Cherry Blossom Street Party

Cherry Blossom Street Party

Mavis Staples, Chuck Leavell with Randall Bramblett Band, JD McPherson, Me and Molly

Sat, April 1, 2017

Doors: 3:00 pm / Show: 4:00 pm

Downtown Macon

Macon, GA

$20.00 - $25.00

Cherry Blossom Street Party
Cherry Blossom Street Party
Join us on April 1 for th Cherry Bossom Street Party!


Event is Rain or Shine. Acts subject to change.
Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples is living, breathing history. She is an alchemist of American music, having continuously crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles. Weaving herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and hip hop over the last 60 years, this iconic singer has seen and sung through so many changes, always rising up to meet every road.

Now in her seventh decade, with the release of her new album Livin' on a High Note (ANTI-), she is only gaining momentum. Produced by M. Ward with songs by Neko Case, Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Aloe Blacc and others, the album serves as a summation and furtherance of her illustrious career. Refusing to fade away, she continues to tour incessantly, remaining as vital, engaged, and true as always. There is no persona; she is, simply and untouchably, Mavis—and Livin' on a High Note is the symphony of her life.

"I think about this album as a new beginning in my career," says Mavis. "I'm living on a high note, I'm floating on air. I know I don't have as much time on this Earth as I've already had, but I see it as saying, 'Mavis has been here, y'all.' Before I move on, I just want to leave some Mavis with you that you're not used to hearing. I want to leave you with some joy and love, and some don't-forget-me songs."

And with those words, her high note is revealed not as a pinnacle of ease and wealth but as a righteous life. Mavis is here, having weaved in and through all that fabric for all these many years, to show us that true joy lies simply in living for others. It's the sermon Dr. King gave all those years ago, and we must be grateful that she is able to echo it for us now. Mavis takes us—not only there, but back, up, and through.

Since her first recording at age 13 in 1954, Mavis Staples has learned from, worked with, and schooled countless legends, and has brought her own timeless talent to every performance. From the Delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s with her father, Pops, and her brother and sisters as The Staple Singers, to the freedom songs of the Civil Rights era, to pop radio stardom during the Stax era with hits "I'll Take You There" and "Respect Yourself," to The Last Waltz, to serving as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince at the peak of their careers, to 21st century collaborations with Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Zac Brown, Ry Cooder, Chuck D. and Willie Nelson, to her GRAMMY®-winning partnership with fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy, the one constant has been Mavis and her singular voice. She has embraced her evolution, absorbing new sounds and ideas, rising to meet the challenges of longevity and bringing her message of hope and positivity to new listeners, song after song, show after show.
Chuck Leavell with Randall Bramblett Band
Chuck Leavell with Randall Bramblett Band
Chuck Leavell has been pleasing the ears of music fans for more than 30 years now. His piano and keyboard work has been heard on the works of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, George Harrison, The Allman Brothers Band, The Indigo Girls, Blues Traveler, Train, Montgomery-Gentry, Lee Ann Womack and many, many more. In addition to being a well established pianist/artist in the music industry, Leavell is also a published author, long time tree farmer, co-founder of the popular website The Mother Nature Network, and keeps busy with his advocacy work on behalf of the environment. At the age of 13, Chuck got the opportunity to see Ray Charles in concert. He recalls, “Ray and the band played an incredible show, and it had such an impact on me that I made up my mind there and then that that was what I wanted to do. I decided that night what I wanted as my career.” When he was 15, Leavell made his way to Muscle Shoals, AL, and the legendary studios there, where he played on several records, including Freddie North’s soul classic Don’t Take Her, She’s All I’ve Got.

In 1969 Chuck moved to Macon, GA, where Southern music impresario Phil Walden had recently opened Capricorn Records and studio. There he worked his way through the ranks recording and touring with Alex Taylor (brother of James Taylor), Dr. John, country legend Kitty Wells, The Marshall Tucker Band and others. In 1972 having just turned 20 years old, Leavell was asked to join the Allman Brothers Band. The first album he recorded with the band was Brothers and Sisters, which included the classics “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica.” The album hit number one on Billboard’s Pop charts, and he went on to record several more albums with them before the Allmans disbanded.

Emerging from the break-up of the Allman Brothers Band, Leavell formed the rock/jazz/blues fusion group Sea Level with Allman’s drummer Jaimoe. The band toured relentlessly during the late ’70s and released five critically acclaimed albums. Catching the ears of and becoming friends with the late rock ‘n’ roll impresario Bill Graham and keyboardist Ian Stewart, the original “sixth” Rolling Stone, in 1982 he was invited to assume a significant keyboardist/vocalist role for the Stones that continues today. Says guitarist Keith Richards: “Without the continuity that Chuck brings to us, the Stones would not be the Stones.” Leavell describes his role with the Stones as a “sort of musical navigator” who keeps track of arrangements and keeps things balanced in addition to spicing up the music with his keyboards. In 1999, Leavell released his first seasonal album, What’s In That Bag? on Capricorn Records. Since that time it has become a holiday favorite and it continues to rate highly every year in Christmas CD sales.

