Bluesfest 2015 – Nothing But The Euphoric Funk

Five festival days of performances by 89 international and Australian acts at Byron Bay Bluesfest ended for me with three hours at the main stage frontline having what felt like the most euphoric live music experience of my lifetime.

I was, of course, in the company of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

With the greatest of respect to all other performing artists and the Funk Disclaimer below, everything that came before Parliament Funkadelic at Bluesfest 2015 mattered little to me after the P Funk family arrived on stage – and by the end of their gloriously epic set, even less.

Bluesfest Before The Funk

Up until that spiritual Parliament Funkadelic experience, my Bluesfest time had been challenging.

Lenny Kravitz had cancelled and there weren’t many programmed acts left for my own personal musical tastes – and, so many of the 2015 artists were Bluesfest frequent flyers. An unfounded festival greeting by a police sniffer dog didn’t help. Nor did ugly behaviours I saw by some of my fellow festival-goers. Then there was that disappointing Bluesfester who found my camera with its images and sounds so precious to me, and decided not to return it. And amongst all of that I just wasn’t as successful as others in not letting the rain and its resulting inches-deep, stinky mud slush get me down.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Beyond the negative…moving on to accentuate the pre Parliament Funkadelic positive :) …Bluesfest 2015 had some acts that motivated me back through its gates to experience the goodness of their shows.

Jurassic Five and the awesomely-funky sounds of hip hop created by DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark alongside four stellar emcees (Chali 2na + Akil + Marc 7 + Zaakir aka Soup) who might “sound like one” in unison but individually have their own unique melody and tone which makes your body move in delightfully different ways.

Jurassic 5 live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Gary Clark Jr – an absolute monster on guitar whose sounds reminded me of how good the blues can be and how important it is to the past, present and future of music of so many kinds.

Gary Clark Jr. live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Fly My Pretties – a talented collective of independent artists coming together again in the live arena to represent the distinctive sounds of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Fly My Pretties live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Jimmy Cliff with his astounding level of positive energy and delightful showmanship so many Bluesfests later – and his super-tight Jamaican band.

Jimmy Cliff live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires – akin to a placid James Brown bringing the sounds of funk and soul to the stage.

Charles Bradley live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue who bought his feel-good mix of jazz, funk & hip hop from the lands of New Orleans to get down to in Byron Bay, yet again.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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You can check out Trombone Shorty’s take on funk with this here sample track from his album Say That To Say This….

Trombone Shorty - Say That To Say This album cover

Say That To Say This (2013)

‘Get The Picture’ – Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

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Paolo Nutini…whose musical style may not be up my personal alley of taste, but who impressed me nonetheless with his engaging live performance.

Paolo Nutini live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Rodrigo y Gabriela and the way just two people and the stunning sounds of their guitars can so easily fill the space of an entire main festival stage.

Rodrigo y Gabriela live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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No doubt the 100,000+ folks who passed through Bluesfest gates over its five days with leanings towards different musical flavours to me, had lots more of their own experiences of musical goodness.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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All my Bluesfest 2015 experiences both good and challenging, washed away in euphoria within minutes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic arriving on stage to close the festival’s main stage. Some might say that’s a travesty to Bluesfest and its artists to say so, but I do so through the eyes and ears of a long-time devoted Funkateer.

Funk Disclaimer

Funk music has brought me more listening and dancing joy during my lifetime than any other musical style in history. That’s a pretty profound contribution to have made to my wellbeing – one which I am eternally grateful for.

George Clinton and the many incredible musicians, vocalists and visionaries who have flown on the Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk mothership throughout its many different historical incarnations have been at the front, centre and side of funk music since the 60’s.

They’ve constantly reinvented themselves and their music to keep it alive in a changing world, musical landscape and life circumstances. George Clinton tells it that all along the way, people in the music industry have repeatedly screwed he and other artists out of royalties and tried to squeeze them down or out.

So to witness and hear George Clinton (at almost 75 years old) on stage in 2015 alongside other P-Funk legends  – still keepin’ the funk alive and fresh – and performing it so energetically and brilliantly for three epic hours, was a super special, blessed thing.

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Amongst those old-school P-Funkers by his side were Robert PNut Johnson (in the P-Funk family since 1976), Michael Clip Payne (since 1977), DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight, Steve Boyd and Lige Curry (since 1978) plus Bennie CowanGreg Thomas and Ricky Rouse (since “a very long time” ago).

P Nut Johnson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Robert P-Nut Johnson

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Michael Clip Payne (r)

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight

Steve Boyd- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Steve Boyd

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Lige Curry (r)

Bennie Cowan- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Bennie Cowan

 

 

Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Greg Thomas

Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Made Me Do It

The priceless value of George Clinton & co.’s music in my life and to the world of music generally, was more than enough inspiration to make me do things I’ve never done before to take full advantage of the Parliament Funkadelic blessing before me at Bluesfest.

The first was lining up for a George Clinton signing before the show – not to get his name on anything – but simply for the chance to thank him for the profound musical gifts he’s given.

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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The next out-of-character mission was maneuvering my way to the Parliament Funkadelic frontline (in dangerous sound-quality territory) long before their set so I could witness the brilliant chops of each and every one of those artists up close.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Ricky Rouse and Blackbyrd McKnight

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Bluesfest During The Funk

It was there on the Mojo stage frontline at 8.30 pm that all the funk stars aligned and I found myself directly in front of the mothership collective, surrounded by a posse of multi-generational, devoted Funkateer strangers-became-funk-bonded-friends. For the next 3 euphoric hours we watched and listened in awe, danced, and screamed in appreciation whenever asked, for the super-tight live funk delivered by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

On a different day or place I know that live P-Funk explosion could have been even bigger than it was at Bluesfest.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Long-time musical heroes were joined on stage by a new generation of P-Funk stars who have their own independent music projects going on: Danny Bedrosian – Thurteen – (Garry Starchild Shider’s son) Garrett Shider and George Clinton’s grandkids Tracey “Tra’zae” Lewis-Clinton, Patavian Lewis and Tonysha Nelson

Their presence gives me hope that the funk really can survive long into the future “like it always has” – thanks muchly to George Clinton and so many other artists in the P-Funk family passed and living.

Tra' Zae - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tra’zae Clinton

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson (c) + Danny Bedrosian + Garrett Shider

 

 

 

 

 

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Thurteen (l)

Kandy Apple Redd - George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson + Patavian Lewis

Garrett Shider- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Garrett Shider

Those on stage with George Clinton took their turns to shine – so often at the behest or encouragement of Dr Funkenstein - and unfailingly with his support and appreciation.

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Most P-Funk stars were on stage shining consistently for the whole epic set – including the superb drumming delivered by human funk machine Benzel Baltimore Cowan.

Benzel Baltimore - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Benzel Baltimore Cowan

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We got tasty funkin’ jams and solos, beloved songs of all ages from the vast Parliament/Funkadelic/P Funk discography. as well as new ones showcasing music of the younger P-Funk members like female duo Kandy Apple Redd.

Patavian Lewis - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Patavian Lewis

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson

Carlos McMurray was amongst those youngsters on board the mothership, bringing to life the irreverent but beloved P-Funk character Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.

