Category Archives: Snarky Puppy

Sensai Badu: I Understand The Game

Resonating truth by way of Erykah Badu on VH1’s Soul Stage performance.  Here she shares the story behind “The Other Side of the Game” which she wrote shortly after signing with Universal.

I already had this album done and I was trying to decide what label I was going to share MINE with, you know what I’m saying?  I was trying to make a business deal, I was going into a venture with somebody.

Because I know what music is worth.  The value of the entertainer, the star, the energy, the soul that we have.

When I got the record deal, I said I want to work with this group called The Roots.

(He) was like “Who is The Roots?”

“Don’t worry about it.  Just get me on the train to Philly and I’ll be back.”

-Erykah Badu

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New Pup Video — please stop yelling at me!

Right, right, right.  I’ve had pathetic video malfunctions of late.  I’m not doing this on purpose.  I promise.  I find videos.  I share videos.  Videos disappear from Internet and make me look like a douche.  I am aware, and seeking to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, please to enjoy this BRAND SPANKING NEW Snarky Puppy video courtesy of my Google Alert.  I will continue my endeavor to properly post the “Quarter Master” video from the Jefferson Center.  Then you can stop calling me a tease and we can all have a nice listen.

I’ll be reporting from New Orleans this weekend — home at last after two solid months in Denton (God help me).  I’ll be spending a good chunk of July there, until we’re all covered in oil.  Then I’ll bounce between DFW and New York for the fall.  Lots to talk about, more to listen to.

All But Quiet On The Music Front

Wear a helmet. Photo by Timothy Scott

Forgive me, dear readers, for instilling any abandonment issues on you.  For one reason or another, I have refused to blog for a month.  This was immediately following my promise to “blog every day for a month.”  Whoops.  I’ve still been writing (you can ask my roommate).  Between tinkering away quietly on the book and doodling interminable dross in my diary, I haven’t felt much like a blog.  But today I decided to kick myself in the ass a little.

Summer has wound it’s way around Denton.  No one is here, but those of us who remain go hard.  I’ve hosted a number of poor-to-fairly attended shows on multiple stages across Denton and Dallas.  The music has been unjustly good.

Have you seen the Black and Blues?  Oh my God.  Solid.  One would have no idea they’ve only been together a few months.  First you have Mark Lettieri whose devilish good looks rival my own. ” That Wanker” remains a guitar demigod among North Texans, shredding the blues alongside soul rocker, Keite Young.  Goldie Fornow brings a distinct and powerful presence to the blend of intoxicating originals (“If We Were Alone.”) and apt covers of Gnarls Barkley. Drummer Evan Gentry proves Houston boys know how hit it right — that’s some Chris Dave shit, right there — Straight up hip hop, with a polish that will make even the tightest Dallas cats sit up a little more.  Pull it all together with Matt Skates (Shuttle) on bass and you get the sort of blues that make you shake your fist and rock.

Wheew!  I am a fan.  Hitting the road with the band next month!  You can catch them in Dallas at the Green Elephant on Friday, July 9th, and Wednesday, July 28th at Hailey’s in Denton.

In other news — NEW SNARKY PUPPY!

Introducing “Quarter Master” — named after the band’s favorite gay deli in New Orleans.  Since the tune is a tribute to our favorite city in the whole wide world, Jason Marsalis and John Ellis decided to join in and become official Pups.  Welcome to the family!  I am now cosmically bound to cluck around like a mother hen and cook for you whenever you come to town.  The boys won’t be hitting the road again until October after Ropeadope releases Tell Your Friends in September (which means I’ll be getting my ass to New York in August).

In the meantime…

I thank you god for YouTube, Bill Laurance, and most this amazing day

Bill Laurance and Michael League

This afternoon I was in the throes of the usual Monday flurry and flutter, zapping out emails, texts, and Tweets, when I was suddenly disrupted by a wave of nostalgia.  While putting together a show proposal, I ran across this video I took a year ago at the Boiler Room. Suddenly instead of thinking of all the things I have to get done, I was overwhelmed with a reminder of why I do any of it in the first place.

Of the many blessings I count in my life, musicians hold an empowering majority. Working with those who inspire me beyond reason and allowing that impact to take hold has turned my world on its ear. For years I just considered myself a fan with no real understanding of the importance of that role within the musical community — I was frankly surprised no one had issued a restraining order against me and my megaphone.  It was Bill Laurance of Snarky Puppy who first brought this dynamic to my attention — that my steadfast love and support was not only appreciated, but necessary to the development and direction of musicians. Soon after I devoted myself to music. I plucked up my nomadic laundry baskets and moved back to Denton where I could put all that sonically-driven energy to good use.

That was when everything went right side up.

I would not have the beautifully eccentric life I have today had I not been so compelled by my friendship with Bill. His music reaches a part of my spirit like no other — from the vibrant “34 Klezma” (off Bring Us the Bright) to the heart-pumping “Good Man Delivers and the Best is Blessed” and the slightly gut-wrenching “Ready Wednesday” from Tell Your Friends. He is just the sort of charming genius Michael League is always parading into my life. My number one live music experience is presently a tie between Roger Waters doing Dark Side v. Leaguers and Billy at the piano last Mother’s Day.

Running across this video brought this all back today, it’s a wonder to see how much can happen in just one year.  Keith Anderson can be seen shattering minds with his band, Full of Soul and sassing Bobby Sparks on HDNet’s Ray Johnston Road Diaries.  Mike and Bill are enjoying a “chill” Pup summer on either side of the Atlantic.  Steve Pruitt and I have been cohorting on Chris Ward’s upcoming Texas tour (hitting North Texas next week), while Mark Lettieri and I verbally abuse each other over Black and Blues gigs.  It’s hard to imagine what life was like before these jazzholes took over — and it’s much more fun to imagine what’s ahead.

