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Month: June 2019

soulBlog: Scenes from PIJF2019, Womack Tribute in CLE next weekend, soulshowmike’s Shows of Note

Scenes from Pittsburgh Int’l Jazz Festival

There is a lot of positive to talk about regarding this PIJF ninth year. Here is an early set of photos:

Bobby Womack tribute at Tri-C Jazz Fest, featuring McBride, Hendryx, Hall

After the high of PIJF every year, Cleveland’s jazz festival became the next logical event. With TRAF’s brown lineup reaching higher heights this year, it can be a whole month of weekend fun. When Tri-C Jazz Fest announced the Christian McBride tribute to Bobby Womack, that looked like a big reason to make the trek. Now Nona Hendryx and Nigel Hall are part of the bill, and it sounds insane.

soulshowmike’s Shows of Note

  • JazzLive at Katz Plaza, June 25
  • Subha Das Trio at Flagstaff Hill, June 26
  • Interval Jazz Night at Spirit, June 26
  • Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Band at Ace Hotel, June 27
  • Elias Khouri at South Park Amphitheater, June 28
  • Juneteenth Celebration, Downtown/Hill/Point State Park, June 29
  • Stars at Riverview Jazz at Riverview Park, June 29
  • ‘Jazz On The River’ boat ride with Roger Humphries, June 30
  • Theron James at Metropolitan Club, June 30
  • Pittsburgh’s Homegrown R&B at Hartwood Acres, June 30

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soulBlog: The Howard Scott (War, Lowrider) interview on The Soul Show

As I write this quick entry, there is a discussion on (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist) Scott Mervis’ FB wall about War vs. Lowrider Band. I thought I’d post a quick summary of the situation as I understand it, along with (1) some photos from Lowrider’s 2015 performance in Wheeling, WV and (2) some wonderful interview segments with Howard Scott on The Soul Show.


  • There are 7 original members of War: Howard Scott, Harold Brown, Lee Oskar, Lonnie Jordan, B.B. Dickerson, Charles Miller (deceased), Papa Dee Allen (deceased).
  • There was a legal decision that prevents Scott, Brown and Oskar to use the name War; they have performed ever since as the Lowrider Band. (Dickerson is not able to perform due to illness)
  • Jordan currently leads, and is currently the only founding member in, the band War.

The Howard Scott Interview on The Soul Show (WYEP, circa 2015)

Howard Scott – intro, early years, the first Burdon/Oskar encounter Sun Oh Son
Howard Scott – brethren: EWF Maurice Mandrill et al
Howard Scott – the story of ‘Get Down’ in Chicago
Howard Scott – Charles Miller, and the rise of Low Rider
Howard Scott – the making of ‘The World Is A Ghetto’
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soulBlog: Tank & Denson at TRAF, Nona Hendryx at PIJF, new Funky Fly Project track, soulshowmike’s Shows of Note

TRAF: Tank and the Bangas, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

The final weekend of the Three Rivers Arts Festival brought acts with Pittsburgh stories. Tank and the Bangas, whose rise to big stardom included top honors in the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Awards, came to Pittsburgh early on because a small organization called Music Night on Jupiter:

They came back for the third or fourth time to a full house at TRAF. It was zany, it was political, it was mood swings, it was spoken word, it was headbanging.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was originally slated for a weekday performance, but scheduling issues brought him to primetime at the festival weekend finale. The crowd was smaller than hoped, maybe because of the weather concerns, but that same crowd braved the late rainstorm until the end. Karl told the story of a Mr. Small’s concert several years ago, and how the song “Millvale, PA” came to being on his latest album, “Gnomes & Badgers.”

Tangent: Backstage before the show, I met his guitarist DJ Williams, whose band Shots Fired I saw open for Soulive at Ardmore Music Hall near Philadelphia last year. It would be great for Shots Fired to bring it here one of these days.

Nona Hendryx (and Funky Fly Project)

Two members of the proto-funk trio Labelle will be at Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Patti Labelle and Nona Hendryx. Nona, a founding member of the Black Rock Coalition, joins forces with Detroit’s Jessica Care Moore to deliver “Black Women Who Rock,” a tribute to Pittsburgh’s own Betty Davis. If I had to pick one must-see piece of PIJF 2019, it is this.

Nona graciously recorded an interview for The Soul Show in 2016, right after she spearheaded the acclaimed Bernie Worrell tribute concert in NYC. I replayed a segment on WYEP on 6/15. (This episode also features a new Funky Fly Project track that will be officially released at the end of June.)

The Soul Show, including the re-airing of the Nona Hendryx interview

Here are some of the individual segments from the original airing. The first one covers the origins of Labelle.

