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La Bomba Waters and Les Cougars - photo by Chad Sutherland - Rise Up Lights

Les Cougars

La Bomba from Les Cougars
by Teri Barr
February 2015

The Valentine invite intrigued me. Live musicians, comedy, dancing, burlesque—an all in one, all-woman show (unless you count Cupid, a young man wearing a diaper, as the only contributing factor to the male side of the cast). But once the lights went down on a packed house at the Cardinal Bar in Madison, a full complement of creative energy was on display, and did not disappoint. Tulin Waters takes her opportunity to entertain very seriously. Her group is known as Les Cougars, and her on-stage persona, “La Bomba,” is brash, but brilliant. Yet her whole goal of this good time revolves around supporting other entertaining women of a certain age—- meaning, not your 20-somethings. There were shapes, colors, styles of all types showing off their talents. And if it left the performers feeling good, it also left almost everyone in the audience with a certain kinship, and sense of power. As Les Cougars prepares for another show, they’ll be part of the CD Release Party for Meghan Rose at the Inferno on February 13th at 9 pm, Tulin took time to talk with me about the importance of making a difference, and how she’s finding the stage a perfect place to do it.

Maximum Ink: You are funny, but in a real, relatable sense. Your show includes humor, but still revolves around music, why?
Tulin Waters: I am a music scout, not a musician, which allows me to create a different type of show. My ear for talent came from living in 6 different countries growing up. It gave me a sense of respect and admiration for all types of music. The more you learn about other music from around the world, the more you grasp who has a real passion and understanding of it.

MI: Music is mixed with the unexpected for your group, Les Cougars. Why did you focus on this approach for a show?
TW: I started Les Cougars because this town is full of talented women over the age of 35. In the entertainment business, “maturing” women face ageism and get overlooked unfairly way too often. To me this is a travesty because talent only gets better with experience, and it is at this age when women are in their prime and absolute best up on stage. We should be glorified for what we have accomplished, not replaced, and I am proud to bring to the table a show where there are so many diverse and talented women coming together to preach age empowerment.


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Erick Thomas

An interview with guitarist Erick Thomas
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

Erick Thomas is the founder of and lead guitarist for Harlen Simple. The four piece band out of Virginia also features Travis Williams (vocals), Kenny Morrow (bass), and Ricky Coleman (drums). Their album Pay Up Charlie from Potomac Records mixes rock, funk, blues, and soul in delightfully eclectic fashion.

Maximum Ink: Since there isn’t a lot known of you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Erick Thomas: I’m a pretty laid back guy, or at least I think so. I’m a big music junkie so my nights off from playing are spent checking out friends of mine who play and sitting in if they’ll have me. When I’m not doing that, I’m in my backyard with friends smoking racks of ribs, arguing about sports and talking about music while my dogs run around.

I’m also pretty sure I’ve got the world’s most patient wife, Aimee, who puts up with all of the craziness that comes with being married to a guy in a band. It’s late nights, crazy schedules and the general drama that comes with the music business. It’s not the go to Ikea and the farmers market on Saturday’s kind of lifestyle. It’s the “let’s go get tattoos and go run with bulls or something” kind of life.

I’ve also got an amazingly smart and beautiful daughter who has the music bug already. Her name is Jasmine and she’s playing drums now. I told her to pick an instrument where she doesn’t have to lug so much gear around but her heart was set, kind of like mine. Aimee is also pregnant with our son. The little butterball will be out in the world in a few months.

MI: What did you enjoy most about growing up in Virginia?
ET: I’m actually a Maryland boy. I was born in Takoma Park and lived in Langley Park and Silver Spring before moving to Virginia when I was a teenager. At first I wasn’t a big fan, Manassas was one of those towns where you took the bus to school and your mom drove you to the mall. It was WAY different from hopping on the bus or taking the metro somewhere with your friends. Those teenage years are tough for anybody. Throw in moving away from everything you know and you get a kid that can be a little “rambunctious.” My mom was a saint! Eventually, I made a couple friends. One of the first ones was Travis (Williams). Now Virginia is home though. I can’t see myself leaving. I’ve got my little family and home life Aimee and I are building here. It’s somewhere you absolutely have to get back to no matter where you are in the world. That’s home to me.