Carlos McMurray- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At the end of those three euphoric hours, the final uncharacteristic thing George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic made me do when I realised the experience was really, truly over and the mothership crew had flown away (maybe never to return) – was to shed a tear.  Dramatic yes? But a true story of the profound goodness of funk music in this life!

Then I moved on to simply be grateful for my music blessing, and relish in the buzz I felt in every cell of my body for as many days as it lasted.

For its shockingly-bad sound quality, I’m loathe to include this video footage from my guardian angel/bodyguard friend behind me at the show protecting my P-Funk dance space, but, dedicated Funkateers might find some goodness in the imagery at least…

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“The Mothership Will Fly Just Like It Always Does”

Thanks to the live experience of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Byron Bay Bluesfest, it was five days before I could bring myself to listen to any music at all – for fear it might taint that euphoric feeling I so desperately wanted to hold onto.

To try and comfort myself about the mothership’s departure  – and renew my hope that funk music truly will survive into the future, all I could finally turn to was this here George Clinton and The P Funk All Stars song from their seminal 1996 reunion album T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.  Its lyrics affirmed the survival of funk then and always, and funk do I hope that the words remain true into our musical future.

George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars - TAPOAFOM

T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (1996)

‘T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (Fly Away)’ – George Clinton & The P Funk All Stars – T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At Bluesfest I got to thanks George Clinton personally for the crazy-amazing music he’s gifted the world over five decades. I suppose a benefit of cyber-Beavering is that I can put out here the same deep-felt thanks and appreciation to every other Parliament Funkadelic member past and present – and hope that they or their family might receive those thanks.

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight (c)

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Finally in this long Beaver funk story, thanks has to go to Bluesfest for bringing George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (+88 other acts) back to perform on its stages in 2015.

Greg Thomas - Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Greg Thomas

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Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic devotees can get the low down on their recent Sydney show here and check in to Beaver’s Facebook page for lots more Bluesfest photos coming.

Better yet, funkateers in the U.K and U.S. between now and August can find their own euphoric P Funk experience at one of their Shake The Gate World Tour shows.

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Givin’ Up The Funk Live In Sydney

Any cats or kitties out there whippin or wailin and jumpin up and down tellin each other who the greatest contemporary funk cats in the world are can just zip it.

Those cats are George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic collective, of course.

I knew it a while back when the gift of the new Funkadelic album First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate came.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

If there was any doubt then (there wasn’t) I know it unequivocally now after having the unfunkinbelievably-crazy-amazing live P-Funk experience at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Wednesday night.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live at Enmore Theatre, Sydney 2015

Dr Funkenstein

At the helm of the Parliament Funkadelic mothership in 2015 remains Dr Funkenstein himself, George Clinton – a musical innovator and visionary who continues now in his 70’s like he always has, to put his paw prints into our present, past and future of music. On stage in the live arena George Clinton now like always, facilitates, directs, performs, sings and shakes his ass with that innately-oozing musical and manly style, panache and cool he is loved and respected for by millions of people around the world.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

P Funk in 2015

Alongside George Clinton on Australian stages, keepin’ the funk, glorious funk alive and well as promised is a fresh, multi-generational collective of 14+ super-talented cats from P Funk days of old and new. I’m gonna name the artists I can and apologise to any I miss crediting for their awe-inspiring chops that put a smile on everyone’s faces during the entire Sydney show and long thereafter.

Ricky Rouse playing his guitar every which way; Lige Curry on bass; Benzel Baltimore on drums; Bennie Cowan on trumpet; Robert “P-Nut” Johnson and Michael “Clip” Payne on vocals; Gregory Thomas on saxophone; Danny Bedrosian on keys/synths; Garrett Shider (son of the dearly-departed P Funk guitarist/musical director from early Parliament Funkadelic days Garry Shider) on guitar; Thurteen Thurteen who sung his vocals from both on stage and amongst the crowd; and George Clinton’s grand kiddies Tonysha Nelson, Patavian Lewis and Tracey “Tra’Zae” Lewis-Clinton on vocals. Melbourne funkateers at Friday’s Parliament-Funkadelic show also got another one of the P Funk guitar legends on stage – Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight.

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The spaceship might not make an appearance on stages these days but a Parliament Funkadelic show would not be that, without the appearance of one or more of its beloved characters. This time George Clinton brought along Starchild’s nemesis from days of old – the vain, “too-cool-for-everything-real” pimpster Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk (in 2015, aka Carlos McMurray). Before the night was done there was nothing for Sir Nose to do of course but succumb to the funk and get down and dirty with the best of them.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Check out this video from the Sydney show featuring Sir Nose.

George Clinton maintains Parliament Funkadelic has kept its musical currency throughout its long history by keeping a focus on the younger generation of artists who’ve formed part of the ever-changing collective at different times. True to that belief the Sydney set was opened with a medley of First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate tracks collaboratively performed by George Clinton and his younger P Funk counterparts. Check out a video here of the ‘Pole Power‘/‘Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up’/ ‘Get Low’ medley plus a [dirty mp3] sample of the album version of ‘Pole Power’ below.

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‘Pole Power’ – Parliament Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

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After a short taste of new Parliament Funkadelic music, the rest of the Sydney set was made up of the most well-known and popular songs of old like ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Give Up The Funk’. There was just so much incredible musical shit constantly happening all over the stage during the entire set that (impossibly) I wanted to hear, see and to dance with eyes closed to every single sound played.

I once read a review of a Parliament Funkadelic concert where the writer said their 90-minute set made the gig too long. Surely no true funkateer would think, feel or say that?  George Clinton & Paliament Funkadelic played brilliantly for two blissful hours in Sydney and it was but a minuscule of the vast, beloved Parliament Funkadelic catalogue. I could have funked out with them all night long and then some.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Many thousands of funkateers will be blessed tomorrow to get their own glorious dose of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic playing live at Byron Bay Bluesfest.

For those who won’t, the consolation prize is this here final video from Parliament Funkadelic’s Sydney show.

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Trinity Roots: Citizen Tour Australia 2015

Direct from playing in their homeland of Aotearoa to a crowd of many thousands of loyal fans at WOMAD New Zealand, Trinity Roots have finally blessed Australia with their first-ever Australian tour.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Miami Marketta, Australia 2015

The very special bonus prize for people at all those shows was the chance to hear live and take home the long-awaited, fresh-off-the-press new album Citizen: the first studio album released by Trinity Roots in over a decade.

Trinity Roots - new album Citizen - 2015

Citizen (2015)

Beloved

For people in Australia in the musical know, both the Trinity Roots tour and the arrival of new Trinity Roots music was a big deal.  They count this group of artists amongst la creme de la creme of contemporary worldwide music-makers of recent history. Most Australian fans never had the opportunity to hear Trinity Roots play their beloved music live before the group disbanded and went their separate musical ways in 2005.

Since the welcome news of a Trinity Roots reunion a few years back and the making of a new album, folks in Australia (and elsewhere) had been waiting patiently with anticipation and excitement for the release of Citizen and the live tour that would follow.

