Herald De Paris Interview with Cindy Blackman Santana


The Cindy Blackman Santana Conversation


HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) —  Superstar drummer and songwriter Cindy Blackman Santana just released a new summer single, “Fun, Party, Splash,” featuring Carlos Santana and produced by Narada Michael Walden.

The past few months have been a blur for Cindy Blackman Santana. She is currently touring and performing with her husband Carlos Santana, is featured as a vocalist, drummer, and songwriter on “Power of Peace,” the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration, and has been busy touring with her own band and recording tracks in the studio with the legendary producer Narada Michael Walden, and through Walden’s Tarpan Records label released the new single “Fun, Party, Splash” on all digital platforms on August 25, 2017, to rave reviews.

Cindy has been creating musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a street performer in New York City in the 80’s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game, including the critically acclaimed Another Lifetime (2010). In addition to collaborating onstage and in-studio with her own group, also known as Another Lifetime, she has toured and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Al B. Sure, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, Buster Williams, and Angela Bofill.

Cindy was part of the Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band called Spectrum Road with Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, and John Medeski. From 1992 to 2007 and again in 2014 and 2015 she was the drummer in Lenny Kravitz’s band, performing through multiple world tours and hit albums. In 2010, she was part of the all-star line-up performing “Bitches Brew,” a tribute to Miles Davis’ seminal album staged at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and NYC Winter Jazz Fest.

Cindy has become the regular touring drummer for Santana. Having met several years earlier at a festival in Europe while she was touring with Kravitz. Cindy first played with Santana in spring 2010, when drummer Dennis Chambers had a previous commitment. “They have a great band vibe. It’s nice to play with people who have grown together, built a sound together, and stayed together,” she says. “When that happens, you can create so many different levels of communication. That’s what they’ve done, and I love reacting with it and being a part of it.”

Electricity onstage generated chemistry offstage, Carlos proposed to Cindy during a July 2010 concert, and they married in December. Looking ahead, they will collaborate artistically as well, on projects that will no doubt reflect their shared passion for improvisation, and belief in the transcendent nature of music. Cindy was an integral part of the new Santana/Isley Brothers release Power of Peace, featuring the song “I Remember,” which she wrote and sings. “To me,” she says, “Music is completely spiritual, it’s the way you connect with your higher self, with the universe. It’s also a way to share light with millions of people.

They don’t need to speak your language, have your beliefs, or be in the same place you are. The music speaks, it channels good energy, and makes a difference in people’s lives. Carlos and I are both conscious of doing that.”

Narada Michael Walden started his storied career as a drummer with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Narada’s music flows freely from pop, rock and soul, to the rarified realms of jazz, fusion, and world music. With Jeff Beck, Narada wrote and played drums on the seminal album Wired that earned them both their first gold album. Walden was an integral part of introducing Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to millions of fans worldwide, producing and writing their breakthrough hits. Billboard Magazine honored him as one of the Top Ten Producers of all time.

Please check out Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez interview with Narada from a few years back, HERE

In 2016, Cindy connected with her fellow drummer and world-class producer Narada Michael Walden, and together the two have been working on new material ever since. Cindy Blackman Santana continues to build a body of work and artistic legacy that make her one of the finest drummers and recording artists of this or any generation.

Born November 18, 1959 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Blackman comes from a musical family, both her mother and grandmother were classical musicians and her uncle a vibraphone player. “My mom, when she was younger, played violin in classical orchestras, and her mom, incidentally, was a classical musician. My mom used to take me to see classical concerts,” says Blackman.  “My dad was into jazz, Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, people like that.” Blackman’s first introduction to the drums happened when she was seven years old in her hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio and attending a pool party at a friend’s house, she went to use the bathroom and saw a drum set and just hopped onto the set. “It was incredible”, says Blackman.”  Just looking at them struck something in my core, and it was completely right from the second I saw them,” says Blackman.” And then, when I hit them, it was like, wow, that’s me. That’s completely natural for me. It’s like breathing for me. It didn’t feel awkward at all.”

After her first introduction to drums at her friend’s house, Blackman began playing in the school band and would convince her parents to get her a drum set of her own while she was still only seven. “Of course, those would be broken up in a matter of days,” Blackman says. “The only thing I heard at home was, ‘we don’t know if you can play drums because one, they’re noisy, and two, they’re very expensive.” Some people asked why she didn’t study violin or flute like other girls. “I learned very early on, when I was 13, that when I concentrate on those attitudes, I don’t make progress for myself,” says Blackman. “If they’re not paying my mortgage, I don’t care what they think.”

When Blackman was 11, she moved to Bristol, Connecticut and studied at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. Blackman began to have an interest in jazz at age 13 after listening to Max Roach and got her first professional drum kit at 14. “Jazz was the thing that was most intriguing because of the challenge that was involved,” says Blackman. “When I was shown that the drummers on these records were playing independently with all four limbs, I was like, really?!? Is that what they’re doing? Is that what Max Roach is doing on that record? Oh! Okay!’”

Drummer Tony Williams was an early influence. “The first drummer I ever saw, where I got to feel the impact up close, was Tony Williams,” Blackman said. “When I was 16, Tony came to my local drum store with a bassist and did a drum clinic that left a powerful impression on me. And that’s what I thought drumming should be, drummers should have a lot of impact and a great sound, without being limited to a conventional role in the band, the drums should speak just as freely as anybody.” Blackman says that the way that Williams used all four limbs to attack the drums strongly influenced her. “I just love and loved everything about Tony”, says Blackman. “To me, not only was he a master technician, a master drummer, the innovator of the age, but also, he was a sound innovator. He had so many things that elevated the sound and the level of skill required to play this kind of music.” But although Blackman is sometimes referred to as a disciple of Tony Williams, she follows her own path. “On the one hand, it doesn’t bother me at all to be associated and in line with a master of the instrument like that. Okay, I might not be where I want to be, but I’m on the right track,” says Blackman. “On the other hand, I don’t plan on being a clone. What I’m doing is always looking to expound on something that he’s done, or push the music in a different way.”

Blackman moved to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music with Alan Dawson, one of Tony Williams’ teachers. “Alan’s method was incredible in terms of getting your independence together, getting your hands together,” says Blackman.

While she was at Berklee a friend recommended her for a gig with The Drifters so Blackman left college after three semesters and moved to New York City in 1982. Blackman worked as a New York street performer but also got a chance to watch and learn. “I looked for Art Blakey, I looked for Elvin Jones, and I looked for Philly Joe Jones, for Roy Haynes, for Tony Williams. I saw so many great drummers, like Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins, Louis Hayes. I saw Al Foster play quite a bit, Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette. All these people, they’re in New York so I got a chance to watch them do their thing.”

While in New York, Art Blakey became a significant influence. “He really was like a father to me. I learned a lot just watching him. I asked him a lot of questions about the drums and music, and he answered all of them. He was fantastic,” said Blackman. Blackman initially encountered resistance to a woman playing drums in the jazz world. “I’m a black woman, so I’ve encountered racial prejudice, and I’ve encountered gender prejudice. I’ve also encountered prejudice against my afro when I wore that out. But I’ve also encountered prejudice against my musical opinions. What I’ve learned to do is completely ignore that.”

In 1984, Blackman was showcased on Ted Curson’s “Jazz Stars of the Future” on WKCR-FM in New York. In 1987, Blackman’s first compositions appeared on Wallace Roney’s Verses album. When an executive at Muse Records heard Blackman’s recordings, he offered her a recording contract to lead her own project. In 1988 Blackman released Arcane, her debut as a bandleader. Her band included Wallace Roney on trumpet, Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Buster Williams and Clarence Seay on bass, and Larry Willis on piano.

In 1993, Blackman had an opportunity to work with Lenny Kravitz. From New York, Blackman talked over the phone with Kravitz in Los Angeles, and played drums for him as he listened. Kravitz immediately asked Blackman to fly out to LA. “Lenny asked me can you play something for me over the phone,” Blackman says. “So I put the phone down and I started playing something like, BOOSH-bat-bat, BOOSH-BOOSH-BOOSH-bat, and I went back to the phone and I said, ‘Can you hear that?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Can you fly out to L.A. right now?’ I flew out the next morning. While I’m downstairs waiting for the instruments to come from the studio, these people started coming in. First 12, and then like 30 more. I was like, ‘whoa, this is an audition’. I ended up playing and instead of staying for one or two days, I stayed for two weeks and did the first video that I did with him, “Are You Gonna’ Go My Way.” Apart from 2004, I played with him ever since.

