Saturday, October 19, 2019

Streetwise Radio Touring Musician Spotlight: Scott “Scojo” Johnson By Shelah Moody

Sax player Scott “ScoJo” Johnson is one of the gems I discovered during my stay in New Orleans last year.  Johnson is arguably one of the most studious and hard-working musicians in Crescent City. In one season, I saw Johnson gig with Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazzfest) and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, freelance at the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street and accompany flutist Nikia Russell at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the Ninth Ward. I recently caught up with the cool southern gentleman for a brief talk on music. Check out a clip of ScoJo performing:       

Streetwise Radio:  Where are you from originally, and what drew you to New Orleans?

Johnson: I’m originally from Jackson, MS. I taught marching band for several years after I graduated from college at the University of Southern Mississippi. I only got a chance to gig two times every three months. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with that. I saw an Alan Watts video that was basically asking what you would do for a living if money were not an object. I quit the next day after I saw that video, and moved to New Orleans. I,  along with all of my friends, would visit New Orleans all the time, so I knew what the music scene was like. It seemed like any time of day, seven days a week, there was something great going on as far as music goes. I came here because I felt like I could have a chance to play as little or as much as I wanted to. 

Streetwise Radio: What drew you to the sax and how many instruments do you play?

Johnson: In elementary school, all of the fourth and fifth graders were required to play the recorder. The fingering for the recorder is extremely similar to the saxophone. I auditioned for a performing arts school on the recorder. After I made it into the school, the instrumental instructor started me on saxophone because of the similar fingerings. Clarinet and flute have similar fingers to the sax, so I play those also. I also play the piano/keyboard. 

Streetwise Radio: Music wise, what projects are you working on now?

Johnson: I’m currently working on an endorsement deal with a saxophone company. I can’t name the company until they give me the green light (and this is assuming that I get the endorsement). I’m also writing music again. Ideally, I would like to have an album completed by the fall of 2020. 

Streetwise Radio: Describe your favorite festival experience of all time.

Johnson: I perform with Delfeayo Marsalis’ Uptown Jazz Orchestra. We recently had a performance in Connecticut at the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz. I think that was my favorite festival that I’ve performed at so far. Even the visual ascetics were unreal. To look into the crowd of hundreds of people sitting on the grass having the time of their lives... unbelievable. 

Streetwise Radio: What pop song would you like to redo in jazz?

Johnson: I’ve arranged several pop tunes in the style of jazz. My favorite one that I’ve done is actually a rock tune called  “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. 

Streetwise Radio: So, what do jazz musicians like yourself do when hurricanes hit NOLA?

Johnson: During Hurricane Barry, the shows go on! If the venue is still open, we show up to play!!

Catch Scott “ScoJo” Johnson live on tour with Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and every Wednesday night with the Orchestra at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro,

Monday, July 29, 2019

A statement regarding the tragic shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

July 29, 2019 (Gilroy, CA): The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and the entire community of Gilroy are devastated by the shooting yesterday afternoon on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and everyone affected by this horrific event. We are offering any and all resources available to support our community and law enforcement. We ask for your prayers and understanding at this incredibly difficult time.
At a press conference Sunday evening, Brian Bowe, Executive Director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said, “Gilroy is an amazing, tightly-knit community. We are family. We have had the wonderful opportunity in this community to celebrate our family through our Garlic Festival, and for over four decades that festival has been our annual family reunion. It's such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year's festival,” Bowe told reporters.
Shawn Keck, President of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, spoke in support of the more than 4,000 volunteers who worked to organize and host the annual festival. “We are heartbroken that senseless violence brought this year’s festival to such a terrible and tragic end. We are truly grateful to the Gilroy Police Department, who responded immediately to prevent further loss of life, and to the hundreds of other first responders from regional and federal agencies who have provided additional support. We are also thankful for the thoughts and prayers and outpouring of support from people all over the world.”
If you are a witness with information about the shooting, please call the witness hotline at 408-846-0583. If you are seeking information about a loved one, please call the reunification hotline at 408-846-0584. A media line has also been established by the Gilroy Police Department at 408-842-0432.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

          It's that time for fun food, music, in Gilroy Ca.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Citizen Cope Brings Roots, Rock Reggae and Consciousness to California Roots Music and Arts Festival By Shelah Moody

         “I’m very centered around the song. I want the song to be super important. I want the lyrics to be super important. I think that there’s just storytelling that’s happened in music that I just wanted to put in with something that I felt sounded cool.” — Citizen Cope