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guitarist Mike Adkins (Uncle Kracker) - photo by Chris Levitan

Mike Adkins

An interview with guitarist Mike Adkins (Uncle Kracker)
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

Best known as the guitarist for Uncle Kracker, Mike Adkins has shared the stage with such iconic musicians as B.B King, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton. He has also played numerous shows with Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Train, and others.

Maximum Ink: What did you love most about growing up in Detroit?
Mike Adkins: I guess one of the best things about growing up in Michigan, is that you get to experience all the seasons, in a proper fashion. Fall has to be my favorite, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Northern MI in Fall. On the other hand, there is over a foot of snow on the ground here right now, as I look out my window. Which, I’ll be honest, the older I get definitely makes me question why I haven’t left yet (laughs). But, I just love it here, not just because of the change of seasons, but because Detroit has soul…it has personality, and it has heart! The Detroit music scene molded me into the person/player that I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll leave it at that.

MI: What was it like to train in classical piano at the age of 8?
MA: It was interesting…I definitely wasn’t that great at first. And, I despised reading the music, which I still do today(smiles). Actually, most of the piano recitals that I remember doing, you would be sat at the piano with the sheet music displayed in front of you, and you were supposed to read the music as you played. Looking back at it now, I’m nearly positive that I just memorized all the songs and looked at the sheet music to appease my teacher. But, in the end piano helped me learn music theory, and eventually led me to guitar. So, I’m definitely thankful my Mom pushed me in that direction.

MI: What music did you first love? Do you happen to remember what your favorite first song was?
MA: Gosh, that’s a really tough one. I guess one of the first songs I can really remember loving was I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye. The reason for that is, I was super into the California Raisins at the time, and that was their theme song. I remember I had the cassette and I would walk around my house singing and blaring it outta my mini boombox! Funny enough, I just started performing that song in my acoustic duo…so things have really just came full-circle so to speak(laughs).


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The Joykiller

The Joykiller

An interview with Ronnie King and Jack Grisham
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

The Joykiller is a punk rock supergroup founded by Jack Grisham(vocals), Ron Emory(quitar)Billy Persons(bass), Chris Lagerborg(drums),and Ronnie King(keyboard) in 1995. Their latest offering is Music for Break-Ups.

Maximum Ink: Do you happen to remember the moment when you first discovered the power of music?
Ronnie King: Well For me at 11 yrs I was recording a record in a real Studio. I was singing my part. Guess what I cried (laughs)
Jack Grisham: It was probably when I was a kid. There was trouble at home—alcoholism, strife, and detachment. I felt alone, uneasy, unloved, and then I heard Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and it gave me a warmth, a love, and a connection that I’d never felt. The song let me know that it would be okay. I remember copying the lyrics and pretending that I wrote them about she who would one day be in my life.

MI: What was it like to start playing music at the age of 5? Do you think coming from a musical family offered you more encouragement to pursue your interests in the field?
RK: They weren’t in the Music Business at all. They all play with an unconditioned freedom.I sold out a long time ago…I’m having a wonderful time in this time of my life. I’m enjoying music ( It’s all about the music.)

MI: What were you like as a child? Did you develop your love of music early on as well?
JG: I was trouble, too smart for my own good and too sensitive to be comforted. I loved music but I wasn’t gifted as a singer and I had no discipline or desire to learn an instrument.

MI: Who are some of your earliest influences?
RK: I loved listing to Barry Manalow, and McCoy Jazz Great Piano Dude Chick Corea, and the music at the Catholic Church.
JG: Frank Zappa and the Mothers, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.


