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Podcast Episode #76 – Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steelband

Podcast Episode #76 – Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steelband

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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In 1967 thirty men left Trinidad with 97 steel drums to represent their country at the World’s Fair in Montreal. None of them had ever been off their island before. They were members of the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, all playing “pan,” the steel drums of Calypso, hammered from the leftover oil drums of World War II.

The band took Expo ’67 by storm. And their sound and performance caught the ear of one of the most popular entertainers of the day: Liberace. The glittery piano virtuoso hired the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band to go on the road with him for the next two years — traveling to cities large and small around the world including towns in George Wallace’s segregated south. One flamboyant rhinestoned white piano player and 30 black steel drummers from Trinidad playing Flight of the Bumblebee.

We travel to Trinidad and trace the history of the steel drum and follow the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band from the streets of Port of Spain to the Ed Sullivan Show.

Steel pan was born on the island of Trinidad in the late 1930s. It began as an outlaw instrument, hammered from milk tins, biscuit boxes, brake drums, garbage cans — and later, the oil barrels that were scattered across the oil-rich island after World War II.

When the bands first started, anything metal that could be scavenged was “tuned” and played to make a sound, a note. Pan began as the music of the island’s poor, before Trinidad’s independence from Britain. For the native Trinidadians under British rule, the beating of drums and marching in Carnival was often forbidden.

As the oil drums evolved, dozens of pan bands — some more than 100 members strong — sprang up in neighborhoods across the island. Casablanca, Destination Tokyo, Desperadoes, Tripoli… they named themselves after the American war movies and Westerns of the day. Come Carnival, the steel bands would battle one another for the championship, marching across Port of Spain waging musical war — a tradition that continues today.

When the island gained its independence in the 1960s, the foreign companies that controlled the oil resources of Trinidad worried about nationalization of their businesses. The island’s prime minister declared steel pan music an important, vital expression of the Trinidadian people. British Petroleum, Esso and other oil companies looking to sway public opinion began sponsoring neighborhood oil drum orchestras, supplying instruments, uniforms and the money to tour outside Trinidad.

In 1967, the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band (named after the World War II movie Shores of Tripoli) was sent by the government and the Esso oil company to represent Trinidad and the nation’s musical heritage at the Montreal Expo World’s Fair.

Interviewing & Recording Workshop in Marfa, TX

Interviewing & Recording Workshop in Marfa, TX

This three-hour session is designed for those who want to acquire and hone their skills for an array of audio projects — radio, podcasts, online stories, storytelling, oral histories, audio slideshows, family histories, news, documentaries, and other multimedia platforms.

In the workshop, The Kitchen Sisters will cover interviewing and miking techniques, sound gathering, storytelling, use of archival audio, field recording techniques, recording equipment, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame evocative questions that make for compelling storytelling, how to build a story, and how to listen (which is harder than it looks).

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are Peabody Award winning independent producers and the creators of hundreds of stories for public broadcast about the lives, histories, art and rituals of people who have shaped our diverse cultural heritage. Their NPR Morning Edition series, Hidden Kitchens, just received a James Beard Award, and their podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present…, was just awarded a Webby for best documentary podcast.

Date: Friday, September 29, 2017

Time: 10am-1pm

For Tickets and More Info

The Making Of… a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck and More Stories

The Making Of… a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck and More Stories

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Stories of creativity and invention— the making of a jar of jam, the making of a fashionable 3-D printed covering for an artificial limb, the making of Muttville – a foster care rescue center for senior dogs, a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck, the arrangements for a father’s funeral, the un-making of the Typewriter, and more stories from The Making Of… What People Make in the Bay Area and Why. Produced with KQED and AIR.

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Read about Frances Gabe, the creator of the self-cleaning house here.

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

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Barbecue, burgoo, mopping the mutton, the fellowship of stirring. Hidden Kitchens stories of conflict, competition and resolution in the backyards and fire pits of our nation. From the all night communal roasting rituals in Owensboro, Kentucky, to the cotton fields, German meat markets, and chuckwagons of west Texas. We hear from men’s cooking teams, African American Trail Riders, Willie Nelson and his bass player Bee Spears, Stubb Stubblefield… And we contemplate David Klose’s BBQ pit on the moon.

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The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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In the 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Basques were brought to the western United States to do the desolate work that no one else would do—herding sheep. Alone for months at a time with hundreds of sheep the Basque’s improvised songs, baked bread in underground ovens, carved poetry and drawings into the Aspen trees, and listened to the Basque Radio Hour beaming to Idaho, Washington, Colorado, California, traditional music and messages between the herders out in the isolated countryside.