It’s not surprising then that the excitement in Australian venues before Trinity Roots started playing was palpable. So too was the joyful satisfaction of the crowd during their set and long after it finished.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Brunswick Hotel, Australia 2015

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Trinity Roots + 1 Live

Trinity Roots in 2015 are original members Warren Maxwell (guitar/lead vocals) and Rio Hunuki-Hemopo (bass/vocals) plus new drummer/vocalist Ben Wood.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Warren Maxwell

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Rio Hunuki-Hemopo

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Ben Wood

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Joining the trio on their Citizen tour was the talented Ed Zuccollo on keys and synth – also the maker of mini-moog sounds on some of the studio album tracks.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Miami Marketta 2015

Trinity Roots’ live performances went above and beyond the crowd’s high expectations. Set lists were a balanced mix of long-beloved songs from past releases (‘Sense And Cents’‘Little Things’ – ‘Egos’‘Two by Two’‘Home, Land & Sea’‘Just Like You’…) and newly-beloved ones from Citizen (‘Bully’‘Haiku’ - ‘El Kaptain’…).

Pick your musical flavours: blues – soul – punk – rock – jazz – reggae or dub. You’ll find all of them throughout Trinity Roots songs of old and especially the new – blended together seamlessly into a distinctive Trinity Roots sound that is perfectly reflective of the beautiful culture and natural environment of Aotearoa –  and is totally unique in this huge, wide world of music.

Those songs are played and sung with exceptional skill and musicality and an honest, passionate outpouring of heart and soul. The angelic voice and one-of-a-kind vocal tone of lead singer Warren Maxwell and the three-part harmonies of he, Rio Hunuki-Hemopo and Ben Wood are nothing but a delight to hear live.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015What else is there to say? All in all and simply put, the live Trinity Roots experience is absolutely sublime.

Check out video footage here from the shows in Brisbane and Miami – and try to imagine how much better it sounded live and direct in person (and in different venues with varying sound quality).  The first one ‘Haiku’, with its unusual time signature, is a new one from Citizen – with ‘Sense And Cents’‘Little Things’ and ‘Egos’ from earlier Trinity Roots releases.


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Karl S. Williams

Another bonus of catching an Australian Trinity Roots show was discovering the songs and vocals of Gold Coast-based support artist Karl S. Williams. Apparently (says my friend who insisted we get to the gig on time to catch his set) “deservedly, he’s going to be huge”. If you didn’t get there early enough to hear Karl S. Williams play you have another chance next week at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Karl S. Williams live at The Zoo, Brisbane 2015

Karl S. Williams live at The Zoo, Brisbane 2015

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Citizen

All of the above comments and praise about the live Trinity Roots experience apply to the new album Citizen.

Those live experiences are ones we had and loved – and hopefully will have again many more times. The studio version of Citizen is one we can have in all its beautiful musical subtleties and with its extra contributing musicians and vocalists from the lands of Aotearoa, over and over again forever hereafter – alongside previous and always-beloved releases Trinity Roots – True – Home, Land And Sea and Music Is Choice.

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Sample a couple of the more chilled-sounding tracks off Citizen below. Note like always – these are just compressed mp3 versions of the songs. You can buy the real-deal, hold-in-your-hand, hear-all-the-sounds-of-the-music album on cd now from any good independent music store or on-line - and hopefully on vinyl soonish.

new Trinity Roots album Citizen - 2015

Citizen (2015)

‘El Kaptain’ – Trinity Roots – Citizen (2015)

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‘This Road’ – Trinity Roots – Citizen (2015)

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I reckon people throughout the wide world beyond Aotearoa and Australia could find themselves a whole lot of goodness in getting to know the sounds of Trinity Roots. If you’re one of them you can check out samples of earlier Trinity Roots music here.

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WOMADelaide 2015: Nourishment Forever-After

Oh WOMADelaide, how I long to be back in your nourishing arms. You came again and gave the people four days and nights of awesomely-diverse arts, culture and music from around the world under sunshine and shady trees in Adelaide’s Botanic Park. You created the space for a vibrant community of friendly, conscious, arts-loving people of all ages to come together and relax; to connect in music, dance, theatre, conversation and food; to smile, be happy and to relish the blessing of being a part of that WOMADelaide 2015 community.

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At the start of the fourth and final festival day it seemed like I’d had a wonderfully-sufficient saturation of festival goodness. On Tuesday though, with the realisation that WOMADelaide was actually over for another year; with the return to “normal” life – those four long festival days and nights suddenly seemed all-too-short.

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“Life moves so fast – the festival will come again soon enough” I tell myself. I focus on the nourishment I feel from the experience of WOMADelaide 2015 and it’s many happiness-producing moments. I remember and feel better for the fact that those enriching experiences are part of my being forever hereafter. Then I go ahead and calculate the remaining days until WOMADelaide 2016! :)

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho at WOMADelaide 2015

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WOMADelaide 2015 Moments

I’m sure each festival-goer had their own special moments in different forms at different times throughout WOMADelaide.

Maybe yours was having a make-over by a Spanish stylist in the Osadia salon? Watching your favourite WOMADelaide artist cook up a delicious native dish in the Taste the World tent or hearing them ‘In Conversation’ at the Speakers Corner?

Osadia at WOMADelaide 2015

Osadia

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) presents Arctic Rhythms

 

 

 

 

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Dancing up a storm to the energetic ‘Bofenia Rock’ performance of Congo’s Jupiter & Okwess International?

Jupiter & Okwess International live at WOMADelaide 2015

Jupiter

Jupiter & Okwess International live at WOMADelaide 2015

Okwess International

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling under a tree with the sounds of live music being performed on a nearby festival stage? Climbing that tree for a view above the rest? Or when the music commanded you to get up on your feet and move?

WOMADelaide 2015

WOMADelaide 2015

Reliving the sounds of the 60’s and beyond with Native-American artist and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie? Enjoying C.W. Stoneking‘s unique contemporary take on the blues?

Buffy Sainte-Marie live at WOMADelaide 2015

Buffy Sainte-Marie

CW Stoneking live at WOMADelaide 2015

C.W. Stoneking

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the front of the crowd for the closest possible view of your most-beloved artist?

WOMADelaide 2015

WOMADelaide 2015

 

 

 

 

Hearing the Romanian brass-frenzy of Fanfare Ciocarlia?

Fanfare Ciocarlia live at WOMADelaide 2015

Fanfare Ciocarlia

Fanfare Ciocarlia live at WOMADelaide 2015

Fanfare Ciocarlia

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Colour of Time dance and theatre journey with ARTONIK through the festival site?

ARTONIK perform The Colour of Time at WOMADelaide 2015

ARTONIK – The Colour of Time

Going to church of the atypical kind by Sinead O’Connor? Or letting Rufus Wainwright‘s mellow tunes drift you into a feeling of sublime?

Sinead O'Connor live at WOMADelaide 2015

Sinead O’Connor

Rufus Wainwright live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rufus Wainwright

 

 

 

 

 

Browsing the colourful artisan markets or playing around them. Immersing yourself in light and colour inside the inflatable luminarium maze of EXXOPOLIS?

