music

A Conversation With Ryan Porter

(Interview & Photography by: Aaron Paschal)

Force For Good
I’ve never had a problem paying things forward. Like I said… “music is my way of being a Force For Good.”
— Ryan Porter

I’ve been a fan of Ryan Portrer’s music since I heard the first note off of his sophomore album (The Optimist). When I saw that Kamasi Washington was was booked to play at The Rose Music Center the first thing I did was reach out to Ryan Porter to see if he was touring along with Kamasi and if so if he’d be willing to get together for an interview. 

Well he obviously agreed but I’m not sure if I would consider this an interview. Although this was our first time meeting it was more like two old friends getting together and just talking.

As we headed to the backstage dressing room of the Rose Music Center the mass shootings that took place in Dayton, Ohio’s popular Oregon District a few days earlier was clearly at the forefront of Ryan’s mind...

Ryan Porter

Current Events

Ryan Porter: How are things here in Dayton since the shootings?

Aaron Paschal: Dayton is strong. Of course we are in the early stages of the healing process and we are still in a bit of shock that we had a mass shooting in our city but overall there’s a genuine effort to come together as a community and start the healing process as one united front.

RP: I’m real sad about what happened here in Dayton and  it’s impossible to not feel attached to it. You don’t even have to know people personally to feel the pain from senseless shootings. I didn’t know Nipsey Hussle at all because we ran in different circles but at the same time because I know his neighborhood and the type of people that come from there and I knew what he was trying to do I still felt a connection to him. Like he could have been my nephew so it hurts. It took awhile for me to watch all of that video because it just hurt so much. And that was just one person so I can’t even imagine what Dayton is going through with nine innocent lives being taken away.

The weight of what people are dealing with right now is serious. There’s a lot of change going on right now and some people are having a hard time embracing it. I’m a musician so my surroundings change all the time. I was in a different country last night. I understand that my job is temporary. I’ve had to understand all of these different things about what I’m doing in order to embrace change and I feel like sometimes the way things are set up people are so secure with things being the same all of the time. So when things become a little unbuckled they have every right to be stressed out and worried about the outcome. I feel like the current president is someone who kind of fuels these things. Pushes things in a direction that it really doesn’t have to go in and he doesn’t understand the weight of his words. Some people are actually going to take these things to heart and act out.

As someone that travels a lot and goes to different countries we get images subconsciously handed to us all of the time. If you want to know what it’s like in Jamaica; here we have this image for you. If you want to know what it’s like in any country around the world; “here, this is what we want you to think of this place.” But when you go to these places and you get a chance to actually see and meet the people for your self and have a cultural exchange it shows you that here in the United States we focus way too much on race. Once you get to a place that you can actually turn that down and focus on individuals instead of race you can actually handle some things together. 

I give by spreading love and unity through music. We promote unity and togetherness by being in a band. People see and hear us working alongside each other. They see what we can accomplish as a unit. I feel like we inspire people through our music so I feel like I’m in a good place right now. So I’m going to continue on this path and promote love and unity through music. 

The thing that hurts is when you know that there are kids out there that look up to you and that you are inspiring them to go out and chase their dreams and then you hear about all of the shootings that can impact or even end their lives… that hurts. It happens in L.A. too where you go out looking for people and you hear that something bad happened to them and you’re like “that wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s unfortunate.


Weapon of Choice

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AP: what was it about the trombone that got your attention?

RP: I was hanging out in my grandfather in his garage one day and he had tons of records.  This one record started playing and as soon as I heard it it made me inquire about it. I was like “man who is this? What instrument is he playing?” My grandfather was like that’s J.J. Johnson and he showed me the record. After that I’d be hanging out with my grandfather asking him to play some J.J. for me. I was five years old at the time and I’ve been hooked ever since so the trombone pretty much chose me.


