Modern Drummer Interview – “Narada Michael Walden: Drummer, Singer, Songwriter, Educator, and Producer to the Stars”

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Since busting out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, when he was still a teenager to become hot drumming property with Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck, among others, Narada Michael Walden has earned remarkable accolades on both sides of the glass, putting out a series of successful crossover albums as a leader, and producing superstars like Steve Winwood, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Diana Ross. Since the mid-’80s he’s resided in San Rafael, California, where he owns and operates Tarpan Recording Studios and continues his gold and platinum streak. Modern Drummer magazine interviewed Narada (pronounced, if you’re wondering, like Florida) about his latest solo album, Evolution, in the April 2016 issue, on newsstands now. In this exclusive online article, he discusses working with a couple of his famous former drum students and comments on the individual tracks from Evolution.

Tony and Omar

Tony Thompson and Omar Hakim would come to my house when I lived in Holliswood, Queens. I had a room in the basement that I soundproofed with the help of my friend Greg DiGiovine, who was my manager at the time. I could play my drums at any time and practice for the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I’d invite all my local friends over and we’d play. Howie Grate was another powerhouse who would come over.

Tony and Omar came over a lot. I thought they were young, brilliant cats—smooth and liquid. Tony wanted to work on making his time and feel more relaxed. We would play with click tracks, and that prepared him for working with Chic—to play with intensity and not rush. Sometimes I’d play piano and he’d play drums, and we’d work on drum fills and make everything smooth and not feel like it was rushing. And man he got it down! Tony Thompson was a genius player. I’m sorry he’s not with us physically anymore, but his sound will live forever.

Omar Hakim has a natural gift. I was always so surprised at how flawless his chops and dexterity were at such a young age. And he was a happy, happy cat; we just enjoyed playing and enjoying music and growing together. I had a lot of fun times in Queens playing with these great folks.

Teaching at the Collective

The Drummers Collective downtown, that was a whole other set of people I met that just wanted to grow their chops or funk feel or a combination of both. A lot of drummers wanted to learn how to play in five, seven, nine, eleven—all different odd meters. So I spent time doing that kind of thing. We’d have two drumsets, and I’d play and ask them to play it back to me, kind of mirroring each other. They would tape this on a cassette machine [laughs] so they could take the lesson with them and study and learn from it. A lot of my students still have those tapes. They’re quite valuable because we got into some serious lessons. I miss those times and I love all those people.



I recorded live drums for Evolution at Tarpan with my white DW kit in the main room. It’s four-on-the-floor, Rick James–style, acoustic drums. I recorded to have a live feel, but for the dance floor, by pumping up my drums to make it sound [programmed]. I wanted everything to have a cohesive sound that I can play live with my band.

I approach the drums very naturally. I’ll cut a basic track on my keyboards to a drum machine loop that I’ve programmed, and then I’ll put my drums on top of that. That’s usually what I’ll do, unless it’s a live-in-the-studio thing where I’m going to cut live drums—and even if that’s the case I’ll still make a loop of a handclap, a conga, or something else to use as a click track.

The track “Evolution” is on fire with spirit from my family, my children Kelly and Kayla, and my wife Katie. It has Marvin Gaye inspiration for the world and for keeping our environment together with love for spirit and humanity. I dedicate it to Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley and all the people who are searching for bringing about a better world through music.

“Billionaire on Soul Street” is also a Curtis Mayfield feel-meets-top-ten-radio. My family and music inspire me to feel good, like a “Billionaire on Soul Street”!

“Baby’s Got It Going On” is a track I’m very proud of. It’s a Rick James–inspired vibe. It’s one of my happiest and strongest songs on the record.

“Freedom” is the Richie Havens song that he played at Woodstock. It’s my homage to his great genius.

“Song for You” [came about after] I was teasing my studio assistant Kimrea and told her to give me a song title in three seconds. She gave me that title and I wrote a funky, dance floor, feels good, around-the-world song.

“It’s the Sixties Now” is my way of [talking about] everything that brings me to love San Francisco—and it’s still the same. Flower Power and people looking for freedom in the heart. This is my prayer that we continue in the same spirit that Hendrix and Joplin and all the people brought in the ’60s.

I composed “Tear the House Down” with Lionel Ritchie twenty-five years ago, and I reinvented it for now.

