Thursday, July 31, 2008

Interview with G Love

July 30, 2008

Interview and Photos by Scott Preston

g loveG. Love and Special Sauce’s Superhero Brother is their third album for Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label, and 10th overall (counting their 2002 best-of and last year’s live CD/DVD) in a career that now spans 15 years.

It’s been a long, successful run for the Philadelphia native and self-described “hip-hop blues artist,” whose self-titled 1994 Okeh/Epic Records debut was certified Gold on the strength of the MTV hit, “Cold Beverage,” and a non-stop performing ethic that still has them playing more than 150 shows a year. In fact, the group just recently returned from a headline tour in Australia and Europe that was highlighted by some shows with Jack Johnson. Upon their return to the U.S., the band will be headlining their own outdoor amphitheatre tour with John Butler Trio later this summer.

Superhero Brother, recorded in Philadelphia at The Studio and the band’s own Philadelphonic Studios, as well as Longview Farms Barn in Sturbridge, MA, combines both political and party songs. The album is a reflection of the band’s eclectic recipe for its Special Sauce, from tasty, post-hip-hop Beatles-influenced blues-rock (“Communication”), spicy tropical island rhythms over an Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up” groove (“City Livin’”) and well-seasoned Chambers Brothers-style funk-rock crossed with Cream’s “I Feel Free” (“What We Need”) to sweet, blue-eyed Philly soul (“Crumble”), a red-hot Stones-y “Sympathy for the Devil” vibe (“Peace Love and Happiness”) and homemade, rappin’ blues layered on top of a John Lee Hooker Delta stomp (“Superhero Brother”). (source -

Cincy Groove: How did you recent European tour go?

G Love: It was a lot of fun, I went over there with Jack (Johnson) and we had great crowds every night and good jams on stage. We really got into playing a lot of the new record live, its hitting pretty hard right now which is great.

g love

Cincy Groove: What were you inspired by to write about on the new record "Superhero Brother"?

G Love: I just wanted to make a well rounded record and definitely how I feel about whats going on in the world today, like the war in Iraq and the general state of the union. Thats why you have songs like Superhero Brother and Peace, Love and Happiness.

Cincy Groove: Do you still have a sense of anonymity? Are you able to go out and do things without getting mobbed by fans?

G Love: I'm pretty much in the perfect place right now. I get recognized just enough so my girlfriend thinks I'm cool (laughing), but not enough that it interferes with my family moments with my kid.

Read the full interview here

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interview with Travis Book from The Infamous Stringdusters

July 29, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

infamous stringdusters, bluegrass, travis bookThe Infamous Stringdusters are the new vanguard of acoustic music. Well crafted songs, vivid arrangements, instrumental virtuosity, stunning improvisation, unique individuality and complete harmony… Bluegrass, Rock, Country, Blues, Folk, and Jazz, the “IS” is American Acoustic Music.

When The Infamous Stringdusters comes out June 10 on Sugar Hill Records, some may assume from the title that it’s a debut recording. Those already aware of the Stringdusters phenomenon will know differently: that 2007’s Fork in the Road was the album that boldly introduced this daring, disciplined band to the world of bluegrass and a wider world of music enthusiasts who heard it and decided: ‘if that’s bluegrass, then I love bluegrass.’ Fork in the Road was named Album of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Its title track was named Song of the Year, and the band itself earned the honor of best emerging artist in a competitive field. It was a stunning cap to an amazing 2007.

In their breakout year of 2007, the Infamous Stringdusters played over 150 dates, including the biggest festivals in acoustic music, jammed on major stages with heroes like David Grisman and Sam Bush, and landed a development deal for motion picture music with Lions Gate Entertainment. With the release of The Infamous Stringdusters, 2008 promises more roads and more new fans in bluegrass and beyond. (source -

infamous stringdusters, bluegrass

Cincy Groove: So how did the six of you in The Infamous Stringdusters end up getting together?

Travis Book: Our original guitar player, Chris Eldridge, our banjo player Chris Pandolfi, and our Dobo player Andy Hall all met through mutual friends in Boston. Andy Hall was on his way out of the Berklee School of Music, Pandolfi was on his way in. Chris Eldridge was going to school at Oberlin College in Ohio. Andy Hall then moved to Nashville and was playing in a bunch of different bands. One of them was the Ronnie Bowman Committee with future Infamous Stringduster members Jeremy Garrett (fiddle) and Jesse Cobb (mandolin). So when Pandolfi and Eldridge moved to Nashville the 5 of them put the band together. Then they needed a bass player and they called me, I was out in Durango, CO at the time, to come out and audition. They asked me to join and move to Nashville in Fall of 2005. Then Andy Falco (guitar) replaced Chris Eldridge in Sept of 2007.