In 2001, Leavell released Forever Blue: Solo Piano, a collection of seven original songs and three classics including “Georgia On My Mind.” With this release, Leavell reached down deep in his soul and his roots and created an extraordinary piece of work. Forever Blue is still one of the most popular solo pianos CDs around. His next release, Southscape has been described as “Southern Jazz”, and is Leavell’s musical portrait of the south he grew up in and still lives in today. The nine tracks include eight new songs written or co-written by Leavell and a wonderful re-visitation of the classic “Jessica” that he is so well known for.

The record-breaking 2005-2007 Rolling Stones’ “A Bigger Bang” tour marked Chuck’s 25th year with the band, and the 147 show tour proved yet again that the Stones are indeed the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band.” But Leavell didn’t stop at the end of that tour…he immediately put a band together in Germany and did his own tour of Europe in September of ’07 called “Green Leaves and Blue Notes” that resulted in his double disc live recording, “Live In Germany”, released in spring of 2008. Since then, he has continued recording with various including, the Montgomery-Gentry Band, Miranda Lambert, Heidi Newfield, and two new Nashville artists, Lady Antebellum and David Nail. He also recorded with Mike Gordon of Phish on his “The Green Sparrow” CD. More recently he has focused on a new book and CD that are in the works and spent much of his time on The Mother Nature Network (mnn.com), a comprehensive environmental website that he co-founded with his partner, Joel Babbit, in January of ’09. MNN is now the number one most visited independent environmental website in the world.
JD McPherson
JD McPherson
You could mistake JD McPherson for a revivalist, given how few other contemporary artists are likely to assert, as he boldly does, that “’Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard is the best record ever made. It’s so insanely visceral, you feel like it’s going to explode your speakers. If I’m listening to that in the car, I find myself having to brake suddenly. I can listen to that and it makes me feel like I’m 20 feet tall. And the feeling of joy I get from that record is always going to be the real push behind trying to make music.”

But in a very real sense, McPherson is much more a pioneer than roots resuscitator. He’s knocking at the door of something that arguably hasn’t yet been accomplished—a spirited, almost spiritual hybrid that brings the forgotten lessons from the earliest days of rock & roll into a future that has room for the modernities of studio technique and 21st century singer/songwriter idiosyncrasies that Richard Penniman would not recognize. Let the Good Times Roll, his second album, is a stranger, and more personal affair than its Fats Domino-redolent title might at first suggest, but the name isn’t exactly ironic, either. If you, too, brake for pleasure, you’ll screech to a halt at the enrapturing sound of these Good Times.

His first album, 2012’s Signs & Signifiers, was hailed as “an utterly irresistible, slicked-back triumph” by Mojo and “a rockin', bluesy, forward-thinking gold mine that subtly breaks the conventions of most vintage rock projects” by All Music Guide. The Washington Post wrote that, “he and his bandmates are great musicians taking ownership of a sound, not just mimicking one.” That same review remarked upon how, “the album sounds as if the band is in the same room with the listener.” But for the follow-up, McPherson wanted to maintain that raw power while also capturing the more mysterious side of the records he loves. To that slightly spookier end, he enlisted as a collaborator Mark Neill, known for his work as a producer and engineer with versed-in-the-past acts going back to the Paladins in the 1980s, but, most recently, for recording The Black Keys and Dan Auerbach—a friend of McPherson’s who co-wrote the new album’s “Bridge Builder.”

Talking up one of the freshly minted tunes, “Bridge Builder,” McPherson describes it as being “the psychedelic Coasters.” That no such thing really existed prior to this album doesn’t deter him. “This is something I actually talked about with Mark at the beginning of the record: ‘I want to make a ‘50s psychedelic record!’”

Neill was up to meeting that seemingly oxymoronic challenge. “It’s still a rock & roll record, but the borders are expanding a little bit,” McPherson explains. “With some of the writing that came out this time, it became apparent the songs weren’t going to lend themselves well to our usual process. So as we sought out a producer, we took aim for a slightly wider—I guess hi-fi is the word—sound, and got more experimental. Mark Neill certainly has all the tools in his hardware shop with which to produce any range of sounds from vintage Capitol Records stuff on up to…gosh, we listened to so much David Bowie making this record. We’d play Primal Scream’s Screamadelica to listen to how they suddenly started making dance records, and then Mark would play us Marilyn McCoo singing ‘Marry Me, Bill’ over and over again, I guess trying to re-wire our brains.”

Amid this flurry of possible influences, a few production approaches stuck. “I find that the records that I like to listen to over and over again are the ones that have those strange engineering choices, or weird sounds. I was very attracted to the idea of using plate reverb. So whereas the first record was really informed by New Orleans rhythm and blues, where everything was very dry and up-front, I really was listening more this time to a ton of Link Wray, and the Allen Toussaint-produced Irma Thomas stuff, and all the early ‘60s rock & roll that is saturated in plate reverb.”

