Episode 034: Rhyming Like Your Life Depended On It (with Big Meridox, Jivin Scientists)

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I’ve been thinking about this episode for a very long time. I wanted to make sure I got it right. Today, we’re talking about Tucson’s hip hop scene with the one and only, Marcus Meridian aka Big Meridox.

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Rap and hip-hop was my first love as a young kid growing up in Wyoming. Just about every rap record I could get my hands on blew my mind in some way. I’d seen Marcus perform around town when I first moved here, but never worked up the nerve to talk to him until now. He’s a brilliant MC who’s been doing it in Tucson for more than a decade now (maybe closer to two at this point) and he knows what makes this scene tick more than anyone else. This is a fascinating conversation with a true Tucson hip hop legend, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring it to you.

We also have music from the incredible rap collective, the Jivin Scientists, for you this week. Check out their most recent free EP on Soundcloud, Grunkles Gulch — two tracks are featured in this week’s podcast.

Also, be sure to download Big Meridox’s latest release, the 7th Division EP with Ra Stone, at his bandcamp page. (name your price)

• Big Meridox on Facebook
• Buy “Knuckle Rap” and “Gimmie Your Lunch Money” on iTunes.
• Jivin Scientists on Facebook

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan.
Intro: “Into The Gulch” by Runt X Gunky Knuckles
"Pen Of A Titan" by Big Meridox
Snickle Fritz" by Runt X Gunky Knuckles

Topics: Tucson hip hop, grimy raps, Big Meridox, the Jivin Scientists, hiding music from your parents, Chuck D, Philadelphia, having your mind blown, Wilson Pickett, cyphers, regionalism, sampling, figuring out the difference between the real and the false, sacrifice, the golden era, dramatic life events, and the things we do for love.

Episode 033: Making A Plan (with Andrew Cleaver, Sun Bones)

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Pursuing a career in the arts isn’t all about playing songs, making stuff, having fun. In order to get eyes/ears on your projects, you need to make a plan and see it through. Andrew Cleaver helps put plans into action.

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Andrew has lived in Tucson all his life, and he — more than just about anyone else I’ve met — wants to see this place thrive. He started Angry Monsoon Promotions as a way to help promote his friends’ band, Sun Bones. At first, it was just a way to make him seem “more official” when he was looking to score media coverage and gigs for Sun Bones, but it’s evolved into a bigger idea, where he hopes to provide his planning/organizational skills to other creative folks looking to get their works in front of more people.

It’s the sort of work that often gets overlooked, but is absolutely necessary to help artists take things to the next level. Andrew is a solid dude, and I love the work he’s doing. Every town could use a few more Andrews in it.

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan.
Closing song: “Kite String” by Sun Bones

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Genuine enthusiasm, organizational skills, music education, helping your friends, Sun Bones, legitimizing the operation, supporting a scene, following through, returning to form, the PA tryout that shall not be named, and the things we do for love.

Andrew also helped create the short film "Bored," which played at the Arizona Underground Film Festival. Watch it below:

Episode 032: Denied

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I didn’t make the cut.

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The University of Arizona men’s basketball prorgram, in no uncertain terms, does not want me to be the public address announcer this year (or any other year, probably). “This email is to inform you that you did not make it to the final round of live auditions.

Am I fit to talk into a microphone at all? Will King Tuff help pull me out of my rut? Is this the end of the podcast?

The answers to all these questions and MORE in this 14-minute mini-episode!

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan, “That Kid in Fourth Grade Who Really Liked the Denver Broncos" by Chris Zabriskie (contemplative piano music from the Free Music Archive).

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Rejection, form letters, sad pianos, self reflection, self doubt, vitamin B, big dumb awesome guitar riffs, King Tuff, 1976, doing it for yourself, being too cool for the room, nice tweets, coach Eric Taylor, and the things we do for love.

Episode 031: Home Teams (with Gregg Gethard)

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We’re talking about sports this week.