WOMADelaide 2015

Architects of Air - Exxopolis - WOMADelaide 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Being rallied into the party-vibes created by Israeli/New-York based group Balkan Beat Box?

Balkan Beat Box live at WOMADelaide 2015

Balkan Beat Box

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Balkan Beat Box

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling out for a Chai break or making new friends with like-minded festival-goers?

WOMADelaide 2015WOMADelaide 2015

Experiencing the visual and musical extravaganza of Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour and his band?

Youssou N'Dour concert at WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Youssou N’Dour

Youssou N'Dour concert at WOMADelaide 2015

Youssou N’Dour

Seeing mother and artist Neneh Cherry on stage again post-hiatus? Hearing her acknowledge International Women’s Day before performing ‘Woman’ with Rocketnumbernine?

Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rocketnumbernine

Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine live at WOMADelaide 2015

Neneh Cherry

Or maybe it was later that night when Neneh Cherry joined Youssou N’Dour on stage to sing ‘Seven Seconds’ together?

Excitedly browsing books, vinyl and cds in the Wo Shop to take home music from a newly-discovered festival artist?

Or did your final special musical moments come at the end of your WOMADelaide nights when the music mixed by DJs made you forget you were on your way home and kept you dancing until the night’s very last beat?

Check out a video snippet here of Theo Parrish’s superb set

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Maybe your happiest festival moments had the same musical sources as mine?

Abdullah Ibrahim Quartet (South Africa)

Hearing the stunning sounds of 80 years of life and music expressed on the piano through the [beautifully-freckled] hands of jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim.

Abdullah Ibrahim live at WOMADelaide 2015

Abdullah Ibrahim

DJ Spooky (USA)

Dancing for 2+ hours to DJ Spooky’s super-diverse set that took me through much of my life’s music collection from The Police to Nirvana to James Brown to Damian Marley to the best-of-the-best old school hip hop and reggae tracks.

DJ Spooky at WOMADelaide 2015

DJ Spooky

Flavia Coelho (Brazil)

Experiencing the super-infectious colours, smile and joyful exuberance of Brazil’s multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Flavia Coelho as she and her band of two performed a fantastic fusion of dub, reggae, ragga, bossa, afrobeat and cumbia.

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Flavia Coelho


 

 

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

Al

Al Chonville

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

Jambinai (South Korea)

That moment at the end of WOMADelaide 2015’s last live set when a member of Jambinai, folk/metal/electro innovators of incredible skill, told the mesmerised crowd “We just want to connect with you in this moment – in this place”. I like to believe everyone else there was thinking the same thing as me: “You have. And I feel incredible for it. Thank you”.

Mista Savona with Prince Alla & Randy Valentine (Australia+Jamaica+U.K)

Hearing the live sounds of reggae represented in genuine One-Love style by Melbourne-based musician and producer Jake Savona facilitating 2 festival performances by the Mista Savona band with old-school Jamaican roots reggae legend Prince Alla and contemporary Jamaican/U.K-based artist Randy Valentine.

Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Jake Savona

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla

 

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla w/ Mista Savona

Randy Valentine with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Randy Valentine

Check out sample Mista Savona and Prince Alla tracks from Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound (Various Artists) here plus videos below from their WOMADelaide shows…

Mista Savona - Soul To Sound by Various Artists (2010)

‘Captive Bird’ – Prince Alla – Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound

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‘Dub From the Hills’ – Mista Savona – Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound

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Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Moments of happiness were aplenty during both of Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic’s festival performances: from hearing the rich, soulful vocals of Aotearoan divas Rachel Fraser and Lisa Tomlins front-of-stage; to the drum-off between Myele Manzanza and father Sam Manzanza; and the solos of every talented Eclectic band member during the set as they played fluid and completely-fresh sounding versions of songs from Myele Manzanza’s debut solo album One along with new ones: all of them delightfully good. Adelaidean saxophonist Adam Page joining The Eclectic on stage was another.

Rachel Fraser with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rachel Fraser

Lisa Tomlins with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Lisa Tomlins

Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Myele Manzanza

Sam Manzanza with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Sam Manzanza

Adam Page with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Adam Page

Check out a recent interview with Myele Manzanza plus sample tracks from One here.

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba)

Cuban lands, people and music have a very dear place in my heart. Hearing the chops of Orquestra members young and old performing Cuban music classics live on stage for the very last time as part of their ‘Adios Tour’ truly was a blessed WOMADelaide moment.

Los Originales de Buena Vista Social Club…

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club live at WOMADelaide 2015

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club

Los Jóvenes de Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club….

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Paul D. Miller (USA)

The sound and visual journey taken in the Speaker’s Corner with multi-media artist Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) presenting Arctic Rhythms in which he traversed a huge scope of fascinating topics ranging from science, politics and climate change through to uncredited music artists of history, digital technologies, the hip hop flow and more – with all roads leading to his multi-disciplinary project work in the Arctic/Antarctic region. The Book of Ice is one part of that project – and the sounds of music are of course another.

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky)

At WOMADelaide those sounds were created by Paul Miller’s live sampling of Adelaidean musicians Emily Tulloch and Hilary Kleinig playing his Arctic/Antarctica compositions:

“acoustic portraits of ice” played by “ancient instruments vs an iPad”

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

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Soil & Pimp Sessions (Japan)

Last but not least was making my absolute-favourite musical discovery of WOMADelaide 2015 in the kooky, frenzied, often-grooving jazz sounds of Japan’s Soil & Pimp Sessions playing their only festival show.

Soil & Pimp Sessions live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Soil & Pimp Sessions

Some way into their set realising that apart from a few hip hop vocals on one song, ‘frontman’ Shacho wasn’t going to use the mic to showcase his spectacular vocal chops after the other band members had showcased their own respective ones; he’d actually been performing his role of “Agitator/Spirit” in entertaining style and glory all the way along (and thereafter).

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Shacho – Soil & Pimp Sessions

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

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 If you missed Soil & Pimp Sessions’ WOMADelaide show, get a glimpse here on video and hear sample tracks below from Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions…

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Soil & Pimp Sessions - Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions (2013)

‘Sahara’ – Soil & Pimp Sessions – Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions

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‘My Foolish Heart ~Crazy on Earth~’ – Soil & Pimp Sessions – Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions

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Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

Maybe your happiness-producing moments came from none of the above? From something else I missed completely amongst the many WOMADelaide happenings?

Your moments, mine, there was an abundance of them to be had. Whichever ones brought you the most bliss, all the WOMADelaide 2015 moments were good right? Nourishing for the mind, body, heart and soul, yes?

Music festivals are so, so, so good for us. WOMADelaide 2016 will be so, so, so good for us!

How many more days to go?

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla

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To relive or check out more of WOMADelaide 2015 in the meantime: watch Beaver’s FB page for more photos or click on the artist of your flavour to link to videos of their festival shows: Abdullah IbrahimBalkan Beat BoxFanfare CiocarliaFlavia Coelho – Neneh CherryOrquestra Buena Vista Social ClubPaul D. Miller - Prince Alla - Randy Valentine - Theo Parrish.