Blackman had previously only played jazz shows and was unprepared to play for an entire arena. “The first time I played in a really large concert with Lenny was at an outdoor festival called Pinkpop. We played for like 70,000 people. It was in the summer so most people had just t-shirts or tanks, a lot of guys had their shirts off, so you just see skin and hands and they’re doing this wave thing. I almost lost it, my equilibrium was teetering. I wasn’t used to seeing that many people; I was disoriented; I just had to stop looking and start focusing.”

Blackman’s work for Kravitz is primarily as a touring drummer, to support Kravitz in live concerts. Kravitz usually plays his own drums when recording his albums. The only Kravitz song that Blackman recorded in the studio is “Straight Cold Player” from the album 5.

In 2010 she released a first tribute album to her mentor and dominant inspiration Tony Williams. Another Lifetime featured Mike Stern on guitar and organist Doug Carn following the line-up of the original Tony Williams Lifetime. As guest musicians appear Joe Lovano, Patrice Rushen and Vernon Reid. Reid is the lead guitarist on the second Williams tribute album Spectrum Road (2012), a collaboration between Blackman, Reid, and John Medeski on organ and former bassist of Lifetime and Cream Jack Bruce. Bruce also sings on three tracks of the album and Blackman lend her voice to “Where”, originally written by John McLaughlin and sung by Williams, which already appeared on Another Lifetime in an instrumental version. She appeared at the 2011 Montreux festival, Switzerland, playing drums for husband Carlos’s one-off reunion with John McLaughlin, after which she helped mix the sound for the video.

Blackman says her goal is to become a musical virtuoso. “I want to become a virtuoso,” says Blackman. “To me, virtuosity is the ability to say anything on your instrument you want to at any given moment.” Blackman describes her music as, “Completely creative.  I want to push the envelope. I want to really expound on some concepts that, to me, are the highest in the improvisation of music.” Blackman loves jazz and wants to delve into its intricacies. “Oh my gosh, it’s the best thing in the world,” says Blackman. “I feel so blessed, and I’m so thankful to be able to play music. It’s an honor, and it’s a blessing.”

On July 9, 2010, Carlos Santana proposed to Blackman on stage during a concert at Tinley Park, Illinois. Blackman is Santana’s touring drummer; he proposed right after her drum solo. They were married on Maui, Hawaii on December 19, 2010.

Blackman is a rarity as a female jazz percussionist. “In the past, there were a lot of stigmas attached to women playing certain instruments,” Blackman says. “I think a lot of women stick to particular instruments, like piano, that are acceptable, so that lessens the playing field in terms of how many women are out there. And let’s face it, boys’ clubs still exist. But I care nothing about that at all. I’m going to do what I’m going to do musically anyway.”

However, Blackman draws on the role models of her mother who played violin in an orchestra and her grandmother who was a classical pianist and does not let stereotypes deter her. “God forbid I should be limited to only play my drums in my basement; but if that’s all I had, that’s what I would do,” says Blackman. “Any woman, or anyone facing race prejudice, weight prejudice, hair prejudice … if you let somebody stop you because of their opinions, then the only thing you’re doing is hurting yourself. I don’t want to give somebody that power over me.”

Blackman is adamant that musicality has nothing to do with gender. “The gender question is not even worth bringing up because the drums have got nothing to do with gender,” Blackman says. “I’m there because I love to play music. And I’m in support of anyone who wants to play the instrument. I wouldn’t care if Art Blakey was pink with polka dots and wearing a tutu. I wouldn’t care if Tony Williams was green. There are people who have opinions about whatever and whoever, in terms of gender, in terms of race and weight, hairstyle, religion.  But to me, your personality influences what you play and what you do, but everything else is for you to develop and to nourish and to take further, and that’s where I’m at. In terms of my goals, me being a female drummer has nothing to with anything except for the fact that I wear bras and panties and guys don’t.

Herald de Paris Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez was honored at the opportunity to speak with Cindy.

AC: How does the fact that your mom was classical and your dad liked jazz inform your art in your new projects?

CBS: It was and is fantastic for me because I was able to hear so much different music growing up!

The beauty in each music is a part of me. Jazz is my favorite music and to me, the most innovative music improvisational music played with complete virtuosity harmonically, technically and spiritually is the highest of the high! Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Bud Powell, Tony Williams , Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins to name some. They set the bar so high and in such a good way! It’s creative music at its best!

When I heard great classical music with all the intricate inner layering of the various instruments I loved the dimension that it brought to the music! Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, Mahler and the like, they brought incredible dynamics, beauty and excitement to their pieces! So, to have both of those worlds to listen to was and is a major source of inspiration for me!

AC: You have a substantial musical education. How important is it nowadays to have a solid musical educational background in the music industry?

CBS: I feel that it’s very important!

You must know what you’re dealing with. Some say that they don’t want to deal with commercialism but, as soon as you sell one album, cd or even a t-shirt advertising what you’re doing, you’ve become commercial! So, in order to know what the best platforms are and how to navigate through them, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the music business, or at least a team that does! That way you can make informed decisions about what you will or won’t do and about what might be your best course of action. Things change a lot, especially with the internet so there’s always something new to learn and check out!

AC: What are some of the interesting things you remember from Berklee College of Music? Are any of your contemporaries working in the industry right now?

CBS: Most interesting to me about Berklee was that it had such an eclectic student body! There were students from all over the world and so thus many different genres available to play in! The community was thriving and that was a great inspiration! And yes sure, many of my contemporaries are in the industry and doing very well! We were all, for the most part, very serious about music and very serious about being musicians.

AC: Tell us about your experiences as a street musician?

CBS: Playing in the street was great for many reasons! We played five days a week for about seven hours each day and barely took breaks! And that was fantastic because it was like getting two days of playing done in one day! You can make a lot of progress that way! It was also amazing because we played with great musicians!!!!

George Braith on his double saxophone, the Braithophone, was the band leader and we had Tommy Turentine on trumpet, Kim Clark or Marcus McLourin on bass, Larry Smith on alto and I also played out there with Vince Herring and as well with Steve Coleman. It didn’t matter that we were playing on the street, what mattered was the music!

There were many surprises too! Dexter Gordon came and listened to us one day! There were a bunch of homeless guys hanging out too and you know, they weren’t always homeless and many had incredible stories about the jazz scene!

A movie producer came out one day and the next day we were filmed for the Robin Williams movie Moscow on the Hudson!

Very interesting times!

AC: It is said that Jazz is one of the few true American art forms, what is it about Jazz that allows one to express themselves in an expansive way?

CBS: Well it is! And jazz is all about expressing in the moment! It takes knowledge, discipline, taste and imagination to improvise over forms and stretch the boundaries of harmony and rhythm while still respecting those forms and the other musicians! Jazz not only LETS you do that but, in its highest form, it REQUIRES that you do that so that you can stretch boundaries. It inspires creativity, individuality and innovation! It is controlled freedom. It is creation of texture, melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, technique, imagination and so much more that is unexplainable! It is diving into the deep ‘unknown’ as the great Wayne Shorter calls it. It is the gateway to divine art! So, expressing oneself in an expansive way is not only encouraged or allowed but, it’s necessary! And that is why I love it!

AC: Why do you think jazz is not as popular in the US, as it is around the world?

CBS: Oooooh there are several reasons for that in my opinion. I feel that it’s part racial. Jazz is everyone’s music and I love all the incredible contributions made regardless of someone’s race, creed, culture or gender, BUT, it was created by black people! It is the highest American musical art form but credit must be given to black Americans to fully acknowledge this, and that is hard for a society with so much racial tension to do. It’s unfortunate! One people please!

And at the same time, we are thankful to other cultures that have embraced the beauty of jazz! Europe and Japan are not shy about showing their love & respect for this great art form! Over all, they are not so hung up in their egos that they can’t love the music. And jazz is a music that inspires individuals & individuality. Individual thinking cannot easily be controlled nor locked up in a box! So there, I said it! You want to break the chains of mass hypnosis and the mindset of conveyer belt and cookie cutter mentality, put on some Bird, Miles, Coltrane or some Tony Williams! Bird with Strings, Fille De Kilimanjaro, A Love Supreme or Emergency, those will get your mind buzzing in creativity!

I love all kinds of music please understand, but thinking creatively puts your brain and spirit on the path of creative thinking in a way that is different from other mediums and things that inspire it.

AC: How hard was it to transition from jazz, to working with Lenny Kravitz?

CBS: I grew up with all kinds of music in my house, everything from Miles to the Beatles, and Stravinsky to James Brown, so playing with Lenny was not a stretch for me in that way and we love a lot of the same music so there were enough commonalities to have had great musical common ground and enough differences to keep it interesting.

I had to discover what he was looking for and what was important to him but like I said, we loved a lot of the same music so that was a binding element. We also logged in lots of playing hours which also helped the music soar.