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I’ve been a sports fan since…well…since I was able to form memories, I suppose. I was brought up around it and it’s in my blood. No matter how frustrating or infuriating or absurd sports fandom gets (look no further than JD & The Straight Shot for peak absurdity), nobody completely shakes the things they loved as kids. My favorite sport (by a mile) is basketball, and that’s primarily what we cover in this episode. But any sports conversation inevitably turns into a conversation about how these games impact the atmosphere of the towns in which we live.

Our guest this week is Gregg Gethard, a fellow basketball obsessive and sports fan. We talk about our experiences playing and following basketball, as well as a look into how a town’s mood can fluctuate depending on a team’s success (as weird and irrational as it is). We also talk about his brief stint as the Greggulator on The Best Show on WFMU and how much we’d give up just to be able to dunk a basketball for an hour.

Gethard is a comedian, writer (check out this phenomenal piece on Coatesville’s football team for The Classical), Yelp novelist, and all-around good guy. You might know his brother, Chris, who is one of the funniest comic performers working today. Follow Gregg on twitter (@holdingcourtpod).

Also in this episode, I stake my claim to become the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball public address announcer. Let’s make it happen!

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Songs in the podcast: Yogi’s beat for “Burial” plays under my UA Men’s Basketball PA submission.

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Basketball, public address announcing, billionaire blues, dunking, the undeniable impact a sports team can have on a town, realizing you are not very athletic, the perfect grandfather, spectacular displays of athleticism, getting very specific, Greggulating, the band that shall not be named, and the things we do for love.

- You ready to move your feet?

Episode 030: Never Known This Til Now (with Human Behavior)

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Music is magic. It can creep under your skin, worm its way into your brain, and make you feel/remember things you can’t put words to. Tucson’s Human Behavior specializes in making audiences feel things — things they don’t typically feel when they’re at a bar watching live music.

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In this episode, we talk to Andres Parada (the lead singer/songwriter) and Chris Pierce (bass) to find out what makes this band tick, as well as how Andy is able to address such sensitive topics (mental illness, depression, suicide) on stage. His music is stark, haunting, and one-of-a-kind. If you like Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy, Kurt Vile, Father John Misty, etc., you’ll love Human Behavior. There is also a strong connection to the music of Daniel Johnston or Roky Erickson. I wish I could tell you more about it, but words don’t really cover it. You really need to see them live to know what I’m talking about.

Lucky for you, Human Behavior is hitting the road. They’re embarking upon an ambitious American tour. If they’re playing your city, make sure you go see them. [Click here for a full list of tour dates]

Human Behavior has three full-length records (Golgotha, Eat The Wind, The Behavior of Death in Mower County) and a four-track EP (Sonora) that you can find at their bandcamp page. It’s all name-your-own-price, so check it out — you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Songs in the podcast: I’ve Never Known This Til Now by Roky Erickson. Crag by Human Behavior.

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Music that gets under your skin, nostalgia, Human Behavior, things you can’t quite put into words, mental illness, doom folk, the spirit of hardcore, DIY touring, podcast parties, clanking glasses, downtown ambiance, chains, antlers, an eerie glow, and the things we do for love.

- Inside the house inside of me…

Episode 029: The Pope Of Long Island (with Will Stegemann)

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Typically, this podcast focuses either on Tucson’s local music/arts community or burritos. Billy Joel does not fall into either category. In fact, I don’t really have a strong opinion about Billy Joel’s music either way.

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Will Stegemann does, however.

Will is one of the funniest guys on twitter (@BeTheBoy) and we share a major common interest (super-fandom of The Best Show on WFMU). I’ve always wanted to talk to Will about his up-and-down-and-then-up-again relationship with Billy Joel ever since I became aware of his blog (A Year Of Billy Joel). In 2012, Will embarked upon a project to listen to every single piece of Billy Joel music in existence (official albums, pre-solo work, bootlegs, you name it) to fully confront his nemesis head on.

Will HATED Billy Joel when he was younger, which is a sin growing up in Long Island. But a funny thing happened in 2012. This massive Billy Joel project turned into deep self-examination and an exploration of the threads that made up his life — family, class, his hometown, etc. At some point in the very near future, Will plans to put out a book chronicling his Billy Joel Experience. I can’t wait.

