Ella Fitzgerald – From Street Child To First Lady Of Jazz

What a voice. What an incredible musical talent. She came out of total poverty and a life as a Manhattan street child. Ella Ftizgerald – the greatest jazz singer ever?

Hear how she got her greatest hit that time she completely forgot the lyrics to Mack The Knife in Berlin.

BTWs include Chick Webb, racism, Marilyn Monroe and Alex’s new favorite expression for something really quiet.

In the moment of meta Alex talks about letting go of enthusiasms.

Lise Nørgaard – Writer, feminist and UTTER BADASS

Lise Nørgaard is a Danish journalist and author who discovered her superpower (writing) and has used it tirelessly to promote women’s rights and social justice.

She also created Matador, the best Danish TV show EVER, and (maybe most importantly) had a pastry named after her.

BTWs include implanted memories and swing dancing.

In the moment of meta Alex Katie shares a story of how she used enthusiasm to defuse an online feud.

Steven Universe: Awesome Songs And Healing Spit

Katie brings you some more Hopepunk For Squishy Marshmallows. This adorable kids’ cartoon has superheroes, great songs, healing spit and tons of gags. It also subverts masculinity and promotes queer normativity.

BTWs include Florida’s “don’t say gay” law.

In the moment of meta Alex issues a new challenge.

Hamilton: Hip-hop history of the American revolution

How can you not love a hip-hop musical about the American revolution where all the founding fathers are played by people of color???

Katie is not just a fan of Hamilton – she is self-proclaimed Hamiltrash. In this episode she talks about what makes the music so great (obviously!) but also about the huge cultural impact that the show has had.

BTWs include Tom Waits, Encanto and the KGB’s hilariously failed attempt to blackmail the president of Indonesia.

In the moment of meta Alex issues a challenge to Katie and all listeners.

Tom Waits: The Weirdest Human In Showbiz

“Is Tom Waits for real?”

That is the question that pops up when you google him and in this episode we try to figure that out. But first Alex gushes over the weirdest man in showbiz and tries hard to get Katie to appreciate his music, his acting, his life and his voice. That last one is an especially hard sell.

Also: THIS IS OUR 25TH EPISODE!!! Not bad for a couple of hosts whose strengths do not include things like perseverance, planning and general sticktoitiveness.

BTWs include artists who play a persona and why Shrek 2 is the best sequel of all times

In the moment of meta Katie introduces a new enthusiandment: Explore adjacent enthusiasm or in other words if you like a thing, check out other things that are like that first thing.

The Jewel Box Revue – Making Drag Mainstream – In 1939!

This incredible stage show had 25 men performing as women and one woman MC dressed as a man. It started in 1939 and made drag mainstream with high production values and incredibly talented performers.

But most of all: Meet Stormé DeLarverie, MC of the revue and the butch lesbian whose scuffle with police was the spark that ignited the Stonewall riots. The word badass doesn’t even begin to cover her.

BTWs include:

  • Why the “Mr.” in front of the performers’ names was SO important
  • The Stonewall Rebellion
  • How men wearing women’s clothes will surely lead to the downfall of western civilization
  • The dogs’ secret plan to take over the world

In the Moment Of Meta, Alex once again stans Swedish statistician Hans Rosling’s work on compiling data that shows that the world is getting better in many ways and uses Rosling’s work to quiz Katie.

Links

Billy Strayhorn: The Unsung Hero Of Jazz

Everyone who knows jazz knows Duke Ellington. But did you know that many of the Duke’s most famous songs were actually written by a gay black musical prodigy called Billy Strayhorn?

In this episode Katie celebrates the life and music of Strayhorn who received little recognition (or even money) for his work but who still lead a “lush life.”

BTWs include the Baader-Meinhoff effect.

In the moment of meta we share a tip on how you can use enthusiasm to connect with new people.

Links

All the songs:

BONUS songs: 

Hallelujah: The Prettiest (And Most Abused) Song In The World

This amazing song took 7 years to write and was then roundly ignored. Only after a cover version and the untimely death of an artist did the song finally become popular.

Since then, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece has been covered at least 300 times and was used in The West Wing, Scrubs, Watchmen, Shrek and much much more. Everybody treats it like a sad song, but it’s not – Cohen’s intention was much more joyful.

BTWs include death of the author, communication in relationships and ice cream chords.

In the moment of meta, Katie talks about a challenge that enthusiasts everywhere must face: When someone says that you’re “too much”.

Links

Swing Guitar: Preserving A Legacy With Enthusiasm (And Spite)

Swing music is amazing but real swing music that actually sounds like it did in the 30s and 40s is depressingly rare these days. Modern jazz musicians tend to look down on swing jazz and even when they do try to play it, they don’t do it right and it ends up sounding more like modern jazz.

Our guest enthusiast in this episode is Jonathan Stout, a band leader and guitarist specializing in pre bebop jazz guitar. He leads eight different bands, but is best known for Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five and the Jonathan Stout Orchestra, both of which he co-leads with Hilary Alexander. His bands have been heralded as some of the world’s premier swing dance bands.

Jonathan is incredibly enthusiastic about preserving the legacy of swing guitar and honoring the people who created and developed the genre.

Hear about:

  • How Jonathan went from heavy metal electric guitar to jazz music
  • His main idols in swing guitar, especially Charlie Christian who only ended up recording for two years
  • His incredible collection of vintage guitars and what “white whale” guitar he dreams of getting his hands on
  • The time he got the thumbs-up from Norma Miller, one of the original swing dance performers
  • Jonathan’s one simple trick for becoming the best in the world 🙂

Jonathan also plays for us and it’s INCREDIBLE!!!

BTWs include:

  • Racism in jazz
  • The producer who discovered Billy Holiday, Count Basie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and MANY others

In our Moment of Meta we talk about the fourth enthusiandment: Thou shalt not fake enthusiasm!

Links

The Banjo: Loud, Fun And… Sexy?

People have a TON of misconceptions about the banjo and often dismiss it as the instrument of hillbillies or rednecks. But did you know that it’s an instrument with a huge history and tradition that can be both loud, fun and… sexy?

Our guest enthusiast in this episode is Daniel Rodrigues, a Portuguese jazz musician living in Copenhagen where he plays in several different jazz bands and he is VERY enthusiastic about the banjo.

Daniel takes us on a journey of the banjo, that includes:

  • Why it’s the most fun instrument
  • How to find success and fame as a banjo player
  • The weirdest song he’s ever played on a banjo
  • The best jokes people tell about the banjo

And yes, the movie Deliverance does come up.

BTWs include:

  • A fantastic connection between the banjo and Harpo Marx, the subject from our very first episode.
  • Game of Thrones.

In our Moment of Meta we talk about the most important rule of enthusiasts everywhere: Don’t yuck someone else’s yum!

Links