         When Citizen Cope and his four-member band took the Caliroots stage and played the first few riffs of the hip hop infused, “Let the Drummer Kick,” I knew Friday was gonna be a good day at the Monterey mega festival.
         I was excited when I found out that Citizen Cope would be performing at the 10th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival. So I reached out to his management at Rootfire Records for an interview. I was told that the Memphis born, Washington D.C.-based singer, musician and lyricist was very particular about interviews and they wanted to make sure I did my due diligence and could ask questions beyond the general Wikipedia fare. Most of all, they wanted to make sure I was familiar with Citizen Cope’s music.
         Hmm, I thought. I’d downloaded his current album, “Heroin and Helicopters” and found that his music was deeply rooted in the American blues tradition. Tracks like “Caribbean Skies,” “Justice” and especially the sensual and intriguing “Walk Sally” let me know that he was a damn good storyteller.
         I first became familiar with Citizen Cope, aka  Clarence Greenwood, after seeing him perform live on the line up of the 40th-anniversary tribute concert to Marley “Exodus” album the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Nov. 1, 2017. On the bill with Grammy-winning artists such as Ziggy and Stephen Marley, Cyril Neville, Gary Clark, Jr., and Tom Morello, Citizen Cope performed a cover of Bob Marley’s “ Heathen.” Cope’s syncopation and delivery of the Rastafarian anthem were amazing! He had transformed “Heathen” into an urban cautionary tale, adding his own blues, rock and folk flare.  
     While doing a deeper dive into Citizen Cope’s career, I found that he had collaborated with Carlos Santana and that his wife, Alice Smith, is also a brilliant musician, and the two often make beautiful music together.
    I caught up with Citizen Cope in the press room after his Caliroots performance.

Streetwise Radio: What is your impression of the California Roots Music and Arts Festival and how did you come about performing here?
Citizen Cope: I was asked to do the show about six months ago. It’s been a blast. I’ve never had the opportunity to play here, but it’s a beautiful part of the country, a beautiful part of the world. Being in this atmosphere has been great.

Streetwise Radio: How did you hook up with the Marley family for their historic 2017  “Exodus” concert in Los Angeles, and what was it like performing Bob Marley’s “Heathen” on stage?

Citizen Cope: It was interesting because obviously, I’m a huge Bob Marley fan and pay respect to what he was able to do in his lifetime and the legacy he’s left. So, they asked me to be a part of it and I was very interested in being able to sing one of Bob Marley’s songs, but I didn’t know that “Heathen” was going to be my song. They asked me to perform the song, which isn’t in our main rotation, like “Natural Mystic.” I knew Ziggy and Stephen wanted to do “Natural Mystic.” It was a special night.

Streetwise Radio: “Heroin and Helicopters” are listed as folk rock on iTunes. How do the blues idiom and the storytelling tradition fit into your music?

Citizen Cope: I don’t like to put the music in a category. I think it’s folk rock, but it’s more to’s somewhat of an urban folk because it deals with deeper rhythms and slower rhythms. I’m very centered around the song. I want the song to be super important. I want the lyrics to be super important. I think that there’s just s storytelling that’s happened in music that I just wanted to put in with something that I felt sounded cool.

Streetwise Radio: What is “Duck Confit,” the lead track on “Heroin and Helicopters,” about?

Citizen Cope: Well, it’s just a spoken word poem, and it deals with kind of free expression and poetry. You have to listen to the poem to get your own ideas. When I write poems, it just goes off the top of the head to the pen, and then I don’t really change much of it, so it ends up making sense, but it can be complex sometimes.

Streetwise Radio: Tell me more about my favorite song on “Heroin and Helicopters,” “Sally Walks.”

Citizen Cope: (Smiles) Everybody knows Sally. “Sally Walks” is about a woman who a guy hadn’t seen in a long time. Everybody knows somebody who’s taken the hard road yet is always able to take care of themselves. Pretty much, you don’t know if it’s me I’m talking about or a woman.

Streetwise Radio: You are record label mates with one of tonight’s headliners, Steel Pulse. Have they influenced your music in any way?

Citizen Cope: Well, it’s really hard not to be influenced by their music and by what they’ve done and accomplished. They’re still so vibrant and alive, and touching people in such a way.  So many people haven’t really been able to see and experience what an authentic reggae band is because they’re not around that much anymore. All these new reggae artists that are coming up get to experience a touch of that.

Streetwise Radio: What’s it like on the block where you live?

Citizen Cope: On the block where I live right now, it’s very quiet, and it’s somewhat suburban (laughs). It’s in the city, but it’s not as aggressive or intimidating as some of the blocks I’ve lived on. But it’s also not as much fun (laughs).