Will is a wonderful guy to talk to, and this is one of the best interviews we’ve done on the show. I know you’ll enjoy this one.

AS AN ADDED BONUS: Take your favorite Billy Joel tune and rewrite the lyrics to be about Mexican food. The winner gets a PRIZE! (no idea what the prize will be yet)

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Songs in the podcast: None this time.

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Billy Joel, the absence of moderation, plastic bowling pins, justifiable on-stage meltdowns, his punk record, a new appreciation for the man’s discography, Amityville, New Year’s resolutions, improper mastering techniques, seat belts, figuring things out, dogs on twitter, fathers and sons, tonic, gin, feeling completely lost in your early 20s, and the things we do for love.

-LET ME DO MY SHOW, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

Episode 028: We Do What We Do (featuring many Tucson bands)

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If you’re new to the podcast, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I LOVE living in Tucson, Arizona.

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It’s not perfect (no city is), but right now, the creative community that has elected to make stuff in this town is doing a remarkable job. It’s a vibrant, exciting place to be right now, and it still feels as if the best is yet to come.

This weekend, my wife Kelly (@kellyhawke on twitter) and I took full advantage of what this town has to offer. We went to HoCo Fest Day 3 to see some of Tucson’s best up-and-coming live bands and I’ve decided to highlight some of my favorite ones in this episode. Call it a sampler platter — you’ll get the sound snippets for free, but if you like what you hear, put down a few bucks at their Bandcamp pages and help support this burgeoning music scene.

Sun Bones: Like if Grizzly Bear or Local Natives were looser and funnier on stage.

Best Dog Award: Imagine if Yeasayer and Real Estate shared common ground.

Katterwaul: You know this band. You love this band. We talked to Brittany Katter in Episode 013.

Human Behavior: Dark Americana in the Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy tradition. LOVE this band.

Prom Body: These guys celebrated their one-year anniversary at this show, and what a year it’s been. They’re opening for Ty Segall on Sept. 3! Listen to Michael Fay tell you everything you need to know about Prom Body on Episode 023.

• Our friends Joel and Krysta at Topaz (our guests on Episode 009) recently put out a compilation called Dune Drift 2, and you can download that for free here. We close the show with the hot new Lenguas Largas track, No Wrong No Right.

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Songs in the podcast: A whole lot of ‘em!

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Live music, public transportation, shows that start on time, the phenomenal Tucson music scene, Prom Body, Katterwaul, Best Dog Award, Sun Bones, Human Behavior, Lenguas Largas, Topaz, healthy living, running for a while, aging gracefully, and the things we do for love.

Episode 027: The Cause Of - And Solution To - All Of Life’s Problems

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Like millions of other people, I grew up watching The Simpsons over and over and over again. To say it was “influential” would be a massive understatement. In fact, I’m not sure where my knowledge of The Simpsons ends and my original thoughts begin. This show completely shaped my sense of humor and the way I looked at the world.

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That’s what we’re talking about this week. No guest.

For the past few days, FXX has been in the midst of its Every Simpsons Ever marathon. Watching all those classic episodes again, as well as reading everyone’s tweets/reactions to it, has been a wonderful experience. I’m not going to list all of my favorite Simpsons episodes/quotes (plenty of sites on tumblr can help you out if that’s what you need), but I will tell you that any extended time talking about The Simpsons will lead me down a path where I talk a LOT about myself.

So.

Here’s what else we’re covering this week:

• Sobriety. I’m not drinking anymore.

• Feeling less alone in the world.

Bedlam Publishing’s Loud Zoo No. 2

• Kelly and I started reading Andy Mascola’s novels. Great work, Andy!

• New Ty Segall & New Pornographers records. YES!

• Hot rock shows coming up: (Ty Segall Sept. 3, New Pornographers Oct. 14, Free Psych Showcase Aug. 27, HoCo Fest Aug. 30 — with Prom Body, Katterwaul, and other friends of the podcast).

• Going to see Sun Bones at Che’s Lounge.

• A Nick original tune: Left For Good.