“Me and My Girl” is another one I wrote with Lionel years ago that I updated for this record.

“Heaven Is in My Heart” is another family dedication to my life, looking back on going to high school in Plainwell, Michigan, and teaching and working at the Plainwell Sanitarium to pay my bills. It’s about who I loved and who raised me, to my grandmother, my parents, and my brother Ron, who passed away. Everything I love in life is in my heart.

“Standing Tall” is a lyric written by Jennifer Saran that comes from a phrase I loved that Merl Saunders Sr. would always say: “Standing Tall says it all.” Mariana Rosimis passed that on to me, so I wrote a song about it.

I cut “Long and Winding Road” when I was working with Jeff Beck, thinking that we might do it with Rod Stewart or someone else. But we didn’t end up doing that, so I put it out with me singing because I love the song.

I composed “Show Me How to Love Again” for a previous album and reworked it with Booda’s remix. It’s a cry to all men in the world. We get so corroded, we have to learn how to love again.

SF-Bay Area Based Latin-Rock-Reggae Artist Razteria’s “Aventurera” Album Release, street date March 18th, live in concert Saturday April 9th @ THE UPTOWN, 1928 Telegraph Ave. Oakland.


SATURDAY APRIL 9th, UPTOWN, 1928 Telegraph ave.

Uptown, 1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA

Advance tickets $15 / $20 (includes Aventurera album) | Door $20 | 21+

Ticket link:

Facebook Link:

 Saturday April 9th, 2016 artists from all over SF Bay Area and beyond are coming together in celebration of the release of Razteria’s new album Aventurera.

The all-star line up includes DJ Leydis, performances by Pasto Seco Band, an East Bay based South American fusion band, Redwood city based rapper Rahman Jamaal together with Risk from Sao Paulo of Street Music Poetry, Kata of of international revolutionary party band LoCura, the Fyah Squad Band, Irae Divine, Sol Atash and Ariel of the collective Empress Unification, Seneca of Earthamplified, Chatterbox of Puppetplex and to top is all off, featured dance performance by Tanilee Amor’s Amor do Samba Brazilian dance troupe!


Aventurera album is groundbreaking in its richness, representing the synergy of collaborations with talented independent San Francisco Bay area artists and beyond. *10 tracks (+ 2 bonus tracks), in English, Spanish and French. 90% recorded & produced at RAZTERIA’s own, Truffula Oak Studio, mixed by James Ward, of Live Oak Studio in Berkeley, and mastered by Justin Weiss of Trakworx. Two of the tunes (Change, Little Sister) were mixed at Kinyama Sounds, a Suisse based label. Aventurera is currently charting on CMJ new world music chart.


About the artists:

Razteria aka Renee Asteria backed by the Fyah Squad Band

San Francisco, CA, based artist Razteria (aka Renee Asteria) can be described as a fusion of No Doubt, Bomba Estereo, Los Aterciopelados, Steel Pulse and Marisa Monte. Her multicultural background (born in the USA of Bolivian-Dutch heritage and raised in France) has had a profound influence on her musical journey. Performing in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, her music has been described as ‘musically adventurous’ and ‘one of a kind, breaking all rules,’ uniting Reggae, passionate Latin grooves, Rock, powerful messages and some real musical genius.

Razteria is known for her simple yet intricate songs, her signature ethereal harmonies and fat bass-lines. Over the past ten years, Razteria, performing under both Razteria and Renee Asteria, has planted musical seeds throughout the Americas (Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, and USA) and Europe (France, Switzerland). In late 2015 Razteria completed her fifth album Aventurera, which will be available as of March 18, 2016 on digital platforms worldwide and in select stores. Aventurera is currently charting on CMJ New World Music.

Fyah Squad Band

Fyah Squad Band is a Reggae, Funk, & Soul band based in the San Francisco Bay Area. They work with local artists and are one of the top as a backing bands for touring artists in the area. Founding members Waddell Bell (bassie) and Lou Neuburger (drums) are jazz trained musicians who have specialized in Reggae. Artists we currently work with: Rocker T ~ JuniorToots ~ Empress Meditations ~ Razteria ~ Messenjah Selah ~ Irae Divine ~ Sol Atash and more. Touring Artists we have backed: Wayne Wonder and more.