AC: Tell us about going from obscurity to that monumental video with Lenny?

CBS: You know, Lenny and I became like brother and sister. But at first, I didn’t know who he was! He used to laugh at me saying ‘ you didn’t know what you were stepping into did you!’ And he was right, I didn’t! Haaaa!

When I first played with him it turned out to be an audition and I liked playing with him, Craig Ross and the band but as I said, I didn’t know very much about him or what he had done so my liking them was very innocently honest!

I wasn’t kissing up or even trying to get a gig, I was having fun, that fun did turn into a gig. Because two weeks later after we filmed that first video ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’, he asked me if I wanted to join the band and I said yes, when do we start, he laughed and said, ‘we started two weeks ago’. That was all very monumental for me though I didn’t realize right away because I was focused on the music. After it happened though, it put me on the map in ways that I hadn’t experienced before.

Most important I was playing!

It gave me independence and a great ability to take care of myself and help my family too! And I loved the tours and the playing it but it was never an ego thing for me. It was me being able to do what I love best, play the drums & with a great band. I love traveling so it enabled me to do that as well.

AC: How does commercial fame effect a true artist? Does it detract or does it open doors for more creativity?

CBS: in my opinion, if a musician is true to the music and truly loves the music, commercial success opens doors to do more of what you do and dies not detract.  It’s all subjective though dependent on the individual’s personality, goals and desires on and off the bandstand.

AC: You say, you love “To drive an audience of 100,000 into complete oblivion” where does the passion come from, does it come from a socio-cultural or spiritually informed frame of mind?

CBS: For me that passion comes mainly from a spiritual place because when you unlock the door for someone to feel their own heart center they will raise their vibration because they feel good, feeling good leads to feeling love inside and after that, it’s easier to feel love externally, to feel it towards others, this is not only beautiful but needed!

This is one of the incredible elements of music! It is the most amazing communicator and bridge to bring people together.

AC: Tell us a little about the Tony Williams tribute album?

CBS: Sacred Sounds Label? The record that I did in Tribute to Tony Williams was on Four Quarters Records called Another Lifetime. It featured Mike Stern, Benny Rietveld, Doug Carn, Vernon Reid, Patrice Rushen, David Santos and Joe Lovano.

It was great because we played some Tony material but added some other twists and turns.

His music is so innovative and so exciting and soooo much fun to play. My live band members are: Aurelien Budynek, Rashaan Carter Ira Felix Pastorius and Zaccai Curtis.
I was also a member of Spectrum Road which was a Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute started by Vernon Reid and featured the late great Jack Bruce and John Medeski.

Playing with them was abating and Jack, oh my goodness, incredible! And he LOVE, LOVE, LOVED Tony so he had many beautiful stories for us and shared his sentiments often!

AC: Who are your heroes?

CBS: My Heroes are:  My Grandmothers, my mother, my sisters and my brother, my husband, my two nieces and my three nephews. Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Billie Holiday, Bruce Lee, Max Roach, Malcolm X, Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane…and that’s the short list! Haaaaa! But each one has done something incredible because they’ve defied gravity!

AC: You spoke of wanting to be a “virtuoso” can this be attained as a member of a group or is it something can be more easily attained by doing one’s own projects?

CBS: It can absolutely be attained as a sideman or a band leader, it just depends on who you’re playing with and how you apply yourself.

AC: Which are the solo projects so far that you are most proud of and what kinds of things do you hope to do in the future?

CBS: I’m really proud of my very first band called Spontaneous Combustion back in my Boston days! We had no chains on the music and we were totally free to create! I’m very proud of my later groups too! My quartet in the 90’s was also very courageous!

My electric band is awesome and I’m very proud of them, we play with a caution to the wind attitude every time we get together and I love that! I am also very proud of my current project! The record has six or seven vocal songs produced by Narada Michael Walden and the music is slammin’! There are also incredible instrumentals and I’m very proud of them! Amazing musical contributions by Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Vernon Reid, Matt Garrisson, Benny Rietveld, Neal Evans, Buster Williams, Bill Ortiz, Aurelien Budynek, Rashaan Carter & Zaccai Curtis!

I really look forward to touring this music.

I want to do something with strings too and an acoustic record!

AC: What are some of your favorite compositions, would you like someday to produce new artists?

CBS: You mean some of my favorite compositions ever? Blue & Green, Nefertiti, A love supreme , Pee wee, Dolphin Dance, Portia, ‘Round Midnight, Hittin on Six, I have a dream , Vuelta Abajo, Oh Yahwe, Pavane Pour Infante Defunte, Adagio in G minor( Thomas Albinoni), Fall Foot Prints, The Soothsayer, Believe it, I mean you…. I could keep going you know!

Regarding production, I had the pleasure of co-producing a really great singer from Portugal by the name of Aurea. Her record is called Restart, she is fantastic and I really enjoyed the process of playing on and producing her record! If I were interested enough in what someone is doing I could see myself doing that again yes.

AC: Who do you listen to?

CBS: I listen to Miles Davis, Tony Williams, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Ravel, Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Bob Marley & so much more! I also listen to the wind, the rain, birds chirping, even creaks in the house!

AC: Why did you agree to become a part of the Santana band, when you had a significant career already in progress? What did you bring to the table? What was your goal in becoming a part of this institution?

CBS: My career is not hustled or in jeopardy by playing in this band! I have a new record coming out and I play with my band as well as sideman projects too. I agreed to play in the Santana band because they play with so much energy and spirit! And Carlos WANTS me and everyone to play a lot, he doesn’t want anyone to coast. I love that energy and I love his playing so it’s a win-win situation!

AC: What is the best and worst part of being a Santana member?

CBS: The best part is playing exciting music with great musicians, one of whom is my husband! The worst part is…. there is no worst part.

AC: How is the Santana musical experience different from working with Lenny Kravitz or doing straight up jazz gigs?

CBS: Well, you’re talking great total different animals!

In the Santana band, there is a lot of freedom to interject and to build off of established grooves and to create new and different statements and energies nightly!
In one set you play everything from a Guairá, to a funk groove, to a fast samba to a ballad, to an up-tempo swinging feel and then, take a drum solo.

And you play Santana songs but also “A Love Supreme”, “Higher Ground” and other songs. This music soars!!!!

The Lenny situation is great because that is a groove oriented band! You play grooves with intense energy and passion! You take a beat and, and play it with heart making the music sail.

In a jazz gig, the ones I like best anyway, you play any and everything and of course with intelligence, passion, fire and taste. Creativity, improvisation, musicality, interjection and musical conversation! Pushing the envelope and jumping off a bridge into a sea of cotton candy!

AC: We are living in incredibly devise and racially charged times, can what you do musically and the way you do it be an inspiration to others? What needs to be said right now through art?

CBS: Yes, we are and yes it can! Music is a great soother and I’d say the best one! You can reach oriole no matter what their location, race, color, religion, gender or culture! In the art of music, we just need to open our hearts and highest vibrations into it and that will be felt and that feeling will promote higher vibrational energy to people. And for music with lyrics, we need positivity not negative or cruel messages. Promote and exude what you want yourself and your loved ones to experience!

AC: Carlos once told me in a radio interview that, “There is music that inspires and that there is music that incites”. Can inciting positive action though music be possible?

CBS: Yes, it absolutely can!

Words are powerful and so are feelings. So, when there are lyrics, have them say things to ignite inspiration and when there are not lyrics, have the music touch hearts and do the same. It makes a huge difference!

AC: As an artist how would you describe Carlos Santana, how do you inspire each other?

CBS: Carlos is amazing because he puts his whole heart into everything he plays! He loves Melody and he makes every note count! He sings with his guitar and you can feel it in all that he does. He is very dedicated to music & I am too so we inspire each other with our passion for music, our desire to play and our intense love for melody, harmony and rhythm!

AC: Tell us about your recent project with the Isley Brothers, what was that like, what was the vision for that project what was your role in the effort?

CBS: The Power of Peace is an amazing record and making it was such a great experience! Ronnie and Ernie Isley felt like family to us and the process of making music was very smooth. We, the Isley’s and the Santana band, recorded 16 songs in 4 days! The vision that Carlos had for this record was to create amazing vistas for Ronnie to sing over and to present an awe-inspiring message, thus, The Power of Peace!

My role was as the drummer and as well when Carlos mentioned playing “Higher Ground” I hoped we’d do it differently so, I asked him if he would be into trying it another way rather than rehash the way everyone always plays it. He agreed and asked me to go to the drums and show him what I meant. I played a funk groove and he says he loved it, so that’s how we recorded it!

