Across the Margin: The Podcast


Episode 138: Beautiful Dreamer with Philip Watson

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with journalist and author Philip Watson. Philip worked for a number of years at GQ, where he was deputy editor, and Esquire, where he was editor-at-large. He has been freelance for the past decade or more, contributing articles and features to many publications in Britain, Ireland and the US, including the Guardian, Telegraph Magazine, Sunday Times, Observer, Irish Times, London Evening Standard, Travel + Leisure, and music magazine The Wire. His most recent work Beautiful Dreamers: The Guitarist Who Changed The Sound of American Music — the focus of this episode — is the definitive biography of guitar icon and Grammy Award-winning artist, Bill Frisell, featuring exclusive interviews with Paul Simon, Bon Iver and more. Over a period of forty-five years, Bill Frisell has established himself as one of the most innovative musicians at work today. A quietly revolutionary guitar hero for our genre-blurring times, he has synthesized many disparate musical elements — from jazz to pop, folk to film music, ambient to avant-garde, country to classical — into one compellingly singular sound. Described as “the favorite guitarist of many people who agree on little else in music,” Frisell connects to a diverse range of artists and admirers, including Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, and Bon Iver. Everybody loves Bill Frisell. Through unprecedented access, and interviews with his close family, friends and collaborators, Philip Watson tells the story of why. In this episode host Michael Shields and Philip Watson discuss Frisell’s many music influences that have contributed to inspiring his signature sound while conversing upon  how coming of age in Denver helped shape him musically as well. They explore the many mentors Frisell had throughout his musical journey, talk about what Frisell is like personally, consider the immense impact Frisell has had on a bevy of notable musicians, and much much more.

Grab a copy of Beautiful Dreamers: The Guitarist Who Changed The Sound of American Music here!

Listen to a Bill Frisell Playlist by Philip Watson here!

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Episode 136: My Fourth Time, We Drowned with Sally Hayden

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview withaward-winning journalist and photographer currently focused on migration, conflict, and humanitarian crises, Sally Hayden. Hayden has worked with VICE News, CNN International, TIME, BBC, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, NBC News, Newsweek, the Independent, the Telegraph, the National, the Huffington Post and ITV News, and had stories and photojournalism republished on six continents by outlets including National Geographic, NPR, the Observer, ABC News, among many others. She was named as one of Forbes' "30 Under 30” in Media in Europe, in part because of her work on refugee issues. Her book My Fourth Time We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route — the focus of this episode — exposes a human rights disaster of epic proportions. One day, Sally Hayden was at home in London when she received a message on Facebook that read: “Hi sister Sally, we need your help.” The sender identified himself as an Eritrean refugee who had been held in a Libyan detention center for months, locked in one big hall with hundreds of others. The city around them was crumbling in a conflict between warring factions, and they remained stuck, defenseless, with only one remaining hope — contacting her.From this single message begins a staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa. With unprecedented access to people currently inside Libyan detention centers, Hayden’s book is based on interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants who tried to reach Europe and found themselves stuck in Libya once the EU started funding interceptions in 2017. My Fourth Time, We Drowned is an intimate portrait of life for these detainees, as well as a condemnation of NGOs and the United Nations, whose abdication of international standards will echo throughout history. But most importantly, Hayden’s groundbreaking work of investigative journalism shines a light on the resilience of humans — how refugees and migrants locked up for years fall in love, support each other through the hardest times, and carry out small acts of resistance in order to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear. In this episode host Michael Shields and Sally Hayden discuss the compelling story of how a cryptic Facebook message led to the revelation of atrocities taking place in detention camps in Northern Africa. They discuss the true scope of the migrant crisis taking place while expounding upon how the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are largely responsible for the ongoing emergency. They discuss the importance of documenting and paying attention to the suffering in the world, and much more.Grab a copy of Sally Hayden’s My Fourth Time, We Drowned here!