Pasto Seco

Pasto Seco Band is a Latin American dance band pulling from traditional central, south american and caribbean styles like Cumbia, Mambo, Saya and Salsa to bring people together in celebration. They play wild abandon, lots of horns, drums and percussion, plus accordion, guitar and bass. Based in the San Francisco East Bay, they have an all-star 14 member band, who hail from Chile, Colombia, US, Mexico, Cuba and Argentina. Through various community partnerships they work with youth helping to expose them to the richness of Latin American culture.

Pasto Seco Band has blessed the stage at many prominent SF bay area venues bringing the dance party wherever they go. Pasto Seco Band is currently in process of process of producing their first album.

DJ Leydis

DJ Leydis was born and raised in Cuba. Involved in the Cuban HIP HOP movement since it’s inception, DJ Leydis helped organized some of the country’s most respected and attended events and community programs. In 2005, she co-founded Omegas Kilay. A Hip-Hop Theater Collective in Havana Cuba, Omegas Kilay focused on presenting the poetry, music, experiences and perspectives of artists such as DJ Yari, Danay Suarez, Nono, La LLave De IPG, La Negra, and Las Krudas.

Along with her partner DJ Yari, DJ Leydis created the first all female DJ Mixtape in Cuba, contributing a special blend of new flavor and spirit to the international community. In addition, she performed across Cuba as the official Spoken Word Artist of Rande Acosta’s Platos Rosa.

DJ Leydis has also been a featured subject of critically acclaimed and groundbreaking documentaries such as Inventos: Hip Hop Cubano, Jovenes Rebeldes y Mi Revolution, and continues to be an keynote speaker on the subject of Cuban Hip-Hop Culture.

In 2006, DJ Leydis migrated to United States to expand upon her work as a DJ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has worked with Erykah Badu, Quest Love of the Roots, and other iconic American artists. Presently working on tour with Los Rakas & Las Krudas, DJ Leydis combines contemporary hits with an distinct fusion of Latin flavors, R&B classics and Roots Reggae blends.

Rahman Jamaal + Risk, Street Poetry Music

Rahman Jamaal is a performing artist, emcee, musician, actor, and educator who first debuted in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival as the star of the movie “The Beat”. Rahman Jamaal performs for Rondavoux Records, the San Jose-based rap group Projekt S.E.E.R., and the Redwood City-based funk/rock tribute band Blood Sugar Sex Machine. He works with musicians and youth in the Bay Area as founder of the Rap Force Academy, and nationally as the Executive Director of Hip Hop Congress. He also works with organization such as with The Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, The Bring It Back Tour, The Hip Hop Chess Federation, Performing Arts Workshop, StoryTeller Project, and All-Star Karate Center. In 2014, he won the Lennon Award for Hip Hop in the International John Lennon Songwriting Contest (JLSC).

Risk, a native of São Paulo, Brazil born seven years after the end of the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1985, became a Portuguese-English translator before he moved to the United States in 2009 on a scholarship to play basketball. He recorded his first studio track “Hidden Words” at the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement after meeting Rahman Jamaal in 2013. Risk & Rahman Jamaal released Street Poetry Music Vol 1. in 2015 produced by the New York composer-producer, Bosch.

Kata of LoCura

Direct from San Francisco’s fertile music scene, LoCura taps into the diverse sounds that have a rich history in the Bay Area, weaving them together in an uncanny way to reveal their common roots. Mixing Flamenco with Reggae and Cumbia with Ska through contagious rhythms and multiple languages, their music takes you on a ride through a day in the emerging globalized experience where the movement of people and ideas are in constant flux. Reflecting lead vocalist Kata’s own experience of growing up Spanish American in Spain, Italy, and the U.S., LoCura’s music rides the borders of identity and migration piecing together a mosaic of our myriad cultures and experiences. In Spain the expression “Ida y Vuelta” is used to describe certain styles within Flamenco that made a “round-trip” from Spain to Latin America, mixing with music from the African slave and Indigenous populations. With this idea of music traveling and music as creative resistance, LoCura takes the trip back again mixing it up with their own Califas Flamenkito, Reggae, and Cuban Son styles. Moved by the music that crosses borders and takes root in different lands, LoCura draws from this creative ‘rebelde’ spirit to cultivate the cures passed on from our ancestors.

