January 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: Welcome and thanks for tuning in to “Sound Off Authors” with Dr. Kent. Get set for candid conversations about everything from cuisine to culture and from nature to nurture. Now here’s your host, Dr. Kent.Kent Gustavson, PhD: Welcome to Sound Authors Radio. Today is January 25th and winter is starting to fly by. It’s another beautiful day here in New York. I’ve been living out of boxes because this week, we just moved homes and I had a nasty little flu this week so it’s nice to be better again.This week because of the flu and lying on my back, I thought back on my childhood of putting on a record when I was sick, home from school and listening to the BBC versions of the Hobbit and whatever else and so today it’s my pleasure to have three children’s authors on the show. The first three guests are John Michael Finkner, Jarret J. Kroshoshka and Dr. Paul Moen.My first guest is John Michael Finkner, author of Letters From Grandpa Mike, Who Loves Yeah Baby Haley. Welcome to the show Mike.
John Michael Finkner: Thank you Kent. Thanks for having me on.
Kent: Absolutely. Tell me a little bit about your book first.
John: Well, this is kind of an accident actually. I always wanted to write and I didn’t find the time and I wound up in medical school instead and once I got all my kids raised and gone, why I thought, well I’ll find something to write about, so when my oldest daughter surprised me with the news that I was about to be a grandfather, well, I don’t think I was emotionally prepared for that to say the least.I still run about 50 miles a week and I run a lot of road races and I drive a vet when I can and I guess I always perceived grandparents or at least grandfathers as little old guys with canes that kind of toddled about and I didn’t perceive myself as that, so in order to work through those feelings, I sat down during a lull on one of my shifts in the emergency department in the middle of the morning and sent a letter by email to the unborn fetus that my daughter was carrying and she wrote back to me and said, oh dad, you’ve got to keep this up and in the end I wrote 33 letters during that pregnancy and eventually we just put into a book, so that’s how this whole thing got started.
Kent: So, it’s a little bit about you and a little bit about the baby.
John: I’m 58 years old. I live in central Nebraska. I’m an emergency physician, had four children; a son and three daughters. My son is an engineer, daughter is a physician, another daughter is a business analyst and another daughter took to the field in streams and she’s a fisheries and wildlife major. All of them are married now, I have two grandchildren, one by my oldest daughter and one by my son.
Kent: And so this book itself it was written for your family but at the same time it was for you to process; OK, now I’ve got to become grandpa Mike here.
John: Exactly and it really did help me. I did a lot of thinking about what changes were going to be taking place and that then sort of morphed into, you know, I’m not the first fellow that’s felt this way. I think what I’m going to do is start maybe even writing stories that would interest other people, other grandfathers, other grandmothers who are kind of going through the same thing that I am and not only that but put my thoughts and ideas out there for the public to look at.
Kent: So, is this a book for grandparents and kids to share? Who is your audience here?
John: Well, my audience really is, I think, parents and grandparents. It’s not really a children’s book in that you would sit down and read Dick and Jane. It has a lot of information that this child is going to use when he or she gets older and can open up the book when they’re 17 and say, oh yes, my grandfather felt the same way about his girlfriend then or he felt the same way about religion then, so it’s something that I’m hoping my grandkids use when they’re older not so much when they’re younger.
Kent: Do you encourage all grandparents to do this with their families?
John: Oh, I think it’s an excellent way to work through all the things you think about as you get older. The fact that you’re not immortal, things are going to change. As a physician I can tell you you’re not going to spend your last years as comfortable as you did in your first years and if you write about something like that you have to think about it and I think that’s what really has made the difference for me.
Kent: I’d like to talk a little bit about the running. I have a personal connection. My father was an amazing runner until we had a car accident but for 50 some years he lived and breathed running, that was his entire existence and I know you are also a physician, my father’s a physician but what is the connection for you between…now you’re an author as well as a physician and a runner. Where do those come into p lay in your life in order or how ever you like to categorize them?
