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Five podcasts by musicians are the cream of the crop

UPDATED: Thu., June 25, 2020

By Bill Forman For The Spokesman-Review

Did you know that 47,124,947 households who buy juice are fans of music podcasts? Or that 59,181,265 households who buy milk are fans of music podcasts? Or that 57,274,911 households who buy cereal are fans of music podcasts?

Most likely not. And I would not have, either, had I not pored through Nielsen Media Research’s “A Marketer’s Guide to Podcasting.”

But while the report is a treasure trove of useful information, it is scant on details when it comes to which music podcasts these households are listening to as they tuck into their motel-style continental breakfasts.

Fortunately, we know which music podcasts they should be listening to, and here are five of them all hosted by musicians who are guaranteed to keep your household happy all quarantine long.

Questlove Supreme

Who: Roots drummer, “Tonight Show” bandleader, NYU professor and 2010 Super Bowl DJ

What: As Michelle Obama said after Questlove gave her a 1,200-song playlist to take on her “Becoming” book tour, “Life’s a little better when we live it to Questlove’s beat.” The former first lady later returned the favor by appearing on the “Questlove Supreme” podcast, adding to a diverse roster of guests that includes A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, yacht rockers Michael McDonald and Huey Lewis and film directors Katherine Bigelow and Spike Lee.

He also has talked to Jack White about dumpster diving and the Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson about his claim to have taught Michael Jackson how to do the moonwalk. And do not forget Questlove’s 179-minute interview with Chris Rock, which is nothing short of priceless.

Why: Because a “nerdy black NPR” is better than a white CNN.

Dream Wife’s “So When You Gonna …”

Who: London-based art-punk trio whose 2018 debut album drew comparisons to Le Tigre, Garbage and, wait for it, the Spice Girls

What: Dream Wife’s “So When You Gonna …” podcast features lead singer Rakel Mjöll, guitarist Alice Go and bassist Bella Podpadec each taking turns as they conduct “one-on-one deep-dive conversations” with women and nonbinary musicians. While exploring the cultural and political intricacies of the contemporary music and arts world, the three musicians also aim to motivate their listeners to explore a broad range of interests.

Episodes of the podcast, which made its debut on April 22, have included “So When You Gonna … Get Into Music Production,” “So When You Gonna … Get Into Coding,” “So When You Gonna … Get Into Songwriting” and “So When You Gonna … Get Into Magic.’ Dream Wife’s forthcoming sophomore album will be titled “So When You Gonna …”

Why: Because this is the only place you will find interviews with feminist rapper Girli, Italian producer Marta Salogni and nonbinary witch/musician/artist Ayesha Tan Jones.

Joe Pug’s “The Working Songwriter”

Who: Austin-based “songwriter’s songwriter” whose repertoire of originals includes “I Do My Father’s Drugs,” “Lock the Door Christina” and “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)”

What: As host of “The Working Songwriter” podcast, Americana musician Joe Pug has spent the past four years talking shop with a who’s who of top-flight songwriters. Given Pug’s penchant for folk and country, it is no surprise that his guests have included Steve Earle, Tift Merritt, Joe Ely, Lee Ann Womack and Gregory Alan Isakov.

But he is no less adept at interviewing more unexpected artists like the Killers, Amanda Palmer, the Milk Carton Kids and Minor Threat/Fugazi frontman Ian Mackaye.

Why: Because it is safer to write your own songs than steal them from others.

Big Boy Bloater’s “The Blues Podcast”

Who: Guitarist for Imelda May and Paloma Faith, frontman of Big Boy Bloater & the Limits and, in the words of Jools Holland, “One of the great bluesmen of our time.”

What: A British blues-rock bandleader who took his name from a Southern California hamburger chain, Big Boy Bloater is too young to have interviewed his childhood heroes Jimi Hendrix and Elmore James.

So, he is doing the next best thing by talking all things blues with musicians like Walter Trout, who has played guitar with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Joe Tex. “The Blues Podcast” is just a few months old, but landing guests like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Beth Hart and Robin Trower suggests he is off to a good start.

Why: Because we get to hear guitarist Bernie Marsden talk about writing and recording Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”

Henry Rollins’ “The Cool Quarantine”

Who: Former Black Flag and Rollins Band vocalist, spoken-word artist and survivor of Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization”

What: Anyone who has seen one of Henry Rollins’ spoken-word tours knows that the iconic punk singer can talk. A lot. So, it only makes sense that Rollins was quick to take advantage of the burgeoning music podcast medium.

Back in 2015, he joined forces with his manager Heidi May to co-host “Henry & Heidi,” in which they talked about themselves, each other and other areas of interest. Now, Rollins has embarked on his more socially distanced “The Cool Quarantine Show,” in which he talks about his favorite records and plays them, too. The show is 4 hours long.

Why: Because this is the closest you will come to spending the rest of eternity in quarantine with Henry Rollins.

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