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So Important: The Interview Podcast!
29 minutes | 5 months ago
Bruce Pegg on CHUCK BERRY: THE MUSIC - AND THE MAN!
So pleased to chat with Bruce Pegg, who wrote the definitive biography of Chuck Berry back in 2002. The title says it all: Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry. It's available on Amazon, and wherever great books are sold. Chuck made some of the most important and enduring music in American history. Yet he never seemed to recognize the extent of his own contributions; he usually toured with a pickup band hired by the club or outlet; and he just couldn't stay clear of the law. Racial incidents that he experienced in his youth seemed to scar him significantly, and while he played right up to his 88th birthday in 2014 - just three years before his death, Chuck lived in relative obscurity and carried a huge chip on his shoulder - right to the end. We barely skimmed the surface here, but it was a real pleasure for me to talk with Bruce and I think you'll enjoy learning about this enigmatic, but extremely important, figure. Bruce's web site is worth reading; lots of great insights and the man can write. And the book is so good, I read it twice! So go give it a shot! See you soon with a new episode. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!
21 minutes | 6 months ago
Michelle Dresbold on ADVENTURES IN HANDWRITING ANALYSIS!
Hello friends! It's been a busy time so I apologize in the lag since our last episode...but here we are, back and fresh as ever, with my GREAT conversation with Michelle Dresbold, who is one of the world's preeminent handwriting analysts. We talk about her important work supporting law enforcement, her upcoming book, and many other aspects of her fascinating career. And...well she even analyzes me! Michelle has an extraordinary website - you can really experience the full breadth of her work there and it's highly recommended. And we talked about her book, Sex, Lies, and Handwriting, on the show - and you can find it right here on Amazon! We had a lot of fun chatting, and I hope you enjoy the episode as well - and as always, if you have a minute to drop a few stars and a favorable review on Apple Podcasts, it's very appreciated!
21 minutes | 8 months ago
Esman Kurum on THE AESTHETICS OF FILM NOIR!
Hello friends, and welcome to this episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast! We're talking today with Esman Kurum, an authority on the cinematography of film noir - the seedy and fatalistic movies that, during the 1940s and 1950s, were often exceptionally beautiful and expressive, with great care and attention to "painting with light," in the words of the great film noir cinematographer John Alton. We talk about Alton and the great cinematography associated with the genre, but we also talk about the music, the characters, the unique storytelling - all the things that made these movies so special. Esman joined me from Paris and we had so much fun discussing the aesthetics of film noir - and I learned a lot! Check out his blog and enjoy our conversation, and I'll see you soon with a new episode! And of course, don't forget to drop in on I-Tunes and give a little rating and review - it's really appreciated!
26 minutes | 8 months ago
Dr. Yolanda Willis (and Marty Willis) on SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST IN GREECE
Hello everyone and welcome to a very special - and very personally meaningful - episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast. This is the compelling, and in the end uplifting, story of Dr. Yolanda Avram Willis, who survived the Holocaust during World War II, in Greece. The story of the Holocaust in Greece is not as familiar as the story in other parts of Europe. But in fact, almost all of the Jewish population of that country was wiped out. This is the remarkable story of how Yolanda survived, thanks to the ingenuity of her father, and the many Christian Greeks who helped the family. I have known Yolanda for decades and I am so glad finally to have the chance to help tell her story. I am joined by her eldest son, Mr. Marty Willis, whom I have known since the 1960s; and because we were fortunate to have Yolanda visit my Temple in 2018 and tell her story, we are able to intersperse excerpts of her talk into the conversation. Yolanda told her story in a 2017 book entitled A Hidden Child In Greece: Rescue in the Holocaust. It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers. It's a compelling read and highly recommended! Thank you Yolanda for sharing your story, and thank you Marty for your great insights and for all your help in making this happen. And special shout out to Aaron Zitner, who recorded Yolanda's talk in 2018. See you soon and if you find the episode to be special, please give the show a rating and good review on Apple Music. Thanks!
23 minutes | 9 months ago
Steve Hackett on HIS NEW AUTOBIOGRAPHY!