John: Well, as a physician, I’m trying to wind that down a little bit. I think if you look at statistics, a lot of people change jobs quite frequently throughout there lifetimes and I don’t think physicians do that much but I have other interests, so I’m trying to wind the physician aspect down and move more into the author, you know, portion of my life, if you will.The running has always been…I always tell my wife and she tells me the same thing, it’s my medicine. She asks me if I’ve taken my medicine today and the reason is when I go out for an eight or a 10 mile run I always come back a little more relaxed, a little more, ready to go for the day, filed off all the rough edges, you don’t get quite as anxious or notice when your in the emergency department. The running has been going on for so many years that I don’t think I could stop.
Dr. Kent: When you deal your entire life with sick people and then you think about your own grandchild on the way, does it put you in a position of weakness?
Grandpa Mike: I don’t think so, I’m optimistic. Modern medicine is improving all the time. I’m not so much worried about the illness portion of the world that they’re coming in to but more along the lines of the people. How are we going to behave? How other countries are going to behave? What’s going to be like for the little ones that’s developing right now in another 80 years?
Dr. Kent: Absolutely. Do you have the book in front of you?
Grandpa Mike: I do.
Dr. Kent: Can you give us a letter? I’d love to hear one.
Grandpa Mike: Well, unfortunately, the letters are stories that are fairly long and I hadn’t actually picked out a phrase or an excerpt. I can tell you that the subject matter is very significantly; probably 75% of the book are humorous stories about me and my childhood or grandma, and stories about sporting events.
Dr. Kent: Why don’t you tell us one of those stories?
Grandpa Mike: Well, I have one story that deals with my adventures on the farm as a child when I used to visit my grandparents and basically the story revolves around a chicken that unfortunately got its leg caught in about one-foot piece of bailing twine. I’m always the instigator of something really bad happening, and the long and the short of it is the chicken walks to a little fire that I started when I wasn’t supposed to and subsequently walks through a weed patch that burns up to the fuel tank then explodes.That’s the long and the short of the story but the story goes for about seven or eight pages. At least my friends tell me they’re quite amused. I’ve had quite a lot of local success and I’m just trying now to get other people to read it because there’s not only humor in it but there are a lot of messages that I have that I’d like to get out there about life and living life and death and a few other things that I deal with on a regular basis in the emergency department.
Dr. Kent: So this is sort of almost a guide book for parents and grandparents.
Grandpa Mike: Exactly. Not only that, it’s going to leave a roadmap for where Grandpa has been for all my grandkids. I think that when they read their own book, and the other books to the other children as they come along, they’re going to see that what they’re experience in their life especially they trouble some things, they’re not experiencing by themselves. “Grandpa already went through this; I know this because I read his book.”
Dr. Kent: Right, and that’s a very important thing since I remember hearing a whole lot of stories of how–my folks had it a little bit harder than I did.
Grandpa Mike: Yes, yes, walking both ways to school uphill in the snow.
Dr. Kent: And I believe them but at the same time, sometimes you want to hear those stories of how they suffered just like you did, their whatever.
Grandpa Mike: That’s right.
Dr. Kent: Well, this has been fascinating. Just because of the climate we’re in right now, when we talk about family and we got into the way the world is going to be and all of that and in this unrest politically right now–we’re deciding a new candidate and all of that–how do you weigh in in all of that? What do you think is going to happen here?
Grandpa Mike: You know, I’ve been both sides. Being in the middle of Nebraska and my Dad was a physician, he was a Republican. We kind of grew up Republicans but I’ve gotten to a point where I have to hear both sides of the story and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve heard both sides of the story from anybody at this point in time. It is confusing for me and I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person.So I’m just hoping that whoever makes it into the White House can rally the truth, get this country back in a position where we are looking at things as a country as opposed to a left-winger or a right-winger and get something solved for a change.
Dr. Kent: Do you have some hopes for our grandkids then?
Grandpa Mike: I do. I’m kind of a religious sort of fellow so I think in the end it’s all going to work out.
Dr. Kent: Good, yes, I thought more was coming at the end of that but I don’t think [indecipherable].