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Funkadelic: First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate

“I don’t do a whole lot of doin’ without the funk…I promise the funk, promise to keep this promise, you’ll keep the funk.”

That of course, is a Funkadelic mantra. The promise of funk is one that George Clinton has kept throughout all of Parliament-Funkadelic’s many incarnations in its long history. It’s also a promise he’s delivered on yet again with his recent gift of a new Funkadelic album First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate to the world’s body of music. Even though that body of music is vast, it rarely includes new additions of funk these days so to say that the release of a new Funkadelic album is a super-special gem is an understatement of great proportions.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

In true Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk style the 33 tracks on First ya Gotta Shake the Gate have been written and recorded by a collective of incredible artists of new and old, living and passed. They include legendary artists and kooky characters you know and love from Parliament/Funkadelic’s long history: Sly Stone, William “Bootsy” Collins, Fred Wesley, Bernie Worrell, Garry “Starchild” ShiderMaceo Parker and more – as well as a raft of new and contributing artists to discover, including some of George Clinton’s kids and grandkids.

This album has Funkadelic sounds for everyone’s tastes: from the beloved funk, jazz, soul and psychadelic rock fusion of old through to hip hop rhymes and beats of new – all of them of the wonderfully-kooky Funkadelic kind.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

Last but by no means least of course – keeping the funk by pulling all of those artists and sounds of old and new together to give the world this special musical gift is the funk master, facilitator, co-writer, co-performer and producer of First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate –  the one and the only George Clinton.

There really ain’t nothing more to say about First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate. Now is the time for any funkateers out there to reaffirm their promise to keep the funk – and to do a whole lot of doin’ with the funk, by following these 5 simple steps…

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 1

Get excited about First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate by sampling these (dirty) mp3 versions of some of its 33 tracks. The first one will put that important Funkadelic mantra into your head.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 1)
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‘Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 1)
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Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 2)
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‘Nuclear Dog Part II’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 2)
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Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘Zip It’ - Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 3)

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Keepin’ the Funk: Step 2

Get yourself to your local, independent record store and buy a hard-copy of First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate to have and behold this funk gem in your music collection forever thereafter.

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 3

Find the live Parliament-Funkadelic experience in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K or U.S.A between now and August so as not to miss what could possibly be your last opportunity to experience one of the greatest funk collectives of music history performing live.

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic: Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015George Clinton & Parliament-FunkadelicGeorge Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic: Australia Tour 2015

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 4

Until that live Funkadelic experience comes, get to your local bookshop and find a copy of George Clinton’s Memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? to better get to know the Parliament-Funkadelic history.

George Clinton Memoir: Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 5

Finally funkateers – keep on saying, thinking and living that Funkadelic mantra as you do whatever it is that you’re doin’…

“I don’t do a whole lot of doing without the funk. I promise the funk, promise to keep this promise, you’ll keep the funk.”

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic

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Reggae Still Got Soul With Etana

I Rise starts off gently with just keyboards and Etana’s super-soulful voice reverently singing the Rastafarian lyrics sung by Bob Marley with The Wailers on ‘Selassie Is The Chapel’.

Bring on track two of I Rise and Etana’s calm, emotive reverence shifts to emotional outcry about how very long the people’s suffering at the hands of their leaders goes on. Kick in drums, bass, guitar and horns and if you’re the kind of person who reggae music moves, then the sounds of those instruments will surely penetrate you to the core; make you feel and move inside and out; in that way that good reggae music does.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

Etana – I Rise (2014)

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‘How Long’ – Etana – I Rise

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On every I Rise track thereafter ‘How Long’, you’ve got yourself some consistently well played, light and steady, feel-right reggae with distinctively-Etana-styled splashes of soul, r&b and gospel. You have Etana’s flawless voice singing socially-conscious, positive lyrics themed around Jamaican female pride, unconditional love, friendship, heartbreak, inequality and injustice, spirituality, religious emancipation, liberation, courage, loyalty and strength.

‘Ward 21 (Stenna’s Song)’ – Etana – I Rise

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Etana - I Rise (2014)

The album’s final specialty is a dubbed-out, slow jam track dedicated entirely to Etana expressing admiration, respect and thanks to “the greatest” of artists who collaborated with her in the creation of I Rise. I appreciate Etana for taking the time to acknowledge them. I respect her even more for the fact that in times when so many people choose digital over hard-copy music and won’t have the pleasure of poring over a vinyl or cd booklet and getting to know the names of the people involved in its creation, Etana makes I Rise listeners do so via audio transmission.

Get to know the names yourself here on ‘Jam Credits’:

‘Jam Credits’ – Etana – I Rise

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If those sample I Rise tracks make you feel good, the choice is there to buy the album on vinyl or cd. As well as the chance that gives you to pore over the album artwork and credits in print, you’ll be able to hear and appreciate more of the delightful sounds of Clive Hunt, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and other “great, great” artists who recorded I Rise with Etana than you can in dirty, compressed mp3-style.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

Check out songs from Etana’s last album Better Tomorrow here.

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Myele Manzanza & The Goodness of Music

Music is one of the best medicines in the world. Agreed? It bring invaluable moments of euphoric goodness that at times can be hard to find in these lives of ours. True?

Like all of us New Zealand artist Myele Manzanza has a lifetime of positive musical experiences that are a part of his cellular memory. He’s been blessed with an entire life (albeit 27-years-short) surrounded by music and musicians, starting from his upbringing around his performing artist father Sam Manzanza - through to 6 years of Electric Wire Hustle gigs around the world – to his time in Red Bull Music Academy - to the production of his debut solo album One – to touring with Theo Parrish – and all the many musical collaborations and gigs in between.

Amongst the plethora of musical stories Myele Manzanza must have, I asked him in our recent interview to share one profoundly-affecting moment or experience which affirmed the fundamental goodness of music in his own life or in the lives of others.

Check out Myele Manzanza’s answer below.

Myele Manzanza

Myele Manzanza…

“There’s been loads of them – more than I can count. But the first thing that came to my head when you asked that was this:

There’s this pianist from New Zealand, a relatively nomadic character who travels a lot and does lots of interesting things. His name is Jonathan Crayford. He’s like the ‘musician’s musician’. Even though he’s never been as famous as lots of other New Zealand musicians, he was always the one everyone in the Wellington music scene knew “he’s the best”. Anyone would probably tell you that as far as pure musicianship goes, Jonathan Crayford is the best thing that came out of New Zealand, maybe ever.

Jonathan Crayford

Jonathan Crayford. Photo by Christopher Mavrič

When I was 19, I was very fortunate in being able to play with Jonathan. I was at music school at the time and we connected and started doing these duo gigs. Jonathan would play rhodes and bass synths and I would play drums, and we would just play. He would kind of improvise compositions as he went. His whole thought process is on an alien level, and his ability to create amazing compositions and improvisation is mind-blowing.

There was this one moment and we were doing a gig with no more than ten people in the room. As the piece went on, if memory serves me it might have been an A-suspended-fourth chord in the right hand and some ascending bass line in the left hand; but the way that he did it, was that the chord stayed there and every four bars or so the bass line kept ascending and ascending in relation to where the chord was. For some reason, the way Jonathan hit it and the way I happened to catch it was like this strange euphoric moment where everything made sense and I felt totally connected to what I was doing.