Read the full interview here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Video - Family Groove Company, 7.19.2008, Tabfest, Mendon, OH

Here is some video that I shot this past weekend of Chicago band Family Groove Company:

Video - Family Groove Company, 7.19.2008, Tabfest, Mendon, OH


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interview with Sheri Miller

July 21, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

sheri millerBorn in a musical household in Long Island, New York, Sheri Miller grew up listening to her mother, an opera singer belt out beautiful arias in the night, while playing classical Debussy piano. Sheri’s uncle, an accomplished recording engineer in Los Angeles, educated Sheri with his hand-made mix tapes of Pink Floyd, Hungarian Gypsy Music, Diamanda Galas and Etta James.

Sheri began playing the piano at an early age, but rebelled by composing her own wild and fantastical original songs. "I remember playing this one song I had made up on the piano, 'The Lost Tribe,' about buffalo, sunsets and gypsy wandering, so many times my mother almost killed me."

While at the University of Pennsylvania studying literature and poetry (in the same class as r&b singer John Legend) Sheri began to sing with a local Philly blues band, while secretly sculpting her own songs, tucked away in her tiny bedroom. But one Sunday afternoon, something magical happened to Sheri, completely changing her life.

"I had been writing songs in my room for months, which was a 20-minute walk from the Penn jazz music room, which had all the practice pianos. And I knew I was definitely not writing enough each day because it was such a big hassle to walk those long blocks downtown. Over the next couple of months, I started dreaming steadily at night about keyboards, about buying a used keyboard. I clearly remember one Saturday night in particular, I had an extremely vivid dream about this small black, white and gray Casio keyboard. The next morning I woke up with the image of the keyboard still clear in my mind, and took a different, more scenic route that day, through an underpass of green trees. So I’m walking, and there’s this one-day church sale, where they had the exact Casio keyboard I had dreamed of the night before. I quickly ran to the ATM, bought the keyboard for $20 and started seriously writing my songs on that sweet, broken-keyed Casio from that day on.”

“Since then, I believe coincidences are just visible lines in our destiny."

After college, Sheri moved back to New York to Park Slope, Brooklyn, and made steady rounds at local open mics like The Raven, while practicing her acoustic guitar and keyboard for hours in her basement apartment. She immersed herself in the poetry of Charles Bukowski, O. Henri, Marcel Proust, Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou. She melted into Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, classical music, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding and Billie Holiday.

Brimming with inspiration, Sheri developed her own sensual soundscape of hypnotic bluesy American soul meets classic British melodic-pop, bringing it to the stages of The Bowery Ballroom, Joe's Pub, World Cafe Live, The Bluebird Cafe, The Canal Room and The Living Room. She has had a song featured on the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Compilation, Volume 4.

“I feel extremely lucky to be able to create music. I only hope to keep becoming a more honest, genuine, deep, and authentic artist and songwriter, so that people can glimpse a spark of truth in my songs.” (from

sheri miller

Cincy Groove: What are some of your earliest musical memories?

Sheri Miller: Well listening to my mom sing various arias (she is an opera singer), I could always hear her down the stairs, she also played classical piano. When I would be put to bed, I remember hearing the sound just walk up the stairs. A lot of the classical music became embedded into my earliest memories.

Cincy Groove: What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up?

Sheri Miller: It really varied, my uncle would send me mixed tapes in the mail that would have just about everything on them. A lot of Pink Floyd, Muddy Waters, Etta James. Then he would also send tapes with this gothic classical music, Hungarian gypsy music, really all kinds. He really exposed me to a world of different types of music. He sculpted my tastes early on.

Cincy Groove: I was reading about that Casio keyboard that you used early on in your music career, do you still have it?

Sheri Miller: Yes I still have it, although its not sounding as good as it to. When you turn it on, the buzz that comes from it is almost as loud as the music that is being played. Its missing half the keys, because I'm sure its been around a while even before I got a hold of it. I'm not materialistic, I mean I don't usually attribute too much significance to things. It was just one of the more simple things that changed my life. I look at it as the physical manifestation of where my life was going to go.

sheri millerCincy Groove: So I understand you released your very first cd earlier this year.