Grandpa Mike: I don’t know what else to say, it’s just got to.
Dr. Kent: Exactly. Well, it’s a wonderful book, and again, I think it’s got a wonderful theme. There are grandparents everywhere and parents, it’d be a great guide book as thinking about how to speak to their own kids, that are having kids, and once the little babies are born, have a chat with them about where Grandpa or Grandma has been.Give me a little sound clip again about your book, where to go on the Web and all of that.
Grandpa Mike: A couple of places, if you to Amazon.com, both of my books are available there. There’ll be a third book coming up in about a year, it sounds like. You can also go to my website, it’sLettersFromGrandpaMike.com and you can order through there as well.
Dr. Kent: It sure has been a pleasure speaking to you, Mike. He’s book is called “Letters from
Grandpa Mike: Who Loves Yeah, Baby Hailley?” or visit www.LettersFromGrandpaMike.com. Hopefully, you are very correct that our grandchildren will have a happy future, I believe they will also.
Grandpa Mike: Good, I’m optimistic. Thanks for having me on.
Dr. Kent: Yes, optimists are always great. It’s a beautiful day today. So thank you so much.
Grandpa Mike: Goodbye.
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show is spectacular children’s author and illustrator, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and I am slaughtering his name. You don’t want to miss it, come on back.
January 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Sound Authors, where authors sound off. If you’d like more information about Sound Authors and Dr. Kent’s guests, visit SoundAuthors.com. Now, back to Dr. Kent and friends.[music]
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to Sound Authors. Today is a beautiful day in New York, and because I’ve been sick and supine on my back the last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s books. My next guest, Dr. Paul Mullen, is a great advocate for children and for illiteracy, which is quite a problem in this country, and something that doesn’t get talked about enough. His book is called “The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ballpark”. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Paul Mullen: Thank you, Dr. Kent. I appreciate you having me on.
Dr. Kent: Absolutely. Talk a little bit first about your book, and then we’ll get into illiteracy.
Dr. Mullen: Well, the theme is that every child dreams of greatness. Certainly the main character in this story, whose nickname is Fuji, his dream is hitting a home run at Great American Ballpark, which is the ballpark the Cincinnati Reds play at.
Dr. Kent: What does that say about all children? What’s your message to all children?
Dr. Mullen: Well, all children have a dream they desire, or a goal or aspiration. It’s up to us as educators, and especially parents, to help them to hone in on that dream.
Dr. Kent: Right. Your goal in writing this book, and in the whole crusade that you’re on right now, is to educate us about the illiteracy problem in Ohio and in the United States, as well as in the entire world. So could you tell us a little bit about that, and the reason for writing this book?
Dr. Mullen: Certainly. The key about this book, which kind of separates it from some of the elementary-type books… We have got to establish a couple of things here. First off, that in elementary school, teachers spend a lot of time on deciphering words, helping students with phonics and what we call decoding of words, and your basic grammar structure.But where we’ve been lacking — and I think is equally important — in the middle school years, is this thing I call a healthy inner voice. It’s that self. If we don’t start channeling and helping middle school students with that inner voice, we’re going to continue to see what we’ve been seeing. Children turn off. Especially young adults turn off from reading.
Dr. Kent: Right. And what is the importance of reading?
Dr. Mullen: You’re talking to a writer, of course, but reading is a gift. It really is. Unfortunately, with television and video games, we know that it only works on the left-hemisphere of the brain. With reading, you can gain this inner… It’s basically like the inner conscious. It’s like the author’s saying, “Come with me, I’m going to help guide you through this story.” There’s just nothing else out there, from an entertainment perspective, that’s going to give a student that same value.
Dr. Kent: Right, so how about the Harry Potter phenomenon? They say that books are coming back to schools because of Harry Potter.
Dr. Mullen: Certainly that has a lot to do with it. My thoughts are, and the reason for this is, I wanted to create a real world self-quest, and that’s the reason why Fuji is such a believable character in this book.It’s just been phenomenal, the number of people who have written to me, especially adults, and have said, “You know, I tried reading this book.” Because they realized it wasn’t a fictional character. A lot of Fuji is within me. And when they identified with Fuji, they said they really felt his hardships and triumphs in the book.