For maybe two minutes there was nothing that got in the way of this feeling of euphoria.

It was like the film called Limitless where Bradley Cooper’s character takes some magic pill that totally heightened his brain and sensory awareness to where he’s infinitely smarter and can more or less do anything. It kind of felt like that – this in-tune moment – which was just generated from some simple chord and bass line combination, but was something which opened me up to the mysteries of the world and the great profound effect that music can have. It was like a real, direct experience of that.

Even though it was only performing to ten people, it was one of the greatest moments of my life.”

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Catch Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic plus about 50 other global music and dance artists performing live at WOMADelaide 2015 next weekend; and at WOMAD New Zealand the week after. I’m quite sure there will be plenty of those magical, so-so-good-for-us musical moments to be had at the festival.

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Read the rest of my interview with Myele Manzanza and hear sample tracks from his debut solo album One here.

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The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy

Fancy the feeling of being inside an awesome spy-action film? If so then Wooden Boy, the second album from Melbourne’s 10-piece instrumental soul group The Cactus Channel, is one you’ll want in your music collection.

The Cactus Channel - Wooden Boy (2013)

Can I describe the music on Wooden Boy to you? Sure I can, but I won’t. Because I can’t do it nearly as imaginatively as The Cactus Channel’s record label Hope Street Recordings do…

It’s soul music, baby, but not as we know it. The backbeat and the handclaps are still there and the horns still sound. The bass bumps, the organ screams and the guitars still twang, but the singer has left the room. Everything is shades of blue. This is soul music for the after hours. For the solitary dancers and the lonely hearts. The soundtrack to solitary headlights on a midnight highway. What to call it? Who cares. Can you dance to it? Just try not to. No one’s telling you to throw your hands up in the air, but no one would be surprised if you did. It’s dark here, so you can do your own thing.

The Cactus Channel…all born in the 90s and raised on the internet. Yet somehow, [Wooden Boy]…sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1970s, or possibly in the distant future. A timeless, placeless cinematic oddysey, Wooden Boy could have been an alternate soundtrack to Ghost Dog — if Lalo Schifrin and the Meters were collaborating on the RZA’s score. Or maybe Wooden Boy was what happened when Lars Von Trier got invited to direct an episode of Soul Train. What any of it may actually mean is left to the listener’s imagination.

Funk aficionados will hear shades of New York on this record, echoes of El Michel’s taking on Wu Tang, the influence of Budos and Menehan et al. But this is the Generation Z version; both more tempestuous and more introverted. Recorded analog in the digital era, presented faceless in the celebrity era, inexplicably ambiguous in the soundbite era, is this the album the world needs right now? Undoubtedly yes. In a world where the NSA can read the text message that dumped you, what does a person need more than sad soul music from the future? Wooden Boy, baby Wooden Boy.

The Cactus Channel

The Cactus Channel

Check out these two (mp3 only) sample tracks from Wooden Boy. If you’re into it, you can buy the real deal on vinyl or cd through Hopestreet Recordings or at your local, independent record store where you can…

The Cactus Channel - Wooden Boy (2013)

The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy (2013)

‘Who Is Walt Duce?’ – The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy

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‘How Did This Happen?’ – The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy

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Look out for new music from The Cactus Channel this year. They say they’re working hard and it’s a coming…

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Soulfest 2015 – The Second Coming

Soulfest arrived last year, promoted as ‘Australia’s First Annual Neo Soul, Jazz & Hip Hop Festival’. Some teething problems in its inaugural year left people wondering whether there would be a second Soulfest in 2015.

Soulfest Australia poster

Most who experienced Soulfest 2014 were hoping the festival would come again. Because despite those initial teething problems, Soulfest had delivered to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (+ Auckland) one day and night of back-to-back live performances by a super indulgent line-up of some of the worlds greatest living contemporary soul, R&B and hip hop artists.

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Soulfest 2014 Got D’Angelo

First and foremost, one of those Soulfest 2014 artists was the (up until recently) reclusive D’Angelo.

D'Angelo live at Soulfest Melbourne 2014

D’Angelo live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

His live Soulfest performances in Australia and New Zealand with The Vanguard were D’Angelo’s first in some time. Those shows also turned out to be D’Angelo’s last ones before the sudden December release of his new album – the divinely soulful, analogue masterpiece Black Messiah

By now you all probably have Black Messiah in your music collections on vinyl and/or cd yes? Or you’ve at least heard the album? Anybody living under a rock who hasn’t can check out these two [dirty mp3] sample tracks from Black Messiah then get yourself the hard-copy on vinyl or cd.

D'Angelo - Black Messiah (2014)

Black Messiah (2014)

‘Sugah Daddy’ – D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

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‘Really Love’ – D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

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D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s October Soulfest shows were also their last live performances before the next one just a couple of weeks ago on Saturday Night Live. Blessed were Australia and New Zealand punters to get the recent experience of D’Angelo & The Vanguard live at Soulfest which D’Angelo fans all over the world now want – some lucky folks in Europe getting it right about now on his ‘Second Coming Tour’ which kicked off in New York last week.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard live at Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Check out these videos of D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s Soulfest 2014 shows in Melbourne and Brisbane…

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Much More Than D’Angelo

The live experience of D’Angelo & The Vanguard in 2014 was for me the absolute bomb of Soulfest 2014.

D'Angelo live at Soulfest Melbourne 2014

But every other leading artist who performed at the festival, and every supporting band member on the main stage with them, were musical gifts of the greatest kind too:  Angie Stone, Leela James, Maxwell, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Anthony Hamilton, Common, Musiq Soulchild and Aloe Blacc. So too were the Australian (or New Zealand) based artists who performed on the second Soulfest stage in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

Melbourne                                                                    Brisbane

Angie Stone live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Angie Stone

Angie Stone live at Brisbane Soulfest 2014

Angie Stone

Leela James live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Leela James

Leela James live at Brisbane Soulfest 2014

Leela James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxwell live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Maxwell

Maxwell live at Brisbane Soulfest 2014

Maxwell

 

 

 

 

Mos Def live at Mellbourne Soulfest 2014

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) live at Brisbane Soulfest 2014

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)

Anthony Hamilton at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Anthony Hamilton

Common live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Common

Common live at Soulfest 2014 Brisbane

Common

Musiq Soulchild live at Melbourne Soulfest 2014

Musiq Soulchild

Musiq Soulchild

 

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Aloe Blacc

Aotearoa-New Zealand / Papua New Guinea / Australia represented at Brisbane Soulfest…

You can check out a heap of videos and more photos of those artists performing live at Melbourne and Brisbane Soulfest 2014 here: Brisbane Soulfest  – Melbourne Soulfest – plus these extra ones below pulled from the Beaver library…



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Soulfest 2015

It would be tough to beat the line-up delivered at Soulfest 2014. But praised be the Music Gods, the news for soul, R&B and hip hop music lovers around the world is that Soulfest say it’s going to try. The festival recently announced that a “bigger and better” Soulfest 2015 is coming – with news of the first round of artists to be delivered soon.

