Talking At The Diner Podcast

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 16 - Nicole Zell  

I have known Nicole Zell for a little over a decade. Over those years I have watched her come into her own as an artist with some pretty unusual twists and turns along the way. She has toured as the guitarist for alt-rock band American Wolves and fronted the synth-pop band THRILLCHASER, and although I would consider her a seasoned musician and songwriter, she is, at 27, just about to release her debut record as a solo artist.  

At seven tracks, Asleep To My Own Magic is somewhere in between an EP and an LP, and yet it feels like a complete journey, the kind of record self-reflective songwriters feel compelled to make. During our conversation at Minella‘s Diner in Wayne, PA, Nicole and I hit on all kinds of topics from religion, to the perils of the music business, to keeping one’s inner child alive.  

I really enjoyed connecting with Nikki and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did! 

JKF ❤

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 15 - Anthony Renzulli  

After just celebrating the 20th anniversary of a band he was reluctant to name after himself, Anthony Renzulli has earned the right to say he’s in it for all the right reasons. You have to be when you decide to put our a solo record in 2022 that sounds like it could have been made in 1932. Anthony has played just about every sub-genre of rock in his career, starting out as a drummer in metal and rap rock, then shifting to being a band leader on the instrument that was always within arm’s reach since before he could even play it - the guitar. He came into the blues through the portal of 60’s rock - Cream, Zepplin, Hendrix - and found his way back to the Delta Blues from the early 20th century, devouring music from artists like Robert Johnson and Elmore James. 

Anthony recently finished a full-length blues record, aptly titled Mad, Mad Blues and I was lucky to be able to preview a vinyl test pressing, which honestly transported me to a place I don't usually visit in a musical sense.  

Anthony and I met up at Meadows Diner in Blackwood, NJ and we talked about his long strange journey to get back to right where he started from. As with several of the conversations I've been having lately on TatD, this one could have easily made two episodes, but I think I got the essence of who Anthony Renzulli is as an artist, and a truly good dude who has dedicated his life to his love of music. Enjoy!!

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 14 - Maggie Poulos  

Maggie Poulos is a fascinating example of a talented musician, who is also deeply embedded in the business side of the music world. She’s fronted numerous bands such as the all-female NYC trio The Crushes. And as the founder of Mixtape Media, Maggie has done PR for such high-profile clients as Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Cake, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Duncan Sheik. Since moving from New York back home to the Philadelphia suburbs, she has become the go-to publicist of the Philly indie rock scene, working with Mo Louda and the Humble, Don McCloskey, and some band known as the Caulfields.. Most recently she landed some amazing press for a 1-woman theatrical production called “Queen of Fishtown.” She’s a great conversationalist with strongly held beliefs and a passion for that thing called rock ’n’ roll, simultaneously nostalgic for the MTV-era musical icons she grew up loving, yet constantly on the lookout for great new artists and ways to help them succeed in the musical landscape that we’re all facing today. During our extended lunch at Nudy's Cafe in Paoli, PA (where we were kicked out, having lost track of time for close to hour after the place was technically closed), we chatted about songwriting, politics, and presidential assassination attempts, among other things. ❤

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 13 - Annalise Curtin  

Underestimate Annalise Curtin at your own peril! She may be diminutive in size but so many things about this dynamo of a human are BIG.... big personality, big smile, big laugh, big talent (I am in perpetual awe of her finger picking abilities on guitar), and big, BIG voice.  

I met Annalise back in 2011 at an open mic (the weekly "Late Night Series" at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where I was the songwriting prof at the time). She's come (and gone) a long way since then, having lived and immersed herself in several different music scenes (Cleveland, Milwaukee, Seattle) over the span of several years, while always keeping her connections to Philly strong. Even when she lived in different parts of the country, she always made a point to hit me up when she came back east to visit, and we've shared many a laugh at many diners since she's been back living in Philly the past few years.  

After a long hiatus releasing recorded music, Annalise took the 2020 lockdown as an opportunity to get back in the game, releasing a string of killer singles and collaborating with artists across genres (and geographical borders), expanding her musical horizons and putting her name in the conversation of Philly artists to watch.  

She and I have been doing more shows together and we have our first collab single ("Ghost Writer") in the pipeline to be recorded later this year!

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 12 - Joe Trainor  

Joe Trainor first landed on my radar as the front man of the aptly named Joe Trainor Trio, known to us super fans as JT3.. his Ben Folds-y piano rock was a first-state staple for a full decade in the earlier part of the 2000’s but then he moved into a different musical space entirely, forming The Rock Orchestra, an entity that features multiple large lineups of various musicians playing the music of the classic bands that inform Joe’s musical sensibilities. On top of all that, he’s also a key member of the team over at Gable Music Ventures, the promotional juggernaut responsible for all kinds of events, like the beloved Ladybug Festival. 

Joe and I met up at the Marsh Road Diner in Wilmington and among other things, one of my favorite parts of this conversation has to do with both of us sharing what it’s like to feel the inevitable pull of aging as a rock musician and what our own strategies might be as we show no signs of stopping. We also do an unexpectedly deep dive into Styx.. the band, not the river. This podcast could have been twice the length it is now, but rest in the knowledge that you're getting the absolute crème de la crème of our conversation!