Seneca of Earthamplified

Raised in Florida, lyricist, singer producer and Dancehall artist Seneca Schachter has made the Bay Area home since 2003 And has been rocking stages since 2000. He has always combined activism and Hip Hop culture to uplift and entertain! He has also established himself as a prolific producer, working with such artists as Myka 9, Dead prez And Bicasso. He is a long time member of the Jazz Mafia and Earth Amplified, touring the Jazz festival circuit and performing over 500 times.  He also is a Member of Hip Hop for Change and ROTC hosting every few months at ROTC’s weekly cypher at the Boom Boom Room. He has shared stages with Stevie wonder, Mos Def , Chali Tuna ,, Lyrics Born and many more!! Look out for his next project “The Wheel” an ode to real And raw Hip Hop of the 90’s Simple Beats and rhymes.


Sirraum Nash aka Chatterbox was born and raised in the South Bay Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay Area in CA. He developed a knack for writing & composition at a very young age beginning to write words in rhyme and poetry at age 7. At age 13, he began to hone his lyrical improvisation skills. In the early 2000’s he became a founding member of Jazz Funk Hiphop band, Precise Device. Since 2009 he has been an integral member of the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew & The PuppetPlex, based out of Berkeley, CA. He currently uses beat boxing, singing, character voice acting and Emcee skills for environmental activism, food and social justice issues, for adult and children’s entertainment.

Tanilee Amor, Amor Do Samba

Tanilee Amor is founder and Artistic Director of Amor Do Samba Entertainment, a samba dance company established in 2011 and currently showcasing the best of San Francisco’s Afro-Latin dance and music talent. Tanilee studied dance at UCLA (Cum Laude) with a specialization in Afro ‘ Latin dance and art as a social change agent. She extensively studied Afro-Latin dance forms in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Belize. While living in Mexico, she performed Samba, Cumbia and Afro-Merengue with Origines Dance Company taking first place in Teatro de Cancun competition.

Amor Do Samba Entertainment is a world class San Francisco based samba dance and music entertainment company dedicated to promoting Afro-Latin music and dance through the performing arts. Deeply rooted in San Francisco’s cultural diversity we offer samba dance shows to live bands including genres such as Bossa Nova, Batucada Samba, Samba Reggae, Axe, Salsa and more!

Check out these upcoming ORGY tour dates across North and South America with Filter!

Table Rocks Music Festival by Erica Vincent (82)


