Rewind: It’s 1998 and I am in Amsterdam for the second time. As I sit in one of the cities famed “coffee houses”, high on hash and space cake, music comes on over the speakers and I pause amid the smoky conversations around me and listen closely. Something about what I am hearing affects me deeply. It began with these deep beats that set a hypnotic groove then segued into mind-blowing wah-wah guitar riffs. And then this chocolate-syrup voice starts in, all silky smooth and warm, and it carries me on a river of sound. The album I was hearing for the first time in my stoned-out state of mind was Big Calm by the British trip-hop band Morcheeba, and from that moment on I was obsessed with their music.
Morcheeba, in my mind, is Old School. Founded by guitarist Ross Godfrey, his brother producer/DJ Paul Godfrey, and singer Skye Edwards, the longevity of their sound has been blazing the pathway for mixed-genre electronic music since the mid-1990s. Over the last 25 years, the tumultuous history of Morcheeba included Edwards leaving in 2003, which led to the Godfrey brothers to utilize other singers. Eventually, everything fell apart in 2014 when Paul Godfrey left, leaving Ross Godfrey to reboot their music as Morcheeba with Edwards joining on as singer once more. With nine studio albums under their belt, including the 2018 release Blaze Away, the band continues to create incredible down-tempo grooves that ease your mind and energize your body. The current lineup of the band also includes Edwards’ husband, bassist Steve Gordon, as well as her son, drummer Jaega Mckenna-Gordon, with Dominic Pipkin taking on keyboards and electronic gadgets.
Chemistry is an interesting thing. There are those moments in time, like when you are watching some musical act on the stage, where you discover that you can’t take your eyes off the music makers before you. You are mesmerized by their presence as you can literally see the energy flowing through those before you as they produce sounds that positively affect your brain. In the case of Bay Area musicians Danny Uzilevsky and Essence Goldman, the energy you may witness between them is sizzling, palpable and truly magical. With the duo’s newest venture, Johnny & June Forever, Uzilevsky and Goldman embody the music created by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, but they do it in a way that is not about “doing covers” or even “paying tribute”, but about fully making the music their own by channeling the forces that Cash and Carter used themselves in performing songs.
Goldman and Uzilevsky came together when Goldman recorded her latest album in 2018 at Uzilevsky’s studio, Allegiant Records in San Anslemo, CA. A sparking fire was ignited around shared lyrics and chords, a magnetic energy acknowledged, and the two began a magical musical journey with the first notes sung in harmony. Both Goldman and Uzilevsky are incredible songwriters in their own right, but when a few Cash/Carter songs were sung, the pair knew they hit on something great and decided to embark on bringing those old school country songs to life with their project Johnny & June Forever: The Greatest Love Story Ever Sung.