I’m still praying for a super-extra-special miracle that D’Angelo might extend his ‘Second Coming Tour’ to include a return trip to Australia to perform the Black Messiah songs Australia and New Zealand didn’t get at Soulfest last time around; and for the artist I consider to be the living Queen of Soul Music, Erykah Badu to come too.  One can only dream :) .

Register on the Soulfest website or keep an eye on its Facebook page to hear up-to-date news about Soulfest 2015.

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The Musical Evolution of Myele Manzanza

Myele ManzanzaDelve into the life of New Zealand artist Myele Manzanza and you’ll find that the blend of electro, soul, hip hop, jazz and Afrobeat music on his debut solo album One, makes perfect sense as a balanced reflection of his individual life lived and the various musical influences and experiences within it.

The Life of Myele

The son of Sam Manzanza, a Congolese musician and pioneering force in bringing African music to (and keeping it alive in) Aoetearoa/New Zealand, Myele Manzanza was born into a life surrounded by music and skilled musicians. Later in his life came the drum kit. Later again formal studies in Jazz Performance. All of it in Wellington – a place where many more artists than the wider-world knows about have been creating innovative musical blends of soul, jazz, reggae and electronica for a long time.

After six years drumming and touring the world with New Zealand’s successful electro-soul outfit Electric Wire Hustle, as well as going through the Red Bull Music Academy program, Myele left the trio in 2013 to embark on his solo music career and release his debut album One through BBE.

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

One (2013)

Get a feel here (as best you can with a compressed mp3 version) for the life and sound of Myele Manzanza with One’s introductory track…

‘Neighbours Intro’ – One (2013) – Myele Manzanza

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Post-One, Pre-WOMADelaide

Consider then all of his musical experiences since the release of One and all-in-all, Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic are a perfect fit in the line-up of WOMADelaide 2015 where a diverse range of phenomenal worldwide artists will be performing.

Amongst those experiences is drumming on tour last year with a super-talented group of musicians and dancers put together by Detroit-based producer/DJ Theo Parrish – including funk legend Amp Fiddler on keys, and ex-Public Enemy guitarist Dumminie Deporres. Then there’s also that long list of prestigious gigs performed in New Zealand and abroad with the Myele Manzanza Trio, Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic, Miguel Atwood Ferguson and a host of other artists.

With less than one month to go until WOMADelaide kicks off in Adelaide, I caught up with Myele Manzanza to chat about his musical evolution up to and post WOMADelaide.

WOMADelaide 2015

Chatting with Myele Manzanza…

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Beaver:  You’ve played before at WOMADelaide – with Electric Wire Hustle right?

Myele Manzanza:  Yeah, we did WOMADelaide maybe 3 or 4 years ago. It was cool. I enjoyed my time there. It’s a beautiful venue and setting, and the programmers at WOMAD know exactly what they’re doing as far as the line-ups that they get. It’s a really interesting and exciting festival for me so I’m happy to be able to bring my own band over and be able to play my music at a festival that’s notoriously great.

Myele Manzanza Solo

Beaver:  Does your time with Electric Wire Hustle feel like a million years ago now, given everything that’s been happening in your life and solo music career since then?

Electric Wire Hustle

Myele Manzanza (L) with Electric Wire Hustle

Myele Manzanza:  It’s the first time I’ve really reflected on that so I’m glad you asked that question. It kind of does in the scheme of things. My last concert with them was about a year and a half ago, maybe a little bit more. In that sense, it hasn’t been that long.

But a lot’s happened and a lot is musically different to how it was 2 or 3 years ago in that era of my life.

Last year I did quite a lot of touring in the U.S. and Europe, Australia as well, which was fantastic. I’ve been steadily working on lots of different musical projects and producing albums for people, and also my own stuff which I’m sure will be gradually coming out over the next couple of years. I feel like I’m a lot different as a drummer, as a musician and an artist. I’ve grown a lot since then. So in that sense yes, it does feel like a long time ago.

I don’t think it will happen, but it would be interesting if I was to play with Electric Wire Hustle again. It would probably be kind of weird having gone in so many different directions since then.

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[B: If you don’t already know and love Electric Wire Hustle’s music, check out this sample Electric Wire Hustle track from their self-titled debut album…]

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

‘Experience’ - Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

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Musical Independence

Beaver:  How’s it been going for you in becoming the independent master of your own creative path and destiny?

Myele Manzanza:  In one sense it’s been great…because you’re able to set your own terms and define what your sound is, what your music is and what it is that you want to be doing with it.

But on the other side of that coin comes a far greater sense of responsibility because ultimately the buck stops with you and if you want your career to progress then ultimately you’re the one who’s got to put in the work, do all the hustling, be responsible for the art and…for making music that you can only hope at the end of the day resonates with people.

People have gotta relate to the music and reference it from something else that they’ve heard, that’s just natural. But at the same time you gotta make art that’s distinctive and original, find your own sound. While I’ve always been kind of aware of it, in going solo I’ve felt that pressure/challenge in being your own artist.

So it comes with the pros of being able to set your own tone and all of that, but also the greater responsibility and effort in order to make things happen; and with the spotlight being on you, you’ve got to deliver, so it’s just a little bit higher pressure. But it’s cool, the payoff is great.

The Myele Manzanza Supergroup

Beaver:  So with the freedom to create or be a part of any music project, which of any living artists in the world would you choose to put in the line-up of The Myele Manzanza Supergroup?

Myele Manzanza:  Herbie Hancock on rhodes and synths (‘Head Hunters’ 70’s era synths, not that Korg Triton stuff); Pino Palladino on bass; Gretchen Parlato on vocals; Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet; Zakir Hussain on tabla and Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone.

Myele Manzanza

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Theo Parrish Tour

Beaver:  I’m a disciple of Amp Fiddler and Public Enemy - and an appreciator of Theo Parrish. I’m keen to hear about what the experience of playing music live on stage with those artists was like for you, and what you took away from it in terms of your own musicianship?

Myele Manzanza:  That was such a great tour. There were some really amazing shows and really great audiences. It was cool to be on a tour bus with a crew of musicians who were a few more levels above where I’m at now and have been in the game for a little bit longer; and to have been able to learn from them and their processes.

Theo Parrish Tour with Myele Manzanza

“those fundamentals of drumming”

I guess that the Myele Manzanza music that I’m doing and to some extent Electric Wire Hustle before that, drumming wise I was not exactly a jazz drummer, but more fluid. While obviously you’ve still got to hold the beat down and give people that solid thing to dance to, my mind’s eye was orientated more towards colours and textures; different rhythms and interplay; interacting and improvising; stretching, pushing and pulling with what I was doing – as opposed to being strictly the foundational rhythmic pulse that doesn’t move while everything else is built up on top of it.

In playing with Theo I had to go back to those fundamentals of drumming – being the engine room and holding it down for the band, keeping that steady pulse. So I had to go back to that and really push and develop that, figure out my place within it.

We rehearsed for 10-12 hours a day for a week prior to the tour, so it took a little while for everyone to figure out their place in the band and the band’s sound.