Dr. Kent: Tell me a little bit about the story. Can you reveal some of the plot without telling us all of it?
Dr. Mullen: Well, I can say this, and it’s very important. My father was a strict disciplinarian. He was as Catholic as Catholic can be. Of course, I came from a large family with three older brothers and two sisters. It was always my brother’s dream and it was my dream — and even my father’s dream — for us to be able to play at this Major League ballpark, back when I was a child. Growing up in the Cincinnati area, that’s what we all aspired to, was the one team from two different divisions that got to play on this Major League field.Well, Fuji was the last of the boys to have this opportunity. So his father pushed him harder than any of the other boys, because he knew this would be his last moment for his one son to play on a Major League field.
Dr. Kent: Wow. And it is a huge part of all of our lives growing up. I grew up in the Midwest as well, and I played baseball. I played T-ball. I looked up to – my person was Kirby Pucket – at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. We all had all our ballparks and we all had our favorite heroes.Maybe it’s a special problem also for boys that we don’t necessarily grow up thinking reading is the coolest thing.
Paul: Yeah. I was fortunate that my father was a very verbal person. He’d sit down and he would talk to us and reading was always important to him and I’ll tell you why, because he was pretty much an introvert and reading always gave him delight. He always instilled that in us as well, and that’s one of the fortunate things.But you are right. What happens today is too much is centered on the act, which is playing the game. And not enough on the other part of the game which is what is that drive that’s going to get them to that next level?
Kent: Right. And talking about, in sort of the game of life, literacy is a very under talked about thing in this country. Our literacy rates are far lower than Europe’s, they’re lower than even some third world countries. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Paul: Yeah, and that’s more of a recent phenomena. It’s only been within like 10, 15 years that that shift was. We were like number 3, now we’re down in the lower 12, with Russia now being ahead of us as far as literacy rates.My contention is this. What’s happening is we focus so much on the mechanics of reading, the decoding of words, and giving students reading tests, that we’re failing to realize the most important thing about reading which is what I talked about, that inner voice, being able to ride along with the story with the author.One thing we all have to realize, that a writer, that is a gift, that’s not something taught. So as a reader, you have to be able to follow along with that. And my thought is this, if a student lacks that inner voice, then how are they going to follow along with that story if they’ve really never been taught or been given that capability of knowing what an inner voice is?
Kent: Right, and so you’re talking about these books can give a window back to our kids. Now, I know when I was a kid, I definitely would have preferred sitting in front of the TV all day long if I’d have had the choice. Are our schools doing it the right way? Do you think they’re still able to teach kids how to read and not over stimulate them and all of that?
Paul: I really, because I actually taught reading, I’m one of those rare kind of writers. I actually got the chance to teach junior high students, and they were in an intensive reading program, and I will say that the United States is really launching an intensive effort to try to bring up the standards of reading literacy in America. And I will say that in elementary school, we’re starting to see improvement in that.But my point is this, we need then those bridge books. Like this book, it’s what I call a bridge book, which helps take students from reading and decoding and deciphering words, to actually learning how to read an entire story. So what Fuji does is he kind of waves them in and says come on with me and I’ll show you what inner voice is. I’ll show you how to go about self discovering yourself.
Kent: Cool. So where can we find out more about all of this?
Paul: As far as the book, you mean?
Kent: Your book and about you and your project. I know you also go out and speak at schools and do all of that. Where can we find out more?
Paul: Right. I will be in February 6th, I’ll be in Colorado at the International Reading Convention there. And I’ll actually be speaking about this phenomena that I call inner voice syndrome, which I think is what we’re seeing with some of the prisoners in the United States, as far as that lack of self-conscious.But as far as getting the book, you can either go to my website. You can read up on some of the statistics I have there. Plus I have a little baseball on my website that says “top 10″ and that top 10 gives you what I’ve created as the top 10 ways of getting kids excited about reading. Because it does come down to that, we have to get our students interested in reading.