Hello friends! We're back with the great Steve Hackett, member of Genesis during that band's classic era in the 1970s, creator of well over 25 solo albums, and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to discuss A Genesis In My Bed, his long-anticipated autobiography that was almost a decade in the making. Steve talks about what led him to the guitar, his time in Genesis, his prodigious career as a solo performer, and lessons learned from a unique and fascinating life. And I'm happy to report, much improved sound from last time! Steve's book will be published in July, but you can pre-order it here. It's also available for pre-order on Amazon. The book is a good one! And thanks to Steve and his U.S. promotion company, Chipster PR, for all their help in making this interview possible. Enjoy! New episode soon!
25 minutes | 9 months ago
Dr. Gayle Wald on SISTER ROSETTA THARPE!
Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A trailblazer; an exuberant and charismatic performer from the 1930s all the way to the 1970s; and a wicked electric guitar player. This amazing woman was raised in, and remained loyal to, her gospel roots throughout her entire life and career; yet she took the secular music world by storm in the 1950s - and had a major, and largely under appreciated, influence on the birth of rock and roll itself. This is her amazing story, as told by the author of the great Rosetta Tharpe biographer, Dr. Gayle Ward. Dr. Wald's book, Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock and Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, is the definitive accounting of the life, music and influence of this truly groundbreaking performer. It's available here on Amazon, and if you want to visit Gayle's informative and entertaining website, you can do so here. The book is a classic, and I can't recommend it enough! Dr. Wald is a professor of English and the Chair of American Studies of American Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I'm sure you will too. Thank you, Gayle, for your great generosity of time and insights!
20 minutes | 10 months ago
David Montgomery on SPACE FORCE!
Hello friends! In December, 2019, David Montgomery, Staff Writer for the Washington Post Magazine, wrote an in-depth article on President Trump's proposal for a new branch of the military, to be called the Space Force. In preparing the article,, which can be accessed here, Montgomery evolved from a skeptic over the value of the Space Force to a supporter. A topic of interest to me personally, I reached out to David to talk about Space Force - how it came about, what it's intended to do, and what the international community might do to promote stability and the peaceful exploration of space. And we talked about the abiding allure of space, and the great men and women dedicated to carrying out the Space Force mission. Very grateful to David for his time and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I hope you do too, and see you soon with a brand new episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast!
23 minutes | 10 months ago
Mitchell Nathanson on JIM BOUTON: THE LIFE OF A BASEBALL ORIGINAL!
Hello friends! Who's up for a second episode in a row...about Baseball?? I talked with Mitchell Nathanson, Professor of Law at Villanova University and the author of numerous books and articles on the subject of baseball, about his new book on the one and only Jim Bouton, whose 1970 book, Ball Four, was a rite of passage for fellas like me! It was a must-read as a kid, known for its honest and very revealing look at the life of a major league baseball player. But it turns out Bouton's significance goes well beyond that - and that's the topic of Mitchell's book. Mitchell was granted access to Jim's extensive archival material that supported the writing of Ball Four and got to know Jim Bouton and his family personally. The result is a book that will prove to be unique and invaluable, in what it brings to the table about an extraordinary individual. You can learn more about Professor Nathanson and his many books and publications on his excellent website, and you can follow Mitchell on twitter at @MitchNathanson. His book can be ordered on Amazon here. And a tip of the hat to Mitchell - thank you so much for chatting, and I am looking forward to reading Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original!
25 minutes | 10 months ago
Jeremy Newberger on HEADING HOME: THE TALE OF TEAM ISRAEL!
Hello friends, Well, we should be deep into the baseball season by now...but life had other ideas, and here we are approaching May with no start of the season in sight. Not to worry...I've been talking with some TOP NOTCH guests to help fill the void, beginning with one Jeremy Newberger, the CEO of Ironbound Films, who talked with me about his fantastic documentary, Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel. If you haven't seen the documentary yet, you should! It is an uplifting tale of grit, and giving it everything you've got - even when the odds are conspiring against you. This is the story of the team that represented Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and who progressed through the tourney well beyond anyone's expectations - except their own. It is the story of how these players bonded through their Jewish heritage, and how they took the Classic by storm when everyone had dismissed them. It's a great story, as only Jeremy Newberger, who directed the film, can tell it - with passion and enthusiasm, and great love and respect for these very human players. Big news: The film will be released on DVD in early May - and you can preorder it right here! If you want to learn more about Ironbound Films, make sure you check out their website, and here's the official trailer for the film. Enjoy the show, PLEASE go to Apple podcasts and give a good review and rating for the series, and I'll see you soon with a new episode! Go Bucs! Monte
16 minutes | a year ago
Benny Becker on HIS INVESTIGATIVE WORK IN APPALACHIA!
