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Tommy Emmanuel

An interview with guitarist Tommy Emmanuel
by Max Ink Writer List
March 2014

Tommy Emmanuel is an acoustic guitar virtuoso who has delighted fans with his complicated fingerstyle technique. He has been playing Maton guitars for most of his career. A long-standing fan of Chet Atkins, he recorded the album “The Day Finger Pickers Took Over The World” with Atkins. The album also turned out the be the last Atkins ever recorded. Tommy still performs at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society every July in Nashville. He recently wrapped a tour alongside Martin Taylor.

Maximum Ink: What was it like being taught to accompany your mother on steel guitar when you were only 4? Do you think,looking back, those are some of your most fond memories? What do you think is the most important thing you learned from her?
Tommy Emmanuel: It was so long ago, it’s hard to remember everything. I recall it was exciting to play music with my mother – every day I looked forward to hearing the school bell, knowing that I would run across the road to our home and my mum would be waiting to play. She showed me some songs that were simple and easy to remember. She taught me how a song is constructed, to know the difference between the verse and the chorus and the bridge, and to look out for key changes. I think I learned the importance of melody against chords through learning all these songs.

MI: Do you remember what it was like to work as musician at the age of 6? Did you ever get stage fright when you first started playing to crowds?
TE: I was never afraid of going on stage – in fact, the opposite is true; I couldn’t wait to get out there. I’m just the same today.


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Chicago - photo by David M. Earnisse

Chicago

A 2014 Interview with Robert Lamm
by Sal Serio
March 2014

Taking in the entire breadth and scope of rock group Chicago’s storied career, it’s difficult to fathom the immenseness of the band’s journey, their accomplishments, forays in to a multitude of musical genres, and ability to survive in the ever changing climate of popular culture. After all, this is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in six decades, and is the highest charting American band (# 13) in Billboard’s list of Top 100 artists of all time.

With the recent highlights of performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and inclusion of their very first album, ‘Chicago Transit Authority’ (1969), in to the Grammy Hall Of Fame, the band is currently riding a new wave of enthusiasm and confidence. Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio got to speak to founding member, keyboardist, vocalist, and composer, Robert Lamm, in advance of Chicago’s upcoming Wisconsin appearances (April 28 at Overture Hall in Madison, May 1 at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, and two dates at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre – April 30 & May 4).


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Jillette Johnson

Jillette Johnson

An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Jillette Johnson
by John Noyd
March 2014

Singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson began performing at the tender age of twelve, but years in the business have done nothing to harden her outlook on making music. Balancing piano-driven intimacy with an urgent openness, her songs are both quietly inviting and boldly direct, building into a floodgate of swirling emotions that sweep in unexpected leaps while holding fast to rock-solid beliefs; traversing romantic semantics and sexual politics with daring diplomacy wrapped around vampish fantasy. Still only in her early twenties, Jillette’s dramatic pathos reveal a tenacious optimist skillfully capturing life’s passionate battles in surging orchestrations, lyrical twists and boundless bravado; gracefully capturing love’s inevitable turbulence with a sure hand and a steady heart. In anticipation of her forthcoming visit to Madison, we sat down and asked her a few questions. 

MAXIMUM INK: When did you first feel you had something to offer the world?

JILLETTE JOHNSON: I was four and I told my dad I wanted to be a rock star.

MI: Were you musically precocious, unnaturally imaginative or prematurely literate?

JJ: Yes, yes, and yes. I was quite a little hurricane.

MI: What other outlets does your creative energy express itself?

JJ: I have an affinity for vintage coats.

MI: What aspect of your personality might be construed as a blessing and a curse?

JJ: I’m unabashedly wide-eyed.

MI: If you could change one thing about yourself what would that be?

JJ: I wish I had more control over my lust for vintage coats… and my anxiety.

MI: What do you find to be the most difficult idea to capture in song?

JJ: Whatever it is I’m going through right that moment. I’m a nostalgically emotional writer. In other words I usually need some time to process before I can write a song about it.

MI: What songwriters have inspired you and in what ways might you try to emulate them?

JJ: Carole King in her simplicity and sincerity; Paul Simon in his wit, lyrical rhythm and sense of pop; Joni Mitchell in her whimsy and her everything; Randy Newman in his ironic sadness.

A charming and dynamic performer, Ms.. Johnson visits Madison’s The Frequency April 2nd opening for indie-pop rocker WAKEY! WAKEY! and performing songs from her Wind-up Records debut, “Water In A Whale.”


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7 Seasons Deep

7 Seasons Deep

An interview with Shawn Anthony Brown
by Teri Barr
March 2014

If the bands “Last Crack,” “Faces for Radio,” or “The Viskus Circle” sound familiar; then the recent combination of some of the groups various members ensures their new project, “7 Seasons Deep,”won’t be a stranger for long.

Four well-known, well-honed Madison-based musicians—lead singer Shawn Anthony Brown, along with Jayme Poster on lead guitar, Denny Carney playing bass, and Tim Schmitt on drums—are the heart and soul of what’s described as the straight forward, bluesy, hard rock sound of “7 Seasons Deep.”


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Peaches Staten

Wild Women of the Blues

by Dave Leucinger
March 2014

Since 2003, the Madison Blues Society has demonstrated commitment to community – both musical and otherwise. While promoting education, awareness, and appreciation of blues music remains at the core of the organization’s mission, MBS has also played a positive role in other ways - such as outreach with the neighborhood centers and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. Students who learn from these programs have been featured performers at the MBS’s major summertime event, the Blues Picnic.