Kent: So people can come visit www.thedayihitahomerun.com is that correct?
Paul: Yes, that’s correct.
Kent: It’s been a great pleasure speaking with Dr. Paul Mullen about his book, “The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ballpark” and his concepts about inner voice, fascinating stuff? I wish you well at the conference coming up and I in your work.
Paul: Well, thank you Dr. Kent, and I appreciate you having me on your show.
Kent: My next guest is Reed Burgess of the wonderful bluegrass performing group “King Wilkie.” You’re not going to want to miss that. Come on back.[music]
January 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to “Sound Authors”. Today is a day that we’re thinking about a whole bunch of children’s books and things like that in the middle of winter when everybody’s getting colds and laying at home listening to audiobooks, checking out those big beautiful picture books that we all had as kids and wish we could still read now.My next guest is Jarrett J. Krosoczka, is that right?
Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Yes, pretty much. I mean, we pronounce it [changes pronunciation of name], but whenever I meet older generation Polish people, they correct me and say that the correct pronunciation would be [changes pronunciation again], but my family, I guess, we’ve Americanized it. So it’s [changes pronunciation again].
Dr. Kent: Krosoczka, wonderful. Now Jarrett J. Krosoczka is the author of “Punk Farm” which has won countless awards including the “Child Magazine” Best Book of the Year and many others. Most importantly, he’s created a rock and roll sensation among kids and animals everywhere. Welcome to the show.
Jarrett: Thanks for having me, Dr. Kent.
Dr. Kent: Absolutely. Well, tell me a little bit about “Punk Farm”‘s beginning.
Jarrett: ”Punk Farm” the book itself was published in 2005. And a few years before that I was working on a few different stories. One story was about a pig who liked to fly kites and his friend who was a depressed chicken. And I loved painting these farm animals, but I didn’t really like where the story was going.And separately, I had another story about a kid who was a rock star and I liked the idea of doing a book about rock stardom as a children’s book, but I didn’t really have a story that I was really jiving. And it was one day when I realized my rock star book was supposed to be about a group of rock stars, not just a single rock star.And it was around that time I was cleaning up my studio, and I found that painting of the pig and the chicken and I said, “Oh, this book’s supposed to be about a group of rock stars who are farm animals.”
Dr. Kent: Awesome. Well, your books are vibrant and fun to read. I was glued to every page. Is it fun for you to be in that world?
Jarrett: Oh my gosh, absolutely. I mean, when I finished the first “Punk Farm” book, I just had a few weeks of depression because I was, man, I spent every day painting these farm animals playing rock music and, you know, you’d wake up in the morning and you think that to yourself and you can’t have a bad day when you’re just painting farm animals with guitars.So yeah, man, it was such a fun experience. I had a blast doing it.
Dr. Kent: So I was going to ask just a little bit later on, but I’ll go ahead and jump in. Are you also a “serious” artist and writer?
Jarrett: Ah, I wouldn’t say…I mean writing and illustrating for kids makes me a serious author and artist. If you mean do I write stuff that would be more geared towards older people or paint stuff that are more geared towards older people?I try to. I’m so consumed in this world of children’s books right now that it’s hard to find the time between the writing and illustrating that I do and the traveling that I do to talk to kids at school. So I’d like to get more paintings going of settings from life or landscape painting, but it’s hard to find the time sometimes.
Dr. Kent: Right. Yeah, it was a loaded question.
Jarrett: Sure. No, it’s completely understandable.
Dr. Kent: [laughs] But the paintings are so beautiful and vibrant. Where did you get your start painting? Because it’s not just the fun story, it’s the wonderful paintings that people love. Did you do a bunch of landscapes and still life?
