Interview with The People Brothers Band [Podcast]

Positivity. Good vibes. Great people. Fun music. These are just a few things that immediately come to mind when I think of The People Brothers Band—a Madison-based “rhythm & soul” group known for their uplifting live shows. We had the pleasure of having two PBB members, Teresa and Greg, in the Murfie office recently. They had a lot of great things to say about the Midwest scene, and People Fest, which is happening this weekend in Hillsboro, Wisconsin!

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

People Brothers Band Middle of the In BetweenWho: Teresa Marie and Greg Schmitt; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Monday, July 20th, 2015
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


K: I’m here at the Murfie office with Greg and Teresa from The People Brothers Band, so big welcome.

G: Hello!

T: Hello hello, thank you for having us!

K: Yes. I’m glad you guys dig Murfie, and the concept.

G: Absolutely.

T: This is super cool. Blows my mind a little bit. More people need to know about Murfie.

K: Yes, and it’s local…slash national. But yeah, it’s a lot of fun to be part of it. And we were also just mentioning the MAMAs—Madison Area Music Awards—which were a ton of fun. You guys won top Pop/R&B Album of the Year, Middle of the in Between. So what do you guys think about the MAMA award system and everything?

T: I think every year they’re increasingly doing way cooler things, and this year they definitely put on a show. And I really encourage the musicians in Madison to get out and know more about it, because I think that’s what it lacks, is us being more involved in it. But it’s a really cool way to get recognition and to be appreciated.

G: I think it’s a really cool thing because every time, every year you get to see all these cool new bands. We all run in different circles, and it’s finally cool to see all these people come together. It’s fun for me because when I get to go in and vote, all of a sudden you get to listen to these bands that, you see their names in The Isthmus but you don’t always get to go out to the shows, because you’re playing on the weekends. So it’s fun, because it kind of like gives you a good reason to check out all these great bands. And then it’s fun because it kind of gets everybody in one place, you get to see all these different people that you didn’t know about.

K: I would agree with that 100%. And its enough rotation every year to keep it interesting. Some people are repeat winners but it’s good to see it cycle through like that. During your speech Teresa you had a message to musicians, telling them they had the opportunity to spread positivity through doing this. I thought that was great, can you elaborate on that a little bit?

T: Absolutely, that’s really cool that you even…that means a lot! I guess at the end of the day, I think most people are doing music for the love of it, and the way that you feel when you’re playing music, when you’re doing music, when the people are watching you the way they’re receiving it—if you could just spread that feeling throughout the community for other things. And I think that we can, I think that when you feel that kind of passion and that kind of love coming from people, you can’t help but want to do good things with it. That’s what we do at People Fest, I know that.

K: Yes, tell me about People Fest!

T: August 6th, 7th and 8th. And I will say more than once that it’s not just some of the most fun you’re gonna have this summer, it’s some of the best memories you can make in your life. And that’s a true story. There’s so much love flowing through those driftless hills, it doesn’t make any sense.

481065_556687791009906_323876588_nK: Love it. What town is it in?

G: Hillsboro, Wisconsin. It’s over by Wildcat Mountain. It’s an awesome drive out there, it’s on 300 acres of amazing land out there. We’ve got horses running around…

T: Alpacas…

G: We’ve got a couple llamas and a miniature donkey. And it’s all family friendly. We’ve got 53 bands playing.

T: Three stages, camping, family camping.

Continue reading Interview with The People Brothers Band [Podcast]

This Week in Music History (June 19th-25th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

8078-large6/19- On this day in 1988, Michael Jackson played a concert next to the Berlin Wall, on the west side. He pumped the music way up so that people on the east side could hear. Any east sider who tried to get close to the wall to listen was violently kept back by police.

13335-large6/20- On this day in 1974, Bob Dylan & the Band released Before the Flood, a double live album with final recordings taken from Los Angeles and New York shows.

MI00029147286/21- On this day in 1991, Little Richard received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The “overjoyed force of personality in his singing” is one that is easily recognized in tunes like “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Tutti Frutti”.

20864-large6/22- On this day in 1990, Billy Joel performed an epic concert at the old Yankee Stadium. It’s been claimed that this was the first major concert in the stadium’s history. 60,000 fans were in attendance, which was more than the seating capacity of baseball games at that time.

102505-large6/23- On this day in 1929, June Carter Cash was born. Performing with her family from a young age, she was already a country music star. Her success continued throughout her entire life, including the 35 years she was married to Johnny Cash.

40960-large6/24- On this day in 1977, some quirky stuff went down in Madison. Elvis was in town for a show, and he spotted a fight between some young men when he was riding down East Washington avenue. After getting out of his limo, he allegedly warned the men, saying, “I’ll take you on.” Not only did this make the men stop fighting, but it left them amazed to have spotted Elvis.

222995-large6/25- On this day in 2009, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away at age 50. His music will forever influence genres from pop/rock to rap and R&B, and many more.

Oh, so you want to own any of these awesome albums here, or hear them in lossless format? Well we just so happen to have them for sale! Find your new favorite for as little as $1!

Pete’s Picks: An Introduction to John Martyn

Uncovering one of music’s sweet little mysteries…

For music lovers, one of the most exciting aspects is the discovery of a new artist or album and being able to share that excitement with others—something that Murfie members know plenty about! So when the opportunity to offer a recommendation for Murfie Staff Picks came along, for me it was not a difficult choice. The hardest part was choosing which album to recommend.

John Martyn was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist whose career spread across 40 years and 21 studio albums. He’s had contributions along the way from Eric Clapton, The Band’s Levon Helm, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Phil Collins. John has also inspired a wide range of artists from Beck, The Cure’s Robert Smith, David Gray, Devendra Banhart, Snow Patrol and many more—yet John remains pretty much unknown to many.

The music of John Martyn captured my soul from the very first listen. Island Records was John’s musical home for 22 years. He recorded 12 studio albums during that time, none of which were of any real commercial success, so it is a testament to Island Records’ founder Chris Blackwell who signed John (who was just twenty years old), making him the first white artist to join the otherwise Jamaican-based music label in 1967. Chris Blackwell stuck by John for over 20 years, purely because he liked John and the music he made.

John described himself as an incurable romantic, which is evident in his ability for writing and delivering perfect love songs, without sounding cheap or blatantly inauthentic. What is even more astounding is his guitar playing, considering he didn’t know one chord from the next, but knew the shapes and positions his fingers needed to make to produce the the sound he wanted.

Like so many treasured and talented artists, John’s life was not without controversy. He suffered with drug abuse and alcohol addiction. He was uncompromising, and could become quite violent at times. In 2003, John’s right leg was amputated below the right knee due to septicemia brought on by diabetes. This would not slow him down, however. He continued to tour, performing with his band from a wheelchair.

In 2008, John was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and was included in the Queen’s New Years Honors list, receiving an O.B.E. (Order Of The British Empire). Sadly on January 29th, 2009, John died in a hospital in Ireland due to double pneumonia. Eric Clapton payed tribute to John claiming he was, “so far ahead of everything, it’s almost inconceivable.”

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Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology (1995)

This two disc collection highlights John’s most innovative and treasured moments during his time with Island Records, with a selection of tracks taken from eight studio albums from 1971-1986. This collection is certainly a great start in the discovery of the music of John Martyn, but is by no means the end of the journey. The tracks from each album represented on Sweet Little Mysteries are just a few from this golden period of John’s career. Below I have included a little background information relating to the albums that are featured in this collection.

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Bless The Weather (1971), Tracks 1-3

Bless The Weather is at times a delicate and beautiful album. It was recorded in just three days, as John preferred the spontaneous approach, and many of the songs were even written the day of recording. This album earned John some of the strongest reviews of his career. The album blends gentle yet complex acoustic guitar styles with John’s increasingly jazzy vocals. In 1999 (28 years after it’s original release), Q magazine suggested that Bless The Weather was one of the most essential folk albums of all time.

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Solid Air (1973), Tracks 4-8

Solid Air is considered to be John’s landmark album, which showed him move towards a more experimental folk, jazz and blues direction. Here John delivers his lyrics with a more slurred expression, almost using his voice as an instrument. From the first few opening notes of Solid Air, you are immediately seduced and on a journey into a real after-hours classic. The British music magazine Q listed Solid Air as the 67th Greatest British Album Ever and was also included in their list of Best Chill-Out Albums Of All Time—not bad for an album recorded in 1973.  The title track was written for and about John’s close friend and Island label mate Nick Drake. Also included from the Solid Air Album is the tender “May You Never”, a track that earned John the most royalty checks he ever received—not from his own version, but the version Eric Clapton recorded for his 1977 album Slowhand.

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Inside Out (1973), Tracks 9-11

Following the critical appeal brought by Solid Air, Inside Out was described by John as everything he ever wanted to do in music. It was his insides coming out. He began to experiment more with electric guitar, leaving the acoustic to take more of a backseat role. Experimentation with effects pedals also began to enter into the mix, and the introduction of the Echoplex tape delay machine was being used to try to make his guitar emulate a sustained sax sound, influenced by Pharoah Saunders‘ Karma album.

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Sunday’s Child (1975), Tracks 12-18

Having unleashed his experimental side through Inside Out, John appears a little more settled and content with the release of Sunday’s Child—and the Echoplex still makes an appearance, shaping some very interesting soundscapes to accompany his ever present messages of love. The songs within Sunday’s Child are of a more conventional structure, as demonstrated on the beautifully simple “You Can Discover” and “One Day Without You”. While promoting Sunday’s Child, John played support for Pink Floyd on their Wish You Were Here tour in the UK. As he took the stage with just his acoustic guitar in hand, he was met by a wall of abuse from the crowd, who made it perfectly clear that they were not prepared to sit and listen to a bunch of folk songs. Undeterred, John proceeded to plug his guitar into the Echoplex and blasted the audience with a performance that resulted in a standing ovation.

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One World (1977), Tracks 1-6

After Sunday’s Child, John decided that he needed some time away from recording and his ever-skeptical view of the music business. He headed out to Jamaica, and while he was there, was introduced to the master of dub, Lee “Scratch” Perry. When John finally returned to the UK with the desire to re-enter the studio, he recorded One World, which saw John introduce some of the influences from his trip to Jamaica in tracks such as “Big Muff” (written with Lee Scratch Perry) and “Smiling Stranger”. The album was produced by Chris Blackwell, and is another example of John’s hunger for experimentation. The album also features Steve Winwood on Moog synthesizer. One of the many highlights from this album is the incredible and truly ambient track “Small Hours”, which was recorded around 3:00 in the morning, outside in the open air, next to a lake on a farm owned by Chris Blackwell. It features the sounds of nature’s very own session musicians, as the geese and the lapping water can be heard playing their part along with a passing mail train in the distance.

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Grace And Danger (1980), Tracks 7-12

Grace and Danger is a deep, painful and openly honest account of the breakdown of John’s relationship with his wife Beverley, a singer-songwriter in her own right, who he met and married in 1969. John was originally hired to be Beverley’s backing guitarist, which eventually lead to them releasing two albums (Stormbringer and The Road To Ruin) as John & Beverley Martyn for Island records. The songs on Grace and Danger are not in anyway spiteful or of a bitter naturein fact, they are quite the opposite. At times they are reflective, optimistic with false hope, a plea to be understood. Unlike a Hollywood movie, there is no happy ending here. The release of the album was delayed for over a year due to the fact that Chris Blackwell found the album too openly disturbing, given that he knew both parties so well. John eventually demanded that the album be released, telling Blackwell, “Please get it out! I don’t give a damn about how sad it makes you feel—it’s what I’m about: direct communication of emotion.” Rolling Stone described Grace and Danger as “a very strong outing, placing him in a class with such intelligent eclectics as Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell.”

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Sapphire (1984), Tracks 13-14

For a brief period after Grace and Danger, John Left Island Records and signed to Warner Brothers releasing two albums, Glorious Fool (1981), which was produced by Phil Collins and featured Eric Clapton on guitar, and Well Kept Secret (1982). Both releases saw John’s guitar playing taking more of a backseat role, with keyboards and  drum machines featured more prominently and s well as live shows with a full band. John rejoined Island in 1984 and headed for Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record Sapphire with the help of Robert Palmer, who somewhat rescued the sessions as John was constantly falling out with the assigned production team. Again very little of John’s guitar playing is distinguishable from the now favored synth layers, as even his own guitar was now being fed through electronics, unfortunately with no real groundbreaking results.

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Piece By Piece (1986), Tracks 15-16

Piece By Piece was my introduction to the music of John Martyn and was played to me in 1987 on vinyl by a good friend of mine. I was 18 at the time and the thing that struck me on that very first listen was the honesty pouring out of John’s lyrics and the vocal delivery that convinced me that this guy means every word. The production and songwriting on Piece by Piece in my mind is far superior to that of the previous two records (Well Kept Secret and Sapphire) it indicates John on a more settled path once again, although it would not remain settled for long. Piece By Piece was John’s last studio album for Island as Chris Blackwell sold the company to the major label PolyGram, and John was later dropped and was without a record deal for the first time in over 20 years.

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Johnny Boy Would Love This! (2011)

In 1995, I met  and became friends with John and was fortunate to be in a position to help him sign a record deal with a label that I worked for in the UK. I worked with John on four albums before he sadly passed away in 2009. Later that same year, I was approached by John’s good friend and Chicago-based record Producer, Jim Tullio, to help coordinate and compile a tribute album to John that he was putting together. The album would contain brand new recordings of John’s classic songs performed by artists who had been influenced by John’s music. We secured thirty artists including: Beck, Snow Patrol, David Gray, Robert Smith (The Cure), Phil Collins, Joe Bonamassa, The Emperors of Wyoming (featuring Butch Vig) plus Academy Award winners, The Swell Season. Released in August 2011, the album titled Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn received critical acclaim, helping music lovers to discover the sweet little mystery of John Martyn.