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“You say Basque to a Westerner and you think sheepherder,” said Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World. “In Basque country very few people were shepherds. The seven provinces of Basque country are about the size of New Hampshire. No one has huge expanses of land there.”

“Teenagers were ripped up out of their communities back home, brought to a foreign land, with a foreign language, put up on top of a mountain … crying themselves to sleep at night during the first year on the range,” says William Douglass, Former director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada.

Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who repressively ruled the country for nearly 40 years, made life miserable for the Basque people, suppressing their language, culture and possibilities. The result was a massive exodus, and the only way to come to the United States for many Basques was to contract as sheepherders. There was a shortage of shepherds in the American West, and legislation was crafted in 1950 that allowed Basque men to take up this lonely and difficult job.

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Francisco and Joaquin Lasarte came to America in 1964 from Basque country in northern Spain. Each Lasarte brother had his own flock, and they rarely saw each other or anyone else for months on end. Mostly they ate lamb and bread cooked in a Dutch oven in a hole they dug in the ground.

Hotels like the Noriega in Bakersfield, CA were home in the winter months for these isolated men. They piled into these Basque boarding houses that sprung up in Elko and Winnemucca, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. The men ate family style — big bottles of red wine, accordion music, conversation and card games.

For 25 years, the voice of the Basque was Espe Alegria. Every Sunday night, sheepherders across the mountains of the American West would tune in to listen to her radio show on KBOI in Boise. Dedications, birthday greetings, suggestions of where to find good pasture, the soccer scores that her husband got off the shortwave from Spain, and the hit tunes from Spain and the Basque region. She would help the sheepherders with immigration issues, with buying plane tickets home, with doctor’s appointments. She did her show for free, but once or twice a year the owners of the sheep camps would give her a lamb. The family would take it home, throw it on the kitchen table, cut it up and put in the freezer.

The Sheepherder’s Ball was the highlight of the year in Boise. The men wore denim, the women wore simple house dresses. Lambs were auctioned off and proceeds given to a charity. Huge platters of chorizo and stew and pork sandwiches were served. The ball continues to this day every December at the Euzkaldunak Club’s Basque Center.

Podcast Episode #72: Warriors vs Warriors

Podcast Episode #72: Warriors vs Warriors

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For the last five years The Golden State Warriors have been going inside San Quentin, the legendary maximum security California State prison, to take on The San Quentin Warriors, the prison’s notorious basketball team. The Kitchen Sisters Present team up with Life of the Law to take us to a recent showdown between these two mighty Bay Area teams. Featuring Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Bob Myers, and Golden State Warriors’ support staff — and San Quentin Warriors players, inmate spectators and prison officials. Everybody say, “Warriors!”

We produced this podcast to welcome the newest member of the Radiotopia collective, Ear Hustle, produced by Earlonne Woods & Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Bay Area artist Nigel Poor. To honor the launch, all Radiotopia shows are producing episodes around the theme “Doing Time.

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All photos by Nancy Mullane.

Warriors vs Warriors: Listen Today on NPR’s All Things Considered

Warriors vs Warriors: Listen Today on NPR’s All Things Considered

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For the 3rd year in a row The Golden State Warriors are battling the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA Championship. But that’s not the only annual battle The Warriors are locked in. For the last five years Golden State has been going inside San Quentin, the legendary California prison, to take on The San Quentin Warriors, the prison’s notorious basketball team.

Life of the Law and The Kitchen Sisters team up to take you to the most recent showdown between these two mighty Bay Area teams.

Listen at npr.org


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Special thanks: Draymond Green, Kevin Durant & The Golden State Warriors, The San Quentin Warriors, Sam Robinson: Public Information Officer, San Quentin State Prison, Louis Scott: Reporter with the San Quentin Radio Project, Ear Hustle & PRX’s Radiotopia

Music: About a Bird/Fantastic Negrito, Free Your Mind/En Vogue, Oh My God/A Tribe Called Quest, Blow the Whistle/Too $hort, The Warriors/E-40, David Jassy/San Quentin Media, Choices (Yup) (Golden State Warriors Remix)/E-40

Warriors was produced by the Life of the Law podcast (Nancy Mullane & Tony Gannon) and The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. Mixed by Jim McKee. More of our stories can be heard on our Webby Award-Winning podcast The Kitchen Sisters Present. Please subscribe!

