048 Rhythmic Idler: Josh Block

I’m really into systems. So I like setting up the system and like watching it expand and become something really cool and new watch other people, like, contribute to the system and make it something better than I invented, or ever imagined it to be. You know what I mean? And I think that’s what led me to studio-owning–is essentially you’re building a giant instrument.

That’s Josh Block. Phenomenal drummer. Music producer slash arranger slash audio engineer. Owner of recording studio––and now label––Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas. He played and toured with rock and roll band White Denim for many years, and later helped launch the career of R&B singer-songwriter Leon Bridges, which he casually mentions but is a pretty big deal; so is the grammy. Josh’s ear for capturing timeless vocalists, proclivity for warm sounds from vintage equipment, and innate understanding of rhythm make for a lovely recording, if you’re in the market for a hit. But the only thing better than hearing my friend on the radio is catching up with him in real life.

Early on he recorded in a 1940’s Spartan trailer / makeshift recording studio, which is referenced in this Austin Chronicle article.

Josh co-founded and played with White Denim (originally Parque Touch) for 10 years, and left the band to move to Fort Worth, where he founded his recording studio Niles City Sound in 2014 (@nilescitysound on Instagram). Josh showed us his copy of the book Temples of Sound: inside the great recording studios during the podcast interview when we were talking about how the space is designed.

He met and started playing music with Leon Bridges, who’s successful album kick-started his recording studio concept. Here’s a Grammy Museum video about how they met and started recording Bridge’s grammy-nominated album, Coming Home, together at Niles City Sound. Leon’s second album, Good Thing, won him and his team (read: Josh!) a grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the song “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand.”

The three songs that appear in the episode are:

Do your homework and watch True Stories by David Byrne of the Talking Heads!

Josh’s three albums he keeps coming back to are:

According to Josh, Pickathon is one of his favorite venues to play live; SNL was fun of course, Conan was rad, and Jimmy Kimmel was super cool to his staff, playing at the Apollo was huge. Just don’t slap the log!

Josh sent me these photos taken by the talented Rambo Eliott, who’s @Rambo on Instagram.

Videos below:

1/ Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Saturday Night Live

2/ Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Austin City Limits

3/ White Denim on Austin City Limits (August 2014 – Matt and I were there! My photos from the crowd is in the upper slideshow)

4/ White Denim interview after their Austin City Limits show (August 2014)

Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Saturday Night Live
Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Austin City Limits
White Denim on Austin City Limits (August 2014)
White Denim interview after their Austin City Limits show

047 Long-winded Storyteller: Natascha Boland

I feel like I’m perhaps poised to be the most creative I’ve been in a very, very long time. Now that I’ve have time and now that I’ve actually, I’ve got substance what’s going to build up more shit that I’ve got to get out than terminal cancer? I’ve got material for days.

That’s Natascha Boland. Self-proclaimed over-sharer. Sometimes writer. Private vlogger. Dance-party-maker. She shares her vulnerable tale of facing her mortality through living with cancer. She reached out to her Facebook friends to help her fill her days with happy distractions, so I challenged her to think about her creative legacy for posterity in an interview with me. I wanted to say that I don’t have practice talking about the heartbreak of a shortened life; my personal experience is actually that of losing a friend suddenly. So my tone of voice is one of huge appreciation and not of missing the weight of the conversation – I hope it reads that way to you as well.  

Follow the story via Facebook post slideshow below, starting from April 9, 2020 up to January 25th, 2021 with results of the PET scan she references in the episode (she had not heard the results at the time of recording).

Natascha’s blog post contributions can be found at shadowboxing.org and Department of Dance.

Lauren Taylor, the curator of the Faris Foundation reached out to Natascha about a project called Art is Hope.

She mentioned the book In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer by Teva Harrison, that she found originally through a New York Times article.

Her daughter, Zoe, is a beautiful musician and singer/songwriter. Natascha credits School of Rock for teaching her how to play and building her confidence as a performer. Her youtube page is Yuh.me.