Hear Citizen Cope on regular rotation on Streetwise Radio.
Here’s a clip of Citizen Cope performing at the California Roots Music and Arts Festiva:

Here are some photo highlights from the 10th annual Caliroots festival.

Don Carlos

The Skints

David Hinds

Monday, May 20, 2019

UK’s Grammy Winning Reggae Band Steel Pulse Drops New Album Today, Headlines Caliroots May 24

By Shelah Moody

         Don’t Shoot. Justice in  Jena. Cry Cry Blood. Black and White Oppressors. These are some of the title tracks from Steel Pulse intriguing new album, “Mass Manipulation,” which dropped on May 17. Released on the indie Rootfire label, “Mass Manipulation” is Steel Pulse’s first studio album in more than a decade.
    On March 31, Steel Pulse kicked off their “Mass Manipulation” tour at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. On May 24, the UK’s  Grammy winning reggae band headlines at the California Roots and Music Festival in Monterey, CA.

Who: Steel Pulse
When: 4:45 p.m., Friday, May 24, 2019
Where: California Roots Music and Arts Festival. Bowl Stage, Monterey County Fairgrounds

        A few months before “Mass Manipulation” dropped, David “Dread” Hinds, Steel Pulse’s lead singer/songwriter/guitarist /producer, called me and told me that “Mass Manipulation” was gonna blow me away; that it was their best album since their classics: Babylon the Bandit,” “Earth Crisis” and “True Democracy.” He was right.
         Hinds and Steel Pulse have always prided themselves on staying current on global affairs and speaking out against injustices worldwide. Sometimes, they are prophetic. At their Warfield concert, the band performed one of their  greatest hits: “Who Responsible,” from “True Democracy.”

Mother’s  joy turn to
Pain and hollering
Weeping for their babes and sucklings
Spirits of the innocent wandering
Sufferation everlasting
But I wanna know who's responsible?
They don't give a damn no

Oh Papa dem chest keeps on burning
Fist clench tight a grit dem teeth
And blood is boiling
The price is high yet they keep on paying
The little bundles of love
They are all missing
And I wanna know who's responsible?
They don't give a damn no

The next day, April 1, Grammy nominated  rapper Nipsey Hussle, a beautiful young man who was building his community, was gunned in Los Angeles.

       “Mass Manipulation” deals with topics such as human trafficking, environmental destruction, police brutality, loss of self esteem and the root of all evil, racism, that’s racism with a rolling “R,” as sung by Hinds. Propelled by Steel Pulse’s signature throbbing rhythm section and mellifluous horns, and Hinds’ ethereal vocals, styles  on the album range from rockers, Nyabinghi, dub and even EDM, electronic dance music. One of the highlights of “Mass Manipulation” is a remake of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” featuring David Hinds’ son, Baruch Hinds, on lead rap. Listen to selections of “Mass Manipulation” on Streetwise Radio. Downloaded it now on major streaming services. Here’s a clip from Steel Pulse’s Warfield performance: Check out a clip from Steel Pulse’s’ Warfield performance:

May The Pulse Be With You.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Ben E. Hunter - Acclaimed New Orleans Afro- Caribbean Folk Artist- Performs May 5 @ New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans, LA- Fela Kuti. Bob Marley. Tupac Shakur. Like these three music icons, singer/songwriter and visionary Ben E. Hunter is on the forefront of a movement. He calls it —-New Orleans Afro-Caribbean Folk.

New Orleans Afro-Caribbean Folk  is a rich and compelling style that Hunter created, drawing from reggae, delta blues, New Orleans brass band and Mardi Gras Indian chants.
On May 5, 12 p.m. Ben E. Hunter, aka the Black Troubadour, will play an acoustic set in the Music Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Hunter, who hails from the 7th Ward,  is elated about his return to Jazzfest and will perform original compositions and songs from his latest albums, “Traveler,” “The Nature of Things” and “Break Out Bold.”
Hunter recently launched his own AirBnB Experience tour in New Orleans, taking visitors on a multi-location street concert experience through the city’s most culturally rich areas - a journey of reflection on the neighborhoods that have most shaped New Orleans’ great musical history, with a first-hand account of how these same communities have changed over time.

On Wednesday nights, catch Hunter live on the acoustic guitar, opening for Grammy winning trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.

Who: New Orleans Afro-Caribbean Folk Musician Ben E. Hunter

Where: 12 p.m., Music Tent, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans Fairgrounds

Info:,, (415) 378-3786.