MBS added a new annual event seven years ago: the “Wild Women of the Blues” series – a reference to an early blues song written and performed by Ida Cox, and also successfully recorded by Bessie Smith and numerous others in the decades since: “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues.” While the series was previously intended to help cover the costs of the Picnic, the event organizers have chosen to expand the purpose of this year’s event, with proceeds going to organizations that serve women and families.  This year’s show, which will be held at the High Noon Saloon in Madison on Thursday, March 20, beginning at 7:00 PM, will benefit Dane County’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS).


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Ultrea

Bash In The Bluffs 3

by Larry Bush
March 2014

We’ve all come to love the Madison music scene.  It is diverse, welcoming, and constantly in motion.  We recognize its quality, its passion, and people in between the notes that make their creations seem all the more enjoyable.  The bands in this region continue to blossom, expand, and establish Madison as a musical hotbed to be acknowledged and reckoned with across the country and beyond.  That creative expansion will continue on Saturday, March 29th at The Pumphouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin, with Bash In The Bluffs 3: BASH BASH BASH.

A five-band bill for the ages promises to showcase all of the finest aspects of the region’s sonic aspirations, as Ultrea, Wall Of Funk, Blacker Brothers Band, Sexy Ester, and 4 Aspirin Morning descend upon the otherwise quiet hillsides of Baraboo.


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Real Knives captured at High Noon Saloon - photo by Rise Up Lights

Real Knives

An interview with Madison riff-rockers, Real Knives
by Mike Huberty
March 2014

Headbangers with a sense of humor and some mean-ass riffs, Madison’s REAL KNIVES are dirty whiskey-soaked hard rock. Bassist/vocalist Wade Coisman, lead guitarist Shane Keck, drummer Kai Anderson, and guitarist/vocalist Mark Weber are four dudes dedicated to abusing their instruments and livers while dishing out face-melting guitar solos and fist-pumping beats. March 24th they’re opening for Buckcherry at The Red Zone (formerly The Annex at Regent Street Retreat), so we decided to take some time to talk to the band about the upcoming show and what they’re up to.


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Red Dragon Cartel featuring Jake E. Lee

Red Dragon Cartel

The Return of Guitar Slinger Jake E. Lee - an in depth interview with singer D.J. Smith
by Sal Serio
February 2014

I consider myself fortunate to have seen one of the first gigs by the new Jake E. Lee project, Red Dragon Cartel, January 24th at The Grove in Anaheim. The band was tight and full of attitude as they blasted through their new material, in a set peppered with highlights from Jake’s past work with Badlands and Ozzy Osbourne. I had the opportunity to catch up with vocalist Darren James Smith before the group starts it’s initial tour, which hits Wisconsin on Friday, March 21 , at the Back Bar in Janesville, with openers Convoy and Hessler.

Maximum Ink:  You were originally a drummer, and you’re from Canada, correct?
D.J. Smith:  I toured the planet with a band called Harem Scarem, out of Toronto. I had left the band back in 2002 [or] 2003. My last show with them was in Japan, and I had an opportunity to sing for a band called Juice, that was signed to BMG. I wanted to try something different. I just did a 20 year reunion tour with Harem Scarem, just prior to starting with the Jake band.

MI:  From what I’ve been reading, it seems that there was a Facebook post about Jake starting a new band, and all these people replied wanting the gig. That seems bizarre, is that really what happened?
DJ:  I didn’t see any of that! Here in Canada, we have a franchise of music stores called Long & McQuade, and my buddy Kevin Simpson is the manager of the one in Oshawa, the town I live in. I went in there and he said, “Hey man, Jake E. Lee is looking for a singer”, and I’m like, “Yeah, so? Why are you telling me?” I figured it was a long shot, if anything. Anyway, I sent [something] in, and 12 hours later, my phone rang. I sent a video I shot with a band called Bastard, and it was a real sleazy, punk-rocky, in-your-face, rock tune and video (“L.A. Whore”). YouTube actually labeled it “Most Shocking” Rock Video. I don’t think it’s that shocking, but it definitely has no taste!  (laughing)  So, they saw that, and apparently they liked it.


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Alex Schaaf of Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich

Interview with Yellow Ostrich Mastermind Alex Schaaf
by John Noyd
February 2014

Starting in Prairie DuChien before landing in Brooklyn NY by way of Appleton, singer-songwriter Alex Schaff has gone from recording in his bedroom with a drum machine to fronting the indie-rock band YELLOW OSTRICH. With a bold new album and a tour that takes him back to Wisconsin, MAXIMUM INK took the opportunity to ask Alex a few questions.

MAXIMUM INK: With an album titled, “Cosmos,” and song titles, “Terror,” “In the Dark,” and, “Don’t Be Afraid,” it seems like you were tackling some deep issues.

ALEX SCHAAF: A lot of the album was inspired by astronomy. I really got into Carl Sagan; read all of his books and watched his TV series (which the album gets its name from). I quickly came to realize that “science” wasn’t as boring as I thought, that the way the universe works is amazing and awe-inspiring and that the real explanation for things is way more magical and incredible than any of the alternate explanations that are out there. Those kinds of things were running through my head when I was writing a lot of the lyrics. I took those ideas and adapted them to a smaller, more down-to-earth perspective. The songs aren’t really about space or astronomy; they’re about regular people and day-to-day life, with the added perspective and knowledge that studying the way the universe works brings to you. I love that in a normal day we can both think, “the sun’s going to die someday, we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do next,” and, “Do I have enough room on my DVR to record the new Mad Men episode.” I got really interested in the way those two perspectives co-exist.


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Boss Lady - photo by Ross Hubbard

Boss Lady

WORT's Boss Lady Breaks Out
by Mark D
February 2014

The avenues of communication available to Wisconsin’s inmate population are at best primitive and restrictive. Reaching outside the bars is the most difficult contact as an inmate’s audience is limited to a monitored and censored few. More often than not, any positive message they can give from their prison experience falls upon deaf ears. That is, until now.


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