Jarrett: Yeah. Yeah. When I got to art school, I was all about wanting to draw cartoons or something. And I grew up wanting to be a cartoonist in some way. And when I got to art school, suddenly it’s like you have to draw from life, you have to paint from life. And initially, I was just kicking and screaming going into these classes thinking, “Oh, this is such a waste of time. I just want to draw cartoons.”And I started getting really into my painting classes, and I took a painting class every semester, painting from models, painting from still lives. I had to take a landscape painting class, and I really loved that.So the style in which I work really sort of came about when I just fell in love with painting in art school. Specifically, when we had to do a master copy, which was we had to pick a famous classical painting and copy it. And I did a John Singer Sargent. I made a copy of a John Singer Sargent painting and just fell in love with his style and the way he applied color and created light.So yes, the fact that I paint is really based out of that, I guess, the classical fine artist training I had in art school.
Dr. Kent: Right. You’ve now applied that to the barnyard. Do you visit barnyards to get inspiration?
Jarrett: Well, yeah. When I first was writing this book, my father, he lives in an area that’s much more…like you’d definitely pass cows when you’re heading to his house. And I definitely would just keep a camera in the car and take a few pictures of barns or farm animals.So I definitely spent some time in that sort of farm environment, instead of just taking a look at how the barns are put together, how the landscape was put together.
Dr. Kent: I know that we probably both have parents from the same generation. And my folks are among the ones that resisted rock and roll. They said rock and roll is evil – no, not evil, but they said, “Well, Bob Dylan ruined folk music.” [laughs] Their perspective on punk music is that, “Oh, my gosh. What’s this noise?”So what has been the reaction of parents and teachers and all that to “Punk Farm?”
Jarrett: Initially, I think my publisher may have been a little bit nervous of the word “punk”. But I think it’s become such a part of popular culture that people haven’t even batted an eye over the idea of it being like loud, fast music for kids.
Dr. Kent: Right.
Jarrett: I haven’t gotten any flack, at least none that people have told me to my face or people that have–I mean I haven’t seen any blogs pop up where parents or teachers were horrified by it.
Kent: They’re all used to seeing piercings and all this already.
Jarrett: Yeah, yeah. There was one blog once where it was for actual–you know hard core punk rockers who accused the book or the idea of the book of becoming the death of punk music, becoming used as a story for kids but that’s just ridiculous.
Kent: I’m very amused by the accessorizing that you did on your farm animals. How did you build these characters? Did you think of them in your head and then for all these upcoming books you kind of know what their little persona is?
Jarrett: Yeah, yeah. You know within the multiple drafts that I created for the first book the characters’ personalities really came to life. The pig is very egotistical. The sheep is all about the music. The chicken is neurotic. The goat is overly chill and the cow–she’s like a cheerleader. I wanted it to be like when you think of the Ramones with their big black sunglasses posing and looking tough.I think that’s where I have the most fun with these characters. I’m creating a black and white publicity shot where it’s just them looking tough but it’s just a sheep and a pig, you know.Then on Punk Farm on Tour they get a little bit edgier. They get a little bit darker. You know the chicken wears a tie in the first book that’s orange and in the second book it’s black. The pig–his bracelet studs get a little bit sharper, and the sheep is starting to spike his hair. So it’s fun to manipulate it just slightly. People might not notice it at first glance, but I try to add a little detail. On Punk Farm on Tour they’re getting a little bit more popular.
Kent: So what’s the next stage after they go on tour here?
Jarrett: I don’t know. I’ve written a third book and I’ve sent it to my publisher. I’m hoping it’s a book that I get to spend some time with. I don’t want to give too much away so I don’t want to say what happens next.
Kent: But there’s something coming up?
Jarrett: There’s something coming up. I hope so. Fingers are crossed. I have some more plans. I am not done with these characters. Even after the second book – I finished the second book and I thought ‘oh, man, I’m finished with these characters for this go. I’m anxious to get back to the drafting table to spend some more time with them.’
Kent: And how do you interact with kids every day? What are kids’ reactions to this book?