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 11 - Ron DiSilvestro  

Ron DiSilvestro - RAHHHHHHHN as I like to call him - is one of my closest friends from the Philadelphia music scene in part because I have worked with him in several different capacities over the 20+ years I’ve known him. The man does so many things at a high level. He's a go-to record producer, engineer, mixer, session drummer. He's also an inspiring audio recording educator with his own music school and production company RDS Music and Media. I've played in numerous bands with him such as the Awesome Bros. and the Jane Anchor, which I had to fire him from, but that's water under the bridge 😜 

Ron's current band, Superunknown, a Chris Cornell / Soundgarden / Audioslave / Temple of the Dog tribute band, recently signed with a major booking agency and has been touring all over the map in recent months and only stand to get bigger. I've had the pleasure of playing the Eddie Vedder role in their rendition of "Hunger Strike" onstage a couple times and it feels as close to the real deal as you're ever gonna get at this point. 

Ron met up with me at the Moonlight Family Diner in Glenside, PA - just a short drive from Forge Recording, where Ron was the salaried house engineer for fourteen years before forming RDS Music and Media. By summer of 2022, Ron will base RDS out of legendary Studio Four in Conshohocken, PA. 

I hope you enjoy our great conversation! 
JKF ❤

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 10 - Erin Fox  

I met up with my friend Erin Fox recently at the Fishtown Diner in Philly to have breakfast for dinner and we had a fascinating conversation that actually lasted long after the lavalier mics were turned off, but what we did capture in the recording was the backstory of a person who truly embodies the name of her alt rock band Resilient, because she has faced down some serious life and career challenges to stay the least. Whether it was playing bar gigs in her Mom’s cover band since the age of 7, or signing shady music biz contracts by the time she was in her teens, or having brain surgery in her 20’s, Erin Fox has survived things that would absolutely have broken some people. Yet, she pushes forth and just keeps getting better at her craft. Her 2021 album Fuzzy Logic sounds like a lost mid-60's baroque pop classic, with soaring melodies, sophisticated chord changes, and lush instrumentation.  I'm extremely grateful she took the time to have this conversation with me. 

I hope you'll take a listen and enjoy!

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 9 - Judah Kim  

Judah Kim is one of my favorite songwriters and vocalists in the Philly music scene. I was particularly excited to meet with him and break bread for the first time because we share a lot of experiences in common as Asian American musicians. Interestingly, our initial encounters over a decade ago when I was playing in IKE and he was in his band Stonethrown were perhaps not so feel-good, but I just chalk that up to "where our heads were at" during that time of our lives and point on our respective musical journeys. These days, I can say I got nothing but love for the guy, as he is a truly talented writer, guitarist, and singer. 

Judah and I recently hit up the Penn Restaurant in Oreland, Pennsylvania - a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it establishment that just so happens to be just down the road from Forge Recording, where we both have done our share of projects. Judah is currently working with my good pal, Ron Disilvestro, having Ron mix an ambitious collection of singles that Judah is releasing at the breakneck pace of one a month. In 2022 alone, he’s put out killer songs like “Right Where We Belong,” “Back Door,” “Hey There Kids,” and a brand new gem called "The Real Kind."

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 8 - Joey DiTullio  

Friends, it was bound to happen: "a very special" Talking At The Diner is upon us.  Don't worry: nobody gets hurt or molested like in those questionable episodes of Webster or Diff'rent Strokes from back in the day. But while the premise of this podcast has always been that it's a show in which I have stimulating conversations with fellow musicians in the comfortable confines of the diner of their choice, this episode's conversation takes place not inside the diner, but on the way to it, and on the way back from it. Why, you may ask? Well, because the diner... WAS CLOSED!! 


However, since we were already mic'd up on our one-mile trek to the Whitman Diner in Turnersville, NJ,  Joey DiTullio and I just kept right on walking and talking! 
For the uninitiated, Joey DiTullio has been a major figure in my musical life for close to a decade now. I met him when he was a teenage guitar prodigy and he has since evolved into one of the best all around musicians I know. He’s a multi-threat instrumentalist, one of my favorite singers to harmonize with, he’s now also a producer, engineer, go-to session musician. He does it all. He’s been a cornerstone bandmate of mine and there is no doubt that he is the OG Meddling Kid. Please enjoy this great conversation!

"Talking At The Diner" Podcast: Ep. 7 - Sug Daniels  

As a musician who grew up in Delaware and spent many years trying to find myself, my tribe, and my opportunity to shine, I really relate to Sug Daniels. This diminutive powerhouse of an artist is fast becoming (if she isn't already) the beating heart of the Delaware music community. She's a musician, who in some ways is just starting to gain the recognition she deserves - her band Hoochi Coochi broke into Philly just this past year, gaining the coveted opening spot at WXPN's Xponential Fest. As a solo artist, she's a genre-bending electric ukulele-playing dynamo.. a little bit folk, a little bit soul and R&B, and she's even done collabs that veer into the punk/garage rock realm. In other words, she can not be pigeonholed. In addition to her musical pursuits, she is an ardent booster and facilitator for her fellow musicians, with a music blog that amplifies new releases and notable shows, and a series of info-packed videos on the best practices for indie artists who are trying to navigate the music business in 2022. 

We had a great conversation at the Melrose Diner in south Philly, mere blocks from her new digs in the City of Brotherly Love. Hope you enjoy listening! 

By the way.. if you're in the Philly area, you can catch Sug at the City Winery on 2/16/22 as part of the Black Opry Revue - a collective of black country, folk, blues, and Americana artists.