Guide To The Music Of CukoRakko

How was your Summer now that it’s over? Did you attend many festivals? Want to go to one more? There’s one taking place in your back yard this weekend, October 2-4! Just north of Birmingham, amidst the changing colors of the trees and clean air atop Chandler Mountain rests ancient rock formations creating a natural amphitheater where a collection of diverse musicians from all over the south and midwest will converge to perform at this fall’s CukoRakko Music and Arts Festival. CukoRakko is the Creek Indian word for ceremonial ground, stompground, big house and dance ground.  This perfectly describes the phenomenal energy that can be felt at this historic outdoor nature park and site of the CukoRakko Music and Arts Festival. Below, Mother Plug Music highlights some of the music that will be featured this fall with everything from jam to bluegrass, rock to rap, and jazz to EDM. CukoRakko offers something for every festival goer!

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Madrid Express with special guest, Carter Herring

Seale-Jackson Stage, Sunday, October 4 at 4:00PM.

Col. Bruce Hampton, guitarist and “surrealist American musician,” began publishing his musical epic nearly 4 decades ago accompanying Frank Zappa on the albums, We’re Only In It For The Money (Capital Records, 1967) and Lumpy Gravy (Verve/Bizarre Records, 1968). As a founder of the Hampton Grease Band, his first album Music to Eat published in 1971 (Columbia Records). His first solo album, One Ruined Life of a Bronze, came in 1978 (Terminus Records). With 16 total main releases and another 19 albums that he has appeared on as a guest, Col. Bruce Hampton’s catalog is as mentioned before, epic! In addition to Frank Zappa, Hampton has recorded with David Earle Johnson, CeDell Davis, Project Z, Susan Tedeschi, Martin Medeski and Wood, Mike Gordon, Chuck Leavell and been featured on an extensive collection of tribute, benefit and best of albums.But it wasn’t until his live performances with legendary jam band, Widespread Panic in the early 2000’s that propelled him into the jam-base mainstream. Featured below is Col. Bruce Hampton performing “Fixin’ to Die” with the Aquarium Rescue Unit live from the Zambiland concert in Atlanta, GA in 2007.

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Madrid Express will be joined by Carter Herring (son of Widespread Panic lead guitarist, Jimmy Herring). They play the Seale-Jackson stage on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4pm.

Blue Moon Soup

Blue Moon Soup, the acoustic folk quartet from Yellow Springs, Ohio, entrances audiences with an eclectic mix of jam band staples, folk and bluegrass traditional standards, and originals tunes that fuse folk and psychedelia to establish a unique identity in an increasingly homogenized musical landscape. As evidenced by the presence of a fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and upright bass, Blue Moon Soup’s bluegrass and celtic folk roots run deep. On stage, trailside or fireside, Blue Moon Soup’s music brings a sincerity and spirit to the stage that sweeps wallflowers onto the dance floor, and an enthusiasm that engages the audience into the wee hours. After a Blue Moon Soup show, we hope your feet are tired and your ears yearn for more.From dive bars to concert halls, Blue Moon Soup quickly attracted a fervent core group of fans throughout the broader Dayton area, and went on to augment its burgeoning following by appearing at a variety of regional musical festivals in Ohio and toured throughout the region, making inroads into Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.

In September 2013, Blue Moon Soup release their self titled sophomore album to broad critical acclaim. A follow up to Lonely Mountain, Blue Moon Soup’s first LP released in 2011, 2013’s Blue Moon Soup saw the band named Dayton Music Connection’s Band of the Year, among other accolades. Although the band’s current primary focus is to broaden its reach in Ohio metro areas, they are crafting a third LP for a fourth quarter 2014 release, and continuing to reach out to new fans; young and old, near and far.

 From this year’s Dead Covers Project, is Blue Moon Soup performing “The Music Never Stopped.”

Blue Moon Soup can be seen performing Friday at 9PM.

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk continues to lead the contemporary evolution of hip-hop, soul, and jazz. The band’s roots are firmly planted in Chicago where all eight members bring their respective talents together to update a sound first heralded in the Native Tongues era but never so musically diverse. The group’s unique arrangement allows them to incorporate numerous styles seamlessly: an MC and female vocalist; a trio of keys, bass, and drums; a horn section with trombone and trumpet; and a tap-dancer.