Nona Hendryx – origins of Labelle
Nona the songwriter
Nona’s reflections on Bernie Worrell

soulshowmike’s Shows of Note, 6/17 – 6/23

In addition to virtually the entire set of PIJF offerings,

  • Lee Robinson & ISKA at Piazza Talarico’s, 6/20
  • Lynn Speakman Quintet at Kingfly Spirits, 6/20
  • Das/Rossman/Potter at Backstage Bar 6/21
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soulBlog: TRAF This Week, India Arie @TRAF Last Week, Lyndsey Smith Farewell Concert, Your Delicate Ears

TRAF (Three Rivers Arts Festival) This Week

Tank & The Bangas (Hartwood Acres, July 2017) – They play TRAF on 6/14/19

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust continued to step up the diversity of TRAF for 2019. The Friday evening primetime events were off the chain, starting with Lyndsey Smith and India Arie. More to come! Here are the upcoming events I plan to attend:

  • Kaia Kater, Wednesday evening (6/12/19) – she’s a new name for me, but I like to catch good talent early.
  • Tank & The Bangas, Friday evening – Pittsburgh was fortunate to have Tank visit before she catapulted (thanks to the local Music Night on Jupiter production company), then during the ascension (Hartwood 2017), and now as the huge star she is. You will love this.
  • Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Sunday evening – this show was moved to weekend primetime, and I’m really excited about that. Big band, great frontman (Karl), hard funk.

India Arie (TRAF 2019’s opening night)

Lyndsey Smith didn’t take long to make her TRAF debut, and she did it justice as India’s opener. With much of her regular band, Lyndsey brought in Cheryl Rinovato of Soulful Femme as guitarist. I would say more here, but her spotlight comes in the next section of the soulBlog.

By the time India Arie hit the stage, it looked like this. Terri Bell (Pittsburgh Cultural Trust VP) and I participated in the introductions, and we agreed that we couldn’t remember it like this, ever.

India Arie got spiritual right off, and she had everyone in a trance for the rest of the evening.

The final cap was Terri Bell’s block party on Stanwix. It was a great night.

Lyndsey Smith Farewell Concert, Hard Rock Café

We knew the day was coming for Lyndsey Smith to finally pack up for New Orleans and take the next step in her career. The Farewell Concert began very nicely with hunnycomb and Starship Mantis. In addition to her band, Lyndsey had a singer squadron. Also in support were the Steeltown Horns, who screeched into Station Square after an Ohio gig earlier on.

I never know what Lyndsey’s peak is. This may have been a new one.

Your Delicate Ears

I realized at some late point that I should be protecting the ears, especially with all of the shows attended, and especially since photography draws me right into the danger zone of big speakers. Here is what I have been wearing for the past 7-8 years. They were recommended by a colleague at WYEP. They seem expensive (15.00), but they are comfy and very effective at reducing volume without affecting the frequency balance of what you hear. While you’re at it, get a gift pair for another music-lover, and maybe get a bag of cheap orange spongy ones for random acts of kindness to desperate souls. You’ll spot them easily in the crowd.

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soulBlog: Royce Interview on The Soul Show; Anqwenique’s Sirens & Queens; Thundercat at Roxian; soulshowmike’s Shows of Note for this week

Royce Interview

James Royce of the new Pittsburgh outfit Royce recorded an interview on The Soul Show. Segments aired on the TSS 6/8/19 episode. You can listen to the whole show (which includes their tracks “Daggers” and “Sanctuary”), listen to the segments, or listen to the entire uncut interview. James talks about his gravitation to rock, the associated hurdles, and the support of mentoring artists.

Royce Segment 1 – Intro through naming of EP
Royce Segment 2 – Track review through “80 lanes of rock”

and here is the full uncut interview:

Royce full interview

Sirens & Queens by Anqwenique

BOOM Concepts continues its fine collaboration with Chamber Music Pittsburgh. “Sirens & Queens” by Pittsburgh vocalist Anqwenique explored the contributions of black female composers and singers. Our Shanyse Strickland played French horn and flute, and Lisa E. Harris of Houston participated in a discussion.

In July, take note that Ms. Strickland will be exploring intersections of classical and hiphop in another Chamber Music Pittsburgh joint presentation. Check the Concert Calendar at for more details.

Thundercat at Roxian Theatre

Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner is part of the important West Coast jazz/hiphop collective that includes his brother Ron, Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Trevor Martin, Jr., Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, … He played to a huge Roxian Theatre crowd two weeks ago.

Note that Flying Lotus comes to Pittsburgh this year; check the Concert Calendar. Also, Kamasi Washington teams with Herbie Hancock in Philadelphia in early August. The significance of that show is that Hancock’s planned collaborations with the new wave have been the buzz for awhile, and this is one of the early manifestations of that. Well worth the trip.

soulshowmike’s Shows of Note, week of 6/9/18 (plus Sunday 6/16/18)

(see details in the Concert Calendar)

  • JazzLive Series – Mark Strickland at Katz Plaza
  • David Murray & Kahil El’Zabar at Gardenalia
  • Kaia Kater at TRAF
  • Jazz On The Steps (2019 Kickoff) at CLP Homewood
  • Tank & The Bangas at TRAF
  • AWB at Meadows
  • The Wailers at Roxian Theatre
  • Ghost-Note at Roxian Theatre
  • Note: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has been moved to the TRAF weekend finale on 6/16/19!