I also had a beautiful and scary first! I had written a song that I wanted Ronnie to sing! We played my demo of it that I sang. He said he liked it but felt that a woman should sing it. He made a suggestion of who he thought would be a good choice to sing it but Carlos said, “No, no! Cindy’s gonna sing it with you!”
Well, though nervous as heck, I did sing it with him!!!! That was actually the precursor to me singing on my upcoming new record!

AC: Tell us about the new summer single “Fun, Party, Splash” what was the vision of this project? What can people expect?

CBS: Thanks for asking! That is a very happy song meant to allow you to release negativity and enjoy some moments of fun! This song is not for mature audiences only! It’s a song that anyone of any age can be inspired by! My 11 year old niece and her friends love it and dance to it and so does my mom! Listeners can expect to feel good when they hear it!

“Fun, Party, Splash” was released on August 25th and it precedes my new record which has about six more great vocal songs, plus incredible instrumentals!

AC: As an artist how would you describe Narada? What makes him such a successful producer? What did he bring out in you?

CBS: Narada is incredible because he has great ears, great sense of musical direction and he is very good at bringing out the best in a person! He is an awesome drummer and he also has a great sense of melody. After hearing ‘I remember’ that I sang in the Power of Peace record he said he wanted to produce me. I said no, you’re kidding! He said no, I’m not kidding. I said yeah but I’m not a singer, he said yes you are and I can produce you, trust me! Well Carlos said the same thing so, I trusted and now we have a wonderful selection of music that will be released soon!!!!

AC: What are some of the other things you are working on right now?

CBS: Finishing my record, recording the new Santana record and I also go back into the studio with Clifford Lamb and Buster Williams to record a second record with Clifford!

AC: What are things musically or personally you intend to accomplish over the next few years?

CBS: More recording with my band, Carlos and other projects. Learning more about composition and doing more writing, playing with strings, continuing with my vocal study.

AC: What advice would you give young women starting out who want to play the drums and view you as a role model?

CBS: Be a drummer, don’t be a girl drummer. Do it because you love it and don’t get caught up in anyone else’s opinion about what you’re doing or whether or not you should be doing it! Study the greats and, have fun!!!!

AC: One hundred years from now, when people look back on your life and art, ideally what would you like your legacy to be?

CBS: That I was a courageous musician who brought adventure, excitement, innovation and joy to the music and to the hearts of the listeners.

Thank you so much for this beautiful opportunity to express myself about the music and life!

To order the “FUN, PARTY, SPLASH” single on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fun-party-splash-single/id1269743526?app=itunes or http://smarturl.it/funpartysplash

For more information about Cindy Blackman Santana, please visit her social media pages or Website: http://www.cindyblackmansantana.com/

In Case You Missed It, Watch IDC Founder Steffen Franz On How To Start Your Music Career

Pyramind music business instructors Jeff Straw and Steffen Franz are here to answer all your questions around the music industry and how to get your music career started. Click to watch the amazing Q&A session to help you with your career!

Check Out Amanda Abizaid on LA Talk Radio


If you weren’t able to catch Amanda Abizaid’s live radio interview, you can listen to it here: LATalkRadio The Creative Muse Hour 

Amanda Abizaid Has Released a New Project in Support of  HelpPhilippineSchools.org, Walking In Twos EP features the Legendary Stephen Stills. Amanda describes her music as “Neo-Soul meets World.” HelpPhilippineSchools.org is a non-profit organization that helps children get the best education possible through the betterment of existing schools, working “from the inside out.” Walking In Twos is a 7-track EP including two diverse mixes of the titular song, which was inspired by Amanda’s experiences with the Aeta Filipino children. The EP also features other original songs and has been released worldwide. The project’s goal is to create a self-sufficient revenue stream using proceeds from the song’s downloads and streams to buy school supplies for the Aeta children of the Philippines. Listen to Amanda discuss this and more by using the link above!

Listen to this interview with Superstar Cindy Blackman Santana as she discusses her career and new single FUN, PARTY, SPLASH.


Superstar drummer, singer and songwriter Cindy Blackman Santana discusses her career and new single FUN, PARTY, SPLASH that features her husband Carlos Santana, and was produced by Narada Michael Walden. She also discusses the newSantana/Isley Brothers collaboration POWER OF PEACE album, that features her song ‘I Remember.’ www.CindyBlackmanSantana.com

Listen Now On www.spreaker.com

To order the “FUN, PARTY, SPLASH” single on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fun-party-splash-single/id1269743526?app=itunes or http://smarturl.it/funpartysplash

For more information about Cindy Blackman Santana, please visit her social media pages or Website: http://www.cindyblackmansantana.com/

Check Out Indubious’ Interview with Anne Pick from Source Weekly


“Indubious releases its 4th album, “From Zero,” focusing on gratitude; not expectation.

Usually for these interviews, I call a musician and we chat on the phone. I hear bits and pieces of where they are and what they’re doing, be it in a crowded van cruising down the highway or in the peaceful recluse of their own homes. But what I really love is talking to musicians in person—which I did recently with Evton Burton from the rock-reggae band Indubious. I got to see his extroverted personality and his hand gestures, before we got sidetracked talking about Bend neighborhoods and growth.

The day after, he sent me an email with exciting news: Indubious’ new album, “From Zero,” had landed at number six on the Billboard reggae charts, ranking it among the likes of Ziggy Marley, The Expendables and Major Lazer. That’s big news.

“The whole philosophy around it is, it’s coming from this ‘from zero’ mentality,” Burton says of the album’s themes. “It’s that we all came from nothing, we were popped into this planet out of nothing and we’re entitled to nothing. When you’re entitled to nothing, essentially everything that you receive is a blessing. It’s centering in the heart of gratitude and not expectation.”

Burton, who calls Bend home, started Indubious with his brother, Skip Burton, who currently lives in Portland. In order to understand their “from zero” mentality, it may be helpful to note that both brothers were born with Cystic Fibrosis. The brothers came into this world with a grim life expectancy of 18 years. Now, in their early 30s, they persevere. Evton received a double lung transplant in 2011, making a full recovery.

“It’s really shaped who we are because it’s caused us to drop more into our purpose as opposed to living how most people live, which is caught in the drama of society of money and petty things,” Burton says. “It’s when you’re faced with your own mortality, you go, ok, what’s real here? What are we doing? What are we here to do? So from a very young age, we started on that mentality.”

For “From Zero,” the brothers blend rock, reggae and EDM to create what they call “Rootstronica.” But genre doesn’t mean much. The brothers try to transcend genre and create what feels good. With no pretense, the album dips into poppy realms and R&B, simply because that’s where they feel comfortable.

“I think genres are interesting, tricky things; they aren’t really my favorite thing,” Burton says. “I think music is a representation of our spirit and our spirit is vast.”

Indubious releases “From Zero” at the Domino Room Saturday. The brothers love performing live; Burton speaks of the energy exchange that happens between the band and the audience. Performing live allows the floodgates to open, so to speak, pouring everything out, conveying their message.

“There’s a certain magic that happens sometimes while performing, where you’re well practiced enough that you can put your intellect to the back of your mind and allow the feeling to come through,” Burton says. “You can channel things. Things come through. It’s like this peak mystical experience where everyone is involved in this thing as it’s happening. The energy plays back and forth off everyone in the room — it’s a spiritual thing.””

Interview by Anne Pick

To purchase or previous “From Zero,” please visit: http://smarturl.it/fromzero

For more information about FROM ZERO or upcoming tour dates, please visit the INDUBIOUS website and social media pages via http://www.indubiousmusic.com/

For Booking inquiries please email booking@indubiousmusic.com

For Press and Interview inquiries please contact Billy James at Glass Onyon PR:  (828) 350-8158 or glassonyonpr@gmail.com 

For Reggae Marketing or Radio please contact King I-Vier at Independent Distribution Collective: kingivier@gmail.com

For Digital Marketing please contact Jerome Forney at Independent Distribution Collective: jerome@independentdistro.com

Blog Talk Radio Interview: Jennifer Saran “Wake Up”

Jennifer Saran Cover.2.1In case you missed it, Blog Talk Radio’s Diana Bellerose had an amazing interview with Jennifer Saran about her soon-to-be-released album, “Wake Up,” out next Friday, July 7th!

To listen to the live recording, visit www.blogtalkradio.com/diannabellerose

JENNIFER SARAN is a North American artist, songwriter, and vocalist based in Hong Kong. In 2016, Jennifer teamed up with Narada Michael Walden (they obviously love working together) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo to create her new album’s titular single “Wake Up.” Also, making a special guest appearance on the track is multiple Grammy-winning legend Carlos Santana. This stunning collaboration is a heartfelt appeal to recognize and address worldwide inequality and impoverishment, a cause incredibly important to each of these amazing artists involved. Jennifer travelled to South Africa to record with Ladysmith and to film scenes for the song’s music video, released with the single on November 11, 2016.

