Beezy Douglas is a Cleveland-based musician, event producer, and family man. On this show he sits down to talk with grassroots performers, activists, and other persons of interest that he's had the fortune to cross paths with.
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All songs included with permission from the artists.
Today’s episode is another throwback, reflecting on Occupy Wall Street, which we are currently in the 7th anniversary of. The occupation began on September 17th, 2011, and was viciously evicted on November 15th.
Living in New York during OWS is something I will always treasure. I first heard about something going on downtown from a few friends’ posts on Facebook. It wasn’t long before I realized that this was a historical moment, and so I tried to participate as much as I could.
At the time, I was working full-time at an ad agency cranking out animated banner ads (for Citibank, ironically). Deb and I were not yet married, and we were 8 months into occupying our new roles as parents with our first son, Dominic.
I started spending my lunch breaks down at the park, holding up a sign that read “I have worked in advertising for 13 years for corporations such as GE, Pfizer, Merck, Wells Fargo, Citibank, HSBC, and many more. I know this beast, and it is not human. END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD” On the weekends, the whole family would go down together for a few hours to talk with people or play some music. My favorite song to perform down there was Sixteen Tons, by Merle Travis.
A few weeks into the occupation, I had a flash of inspiration. I remember, I was smoking a cigarette on my apartment stoop, when I suddenly realized that the people’s mic, the only means of amplification permitted in Zuccotti, would be an amazing way to propose to Deb. I spent the next week looking through antique flea markets for a reasonably priced ring, writing a speech that would work within the people’s mic format, and organizing some friends to meet us at the Park the following Saturday. Deb thought we were just heading down there to hang out and play some music again.
I knew that my idea was going to go over great with Deb and our friends and family, but I had no idea that the damn video would go viral! I uploaded it to YouTube on Saturday evening, October 15th. On Monday, friends started messaging me that my video was featured on Gawker.com. By the end of the next week, we'd been featured in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Gothamist, The New York Daily News, and dozens of blog entries, with over 100 thousand views.
The experience galvanized our support for the movement, and we used every media inquiry into our story as an opportunity to articulate specifically why we were supporting OWS. We then became aware of Parents for Occupy Wall Street, and figured that be a good entry point for going deeper into supporting the occupation.
On October 21st, the group organized a sleepover in Zuccotti park, which ended up being quite a fiasco. So much so that the night after, Deb and I decided to sit down and record a recap of what transpired.
If I weren’t spread so thin with work this month, I’d love to have done a full episode discussing all the aspects of OWS that we witnessed and participated in, but I just don’t have the damn time. Shit, I wanted to have this episode prepped and ready to drop a week ago, but it took me this long to write and record this introduction. So in the meantime, please enjoy this time capsule recollection of the night Deb, Dominic, and I spent in Zuccotti park, and thanks for listening.
This week’s episode is with Cleveland singer-songwriter, Hannah Stak. I first heard her play at the McFarland Manor house show, and she lived up to the high praise I’d been hearing from my wife, Deb. She was one of the first artists I booked for the revival of my Carnivale last August. I also loved her banter and stories between songs and was really glad to have this opportunity to get her to elaborate a bit more on some of those stories. This summer Hannah released her first EP, “Retrograde”, which you can find on Spotify. Hannah can be found playing or hosting events all over the city. Be sure to keep an eye on her Facebook page so you can catch one of her upcoming “Sounds and Stories” showcases featuring other great local musicians, or visit her website https://hannahstak.com for more information.
Today’s interview is with my first non-musical guest, Holly LeCraw. She’s a Boston-based author of two books, The Swimming Pool and The Half Brother, and is currently working on a third. I met Holly in the spring of 2016 during my brief stint as an amateur journalist, covering the debacle that was the New York Presidential Primary election. You can review some of the work we did together at nyelectionjustice.org, putting together a timeline of the failures of the NYC Board of Elections leading up to and following the primary.
During our discussion, we reflect on the work we did with New York Election Justice, and how we’ve been staying active and maintaining our sanity since Trump’s election. I hope to have more members of the New York Election Justice team on the show in future episodes, but Holly and I became very close friends during our work together, so she was my first choice for diving back into this period of my life.
I discovered Curtis in the summer of 2009 when he opened for the Squirrel Nut Zippers in New York City. I don’t remember a thing about them, but I’ll never forget how Curtis captivated me. His performance involved a fair amount of high kicks, twirling, intimate storytelling, some light yodeling, and absolutely no recognition of the fourth wall.
In this interview, recorded back in 2014, we talked about Curtis' early years growing up with a father who ran a small time circus, honing his craft in New York City, the time he got to play a Pete Seeger song for Pete himself, and how he developed his unique performance style.
Be sure to visit www.curtiseller.com to hear more of his music and to find out when he’s coming through your neck of the woods.
It has been an honor and a privilege to know Charley Crockett, and get to watch his star rise. I met Charley Crockett in 2009 at a small open mic in Astoria, back when I was giving standup comedy a shot. Shortly after we met, he put out word that he was looking for a place to crash short term, just as one of my roommates was going outta town for a month and looking to sublet. Serendipity-doo-dah!
Over the years , we've remained close even when we weren’t in proximity. You can check out the previous episode to hear more about Charley’s early days. In this episode, I caught up with him when he rolled through Cleveland as part of what he describes as a “never-ending tour” promoting his new album “Lonesome As a Shadow”, and riding a rising wave of well-earned success. Be sure to follow him on Instagram @charleycrockett, and check out his website, CharleyCrockett.com for tour dates.
Charley Crockett is the man who nicknamed me BZ, back in 2009 when we first met at an open mic in NYC. This episode is pulled from my very first attempt at podcasting back in 2014. We cover a lot of Charley's background before he came to NYC, his life as a full-time busker, and the troubled waters of his first experience with a major label.
Later this week I'll be posting a brand new interview with Charley Crockett from May of 2018, when he came thru Cleveland to perform at the Beachland Ballroom main stage.
Ray Flanagan is one of the most prolific musicians in the Cleveland music scene, and can be found delivering his own songs intimately in his dynamic solo performances, rocking and rolling with his band The Authorities, or playing sideman to any number of bands and artists around town. You can keep up with Ray via his website https://www.rayflanagan.net
Hi there, I’m BZ Douglas, a musician, and event producer.
I came to the craft of music late in life. I waded into the waters of the New York open mic scene back in 2009 as a stand up comic, and came out a musician. The open mics are also where I met my wife, Deb Zep, who I’m now raising two rambunctious boys with in Cleveland Ohio.
Over the last decade I’ve been very privileged to have forged friendships with dozens of incredible performers. On this show I’ll be sitting down with them, as well as other interesting folks I’ve had the fortune to cross paths with.
Thanks for listening, be sure to subscribe on your preferred podcasting app, and follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/bzdug or my website: http://bzdug.com
Check back tomorrow for the first full episode with local Cleveland rocker, Ray Flanagan.