Jarrett: Well, I tour the country fairly sensibly. I visit schools. Schools schedule me to come in and talk to their kids about the writing process and the illustrating process. Of all my books I can definitely tell they just really have affection for the book. They really just get into the character and the whole attitude of it being this punk rock book, I guess.When I read the book I have them meditate and find their inner punk rock farm animal and they become the audience. So I’ll shout out “Old McDonald had a farm” and they’ll shout “e-i-e-i-o” and I’ll have them pump their fists into the air and pretend like they’re at a concert and stuff. Yeah, they totally dig it.
Kent: Awesome. The fun thing about the book is you do use those songs that we’re all familiar with. How did you get that idea?
Jarrett: Well, I’m a big fan of punk covers of songs. There’s this band called “Me First” and the “Gimme Gimmes” and every album they have is a different genre. So they have a Motown CD and it’s all Motown, it’s punk or folk music is punk.I have in my iTunes this vast collection of random groups who are doing punk covers of old songs. There are a few compilations that came out a few years ago. One was called Punk Goes the 80s or Punk Goes the 90s. I just think it’s hysterical. Punk covers of songs. They’re just great. Originally, I was thinking of writing an original song for them, and then I thought how funny would it be if it was a punk cover of a nursery rhyme?
Kent: Exactly. One of the fun things about the book is that it does go over the top. I honestly don’t think it kills punk. I think they overdo the song and that’s appropriate – the ridiculous ending. It’s fun. So is there an audio soundtrack to this whole thing? I know on the website there are some sounds.
Jarrett: Yeah. All of the punk farm music is available as free downloads at punkfarm.com. Originally, when the first book was coming out I pitched the idea of the book coming with a CD to my publisher. But when books come with CDs they cost that much more money, the production costs goes up, and so the price to the consumer goes up. We didn’t want to put the book at risk. We wanted people to fall in love with the characters in the book.So in this day of the Internet, MP3 players and iPods we can get this thing recorded, throw it online and give it away free that way. That’s proved to be an incredibly effective way to get the music out there. I think we probably got the song out to more people that way than if the book had come with a CD, for sure.
Kent: So what’s the next project outside of Punk Farm? Are you working on some other things?
Jarrett: Yeah, I’m about eight pages away from finishing what will be my next book. My next book is going to be a 96-page comic book, and it’s called “Lunch Lady”. And it’s about a lunch lady who fights crime. So imagine if your lunch lady from grade school was a secret agent spy and knew karate and all of her lunch lady paraphernalia–her spoon becomes a phone or a spatula becomes a helicopter. She uses all of these gadgets to fight crime, sort of a James Bond character.
Kent: Awesome! I like it.
Jarrett: Thanks, man. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Kent: Well it’s been a pleasure chatting with you, Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
Jarrett: Yeah, Krosoczka.
Kent: Krosoczka, Perfect. And we’re going to check out punkfarm.com. The books are great. I’ve got my own little autographed copy with the funny little animals all over it. I appreciate that, and it’s been a pleasure chatting.
Jarrett: Thanks, Dr. Kent.
Kent: My next guest is Dr. Paul Mullen, and he’ll be speaking to us about literary and his book about baseball. Come on back.
January 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: You’ve been listening to “Sound Authors” where authors sound off. If you’d like more information about “Sound Authors” and Dr. Kent’s guests, visit soundauthors.com. Now, back to Dr. Kent and friends.
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to “Sound Authors”. It’s a beautiful sunny Friday in New York.My next guest is Reid Burgess of the band, King Wilkie. They have a beautiful, soulful brand of bluegrass, and their newest album is absolutely stunning. Welcome to the show.
Reid Burgess: Hey, Dr. Kent. Thanks for having me.
Kent: I’m a good friend of Nick Reeb, your fiddle player.
Reid: I did not know that.
Kent: Yeah, and he actually did some recording on a project of mine in New York. You can tell him hello.
Reid: Oh wow, yeah, that’s right. He used to live up here. I’m up here now. Actually, I’m in New York.
Kent: Fantastic. Well, are you guys on tour right now or what’s going on?
Reid: No, there’s not a lot happening. We’ve got a couple of warm up shows in New York City in March. Then after that we’ll start touring and we’ll continue on and off through the end of the year.