Pre-Order or preview the album now on iTunes http://smarturl.it/wakeuplp
More information about JENNIFER SARAN or WAKE UP can be found at:

Take a look at this special interview with Narada Michael Walden!

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“For the past four decades, Narada Michael Walden has been a hit record producer, songwriter, artist and drummer who has worked with Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and many other artists. He’s a three-time Grammy Award winner, including for Producer of the Year, and he produced more hits for Houston than any other producer.

Although he’s more well known for being a top record producer, Walden has been a very successful, hit songwriter who has co-written a substantial number of classic pop/R&B hits. He co-wrote two number one hits: “How Will I Know” for Houston and “I Don’t Wanna Cry’ for Carey. He also co-wrote two of Franklin’s biggest hits of the 1980s, “Freeway of Love” (for which he won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song) and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who.”

In addition, Walden’s co-wrote the pop hits “I Love Your Smile” (Shanice Wilson), “Tell Me What You Want Me To Do” (Tevin Campbell), “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” (Jermaine Stewart), “How Can I Ease The Pain” (Lisa Fischer), “You’re a Friend of Mine” (Clarence Clemmons & Jackson Browne), and “Let Me Be Your Angel” (Stacy Lattisaw).

Walden has also written or co-written songs for many other artists. Notably, he wrote four instrumental songs for rock legend Jeff Beck’s Wired album, which was certified platinum. And he’s co-written songs for Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Steve Winwood, Gladys Knight, Sheena Easton, Angela Bofill, Sister Sledge, Phyllis Hyman and Eddie Murphy.

Besides writing songs for other artists, he has written songs and composed instrumental music for his own albums. Here’s his album discography as an artist: Garden of Love Light (1976); I Cry, I Smile (1977); Awakening (1979); The Dance of Life (1979); Victory (1980); Confidence (1982); Looking at You, Looking at Me (1983); The Nature of Things (1985); Divine Emotion (1988); Sending Love to Everyone (1985); Thunder (2012); Love Lullabies for Kelly (2014); and Evolution (2015).

In addition to the hit songs listed above which he co-wrote, here are the classic hit singles he’s produced: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “All The Man That I Need,” “So Emotional,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” “I’m Every Woman,” “One Moment in Time” (for Whitney Houston); “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me’ (for Aretha Franklin & George Michael), and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (for Starship). Notably, he also co-produced Mariah Carey’s breakthrough hit, “Vision of Love.”

Currently, Walden remains busy with several projects. He runs his longtime recording studio, Tarpan Studios (in San Rafael, CA), and he has his label, Tarpan Records. In addition, he’s producing albums for Cindy Blackman Santana, Neal Schon of Journey, and Jennifer Saran. He’s also developing and producing new artists.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Narada Michael Walden. He tells how he got started, and how he produced and co-wrote hits for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and other artists.

DK: You started out as a drummer and jazz-rock/fusion artist. How did you make the transition to being a pop hit producer and songwriter?

Narada Michael Walden: Well, for me it’s all very natural, because I always say that I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is near Detroit and Chicago, in the middle of both those big cities. So out there, you hear all the great music. And then you know, it snows a lot in the winter, so there’s nothing much to do but hang in the house…just work, woodshed and play, and just love your music and listen to it. There again, you hear everything from Johnny Mathis to Jimmy Smith, Dave Clark Five, the big British Invasion coming through, Petula Clark with (the hit) “Downtown,” but also older music like Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod.” You hear so many types of music, man. We just loved music.

I never differentiated one type of music over another type. It could be (jazz artist) Cannonball Adderley or (rock legend) Jimi Hendrix—it was great music that I loved. So that’s why as a producer I grew. Originally, I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix’s drummer. I thought that would be a great thing, but he died the year I graduated high school in 1970. And that was a tremendous blow to the world. Then I just kept forging on in Los Angeles and different places, just trying to find a way to make it because it was a very difficult time to make it. Also, you had to learn to play different types of music really well. You had to be able to play music by (the bands) Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears, you had to play Curtis Mayfield—you had to be able to play anything that was hot. Otherwise, you weren’t really respected as a drummer or musician.

I’m just saying all this to prep you, that after playing with the (jazz-rock/fusion band) Mahavishnu Orchestra, and of course working with Jeff Beck and (rock artist) Tommy Bolin, you know, when it came down to producing hit records, it was never just identifying what planet are we on now or what’s in the Top 10. I would identify what [that sound] was, and then put whoever I was working with, taking my song and arranging it to be like what I was hearing in the Top 10. And then always adding extra grit into it because I’m a drummer and musician, so I always want to make things have extra spice—the drums would almost be like…BAM! So I think that was why I was able to get a jump on the pop world, because I was really borrowing what I was hearing in the pop world, and then adding my spice to it and making sure the thing was really doing a wonderful job. And we got lucky! God blessed us as things go. Then the phone started ringing, and the next thing you know, Clive Davis (CEO of Arista Records) is calling me and asked, “How’d you make that hit ‘Let Me Be Your Angel’ for Stacy Lattisaw?” You know, it was just good music to me.

DK: Who were some of the first artists you worked with as a writer/producer?

Walden: The first album that I produced was with a jazz trumpet player named Don Cherry. He was signed to Atlantic Records, and (music exec) Ramon Silva, who signed me to Atlantic Records, asked me to produce him. Then I got married, and I moved to the Bay Area in 1978. It was around that time that Henry Allen, the great president of Cotillion Records (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records), he says to me, “You know, I would really like a hit for (11-year-old artist) Stacy Lattisaw.” I said, “Let me produce four songs for her. If you like it, I can finish the album—if you don’t like it, [it wouldn’t cost] that much.” He said, “Okay, you got it.” So then I really worked hard to write four hot songs, and because I’d rehearsed them with my band, I could quickly cut them, and then go to Stacy and record her vocals, and then get Mike Gibbs, who I’d worked with in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, to do the string arranging.

So I turned it in fast and I was under budget, and it was just stellar. [Henry Allen] said, “Man, you’ve gotta finish this album” and we did, and we got lucky with (the hit) “Let Me Be Your Angel.” Having that hit opened up the doors for us to produce Sister Sledge, and we did an album called All American Girls. And then came calls from Clive Davis about producing Angela Bofill and Phyllis Hyman. I also worked with Patti Austin, who was signed to Quincy Jones’ label. And then Clive called again, asking “Would you want to work with Aretha Franklin?” That led to working with Aretha Franklin on her album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who. So that was how it kind of kicked off.

DK: I’ve always liked your hit song “Freeway Of Love” for Aretha Franklin. How did you co-write this song, and what was it like working with Aretha?

Walden: That song, I banged out on my black Yamaha piano at my home in Tiburon (CA). I bought this beautiful piano from (recording engineer) Rudy Van Gelder. Herbie Hancock and other great musicians had played that piano at his studio. I bought that piano and I had it shipped to California. [Playing] that piano, I was so inspired that I composed a lot of my hits, including “Freeway of Love” and “Let Me Be Your Angel.” So with “Freeway of Love,” I just remember one afternoon I was just bangin’ my jam, and I wasn’t thinking about Aretha. This was way before I worked with her. I just kind of banged it out. What I did was, I got my chorus, and I sang the melody for the verse as I was playing, and then I gave that (rough demo) to one of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Cohen. With Jeffrey, if I give him the direction of the hook, then he can beautifully [write the lyrics]. He can take my sketches and put on the words for it.

Then almost a couple years later, (writer/producer) Preston Glass was working with me, and we were now writing songs for Who’s Zoomin’ Who. He says to me, “What about that song ‘Freeway of Love’ for Aretha?” I said, “Wow…I would have never thought that.” You know I had a lot of songs—I’m always writing. And then we just dug it out, and we put it together. I played drums on it, Randy Jackson (of American Idol fame) played one-finger Moog bass, Preston played vibes, and we just put it down. And that’s how it happened.

DK: I looked on the credits of Whitney Houston’s hit “How Will I Know,” and you’re a co-writer on this song. I know Shannon Rubicam & George Merrill also co-wrote it, so how did you co-write this song?