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Outro song: “Left For Good” by Nick Prevenas

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: The Simpsons, trouble sleeping, bidding farewell to alcohol, chimpan-A to chimpan-Z, boo-urns, healthy skepticism, comforting color palettes, awesome new rock music, a mini Tucson concert calendar, getting way more personal than I originally planned to, and the things we do for love.

- He can talk / he can talk / he can talk / I CAN SIIIING

Episode 026: Fifty Shades Of Greg (with Greg Perryman)

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Frankly, I didn’t know what else to do.

This is the silliest podcast we’ve recorded in our 26-episode history. It’s been a very long week, and all I wanted to do was make a funny half hour. One of the funniest guys I know is Greg Perryman, so I asked him to be on the podcast. He’s the innovator of a twitter persona I like to call “vulnerably narcissistic,” but in real life, he’s just a super-funny, super-nice dude. We talk about rock shows, twitter, comfort, jeans, actors, Canada, being made fun of, and dogs. I love how it turned out.

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I’ve listened to this episode four times already. Maybe I’m the true narcissist? Whoa.

Also in today’s episode:

The lead singer of a certain harmonica-based jam band from the 90s is a human disaster zone. Do not tweet anything about him, his vest, or his band. He will harass you and your friends. He searches his name and goes out of his way to upset people, including guests of this podcast and friends of mine. It’s awful. Just trust me on this one.

• I play the harmonica, too, but I’m not a jerk about it.

• I talk openly about my dream to write sketches for Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, my sketch ideas might be a bit too “niche.” Oh well, at least I’m putting myself out there.

Tucson was ranked 43rd in a list of America’s Funniest Cities. We MUST try to do better than that!

Nick’s Family-Friendly Funnies and more can be found at twitter dot com slash me.

Music credits:
Bed music: dashflanagan
Harmonica outro: That’s your host blowin’ in the key of G. Hot stuff, right?

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Laughter, harmonicas, sketch ideas, gray jeans, how sock removal signifies the end of the day, sounding like John Mulaney, attorneys watching the detectives, life in Ottawa, President Interpol, Bob Log III, gravitating toward comedy, laugh tracks, dealing with things, twitter personas, friendship, and the things we do for love.

- Why’s everybody actin’ funny?

Episode 025: Floating In Space (with Jamie Molaro)

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Today, we veer slightly away from our standard topics (music, literature, burritos) to talk about the infinite vastness of the universe and how art can help contextualize the seemingly limitless scope of available information.image

Yeah.

Our guest is Jamie Molaro, a graduate student with the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Her research focuses on physics, geology, and geomorphology of planetary surfaces. These are topics that fall a little bit outside of my areas of expertise, but Jamie does an excellent job explaining her research’s goals and practical applications.

In fact, communication is a vitally important issue to Jamie. This is part of why she helped spearhead the Art of Planetary Science exhibition. Last year’s inaugural event displayed dozens of different pieces of art that helped illuminate the kinds of research projects taking place, while bridging the gap for people who might not have a science/math/physics background. It’s phenomenal.

I know there are a bunch of artists who listen to this podcast, so if you’d like to submit a piece, go to the Lunar and Planetary Lab’s website and click “Submit Art.” Submissions are due Sept. 19. The show takes place Oct. 17-19.

Follow Jamie on twitter: @the_bait.

Also on today’s show:

• There might be some background noise. It’s ok — you can handle it.

• Our neighbor won’t stop revving his motorcycle. It’s so loud.

• I discuss my favorite songs about space, including the tune "Lunar Kit" by our old pals, The Resonars. This song has been featured on the show before — it’s just that good. Buy the album, OK?

Music credits:
Bed music: @dashflanagan
Song during the interview: Whatever songs were playing at Cartel Coffee Lab on Saturday afternoon.
Closing song: “Lunar Kit” by The Resonars.

Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.

Topics: Art as unifying force, the infinite universe, the amount of things we will never know, Bowie, dumb loud pointless motorcycle revving, planetary science, physics, geology, Spiritualized, wedding songs, practical applications of scientific research, Spacehog, rocket men, space quilts, lunar kits, and the things we do for love.

- My lunar kit is all that I need.