Society & Culture
021: NIKKI GLASPIE, NICK CASSARINO (The Nth Power) / CLAY McCABE (Zipper Rescue, artist)
Featured guests NIKKI GLASPIE and NICK CASSARINO of THE NTH POWER, as well as an introspective chat with Oregon-based artist/entrepreneur CLAY McCABE (of ZIPPER RESCUE). I am lucky and honored to call each of these inspiring human beings my dear friends in real life. The music of The Nth Power often reaches me with an emotional impact that is unrivaled in the culture today, and in that resonant reaction, I know I am far from alone. Nikki and Nicky Cake were kind enough to make some time for separate interviews, conducted in the cozy confines of the legendary High Sierra Music Festival 2019, over the 4th of July weekend in Quincy, CA.
Due to the hectic nature of their festival itineraries, which we discuss in detail, neither were able to sit down with me for the customary, career-spanning interview that we like to unveil here at the Upful LIFE, but I can assure you that in the future, I intend to wrangle both Nikki and Nick for all of the important historically-relevant rabbit holes we can tunnel. For now, I am grateful to have gotten 15 potent minutes with "The Evangelist" Nikki, and 25 introspective minutes with "The Master Prophet" Cassarino. Then, on the heels of that abundance we take a deep dive with Mr. Zips, Clay McCabe, most certainly a person of interest in his own right.
Before getting into the three interviews, we had to take a few moments to pay tribute to the dearly departed Art "Poppa Funk" Neville, co-founder of The Neville Brothers and The Meters, and a true patriarch of New Orleans funk music. The legendary singer/organist peacefully passed on July 22nd after a lengthy illness. Few people have had the impact on multiple generations of fans and genres quite like Art Neville. The proof is in the music, and the music never stops. Condolences to his son Ian Neville of Dumpstaphunk, nephew Ivan Neville, the entire Neville family and the great city of New Orleans.
NIKKI GLASPIE INTERVIEW at 20mins
Nikki Glaspie has always held space for people in her life, through music, love, compassion and overstanding the human condition in a profound way. Just before taking the stage with her old friend Jen Hartswick and a phenomenal band, Glaspie sits down to explore a number of topics in a small window of time. We start with how to approach an mammoth endeavor like The Nth Power's tribute to Marvin Gaye (which we featured on Episode 017), prepping a big band for a tribute like this one or those that have come before. This discussion takes place after Nth had reprised the Marvin-homage a night earlier at HSMF. I asked her about Nth's emotional impact on their fans- in essence their "brand"- and their uncanny ability to inhabit the culture's generational greats and interpolate iconic songbooks of socially/politically relevant material. More on how those lyrics and messages are as important today as they were forty years ago.
From there, a bit on "being the change you want to see", the current trio formation of The Nth Power, and how they write and perform music that is intentional. We transition into some philosophical/cultural matters of importance, and to how people can be of service to communities. Nikki takes this opportunity to let folks know about the efforts with the HAROLD ROBINSON FOUNDATION, in SoCal, a non-profit organization that works toward inspiring and empowering children (primarily people of color) trapped in a cycle of poverty within the inner city. We finish up this brief but enthralling chat with a trip into the wayback machine that takes us to Vermont with the Godmother herself, Jen Hartswick, who's responsible for The Nth Power's entire existence, and the connection between these two women, plus Nate Edgar and Nick Cassarino. When these four touched souls take the stage together, Nikki is steadfast- the sum is far greater than the parts. Thank you Nikki Glaspie, you are love.
In between interviews, enjoy The Nth Power's brand-new track "Reach Out", recorded live from Paste Studios in NYC.
NICK CASSARINO INTERVIEW at 45mins
Glaspie's bandmate and spiritual brother Nick Cassarino is among the more thrilling frontmen who is doin' the damn thing out there in 2019. His mojo has another gear, and the manner and fashion in which he connects with fans when performing is already the stuff of legend. We jump right into the J-Ha/Nth Power High Sierra takeover, how that all goes down, and why having the Vermont homie Bryan McNamara on hand was especially important to Nick. We touch on some of the same topics I did with Nikki, with regard to the Marvin Gaye tribute, stepping into the shoes of the giants, and how that sort of passion and purpose rubs off on The Nth Power's original music. Nick explains how the songwriting and performances for the forthcoming LP Reverence are about "focusing the vibe" and making the songs have the emotional impact necessary to communicate the salient messages within them, and do so inspired by the greats who've come before them, but delivered in their own unique Nth voice.