046 The Craft of Sleep

Oh my God, this is so much mom porn. You’re going to have to put an advisory up the front of this episode. Say, “Look out, we’re going to be talking about naps. We’re going to be talking about enjoying yourself before bed. We’re going to be talking about sand…and the beach. Yeah. -Amber

It’s so relaxing… -Angelica

It’s been a minute since I release an episode. I actually recorded this with Amber Moreno, Diana Stahl, and Genevieve Saenz back in August, but because of 2020, I needed to rest. You may be experiencing something similar. If you’d like to snuggle in and think about sleep hygiene and bediquette, please get in your favorite position under a soft blanket and join us for this week’s episode.

Amber’s sleepy Spotify playlists:

Late night: warning: more for bedtime than going to sleep, if you know what I mean

Shhhh: tracks curated to help you fall asleep

Angelica’s sleepy podcasts:

The Empty Bowl – a meditative podcast about cereal from cereal eater Justin McElroy and Cerealously.net creator Dan Goubert

Nothing Much Happens – bedtime stories for grown ups by Kathryn Nicolai

My Brother My Brother and Me – The McElroy brothers are here to take your questions and turn them, alchemy-like, into wisdom.

Genevieve’s sleepy instagram recommendation:

The Nap Ministry – by Tricia Hersey and is an organization that examines the liberating power of naps. 

045 Chatty Kid Takeover

I think creativity is incredibly important right now. You can feel really stifled if your voice isn’t heard and if you’re kind of stuck in an endless summer that doesn’t feel any different than the last 3 months. I think that it’s important to find your voice and a way to spend your time to express your self because, you know, you can go stir crazy and watch TV for endless hours a day or you can feel like you’re using your time in a valuable way.

(teaser to episode)

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That’s me, Angelica Norton. For this episode, my chatty daughters, Eloise and Ansley, took over my hosting duties to ask me some of the questions I normally pose to my guests and to give crafting advice. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be creative so we don’t feel stir-crazy in the midst of a pandemic, and in order to find ways to express our tumultuous feelings during social unrest. Let’s all shift perspective and ask questions to see what we can learn from each other – and like Eloise says, “actually listen.”

We actually recorded a month ago, just as the Black Lives Matter marches started, so I put this one on hold recorded another episode to amplify an artist of color (shown in Episode 44 Inner City Dreamer: Kendall Angelle).

Eloise, Ansley, and I talked about kids on YouTube shows, sewing as therapy vs sewing for profit, the endless summer because of Covid, White Privilege, storytelling and appreciating grandparents, overcoming being bullied as a child through creative, supportive friends (shown in Episode 43: Handbag Poetry Night), the positives and negatives of the pandemic, and tips on staying creative.

How to make a t-shirt bandeau mask

I posted on my instagram a few weeks ago about making a bandeau mask out of jersey knit and how much I loved being able to breathe in it. PLUS it rests easily around my neck in the in between time.  If you don’t have a bolt of jersey knit lying around, you can use an old t-shirt to make one.  I didn’t make a pattern or write the steps down when I made the ones for me and my daughters, but when my husband asked for one for Father’s Day, I just couldn’t quite remember how I made it – hence this blog post.  So this is partly for myself as a reference for when I make them again, but hopefully this is a helpful reference for you as well!

It’s a quick sew and can be done on a standard sewing machine, or a serger, which I prefer since it’s a stretchy material and it does the cutting for you.

Steps:

  1. Cut the t-shirt horizontally under the armpitsstep 1
  2. Flip inside out
  3. Cut the sides of the shirt
  4. Serge (or sew) the top and the bottom of the shirtstep 2
  5. Flip right side outstep 5
  6. Surge (or sew) the front edge of one side to the edge of the other side. Don’t sew all 4 edges together! You’re making a tube that you will flip inside out.step 6
  7. Rotate as you sew, then leave a small opening to flip it inside out.  I left from the edge of the needle to my finger in the photo below.step 7step 8
  8. Flip fabric through holestep 9
  9. Topstitch or blind stitch to close up the openingstep 10

That’s it!  It’s pretty good for with wearing glasses, and you don’t need to make bias tape ties or elastics to go around the ears.  The size is forgiving because it’s stretchy.  I like to have several options of masks around because I can’t keep up with one, so I keep them in my car, a purse if I’m carrying one, and the rest of the family masks tucked away in a bin in my closet.  Let’s keep wearing those masks, friends!

mask3

Plus as a bonus, my kid now has a crop top to wear, because FASHION.

