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Jamie Kilstein

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Biography

A leftist comedian whose material is informed by progressive politics and the chaos of contemporary culture, Jamie Kilstein was born in Washington, D.C. on May 17, 1982. Kilstein and his two siblings spent most of their childhood in Pennington, New Jersey, and by his own admission, once he hit his teenage years, Jamie was more interested in smoking weed and playing loud music than minding his parents. After having his ears opened by Bad Religion's Stranger Than Fiction and Pearl Jam's Ten, Kilstein began making music himself, though his initial efforts playing the drums proved futile and he switched over to guitar. Influenced by the energy and immediacy of punk but also drawing on the sound of electric blues and classic rock, Kilstein dropped out of high school to focus full-time on a jam band he had formed, with Jamie on guitar and lead vocals. When the band fell apart, he opted to put his skills as a frontman to use as a standup comic. Initially, Kilstein performed fairly traditional material, but before long he began incorporating edgy political rants into his act and found new audiences at poetry slams and alternative performance spaces. A 2007 appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival helped break Kilstein to a new audience, and soon he was playing music festivals, comedy clubs, and theaters around the world. In 2008, Kilstein released his first comedy album, Please Buy My Jokes, and he released three more spoken word albums between 2009 and 2012. Kilstein and his spouse, Allison Kilkenny, also host Citizen Radio, an Internet radio show featuring a mix of news, commentary, and entertainment. After years of working outside the mainstream of American comedy, Kilstein began exploring different forms of expression, and found himself making his way back to music. He began playing guitar again, and formed a band to provide backing for his funny but aggressive lyrics. Calling his new group Jamie Kilstein & the Agenda, he struck a deal with the respected punk label Don Giovanni Records, and in July 2016, they released his first album with the group. Produced by Kevin Salem, A Bit Much featured both songs and ranting bits set to music, with an eclectic spirit that encompassed punk, blues, roots rock, and folk. ~ Mark Deming
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