Meet Pat and Mike: The Jazz Bastards

Meet Pat and Mike: The Jazz Bastards
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About Pat and Mike

Pat and Mike host the Jazz Bastard podcast. Mike is a English professor who normally makes his home in San Diego; Pat is a lawyer's helper living in Central Indiana. They met as Freshmen in college and having been bugging each other ever since.

(Mike—Actually I'm a Humanities lecturer—if I was an English professor I would be considerably better paid and less relevant.)

What is your first-ever radio-related memory?

Pat: I got a tiny clock-radio with the numbers that flip (ask your parents, kids) from my grandmother. Banks used to promote their services with such items, no idea why. My earliest memory is digging "Silly Love Songs" by Wings, the band the Beatles wished they could be (an Alan Partridge quote—look that one up too, kids).

Mike: Young males in and around Chicago in the late '60s early '70s will remember with fondness Larry 'Uncle Lar' Lujack of WLS radio, with his wacky sidekick Little Tommy and their unforgettably perverse and funny "Animal Stories" segment. I can remember walking to grade school (two miles in the snow, uphill both ways) with an ear glued to my first transistor radio, held in thrall by the gravelly, pause-ridden wonder that was Lujack's voice.

How did your fascination with radio start?

Pat: "Fascination" makes it sound like radio needs a restraining order against me. We're just good friends.

Mike: After the transistor radio died, I was held hostage by others controlling the dial: first my parents, later my siblings and, finally, Pat. Tyrants all. The radio was the forbidden zone cooler (or just bigger or meaner) people controlled.

What radio shows were a fan of, and why?

Pat: When I moved to Chicago in grad school it was the first time I lived in a city big enough to have stations that appealed to me. Favorite shows were Larry Smith spinning jazz on WBEZ and so-called "alternative rock" most hours of the day on WXRT.

Mike: I did mention others controlling the dial, right? So I too grew to love Larry 'Shithead' (our nickname, not his) Smith and WXRT. The best jock there was (and probably still is) Marty Lennertz, partly for his taste and partly for his 'regular guy' shtick (a Chicago accented film review).

When did your jazz podcast career start?

Pat: Eight years ago.

Mike: Preceded by at least five years of saying 'wouldn't it be cool if we did a show?'

Did you have a mentor or you are a self-made host?

Pat: I can answer for Mike for this one: I am his mentor, load-star, and Jedi master, all rolled into one.

Mike: Pfft. Utterly self-made. But as a teacher, I often see the faces of bemused stupor when I say something that needs further elaboration. So I spend most of our podcasts imagining those faces on our listeners and do a lot of elaborating the private language that is 'Pat n' Mike' for innocent bystanders. Or so I like to think.

Do you recall the first album/song you ever presented on the radio?

Pat: Sure, I keep a list of these things. Favorite album from the first show: Ronald Shannon Jackson's Nasty. At least that's the one that bugged Mike the most.

Mike: What he said. He still does most of the driving it feels like. Tyrant.

What stations have you worked for?

Pat: No stations—I'm a child of the podcast era. A late middle-aged child.

Mike: Same. Albeit slightly less middle-aged and significantly better-preserved.

How do you approach each episode?

Pat: We thrash out what to do next time at the end of a given episode, then try not to think of it too much until recording day.

Mike: Also, a lot of it is governed by serendipity: what I've snagged from online trading or Pat's picked up on his latest vinyl foray. Plus the recent releases that wander our way.

How long does it take you to produce a show?

Pat: Two hours to record, six or more to edit. But then I'm OCD about editing.

Mike: Just the ninety minutes where I have to listen to Pat hold forth and occasionally interject a pearl of wisdom. That doesn't count the hours listening and limbering up my voice to shout over Pat...

Are you a Vinyl, CDs, or Files host?

Pat: We use only the finest low—bit rate mono-music clips—it's a talk show with the hope that the listener will buy or stream the real thing. At home, though, I'm a vinyl kind of guy.

Mike: I've always been a late adopter of technology. So at this point, I prefer the CDs, but make do with files when I have to. I'm not rich like Pat so vinyl is out of the question. Though it does make Xmas shopping for him considerably easier (hint: any new Beach Boys re-re-re-release on vinyl will do).