Sheri Miller: Yes it is my first EP "Mantra", it came out in February of this year. I feel really lucky to have it out there and people are really responding to it. I hope to put out many more albums, knock on wood (laughing).

Read the full Interview here

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interview with Caroline Herring

July 17, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

caroline herringCaroline Herring digs deep—deep into the rich soil of American roots music for her sound, and deep into the recesses of her own consciousness for her themes. The musically understated, psychologically intense songs of this Atlanta-based Mississippi native ponder the eternal verities while probing the complex nature of contemporary existence; she delivers them in a fine-grained alto replete with the residue of hard-earned insight.

On Lantana, her beautiful and eloquent third album (Signature Sounds), Herring fills the listener’s heart with hope one moment and sends a chill down the spine the next. This pivotal album, which documents a personal and artistic crossroads for its author, cements her status as a truth teller, and no matter how bitter or disturbing the story leading to the truth may be, she approaches it clear-eyed and straight-on, getting down to the nub of it with quiet tenacity. No wonder fellow artist Dar Williams, who co-headlined a European tour with Herring in 2006, described her as “the elusive ‘real thing.’” (from

Cincy Groove: What was it like when you first moved to Austin? I know you came from a pretty small town.

Caroline Herring: It was intimidating, but it was good, its always nice to have connections to plug into when you move to a new place. I was going for my PhD in American Studies which I never finished, but I was able to meet people that way. As for the music scene, I didn't even think I would be playing out for a while so I just went at my own pace. There was a cafe I worked at just so I could see the music for free.

caroline herringCincy Groove: How did you recent trip to Europe go? Where did you play?

Caroline Herring: I just got back 2 weeks ago, I played in The Netherlands and Belgium for about 10 days. I absolutely loved it, it was my 5th trip over to Europe. In past trips, I have played at the Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, Paris, and last year a festival in Denmark.

Cincy Groove: What music was playing in your house when you were growing up?

Caroline Herring: A lot of The Kingston Trio, my dad was really into that 50's folk music. I also listened to a lot of gospel, classical, and R&B music. I really didn't listen to any country at all at the time. As I got older I discovered bands like REM, U2, Joni Mitchell. Then in college I started listening to more contemporary folk music and classic country music, like the Carter Family.

Read the full Interview here

Interview with Speech from Arrested Development

July 17, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

speech, arrested developmentARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Speaks thru music to the world. Speech one of the vocalist for this collective says, Our people have been through so much turmoil and strife for hundreds of years now. We get on stage every night with the mission to broaden the perspectives and give inspiration to rise above the stereotypes and materialism." Unsurprisingly, then, the Grammy award winning group Arrested Development has been devoted to nudging folks in the direction of freedom and spiritual evolution for over 15 years.

The group describes their sound as "Life Music." A.D. respects women, and promotes family, spirituality and "male responsibility." They are about consciousness, the earth, African self determination and love. They define themselves as hip-hop artists but also just artists." They are dancers, vocalists, turntablist, drummers, and everything in between. Arrested Development is and has always been a communal music community with any number of talented members on board, picture your family reunion but more musical. Speech may be the most known member of the group, being the front man, but Dionne Farris, Eshe (Black Life), Rasa Don (Raz), Baba Oje (the elder), Nicha and many others have contributed much to this Kalidescope of image and sound. (from

Cincy Groove: How did Arrested Development first get together?

Speech: Back in 1987 I went to a school called The Art Institute of Atlanta. One of the first members I put in the group was a brother named Headliner. He and I started talking and doing these 2 man shows together. We would bring people on stage to do African dance, graffiti, some rhyming. It really started to grow from there because some of the people that came on stage we would invite to come to the next show. Thats basically how the group grew into what it is today.

Cincy Groove: Did the group have a different approach to this last record "Since the Last Time" compared to your earlier ones?

Speech: Yes, we all did. We worked with a producer, Sam Hollander, out of New York. He is really an old school hip hop professional. We really have been going at this record with a feel good, party attitude. We want you to be able to put on the record with a gathering of friends and have some music with a good vibe to it, but at the same time have some messages in the songs also. We didn't go as heavy on the messages this time around with this record, because we weren't feeling so heavy. We were feeling pretty good about where we were in our personal lives.

arrested development

Cincy Groove: How did you feel about all the attention the group started to get with that first record you put out "3 years, 5 months and 2 days in the life of..."