044 Inner City Dreamer: Kendall Angelle

It can be both.  Most artists do it for selfish reasons.  But when you’re putting it out there for people to, you know, experience  – some judge – but mostly just a general experience.  It adds an aspect that’s not selfish anymore.  It’s just the nature of art.  You can’t help it.  I don’t care how money-driven a creative is, at the end of the day, it still lends itself to the people because you’re putting it out there for people to interpret to appreciate.

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That’s Kendall Angelle.  As a Black creative with his finger on the pulse of art, music, fashion, and culture, he curates and shares incredible artists and ideas on his website, Fresh Aesthetic.  We were good friends in high school back in Houston and the early years of when we both moved to Austin after graduation.  In support of Black Lives Matter and protests against police violence, I wanted to use my platform to elevate voices of color, so I reached out to my old pal.  And it seems especially appropriate to support someone who is going out of his way to support other creatives.

Links from our convo:

The Neil deGrasse Tyson essay Kendall mentioned: Reflections on the Color of My Skin

The Business of Hype is the podcast by clothing designer, Jeff Staple

Refashionista is the website on thrift store finds I mentioned that are tailored, dyed, and reworked to reduce clothing waste

Shameless Plugs:

Kendall’s website: ¡Fresh Aesthetic!™: freshaesthetic23.com.  Find him on Twitter @freshaesthetic, Facebook @freshaesthetic23, and Instagram @freshaesthetic23.  I’ll update when his Culture Fresh podcast is back up.

043 Handbag Poetry Night

But I think I stopped writing poetry as much just because when I would come back to it, I was like, what was I even trying to say?  It was just too vague.  It was too vague to get the meaning later.

Well hopefully it’s like protecting itself from getting burned.  If it weren’t so vague, you wouldn’t be able to stand it, maybe, you know?  That’s why I wrote that way, why I still write that way.

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This week on a special Handbag Hangout Poetry night, I’ve rounded up Amber, Diana, Sara, Maria, and Genevieve to read poetry with me.  Our friendship was cultivated while writing poetry and furiously journaling in high school in the late 90’s, which bound us tightly as very close friends over the past 20 years.  Since becoming adults, we have made a point to meet monthly (to reinforce and celebrate our identities before we became partners, spouses, mothers, or professional people), which came to be known as Handbag Hangouts as a dirty joke over beers.  Since COVID-19, we’ve upped our Handbags to a weekly Zoom meeting to dish out our love and support for each other.  (Please do forgive the quality of the recording since we weren’t able to meet in person.)

Order of poems:

Angelica: Title redacted a poem about restlessness found in an old journal (Feb 8, 2001)

Genevieve: “What is Never Lost” by Cynthia MacDonald from I Can’t Remember (1997)

Maria: “A Callarse/Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda.  English translation and in the original Spanish (1958)

We mentioned “the great pause” and referenced the incredible article, “Prepare For the Ultimate Gaslighting,” by Julio Vincent Gambuto.

Amber: “Sensation” by Arthur Rimbaud. French and English (March 1890)

Diana: “I’m Nobody, Who are You?” by Emily Dickenson from Poems, Series 2 (1891).