Episode 135: The 20th Anniversary of Personal Journals with Sage Francis

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with independent underground rapper Sage Francis, widely considered one of our generation’s greatest lyricists. His career derives mainly from gifted wordplay which creates vivid narratives to instigate as well as inspire. Dubbed as the “forefather of indie-hop,” Francis originally earned acclaim in the early 2000s by winning the most highly coveted titles of the emcee battle circuit. With little to no funding, Francis sustained himself by selling his innovative “Sick of” mixtapes, all made by hand on the floor of his Providence, Rhode Island apartment. These were essentially bootleg compilations full of select recordings from his 12” vinyl singles, demo sessions, live performances, and radio freestyles. The popularity of these tapes birthed Strange Famous Records (SFR); a meager, one-man operation in 1999. Despite having no official distribution, Francis’ unique brand of music spread like wildfire via the advent of file sharing networks. This resulted in him attaining a massive cult-like following around the world, creating a demand for his albums and live performances at which point the bigger labels took notice. With his first studio album, Personal Journals (2002), — the focus of this episode — Francis daringly set aside the more boastful side of rap by catering to his poetic leanings and scathing socio-political commentary. In 2005 Sage Francis was the first hip-hop artist signed to the punk rock label Epitaph Records and soon became one of the highest selling independent artists of his genre. Rather than abandon his day-to-day grind at SFR, he channeled all of his newfound resources into it, allowing the label to expand in staff as well as roster. Having fulfilled his contract obligations with Epitaph Records, Sage Francis has returned to releasing music independently as he gears up to defeat the odds. But, as alluded to, this episode focuses on where it all began for Francis, his aforementioned first studio album put into the world by the underground hip-hop collective Anticon in 2002. It’s a deeply personal album where Francis wears all of life’s suffering on his sleeve while inviting listeners to join in on a tour of the tortured, introspective mind of a gifted storyteller. While decisively weighty, Personal Journals is also witty, and full of hard-hitting old school boom bap hip-hop brimming with a slam poetry ethos.Personal Journals, like few hip-hop albums ever birthed, is an amazing display of fearless honesty and it’s easy to look at the lyrical offerings of Personal Journals as akin to Francis pulling wide his scar tissue and narrating a detailed, candid tour of their frayed innards. In this episode host Michael Shields and Francis discuss what Francis feels and about Personal Journals with twenty years of hindsight to consider. They explore the meaning behind a bevy of the tracks on the album while Francis shares stories about the Personal Journals recording sessions, how his intimate lyrics were received by those closest to him, and much, much more.Bonus Feature: At the conclusion of the episode you will hear a snippet of a demo referenced in the interview of "Runaways" lyrics over the Alias beat which would eventually become the "Keep Moving" song on Human the Death Dance!

Episode 134: Get a Job with Robert Walter

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with organ, keyboard, and synth extraordinaire Robert Walter, a founder member of the Greyboy Allstars. Walter is a dynamic and prolific musician who splits his time between his own 20th Congress, The Greyboy Allstars, and a robust film soundtrack career in Los Angeles. Initially formed as the backing band for rare groove luminary DJ Greyboy, The Greyboy Allstars became a long term project for Walter with a string of critically acclaimed albums and world tours. The band quickly became home to some of the most revered players in the modern music scene and their success served as a platform for the band's individual members to launch highly successful and substantially diverse solo careers. The Greyboy All Stars recently released an album entitled Get a Job: Music from the Original Broadcast Series Soul Dream, which lies at the heart of this episode. Originally aired as Soul Dream — a four-part, episodic series on in the summer of 2021 — Get a Job is a ten song set of unique never-before-released covers that have become an integral part of the band’s famed live sets for nearly three decades. Songs by artists such as Gene Ammons, Gil Scott-Heron, Sonny Stitt, George Harrison, Gary Bartz and Langston Hughes, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In this episode host Michael Shields and Robert Walter discuss how Get a Job emanated from the four part episodic series Soul Dream while conversing over how Walter and the Greyboy Allstars decide upon the songs they choose to cover. They go back in time to talk about the genesis of the Greyboy Allstars, celebrating the famed Wednesday night shows at The Green Circle Bar in San Diego where it all began. They discuss Walter's excellent solo album Better Feathers, how he came to be a part of Mike Gordon from Phish’s band, what it is going to mean to him to return to Jazz Fest this year, and a whole lot more.