music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jen Kirkman & Bryce Dessner

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jen Kirkman
Guests: 
Bryce Dessner

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Jen Kirkman's Unapologetic, Unafraid Thoughts on Marriage, Divorce, and Comedy

Jen Kirkman is fierce when it comes to pain and fear and figuring stuff out, both in her stand up comedy and her writing. In her new stand up special I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), a lot of her material is about getting married, getting divorced, and why she thinks we're all just doing our best. While her jokes about being divorced at 40 and physical aging could be sad sack in someone else's hands, Kirkman's take is unapologetic and unafraid. She's OK with those things. Why aren't we?

Kirkman explains how part of her opening sequence is an homage to Joan Rivers, how she found her audience after spending years playing rooms of alternative comedy fans, and why she thinks dying alone doesn't have to be a bad thing.

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Photo credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Bryce Dessner on "The Day I Became an Artist"

Bryce Dessner is a classically educated composer and musician. He grew up playing classical guitar, piano and flute. He also plays guitar for the rock band The National.

As a kid, classical music was something he did by himself. That changed as he grew older, and he collaborated and played with friends and took on small commissions.

For "The Day I Became an Artist", he talked to us about a pivotal moment in his career as a composer -- writing his composition "Aheym" for the Kronos Quartet.

You can hear Dessner's music many ways -- a new recording of his composition Music for Wood and Strings was just released. You can hear him in the rock band The National. And if you want to hear his compositions live, you can find them being performed all over the world. Details of current performances are available on his website, BryceDessner.com.
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"The Red Umbrella", Saul Leiter (1957)

The Outshot: Saul Leiter

Jesse talks about the photographer Saul Leiter, whose great talent lay in not telling you the whole story.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Baron Davis & Paul Dano

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Baron Davis
Guests: 
Paul Dano

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

"How Hard Are You Willing to Play for Nothing?" NBA All-Star Turned Documentarian Baron Davis on 'The Drew', LA's Pro-Am League

Baron Davis is a two-time NBA All-Star. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, and went on to play for several other teams before his most recent stint in the New York Knicks. He was barely middle-school age when he started playing in the Drew League, a pro-am league named after Charles R. Drew Junior High School in South Los Angeles. The Drew was a place for amateurs to play competitively, to begin careers, and help build existing ones. A number of NBA players, including Baron Davis, have returned to the Drew in the off-season to hone their skills. The Drew has also fostered a sense of community, and created a safe haven away from gang activity.

Davis joins us to talk about his early days in the Drew, recovering from injury, and why he turned to filmmaking.

The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce has its world premiere at the LA Film Festival this week.

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Paul Dano on Capturing Brian Wilson's Essence, Slapping Daniel Day-Lewis and Turning 30

The new biopic Love & Mercy shows Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys during two different periods of his life. Paul Dano plays Wilson during the production of the critically acclaimed album Pet Sounds, as Wilson experiments with drugs and descends a bit into darkness. John Cusack plays Wilson in the late 80s and early 90s, as he suffers under the control of his legal guardian and struggles to wrest himself free.

Dano takes on Wilson's quiet spirit and gives us a glimpse into the mind of a musical innovator. His past work includes a breakout role as a silent teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, a novelist in Ruby Sparks, a power-hungry young preacher in There Will Be Blood and an overseer in 12 Years a Slave.

He joins us to talk about how physically playing music helped him connect to his character, feeling out the dynamics of Wilson's relationship with his father, playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood and what's changed since he turned 30.

Love & Mercy is in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Finding the Heart of a Song in Five Notes with "The Plum Blossom"

Jesse explains why he loves "The Plum Blossom", a beautiful song Yusef Lateef wrote for an instrument that only produces five notes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jon Ronson & Peter Guralnick

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jon Ronson
Guests: 
Peter Guralnick
Guests: 
Guy Branum

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

Jon Ronson on the Aftereffects of Public Shaming and Why He Values People Over Ideologies

If the name Justine Sacco rings a bell with you, we'd guess it's because you remember this poorly-conceived and ill-judged tweet she sent that was heard around the world.

"Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!"

People on Twitter piled on, Justine Sacco publicly shamed and fired, and everyone went about their business. Except for Justine, that is.

Jon Ronson's new book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, explores the effects that public shaming has on the shamed and the shamers.

He joins us to talk about Justine's tweet and whether or not public shaming is always a force for good.

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Photo by Seth Olenick

Comedy: Guy Branum in the Caribbean

Maybe you've heard our new sister podcast about culture, Pop Rocket. It’s hosted by a comic called Guy Branum. His new stand up album Effable was just released, so we thought this’d be a good opportunity to play you some of his set from last year’s Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival, AKA Boat Party dot Biz. So here’s the great Guy Branum, recorded live on a ship in the Caribbean.

