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Month: February 2019

Brian Edwards en route to Paisley Park, The Suffers @Club Café, Anqwenique & Rick downtown


Brian Edwards

Our own Brian Edwards, on percussion in this 2018 Village Tavern clip, has been selected by The Time’s Jesse Johnson to perform at the third annual Prince Celebration at Paisley Park this spring. Congratulations! Brian and I are planning an interview before he embarks.


The Suffers at Club Café

The Suffers are a high-energy R&B outfit from Houston, with Kam Franklin at the helm. Club Café is intimate, and the crowd was totally immersed. On The Soul Show (WYEP) last weekend, Kam and I talked about the band’s history, its reckoning with Hurricane Harvey, and more. Here are the 3 segments of the interview:

Segment 1: Suffers origins (1m45s)
Segment 2: Themes of “Everything’s Here” album (1m)
Segment 3: Kam’s favorite songs (1m)



Anqwenique, Rick

Last Friday, two acts worth checking out were Anqwenique at The Fairmont, then Rick Matt two or three walking minutes away at Nola On The Square. Anqwenique’s Kinetic bandmates Jason Rafalak and Joe Sheehan, as well as James Johnson III, were in accompaniment. This time, it was more interesting to capture the players sharing baby holds and baby pics than to cover the performance. All of these musicians have infants and toddlers right now, so the vibe is a different kind of warm amongst them.

I did ask Joe Sheehan about the future of his Trio+ project with Rafalak and Ryan Socrates. Trio+ often served as an instrumental backdrop for singing and hiphop talents. Right now it’s on hold, he says, but there are some thoughts about how to reinvent the group once the fellas come up for air.


Rick Matt was one of the well-known Steeltown Horns, and he has recently gone on to front his own ad hoc trios/quartets. This was my first experience hearing the new project, this time with the inimitable Howie Alexander on keys.


Black History Month broadcasts on The Soul Shows

This is the first BHM for the new edition of The Soul Show on NPR Affiliate WTJX, so this year there are eight distinct themes, in order:

  • The Soul Show on WTJX.org:
    • Earth, Wind & Fire’s early years
    • Blaxploitation movie soundtracks
    • Early albums of progressive funk outfit Mandrill; Chaka Khan’s early years with the band Rufus
    • Minnie Riperton’s psychedelic years + solo work; Stevie Wonder’s super-creative years (Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, …)
  • The Soul Show on WYEP.org
    • Soul Train’s first nine years
    • Generations (Coles, Nevilles, Adderleys, Reddings, Marleys, …)
    • Spotlight on Southern Soul label Hi Records (Al Green, Ann Peebles, …)
    • Spotlight on Hi Records, cont’d

Go to the on-demand Archives on soulshowmike.org for all of these, and stay tuned for Women’s History Month.

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Afro Yaqui, Marley @Rex & Sembéne, The Suffers’ return to Club Café, Call for Artists, P Kirkland interview archive


Afro Yaqui at City of Asylum, 2/7/19


The Afro Yaqui Music Collective is one of Pittsburgh’s most progressive and multifaceted outfits. Their latest performance was at City of Asylum, and the setlist included work from the Mirror Butterfly act, whose soundtrack CD was on hand.

Vocalist/Dancer Kelsey Robinson and percussionist Hugo Chavez (both below) are newly transplanted artists from Brooklyn and Cuba, respectively, who performed with the collective that night. Erik Lawrence was also on hand (stage right, above). The ubiquitous Roger Romero was here (next to Erik). Last time I talked with Afro Yaqui leader Ben Barson, saxophonist Langston Kelly was leaving to focus on Starship Mantis. Sidenote: Starship is releasing a new album this spring.

Mirror Butterfly music debuted on The Soul Show’s “Three Rivers at Three” local segment last weekend, and we’ll continue to dive in.


Legendary Album Series at the Rex Theater: Bob Marley’s “Kaya” and “Rastaman Vibration,” 2/9/19

Sooo…where are the images? The Nikon had a meltdown that night, so I’ll write picturesquely…..

I never experienced Truth and Rites until KayaFest 2018 in the Strip, and was blown away that summer afternoon. So, as expected, they were the total highlight of the LAS evening in terms of presentation and by the fact that RV is one of Marley’s crowning achievements. Brian Edwards stepped in beautifully on percussion, and Pitt ethnomusicologist Danielle Maggio had her I-Two moves down tight with her backup singing partner. “Johnny Was” would have pleased Bob.


Sembéne Film Festival 2019: Marley and more

Sembéne Film Festival has moved to warp drive this season, with 30 films presented not only at the traditional City of Asylum, but also at new and convenient neighborhood locales like The Shop in Homewood.