In contrast to the 2012 debut release, Corner Store, this new album finds the group venturing into a grittier space and capitalizing on a subtle approach that is at times hauntingly beautiful. Leaves represents change, both the loss of something dear and the excitement of exploring something new. “The album is about growth, growing pains, and letting go of the past if need be,” states MC Rico Sisney. Vocalist Maggie Vagle adds, “It’s also about unfolding into a new color. Shedding to shine brighter.”

Sidewalk Chalk has created a live show that captivates a variety of audiences. The group has already shared stages with ?uestlove, De La Soul, Action Bronson, Jean Grae, Hiatus Kaiyote and other notables. Individually, band members have acted as musical director(s) for Brother Ali, toured with Jazzanova and played behind Buddy Guy and Talib Kweli. Sidewalk Chalk was named “Most Outstanding Group” at the 2012 Chicago Music Awards, and its MC represented Chicago at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.

Sidewalk Chalk is: Rico Sisney (MC), Maggie Vagle (Vocals), Charlie Coffeen (Keys), Garrett McGinn (Bass), Tyler Berg (Drums), Jumaane Taylor (Taps), Sam Trump (Trumpet), and David Ben-Porat (Trombone).

Here is the official video for Sidewalk Chalk’s “Water Song.”

Sidewalk Chalk performs on Friday at 10:15PM.


Downright’s music exists in a niche somewhere between rock and funk – earthy and heartfelt vocals coming together with infectious beats to craft a tapestry of style. Their rhythmically-charged take on the world is an elevating and energetic listening experience, one that invites listeners to transcend the physical and get lost in the music. The sound of the band evokes the funk of Sly Stone mingled with the energetic rock abstraction of early Talking Heads records.

The band’s latest album Lightheaded was released in 2014 via Broken Hip Records. “We’re all lightheaded when it comes down to it,” says Steve Lewis, one half of the musical partnership that is Downright. The light in question here is the Beatle-esque “inner light,” and whatever your philosophy, everybody has something inside that wants to get out. Lewis and Matthew DeVine have nurtured Downright since its inception, always maintaining a continuity of musical style geared toward “the liberation of soul.” The songs on Lightheaded invite us to seek out that liberty; “Get Yourself Free” speaks to that purpose in a musical language somewhere between Prince and the Commodores.

In the early 2000’s the band cut its teeth by playing to enthusiastic crowds all over the southeastern USA, and soon they expanded their sphere of influence to touring the northeast as well. They have released several studio albums to great acclaim, a DVD of music videos, a live DVD, and have licensed music to films and other media. Lightheaded will be their fourth full-length, and the band is touring extensively in support of the release, with dates including the famous Endymion parade of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Downright’s Winter Brewfest, showcases in Nashville, and dates around the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as being attached to a summer tour. According to Matthew DeVine, “Lightheaded is the purest representation we have of what Downright is all about – it’s a high point of our collaborative process and it’s what our fans have been waiting for.” Somewhere between Stax-era Memphis and the golden age of CBGB’s is a little place called Downright.

Here is Downright live from Tipitina’s performing “Pants,” last May.

Downright performs Friday night at 11:45PM.


Living in Cincinnati exposed Freekbass to genres of music he may have missed otherwise. While most kids were listening to Nirvana and Green Day, he connected with the bottom-heavy sounds coming out of the boom boxes like Zapp and Midnight Star. While working in a music shop to pay off his first electric bass he had in lay-away, he began to study the classics of Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Parliament and Bootsy with a bass in one hand, and an MPC2000 in the other.

Freekbass has released six full-length CDs, including “Concentrate” (available HERE for free download) with guests Bootsy Collins, DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch, and Steve Molitz, and “Junkyard Waltz” which includes guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and is produced by funk legend Bootsy Collins. Also, national music DVD instruction company, The Rock House Method, recently released two Freekbass instructional DVDs “Learn Funk Bass with Freekbass (Level 1 & Level 2) “, and just released the instructional DVD/download “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know” . In 2010 Freekbass connected with DJ Logic, and Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz to form the funktronica trio, Headtronics.