Walden: While we were recording “Freeway of Love,” we got a call from Gerry Griffith (then A&R exec at Arista Records). He said, “You’ve gotta make time (to work with Whitney Houston). Let me send you this idea for a song that we’re thinking about for you.” So I get the song and hear it, and I said, “This song isn’t complete—it doesn’t have any verse.” So I told Gerry that he’s got to call the writers and ask them if I could write a verse, because there’s no verse in the song. And they said, “Okay, let’s see what you want to do.” So then I banged it out with the whole band—the same band I’d been working with for Aretha’s album. (He sings) “There’s a boy, I know…”  I sing the whole melody and [tell them] how I wanted it to go. And they said, “We want to put our own lyric,” and I said, “no problem.” So they put their lyric in.

We then cut it and I called Whitney. I said, “I want to work with you on this song, but I don’t want to cut it in too high a key,” because the [opening verse melody] already starts high. She said, “No, I like it—go ahead and cut it high.” At the time Whitney was a new artist—I didn’t know yet how great her range was. But when I got to New York (to record her vocals), there she was in the studio, looking laid-back and confident, and looking gorgeous. Then she goes to the mic, and she just floors me! She sang it just like you hear on the record—the whole thing. She’s incredible. And then, since I knew her mother (Cissy Houston) and had worked with her, I asked Whitney to call her mother, to come to the studio and bring some of her friends (who were singers), to sing background vocals. They did, and Whitney, Cissy and the two other singers sang the backgrounds great and it was done.

DK: You also worked with Mariah Carey, and you co-wrote her #1 hit “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” How did you get together with Mariah?

Walden: I got a phone call from Tommy Mottola (then Sony Music President). He had just found Mariah and he was so excited by her. He sent me a cassette and her photo. I could tell she was a great singer. I said, “Okay, so what do you want me to do?” And he said, “I want you to give us a hit.” Then I suggested we meet, and just take it from there. So I flew to New York and I met with Mariah, and I was kind of taken by how shy she was. She was very sincere and sweet, but soft-spoken and shy. It’s not like the Mariah you see now…all full bloom. So I said, “Let’s just go get a (studio) room—we’ll just get a piano, a synthesizer, a drum machine and some microphones. Let’s see what we can write.” And we went to the studio, and we wrote four songs the first time—out came four songs.

Right before we wrote “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” I looked at her….she’s very beautiful. I said, “Do you know what you need? You need a really sad-ass song…that people almost can’t believe that as beautiful as you are, you’re singing something this broke down.” I told her that when I was a little boy, I saw Little Stevie Wonder at the Regal Theater in Chicago, and he sang “Fingertips” and the place exploded. And on that same stage, out came a singer, Walter Jackson, and he was in a wheelchair. They wheeled him out. And he was singing this song called “It’s An Uphill Climb To The Bottom.” I was just a little kid, but I remember on the climax of the song, he falls out of the chair onto the floor! And people were screaming. He was on the floor, and he was still singing “it’s an uphill climb to the bottom,” and he’s just singing his ass off. I told Mariah, “You need a song that does that.” So I thought, let’s come up with a title with “crying” in it…”I Don’t Wanna Cry.” And it just hit me like a lightning bolt. (He starts singing) “I don’t want to cry…I don’t wanna cry.” And once Mariah got a hold of singing it, we quickly ironed out the melody. And then she said, “I want to finish the lyric,” and she did. She wrote a killer lyric in just one day. So we just got together like peanut butter and jelly. We kind of bonded, and that’s how “I Don’t Wanna Cry” happened and it became a number one record. And once the label heard the song, they also had me work on (production of the hit) “Vision of Love” and “There’s Got to be a Way” (from her debut album, Mariah Carey).

DK: Besides your work with Whitney, Aretha and Mariah, who were some of the other artists that you loved working with?

Walden: There were a lot. Lisa Fischer was one of my favorites—we wrote (the hit) “How Can I Ease The Pain” together. She also had [great vocal] ability—she was one of the three artists [I worked with], along with Mariah and Shanice Wilson, who could [sing] the fifth octave with mastery. And then there was Shanice—she’s such a great singer. To be able to capture a smash hit with her (“I Love Your Smile”) made me happy. Then you look at Tevin Campbell, who at the time was 14 years old singing (the hit) “Tell Me What You Want Me To Do.” Quincy Jones had signed him to his label, and he flew him on his jet with his mother. It was great that Quincy Jones, the God of all time, chose me to produce Tevin, his new discovery.

I wrote “Tell Me What You Want Me To Do” with Tevin and (songwriter) Sally Dakota. I was talking with Tevin, and I think Tevin even said, “Well, tell me what you want me to do.” I thought, that’s a great name for a song. So I started singing the title with my keyboard and microphone, and he joins in and I record everything. Then I said, “Okay, let’s work with Sally Dakota—Sally’s going to finish it and bring it back to me right away, and she did. So that’s how that song came.

Everything for me is always fast, because I believe that the spirit, which is God—he’s up your spirit, he’s up your soul. And then your mind gets focused on that, and you can only hold that kind of concentration for an hour or two at the most, and then it kind of fizzles out a little bit. And you move on. So you want to make sure that when you get hit, that you get as much out of it as you can. That’s my whole trick, man.

DK: Thank you for telling me about your songs and inspiration. What are some of the new projects you’re working on? I read that you’re producing an album with Cindy Blackman Santana (Carlos Santana’s wife).

Walden: We all know Cindy as a stellar drummer, in the mindset of (jazz legend) Tony Williams. But also, for the first time she’s really stretching out as a singer, which I’m really enjoying. She’s like a 19-year-old as a singer because she hasn’t been beat up a vocalist yet, so she’s fresh. So we’re just writing songs that she feels in her heart she wants to say. Being married to Carlos Santana (since 2010), she’s in love, she’s excited, she’s happy and inspired. So it’s been a real joy to work with her.

Also, I have another lady named Jennifer Saran out of Hong Kong, who we have a song coming out called “Wake Up.” It’s got (male choral group) Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Africa and Carlos Santana also played on it. It’s a beautiful message type of song which I much enjoy doing at this time.

I also have a girl I’m discovering named Nayah Damasen, who’s 11 years old, like another Stacy Lattisaw. Let me say that there will never be another Stacy Lattisaw, because Stacy was so pure and so powerful. But with Nayah I found another little powerhouse.

Another album I’m making is a symphonic record for (guitarist) Neal Schon of Journey. It’s called, The Universe. It’s a stellar record—we’re about halfway through it.

DK: I also read that you have a label, Tarpan Records.

Walden: Yes, with Tarpan Records, we can put our own things out. I want to put out some legendary records and some new artists. I’m trying to keep things going—keep the funk happening and keep things alive.

DK: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Walden: There’s one more thing. As a songwriter, I don’t ever mention some of the things I wrote in my jazz-rock/fusion period, like Wired for Jeff Beck. There are four songs that I wrote on the Wired album that became my first gold album. These were instrumental songs—I very much love instrumental music too. People talk about the pop stuff, but don’t forget, I love…just music (laughs). Just music, man.”


Check out this great interview with Mark Duda!

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Of course, it’s no use for any artist to make a solo album that sounds like the band they belong to. That’s exactly what crossed the mind of Mark Duda, The Handful and Mad City Rockers. That’s why Month Of Sundays – and Mark Duda explains in this interview why this curious title – delineates from the hard rock vein of the New Yorker and trends for more rock ‘n’ roll and punk .

Hi mark! Thanks for your availability. Tell us a little bit about this new album that features six new songs?

I wanted to do something other than the hard rock that I’ve been writing and recording for the last fifteen years. I’ve always been a fan of traditional rock ‘n’ roll melodies and wanted to write some songs that would show my taste for the genre.

So what goals do you intend to achieve with this EP?

I hope this EP shows that I am a singer and songwriter that transcends genres. Of course, I would like to sell enough discs to be able to make another.

How did the guests participate in Month Of Sundays ?

I was fortunate to have had so many great musicians with me in Month Of Sundays . I have worked with Jimi Bones and Bobby Rondinelli in recent years on The Handful. Cheetah Chrome played and mixed the last album of The Handful. Thommy Price was introduced to me by Jimi, as they have worked together in the past in Joan Jett’s band. Kenny Aaronson was recommended by Thommy, and Arno Hecht was recommended by a mutual friend, Peter Aschner.

That is, the participation of authentic living legends of rock . What was it like working with all these people?

All of them are not just some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever worked with, but some of the most friendly and down -to-earth people . Working with all these people allowed me to fully realize my vision of composition for each track. Everyone who participated in this record understood exactly what I intended from a composition perspective, and they knew how to perform that New York rock n ‘roll sound I was looking for.

Has the composing process been shared by everyone or only you have been involved?

Originally I brought all the ideas for the six songs. When Jimi and I were in pre-production, he made additions to three of six songs.

I find the title of the album very curious. Why Month Of Sundays ? Any special reason?