Force For Good

Musicians have been blessed with the gift oof taking pain and suffering and turning it into love. John Coltrane is the perfect example of that. In fact my new album (Force for Good) is the growth and development that Coltrane had in music helps me and is kind of a template for me to work off. It’s like “so he was one of the best and I want to know what he was thinking about, how did he get to be the best?” His thing was he loved music so much that he was willing to change who he was to be the best at what he did. He knew what his purpose was so he changed a lot about himself. That’s one of the things that I appreciated about him because he had this Force For Good method. He was in a world where they were burning up churches with black girls in it and the forces of evil were there but at the end he wasn’t a politician, he was a saxophone player. He used his music (the song Alabama) to created these feelings that went beyond words. It became somewhat of a film score to me for someone that was trying to be on this path to be a Force For Good for other people and so that’s what inspired the title for my newest album.

AP: I hear the influence of John Coltrane’s music on your album, especially on the song (Carriacou).

RP: Laughs, Oh yeah. It’s not necessarily his music but more so his spirit and a lot of Kamasi Washington. But that’s really where it’s is trying to bring the spirit to the music. We understand that music can be healing and some music can be used to kind of detach from the world for a few minutes. Music can be used to help with a wide range of emotions but I feel like now there’s so much going on out in the world that there has to be more music for healing. That’s my contribution to society. People see that and that’s how you become an influence. Growing up in Los Angeles I saw that all of the time. By people just doing they're things they became a part of the daily rhythm of other people’s lives and helped influence them in that way. It’s amazing how that really becomes contagious.

I try to give all that I can. If I had a lot I would give a lot. When we were overseas in the Netherlands touring I heard about this 9 year old kid that was in Brass Band School that had to turn in his trumpet because he was about to move away. This little man loves playing the trumpet so in my heart I knew I had to do something. So I didn’t mind taking a chance on this kid by getting him a trumpet so that he can keep playing. I’ve never had a problem paying things forward. Like I said... “music is my way of being a Force For Good.”


Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

AP: What’s it like to be out on the road sharing the same stage with Herbie Hancock?

RP: Being on tour with Herbie Hancock has been amazing. I look at it as a blessing. I just turned 40 and he is 79 so that’s a lot of experience that he has to share with me and the other guys as we travel from place to place to perform. So many things have changed since he started playing music and he went right along with the changes… even to this day. So it’s inspiring. I really appreciate being here and having someone like Herbie that I can go to and talk to about not just music but we talk about any and everything. It’s amazing. The people that come to the show tonight are definitely in for a treat.


Maggie

AP: There’s a song on Force For Good titled (Maggie); I know that song is special to you - do you mind telling us a little about it?

RP: This song is for my mother. She passed away a few years ago and this song helped me bring things to closure. My mother had a beautiful soul. She was a visual artist and always encouraged me and my siblings to embrace who we were. She developed Alzheimer and dementia in the later stages of her life. When play or even hear this song I “feel” my mother’s spirit. It also makes me think of all other women that carry that sweet, loving spirit. (Maggie) is my tribute to my mother and I know that through this song I’m able to not only honor her but I’m able to share my love for her through music with everyone that listens to it.


Legacy

AP: I know you have two kids… do they realize who their dad is as related to the music industry and how dope you are? Do you think they feel pressure to be musicians?

RP: (laughs) I have two daughters and they are my life. They are starting to realize exactly what I do. They know that I travel a lot to play and they see my daily grind. I never pressure them about music or playing any instruments, “I save that for their homework!” (laughs.) No, but seriously they see and hear me practicing and working on my music all of the time and so if they choose to play music that’s how I’ll influence them. My oldest daughter does play the guitar and even taught some of her classmates how to play (the ABC Song) off of my (Spangle Lang Lane) album. So that was a proud dad moment where I had to fight back the tears! My youngest daughter is more of a visual artist and she’s good at it! So yeah, both of my daughters are great and I’m excited to see where their futures are going to take them. They have a pretty good feel for what I do, but they aren’t old enough to listen to all of the songs that I play on so that’ll come later in time. It’s hard being on tour and away from them for long periods of time but they know that I love them and that this is how I provide for them.


