Tikva Records

Check out this story I did for PRI’s The World about the Idelsohn Society, Tikva Records and the heydey of Jewish music.


Squeezebox Stories

Squeezebox Stories, a one-hour radio documentary that I produced with ethnomusicologist and accordion player, Marié Abe, has aired on more than 90 public radio stations nationwide!

Hosted by Marco Werman of PRI’s The World, Squeezebox Stories is a sound-rich, narrative-driven public radio documentary exploring the social history, multicultural adaptation and musical variations of the accordion.

The accordion is about much more than the Polka; it’s one of the first global instruments. Played all over the world–everywhere from Italy to China to Zanzibar–, the squeezebox is a great vehicle for telling immigration stories.

In this hour, we visit Zydeco dance halls and Mexican Norteño clubs, punk rock apprentices and Arabic master musicians—all to discover what’s behind the surprisingly wide appeal of this ultimate people’s instrument.

Visit the show’s website to stream the program and a lot more!

Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

Check out this series about hidden music and sounds I produced for KEXP radio in Seattle, WA for a great residency. In the series, we meet a wandering monk, a woman whose life got hijacked by a Bulgarian bagpipe, learn why you’ll need a sapphire, nail polish, and a pickle jar in order to make a vinyl record, and visit one of the oldest Cantonese opera clubs in the United States!

Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

The residency was sponsored by AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio!

Accordion Doctors

Skyler Fell and Vince Cirelli begin work on an accordion

Accordions are the ultimate people’s instrument—hearty, loud and portable. A one-man band, with rhythm and melody all in one. Born in Austria in the mid 1800’s, the accordion quickly made its way across the Atlantic with the waves of hopeful immigrants coming to America to make a new life, and a new identity.

San Francisco was the center of it all. Italian immigrants made the city the hub of accordion manufacturing in the United States. In fact, the accordion is the official instrument of San Francisco.

But when rock and roll hit the scene, the accordion fell from grace. Now the instrument, long the butt of many jokes, is enjoying a renaissance. This is an excerpt from our upcoming documentary, Squeezebox Stories, that aired on KQED’s The California Report.

Listen: Accordion Doctors

Getting Sick

What happens when we get sick? What happens when the cure is almost worse than the disease?

This is a story about the commonly-prescribed drug, Prednisone. In the United States, over a million people take this steroid to treat a wide variety of illnesses. This piece explores how and why this drug works, and the history of how it came to be developed.

It’s also the story of one family’s journey, and what they did when their young daughter got sick.

I produced this feature for the podcast, Distillations.

Listen: Prednisone

California Library of Natural Sounds

Carson Bell is a curatorial specialist at the Oakland Museum of California

Carson Bell is a curatorial specialist at the Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum shut down for renovations in August. But even though the museum is closed, deep in the basement, there’s something still very much alive.

This is a really fun, sound-rich piece I produced for KALW’s newsmagazine, Crosscurrents.

Listen: California Library of Natural Sounds

The Really Big Questions


The Really Big Questions, hosted by NPR’s Lynn Neary,  considers some of the big questions of human experience.  How do emotions shape our worldview?  What is consciousness? How do we face our own mortality? Can science explain why we believe?

In trying to answer these questions, The Really Big Questions considers the intersection of empirical science and the humanities and what that conversation can or cannot tell us about who we are and what we value.

I co-produced the hour in this series that examines how we face our own mortality. The series is airing on public radio stations throughout the country.

Listen: TRBQ Death

Oakland Black Cowboy Association

Cowboy G with Cookie at the Oakland City Stables

Cowboy G with Cookie at the Oakland City Stables

For the past 35 years, the first weekend of October has brought something unusual to the streets of West Oakland. Cowboys, on horseback, riding through the streets. But, they’re not your typical Hollywood cowboys. Dressed in bright yellow western shirts and black Stetson hats, they are the members of the Oakland Black Cowboy Association. They come out each year with their horses, and a pony named Michael Jackson, to tell a hidden history of the West.

I spent a day with the cowboys at the Oakland City Stables, and did this story for KALW public radio in San Francisco.

Listen: BlackCowboys

Squeezebox Stories

Afghani accordion player, Shah Asharaf, at the Cotati 2009 festival

Afghani accordion player, Shah Asharaf, at the Cotati 2009 festival

Squeezebox Stories is going strong. We’ve been in the field recording and meeting players all around California. So far, our travels have taken us to San Francisco, Cotati, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Escondido. A trip to Fresno is next on the agenda.

We’re excited to have our radio documentary project featured on the Arhoolie Foundation website, and wanted to share the link here.

Green Street Mortuary Band

Band members lead a funeral through Chinatown.

Band members lead a funeral through Chinatown.

Even in the best of times, it’s hard to make it as a working musician. Gigs can be few and far between, and often don’t pay well, or don’t pay at all.

In San Francisco, I met up with some of the best musicians in town, who pay their rent by scaring off ghosts.

This story aired nationally on Weekend America, and locally on KQED’s The California Report.

Listen: Green Street Mortuary Band