“Who Shot the Sheriff?” played on Bob Marley’s birthday to an unusually small crowd at The Shop, perhaps because it was a new location. Note the upcoming film schedule http://www.sembenefilmfestival.org/ or in the Concert Calendar at soulshowmike.org. Support this no-cost cultural gem!


The Suffers, great album and upcoming Club Café performance

Houston-based The Suffers visit Pittsburgh on 2/19. Somehow their 2018 album slipped past me, and I auditioned it before interviewing their singer Kam Franklin this week. I told Kam that this album would have been a strong candidate for The Soul Show’s Top Ten Albums of 2018. Enough said.

Courtesy of Tim Roolf, here is some footage from an earlier performance at Club Café:


Call for Artists, Tri-C Jazz Festival (Cleveland)


Phil Kirkland interview archives

On The Soul Show (WYEP) last week, we introduced local artist Phil Kirkland to the Pittsburgh radio market. The interview segments from that February 9 episode are archived here:

Phil Kirkland interview on TSS, Part 1
Phil Kirkland interview on TSS, Part 2

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BASSCHAMBER interview, The Bad Plus, Phil Kirkland’s “Over & Under The Influence” release, Jasmine Tate’s making music again

BASSCHAMBER: Deep Bass w/a Bit of Treble

Two weekends ago, I visited Heinz Hall to do a promotional photo shoot with vocalist Tania Grubbs, her PSO bassist husband Jeff, and 4 other bassists from PSO. Tania and I spoke afterward about the March 19 collaboration with Chamber Music Pittsburgh entitled “BASSCHAMBER: Deep Bass with a Bit of Treble.” Enjoy, and hear about the Joe Negri Auditorium on Mount Washington! (note to Chamber Music Pittsburgh: Tania and Mike apologize for “reworking” CMP’s name throughout the interview; we’ll get it right next time!)

http://www.chambermusicpittsburgh.org/our-concerts/series/pittsburgh-performs/basschamber-deep-bass-bit-treble

BASSCHAMBER ensemble
Tania Grubbs interview


The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus performed at the August Wilson Cultural Center in late January. Orrin Evans is the new keyboardist with the edgy acoustic trio, and he’ll be in town again for Pittsburgh Int’l Jazz Festival.


Phil Kirkland

Phil Kirkland’s “Over & Under the Influence” releases on 2/14. He and I will introduce two tracks to the Pgh airwaves on The Soul Show on February 9th: WYEP 91.3fm, streaming worldwide at wyep.org, Saturday 2-5pm Eastern time.


Jasmine Tate

I crossed paths with Jasmine when she opened for Deborah Bond and Zo! at the former 720 in Lawrenceville. She was a solo act: a guitar, a barstool, and a semi-singing/semi-rap approach to her self-written compositions. Jasmine played guard at Robert Morris University. A sidelining injury led her to this singer-songwriter outlet. She found her way to TX a little while back, and I wasn’t sure if performing was still on her mind. It was great news to hear from her recently, and to find out that she was recording again. The latest single debuted last weekend on Three Rivers at Three, the 3:00p-3:20p segment on The Soul Show focused on Pittsburgh talent. Good to have you back, JT!

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The Soul Shows complement each other during Black History Month

2019 is the first year in which both editions of The Soul Show exist for BHM: the 20-something TSS of Pittsburgh, and the fledgling TSS(ii) broadcasting from the hills of St. Thomas to St. Croix, St. John, the BVI and eastern Puerto Rico. That means that Black History themes can be layered each weekend, so we did “The 1st Nine Years of Soul Train” and “The Early EWF Years” back to back on 2/2/19. TSS(ii) now streams at WTJX.org, TuneIn and Next on Saturday evenings at 8pm Atlantic/7pm Eastern, and its archives live here at soulshowmike.org.


Welcome to Black History Month 2019! In this first weekend on TSS Pittsburgh, we celebrate the life of James Ingram, discovered by Quincy Jones and whose voice beautifully melded silk with grit. Also, here’s a reprise of a Soul Train special presentation, in which we sequentially represented each of Don Cornelius’ first nine years. I sat down with Jamaican transplant Lloyd “Cookie” Willacy to discuss his intersections with Marley, and we reviewed “Kaya” and “Rastaman Vibration” in advance of an upcoming Legendary Album Series presentation at the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh. See the soulshowmike.org Concert Calendar for details.


…and in this Virgin Islands episode of TSS, we played a couple of tracks to honor James Ingram, the producer/songwriter who voice was discovered by Quincy Jones. Also, the trajectory of Earth, Wind & Fire’s first and middle releases is covered over the nine segments of the show. Enjoy!

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