Sunday, March 31, 2024

BCMC (Bill MacKay and Cooper Crain) at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe in Iowa City on October 19, 2023

The prospect of the pairing of Bill Mackay and brilliant keyboardist Cooper Crain (Bitchin' Bajas and Cave) had a lot of expectations to live up to -- and their debut album last year fulfilled them all. It was one of my albums of the year for 2023 and I strongly recommend purchasing it if you haven't already.


Combining virtuosity with a Krautrock-inspired ambient mood, their music is simultaneously hypnotic, relaxing, and invigorating.



I was happy to drive to Iowa City to catch them on their Midwest tour at the Trumpet Blossom, a cool vegan cafe in a very pleasant Big Ten college town. The acoustics were perfect and I was able to blend a high quality soundboard feed with a pair of Beyerdynamic cardioid mics to create a an appropriately spacey soundscape.

Buy their album here.

Recording details:

Iowa City, IA at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Bill MacKay: guitars
Cooper Crain: synthesizers

01 Foreign Smokes (8:01)
02 The Swarm (9:05)
03 Ripple at High Tide (8:27)
04 Sunset Saturn (4:59)
05 Unknown (8:18)
06 Unknown (9:12)

Total time = 48:02

Sources: mono SBD + Beyerdynamic MC930 in NOS
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6ii at 32/96
Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct


these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality lossy mp3 files possible 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Hanami at the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee on March 17, 2024

Milwaukee was fortunate in having guitarist Andrew Trim move here from Chicago a few years ago. Whether subbing for Russ Johnson in the Dave Bayles Trio at the raucous Uptowner bar, or laying down fiery John McLaughlin-inspired jazz rock chaos in Retroreflector at the legendary rock club Cactus Club, he has been a real highlight for the Milwaukee jazz scene recently.

The band Hanami came to the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee for an hour of warm jazz on a cool and dark night not much suited to a cherry blossom viewing party. Inside the venue, however, there was plenty of sunlight and color.


I think the promotional material for their latest album describes their background quite well:

"When guitarist Andrew Trim and multi-reedist Mai Sugimoto came together in 2011 to raise funds for the victims of Japan’s Tohoku tsunami, it was intended to be a one-off concert. But the concert turned into band “Hanami,” (named for the Japanese custom of experiencing the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms), and the band recorded a debut album (modern jazz takes on traditional Japanese songs), and the wheels were set in motion for something much larger than the initial concept. While Trim and Sugimoto, both of whom lived in Japan as children, were reluctant to record many more Japanese songs for fear of being branded a cover band, dreams of that country still swim through this latest album, which is all originals except for a cover of the 1901 song “Kojo no Tsuki,” or “The Moon over the Ruined Castle."

Buy their latest album here.

Recording information:

Milwaukee, WI at the Jazz Gallery

Andrew Trim: guitar
Mai Sugimoto: alto sax
Jason Stein: bass clarinet
Charles Rumback: drums

01 Hanaikada (7:38)
02 Haru no Umi (15:13)
03 Shira Ito No Taki (9:27)
04 Miyagete Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo (8:03)
05 The Only Way to Float Free (7:27)
06 Cloud’s Theme (Final Fantasy VII) (9:29)
07 Donmai! (12:13)

Total time = 69:30

Microphones: Line Audio CM3 in NOS in front row
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6ii at 32/96
Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct

Recorded with explicit artist permission by Richard Hayes


these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality lossy mp3 files possible 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Kikagaku Moyo at the Majestic Theater in Madison, WI on May 23, 2022

Kikagaku Moyo were a Japanese psychedelic band which was active between 2012-2022. They were known for a high degree of technical prowess using sometimes unusual instruments (such as sitar and recorder). 

For a band that started out performing in record stores in its initial US tour (including an acoustic set at Acme Records in 2016), it almost felt surreal that they were selling out large theaters and generating a buzz among music fans by the time of their farewell tour in 2022.

At this concert in Madison's Majestic Theater, the band performed for an enthusiastic crowd for almost two hours. It's sad to contemplate an end to the band's musical output, but I have to admire their determination to end the band at its peak of popularity.

Purchase their last album here.

Recording information:

Madison, WI at the Majestic Theater

Go Kurosawa: vocals, percussion, guitar, flute
Tomo Katsurad: vocals, guitar, percussion
Kotsu Guy: bass
Daoud Popal: guitar
Ryu Kurosawa: sitar, keyboards

01 Green Sugar (22:27)
02 Dancing Blue (8:21)
03 Zo no Senaka (6:50)
04 Smoke and Mirrors (9:50)
05 Entrance (3:39)
06 Dripping Sun (8:31)
07 Orange Peel (6:45)
08 Yayoi, lyayoi (7:52)
09 Kodama (5:20)
10 Streets of Calcutta - Gatherings (17:30)
11 Monaka (9:37)

Total time = 106:43

Sources: mono SBD + Beyerdynamic MC930 pair in NOS
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6ii
Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct

Tremendous thanks to Eric Lemke who provided super high quality FOH sound and access to the mixer feed

Recorded by Richard Hayes with explicit artist permission.

these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality possible lossy mp3 files

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Bill MacKay at Acme Records and Music Emporium in Milwaukee on September 4, 2022

A website search will reveal that Bill MacKay is one of the most frequently appearing musicians on this blog (and at a few more recent recordings have yet to be posted).

That's for very good reason: he is a fantastically talented guitarist and songwriter who lives just 90 minutes to the south of the Cream City. He has always been a favorite of the audiences at Acme.


Bill is one of those guitarists who somehow make playing challenging and intricate melodic lines seem like a pleasant walk on a summer day. Watching him perform betrays no obvious signs of effort. It often seems to me that there is a direct connection between his mind and his fingers on the fretboard. I'm sure that this apparent ease is the result of many hours of hard practice.

I came into this show hot off a car trip from O'Hare airport where I had landed a few hours prior after a 10-day trip in the UK where I followed both the Handsome Family and Ryley Walker around on tour, visiting several amazing cities including Brighton, Birmingham, Exeter, Oxford, Guildford and London. 

This evening, Bill performed songs from several of his solo albums including Fountain Fire and Esker

Purchase his upcoming solo album here.


Recording information:

Bill MacKay


Milwaukee, WI at Acme Records

Bill MacKay: guitar and voice


01 Honey Time

02 Powder Mill Park

03 Half of You

04 Late for Your Funeral Again

05 Lonesome Traveller

06 Birds of May

07 Wail

Total time = 32:16

Sources: Mono SBD feed and Line Audio CM3 in NOS 

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6ii at 32/96

Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct


these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality possible lossy mp3 files