Nick then takes the opportunity to speak on his scintillating duo project with Jen Hartswick, who's album together Nexus made Upful LIFE's 18 Favorite Albums of 2018. So we riff a little a bit further on their Vermont roots that Nikki spoke of earlier, bound to cover just a little more ground. Nick then ties it all together, and announces that J-Ha/Nick and The Nth Power are actually touring together soon. Yep, these two magical artistic entities will spread the healing power of music from city to city each and every night. On the J-Ha tip, Nick reflects on the night that Trey Anastasio and Christian McBride performed the Nexus material with Nick and Jen in NYC. For the exciting end of the interview, Cassarino takes us through the situation when John Mayer decided to sit in with him at Cassarino's standing Sunday solo gig at NYC's Olive Tree. Truly a fascinating tale, and boy, is Nicky Cake ever the story-teller. When we find the time to take the deep dive on his career-arc, please believe I will be asking him to spin yarns like these for the full hour.
Giving Thanks & Praises to both Nikki and Nick from The Nth Power for making the time for these wonderful shares.
LARGE UP The Nth Power bassist Nate Edgar, on general principle. He may not have been interviewed on this day, but he is. without question, THE MAN, no two ways about it.
The Nth Power LOVES You.
To close out Episode 021 we welcome CLAY McCABE, aka MR.ZIPS to the show for a wonderful conversation that took place late at night at the ViBE JUNKiE Studios in Oakland Ca in the beginning of summer. For some context, I met Clay in the jungles of Costa Rica during Envision Festival in February 2014, and it's been a joy to check out his journey in this life ever since. He is the owner and proprietor of ZIPPER RESCUE, a patented zipper fix-it product kit that has become an invaluable item at festivals around the world, and most certainly in Black Rock City at the end of every August. Clay takes us through his international travels and meditations as a young man and how those experiences, plus his late father's death, prompted him to take the reigns at the family business, Zipper Rescue.
In addition to being a festy celebrity of sorts for his handy product and his willingness to help hundreds of people at every event he frequents, from Burning Man to Global Eclipse Gathering to the event that has his heart and his roots, Oregon Country Fair, Clay is also an tremendous artist and sculptor, so we discuss his early days making art at OCF and how that culture has informed his work moving forward. We talk Da Vinci's Workshop at Burning Man 2016, and some of his primary intentions and philosophies in creating art. Clay also had a pivotal role in the building of OneDome, the interactive art experience and mixed reality playground in downtown SF that was my former place of employ. The ambitious startup endeavor, conceived and unleashed by many members of Clay and my shared festival family, unfortunately ran out of funding and abruptly closed earlier this summer, but at the time of this interview, we were still holdin' on, and frankly there's plenty to be proud of with regard to working with OneDome. All in all, a revealing discussion with an extremely unique and inspired fella who, like Nikki and Nicky Cake before him, I am honored and proud to call a friend in real life.
North Carolina emcee RAPSODY drops an absolute heater in “Ibtihaj”, featuring GZA and D'Angelo!! "Ibtihaj" is named after Ibtihaj Muhammed, an Olympic fencer who won the bronze in the 2016 games and was the first American Olympian to wear a hijab while participating. Rapsody interpolates GZA's timeless 1995 classic "Liquid Swords" on her track, with the undeniable staccato groove that is burned into our skulls from so many spins through the years. R&B Jesus hops on the chorus, and somehow, D manages to take the Genius refrain "When the emcees came...", Gospelize it and make it his own, then GZA himself hops on for the ultimate co-sign, the guest verse. Such a lovely surprise, and Rapsody certainly holds her own betwixt these icons.
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