Hello friends and welcome to a new episode of So Important! My guest is Mr. Benny Becker, an investigative reporter focused on issues in the Appalachian region of the United States. Benny is compassionate, thorough, and incisive - as his many stories on the challenges faced by the towns and people of Appalachia bear out. This is the story of Benny's journey, and we also talk about some of Benny's most recent stories. It was a great pleasure to speak with Benny, and I urge everyone to read his stories, and spend a few minutes hearing what he has to say. Here's a link to his website, as well as a direct link to his most recent reporting on clean water issues in West Virginia. And here's a nice link to many of Benny's stories. I hope you enjoy this episode, and I am grateful to Benny for speaking with me about his fascinating, and important, work. See you soon with a new episode of So Important!
28 minutes | a year ago
Steve Hackett on GENESIS, HIS SOLO WORK, AND HIS AMAZING TOUR!
Well my friends, I notice that I tend to describe every episode as "very special," but this one is for sure. I talked with legendary Guitarist Steve Hackett, who was the guitar player in Genesis from 1971 to 1977, when they were at the height of their progressive rock powers. There is nothing like the early, pre-pop music of Genesis, and along with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins (who did ok for himself btw), Michael Rutherford, and Tony Banks, Steve was a big reason why that is the case. He has gone on to record over 25 solo albums and he continues to tour to this day. I saw him and his stellar band a couple nights ago and it was a truly transcendent experience. SEE HIM! Special thanks to Steve for his time and while the audio quality wasn't quite as good as I would have liked, a number of audio engineers, including David Martin in the DC area and Trebor at the Audacity Windows Forum site, helped significantly to improve it - which I really, really appreciate. Ultimately there was only so much that could be done, but thanks to these guys it came out ok. And special thanks to my wife Nancy, who had to endure my obsessive work on this particular episode! You will find a number of musical excerpts sprinkled throughout the show. With a musician as accomplished as Steve Hackett, one should look for any opportunity to let the music speak for itself. So, that's what I did. I created a special playlist for those who want to hear each of these songs in their entirety, as well as a few others curated for the show. Here's the link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/56ilQhAtzQI6gDXgYeWKbh?si=-mY7gEQCQ9ePGzNfuyKa5Q Check out Steve's website, and don't forget to check for tour dates. It's an amazing show and you owe it to yourself to see a true master of the craft in action. See you soon with a new episode, and THANK YOU STEVE HACKETT!
25 minutes | a year ago
Dina Gold on ATTAINING RESTITUTION!
In 1937, the Nazi regime in Germany foreclosed upon a building in the heart of Berlin that was owned by Dina Gold's family. They received significantly less than market value in return. This is Dina's amazing and inspirational story of all that she did to see that justice for her family was served. This is a story of determination, commitment, and conviction, and never giving up when the cause is just. Dina's story is an inspiration for all of us, and here it is in her own words. Dina's book about her effort can be found here, on Amazon, or wherever great books are sold. Dina also maintains a website dedicated to her story, and a Facebook page that is informative and always interesting. Thank you, Dina, for spending time with me, and sharing your amazing story!
22 minutes | a year ago
Mike Edison on WHY CHARLIE WATTS MATTERS!