West Coast Get Down

Kamasi Washington and Ryan Porter

AP: The West Coast Get Down has been dropping a lot of great music the past few years. What’s it like to be a part of a group that understands the power of unity and togetherness when it comes to making music and longevity?

RP: Man its great! We all inspire each other and we know that as individuals and as a collective that we inspire a younger generation. When we were younger we had musicians in our neighborhoods that cared enough about us to invest in us. There were people that would drive around and pick us up, donate instruments and provide a safe place to practice our music. That’s how I met Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin and some of the other people associated with the West Coast Get Down.

Growing up in L.A. carrying that instrument case around pretty much gave you a free pass to move around the different gang territories without being bothered. I always knew that gang life wasn’t for me and I loved music so it all worked out great. Not only that but when I first met Kamasi I was like, “okay, here’s someone that loves music just as much as me!” So with the West Coast Get Down we are able to all get together and make music in ways that we couldn’t if we all just worked alone. The way technology is now and how artists tend to record albums they miss out on so much. I miss the days of bands like the Ohio Players and Earth With and Fire. So many great songs come together by pushing each other and bouncing ideas around a room full of other talented people. I hope we get back to having more bands and groups in the music industry.

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Ryan Porter

Ryan Porter’s third studio album “Force For Good” was released June 14, 2019 and is available for purchase on all streaming services.

You can also keep up with him on instagram: @ryanpapaporter

twitter: @ryanpapaporter

website: ryanporterofficial.com

Meet drummer: Johnny Radelat

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I sat down with drummer Johnny Radelat before he took the stage with Gary Clark Jr. and the rest of the band at Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre and asked him a few questions.

Aaron Paschal: It’s great seeing you again! I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with me and CincyMusic! 

As a musician and drummer to be specific, do you notice that everything in life has some type of rhythm or pattern to it?

Johnny Radelat: Yes! I can turn on the turn signal in my car and find myself hearing the rhythm of the blinkers. As a drummer there’s always a pop, pop, pop, pop going on in my head so I’m unable to turn that off. Everything has a rhythm to it and sometimes it can be annoying but that’s how I know I love what I do

AP: I read somewhere that you’re a big Sheila E. fan; can you tell us a little bit about that?

JR: There’s so many female drummers and I seem to like all of the good ones! Shelia E. is one of my favorite drummers period and she’s actually going to be on Gary Clark Jr.’s new album when it drops so that’s something to be excited about.

AP: I also heard that Patrick Ewing is one of your favorite NBA players. Patrick Ewing? What’s up with that?

JR: I grew up in New Jersey so I’m a Knick’s fan and when I was coming up Patrick Ewing was the man so yeah, he’s my favorite player.

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AP: How did you come about linking up with Gary Clark Jr. and becoming part of his band?

JR: I knew Gary from playing local gigs in and around Austin, Texas. We all played together so for the first national tour we went on we all got together and had a thirty minute rehearsal and everything just clicked right off the bat. We just have this natural chemistry and we all get along really well which is about 60% of what it takes for any band to make it. And the way Gary approaches performing really keeps us on our toes because we are never really sure where he’s going to take it on any particular song throughout the set. Even though we pretty much perform the same songs night after night and know what’s coming up next on the set list Gary plays what he feels and we all vibe off of the crowd so the songs are played differently from show to show.

AP: You guys have toured all over the place. Is there a certain city or venue that stands out to you?

JR: There are certain cities that I love performing in but as far as the venue and setting I’d have to say that Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO is always great. We just did our first headliner there and it was amazing! That venue just has that natural and spiritual energy there. It’s beyond the musical history of the venue; Red Rocks is just amazing.

AP: I know you stay busy touring with Gary Clark Jr. but what other artists or projects are you involved with when time permits?