Going into 2015 Freek has a lot of things on the table. He just released his next album , “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real”, which is produced by Duane Lundy (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James/Ben Sollee) and includes P-Funk/Rubberband keyboardist Razor Sharp Johnson, horn man Skerik, and Trey Anastasio Band vocalist/trumpet Jennifer Hartswick . Also, he was a part of this year’s London Bass Guitar Show in the UK giving a master class and performing. Plus he will be doing extensive touring with his mainstay funk group, “Freekbass & The Bump Assembly” which also includes Big Bamn on drums and Jason  Burgard on saxophones and horns. And just last month, he signed with the esteemed label Ropeadope, which you can read about by clicking HERE. Below is Freekbass’ official music video for “Victoria Thunder”.

Freekbass plays Sunday at 12:30.

Festival Expressions

Festival Expressions is an original band from Birmingham Alabama that formed in the summer of 2011.  Their music integrates multiple genres including Rock, Jazz, Funk, Organic Electronica, and Jam. The mixture allows for a completely original sound.  Festival Expressions is best known for their unique songwriting & energetic live performances. 

Over the years, the band has made an effort to perform at as many charity events as possible.  Giving back to the community is an important part of the Fest-Ex agenda. 

Throughout 2012 the band wrote, recorded, and produced their first studio album titled “Festival Expressions.”  The album was officially released in January of 2013.  Now, in the Summer of 2014, the group has released their second studio album titled “Conversations.”  

Festival Expressions has opened for Tim Reynolds TR3, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.  The band has also shared the stage with The Emmit-Nershi Band, Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, and Col. Bruce Hampton at the 2012 Red Clay Revival Arts and Music Festival.  In 2012 Festival Expressions was honored with the opportunity to record one track with Ken Scott of Abbey Road Studio at UAB’s Audiostate 55.  The group also headlined The Birmingham Arts and Music Festival(2012),  The Sloperfest Climbing and Music Festival(2013), Tunes Against Typhoons(2014) and The Alabama Mountain Games(2014). 

Recorded live at WorkPlay, here is Festival Expressions performing “Slow Down,” from the album, Conversations.

Festival Expressions can be seen Saturday at CukoRakko on the Seale-Jackson Stage at 6:15.

Little Rain Band

Auburn, AL’s Little Raine Band is a band on a mission to follow their dreams by creating an amazing concert experience and music with lyrics that have visionary, philosophical, and universal elements that will leave an impact in people’s lives. Each member has former jazz band experience and influences from all forms of music including bluegrass, funk, electronic music, jazz fusion, progressive rock, avant garde, indie, folk, R&B, and gospel. The band’s influences are vast, but the band is naturally developing their own unique sound and also a noticeable following of fans that seems to be growing month by month.

Little Rain Band can be seen Saturday at 8 o’clock!

Bit Deff

Returning to this fall’s CukoRakko, Bit Deff conjures musical influence from the ancients and melds them into aspects of modern day sound while making his mark across Florida’s electronic music scene.

Otherwise known as Kyle Piety, Bit Deff resides in Jacksonville, Florida where he released his debut Voodoo//Doll EP through Massive Ideas in Miami, FL. The EP has gained attention from TheUntz, Next Level, Cassette Blog, and many more.

Born partially deaf in both ears his first memories are of doctor’s tables and corrective hearing surgeries. To this day Bit Deff truly is a bit deaf, a defining characteristic that has played to his advantage by giving him a unique perspective on both life and sound itself.

Ever evolving with the collective youth Bit Deff is known to include live instrumentation during his on stage performances. Currently working on a new album, his mission as an artist is to spread positively charged vibrations and utilize the power of music to heal. Dare to experience sound without apprehension and ask yourself “Are You a Bit Deff??”

Bit Deff is just one of several “DJ’s at large” who will be adding ambience throughout the weekend, in between sets and during the festival’s “super jams.”

Other artists making their appearance at this fall’s CukoRakko Music and Art’s Festival are:

Winston Ramble


Elijah Butler Band


The Doctors and the Lawyers

Jess Goggans Band

Control Burn

Pyrite Parachute

Mandi Rae and the Status


Tragic City

Sharrif Simmons


Matthew Devine


Myron Scott


and more…

For full artist line-up, schedule and ticket information, please visit CukoRakko. See you on the mountain!