*****4.13.16 THRU 5.21.16; ORGY OPENS FOR FILTER

            (EXCEPT 4/30/16 SHOW IN MEXICO)***********



04.05.16 ASUNCION, PARAGUAY              KILKENNY***NEW***

04.07.16 SANTIAGO, CHILE                          CAUPOLICAN ***NEW***

04.08.16 LIMA, PERU                                      BACK DARK FESTIVAL

04.09.06 SANTA CRUZ BOLIVA               ***TBA*****

04.13.16 SAN FRANCISCO                                             SLIM’S

04.15.16 PORTLAND, OR                                                DANTE’S


04.17.16 SEATTLE, WA                                    STUDIO 7

04.20.16 MINNEAPOLIS, MN                       MILL CITY NIGHTS

04.21.16 ARLINGTON HTS. , IL                     HOME BAR

04.22.16 CLEVELAND, OH                              AGORA THEATRE AND BALLROOM

04.23.16 PONTIAC,MI                                     THE CROFOOT BALROOM

04.24.16 TORONTO, CANADA                     THE OPERA HOUSE

04.26.16 PHILADELPHIA, PA                        THEATRE OF LIVING ARTS 

04.27.16 CAMBRIDGE, MA                           THE MIDDLE EAST (DOWN STAIRS)

04.28.16 AMITYVILLE, NY                              REVOLUTION BAR & MUSIC HALL


05.01.16 ATLANTA, GA                                   THE MASQUERADE – HELL

05.03.16 NEW YORK, NY                                               THE GRAMERCY THEATRE

05.04.16 WASHINGTON, D.C.                     THE HOWARD THEATER

05.05.16 KNOXVILLE, TN                                                THE INTERNATIONAL

05.07.16 ATHENS, GA                                     GEORGIA THEATRE

05.08.16 NASHVILLE, TN                                                EXIT/IN

05.10.16 HOUSTON, TX                                  HOUSE OF BLUES            

05.11.16 SAN ANTONIO, TX                         THE AZTEC THEATER

05.12.16 DALLAS, TX                                        GAS MONKEY BAR & GRILL

05.13.16 TULSA, OK                                         CAIN’S BALLROOM

05.14.16 LINCOLN, NE                                    BOURBON THEATRE

05.15.16 DENVER, CO                                     HERMAN’S HIDEAWAY

05.17.16 TEMPE, AZ                                         THE MARQUEE

05.18.16 LAS VEGAS, NV                                           BROOKLYN BOWL

05.19.16 SAN DIEGO, CA                                               HOUSE OF BLUES

05.20.16 POMONA, CA                                  GLASSHOUSE   

05.21.16 W. HOLLYWOOD                            THE ROXY THEATRE




Congratulations to reggae legends The Royal Family of Reggae Morgan Heritage for winning their first Grammy for their album “Strictly Roots,” which is available through IDC’s physical distribution catalog.

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IDC has been excited to have “Strictly Roots” in our catalog since its release and always knew it would be a winner. This tenth release from the Morgan Heritage family, which includes Peetah (vocals), Una (keyboard/vocals), Gramps (keyboard/vocals), Lukes (rhythm guitar) and Mojo (percussion/vocals), is not, as the title implies, an homage to Roots Reggae music, but a potpourri of different styles, clearly aimed at a mainstream audience.


This 2015 release features an array of 13 memorable tracks fusing both reggae and dancehall, such as the single “Perform and Done,” “Child Of JAH” featuring Chronixx, “Put it On Me,” and “So Amazing” featuring J Boog, Jemere Morgan, & award winning drummer Gil Sharone. The album also features “Wanna Be Loved” featuring Eric Rachmany of Rebelution. “Strictly Roots” is the first release on their very own label C.T.B.C. (Cool To Be Conscious) Music Group, marking their first release as truly independent artists, and as such represents a win for all indie labels and artists eager to work outside of the major label system.

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IDC was instrumental in booking many in-store performances and retail promotions for the band, and supported the album’s release in many ways. We were blessed to attend a few of the in-store performances, and Morgan Heritage put on a great show for the various retailers and fans that attended these events. Morgan Heritage is a hard working band that performed well over 100 shows last year and they have been able to achieve great progress with their label Cool To Be Conscious Records.

Congratulations to CTBC Records, Mojo, Gramps, Una, Peetah, and Lukes, as well as Wendy Morgan who helped keep the entire project on track. IDC is honored to be a part of this amazing journey!

Great review for Razteria’s new album “Aventurera” from!
“A perfect record for the mash up generation.  Is she Jane Birkin?  Marisa Monte?  Latin?  French?  Reggae?  All of the above?  Go with all of the above.  A mash up that doesn’t sound like a mish mosh, this is a killer summer party record that brings everything to the picnic except the ants.  With not a note you won’t like, this is an all time top ten armchair traveler session.  Killer stuff that you have to get down with.”



New single from Jennifer Saran, “Rise Up Time,” available now on iTunes!


Super excited about Jennifer Saran‘s new single “Rise Up Time,” produced by Narada Michael Walden on Tarpan Records. Available now on all digital platforms, keep an eye out for an original animated video due out in the next couple of weeks!

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Reviews roundup – Burt Bacharach vs. Saga vs. Long Sword Spectacular vs. C.C.

Nice review from the Rocker UK for Independent Distribution Collective artist C.C.’s new In The Moment CD Check it out:

The Rocker

Reviews roundup – Burt Bacharach vs. Saga vs. Long Sword Spectacular vs. C.C.

71vm0rrctul-_sl1400_BURT BACHARACH
A Life In Song DVD
Eagle Vision

Tricky one, this. It’s the DVD of the BBC4 telly programme which was on a wee while back.  And if you saw it, you’ll know wha the problems are.  A bizarre question and answer session with Michael Grade, who is normally quite good at this sort of thing.  But he didn’t seem to care for Bacharach very much.  And there’s Burt himself, who may be a good tunesmith, but he’s no performer.

Which leaves you with the special guests.  Some of whom are more special than others.  The concert was staged at the Royal Festival Hall, featuring such legends (?) as Alfie Boe, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Hayward, Laura Mvula, Joss Stone, Michael Kiwanuka and Shaun Escoffery.

Quite rightly, you’ll be thinking who to a couple of…

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