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JR: I toured with Robert Finley a couple of months ago and will be doing some on and off the road work with him in the near future. He is a stable artist for Dan Aurbachs (Black Keys) label. Dan produced and co-wrote on his record “Goin’ Platinum”… it’s a great album! Robert Finley has had a very interesting  journey to get where he is now and I encourage you guys to check him out.

AP: If you could jam with any artists “dead or alive” who would you like to sit in with?

JR: “Man!” (Laughs and pauses for a while.)  Well I’d have to play with Booker T. “who is one of my absolute favorites.” His style and stuff he did with Stax Records is one of my favorites of all time. Of course Bob Marley is one of the artists, I love the way he ran his band. This may sound kind of odd to you but I’d also love to jam with Iggy Pop and The Stooges due to their drum arrangements.

AP: Okay, last question; what’s the last album you listened to all the way through and what’s in your current rotation?

JR: Last night I listened to Pink Floyd’s - Animals album all the way through. I’ve also been on a Van Morrison kick lately.

My family is Cuban and now there’s a whole collection of pre 1950’s Cuban music that’s available that I’ve been listening to and soaking in lately. Up until now none of that music was available in digital format so you had to have it on vinyl or cassette.

Harlem River Drive is a rare album that’s nice and I’ve been listening to. It’s by Eddie Palmieri's super group, which was the first to really merge black and Latin styles and musicians.

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I also caught up with Johnny after the concert and asked him what they thought about playing at the Taft Theatre.

JR: We loved the old theatre venue and the very resonant onstage sound. We don’t usually play seated venues so when we started and saw that most of the floor was already standing in the aisles and ready to go it was a pleasant surprise. Very electric crowd for a mid-week show, Cincinnati definitely showed up!

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More about Johnny Radelat

Johnny Radelat is the drummer for Gary Clark Jr., He got his start playing in reggae, R&B, soul, and Funk bands. I first photographed him at afropunk Brooklyn in August of 2017 and later got a chance to meet him and take his portrait after their performance at the inaugural Bourbon and Beyond in Louisville later that same year. If you’re lucky enough to catch a live performance or even watch a YouTube video of Gary Clark Jr. you’ll find it hard to miss Johnny Radelat jamming out on his Gretsch drums and Sabian cymbals!

follow him on instagram: @johnnyradelat

Never Thought...

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Mortal Man


Never Thought...


By: Mike Cooley

When you can’t find nobody else to speak to you can speak through the music. Help other people feel your pain, your struggle, your passion. You know, what you live and die for, your values in life
You know what I mean?
— Busta Rhymes (Music for Life) off of Hi-Tek's Hi Technology II album
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I've been making beats since 17 or 18 years old. That's when I got my first drum machine and started expressing myself through beats. It's my main passion and probably how I best express myself. I started making because I rapped and over time I grew tired of rapping over my favorite rapper's and producer's instrumentals so I got a drum machine and got into making my own.


A few weeks ago a Jesse, who was a rapper and a close friend to my brother was killed. It was senseless violence. I was upset and I was hurt. I felt like I had to do something with this pain so I made a beat so that I along with my brother who is a rapper as well could make a tribute song for Jesse. Near the end of the song there's a synth that comes in and that particular part is where I envision Jesse's voice coming in laying his verse. That's my way of paying homage to him.

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I was sitting in the house for days just pissed off, Jesse had just turned 21, he has a baby on the way, he just got married so it hurt, I was hurt. I knew sitting around the house drinking or smoking wasn't going to do anything so I decided to make that beat and I did feel a lot better after releasing my pain, using my music as an outlet. 

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All of this took place right around the same time that the Mortal Man project was released so I was like "this timing is right on point, like this project was made with me in mind!"


A lot of times when I'm dealing with situations like this I don't talk about it. I feel like talking about it is just going to make me think about it and feel worse about it so I try to avoid those feelings. Bringing up issues that you are trying to push down is tough but sometimes I do feel better after talking about them... dealing with and releasing that pain does help.