There are some reasons for the title. One of them is that the song Month Of Sundays leads the album. Another is that this record was recorded during the time of inactivity between albums with The Handful, and when it was more frequent to set aside studio time to record was on Sundays. So this album was recorded almost literally for a month on Sundays.

How does Month Of Sundays approach or distance from your previous work?

Month Of Sundays is deliberately different from my previous work with The Handful and Mad City Rockers. I always thought it did not make much sense for musicians to make solo albums that sound like their bands. If I write a song that is appropriate for The Handful, it ends up in an album by The Handful. I would not make a solo album of songs that I could do with my band. For me, the purpose of this record was to show another side of my composition and performance skills.

So you agree that there is a departure from your hard rock vein ?

Yes, this is a traditional rock ‘n’ roll album with punk influences that moves away from my hard rock work .

By the way, what’s the status of your other bands, namely The Handful and Mad City Rockers?

The Handful are in the process of recording our fifth album. It’s an extremely ambitious album that will certainly turn heads . Thelineup is the same as the last album, Sons Of Downtown , 2015, namely Jay Mischel on bass, Jimi Bones on guitar, Bobby Rondinelli on drums and me, Mark Duda on vocals and guitars. Cheetah Chrome also lends a helping hand. The Mad City Rockers released an album a few years ago, and although there has already been some talk to a successor, nothing has materialized so far.

Already have plans to take this Month Of Sundays to the road?

I would love to take you to the road, but as always, it will depend on two things – the demand and financing. In the meantime, we plan to do some live streams so that fans around the world can feel the taste.

Many thanks, Mark! Do you want to add anything else?

Thank you for taking the time to discuss my music. Play it loud !


Month Of Sundays was released on April 14, 2017 through True Rock.

To order Month of Sundays on iTunes please visit: http://smarturl.it/markduda

To order Month of Sundays on Bandcamp please visit: https://markduda.bandcamp.com/

To Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5XLAxaFFVOLJCow52TN5nd

To Order on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Month-Sundays-EP-Mark-Duda

For more information about Month of Sundays or upcoming tour dates, please visit Mark’s website and social media pages via www.markdudamusic.com

For Booking inquiries please email booking@markdudamusic.com


Tune In: Singer/Songwriter Karney to be featured on Blog Talk Radio December 10th


Karney is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter that has been
making great music for many years, performing across the US and
collaborating with many talented and notable artists. Keeping her
mind on social justice and positive messages, her lyrical content
offers a sardonic and sometimes straight forward approach to many of
the issues facing people today, with a message of hope resonating
throughout every song she writes. Karney is digitally releasing a
handful of new songs between August and the end of 2016 in support of
her upcoming full-length album Renditions,
due out in early 2017.

Tune In Here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/diannabellerose/2016/12/10/empowering-and-inspiring-women-globally-restless-wind-w-same-song

Visit iTunes to order or check out Karney’s entire catalog: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/restless-wind-w-same-song/id1174636537

Check out Karney’s website for more information and touring schedule: http://karney.org/music/

Music Street Journal Interview: Cure for Gravity


MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

Joe Markert: All of us have been performing in one capacity or another for over 25 years each.  My background began at nine performing trumpet through my years in school – all styles from jazz to symphonic to competing in marching band competitions across California.  My real life as a writing musician began with the discovery of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration in high school.  I was just blown away that all of that sound was being created by a couple of guys with a computer and samplers.  This began my deep journey into synthesis, sequencing and sound design.  From that point on, music was simply something I could not, not do.

Chris Camper:  I was born into a musical family and solidified my infatuation with drums at around age eight. While working as a professional drum set artist in the 1990s, I graduated college with a degree in Jazz Studies and Percussion in 1995. Central State University (Ohio) awarded me top honors and gave me five years of extensive performance experience with an emphasis on marimba, vibraphone, steel drums and hand percussion. I moved out to the San Francisco bay Area from New York City back in 1996, and embraced my position as a busy working drum set artist playing in a variety of projects that spanned many genres of music in various settings. My favorite part about playing is to try and utilize as many of my disciplines as I can without leaving my place behind the drum set. I am trying to visit as many musical worlds as possible, moving from symphonic percussion to an ancient tribal drum circle to a melodic mallet passage, all while trying to honor the wealth of amazing drum set artists that have inspired me to embrace the drum set as my voice. Cure For Gravity is an essential part of this exploration for me, and I am so lucky to have Joe and Dave support me in these sonic adventures.

Dave Walcott: My musical journey began when I was about 10, when someone renting a room in my Mom’s home showed me how to play the bass line for “Day Tripper” on my sister’s long-unused nylon stringed classical guitar. A few months later, I’d convinced my mom to buy me a Peavey T-15 guitar (tricked out with a case that had an amp built-in!). I spent the next five years or so obsessively learning the guitar parts to as many Rush songs as I could. Since then, my journey has led me to music school, teaching music theory and playing bass and some banjo, studying jazz, classical. And all these years later here I am on electric guitar again playing music I’ve written with Joe Markert and Chris in Cure for Gravity!.

Joe Markert: The band, Cure for Gravity, has been performing together now for about six years, and this is our second EP.  In a lot of ways, this CD is truly representative of the Cure for Gravity sound and represents a great launching point for the band.  This album was written together collaboratively, and the sound we stumbled upon three years ago as a result of our letting our old keyboardist move on to other projects, and my shift back to keys as a primary writing instrument.  Along with that shift came the root of the sounds you hear on songs like “Tonight,” “BlackMetal” and “Push.”  We’re considering this our coming out party and can’t wait to start getting in front of more audiences outside our home town.

Chris Camper: I’m really proud of the album we are putting out. When Joe says collaboration, that’s for real. We developed these songs by improvising together and then rewriting and fine tuning together until we felt they were ready. Then we played them in front of many fans and friends and countless other musicians. By the time we went into the studio these songs were as close to polished as anything I’ve ever done. I am very proud to say that we took the best band performance from start to finish and used that performance as the track. I am so proud to present true performances without the endless cutting and pasting that usually drains so much energy from the music. For me we were really able to keep that “live to tape vibe” that I love so much. I am very happy to say that when you come to see us play live, you will hear what you hear on the album!

MSJ: If you weren’t involved in music what do you think you’d be doing?

Joe Markert: If not music, something creative, that’s for sure – production of some kind.  I love to be creating as part of a team, working toward a larger goal.  I’ve done some stints in event and television production, and I’d probably want to do more of that.

Dave Walcott: If I weren’t playing music, I might spend that time building guitar effects pedals, which is a hobby I’ve taken up in the past few years (and amazingly, am yet to burn myself too badly with my soldering iron!).

Chris Camper: If I weren’t playing music, I would be listening and going to shows and writing about it. Does that count?

Maybe Pro Bowling although it would have to be something to do with spending a lot of time around really, really, really good looking people with minimal clothing. And there would have to be good music playing!

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?

Joe Markert: Actually, the name “Cure for Gravity” came from an album title concept we had for a previous project I fronted, years ago, called “Separate Ways.”  We had planned to use that name for our last record, but the end product wasn’t quite representative of the vision we had, and I felt it would be a waste to use such a good name on an album that wasn’t living up to our expectations so I saved it.
Years later when I formed this band that was one of the first ideas that came to mind – there really wasn’t much discussion or thought about anything else.  We knew this was the name we wanted. We feel it captures what we’re going for – music that is cinematic, moody, atmospheric in nature that helps transport you somewhere else – escaping gravity.  I also like the idea of trying to cure the incurable.

MSJ:Who would you see as your musical influences?

Joe Markert: It’s fairly varied across the board, as we all come from very diverse musical backgrounds. For me, I grew up with my Mom playing everything from Barry White to Barry Manilow and everything in between. She definitely gave me an honest musical education.  My earliest personal selections were discovered at my Uncle Kevin’s turntable where he introduced me to Toto, Rush, and of all things, Hall and Oates! As I shared, Depeche Mode really got me writing music years later.  These days, I listen to everything, but I’ve also found a lot of influence and excitement in other forms of music like tango and flamenco, which have helped me break out of the typical writing formats while still creating something exciting in our style.  I think this mélange of influences explains a lot of the reason behind my pretty eclectic tastes and styles in writing.

Dave Walcott: Some big influences on guitar for me include Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, The Edge, Johnny Greenwood, Nick Drake, Alexi Murdoch and Kevin Shields. Outside of the rock domain, I’ve also been shaped and inspired by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans.
Chris Camper: I love all music that comes from an honest place, is passionate and shows a devotion to the craft. Even if I don’t necessarily dig the music, I have great respect for the artist who can present these attributes.
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?

