined conversation between an insecure woman and a man who has to reassure her. "You don't want me," Glaspy sings dismissively, countered by her own voice, slightly distorted and pitched lower: "I do/ You are on my mind/ Every night of the week/ Stop being so nave," Glaspy sings.
Told from the perspective of a parent to a child, "Parental Guidance" plumbs the fragile psyche of adolescents. "I think a lot of times kids are pigeonholed as being kids, but at the same time it's the most important years of their lives," Glaspy says. "Our view of ourselves is so paramount, and when it gets messed with at a young age, it's lethal."
The closing "Black Is Blue" is a poetic ode to accepting a reality you never knew. The least autobiographical song on the record, it's the story of a couple who were in love, had a kid, and then broke up. "But from far away, Black Is Blue' is about things you thought were one way but aren't really like that at all," Glaspy says.
"It's taken a minute," she admits, "but I'm so glad that I waited to record my debut. I went through so many different phases before I got to where I am now. It feels like it took 26 years to make this album."
Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels are familiar with the traditions of folk music and how a string band is supposed to sound. In fact, they've been drawing on those steadfast traditions for more than a decade. Yet their name also evokes a sense of forward motion, which is clearly reflected in their latest album, Wild As We Came Here.
"I think we've always been able to write new songs with different landscapes. However it was really enjoyable for us, creatively and artistically, to depart from the straight-up acoustic sound that we've been known for," says Trent Wagler, who plays guitar and banjo in the band and writes most of the material. "I'm excited to see what happens. There are fans out there who are ready for this and who have been waiting for us to do this."
While on tour supporting Josh Ritter, the band forged a friendship with Sam Kassirer, who plays keyboards for Ritter on tour and has produced a number of his albums. While The Steel Wheels had been considering other producers and maybe recording in Nashville, they chose to follow their instincts all the way to rural Maine, where Kassirer owns a recording studio inside a renovated farmhouse from the 18th century. All four band members - Wagler, Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Brian Dickel (upright bass), and Jay Lapp (mandolin) - hunkered down for a week and a half to create Wild As We Came Here.
"It's a gorgeous set-up," Wagler says. "I didn't grow up in a big city and I never made a record in a big city. It's much more my style, and our style as a band, to completely hole up - probably more than we ever have - for 10 full days in Maine. I left the house for a couple of bike rides but I never went to a restaurant or a store the whole time I was there. We ate on site, we slept on site, and we recorded. It was a very immersive experience, top to bottom."
Afternoon hikes amid the fall foliage helped them clear their heads, ensuring that everyone could stay focused on the task at hand - which in retrospect was quite daunting. The Steel Wheels had about 40 original songs stowed away before the sessions. Only two or three had ever been played live and the band had not arranged any of them.
"One of my favorite parts of the process was taking the first couple of days to rehearse and arrange the songs all in one room, with Sam offering his insights," Brubaker says. "We had enough time to really build the songs from the ground up, examining each one to see what elements would best highlight the mood we were trying to capture."
Wild As We Came Here is a significant leap for the band, which started its journey in 2004. Wagler, Dickel, and Brubaker studied at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, about an hour from Charlottesville. (All four members of the band grew up in Mennonite families.) Wagler and Dickel were in a punk/alternative band until acoustic music lured them in.
Wagler soon started crafting songs and learned flat-picking. Dickel took classes on building guitars. They briefly played as a duo before Brubaker joined on fiddle. Lapp eventually came on board after getting to know the band from the local folk circuit. In 2010, following a variety of EPs and LPs, the ensemble officially branded itself as The Steel Wheels, a tip of the hat to steam-powered trains, industrial progress, and the buggies of their Mennonite lineage.
Lapp says, "We found we really enjoyed singing and playing music together and it happened so naturally. To make it even better, everyone listens very well to what the other is playing, making it a total group experience. I've never worked with such a collected and well-spoken group of men, and it makes the experience of touring and performing a pure joy."
Then as now, The Steel Wheels' style weaves through Americana and bluegrass music, folk and old-time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. By incorporating percussion and keyboards into the sessions for the first time, Wild As We Came Here adds new textures to their catalog, as themes of discovery and perseverance run throughout the collection.
The album begins with "To the Wild," which explores the fascinating and unusual relationship that modern society has with the great outdoors, from exploitation to preservation. Wagler wrote the title track after reading a news story about a desperate man who starts bidding at a land auction - even though he had no way of paying for it - in order to prevent oil and gas companies from destroying the natural beauty of the area.
Meanwhile, the idea behind "Broken Mandolin" was inspired by a few lines from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See, which takes place during World War II. Wagler describes "Take Me to the Ending" as essentially a bluegrass apocalypse - "like a sense of coming out from the bunker and there are still a few people playing fiddle tunes."
