By GWEN OREL
One of the nice things about the mainly folk-rock and blues concerts presented by Outpost in the Burbs is the feeling of being up close with the artists.
Performers tell stories about their songs and their lives at the 22-year-old organization’s events, which are all run by volunteers.
This past year, Outpost launched a new podcast to deepen that experience of hanging out with musicians.
Titled “Inside the Outpost,” the podcast launched in June, and its first season of 11 artists wrapped this summer.
Recorded before or after the concerts the artists give, they are casual and intimate.
The first podcast, featuring guitarist/songwriter Ryley Walker, who had played Outpost in December 2018, launched on May 30, with three others.
The other artists in the first season include:
- Tony Pallagrosi and Joe D’Urso of the Light of Day Foundation;
- singer-songwriter Lissie;
- artist and author Richard Barone;
- rocker David Bromberg;
- Guitar and rock legend Richard Thompson;
- blues singer and pianist Marcia Ball;
- ’60s songwriter Eric Andersen,
- singer-songwriter Joe Pug;
- The Strawbs’ Dave Cousins;
- singer-songwriter Amy Rigby;
It was the brainchild of John Hammond, talent buyer for the Outpost, Cindy Stagoff and Al Mercuro, on the Outpost Board of Trustees, also produce the show, along with Gail Prusslin, head of promotion, and vice president of the Board of Trustees. Craig Snyder, a friend of Hammond’s, mixes and edits the show.
Outpost began releasing its second season of podcasts this fall.
“I thought it would be fun, and also a great way to get the word out about what’s on in the Burbs,” said Hammond, in Prusslin’s kitchen, where some of the podcasts are recorded. “I felt like we had an opportunity to actually create some unique content which was nice, and strengthen the connection with our fans here in the area, and with our artists’ fans.”
And because podcasts, unlike radio, are not limited to a broadcast area (although in a podcast with Amy Rigby, Hammond forgot and mentioned “those within the sound of my voice”), the podcasts can reach fans of the artists outside of New Jersey.
They are not meant as promotions for the concerts themselves, since they are recorded and released after the fact, but for the music and the series.
Stagoff particularly enjoyed recording a podcast with Richard Barone, who curated “Greenwich Village in the ’60s,” a multi-artist show at Outpost in December 2018, in Barone’s Greenwich Village home. “It was very personal, because we were in his living room,” she said.
The goal has been to capture an interview with the artist the day of the show, Hammond said. But since Barone’s show was so complicated the team decided to follow up and record the interview later.
Richard Thompson did a podcast on a day when he was premiering a movie about him at the Montclair Film Festival and had a show later that night at Outpost.
Usually the podcasts are recorded during a window of soundcheck or after the show, when there’s a quiet window. They discuss with each artist when they’d be available ahead of time.
Wrap-around segments, where the hosts talk to each other, are recorded at the home of Prusslin or Stagoff.
One element that Stagoff likes is when Hammond asks the artists who they are listening to and who they admire. “They typically talk about an artist who might be lesser-known,” she said. “And I think that’s also created some traffic for those lesser-known artists. Because I’ve heard that from friends.”
Prusslin agreed. “It also creates other circles of interest and the web kind of gets bigger,” she said.
The team discuss with the artist also in advance what song they might want to use for the podcast, what song might be meaningful to them.
WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE
Amy Rigby, who played at an Outpost show held at Van Vleck House & Gardens, listens to a podcast called “Cocaine and Rhinestones,” focused on country music, on her drive to the city from Sogarties, New York, where she lives. The show features country music, she said, and makes her want to listen to that artist as soon as she gets home. So she was happy to do the Outpost podcast, which is a good length for drives of just an hour or two.
“The idea of a podcast is more branding for the organization or venue itself, but you can use it to get people into your own music too,” she said. She admitted that she hasn’t really used ot to promote herself yet: but she’s been busy, reading excerpts from her book “Girl to City — A Memoir,” which will be published this October, and playing songs. Part of her book is about being a touring musician. “There are Chicago stories, Northwest stories, stories playing about Texas,” she said.
During the podcast, Stagoff observed, Rigby spoke about the evolution of her life, raising children, and how that impacted her touring schedule. Concert-goers may get a sense of that onstage, but the podcast allows the artist to go deeper.
Prusslin had never worked on a podcast before, but had experience interviewing artists for “No Cover” on TV34. “I enjoy listening to one of the artists we interviewed, Joe Pug. And he has a podcast called ‘The Working Songwriter.’ I tend to be a big music listener, less of a podcast listener.
“But this has really made me curious to see what else is out there.”
Outpost in the Burbs’ offices, and most of its concerts, are at First Congregational Church, 40 South Fullerton Ave. Visit Outpostintheburbs.org, or call 973-744-6560.