Canonball: Peter Guralnick Gets "Knocked Out" by the Blues

It's time for Canonball. We take a leap into the deep end and talk to experts about classic albums -- or albums that should be considered classics -- and find out what makes them great.

This week, we’re joined by music historian and journalist Peter Guralnick. He's written about rock, soul and blues musicians for decades, profiling Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sam Cooke, and Elvis among dozens of others.

But for our segment, he chose a record that captures what he loves about live music. It was recorded by the ethnomusicologist Harry Oster in the late 50s and early 60s, and it was released on as Country Negro Jam Sessions. (Please excuse the anachronistic title).

Several of Peter's books, including his acclaimed biography of Elvis, are now reissued with video and audio in e-book format. You can find more at PeterGuralnick.com.

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The Outshot: Man Seeking Woman

What if a bad date was literally one of the worst things ever? Jesse explores Simon Rich's unique talents in Man Seeking Woman.

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Destination DIY Detour with Nick Jaina

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photo by Michelle Christiance
Show: 
Rendered

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Musician and writer Nick Jaina's new book Get It While You Can takes an honest, humorous, and heartbreaking look at what it means to live a life committed to creative pursuits. Tune in to hear about unsent love letters, an earnest question from an inmate at Folsom Prison, and Nick's affinity for Brussels sprouts.

This is also the last episode that will carry the name "Destination DIY." There's a longer explanation below about why it's time to change the name. Tune in February 24 to the new incarnation of the show — Rendered. There's no need to re-subscribe; your podcast feed will automatically switch over.

Thanks for listening and for taking this bold, next step with us!

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Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 361: Summer Boys with Dr. Frank

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Guests: 
Dr. Frank

Musician and author Dr. Frank (The Mr. T Experience, King Dork) joins Jordan and Jesse for a discussion of nicknames, pirate subculture, and superfoods. Plus, Dr. Frank plays a song!

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Destination DIY Jan. 2015 - Conductorless Orchestra

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Poster for 42nd Parallel's summer concert series
Show: 
Rendered

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A group of musicians in Chicago is rethinking the classical music experience — for audiences, and for themselves. 42nd Parallel plays in some unusual venues — one of their first concerts was in a burlesque theater — and they make decisions democratically, without a conductor to steer them in one direction or another. This month's story comes from producer Ben Spies.

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Destination DIY Detour With The Doubleclicks

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Show: 
Rendered
Guests: 
Angela & Aubrey Webber

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Sisters Aubrey and Angela Webber are The Doubleclicks. They make music about dinosaurs, geek girl realism, Star Trek, internet trolls, burritos and many other things that will warm your nerdy, little heart.

In addition to creating beautiful harmonies for their clever lyrics, the Webber sisters also book their own shows and record a lot of their own music. They also had a massively successful Kickstarter in 2014. We talked about their recent tour, the worst thing they've ever made, and what it's like to work closely as siblings.

Here's a video for their charming song "Dimentrodon" (also the title track from their latest album):

Their song "Nothing To Prove" went viral earlier this year.

(The "Home on the Range" parody mentioned in the interview seems to be missing from the internet.)

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Odenkirk

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bob Odenkirk


Valerie Macon/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Bob Odenkirk: Cult-Comedy Icon, Reluctant Celebrity

Millions of Breaking Bad fans know Bob Odenkirk as sleazy criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman. He’ll be reprising the role in February in the spin-off show Better Call Saul.

But comedy fans already knew about Odenkirk from another show -- Mr. Show with Bob and David. Odenkirk’s outrageous and profanity-ridden outbursts were a staple of his performances and helped make him a cult-comedy icon.

Before that he wrote for Saturday Night Live. Perhaps his most notable work was co-writing the sketch Down by the River The bit featured a 35-year-old divorcee motivational speaker played by Chris Farley and is considered one of the best sketches in the history of the SNL.

When Mr. Show ended, Odenkirk appeared in a number of one-off roles for TV before working behind the camera. He directed Let’s Go to Prison, Melvin Goes to Dinner and The Brothers Solomon. Even though he loves directing, it’ll be a while before he decides to gives it another shot. He’ll explain.

Odenkirk talks to us about why writing timeless humor is so difficult, transitioning from comedy to drama and why he still doesn’t consider himself a celebrity.

Odenkirk will also read a selection from his new collection of short-fiction humor. It’s called A Load of Hooey and is available now.

Odenkirk also just released his debut stand-up comedy special, Amateur Hour. We'll be showcasing a clip from it in our Best Comedy of 2014 Special at the end of the year.

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Cannonball: Touring Parliament's Mothership Connection with Rickey Vincent

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Cannonball.

This week we're joined by author, historian and self-described funkateer, Rickey Vincent. He's going to talk about Parliament's landmark R&B album, Mothership Connection. The album is at once a celebration of the past and a glimpse into the future. It touches on a lot traditional soul ideas, but delivered with a new funky edge. Vincent will explain more.