Pup Culture: More MTL Love from Pork Pie Jazz

True to Montreal’s general awesomeness, Jenn Hardy from Pork Pie Jazz recently asked me to write a guest post for her oh-so-savvy music blog (they really know how to do it in the QC).  Since Montreal has played a critical role in my road life with Snarky Puppy, I figured I would air out some thoughts presently making their way into my book, Pup Culture.  I’d like to share an excerpt of this article with you (read the full story here).  I read it, and it’s not too bad.  Please help me flesh out these thoughts with your questions and musings — and for the love of god, help me make sure this book is as useful and informative as it is entertaining.

The most beautiful part of living in our hyper-connected, always-on world is that we can now connect with each other in ways that were virtually impossible even a few short years ago.  As musicians and fans have learned to find each other through tools like Facebook and Twitter, new practices have emerged for artists to put down stakes in cities they do not live in—and in some cases, have never been to. Whenever anyone asks me what Twitter, I tell them my favorite matchmaking story of Snarky Puppy and Montreal.

Last year, Denton/Brooklyn-based band, Snarky Puppy was planning out their Spring Tour crawling from our North Texas home base through the Deep South and up the East Coast.  Ready to expand through Canada, bandleader Michael League arranged for the Pups to teach a clinic to the savvy Vanier students en route to their usual gig at the Rex in Toronto.  This was all coming together right about the time I had met a few key Quebecoise Tweeps that I felt would appreciate Snarky’s particular brand of cerebral dance music (your brain will dance, that’s just what happens, and it’s certainly not for everyone).  I offered to procure a stage for the Pups by way of my Twitter contacts – namely Anthony Imperioli, Joey Vescio, and the fine folks over at Filter Box Media.  Within an hour a modest army of tech-savvy music fiends assembled to help me secure the right venue and alert the proper authorities that Montreal’s favorite new band is rolling through town.

By zeroing in on cats I knew would dig Pups, I saved weeks worth of blind inquiries to clubs and built on the critical foundation of music students and sharp ears inherent to Snarky’s core following.  The culmination of the University crowd and the budding following online snowballed with each trip the band has made – a challenge testament to the infectious nature of this music.  When finding the fans online, one must consider personality and cultural nuance specific to the city in question.  You can’t just blindly flier the streets and hope that the right ears will happen along.  Perhaps especially those with the nameless styles that you have to hear and experience live to really appreciate the massive level of talent and energy Snarky Puppy generates.

Continue on Pork Pie

Your comments are welcome, let’s pick each other’s brains.

-Crisman

Well, I’ve run off with that band (again).

My life has been shaken into a brand of reason unfamiliar to most functional adults.  In fact, the only people that really do seem to “get it” are rare and significant and gainfully unemployed.  I have allowed these people to shape every aspect of my ever-expanding world — a world I am extraordinarily blessed to share with the Snarky Puppy family.

In case you have not heard, I resigned from a brief, albeit memorable stint as Music Editor for Pegasus News.  I am so happy to have had the past seven months (that’s Conan-time, babies). I am significantly enlightened in the knowledge that I hate being a shit journalist.  I hate it.  I’m not good at it.  Someone else would be much better at that job than me, and it is time they step in.

You know what I am good at?  Listening to music, working with, and hanging out with musicians — and then talking about it, sure.  This is what my life is comprised of and it is the most beautiful life I could possibly imagine.  The very structure of my life is run by festivals, tour dates, and booking contracts.  That’s the way I like it.

Right now my thoughts are calm — my son is asleep in the next room and the band is in Lafayette with Jess.  Most nights the family is scattered over at least four states and two continents, but the Spring Tour kicked off so most everybody is together.  I’ll rejoin them in New Orleans in a couple of days and then return to Dallas to coordinate a sprawling musical seduction of Canada by way of Jazz festivals (and those adorable sorts of girls who dance with their brains).

I’ve had a few intense jobs that flirted dangerously with the real world, each lasting less than a year and ending in a conversation explaining that no matter how hard I try, I cannot transfer my Pup-related energy to another entity (like pie charts or journalism).  I do try.  But it’s time to stop all of that.  I don’t belong in a day job, I belong on the road at home with my family.  I belong on the front row letting 7-15 instruments decide which way my body will move.  I belong at night.

I am so thankful to Pegasus for taking a chance on a scrappy, nocturnal music fiend like me.  The team is fantastic and I will continue to turn to them for the sort of local news that doesn’t make me want to move away.  I am thankful for each reader who shows their support just by listening to the silly things I have to say.  I am thankful to the musical community for so openly embracing me and standing by my side when I need them most.  And I’m thankful for you, because you are still reading my 2 AM chatter.

I am ecstatic to be returning to the 1099-Wild.  I figure since I’m in this habit of writing all the time, I’ll go ahead and snuggle my way back into the Blogosphere while I finish my book and we can all go on this little journey together.  You in?

As for this space, I’ll be banging on about music — I wager it will mostly fall under the jazz/R&B persuasion (but I’m open to discuss any style that gets my Stank Face goin’).  I’ve got my handy-dandy web cam so you can expect plenty of late night that-was-such-a-great-show-I-can’t-breathe videos.  Oh, and I know loads of charming and talented musicians.  They’ll be here, too.

-Crisman