Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 1)

(An edited version of this feature appeared in print in Living Blues Magazine.) All photos © Audrey Hermon Kopp Fantastic Negrito is a a lot of things. On the surface, he’s a stage persona, the human means of delivery for songs that chronicle the realities of life. But dig deeper and you’ll find Xavier Dhphrepaulezz,

Album Review: Elza — Nothing’s Wrong

Combining literate, singer-songwriter approach with instrumentation that draws form trip-hop and moody alternapop, Canadian artist Elza has crafted an album of subtle beauty on Nothing’s Wrong. Elzy doesn’t possess the overly-affected vocal mannerisms so trendy these days; she sings in a straightforward, unadorned manner, and she has the pipes to pull that off with out

Diali Cissokho’s Story Songs

When Diali Cissokho moved to North Carolina in 2010, he knew hardly anyone. The Senegalese musician didn’t speak English, and had no one with whom to play music. But with the help of his wife and mother-in-law, he put together a dance band, Kaira Ba. Eight years later, Cissokho has a strong command of the

A Look Back at Crowded House’s ‘Temple of Low Men’

In April 1977, Neil Finn joined Split Enz, a New Zealand/Australian band co-founded nearly five years earlier by older brother Tim. Though he hadn’t yet reached his 18th birthday, Neil Finn quickly set about developing his skills as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. He wouldn’t write any of the music on 1977’s Dizrhythmia, by the

Come Back Alice’s Simultaneous Attraction

Led by husband and wife Tony Tyler (guitar, vocals) and Dani Jaye (violin, vocals), St. Petersburg, Florida-based Come Back Alice plays high-energy rock ‘n’ roll that evokes the best of arena-rock concerts of decades past. Come Back Alice is the headliner at the August 17 installment of Hendersonville’s Rhythm and Brews concert series. You have

Mikaela Davis: Harping on a Pop Sensibility

The harp is an instrument most often associated with classical music; as a rule, its use in pop is generally limited to background orchestration in big productions. But clearly nobody explained that rule to Mikaela Davis: the pop vocalist not only plays the harp live onstage, but she writes songs on it. Davis takes advantage

A Chat with Amythyst Kiah

Raised in Bristol, Tennessee, a town sometimes described as the birthplace of country, Amythyst Kiah grew up immersed in music. Kiah released an album, Dig, in 2013, and the EP Amythyst Kiah and Her Chest of Glass last fall. New albums – one from her group, another a solo acoustic set – are in the

EP Review: Monique Angele – Alive

Australia-based singer-songwriter Monique Angele is from Canada; her performance schedule is neatly split between the two countries. Despite its name, this EP is a studio collection. It features Angele’s gentle and expressive vocals atop uncluttered yet soaring arrangement full of piano and strings. There’s a strong melancholy feel to the string parts on “Pink Colored

Album Review: The Goldwyn Experiment – Avenue B

An elegiac piano melody, “Prologue,” kicks off the album, with a feel not totally removed from Jim Steinman’s Meat Loaf-era work. It’s subtle assured and inviting. Toward the end of a track, a yawning cello takes over, establishing a more unsettled vibe. All of that leads the listener unprepared for “Vodka Tea,” which seems to

Jake Shimabukuro, Plugged and Unplugged

Hawaiian ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro catapulted to international fame in 2006 when a Youtube video of him performing the George Harrison-penned Beatles tune “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral. By that time, Shimabukuro was already well-known in his native Hawaii and in Japan; by 2006 he had released six albums in the west plus