The human ear is by far one of the most unique sensory instruments we have at our disposal. It would be fair to say that the eyes stand at the top of the throne, but for many, ears transmit information far more euphoric than colors, and shades could ever do on their own. Throughout centuries, this stimulation has given birth to multiple, blissful offerings that we cannot imagine being out of our daily lives. Spoken-word, live theater, sermons, movies, you name it. But all those things would not be enjoyable without the science known as music. A science that has been perfected, until someone else comes with another way to innovate it. Many have come, many have remained, many have gone away, yet many are still crafting and molding the clay that will change everything we know about the art form. Two notable potters, although apart for most of the year, have planted a beacon in the halls of music’s future. Jared “Jingle Jared” Gutstadt and Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd’s love for Americana, and storytelling has brought to fruition a body of works that have received high praise by Variety and American Songwriter.
The podcast, written, produced, and directed by Gutstadt through a partnership between “Jingle Punks” and iHeart Podcast Networks, has garnered more than 500K+ listeners during it’s run. Climactically reaching the milestone of their intimate performance at the Venice Beach-based, legendary Winston House. The duo performed 3 of their written prominent songs from the podcast series, produced by the great T-Bone Burnett. It’s only right that a full body of work follows their many accomplishments together, bridging the gap between innovation and musical evolution. Today, “Bear and a Banjo” officially releases its full album with a bonus track for the world to witness the next point in music’s history that will be marveled and studied in generations to come. Executive produced by Jingle Punks and released through EMPIRE Nashville, the wonderful ear candy is available now on all music platforms.
Here at TheUrbanTwist.com, we were granted the privilege of picking the brain of Jingle Jared, one half of “Bear and a Banjo”, to gauge his view on the momentum that they have started and where he hopes it will take the music scene to.
When did you realize that music was it for you, that it was going to be your life’s work?
That’s a funny question. I can remember when I was in high school, I didn’t like doing book reports. I would take popular songs and rewrite them like Weird Al and turn them into my book report. I remember the first time learning how to play the guitar, I did Guns and Roses’ “Patient” as a song about the Proterozoic Era rock formation. I took all the words and it shielded me from my worst fear of talking in front of an audience, and I would get a cheap laugh out of it. My guitar has kind of always been my shield.
With both of you and Poo Bear’s accolades combined, it would be hard for someone to read through them and think that you both would come together to do an Americana, Folk, story-based podcast. What brought on the passion behind creating Bear and a Banjo?
All credit to Poo Bear! We met randomly through the most bizarre series of events ever. I was really drunk at this bar, don’t even remember going to this bar, and I met Justin Bieber. And Justin introduced me to Poo Bear. That night I just wasn’t myself, but Poo Bear the next day texted me and said: “Hey, let’s work.” That same day, we wrote the theme song for Roots: The Miniseries (2016) for History Channel. I picked up a banjo instead of a guitar, and he said “Hey, look at us. We’re Bear and a Banjo.”, and it started there. We have been working on music since essentially 2014. The next thing that came after that was Pro Bull Riding, we wrote a song for Steven Tyler and G Eazy for the UFC. We got into this rhythm where we would write a commercial song for someone else, but then we would stay behind and write Blues and Americana songs. The next thing we knew, we had a whole album. Once T-Bone Burnett, who is the King of Americana and Country, got a hold of it, it took on a whole other trajectory.
The music has been amazing and using it throughout this star-studded Podcast format has been revolutionary. Will “Bear and a Banjo” future releases be used in new, future storied podcasts?
We will never rule anything out. We are really focused on firing up several new projects that are very much aligned with music and story. Poo, and I love working with each other. Every now and then we have this amazing friendship where we aren’t too dependent on each other. When he is in “Bieber mode”, I leave him alone. When I’m in my mode, we can go months without talking, but then out of the blue while in Bieber mode, he will ask me “What’s Next?”. We are both thinking about it between him working with Bieber, him going on tour with Zac Brown, and with me with this whole new slate of content. After Bear and a Banjo took off, I got approached by different artists in the Hip-Hop, Country, and R&B space to repeat the idea of creating podcasts that have music and stories in them. That will be a big focus for me.
We have seen glimpses of this in Hip-Hop and R&B in the past when a certain artist dropped a five-part radio series that had many glued to the radio for weeks on end. Do you think that Bear and a Banjo has inspired the flood gates to open for audio stories highlighting music for other genres?
Oh yeah! I am working on something in the Hip-Hop space with some big names. Even though this project is country, I have relationships with different artists like Lil’ Wayne, Ty Dolla Sign, and Big Krit. I really started Bear and a Banjo because it made the most sense to focus on that because Poo and I were the talent. Simultaneously, I’m thinking about more people are on their phones, or smart speakers, or in their hotel rooms listening to things than ever before. The digital phone has unlocked the world of entertainment. Now that Spotify and Apple make audio content so accessible, for me I want to create formats of the future that starts with audio that moves into TV, and then festivals like Lollapalooza. Combining music and storytelling.
If you had a time machine and could go back to a major point in music history? What would it be? And if you could, would you just be a witness or be part of it?
I would have loved to be with the Peer family, during the Great Depression, being the first people to document recorded music remotely. Where they went and out and discovered the Carter Family. As much as I love Elvis, The Beatles, The Clash, and Run DMC, I would have loved to be part of that Big Bang of recorded music. That is why with Bear and a Banjo, I want to bring Poo and I back to that world where for the first time technology defined how people listened to music much like how we are in the Spotify world. Before that, there were CDs, before that there were tapes, and it just blew people’s minds that you can go to other parts of America where you didn’t have to rely on a studio. The whole span of America opened up after that, so I would say the Bristol Sessions.
The collaboration between Jingle Punks and iHeart Media that made “Bear and a Banjo” possible was a one of a kind and very authentic one. What does it take to keep innovating in a world where music and the industry are always changing?
I think we just need to keep up with the way kids discover music. I think that with social media right now with Tik Tok and Podcasting. I really do see podcasts becoming the music videos of the future. I see a world where every artist will have to have podcasts to accompany their album. I see the world where the labels will get smart and look at a story the same way they look at songs. When the Beatles came out, their story was just as important as their songs. Same with the Rolling Stones; the good boys, the bad boys creating mythology. So all we are doing with podcasts is adding a layer of mythology, but it goes a level deeper. Kind of how liner notes used to be, now we are in a digital era. Liner notes used to be the only way I could get to know my stars. Now we have social media, podcasting, and award shows where we can see them live.
Are we possibly on the brink of a new trend? Many listeners are agreeing that this format is worth the time and the function of their ears. Bear and a Banjo‘s musical podcast has captured the attention of music and audiobook fans, blurring the lines to any entertainment enthusiast’s delight. Stay tuned to TheUrbanTwist.com for more updates.
Born and raised on the island streets of New Providence, Bahamas; H. Sylver grew up in a Haitian household that nurtured his love for music and theatrical performances, spoken word poetry, and writing. This passion gained him a spot on Island/Def Jam's Street Team, where he became an ambassador for hip hop, promoting artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jeezy, Nas, Rick Ross, and many more. He has great insight and analysis of the current music scene, providing written reports on trending news, and original think pieces. He currently resides in Baltimore Maryland with his family, and is currently writing his first novel.