Funding for The Kitchen Sisters comes from Cowgirl Creamery, The Sillins Family Foundation & Listener Contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions. Thank you for your support. You too can support our stories with a tax-deductible contribution.

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #71: Hidden Kitchen Gaza

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #71: Hidden Kitchen Gaza

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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Author and journalist, Laila El-Haddad takes us into the hidden world of Gaza through the kitchen. Interweaving history, personal experiences and stories of food, family and daily life, El-Haddad paints a vivid picture of her family’s homeland and some of the issues facing people living in Gaza and the Middle East.

We also hear from Jon Rubin, co-founder of Conflict Kitchen, a restaurant/art project in Pittsburg PA that sells food from countries the United States is in conflict with. One of the most controversial iterations of Conflict Kitchen took place in 2014 when their food and conversation turned to Palestine. The restaurant featured recipes from The Gaza Kitchen and Laila El-Haddad was an invited speaker.

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RECIPE

Dagga (Salta Ghazawiyya)
Gazan Hot Tomato and Dill Salad
serves 2-3

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 to 3 hot green chile peppers (to taste), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (10 grams) finely chopped fresh dill
3 ripe, flavorful medium-sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and salt into a past. Add the chile peppers and crush until they are tender, followed by the dill. Using a circular motion, gently muddle the dill until fragrant. Add roughly chopped tomatoes and pound until the salad reaches a thick, salsa-like consistency. Mix the entire salad with a spoon, then drench it with extra-virgin olive oil.

This recipe is from The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey by Laila El-Haddad & Maggie Schmitt

Laila El-Haddad is co-author of “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey” (with Maggie Schmitt) and author of “Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between.”

Flash Kitchen Sisters Interviewing & Recording Workshop – Wednesday, May 24

Flash Kitchen Sisters Interviewing & Recording Workshop – Wednesday, May 24

First Kitchen Sisters Flash Interviewing & Recording Workshop — First 10 to sign up get in.

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This coming Wednesday, May 24, the first ever Kitchen Sisters Flash Interviewing & Recording Workshop will take place in The Kitchen Sisters office in Francis Coppola’s historic Zoetrope building in San Francisco. This two-hour session is designed for those who want to acquire and hone their skills for an array of audio projects — radio, podcasts, online storytelling, oral histories, family histories, news, documentaries, and other multimedia platforms. This is a shorter, intensive version of our regular Interviewing & Recording Workshop. Availability is very limited. The first 10 people who sign up get in.

Learn interviewing and miking techniques, sound gathering, use of archival audio, field recording techniques, recording equipment, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame evocative questions that make for compelling storytelling, how to build a story, and how to listen

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM / Cost: $75.00
The workshop is in North Beach at 916 Kearny St.
No snacks, just facts. (Well maybe a little snack).

REGISTER HERE.

Expand your skills, meet new people, support the work of The Kitchen Sisters.

The Kitchen Sisters Present Episode #70 – The Egg Wars

The Kitchen Sisters Present Episode #70 – The Egg Wars

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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A hidden Gold Rush kitchen when food was scarce and men died for eggs… We travel out to the forbidding Farallon Islands, 27 miles outside San Francisco’s Golden Gate, home to the largest seabird colony in the United States, where in the 1850s egg hunters gathered over 3 million eggs, nearly stripping the island bare, to feed the ever-growing migration of newcomers lured by the Gold Rush.

Today The Farallons are off limits to the public. Only a handful of scientists are allowed on the island at a time – it’s a sanctuary – the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

When we began working on The Egg Wars we were given permission to go out to the Farallones on one of the supply runs that heads to the islands two times a month. Senior Scientist Russ Bradley takes us out on the jagged granite cliffs to contemplate the murres, and into the 1870s lighthouse where the scientists live, isolated, for months at a time.

Special thanks to Point Blue Conservation; The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

And many thanks to:
Russ Bradley, Senior Scientist, Farallon Program Manager, Point Blue Conservation
Doug Cordel, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Eva Chrysanthe, graphic illustrator
Roger Cunningham, Skipper of the Selkie
Keith Hansen, graphic illustrator
Gary Kamiya, author of Cool Gray City of Love
Gerry McChesney, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Melissa Pitkin, Point Blue Conservation
Peter Pyle, Marine Biologist and Ornithologist, Institute for Bird Populations
Mary Jane Schramm, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Peter White, author of The Farallon Island: Sentinels of The Golden Gate
Pete Warzybok, Farallon Program Biologist, Point Blue Conservation

Support for this story comes from The National Endowment for the Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts — Art Works.