Joe Markert: That all remains to be seen based on acceptance of this album, but our hopes are for increased touring. We want to get out on some support slots for regional tours so we can develop a wider audience.  We’re also eager to get into the studio and begin tracking some of the material we’ve written since this album, expanding on our sound and challenging ourselves further.  The next release will be a full album for sure and, we think, quite ambitious.

MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Joe Markert: I think it was tough for a long time to respond, but it’s becoming clear we’re sitting well in the post progressive rock category but with a mainstream edge and appeal.  I think this is happening due to our instrumentation, arrangements, experimental aspects and lack of fear about going instrumental or exploring longer ambient sections.  It just feels natural to us.  I like to tell people we’re “cinematic, progressive, alternative rock ”

Dave Walcott: The release of our recent material has taught me that I have little visibility into how our music looks and sounds from the outside. Most of the recent feedback seems to land us squarely in the prog rock camp, and I wouldn’t have thought to describe our music that way. And the artists we seem to remind people of most are ones I wouldn’t think to liken us to. So clearly I have no idea about this one.

MSJ:Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Joe Markert: Most definitely!  From a touring perspective we’ve love to get out there with Glass Animals, Polica, My Morning jacket, Porcupine Tree, Muse, The National, God is an Astronaut. These are all groups we think we’d have a lot of fun with.  More locally there is a band called, “Astronauts Etc,” that has been making waves, and we’d love to get out on some bills with them.
Personally, I’d love to collaborate with Feist or Imogen Heap – I can’t get enough of their music!

MSJ:Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Joe Markert: Well, it’s both, quite honestly.  Of course, there’s the loss of artist revenues which hurts, but given the new economy – free – the upside is it’s much easier for your music to get out there and be heard by as many people as possible.  I think there are shifts ahead in the New Music Industry.  I think there are ways to make a real living at this that are not dependent on typical structures and can allow artists to thrive even with illegal downloading. Fundamentally, you need to focus on a smaller audience, not larger – quality over quantity.  There are those superfans out there who will pay for your music and will open their wallets. You just need to find them, and we now have the tools and means to do that worldwide.  No matter what you do, there will always be those who will skirt the law and steal art – even unintentionally.  You can’t stop this, so how to get around it? That’s the focus we need to have.

MSJ:In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

Joe Markert: Yeah, I mean – again, I can recall the feeling and excitement of a live concert as a kid – wanting to have that with me long after the event – or recording songs off the radio, even.  I’d say it’s a tough one – that desire for this often comes from true excitement about what you’re creating and the sharing aspect can generate even more fans. Often today I say I’d rather have five new fans than five new dollars.  But, the more fans we have, the more likely we are to find those SuperFans I talked about who will pay.  And this can make up for the losses others present.

MSJ:If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Joe Markert: Ha, interesting question – and a tough one.  I mean, we’re not into being in competition really.  I like music from all avenues – the only bad music is bad music, period.  If I were to take a more humorous approach, I might say Dave Grohl, if only because I get compared to him a lot, physically speaking.  I think it’s the hair and the beard honestly.  But, man would I love to share a stage with that guy – so, not really my arch nemesis.

MSJ:If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you’d like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Joe Markert: Oh man, I may defer to Dave and Chris on this one – they’re the more knowledgeable musicians in the group when it comes to individual performers.  I do have to say, it’s already been done, but Robert Plant and Allison Krauss put together a phenomenal album.  I love it when two artists from seemingly different avenues collaborate.

Chris Camper: Wow! Now there is a question that will be rolling around in the old noggin’ for a while! I’ve got to say this relates to why I’m so happy not be single and dating! In all seriousness, every band is a relationship between multi faceted individuals that are all attempting to express themselves simultaneously. I would have to meet my favorite artists first to see if I can even stand being in a room with them much less open up my soul to them and create music. However, It would be really interesting to see someone in the producer seat of the band that could add to our research and development of new music from a different perspective. I would love to get Questlove in the house because I think he’s a genius and has his finger on the pulse of so many genres of  music and because he’s the only guy I could accept being critical of my drum parts!

Dave Walcott: I’d love to see what fell out if you put Kevin Shields, Johnny Greenwood, Matt Berninger, John Bonham, and John Entwistle in the same room (hopefully there’d be no brawls).
MSJ:If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Joe Markert: Oh man – OK – well for me I’d definitely want to see:Snow Patrol


The National

God is an Astronaut

Porcupine Tree

Explosions in the Sky

Depeche Mode

Imogen Heap

My Morning Jacket

Glass Animals


Chris Camper, Dave?  Maybe we’d have three stages? (laughter)

I love Joe Markert’s list!


Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hiatus Kaiyote

Esperanza Spaulding and Emily’s D+Evolution

Little Dragon

The Police (another reunion tour just for us?

Dave Walcott: Fun question! The ultimate Dave-a-Palooza line-up would be:
Explosions in the Sky

Sigur Ros


The National


The Verve

My Bloody Valentine


Jimi Hendrix

Led Zeppelin

The Kinks

Cheap Trick

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Joe Markert: I recently bought a copy of High Violet by The National.at Dave’s suggestion. I’ve really been enjoying that.  And I recently grabbed the first albums by My Morning Jacket and Glass Animals – actually, have those on vinyl – so awesome. Oh, Nils Frahm, Spaces – so freaking good – totally inspired some of my recent writing.

Dave Walcott: Dream Signals in Full Circles by Tristeza, Signal Hill’s self-titled EP, and Snow Patrol by Snow Patrol (the latter of which Joe Markert turned me onto when he queued it up on my Apple Music during the two day drive back from Denver to the Bay Area in July after playing the UMS!).

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Joe Markert:  I’m currently reading Slade House by David Mitchell ( the author of The Bone Clocks) – awesome read – but, just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Man, if you grew up in the 80s you have to read this one.  Then go watch “Stranger Things.” Actually, Jackie Dallas, the protagonist in our video for “BlackMetal” has a cameo in “Stranger Things” – as an aside.

Dave Walcott: Currently reading Tribe by Sebastian Junger and loving it. Also read and loved The Alchemist recently.
Chris Camper: I inherited a love of science fiction from my father, so any good sci-fi reads, bring it on! I have been thinking of rereading my all time favorite The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson about the colonization of Mars – so good!

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Joe Markert: The last major concert I attended (cause I see a lot of local artists live – like Emily Afton, The Sheshen, Gold Minor) was Van Morrison. Man, can that guy still belt them out!  I’m heading out to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds live next week – cannot wait!

Dave Walcott: Explosions in the Sky at the Fox in Oakland earlier this year – my fourth time seeing them, and they were as good (and loud!) as ever.

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Dave Walcott: “London Rain” by Heather Nova (don’t tell!).

Joe Markert:  Flamenco and tango – I just love those rhythms and what groups like Gotan project did to bring that front and center.  I also just adore the classic American song book – the old big band and lounge classics – transports me back in time

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Joe Markert:  I’m going to defer to Chris and Dave – they’re our resident ST fans.

Chris Camper: Oh Man! It’s rock n roll so, yeah, we have some stories! But unlike Spinal Tap, we are a fine tuned well oiled machine of professionalism that would never stoop to Spinal Tap levels of dysfunction! (laughter) Our Stone Henge is made in feet, not inches, and our pods always open!

Dave Walcott: Well I’ve never modded any of my amps to go to 11, but I bet the 20 pedals on my board would make good fodder for a Nigel Tufnel scene of some sort.

MSJ:If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Joe Markert:  BT (Brian Transeau) – pick his brain on production and sound design, Nils Frahm, and – for a ringer – John Denver.  Man, I loved that guys music as a kid. (laughter)

Chris Camper:

Miles Davis- the future of music and being forward thinking and out of the box

John Bonham- to geek out on drums and drum sounds

Questlove- knower of all things current music scene and drums
Dave Walcott: Nick Drake, Kahlil Gibran, and Roberto Assagioli: possibly a conversation of depth, art, and archetype.

MSJ:What would be on the menu?

Joe Markert:  Oh, we’d start with some Burrata, move on to a wonderful seasonal gnocchi, head into a little arugula salad with seared pears and walnuts and then nice juicy ribeye steak and spring potatoes with Manhattans up, with Rye whiskey, as my drink of choice.  Desert can be another Manhattan or an awesome ice cream sundae.

Chris Camper: Joe Markert, sign me up! Like now for real! I’m hungry.
MSJ:Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Joe Markert: Oh man – just if you like what you hear, get in touch with us – let us know.  We’re looking for new towns to play in and people to connect with.  If there’s a band you think we sound like, let us know – research. And share our links around – say “Hi” – we want to connect with our SuperFans.


Order Cure For Gravity here!