Across the Margin: The Podcast

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Episode 140: Asking For a Friend with Joel Cummins

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with musician and founding member/keyboardist for the progressive rock band Umphrey's McGee, Joel Cummins. Joel’s keyboard wizardry is widely established throughout the music world. Beyond his heralded work with the increasingly popular, must-see live act that is Umphrey’s McGee, Joel has released impressive solo work and plays in bands with the likes of Nels Cline, Mike Watt, Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction, and Chris Poland of Megadeth. Beyond that, he has collaborated with such acclaimed artists as Huey Lewis, Joshua Redman, Mavis Staples, Phil Lesh, Buddy Guy, Thundercat, A$AP Ferg, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Warren Haynes, Bob Weir, and Les Claypool. Throughout their now twenty-four year career, Umphrey’s McGee has slowly but surely become one of America’s most crowd pleasing live acts. The band has been completely DIY their entire existence and have been extremely successful at it without any major label or management influence. While grouped within the genre, Umphrey's McGee doesn't fit a traditional "jamband" mold. With elements of prog and classic rock, and even heavy metal, influencing their sound and live performances, Umphrey’s McGee is a unique and captivating beast of band, one which has fostered legions of hardcore fans and has propelled to the top of festival bills, annual multi-night stands at venues such as Red Rocks and the Beacon Theater, and an extremely successful touring career.  Their latest album, Asking For a Friend, — the focus of this episode — is the band’s fourteenth studio effort and it might be their most emotionally charged and powerful yet. The reason for this heightened potency is pandemic related. Recorded over the course of three sessions at three different studios during the pandemic, Asking For A Friend represents a new approach for Umphrey’s McGee. With less pressure to finish the album quickly due to the industry-wide pause caused by the pandemic, the band was able to spend more time perfecting each track. In this episode host Michael Shields and Joel Cummins discuss the fascinating way Asking For a Friend was recorded amid the pandemic while expounding upon the band’s songwriting process in general. They talk about the lyrical themes of the album, what it has been like adding the music from Asking For a Friend into their live repertoire, and a great deal more!


Grab the vinyl or a digital copy of Asking For a Friend here!


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7/5/2022

Episode 139: The Storm Is Upon Us with Mike Rothschild

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with journalist, published author, and the foremost expert in this ever-changing QAnon conspiracy theory, Mike Rothschild. Mike is a contributing writer for millennial-focused news and technology site the Daily Dot, where he explores the intersections between internet culture and politics through the lens of conspiracy theories. As a subject matter expert in the field of fringe beliefs, Mike has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Yahoo, the Daily Beast, CBS, the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, Snopes, NBC News, Vice, and Politico, among many others. He is also a frequent speaker, and podcast and radio guest on the topic of conspiracy theories, including NPR’s weekly show “On the Media,” a Vice documentary, and the ReplyAll podcast. On October 5, 2017, President Trump made a cryptic remark in the State Dining Room at a gathering of military officials. He said it felt like “the calm before the storm” — then refused to elaborate as puzzled journalists asked him to explain. But on the infamous message boards of 4chan, a mysterious poster going by “Q Clearance Patriot,” who claimed to be in “military intelligence,” began the elaboration on their own. In the days that followed, Q’s wild yarn explaining Trump’s remarks began to rival the sinister intricacies of a Tom Clancy novel, while satisfying the deepest desires of MAGA-America. Did any of what Q predicted come to pass? No. Did that stop people from clinging to every word they were reading, expanding its mythology, and promoting it wider and wider? No. In Mike Rosthchild’s The Storm Is Upon Us — the focus of this episode — readers are whisked from the background conspiracies and cults that fed the Q phenomenon, to its embrace by right-wing media and Donald Trump, through the rending of families as loved ones became addicted to Q’s increasingly violent rhetoric. He also makes a compelling case that mocking the seeming madness of QAnon will get us nowhere. Rather, his impassioned reportage makes clear that it’s critical to figure out what QAnon really is — because QAnon and its relentlessly dark theory of everything isn’t done yet. In this episode host Michael Shields and Mike Rothschild discuss the appeal of QAnon to far too many Americans while considering how the mythology of QAnon somehow continues to endure. They explore how Anti-semitism is deeply baked into QAnon’s mythology, how violent the movement has alway been (well before the January 6th Insurrection), how the pandemic affected the QAnon movement, how one can potential help release a family member from Q’s spell, and much, much more.Grab a copy of The Storm Is Upon Us here!
6/7/2022

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!
5/27/2022

Episode 137: Marco Benevento's Benevento

This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast features an interview with pianist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer, who has been a fixture of the New York experimental music rock and jazz scene since 1999, Marco Benevento. Marco’s music covers a wide swath of ground, seemingly connecting the dots in the vast space between LCD Soundsystem and legendary musician Leon Russell. His songwriting is smart and earthy, yet simultaneously pulsating with dance rock energy. Benevento’s high energy live shows — fronting a three-piece band currently composed by bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Dave Butler — have led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall, to High Sierra Music Festival, Peach Festival, and beyond. Marco is the founder and recording engineer of Fred Short, a recording studio in Upstate New York, and a member of the groups Benevento/Russo Duo and Joe Russo's Almost Dead. In the studio, he’s collaborated with the likes of Richard Swift (The Shins, Nathaniel Rateliff), Leon Michels (Lee Fields, Freddie Gibbs) and Simone Felice (The Felice Brothers, The Lumineers) among others. While Marco’s work is prolific and all worthy of discussion, this episode focuses on his forthcoming album Benevento. Titled as a nod to Paul McCartney’s first solo album, what Benevento amounts to is forty minutes of small-batch psychedelia in which, with few exceptions, Marco played all of the instruments. He also produced and engineered the album, all from Fred Short Studios, located at his Woodstock, NY home. Deeply indebted to the West African psychedelia of artists such as Kiki Gyan, Francis Bebey and William Onyeabor, the songs are rhythmic and repetitive, built into thick mosaics of sound.In this episode host Michael Shields and Marco Benevento delve into the album’s influences and the manner in which it all came to life within his upstate studio. They discuss how the lyrics were created in collaboration with Al Howard, a San Diego-based poet, and what it was like playing all instruments on the album himself. They also discuss a festival Benevento is curating in Accord, New York this June called Follow The Arrow (tickets available now!), and much, much more.