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soulBlog: Royce, Concert Additions, Albums on Radar


James Royce has a new band with a newer EP called “Black Rock.” I met him at Pointbreezeway at a Soulful Femme show. SF’s Stevee Wellons and Cheryl Rinovato introduced us, then gushed about him and his project.

The EP Release Event was held at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. Stevee and Cheryl sat in, plus I saw B. Michael Smith on harmonica for the first time in a long while. Right before they went on, James and I talked about what black rock is, and it’s too bad that I didn’t have the Tascam recorder in hand. However, we have a phone interview tonight to cover that and more. Listen to The Soul Show on Saturday 6/8 for interview segments plus Black Rock tracks.

Additions to Concert Calendar – see the Concert Calendar section of for details

  • Ravi Coltrane, by Kente Arts Alliance
  • Antonio Hart, by Kente Arts Alliance

Albums on Radar

As PG columnist Scott-Mervis wrote in his fine article this week (, artists now use album releases to drive concert attendance. Well this is concert season, so there is a lot of music coming out. Here’s a sampling of the current geyser that I’m paying attention to:

  • Santana, “Africa Speaks” – he and Spanish vocalist Buika issued an amazing single from this album, and the album arrived in my box yesterday
  • Esperanza Spalding, “12 Little Spells”
  • Avery Sharpe, “An African American Musical Portrait”
  • Ulysses Owens, Jr., “Songs of Freedom” – listen to the cover of Joni’s “Both Sides Now” by Alicia Olatuja
  • Tanika Charles, “The Gumption” – a clear candidate for The Soul Show’s Top Ten Albums of 2019
  • Theo Croker, “Star People Nation”
  • Flying Lotus, “Flamagra”
  • Marcus Lewis Big Band, “Brass and Boujee” – “Boxes” and “Fake It ‘Til I Make it” tracks are exceptional
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soulBlog: Feralcat Interview + Album Release; Announcement of Vine Rewind Festival


Roger “Feralcat” Romero released his EP in a joint billing with Starship Mantis on 6/1/19. I’ve been following him for the past few months, and asked for an interview to coincide with the release. So, The Soul Show’s interview segments are presented here, but you may want to listen to the entire uncut tape, also below, that includes a discussion about the musical emergences of his siblings Hansel and Allan.

Feralcat full uncut interview

The Soul Show 6/1/19 interview, Part One: Who are you?
The Soul Show 6/1/19 interview, Part Two: Development as an artist, plus transcendental experience
The Soul Show 6/1/1 interview, Part Three: Album track review, Attic Music Group’s downtown incubator

…and here’s the full TSS episode with the three interview segments AND three Feralcat tracks to go with them. Enjoy.

Vine Rewind Festival

Tim Gaber, proprietor of Pittsburgh Winery, sent the promo materials for the Strip District festival that’s just outside his Penn Avenue establishment. Highlights include the return of Jasmine Tate, who started her career in Pittsburgh, then moved to TX. Also, there’s this group called “Beni’s Gospel Brunch w/Steeltown Horns,” which hints of B. Rossman, who will be there with his Starship Mantis. Lyndsey Smith returns for Vine Rewind as well, so I’m expecting something amazing like what we saw at the 6/1/19 SM Album Release (see yesterday’s soulBlog). Byron Nash will be there as well.

Here’s some madness from last year:

Details for Vine Rewind Festival can be found in the Concert Calendar at

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soulBlog: Starship Mantis Album Release; soulshowmike’s Shows of Note, week of 6/2/19

Starship Mantis Album Release 6/1/19

Pittsburgh funk act Starship Mantis pulled out all stops for their Mr. Smalls Theatre event on Saturday. To celebrate the release of their second release, “Black Hole Radio AM/FM,” they invited Markila Sherman, Lyndsey Smith, Steeltown Horns and Subha Das to perform with them. As I told frontman Langston Kelly at night’s end, this had been a show of national quality.

Roger “Feralcat” Romero, also with a 6/1 album release, opened the night. We’ll cover that in an another soulBlog later this week.

soulshowmike’s Shows of Note

  • Toots & The Maytals at Roxian Theatre, June 4
  • JazzLive Series outdoor opener, followed by Kenny Garrett at Greer Cabaret Theatre, June 4
  • India.Aire at Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 7
  • Parliament Funkadelic at Rivers Casino (Geo. Clinton’s final tour!), June 7
  • Lyndsey Smith Farewell Concert w/Starship Mantis and hunnycomb at Hard Rock, June 8

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