Kent: Well, the new album is stunning. It’s a new sound for you all. I’ve followed your music obviously because of Nick and because he makes me proud. He played fiddle with a little band I was in in college, and that was fun, but this is a whole new level. The songs are beautiful, and the sound is new. Tell me a little bit about what you guys worked on this last year.
Reid: Well, we were finishing off the record and we’re already on to the new one which I’m glad. These things can take a long time, and then by the time it’s finished you’re really ready to move on.
Kent: [laughs] So you’re ready for the next project?
Reid: But I like our latest record because it took a lot of chances. Like you said before, we kind of had our roots in bluegrass music, but this one kind of went in some very odd places. I liked that we didn’t repeat ourselves.As far as doing a second album, I think it would be impossible for any band to get the same kind of frantic love or excitement about doing a second record than they did with their first one.But I think with the new one we kind of avoided all that drudgery by just making another record that seemed so new and so different that it almost was like making our first record.
Kent: So let’s listen to a little bit of “Savannah”. It’s a beautiful track.[music]
Kent: That’s a little bit of “Savannah” from King Wilkie’s newest album. It’s a beautiful track. Who wrote that one?
Reid: Myself and Johnny; he’s the guy singing on it.
Kent: You’ve been a team for quite a while. Tell me how that started.
Reid: Well, it goes pretty far back. We met and the initial band was kind of started at Kenyon College in Ohio. Then we got further and further into the roots of bluegrass music and decided that we should really immerse ourselves and move down to Virginia.It was kind of this romantic idea where we’d be learning from the elders – the old, original guys, who all seemed to be living down there. We ended up getting in pretty deep and not a lot of sleep the next five years.Knee deep in bluegrass and I don’t know, at this point with the latest record, we’re kind of… I think we’ve always been fans of diverse musical styles. Though I guess it’s just anyone who’s got an iPod today pretty much listening to anything. So we were fans of early bluegrass and early country and folk, but also regular rock and roll stuff.
Kent: I can hear the sounds of old time music in there, which is really nice.
Reid: Yeah, well that’s Nick. Nick’s gotten real deep in the old time. There’s a wealth of amazing American music that’s traditional. It’s an amazing hybrid of European and African elements coming together that’s uniquely American. But our band – all that gets filtered through us and the approach and the filter has expanded. So whether we’re songwriting or digging into older music, hopefully it’s still something that’s creative and comes out.
Kent: Well, I really think that the music is new, and there’s a small number of musicians out there that I hear this kind of beautiful sounds coming out of. You know, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gillian Welch.
Reid: There’s tons. There’s a lot of people doing really creative stuff.
Kent: And this is definitely in there among them. We’ll come check out kingwilkie.com; that’s got all of your new stuff up on there. The album is available everywhere, I assume?
Reid: All over, yes.
Kent: All over. And you guys are going to be supporting it coming up in a couple months?
Reid: Yeah. Well, we toured through this fall, up through the last fall. We’ll start touring again this spring, and we’ll be out all summer hopefully.
Kent: So let’s listen to a little bit of “Wrecking Ball” on the way out here.[music]
Kent: Well, thank you so much to Reid Burgess of King Wilkie. That’s beautiful music, “Savannah” and “Wrecking Ball” off their brand new album. Go check them out kingwilkie.com.Thank you also to my guests today, Reid Burgess of King Wilkie as I said; Dr. Paul Mullen talking to us about literacy; Jarret J. Krosoczka with his awesome “Punk Farm Animals” and Grampa Mike up at the beginning.Thank you also to the World Talk Radio folks, especially Anthony Farabay, the chief engineer. Everybody have a safe week and I’ll see you soon.[music]
January 25, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Today we spoke with Reid Burgess of the young bluegrass crossover group King Wilkie. Their new album Low Country Suite is stunning, soft, sometimes depressed, sometimes upbeat, part old-time, part folk. We had a great conversation…
Band biography of King Wilkie from their MySpace site: