The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
Dave Brubeck & The Ambassadors of Jazz
“A blue note in a minor key—America has its secret sonic weapon—Jazz.”
That was the headline in 1955 when the United States sent its top musicians overseas to promote democracy. They called them the Jazz Ambassadors—Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dave Brubeck.
Today, in honor of Dave Brubeck month (May 4 is Dave Brubeck day — that’s 5/4 named for the 5/4 time signature of take 5) the story of Dave Brubeck and the Jazz Ambassadors. In 1958, the Dave Brubeck Quartet embarked on a tour of Europe and Asia sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
And a special interview with Dave Brubeck’s sons, Dan and Chris Brubeck and what it was like growing up with their very unusual and genius father. Excellent musicians in their own right, the two share intimate memories of their father and his legendary contributions to modern jazz.
Featuring interviews with Keith Hatschek, Program Director for Music Management and Music Industry Studies at the University of Pacific; and Mike Wurtz, Assistant Professor and Head of Special Collections and Archives at the Holt-Atherton Special Collections at the University of Pacific Library. The archival recording of Dave Brubeck is from his interview with Monk Rowe from the Fillius Jazz Archive at Hamilton College.
Produced by Brandi Howell for The Echo Chamber Podcast.
165—Spotlight on Black-Owned Pet Business Entrepreneurs
Lured in by a blackboard sign on the street in Davia’s neighborhood announcing “Spotlight on Black Entrepreneurs,” we enter the creative and growing world of Black-Owned Pet Businesses.
Lick You Silly dog treats, Trill Paws enamel ID Tags, The Dog Father of Harlem's Doggie Day Spa, gorgeous rainbow beaded Dog Collars from The Kenya Collection, Sir Dogwood luxurious modern dog-wear.
“The dog training world—it’s a white dominated space. It’s kind of male dominated, too,” says Taylor Barconey of Smart Bitch Dog Training in New Orleans. “On our profile on Instagram we have Black Lives Matter, it’s been there for a year now. Before 2020, we would have not felt comfortable putting that up at risk of losing our business because people would have blacklisted us. But now, we feel like we can finally breathe and be open about things that really matter to us—speaking out against racism and not feeling shy about it.”
Chaz Olajide of Sir Dogwood wasn’t finding communities of pet owners or pet businesses owned by people of color. “I did a deep dive into the statistics —I just wanted to see if maybe I was an outlier, like maybe the reason why I’m not seeing more diversity in these companies is because maybe the demand isn’t out there. Actually, you know, that’s not really the case.”
Brian Taylor, owner of Harlem’s Doggy Day Care lost both his uncle and long time mentor to Covid. During the pandemic his business slumped by 80%. So with some help from his pet parents and supporters he decided to hit the road with “The Pup Relief Tour offering grooming services to anyone going through rough times and in need. “All together we had about 63 African American dog groomers that went on tour with us across the country and we groomed over 829 dogs.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Black-owned pet business entrepreneurs. There are tons more across America and you can support their businesses and services. House Dogge in LA — artisanal dog tees, hoodies, toys — committed to helping unwanted, neglected and abused dogs. Dr. Kwane Stewart, an African American veterinarian who walks skid row in downtown LA tending the unhoused dogs of unhoused people. Fresh Paws Grooming in Brooklyn. The animal advocates at Iconic Paws, a customized pet portrait gallery with flare. Pardo Paws in Georgia, an all natural company with a lotion bar in the shape of a dog paw for dogs with dry noses and paws made of cocoa butter, olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, calendula. Precious Paws Dog Grooming in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
Little L’s Pet Bakery and Boutique in Brooklyn. Scotch and Tea — stylish and durable dog accessories. Bark and Tumble, a luxury and contemporary brand of hand made dog garments in Britain. Pets in Mind a Holistic Pet Supply Store in Coconut Creek, Florida. Beaux & Paws in Newark, Pet Plate — an online black owned pet food delivery service. Duke the Groomer in Chicago, Ava’s Pet Palace started by Ava Dorsey, age 13.
Most all of these businesses are giving back in some way to their communities working with at-risk youth, taking them in with mentorships and internships that hopefully lead to jobs, and donating generously to shelters and rescues and neighborhood food banks.
Francis Coppola and North Beach Citizens—A Neighborhood Vision
Francis Ford Coppola talks about homelessness, life, friendship, neighborhood history, and his ideas about the future as he tells the remarkable story of North Beach Citizens, the volunteer organization he spearheaded twenty years ago to help grapple with the lives and needs of homeless and unhoused people living in his neighborhood in San Francisco.
This month marks the 20th Anniversary of North Beach Citizens. Normally at this time of year some 400 people gather in the church basement of Saints Peter & Paul near Washington Square Park for an epic community dinner that raises the funds to keep NBC’s vital series of services available. Like everywhere, the pandemic has been hard on the unhoused and raised their numbers by some 64% in North Beach alone. The need is great.
As a frontline service provider, NBC is distributing nearly 3 times more food to the community than this time last year through daily meals "to-go,” and Wednesday Community Food Pantry. As a beacon of support for the neighborhood, they ensure that people who are living close to the margins know that they are part of a caring community and connected to support that meets their individual needs.
Our story takes us deep into the North Beach community with interviews with North Beach Citizens, volunteers, staff, clients—food writer and long time North Beach resident Peggy Knickerbocker, poetry and stories of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the supporter and Guardian Angel of North Beach Citizens, and more.
“Every neighborhood would benefit from a community group addressing homelessness”
— Francis Ford Coppola, Founder of North Beach Citizens
Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America
The women who were murdered in Atlanta were Korean, not Vietnamese. They were doing massage, not manicures. But they faced the hate and violence that is mounting against Asian American people in the United States.
We produced this story in 2000 as part of the Lost & Found Sound series on NPR. We presented it again as Vietnamese and other manicurists were losing their jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic. Today, we offer it again in honor of Asian American women wherever they live, whatever their work — and in memory of the women who lost their lives in Atlanta offering strangers a kind touch.
Currently it is estimated that more than 40% of the nail salon technicians in America are Vietnamese women. In California the numbers are estimated at more than 75%. The majority of these women are immigrants. Arriving in this country, Vietnamese immigrants, like those from other countries, have looked for a place to make their own economic niche. Many found one taking care of people’s hands and nails.
This story was originally produced by The Kitchen Sisters for Lost & Found Sound on NPR. Our host/narrator is Francis Ford Coppola.
162—The Osaka Ramones: The All-Girl Punk Band - Shonen Knife
The impact of Shonen Knife, the 1980s all-girl punk band from Osaka—a story of cultural exchange through the cassette tape.
Shonen Knife, the three-woman band from Japan, formed in 1981—a time just before the internet drastically changed the way we consume and discover music. A time when a cassette tape, alongside fanzines and college radio created an environment that made possible the seemingly improbable circumstance of an all girl-band from Osaka opening for Nirvana, one of the biggest musical acts of the 90s.
“Shonen means boy in Japanese and it’s a very old brand name of a pencil knife,” says Naoko Yamano. “And the word ‘shonen’ has very cute feeling and the knife has a little dangerous feeling, so when cute and dangerous combined together, it’s just like our band. So I put that name.”
Featuring interviews with Shonen Knife—Naoko Yamano, Atsuko Yamano, Risa Kawano; Karen Schoemer, former music critic of the New York Times; and Brooke McCorkle Okazaki, Assistant Professor of Music at Carleton College and author of Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll.
The Osaka Ramones was produced by Brandi Howell.
The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva, with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. We’re part of PRX’s Radiotopia a curated network of independent producers creating some of the finest podcasts around.
It’s February 23, 2021— and we’ve just received word that our dear friend and North Beach neighbor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, has passed on at age 101.
In honor of Lawrence we’re sharing a story we produced for his 99th birthday, featuring the work of sound designer Jim McKee who, for more than 20 years, recorded and chronicled Lawrence’s life, poetry and world.
In this lushly produced soundscape, Lawrence talks about his youth, reads his poetry, and muses with his friend Erik Bauersfeld about life, death and the meaning of art.