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Brian Ray & Charlie

Brian Ray

Paul McCartney's "other" guitar player
by Tina Hall
August 2010

Brian Ray is best known as the guitarist for Paul McCartney. His musical career was heavily influenced by his elder sister Jean of the duo Jim and Jean. Brian has worked alongside many great artists including, Etta James, Keith Richards, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Bo Didley, and John Lee Hooker. He was asked to join Paul McCartney who was looking for someone that could easily switch between bass and guitar in 2002. He released his first solo album, “Mondo Magneto” on his label Whooray Records in 2006. His latest solo album, “This Way Up” is out now.

Maximum Ink: You list your sister Jean as one of the most influential and important person early on in your life. What was it like to have her offering support at such an early age?
Brian Ray: As a kid at age 3-4 my sister Jean was 18, a senior in high school and she was a huge fan of Elvis, Everly Bros, Little Richard and Rick Nelson. I remember her looking at their pictures while listening to this emerging music… this new Rock and Roll music. As I grew up she would take me to concerts in town, further sparking my interest. When I showed interest in playing guitar Jean invited me to play with her onstage.At age 15 I was sitting in with famous players and getting support from them. A year later I was doing gigs with her at LA’s best known venues, so I felt as if I belonged onstage. I felt like I belonged in the middle of the music. If not for Jean, I might be a fireman.. I owe my success with Paul to her and to Etta James.


Kyle Rightley

Five Favorites: Kyle Rightley

A friendly Q & A with local musician Kyle Rightley
by John Noyd
December 2014

One might not guess hearing Kyle Rightley’s windswept folk guitar trimmed in mandolin and graced with a clear calm voice that the talented singer-songwriter spent time in the nine-piece funk and soul band The Big Payback, attends Tuesday night jams every week at Madison’s Mason Lounge playing trombone and euphonium with the Five Points Jazz Collective and produces electronic prog-rock as (io). Having dropped two solo acoustic EPS in 2014, Rightley kicks off the new year’s new feature where we ask local talent what are a few of their favorite things

MAXIMUM INK: Do you have a favorite story of a musician helping another musician?

Kyle Rightley: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of other musicians! Specifically, music professors from my college days helped shape my playing and musical philosophies. John Stevens at UW-Madison was a mentor and role model for me. And my involvement in every band that I’ve ever played in happened because of another musician giving me a chance. Even if I doubted my own abilities, my band mates seemed to believe in me.

MI: What’s your favorite thing about the local music community?

KR: That kind of ties in with the first question. Madison’s music community is knit very tightly. One might think that local musicians compete against each other for gigs and exposure. That might be true to some extent, but a victory for one musician is a victory for all local musicians. If a venue hires a band or solo act and the night goes really well, that venue is going to be more likely to hire other musicians on other nights. I think we all understand that to a degree, so there’s a great deal of camaraderie among Madison musicians.

MI: What’s your favorite song these days?

KR: It would be hard to pick just one. My all-time favorite songs are “Dogs” by Pink Floyd, and “Canada” and “Funeral” by Devin Townsend.

MI: Who’s the favorite one in your family?

KR: Well, that’s a loaded question! My brother’s girlfriend is a flight attendant, and she’s hooking us up with cheap plane tickets to South America in January. So even though she’s not technically family, she would rank pretty high on my “favorites” list currently.

MI: Where’s your most favorite place to write music?

KR: I’m lucky enough to have a music room in my place right now. All my instruments and recording gear live there, so that’s my creative space right now. But it can also be really fun write lyrics or music out in nature (when the weather is nice, of course)!

For more information check out and catch Kyle along with Hugh Trimble January 10th at Madison’s Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe.


Meghan Rose and I Saw The Creature on the cover of Max Ink September 2014

I Saw The Creature

An Interview with Meghan Rose
by Teri Barr
September 2014

One woman. Five regular music projects.
Meghan Rose may be one of the busiest artists on the Madison scene right now, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Meghan writes, sings, plays, records, edits, and teaches all styles of music; and those talents are highlighted in her various bands. I had the chance to ask her how she keeps it all going, and learned which group is getting ready to hit the road soon. 

Maximum Ink: Do you remember when you started your musical journey?
Meghan Rose: My mom taught me piano when I was 4, and then I started classical lessons when I was 5. First thing I remember learning to play was “Beauty and the Beast”, of all things. My dad bought me a nylon string classical guitar from an antique shop when I was 14 and I taught myself some chords then learned the church songs for bible day camp, which was one of my summer jobs. I played piano for the early church service for years. I still love hymns and I use some of the ideas to write about God in my lyrics, though I certainly don’t write what anyone would call Christian music. But once that type of music is in you, you can’t shake it. My mom also had tapes of musicals, and Broadway is still an obsession for me. I was 8 when my parents divorced, and one of the coping methods I developed was to steal my dad’s C.D.‘s. He collected the newest “alternative” music—a lot of female-fronted 90’s stuff. Bjork, Sheryl Crow, Sleater-Kinney, Liz Phair, Fiona Apple. Fiona and Liz were really powerful to me.