Of course, exquisite harmonies remain a strength of the band, shining through on "Sing Me Like a Folk Song." By making a social statement in uncertain times, listeners will want to lend their voices too. More than a decade into The Steel Wheels' career, the simple act of singing together - something that carries them back to their Mennonite heritage - is still incredibly special. The stunning closing track, "Till No One Is Free," provides an elegant ending to the band's most satisfying album yet.
"It was my favorite studio experience from start to finish, by far, of any project we've ever done," Dickel says. "A super-relaxed and experimental vibe coupled with some genre-stretching sounds really did it for me. I think we pushed ourselves much further than previous albums and I think we will push our fans a little too. Both of those are exciting to me."
Blossoms are - Tom Ogden, Charlie Salt, Josh Dewhurst, Joe Donovan and Myles Kellock - a five-piece
band from Stockport. Their eponymous debut album spent two weeks at No.1 in the UK when it was
released in August - the first time a debut album has spent more than one week at No.1 from launch
since 2014. The record, now available in a deluxe format with ten extra tracks, has amassed sales of
almost 100 000 copies.
In testament to the huge success in 2016, Blossoms have been nominated for both 'Best Breakthrough
Act' at the BRIT Awards and 'Best New Act' at the VO5 NME Awards this year. The band will also be
embarking on the 'NME Awards Tour' in March 2017 following sold out tours last September, October
and December. Blossoms will then head to North America for a tour this April as well as appearances at
this year's Coachella Festival in California, Firefly in Delaware and Governor's Ball in New York City.
The band recently announced their biggest headline show to date at Manchester's Castlefield Bowl on
July 8th and will be joined by very special guests The Coral.
"This year's biggest guitar-pop shooting starsâ¦looking like snake-hipped garage rockers from the wrong
side of Scarysex Centralâ¦ Blossoms leap from their chart-bound Trojan horse as modernist rock heroes"
When it became clear that glam folk act He's My Brother She's My Sister was heading towards a hiatus,Â band members Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown decided to go off and find their own beat. What they learned from their previous outfit was that even folk fans want to find music that makes them move. That's the dictum that's guided the duo into the creation of KOLARS.Â As KOLARS, the pair create a kinetic brand of disco-inspired rockabilly they loving dub glam-a-billy. Kolar provides the soaring, fuzzyÂ guitars while Brown pounds and literally stomps the percussionÂ - she actually stands andÂ tap-dances on a bass drum. Far from a gimmicky trick, the clacking feet addÂ familiar moments one might expect fromÂ a hi-hat or the clapping of hands. Even without Brown's unique method of performing, the band's sound remainsÂ uniquely driving.Â Take their latest single "One More Thrill". Crafted like a grooving '70s country song carved out of the gleaming vibrations of modern rock, the track pulsates right into your chest. It takes your heart by the hand and leads you to the dance floor, daring you to not feel motivated to dance, shimmy, just escape the mundane.Â "'One More Thrill' is about someone who wants to break free from the monotony in their life to pursue their dreams," the band tellsÂ Consequence of Sound. "The video uses imagery and creatures to symbolize that struggle and the excitement of taking that chance."
Chillent Album Release Party with Special Guests Manic Soul
Formed as a weekly jam session in the winter of 2015, CHILLENT has quickly established a growing fanbase in their hometown of Pittsburgh, PA that includes lovers of funk, jazz, blues, and world music.
Offering up a hot plate of original compositions, spicy jazz & blues covers, and funky interpretations of Jewish favorites, CHILLENT's unique sound has been described by fans as "klezmer Phish," and "Maceo Parker at a bar mitzvah."
Artist's they've performed with include: Flux Capacitor, G-nome Project, The Clock Reads, Brian Fitzy, Lazer Lloyd, Eig8th Day, Rogers Park, and Simply Tzfat.
Wilco with Special Guest Kacy & Clayton - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
Hip-Hop artist L.O.S is currently shaking up the lyrical scene with his clever wordplay, explosive sound, and charismatic style. It doesnât take much to tell that L.O.S is sticking to his east coast roots and bearing hip-hop on his back. His aim at every moment is to fuse the gap between musicality and lyrical wordplay. With an unstoppable desire to carve a niche for himself within the hip hop community, L.O.S has journeyed across the country as guest performer for acts such as Cassidy, Fabulous, Maino, Jadakiss and more as part of the accomplished rap duo Folkland. Now heâs back focusing on a solo effort with the release of his new single "Phresh Li".
(Late Show) Funkle Aaron Project with Special Guest Anja Wade
At the start the duo collaboration born from the depths of Pittsburgh open stages, developed a hunger for bigger performances. Following a brief winter break the drum-guitar duo enlisted musicians to collaborate larger themed performances.
The first show featured a two drum set plus percussion, bass, saxophone, guitar lineup. Followed by the band's second show, Funkle Aaron Project presents Bob Marley Night! The reggae music is a large part of the groove and rhythmn, rearranging new standards in the reggae format.
Future Bob Marley Nights will now be monthly.
Currently Funkle Aaron is in the process of recording the first album for the group, collaborating with all original material, and musicians in Pittsburgh, PA.