Hello friends! Today we're talking with Mike Edison on his new book, Sympathy For The Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters. Mike and I share a deep and abiding love for Mr. Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones. There are few like him in the rock and roll world, and as Mike and I agree, the world is a MUCH better place with him in it. As Keith Richards says, without Charlie Watts, there's no Rolling Stones. A point on which Mike and I heartily agree! I love Charlie Watts, and I love this book. And I loved talking with Mike about our favorite drummer. As Mike notes, the Stones were smart enough to hire a jazz cat as their drummer - and the rest is history. I know you'll love hearing from Mike about why Charlie Watts matters! Here's a link to the book on Amazon, and here's a link to Mike's website which has oodles of good stuff worth checking out. And for you play along at home types, here's a playlist I put together featuring some of Charlie's best songs. All the songs that Mike and I discuss - and many others - are on the playlist! BONUS: Mike and I discuss the Stones' 2016 masterpiece, Blue and Lonesome, featuring covers of classic blues songs. Here's a playlist with all of those songs, as well as the original recordings. Enjoy every minute! If you've got a second, please like us on I-Tunes and leave a nice review, and share the episode with your friends. All those things help and are appreciated. See you soon, and thank you, Mike!
17 minutes | a year ago
Steve Pindar on ROBERTO'S KIDS!
All - had a wonderful conversation with Steve Pindar, the Founder of Roberto's Kids, a charitable organization dedicated to building social and community responsibility - through baseball! The organization is named, as you may have guessed, after the great Pittsburgh Pirate, Roberto Clemente. Roberto was a legendary ballplayer, and a great humanitarian as well. We talked about Roberto, how he inspired Steve's organization, and the great work that Roberto's Kids does, all around the world, to meet its mission. You may recall that last year at this time, we talked with Karen Struble Meyers about the Fred Rogers Foundation, and the relevancy of Fred's message to this day and age. So I thought that the time was right to find inspiration in another Pittsburgh icon, and that's what you'll hear about today. But something else also inspired the timing of this episode. It was 47 years ago almost to this day when a small plane carrying Roberto, and loaded with supplies for the survivors of a devastating earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua, crashed and killed Roberto and the plane's crew. So the timing was right to remember Roberto, and all that he did to make the world a better place. Here's a link to Steve's organization, Roberto's Kids. It's worth checking out, and it's great to meet folks like Steve so dedicated to making the world a better place. Thanks, and see you soon. In the meantime, have a great New Years and enjoy the holiday season!
19 minutes | a year ago
Monte Mallin on THE BIRTH OF THE BACKBEAT!
Hello friends, and welcome to a special thanksgiving-day episode! Little surprise here for ya - decided to talk about something interesting and important to me - the birth of rock and roll drumming! Have some fun listening to how the backbeat - the basis of rock and roll drumming - came about. Lots of great music here...and get to know Earl Palmer (pictured), DJ Fontana, Clifton James, and many other greats who developed the feel and sound of early rock drumming. I had a lot of fun putting this episode together, and I hope you have a lot of fun listening! And here's a playlist of full versions of all the songs played in the episode, plus a few others. Enjoy! Don't forget to get to I-Tunes and leave a nice review, tell your friends about the show, and have a great thanksgiving! See you soon and enjoy! Monte
21 minutes | a year ago
Moshe Engelberg on THE AMARE WAVE - A NEW BUSINESS PARADIGM!
Welcome friends! We're back from a short hiatus and talking with Moshe Engelberg - our first repeat guest - about his recent book, The Amare Wave: Uplifting Business by Putting Love to Work! Moshe talks about an alternative business model to what we're used to - and has the numbers to back up his arguments! It's fair to say that I've known Moshe a very long time...and I always appreciate his positive, and affirmative approach to overcoming the challenges we all face, every day. This is the ethos he brings to his subject, and I am so happy to have the chance to share his thoughts with you! Moshe led his strategic consulting firm Researchworks, Inc. for almost thirty years. He now leads workshops, speaks regularly at both large and more intimate gatherings, provides leadership consulting to businesses looking for new ways of moving forward, and of course he is diligently spreading the word about the Amare Wave. He's an inspiring individual, and a true friend of the show! You can pre-order Moshe's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere, and you can contact Moshe at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's very personable! I hope you enjoy our conversation and thank you, Moshe!
20 minutes | a year ago
Dr. Gerson Sher on U.S. - SOVIET SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION AND LESSONS FOR TODAY!