Speech: It was encouraging but also scary because it was our first album and it was a lot to live up to. I was being compared to Bob Marley at the time which was very scary for me. But of course it felt good to get those awards and recognition from your peers.

Read the full Interview here

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interview with Emily Elbert

July 11, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

emily elbert19 year old Emily Elbert is a singer/songwriter with deep musical roots and a love for creative expression. Her music has delighted audiences and music critics alike with her jazz-infused sound, which she describes as “acoustic soul-folk.” Fresh off a northeast run with G Love and Special Sauce and a showcase spot at the Folk Alliance Festival in Memphis, Elbert is already making a name for herself. Her love of music from around the world, and distinctive combination of jazz, folk, soul, blues, and pop creates a sound that engages the hearts, minds, and ears of listeners around the globe. Emily blends a hip musical perspective with an in-depth knowledge of classic favorites to create unique vocal and guitar arrangements.

Cincy Groove: What kind of music was playing in your house when you were growing up?

Emily Elbert: My dad is a killer pianist, and he introduced me to a lot of different styles - one of the ones that comes to mind first is Brazilian jazz, especially Antonio Carlos Jobim. I love that guy. I cover one of his tunes at shows sometimes, Triste. My mom was real involved in helping introduce my ears to some nice things - James Taylor is a big one, and I was real real into oldies radio. Like 50s & 60s pop. My parents got sick of it I listened to it so much. Ha.

Cincy Groove: When did you first pick up the guitar? the first song you learned to play?

Emily Elbert: I grew up playing piano pretty competitively. But, being a middle schooler, I needed to rebel, and the practice schedule didn't appeal to me too much. So dropped it for guitar when I was about 14 or so. I became totally infatuated with it. I think the day I got it I didn't come out of my room for like 10 hours. I don't really remember my first song, I just wanted to try everything. My first performance was at this retirement party for my school librarian. I played a Ben Kweller song. That was also the first time I sang in front of anyone.

emily elbert

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Emily Elbert: Absolutely. This summer is actually real weird - I tried to (almost) completely clear my schedule so that I could clear my head and write. Got a lot of new tunes goin right now, and will hopefully have a new album out by the end of the year.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?

Emily Elbert: I love Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell, and Paul Simon, and the Beatles. Also Bob Marley, Incubus, John Mayer, Hendrix, Aretha, and Jobim of course. I love 60s folk rock like CSNY. And funk and blues. And Bobby McFerrin. And there's a new woman out right now named Esperanza Spalding, and she's got the freaking Midas touch. Beautiful. I also flip for a good pop song. I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan, and I love Justin Timberlake. The guy puts on a stellar show.

Read the full Interview here

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Interview with Noah Sugarman

July 9, 2008

Interview and Photos by Scott Preston

noah sugarmanNoah Sugarman hails from the great state of Kentucky where he studied jazz and classical guitar, as well as bluegrass, which is instilled in musicians from that region at a very young age. After 13 years of writing and performing 25 year old Noah Sugarman has created a genre transcending style all to it's own. With melody heavy lyrics from a big rhythm and blues voice touching on deep subject matter, rhythmic finger picking and beats that keep you guessing. Noah Sugarman's recordings and live shows are truly a sight to hear and see. (from

Cincy Groove: I see you are playing the Madison Theater in Covington, KY this Friday.

Noah Sugarman: Yeah we are excited about it. Its the last show of the tour. We have been out on the road for 2 months now, but its been great. But its nice to play the last show of the tour to a home crowd.

Cincy Groove: Who is in your touring band?

Noah Sugarman: All guys from Cincinnati, pretty much my old group The Rudies. Pete plays keyboard, Zach Russell my drummer (who is actually from Indiana), Ian Herzog was the bass player, but now has a 2 year old son and decided to focus on his family. So we got another guy we went to high school with David Lloyd to play bass. I have known all these guys for years, so it makes it easier to go out and travel. They are like my brothers.

noah sugarman

Cincy Groove: I know about your studio cd you released last year "Art of Starting a Fire", I also see you released a 2nd cd "Web b-sides", whats on that one?

Noah Sugarman: Its just basically some demos we recorded. We also did a Thin Lizzy song on there.

