By Melynda Shamie
When people ask me about whether my husband and I have a “meet cute,” they get one of two stories, and the one they hear depends on whether or not they’re in journalism.
Our fellow journos hear about the enthusiastic, just out of J-school copy editor excitedly showing me how to use a (hop into the wayback machine, friends!) proportion wheel to scale photos when laying out a page.
Everybody else hears about the mix CD: We’d been talking about music, and he mentioned his favorite band, Lucky Boys Confusion. I hadn’t heard of them; he looked shocked. The next day, I found on my desk a CD he’d made for me with what I now know were the DuPage County-based punk-inspired rock band’s greatest hits at the time. Almost 25 years later, LBC is still very special to me — and so is the entire Chicago local music scene.
So it’s not surprising that’s where my podcast journey started: Local music.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, my friend Andy King runs Aux Audio Podcast Network, and just as I was looking for something to do with my Sunday morning “me time,” Aux launched a new show, “Set List with Jeff Mills.”
The concept intrigued me: Geneva native Mills, one of the singers for Chicago scene powerhouse Violet Crime — also a favorite band of mine — interviews other local artists. But it’s not just a “What kind of tree would you be?” sort of interview. It’s like fantasy football, but musical. Each guest drafts their perfect five song set — any band, any song, any era, any genre — and then they have to defend it.
Once I found out the first week’s guest was Mild West singer Kylie Bruetman? I was sold! I’m mildly wild over Mild West’s boppy, high-energy catalog and was curious to hear what Bruetman might pick and how he’d defend it. (spoiler alert: It includes the Bee Gees, which seems fitting, somehow)
My one concern going into the show is that it might be a little too inside baseball, having one musician interviewing another. But it wasn’t. It was fun and accessible, whether you’re also a musician, a huge fan of the local scene like I am, or just somebody who likes music.
And that’s exactly what kept me coming back to “Set List” week after week for both seasons, which include a pretty impressive lineup of guests, from indie rockers, such as Claire Zhang from the Splits and Dean Sinclair from Capital Soiree, to guests whose names might be more widely recognizable, like Glenview native Packy Lundholm from I Fight Dragons and EDM DJ Align from Schaumburg.
Mills even turned the tables and was interviewed for the season one finale by Daily Herald music writer, page designer and — full disclosure — my husband, Brian Shamie.
While “Set List” currently is on a hiatus, both seasons are available on Aux Audio’s website and Apple Podcasts; they are certainly worth a listen. And putting together your perfect set list? It’s a challenging but fun party game/ice breaker. Getting to know people’s taste in music is a great way to get to know them. It’s a language we all speak, which makes it something we can all share.
It would be a mistake to not mention Jeff Mills’ outstanding solo work, including “Sing (Something New)” and “No Apologies Tour.” .
• Melynda Shamie is a senior multiplatform editor at the Daily Herald. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you have a fantasy five-song set list, she’d love to see it!