Never Thought
— Mike Cooley
I made it for my little brothers who had just lost a great friend to senseless violence. His name was Jesse. The plan is they’ll rap on the 2 empty verses and then when the beat switches and the instrumental starts going crazy that’s like Jesse’s verse. They all used to cipher together at parties. Since he’s not here to rap I put the synth lead in there to represent him.
— Never Thought...
 
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Mike Cooley

Never Thought...

DJ + Rapper + Beat Maker + Music LOVER

Maschinist. Trunk Bound Regime extremist

instagram: @atrunkboundcooley

tumblr: liquorandbeats

email: trunkboundregime@gmail.com

be sure to leave comments below to keep the conversation going, offer words of encouragement or to share your story.

In The Pines with Fantastic Negrito

Fantastic Negrito interview

when i was in louisville to cover bourbon and beyond i had a chance to sit down and talk to grammy award winner - fantastic negrito. we talked music, comebacks and collaborations. It’s hard for me to categorize his music; though my one and only attempt would be: DOPE! If by chance you have not heard his the last days of oakland album i suggest you do so quick, fast and in a hurry! i definitely suggest bangin’; in the pines, hump Thru the Winter, about a Bird, lost in a crowd, rant rushmore… well just play the whole album!

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will you describe your style of music to people who may be unaware of who you are?

FN: i describe my style as black’s roots for everyone.  edgy, raw, blues with a punk attitude. like i have all those mixtures… blues, funk, rock, punk, soul – it’s an amazing garden to pick from.

so you KILLED it on stage! they loved you…

FN: i know how to do a show! that’s what i think i’m best at. I’m a songwriter and a showman!

as an artist it’s tempting to settle into a comfort zone and do “what’s working.” how do you avoid that trap?

FN: my comfort zone is to be uncomfortable. i like to be challenged and to be a contributor. to do this music with the intention of contributing usually works out well.

who are some artists you have worked with recently?

FN: i did a song with zz ward called cannonball that we performed here today and i also worked with mistah f.a.b. and zion i on the oakland resist-mix.

do you have any other collaborations in the works or better yet is there an artist that you’re itching to work with?

FN: i’m on tour with sturgill simpson i think we’ll definitely do a collab, i think we’re definitely gonna cook something up, we keep talking about it.

i’m going to just throw this out there and i know it doesn’t mean anything but i’d love to see you do something with gary clark jr.

FN: i have something in the works with gary clark jr. it’s just a matter of if he gets to it. there’s a song called chronic pain, i don’t know if he’s gonna get on it or not but i hope so.

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do you mind speaking on your past and how it impacts your music?

FN: sure, the road that i’ve traveled… man the things that don’t break us down makes us stronger. my story goes in three phases. i started off wanting to be some big star - got signed to a label for a million bucks. the second phase is losing all of that. i was driving down the street one day in los angeles and i simply woke up three days later i was in a coma, lost my playing hand and then i delved into the underground music life, ran a few afterhours and illegal night clubs - that was fun. and I had a lot of incarnations i had stuff like chocolate butterfly, blood Sugar – i was just having fun then i decided to quit/retire i sold all of my stuff because I never thought that I would play again. i went up to oakland, ca my hometown and decided to become a cannabis farmer.  got out of music for five years and then boom! came back as fantastic negrito. i came back and those have been my three different phases, going out and then coming back and i think that’s okay. it’s okay to quit, put something down for a little while.

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what brought you back to music?

FN:  well i had a son. my son brought me back. i couldn’t put him to sleep one day and i just had a raggedy guitar hanging around the house and i just picked it up and played like a g major and that changed the course of my life because his reaction to it was so beautiful that i decided maybe there’s something to this music. so i slowly started playing again and came up with fantastic negrito and i haven’t looked back.

you can follow fantastic negrito’s journey on his website: fantasticnegrito.com as well as instagram: @fantasticnegrito and on twitter: @musicnegrito