Swallow Hill Staffers Share Their Favorite Podcasts for Your Holiday Travel Plans

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

The holidays are upon us. Whether you’re on the road or waiting to board a flight, prepping for a big meal, or need an excuse to take a break from family, tune into a podcast or two. With that in mind, we turned to our staff members to ask them to share their favorite music podcasts to keep you occupied during those inevitable downtimes that accompany the holiday season.

Volume 2: Check out even more staff podcast picks!

For Old-Time Music and Banjo Fans: Get Up In The Cool

If the name Cameron DeWhitt sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you caught him as one-third of Tall Poppy String Band when they played Swallow Hill this summer. Described as featuring “conversations and musical collaborations with some of Old Time music’s heaviest hitters, like Ken Perlman, Adam Hurt, Spencer & Rains, and Jake Blount,” Cameron wades into some heady musical topics in a relaxed and inviting way. In addition to illuminating interviews with musicians, the show also features musical collaborations with interview subjects.

Looking for a place to start? Try Cameron’s interview with Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose, which was recorded this summer in Tuft Theatre at Swallow Hill! Suggested by Community Marketing Manager Barry Osborne

For the Pop-Skeptical: Switched on Pop

“I spent most of my life thinking I hated ‘pop music’,” says Digital Marketing Manager Daniel Lorenzo, “until this podcast helped me realize how influential the history of pop really is for all the other music I like!”

In Switched on Pop, musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding “break down pop songs to figure out what makes a hit and what is its place in culture.” Through interviews with artists, songwriters, and producers, they illuminate the connections between popular music and culture, history, and other genres, in addition to revealing the hidden genius beneath songs you thought you were sick of.

Expect new appreciation for classics, refreshing insight on current trends in the music industry, and even some tips for your own songwriting!

For the TV Fanatic: Showstopper

Showstopper “looks back at the most memorable moments in TV history that all had one special ingredient: killer music. Throughout the series, Showstopper features the people who helped create these iconic TV moments: the music supervisors, showrunners, and talent.”

Our School Program Manager, Kelsy Lartius Miguel, says “It’s been a few years since I’ve listened to it, but “Showstopper” is a cool podcast about music supervision on TV shows and movies. It’s neat to listen to even if you haven’t seen the show or movie they’re talking about.

For the True Crime Buff: Disgraceland

Joshua Abeyta, our Associate Director, Early Childhood Programs & Instruction, describes this show as “a true crime podcast involving famous musicians.” What sets the show apart, Joshua said, is its “incredible story telling, extensive research, and high quality audio production set the scene for deeply engaging tales of life on the road with some of our most beloved musicians. From the Rolling Stones to Selena, I always learn something new and interesting about the folks who composed the soundtrack of my life.”

A young man in a stocking cap listens to music through headphones.
Photo by Jizhidexiaohailang on Unsplash

For the Craftsperson: Song Exploder 

Song Exploder “is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode is produced and edited by host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway in Los Angeles.”

Several staff members recommended Song Exploder and it’s easy to understand why; the show takes deep dives into both contemporary and classic songs in a way that is accessible, fun, and revealing. The podcast covers a wide range of artists, too, including The War on Drugs, Solange, Yo-Yo Ma, Lorde, and many, many more. 

For the Cultural Historian: Anything for Selena

“One of my favorite podcasts ever,” is how our Customer Service Representative Jennifer Corona describes this podcast. She calls it “Beautifully produced with episodes both in English and Spanish. Hosted by journalist Maria Garcia, we are taken through Selena’s long-lasting legacy, and the implications of being a brown indigenous and Latinx woman who made waves in the entire western hemisphere. We learn about race and belonging, and honor Selena’s forever present memory.”

For the Holistic Thinker: Inside the Musician’s Brain

Our Customer Service Manager, David McDaniel, tells us “Each episode features a guest interview as well as a segment during which Chris shares his thoughts on the music industry, life on the road, or an inside peek at the inner workings of his musical projects.” The show is created and hosted by Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters. 

A man leans his head back, closes his eyes and listens to music.
Photo by Ovinuchi Ejiohuo on Unsplash

For the Folklorist: Fire Draw Near

Fire Draw Near is a “monthly podcast and radio show which investigates Irish traditional music and song in all of its myriad forms.” Created and hosted by multi-instrumentalist Ian Lynch of Dublin-based band Lankum, the podcast demonstrates how Irish traditional music sits in a greater folk music tradition that goes far beyond the British Isles and spans the globe. Some shows are dedicated to exploring how a single traditional tune or ballad evolved over the centuries, while others play like a raucous, freewheeling mixtape. Suggested by Community Marketing Manager Barry Osborne

For the Deadhead: 36 From the Vault

Described as “The definitive overview of the Dead’s celebrated live show releases,” this show is  hosted by music journalist and podcaster Steven Hyden and fellow music journalist Rob Mitchum. “This series will chronicle each live release, breaking down the historical context of the show while discussing musical, political, and sports-related trends of the time.” Suggested by School Director Ty Breuer

Bonus! Memory and Forgetting episode from Radiolab

Our Concert Director Bruce Trujillo did not have a podcast to share, but, she said, “my favorite music related episode of a podcast is the Memory and Forgetting episode of Radiolab.  It’s about a man named Clive, who had been living with a memory of 7 seconds – except for the fact that he remembered how to play music, and that he loves his wife. One of the departing remarks by Robert Krulwich goes something like, “maybe some things transcend memory, like music, or love.””

A note: While these are mainstream podcasts readily available on multiple streaming platforms, we recommend giving them a listen in your headphones before playing them out loud as not all topics or subject matters are for everyone or all ages.