Category Archive

Editor’s Note: Maxwell Allison is a WNUR alum, a continuing friend of the station, and the bassist for Good Willsmith. He spoke recently with Homer Flynn, head of the Cryptic Corporation and spokesman for the Residents.

Where are you guys right now? How is the tour going?
Tour’s been great—tour’s going really well. Other than the fact that it looks like we’re about to cancel a show in Northhampton, Massachusetts tomorrow because they’re expecting two to three feet of snow.

How many shows are on this tour in total?
There were 21, now there are 20.

Can you tell us what we can expect from the Residents’ Wonder of Weird tour?
Well it’s the 40th anniversary tour, so it’s retrospective. But being retrospective, or at least being The Residents, it’s not necessarily what someone might expect—it’s not obvious. There’s no Constantinople, there’s no Hello Skinny or Man’s World. They’ve actually chosen some fairly obscure material from their catalog that has been drastically re-arranged. So a casual fan could easily go in and think “this is all new material,” but the hardcore people will certainly find a lot of familiar stuff, and a lot of little gems they never expected to see showing up in a concert like this.

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About a week before his Chicago show, I had a chance to talk to Henry Cole, a Puerto Rico-born, NYC-based drummer about his newly-released album, the Afrobeat Collective, and the exports of some brilliant Caribbean music into the U.S. altogether. Here’s what came out of it.

Fanfare Ciocarlia

In early September, right around the time Fanfare Ciocarlia was recording its forthcoming new album in Toronto, I had a chance to talk to Henry Ernst from Asphalt Tango Production and Records. Ernst, a Germany-native and Romani-adopted sound engineer and producer, introduced Ciocarlia to the world in early ’90s and thus far has seen it rise to prominence and recognition as the premier Gypsy brass band on the music scene. This discovery and a few other things became topics of our telephone conversation. After the jump is a shortened version of that talk.

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Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou's current lineup (Ahehehinnou front row, center)

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou’s current lineup (Ahehehinnou front row, center)

Earlier in the summer, I had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Vincent Ahehehinnou, long-time lead singer of Benin’s legendary Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Poly-Rythmo’s sound is a distinct mix of voodoo funk, afrobeat, highlife, and latin jazz, among other musical traditions.

Over the course of our conversation, Vincent recounted various stories from the band’s 40-year history, including encounters with other West African musical giants of the time; artists such as Fela Kuti and Bembeya Jazz. He spoke about the importance of Vodun to the group’s musical and national identity, shared his own views on Pan-Africanism, and more.

Additional thanks to Christiane Rey for help with transcription and Matt Rarey for providing voiceover. In the interview, afrobeat band Africa 70 was mistakenly referred to as Egypt 70.