“the language of the dance”

There were four dancers that were part of the performance as well, and when we were rehearsing with them that’s when it kind of clicked for me: as opposed to getting too busy and trying to add all these different kinds of spices into it, needing to just be the onions and garlic, hold down the base, be the solid meat and potatoes that kept everything together – particularly for the dancers.

Because when I was watching the dancers I was recognising how they were literally dancing to what I was doing. So by keeping that repetitive thing going and giving them something consistent to work with, it gave them space to be somewhat spontaneous within that; and be able to hear my accents and to form their dances in a way which hit those accents.

For me that was a great learning lesson as well – performing with dancers and recognising how the drums relate to them specifically.

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

Especially with Theo’s music because he’s a dance music producer and very idiosyncratic, but the way that he puts his rhythm together and his drum production is very specific. In working with the dancers I recognised the greater purpose for that specificity. As opposed to “Okay, that’s just a beat there with some flourishes there, and that’s kind of cool”, recognising that its actually a specific part of the composition and is important and integral to the meaning to that.

So in learning from that process and going into my music-making now, I guess I have a greater understanding of the language of the dance and the way that music (and rhythm in particular) relates to that. I kind of already knew it. It’s one of those truths that’s just there and obvious, but on that tour it kind of hit home for me that this weird, relatively esoteric thing called music has a solid, very real, very pertinent affect on other human beings.

“music…connects with people in some real way”

It’s interesting because music is a thing that you kind of can’t really see or feel or touch, but it connects with people in some real way. That was a first hand experience for me on the Tour and I’ll never let go of that in whatever it is that I’m doing – even if I’m not doing ‘dancing music’.

I’ll be more aware that whatever sound I’m generating or whatever sound a band is generating, relates to people on a human level; as opposed to like a music theory level or relating to musicians; as opposed to the general public and the different things in different ways that work and how different people think. Because a lot of the time musicians can get caught up in ‘musiciany things’, things that only musicians would really notice. It’s important to be able to step back from yourself and kind of try and figure out the greater affect that your music has on people, and try and think in a broader way.

Post-One Evolution

Beaver:  If One was a reflection of the life of Myele Manzanza lived up until its making, and given everything you’ve done since the release of that album, do you feel that your musical evolution has progressed further still?

Myele Manzanza:  There’s a lot of different tangents to it. I go through phases where I’m into some style of music, or really into drumming and practising a lot and working on being really proficient on the instrument: getting my speed up, or my chops up and articulation; the dynamics; the pure physicality of drumming. I’ll have phases of that. And sometimes I’ll have phases of doing a lot of beat-making and producing and composing.

Myele Manzanza

With the actual music I’m making, it’s still within those same influences, the various styles you were talking about (jazz, Afrobeat etc). I guess what I’m trying to do more and more (and it was something I was doing with One as well but think I’m getting further along the path) is finding a way to unify all of those different influences into one sound which is me –  rather than “now I’m playing Afrobeat”, “now I’m playing jazz”, “now I’m playing electronica” or “now I’m playing hip hop” etc.

As opposed to being able to play in all of the different styles authentically, I’m trying to meld all of them into a single style, which is easier said than done…At the one time I have to be highly aware of wanting and needing to do that, but at the same time I don’t know exactly what the end result would be. You can’t. No one can know. No artist could entirely know beforehand what their actual distinctive sound is. It’s a continual process of taking what’s come before, digesting it and putting it out as a new thing.

I’m more conscious of that process, even though as far as totally defining it, its perhaps impossible; and perhaps not even the point. Perhaps if I’m too concerned about whatever it is I’m doing next musically, it means I’m not concentrating on what it is that I can do musically now, in the present.

Post-WOMADelaide Evolution

Beaver:   Any insights into what’s next on your evolutionary path beyond WOMAD and WOMADelaide? Any new music projects brewing that you want to talk about?

Myele Manzanza:  I’ve got at least two albums backed up which are musically more or less finished. Definitely keep your ear out for some interesting stuff happening in 2015. As far as specifically what that will be, I’ll keep that close to my chest for now.

Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic Live at WOMADelaide 2015

Beaver:  You’re bringing your Dad [Sam Manzanza] and vocalist Rachel Fraser to perform with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic at WOMADelaide. Which other artists will be joining you?

Sam Manzanza

Sam Manzanza

Myele Manzanza:  Another great singer called Lisa Tomlins. In New Zealand she’s one of the go-to vocalists. She’s performed with everyone like Fat Freddys Drop, Trinity Roots, Shapeshifter and loads of other bands. Lisa’s one of the ‘great’ Greats. She should put out an autobiography with all her stories cause I know she’d have billions of them.

On bass we have Marika Hodgson who plays with Rachel Fraser in a band called Sorceress. She’s a really talented musician from Auckland with a really bright future ahead of her. Daniel Hayles on keys. He’s great; very professional and very, very talented. We went to music school together. Also Daniel Ryland who was one of my teachers at music school. He’s my guitarist now and has a great sound, tone and aesthetic to what he does – very unique. Regardless of the style that he’s playing, he’s able to bring his own thing into it.

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[B: Check out 2 more sample tracks from One which feature Sam Manzanza and Rachel Fraser on vocals. You can buy the hard-copy album through BBE or better yet, get yourself to WOMADelaide 2015 and buy it from the Wo-Shop.]

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

Myele Manzanza – One (2013)

‘On the Move’ – Myele Manzanza feat. Rachel Fraser

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‘Me I Know Him’ – Myele Manzanza feat. Sam Manzanza

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Live Elasticity

Beaver:  How much ‘elasticity’ can we expect to hear in Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic’s live show at WOMADelaide?

Myele Manzanza:  When I say ‘elastic’ [‘Afro-Elastic Soul Music from the Tradition of the Philosopher Kings’] that’s kind of referring to the improvisational element – which is like you’re in the moment and fluid – and whilst I’ve set the parameters of what the composition is, within those parameters you can take those raw materials of the composition and stretch, push, pull and play off of it – so its ‘elastic’ in that sense.

Then it’s also referring to some of the rhythmic things – that sort of J-Dilla-ish kind of feeling that’s steady but off kilter at the same time, and the rhythm is stretched in some interesting way.

That elasticity definitely comes into play a lot with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic – even though it’s a bigger band and more of a steady sort of RnB dance thing as opposed to an abstract jazz thing. For me I find it’s a good combination of all of the aspects of music and all of the ways of playing that I’m into.

As we continue to play together we keep on getting better and better…I think the next round of WOMAD and WOMADelaide is going to be a really special time.

Beaver:  Well, different people I’ve spoken to about your live performances have all used the word ‘phenomenal’ to describe them, so I look forward to experiencing it myself.

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Catch Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015 along with the Buena Vista Social Club, Neneh Cherry, Sinead O’ConnorTheo Parrish, Jake Savona with Prince Alla and Randy Valentine – plus about 50 more diverse worldwide artists.

WOMADelaide 2015

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Myele Manzanza also shared some insights into New Zealand’s music aesthetic over recent decades – and the story of one of his life’s many euphoric musical moments…get the details here another day soon.

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