Sara: A saying probably by Lao Tzu (?) from Zen Garden Book of Meditations

Angelica: “As Far as Masks Go,” a poem about COVID-19 (April 20, 2020)

Amber: Rhyming Poem, a poem about haircuts or a hangover maybe (2001)

Sara: “We shape clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want” from Zen Garden Book of Meditations

Genevieve: “If” a poem about being a therapist, in a series she wrote called Termination Poems (December 2019)

Diana: Two nature poems from a journal while being a summer camp counselor at Camp  Arrowhead (June 14, 2003)

Angelica: “Friendliness is Not the Car Ride it Once Was” in my portfolio used to apply for landscape architecture grad school (April 3, 2000)

Angelica: “Song of 3 Days Sad” A poem repeating the phrase Techno Glazes/Inspiration (July 14, 2000)

042: The Collager in Quarantine: Matt Norton

So it’s not just total freedom on the machine’s part.  You’re kind of giving it stipulations to work with it.  And that like gets my brain buzzing.

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That’s Matt Norton.  My sweet husband sat down with me again for a quarantine special to explain modular synthesizers to me.  We want to de-mystify modular synths to inspire our friends out there to use this time at home to get creative.  We also want to look at the positive sides of being in quarantine, because it’s incredibly overwhelming otherwise.  We hope you guys are staying healthy and safe, or are resting if you need to recover from being sick.  We love you.

We talked about synthesizers like Minimoog, Mellotron, Arp Odyessy, and Op-1 by Teenage Engineering.  We also mentioned the loving and supportive Sobriety and Synthesizers Facebook Group.

We also brought up Wonderful, which is a podcast by Griffin and Rachel McElroy (also in Austin, TX), one of my favorites, found on Max Fun.

The song used in the intro and outro of this episode is by Matt Norton as Berm and Swale.  He’s on Facebook and Instagram.  The song he was working on at the time of the episode, “Packing West,” can be found here:

041 Bark Eater: Neal Stilley

I mean I consider myself an experimental archeologist and a Master Naturalist. For the East Texas chapter of the Master Naturalists, I teach the archeology portion of their program, and it includes a lot of the stuff I showed you today – I show them.  Just to give them an idea what, you know, people, did as the real naturalists – I mean, the original naturalists, I should say.

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That’s Neal Stilley.  Friction-fire starter, atlatl thrower, tool-maker, Vietnam vet, and student of nature – Neal loves to share his incredibly extensive knowledge of primitive technologies to bring a connective tissue to how people lived in a simpler time.  He brought his collection of hand-made tools and scat display boxes over to my house to bring life to his stories, which he uses in his outreach classes.  If you catch him at any of his east Texas courses this spring, kick off your shoes and get ready to touch some bones.

The primitive tools he brought by are atlatls, rabbit stick, starting friction fires.  We listened to soundscapes he captured of frogs, toads, and crickets from the 80s and 90s as self-made white noise.  He’s really excited to share the Shumla Notch Friction Fire boards, which he rediscovered from research of the Lower Pecos People.  It’s a fire board with a notch on the side, instead of on the bottom.  Volunteer Archeological Steward for the Texas Historical Commission and their outreach educational Programs.

Click for more on the Archeolympics; look up Texas Beyond History for more on prehistoric info, lesson plans, and Dr. Dirt.

Neal will have classes at Primitive Awakening Wilderness School and Caddo Mounds Historical Site coming up soon, so check back on both websites for dates.

040 Ambassador of String: Gretchen Du Prè

Angelica, it is why I do what I do.  I love this city.  I love Austin, and that’s honestly my career goal, is to make Austin beautiful, though public art, through landscape design, through public projects if I can be involved.

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That’s Gretchen Du Prè.  Fiber artist, landscape designer, musician slash singer, mother, and beautifier.  Gretchen’s own string theory is: if there’s a way to knit it, play it, draw it, or sew it, she wants to get her hands on it.  If you see her around town and compliment something she made – watch out, you might be wearing it home.

Public Art:

She and Austin Outdoor Design had a entry in the recent Fortlandia, called Hamaca de los Flores, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

She also had a project in Creek Show, a temporary light installation over Waller Creek in Austin.

Music:

Singer and musician for the band, Honey Punch, for 10 years, a daytime fun band.  The intro was “Anarchy in the UK” ; the mid-episode sample was “Being Mir Best Du Schon”, and the outro was “Fallen for You.”  Follow them on Instagram and check out their website for shows and delights!