In the midst of the Cold War, when the United States and the Former Soviet Union had - literally - tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other, there were nonetheless efforts to find areas of cooperation. One such area was Scientific Cooperation, where many of the scientists, engineers, and other experts who helped build nuclear weapons found ways to cooperate, in order to perhaps defuse tensions, keep lines of communication open, and advance scientific discovery in the name of advancing common interests. Dr. Gerson Sher was in the midst of such efforts for many years, and has written a truly seminal - and fascinating - book about his experience. The book is entitled From Pugwash to Putin: A Critical History of U.S. - Soviet Scientific Cooperation, and it tells an amazing story from a man in the midst of such efforts. Gerson talks about what the work was trying to achieve, some of the great characters involved in these efforts, and lessons learned for pursuing such cooperation today - a vastly different international environment. Gerson's book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and everywhere else that quality books are sold. I highly recommend that you check it out! Other news department: As many of you know, our little podcast has been expanding its reach lately. In addition to most podcast carriers, Apple, and other sources, So Important! is now available on Stitcher, Google Play, and the great Spotify! So please do subscribe and spread the word, and if there's a platform where you'd like to see us, let me know! Special episode in the works for episode 25 - watch this space! Thank you for being a loyal listener, and welcome to our new ones! We talk to a variety of folks here, and we keep it short! So tune in, tell your friends, all those good things! Spread the Word! Thank you Gerson!
25 minutes | 2 years ago
Christopher McKittrick on THE STONES IN NEW YORK!
Hello friends! Had a great conversation with Christopher McKittrick on his new book about the Rolling Stones and their career-long relationship with New York City! I thoroughly enjoyed the book and could have chatted with Christopher for hours - like me, he's a dyed-in-the-wool Rolling Stones fan. He also resides in and loves New York City, and had lots to say about the relationship between the city and the Stones. A fun talk and a GREAT read! Christopher is a prolific writer - a good place to start is on Amazon, where you can check out his Author Central Site. His website is worth a look too - a great place to learn more about our guest. And hey, if you aren't familiar with the Rolling Stones and just gotta learn more...well, do a google search and if you're lucky, something might come up! Thank you Christopher, and I hope everyone enjoys our conversation! Monte
15 minutes | 2 years ago
Dr. Ben Canha on HOW HUMOR CAN HELP TREAT THE OPIOID CRISIS
Greetings friends, I'd like you to meet Dr. Ben Canha, who has written a PhD dissertation on a critically important, and absolutely fascinating, topic: how humor can play a role in helping to treat the opioid crisis in America. Dr. Canha teaches nursing at the University of Maryland. He also spent many years working on addiction treatment issues at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Canha has observed for years how humor can play a role in helping folks deal with addictive health issues; he is one of, if not the, first to apply this to the opioid crisis specifically. I greatly appreciate Ben spending time with me, and I have great admiration for the work he is doing. I think after hearing our conversation, you will too. Thank you again, Ben! NOTE: You may have noticed that I rarely spend time at the beginning or end of the episode asking you to go to I-Tunes and give the show a good review. And new listeners may note that there is no such plea at the end of this broadcast. In short, I don't want to detract from the guest. But I do want to mention how important that is, and ask that if you enjoy the broadcast with Ben, you give the podcast a good review, share with a friend or two, and pass along to those that may be interested. It's easy to share, and it means a lot. Thank you!
18 minutes | 2 years ago
Cesar Brioso on THE END OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL IN CUBA!
Well, it's Memorial Day Weekend, and that means baseball! Join me in talking with Cesar Brioso about his recent book, Last Seasons In Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba." Cesar is a digital producer for USA Today Sports, where he served as baseball editor from 2003 to 2004, and traces his lineage to Havana - a topic we briefly discuss at the end our conversation. The book is an absolutely fascinating read, chronicling how the revolution brought an end to professional baseball in Cuba - but never dampened the passion of the Cuban people for the game they dearly love. The book is filled with unforgettable characters and anecdotes, and we barely skimmed the surface in our talk - so that means, you gotta read the book! And you can purchase it on Amazon and just about everywhere. You can check out the facebook page for the book, and follow Cesar on Twitter at @cbrioso - a great way to keep up with Cesar's guest appearances. It's a great book, and please do check it out! Thank you, Cesar! And may I make a plea to listeners everywhere to follow the podcast, give it a good review in I-Tunes, all those good things. I usually don't push on all that in the podcast itself, but it's important and appreciated. Thanks!
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