DJ Mike Show #202 – 3/27/2021: Interview with Josh Caterer of Smoking Popes!

DJ Mike Lidskin spent ten years at a National Public Radio station in Chicago, returned to California in 1997 and created Twirl Radio, and now hosts 30 hours of programming a month at Woody Radio. His two shows, “The Show With No Name” and “The Saturday Thing”, feature the finest independent music and artists from the rock era. Mike’s on a mission to not “just spin rock music, but to educate listeners about this vital art form.” Indeed, he doesn’t just announce the songs, but gives histories about some of the artists, the albums, and the songs themselves.

You can catch the DJ Mike Shows live on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. PST and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. PST at Woody Radio,

Artist | Track | Album
XTC | Melt The Guns | English Settlement
Harvey Danger | Carlotta Valdez | Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?
Alpha Cat | Something of Value | Pearl Harbor 2020
Trip Wire | Act Fast | Once & Always
The Brothers Steve | She | #1
The Claustrophobes | Con Man | Underdog Pop
Blake Jones & The Trike Shop | My Soft Rock Girlfriend | Make
Easy Love | Alright | Wander Feeler

Josh Caterer interview
Josh Caterer | Rags to Riches | The Hideout Sessions
Josh Caterer | Megan | The Hideout Sessions

Sex 66 | Numb | Grew Up Down
NRBQ | Ridin’ In My Car | Ridin’ In My Car
Lisa Said | Peel the Moon | Estranged
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. | American Affluenza | Catnip Dynamite
Zed Cats | Walking Distance | Incognito
Brian Eno And John Cale | Been There Done That | Wrong Way Up
Krista D | Penny for your Thoughts | Look at me… I’m Krista D
Go National | Straight Up Jen | got my one good eye on You
Nushu | Another Rainy Weekend | Nushu
Frank Black | Two Reelers | Teenager of the Year
Lannie Flowers, Danny Wilkerson, Orbis Max | One Of A Kind | Single release
Aimee Mann | I Can’t Get My Head Around It | The Forgotten Arm
Sunshine Boys | The World Turning Round | Work and Love
50 Watt Heavy | Absolutely Fading (Nasty) | Better Days
Tamar Berk | socrates & me | the restless dreams of youth
The Clash | Police On My Back | Sandinista!
The Amplifier Heads | Funhouse Mirrors | Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks
Murv Douglas | This Is Happeneing | Single release
The Who | Sparks | The Kids Are Alright
Natalie Cortez & the Ultra Violets | You Dear | Stupid Fresh Or Stupid Bad
Petrified Max | The Lucky Couple | The Lucky Couple
Dolph Chaney | Cuddle Party | This Is Dolph Chaney
Nolan Voide | Indie-Rock Superstar | The Forever Endeavor
Felsen | Skydiving Without A Parachute | Accidental Drowning
Hannah Judson | Parachute | Stingray
Duncan Faure | Ball and Chain | Pronounced Four Uh
Rachel Taylor Brown | Portland | Run Tiny Human
Rachel Taylor Brown | Maker | Run Tiny Human
Corey Ledet Zydeco | It’s Gonna Be Alright | Corey Ledet Zydeco
The Antennae | Lavender | Single release
Elvis Costello | The Imposter | Get Happy!!
Marshall Holland | When The Rain Comes | Paper Airplane
Bellygunner | Negative Kid | Machine Gun Built For Two
Thee Holy Brothers | Let The Great World Spin | My Name Is Sparkle
Banjo Bones | Walking On A Thin Line | Lucifer’s Hand
mylittlebrother | Responsibility | Howl
Anton Barbeau | Berliner Grotesk | Berliner Grotesk
Chris Church | Smile | Game Dirt
Steve Barton | When She’s Lost Your Mind | Tall Tales And Alibis – album 1
Star Collector | Green Eyes | Game Day
Rockpile | Poor Jenny | Seconds Of Pleasure [Bonus Tracks]
Jet Electro | Through | Jet Electro

This was an episode I was really looking forward to. That’s almost not fair to say, since I look forward to every episode, but this time, I got to meet Josh Caterer of the legendary band Smoking Popes. Smoking Popes have been a part of the fabric of Woody Radio since the beginning.

Like so many of us Popes fans, I first heard them in the 90s, as they emerged as part of the incredibly fertile Chicago music scene. Yes, THAT scene–the one that gave to the world the likes of Urge Overkill, Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins, Material Issue, Veruca Salt, and so many more. See what I’m getting at? It was a great time for music. And Smoking Popes, to my ears, always stood out a bit, sounding kind of like The Clash, but with a really great singer, a crooner. That really great singer would be Josh Caterer. Josh and his brothers toured the U.S. and Europe, and made several records together.

Fast forward to 2020. Josh had this intriguing idea to record a live album, with his current bandmates John San Juan and John Perrin, incorporating rock arrangements of classics from our parents’ and grandparents’ era. Covers of tunes originally sung by such legends as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Roberta Flack, and others. The three of them created rock arrangements for these great songs, decided which ones would work best, and booked The Hideout, a beloved Chicago venue with deep ties to the community. Now keep in mind that this was while the pandemic was in full gear, so there was no audience in the venue. But the show was streamed to a live audience.

The idea worked beautifully. The resulting album, The Hideout Sessions, contains all the fire and spontaneity of the live performance. But without people in the room, the recording came out really clean and crisp. There were a few Smoking Popes originals mixed in with the classics, and it was really stunning to see Josh’s lyrics on a level playing field with these grand old tunes. The mix of songs worked perfectly. It’s a joy to listen to. If I had to pick two to listen to first, I’d say listen to “My Funny Valentine”–it’s a stone-cold, smoldering version. And then listen to “Need You Around”. I’ve always liked this one. Take Josh’s smooth, lovely vocals, remove the original punk arrangement, arrange it more like what you’d hear in the 1950s–with a tasteful horn solo to boot. It’s still rock and roll, and it stands up proudly alongside the classics. It’s an amazing, well thought out transformation.

The Hideout Sessions is a wonderful album. I really enjoyed and appreciated the deep dive conversation with Josh. Get yours at


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