McPherson certainly doesn’t begrudge the attention that Signs & Signifiers unexpectedly brought him. “If it hadn’t been for the ‘North Side Gal’ video, this probably never would have caught on,” he says, recalling the fame he found on YouTube even before Rounder picked up his indie release. “That’s how we found our label and found our management. I was still teaching school, and here I am with got this video that’s like a million hits. I’m like, what? I had no plans to quit my job. Luckily, I lost it.” A middle school art department’s loss was Rounder’s and the rock world’s gain.

It’d been a while in coming. “I started getting obsessed with this stuff when I was in high school,” McPherson says. “There wasn’t much to do where I grew up in rural southeast Oklahoma, where I lived on a 160-acre cattle ranch.” When he discovered early rock & roll and R&B, “it was like finding a treasure no one else knew about. Nobody around me had any interest whatsoever in Little Richard except for me and my friend. Once we started listening to Jerry Lee Lewis, and to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, which was the best thing you could ever find, everything started to change. I’ve got a videotape of us playing at a pool hall in the early ‘90s in Talihina, Oklahoma, and it’s cowboys and criminals and people that are cooking meth up in the hills standing around playing pool, and here we are with our greaser uniforms on, playing Buddy Holly’s ‘Rockin’ Around with Ollie Vee’ followed by ‘Clampdown’ by the Clash, and all these people are really confused. Those were happy times.”

The covers and the grease got dropped along the way to adulthood, of course, even though he knows what he does now is likely to wind up with some inaccurate revival tags. “There’s never going to be a point where I’m not going to hear the word ‘rockabilly’,” he says with a laugh and a sigh, “even though it’s not anthropologically correct, because it’s separate from rhythm & blues and rock & roll. Not being able to be perceived as how you sort of define what you’re doing is frustrating, but you just have to understand that not everybody is a nerd about this stuff. What it comes down to is that you can’t expect for people to listen if you’re not doing something personal. I mean, you can’t just do covers of Johnny Burnette Trio songs, because that idea has already been expressed, and it was actually moved past pretty quickly. Rock & roll music changed really quickly when it started becoming ubiquitous youth music and the President’s sister started doing the Twist. Yet there’s something intrinsically valuable about a lot of those ideas that haven’t fully been explored yet. And you take everything you love about it and write personal music and hope it translates into its own thing. I always hear ‘Man, bringing this stuff back is really important,’ but I have goal to bring rock & roll back in some reactionary way to battle something else. I want it to just kind of nudge it into its own little place alongside what’s happening now.”

Since the debut album came out, McPherson has played for a lot of those aforementioned genre nerds who pick up on every single influence. But he and his band have also opened for acts ranging from Bob Seger (getting a standing ovation at an arena in Detroit, the headliner’s hometown) to the Dave Matthews Band to Nick Lowe to Eric Church (who sought him out to write some songs together). For a Halloween night 2014 show at the Forum in L.A., super-fan Josh Homme, one of McPherson’s biggest supporters, handpicked him to open for Queens of the Stone Age. These may not all seem like natural pairings, but the music is primal and melodic enough that, after a few minutes, it never fails to make sense even to audiences with the least of expectations and musical educations.

“Man, people may not even know it, but they all like that stuff,” McPherson declares. “I’ve seen it happen over and over again. You’re in a record store where they’re playing some weird underground amorphous electronic record that has no configurable beat per minute, and then they put on a Sam Cooke record, and everybody is just like ‘Ohhh’— like a weight lifted. All kinds of music are interesting, but man, there’s something about the 1/4/5, 12-bar blues form that’s just hard-wired into American brains. And I shouldn’t say just American brains, because this stuff is still really huge in Europe, too. Everybody likes rock & roll. They just either won’t admit it or don’t know it yet,” he laughs, unshakable in his faith that the whole world is or will be on a roll.
Me and Molly
Me and Molly
Molly Stevens and Declan McGarry make the duo Me and Molly based out of Nashville TN. Me and Molly has supported acts such as Lindi Ortega, Darlingside, Billy Joe Shaver, Griffin House, Angie Apparo, Natalie Stovall and The Drive along with many others. They are a powerhouse duo that use intriguing harmonies complimented by raw and real lyrics to capture the audience. They have performed at venues across the country such as Rockwood Music Hall, Eddie's Attic, and Cat's Cradle as well as many festivals including the CMA fest two years in a row. Molly Stevens grew up in Macon Ga and Declan McGarry hails from Winipeg Manatoba. They met in Nashville in 2010 and were writing partners but it wasn't until 2014 that the duo Me and Molly formed.
Venue Information:
Downtown Macon
Cotton and Poplar St
Macon, GA