Cincy Groove: Are you going to record another studio cd in the future?

Noah Sugarman: Yes, but not quite yet, we are still going to tour this one for a while. I'm writing new songs, but honestly I don't see it coming out in the next year and a half. If we had a bigger fan base I would push to get it out sooner. But we are still going to places we haven't been before. Its more important to me to tour and get my name out, than to rush right back into the studio.

Read the full interview here

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Interview with Johnny James Qualley from Oakhurst

July 7, 2008

Interview and photos by Scott Preston

oakhurst, bluegrassOakhurst has had a reputation for torching bar and theater stages throughout the US with its unique sound and unbridled stage energy for years. But lately, the band has also created a stir on major festival stages, cruise ships and European tours. The band’s adept picking, sweet harmonies, and citybilly swagger have cleary come from playing 200+ shows a year in such varied environments. Oakhurst’s unpretentious, go-for-it interpretation of a genre that’s often handled too reverently, sparks interest in bluegrass by folks who don’t know Doc Watson from Doc Holliday.

Along the way Oakhurst has shared stages with very diverse national talent such as John Hiatt, Nickel Creek, The Flaming Lips, Emmylou Harris, Barenaked Ladies, Yard Dogs Roadshow, Bela Fleck, The Ditty Bops, The Radiators, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, Lynyrd Skynard, Johnny Lang & Guster.

Oakhurst has also shared the stage with future and current Colorado legends as well. The list includes Yonder Mountain String Band, Devotchka, Rose Hill Drive, the Motet, Pete Wernick, Drew Emmit, Billy Nershi and Vince Herman. (from

Cincy Groove: So do you handle the bands publicity?

Johnny James Qualley: Yes, I handle the bands publicity. Being a founding member its one of those things I have been doing since back in the beginning. We have everything else in place except a publicist, but since we have all the other stuff taken care of it gives me more time to do the publicity. We have a great booking agent here in Boulder, Co. Its great not to have to worry about booking our shows anymore.


Cincy Groove: How many shows does Oakhurst play in a year?

Johnny James Qualley: Anywhere from 200 - 250 shows a year. So far this year we have been to 9 countries and 25 different states, and the year is only half over. We are getting ready for our first run of the year through the east coast which is always a lot of fun.

Cincy Groove: I have seen Oakhurst perform at 4 hookahville's, how did you end up hooking up with Trickle from Legend Valley?

Johnny James Qualley: Our manager Erin, is married to Hunter Shoemaker who is from Newark, OH. He and his older brother J.R. ended up growing up with Trickle. So 2 1/2 years ago when Hunter came into the picture, Erin was really trying to book tours for us. We went out there to Legend Valley and played our first hookahville. Trickle loved our music and the guys from ekoostik hookah are were good to us. We ended up doing four hookahville's in a row. We missed this past spring's hookahville because we were in Europe.

oakhurst, bluegrassCincy Groove: So how did the idea come about to ride around on the golf carts playing music at hookahville?

Johnny James Qualley: I think thats really how we got noticed out there. The first time we ever rode around on the golf cart playing was at that hookahville. Trickle came by with his crew and 5 or 6 golf carts. He loaded us up and we went around playing at people's campsites until the sun came up.

Cincy Groove: Whats one of the more interesting places Oakhurst has played?

Johnny James Qualley: Back in January and February we were performing on Jam Cruise and one of the places that we repeatedly went to was the Grand Cayman Islands. A couple of our band members just went out to have a couple beers and check out he island. They met the owner of this club and he said the next time we were on the island we should go and play a show at his place. So the next time we went through we showed up at this place, they had fried caunch set out and all of this great food. They had this guy standing out on the curb with a sign. We ended up packing this little tiny bar.

Read the full Interview here

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jon Justice Band - Artist of the Month July 2008 on

Jon Justice was recently sited as Best of Cincinnati 2008 Blues Singer/Slinger, won the Cincinnati Blues Challenge representing the Queen City at the IBC in Memphis. In 2007 Justice was nominated for three C.E.A's for Best Blues Artist, Best Live Act, and Best Up and Coming Artist and appeared in a Bootsy Collins', ( James Brown, Parliament Funk, George Clinton), video "BENGAL ROCK". Jon was also honored with a C.U.LA.N award by the city of Cincinnati for his artistic contributions to the community in 2008.

Jon Justice is also Artist of the Month for July 2008 on