Pat: I forgot to mention this, but I am answering these questions from my private island.

What is it that usually impresses you about a musician?

Pat: The sense that what she or he is playing is expressing something beyond the jazz curriculum at college.

Mike: It's a cliche but, I know it when I hear it. Something that makes me stop whatever I'm doing and sit up and pay attention. It can be almost anything—depends on the artist.

How do you engage with your audience?

Pat: By accident. Honestly, I record the show for my own pleasure (and Mike's pain) and hope some listeners enjoy it.

Mike: I do think, maybe too much, about what young innocents hearing the show will think. So occasionally I try (or prod Pat to try) to interject a little basic info for the newbie. I hate clubs that are closed to newcomers and I'd like to think our show is welcoming to people who've never thought hard about or listened to jazz.

Do you have a sense of who is listening to your show?

Pat: Extremely well-off, intelligent, good-looking people. With great taste.

Mike: Relatives, shut-ins, eccentrics? Those sets sometimes overlap, by the way.

How do you feel about "airwave radio" vs. "internet radio"?

Pat: I enjoy the local classical station (WBAA out of West Lafayette, Indiana motto—"The Sheep Never Sleeps.) I have a huge music collection so rarely stream internet radio but it's a valuable resource.

Mike: At this point, I almost never listen to radio. Honestly, the only time I do now is on long drives. And then it's just AM conservative talk radio. The outrage (mine) keeps me awake through the flatter red states.

If you were programming your final podcast show, which songs would you open and close with?

Pat: It's a jazz show, but probably Joy Division.

Mike: Open: Anything from Conference of the Birds. Close: "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure.

Do you listen to other jazz radio shows? If so, which ones do you enjoy most?

Pat: I mostly listen to podcasts. The New York Times "Popcast" is probably closest to your readership's interests.

Mike: It's probably against the rules, but I don't listen to (or watch) any podcasts. I'm afraid hearing or seeing others do it better would make me never want to do ours again.

Can you share a funny episode that happened during The Jazz Bastards podcast?

Pat: Mike melting down when I asked him to listen to ten Weather Report albums. He could have just called the police on me. It would have been justified.

Mike: The ongoing saga of the mouse sharing my flat. That or my occasionally squeaky chair that drives Pat insane or my neighbor's dog, Rudy, practically the third host of the show.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Pat: "Lush Life."

Mike: Seriously? "All the Way From Memphis" by Mott the Hoople. WTF.

If you could have dinner with anyone from jazz history, who would it be and why?

Pat: Let's face it, many of the most fascinating candidates wouldn't want to have dinner with me. Probably Paul Desmond—he had a reputation as a wit.

Mike: My man-crush on Brad Mehldau is now the stuff of legend, but, given the restraining order, I'm thinking an evening in the presence of Sun Ra would be pretty interesting.

What underrated disc do you wish everyone knew about?

Pat: Listen to our show and find out! More honestly, pretty much anything from JoAnne Brackeen, especially '70s stuff. Start with Keyed In.

Mike: That's hard because underrated implies it's already been dismissed and jazz fanship is well-known for resurrecting zombies. Hell, it's one of the main premises of our show. I'll give you two: anything by Keely Smith in her prime or Mary Lou Williams, Zodiac Suite.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Pat: Jazz has been dead more times that Jason in Friday the 13th, but it keeps coming back. Right now it's on a slight upswing with Snarky Puppy and the Flying Lotus crowd bringing some youthful energy to the mix and people like Mary Halverson holding down the artsier side. But jazz has always been and will always remain a music that appeals to a relatively small minority of listeners. And that's ok.

Mike: Eesh. I'll leave that to those above my pay grade. I'm just glad people keep making it.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Pat: For god's sake, more covers of songs written after 1950 and fewer "originals" that nobody but the composer can remember two minutes after hearing.

Mike: Thousands more devoted listeners to our podcast. Seriously. It's jazz's only hope.

Listen to the Show

Jazz Bastard

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