MI: Your current projects are all led by women; some bands don’t like the reference to women or men in the band, but would rather just be called musicians, in a general sense. What about you?


Marc Rizzo

Marc Rizzo

by Tina Hall
April 2010

Marc Rizzo is a guitarist for both Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy (formed by Sepultura co-founders Igor and Max Cavalera). His solo work demonstrates a wider range of styles than the metal he is best known for including classical, flamenco, and jazz. His new solo album, “Legionaire” was recorded over a two year period while touring with both bands.

Maximum Ink: Your playing style varies widely. What are some of your main influences in those various genres?
Marc Rizzo: I like any style of music that has virtuoso guitar playing. That can be jazz, flamenco, death metal… whatever. I just love the guitar and like to hear music played on the guitar in all styles. I really listen to a lot of instrumental guitar music. My favorites are Paco de Lucia, Al Dimeola, Slayer, Dimebag, Zakk Wylde, Van Halen. I could go on and on.


 - photo by Rob Fenn

On the Road…Where Music Lives

An interview with photographer, author, music connoisseur Rob Fenn
by Aaron Manogue
September 2011

We can all remember the days when our favorite band was releasing their latest album, and we’d rush to the local record store as soon as it opened that day. The feeling when you finally saw the cover art of the album sitting on the store shelf, what the packaging was like, everything. The sad part about these great memories most of us have, is that with the emergence digital music distribution, most of the younger generation will never, ever experience this. iTunes makes it possible for people to have the music the very minute it’s released. No cover art (except usually for a downloadable one), no anticipation of opening the packaging, no experience. This is the idea that music photographer, ex-radio host, web designer (we might as well just call him a music connoisseur) Rob Fenn was acting on when he started “On the Road…Where the Music Lives”

“The project came about when my daughter’s idea of a record store was iTunes. I was like, NO! I explained to her how cool it was to hang out at the store and check out new music. As I was telling her this, I realized that I don’t do that anymore, either. So as part of her allowance she gets to by one album a week from a record store. Even though I am not a big fan of her musical taste, other than she is a huge In This Moment fan, we are on the same music page with that and it has been so cool to hang out with my kid and flip through music at the record stores all over. We hit them all from Best Buy and FYE to the Heavy Metal Shop in Salt Lake City, UT.”


The Racing Pulses

The Racing Pulses

by Teri Barr
November 2016

Every band has a unique story about its members, and what originally brought them together. But The Racing Pulses, which prides itself on being a rock band built on swift melodies and big rhythms, may have one of the most interesting of all. Kristian Iliev, a Madison guitar player originally from Racine, placed an ad on Craigslist. Both Mike Newby, a drummer from the East Coast, and Brian Blanchette of rural Mineral Point, responded. But both also told family members, if they weren’t in touch within an hour, call police. Luckily, their differences have helped form a solid foundation, and some great goals. I talked with all of them recently about hitting the road, while creating their first full-length album.

Maximum Ink: Everyone decides to play music for a different reason. What was your inspiration?
Kristian Iliev:
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed singing. In middle school, my dad bought me a drum kit and we started talking a lot more about music. During high school, I was a jazz band drummer. But, rock was always my first love and it was during that time I learned to play guitar. My family inspired me, too. I have memories of watching my father play guitar, seeing my sister sing in musicals, and going to concerts throughout those years.


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Bluegrass legend  Ralph Stanly

Ralph Stanley

An interview with the Bluegrass legend
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Ralph Stanley has been entertaining the masses with his distinctive voice and banjo playing since 1946. Influenced by the traditional music of rural Appalachia he formed the Clinch Mountain Boys, and later The Stanley Brothers, with his brother Carter. The rest became history. As a banjo player he developed the unique “Stanley Style” recognized fast, continuous forward rolls followed by the index finger. In 2002 Stanley won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of O Death, produced by T-Bone Burnett for the for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Southwest Virginia? How were times most different back then? Do you ever miss those days?
Ralph Stanley: Growing up in the hills of southwest, Virginia was a wonderful place to be born and raised. Of course we faced hard times, but the good outweighed the bad.
MI: What do you love most about living in such rural places as Dickenson County? Do people ever ask you why you decided to stay in the area you were raised?
RS: I always wanted to stay home in Southwest, VA. A lot of folks ask me why I never moved to Nashville. I love the hills and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
MI: What did it feel like when you got your very first banjo from your aunt all those years ago? Do you remember was running through you mind when you first got it?
RS: I was very excited. My mother gave me a choice to pick from a hog or a banjo. A lot of folks don’t know this but I always dreamed of being a veterinarian in my younger days. I Was interested in animals very much. But my mother could only afford one. Both were $5.00. So I picked the banjo. I’m glad I did.


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