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Randy Bachman live! - photo by Callianne Bachman

Randy Bachman

Bachman: Reinventing Heavy Blues
by Sal Serio
February 2015

When the concept truly sunk in that I was going to be talking to the king of Canadian rock, Randy Bachman, the man behind the music of such incredible songs such as ‘American Woman’, ‘No Sugar Tonight’, ‘These Eyes’, ‘Undun’, ‘Let It Ride’, ‘Rock Is My Life And This Is My Song’, ‘Hey You’, and the FM radio behemoths ‘Takin’ Care Of Business’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’, well, I was a little anxious, to say the least. As it turned out, Randy is an extremely eloquent speaker with a warm personality, and I immediately felt at ease with our conversation. Bachman’s new album, “Heavy Blues”, comes out April 14, and the very first date of his tour is right here in Wisconsin, Wednesday April 1, at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.


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Joshua Garner's Quietrise

Quietrise

This month digital magician Joshua Garner talks about some of his favorite things
by John Noyd
February 2015

A primal intelligence haunts knob-twiddling riddler Joshua Garner’s ambient loops, introspective lyrics and home-built samples. Supporting soul-searching moods among left-field grooves, Garner’s slippery cyber-folk fusions transport outstanding mechanical insanity into enlightened nightmare-pop armories whose rambling phantoms surf electric byways littered in sonic mysteries. As Quietrise, Joshua is a prolific manipulator of sound and scene, with last year’s, “Anhedoniac,” aptly capturing sharp, subterranean beats reaching beneath bubbling hypno-cathartic starkness to conjure entrancing alien landscapes shaped by random humanity. Joshua was kind enough to set aside some time to answer this month’s five favorites.
MAXIMUM INK: Who’s your favorite “out there” artist and why?
JOSHUA GARNER: It would have to be Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin. His material is so complex and deliberate. You can listen to Selected Ambient Works volume 2 in the background for almost any occasion, as long as its chill. You then have to take a sharp left hand turn to get the complexities of Drukqs and put up with a little noise, but understand that he placed the notes just so. You have the great listen-ability of tracks like Windowlicker and Come to Daddy…and most recently Minipops 67 from Syro. Then you have Rubber Johnny, which is an amazing little music video/film in and of itself. You have the great piano pieces peppered throughout his works. He releases tracks from his storehouse on soundcloud in an almost overwhelming flood-like way, and at the same time an ALMOST ALBUM surfaces from the early 2000’s with Caustic Window LP. This guy just keeps us guessing. I truly believe that RDJ’s “b” material could outperform most electronic music today. And this guy doesn’t make much “b” material.

MI: Do you have a favorite film that puts into images what you try to put into sounds?

JG: “Waking Life” is a fantastic journey into the world of dreams. Its philosophy meets cell shading meets the odd cameo. It tries to get into the heart of dreams and lucid dreamers, and it does an amazing job for only being an hour and a half long. I feel that the way this film approaches life….by stripping away the realities like layers of an onion…it tries to make sense of the nonsensical. The musings of the protagonist as he weaves his way through the dream state are like my musings on life in the relationship sense. I like to focus on relationships, not just romantic ones, but those are especially good cannon fodder for the writing process. This movie connects us as a people on a whole new level, and I try to do the same with my music.

MI: What’s your favorite line when people ask you how you ended up in Wisconsin from Pennsylvania?

JG: I was looking for a better audience for my electro-folk music, and I had heard of “Reverence” the electronic music festival, held annually here in Madison, so I thought this area would be a good fit. But really, it’s all about the cheese curds, Badgers, and lots of water sports!

MI: What’s that favorite piece of gear you just can’t do without?

JG: My Roland SP-555 sampler, it is the heart of my rig and is so versatile. From live looping, to programming patterns, and effects on the fly it has been a workhorse. I actually bought 2 at one point to act as a turntable mixing back and forth setup. I keep finding new ways to utilize this beast.

MI: Have you found a favorite place to refuel your creative juices?

JG: My wife and I are big on camping, kayaking, and hiking and so we have begun to explore the state during the warmer months. Lake Geneva was quite a wonderful experience, Devils Lake is always nice, but you just can’t beat Lake Wingra for a smooth and close place to mellow out. I like to just let my hands drift in the water with the sun on my face and inside my head I am composing bleeps and bloops galore!

Joshua’s electronic alter-ego Quietrise play Mother Fool’s Coffeeshop March 27th


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