Vincent has a new book out. It's called PARTY MUSIC: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. You can also hear his radio show The History of Funk on KPFA.

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The Outshot: Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas

Jesse tells us about a song that makes him imagine a better world: the simple but powerful Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paul Reubens, Aasif Mandvi and Kimbra

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paul Reubens
Guests: 
Aasif Mandvi
Guests: 
Kimbra


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Pee-wee Lives! Paul Reubens on his Past and Pee-wee Herman's Future

Paul Reubens is famous for being the creator and embodiment of Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee has appeared in stage shows, on TV, and in movies for almost 30 years -- from cameos in movies like Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, to his first special on HBO, two feature films in the 1980s, and a successful run on Broadway just a few years ago.

So why has the character of Pee-wee Herman endured? Maybe it's because Reubens worked so hard to make Pee-wee seem real.

Reubens has been busy the last few years with a new stage show, putting together the next Pee-wee Herman movie and now with the release of Pee-wee's Playhouse on Blu-ray.

Reubens will talk about growing up in a circus town, how Pee-wee almost appeared on the Surreal Life, and the latest details on a brand new Pee-wee Herman movie.

The remastered Blu-ray edition of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is available now from Shout Factory.

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Kimbra on “The Song That Changed My Life”: The Mars Volta's "Cicatriz E.S.P."

If you've heard the Grammy-winning mega-hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye last year -- and who didn't? -- then you already know Kimbra, who performed the female vocals on the record.

But the avant-pop musician had already been performing and recording for a decade. As a teenager growing up in New Zealand, she was writing music, playing guitar, and exploring the musical landscape.

Kimbra says that "Cicatriz E.S.P." by The Mars Volta showed her production tricks and psychedelic sounds she had never experienced before.

You can hear some of that psychedelic influence on her new album, The Golden Echo.

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Aasif Mandvi is "No Land's Man"

You probably know Aasif Mandvi as the Senior Muslim Correspondent on The Daily Show. He says he's probably not the best person to represent Muslim culture. But then again, that’s kind of the point. (He’ll explain.)

Mandvi had already been acting on the stage and screen for many years when he was called to audition for The Daily Show in 2006. And though he's been a mainstay of the show for seven years, he's continued to write and act in other projects, like the 2011 indie comedy Today's Special and the upcoming HBO series The Brink.

Mandvi talks to us about how he found himself making a 9/11 joke on his very first day at The Daily Show, what it was like being an Indian kid growing up in Northern England and Florida, and that time he almost got punched by a member of Congress.

Aasif Mandvi's new book of personal essays is available now. It’s called No Land’s Man.

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Steve Reich's Different Trains, Kronos Quartet

The Outshot: Steve Reich's "Different Trains"

Jesse will talk about how Steve Reich’s 1988 orchestra piece “Different Trains” transports him.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sergio Mendes and The Pogues’ James Fearnley

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Sergio Mendes
Guests: 
James Fearnley
Guests: 
Brent Weinbach


Courtesy of Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes on the, "very sensual, very romantic," Sounds of Bossa Nova

For a time, Sergio Mendes was the most famous Brazilian musician in the world. He grew up learning classical piano, heard Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" and took a turn towards a jazzier sound. His band Brasil '66 was at the forefront of a bossa nova explosion that introduced the genre to listeners across the world.

Throughout his career, Mendes has collaborated with many artists, including saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and Janelle Monae. But he also once collaborated with Harrison Ford… in an unexpected way. He'll explain.

Mendes will talk about how his music has evolved over the years, why his encounters with other musicians have been so important, and why the sensual, romantic sound of bossa nova has such universal appeal.

Sergio Mendes' new album is called Magic. To find out where he's going next on his tour, check out his website.

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Comedy: Brent Weinbach at MaxFunCon 2014

Abstract. Experimental. Weird. Funny. Those are all good words to describe Brent Weinbach. But none of them come close to summing up how special he is. Or the faces he made during this set. You'll just to have to imagine those.

He performed for us at the most recent MaxFunCon -- as part of a comedy showcase in the woods. We present part of his set here to you.

Tickets for MaxFunCon 2015 go on sale November 28th. You can find more of Brent Weinbach's upcoming shows on his website.

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James Fearnley: Heavy Drinking in a Minivan and Navigating Irish-English Relations

James Fearnley plays accordion for the English folk/punk band The Pogues. The band formed in the early 1980s, and made a name for themselves with a Celtic-inspired sound.

Fearnley will talk about his time with the Pogues, how they finally decided that frontman Shane MacGowan had gone off the rails, and whether as an Englishman, Fearnley feels secure in the band's Irish heritage.

Fearnley's memoir is called Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues.

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Outshot: Black Jesus

Courtesy of Facebook: Adult Swim

What Jesus lived in America, in 2014? Jesse will tell you why Black Jesus, a new show from Adult Swim, is so affecting.

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