We had a great conversation with Tacoma based roots musician Kirk Reese this past August. We talked about passing guitars down through generations, playing open mics and how to wander creatively. We also talk about where you should not wander! (Hint: gated communities).
Kirk can often be found performing around town both solo and with the Grit City Pickers!
Mat Maneri is one of the few prominent jazz musicians to make the viola his primary instrument. He joined Flotation Device host Michael Schell to talk about his music, including his Ash Quartet’s upcoming Earshot Jazz performance at Cornish Raisbeck Auditorium on Monday, October 30 (tickets and info at Earshot.org).
“Founded in 1998, the New York-based power trio Harriet Tubman embraces freedom as its governing principle, as evinced by its name and its seamless interweaving of soul, rock, jazz and avant-garde elements. Bassist Melvin Gibbs joined Flotation Device host Michael Schell to talk about the band’s upcoming Earshot Jazz performance at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute on Friday, October 27 (tickets and info at Earshot.org).”
Sometimes the business of making radio gets in the way of talking about radio. I’m reminded of the opening lines to the Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter song “The Wheel:”
“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on, You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.”
True enough, you might say, but aren’t the next two lines:
“Won’t you try just a little bit harder, Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?”
In the constant whirl of what’s coming up next the things that have happened, regrettably, sometimes don’t get their due.
KBCS has been blessed with stability. We’ve long had a group of passionate volunteers with the unique mixture of time and technical knowhow and musical knowledge (and sometimes the music itself) to curate and host a radio show. When a show does go away and is not replaced with something similar it’s often that one of those crucial components is not to be easily found. It’s the very uniqueness of many of our programs that make us love them but can also be what causes the acute sadness when they go off the air.
The question I’m most asked when a show goes off the air is why did I cancel it? I likely didn’t cancel it. Our volunteers work hard and continually make delightful radio that everyone at KBCS is quite proud of and happy to air.
Usually, a show ends because a volunteer has said what they’ve needed to say and feel that it’s time to move on to other pursuits. We’ve even had hosts leave and then return at a later date. In fact, one of our longtime favorites is considering such a thing right now. Dare I say: stay tuned? I daren’t. Not yet, at least.
A few updates:
Hawai`i Radio Connection
Hawai`i Radio Connection is not going off the air. That said, Uncle Ed and Maile are stepping down as regular hosts. Uncle Ed has been with KBCS since first discovering the station at 1993’s Northwest Folklife Festival. His passion and knowledge and collection of Hawaiian music is extraordinary. For the past 12 years Uncle Ed has co-hosted their week of HRC with Maile. Maile brought a spontaneous and infectious spark to the show. Their chemistry and humor together, not to mention their exquisite musical tastes, will be deeply missed.
Music of Africa
We’ve been proud to host Music of Africa since 1993. It was hosted over the years by Jon Kertzer, Andy Frankel, Hans Kelstrup and the late Doug Patterson. This 30-year run has been beautiful and inspiring and we thank all those who made it happen. You can still catch Hans on the radio as the host of African Airwaves at the mighty good KBFG in Seattle. There are rumors that Jon Kertzer isn’t quite done with radio just yet. Time will tell.
Earlier this year City Soul went off the air after 19 years. J Justice and Atlee brought the grooves and the soul of the Emerald City to our airwaves. Their show was hip and sophisticated and the perfect salve for a Friday night. Keep your eyes and ears open because you can still catch J Justice and Atlee spinning live around town.
Folksounds ended an astonishing run of over 40 years this past August. Eric Hardee (32 years) and Jean Geiger (26 years) gave us an expansive showcase every week in the very best of acoustic music. Their passion and service and curatorial skills made Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM a destination.
We are quite grateful to all of the KBCS volunteers, both past and present.
Ah, summertime. We’re remembering that fun in-studio we did with Sam Russell and the Harborrats on July 22! We chatted about boomboxes, recording favorite songs off the radio, evangelical fervor, and the healing power of music.
A mighty fine in-studio with Cooper Stoulil. We chatted about creating memorable melodies, how our limitations can often be creative gifts, and a lovely thought that the aboutness of art can sometimes miss the whole point. Embrace the abstract, the feeling, the moment.
Andrew Duhon stopped by the KBCS studio on Wednesday, October 4th and we had a terrific conversation about PNW logging roads, how walking in a circle may not take you back to where you started from and being inspired by nature in songwriting as both metaphor and our place within in it. That took us to chatting about kudzu which took us to poems by Robert Frost and James Dickey and even a choice Henry David Thoreau quote from Self Reliance. C’mon now!
You can hear the interview plus 3 live songs above!
We just had a rollicking and free-wheelin’ conversation with singer-songwriter Carl Christensen. Everything from George Orwell’s treatise on loneliness to how to play the talkin’ blues to whether or not an artist can actually write collaboratively with an audience was discussed. Carl also played 3 songs!
We recently had a great conversation with Her Mountain Majesty. Her Mountain Majesty is gutsy stomping band fronted by Andi Lee Scher. We chatted about making (and taking) space as a performer, building community, and how to harmonize by smart phone. She was joined in the studio by the talented Katrina Burrows and they performed 3 songs live for us. Check it out!
Not being able to quite reach my cup of coffee from where I sit I suppose I will write. I believe I’ll use this space to write about problems and, hopefully, offer a few solutions. Or if that’s an overswing, then at the very least a bit of breezy lucidity.
There’s a moment in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice when the lazy joy of magic badly used becomes terror. Mickey awakes to find himself awash in the water of his overzealous broom creation and, in a wildly savage sequence, takes care of his little wooden problem with an axe. Of course, that’s just the beginning of the mouse’s troubles.
At around 9:30 this morning I received an email from a local musician with a song attached. He mused that I must receive dozens of these each day. He wasn’t wrong. In fact, by that time I had already received 32 new albums. Seriously.
Wo ist meine axt?
But before I get to chopping, I should say that the above mentioned song – which I did listen to – was lovely. It was a sad country beaut and gave me goosebumps.
When I was a kid I had small Superstar radio/cassette player, and I could simultaneously jam down the record and play button way faster than you. That’s it. That’s my only true gift given from god. But it’s enough.
With the patience of Job (I mean, discounting that part of the story where he really flies off the handle and lets Jehovah have it) I would sit in my room, door shut, and listen and wait with twitching fingers hovering over the plastic buttons for a song I needed to come over the FM.
Sure, every song on those cassettes was missing the first note or two, but love is love and it is not perfect.
Have you written a song so good that if you heard it on the radio you’d mash down the record button to capture it? I got one today. I know that’s not many out of the many songs I’ve already received and what I will inevitably still receive, but – and for me this is true –
Another thought: It’s best to attach a download link to the original email, which will cut down on unnecessary back and forth.
I don’t reply to every email. Accept this as a non-apologetic acknowledgment of my inadequate supply of time and energy. That’s blunt, I know, but it’s also true.
A final thought.
How did you answer the above question about your songwriting? I’m reminded of a story G.K. Chesterton wrote in his book Orthodoxy where a publisher pal of his said about another writer “that man will get on; he believes in himself.” Chesterton then remarked that he knew his publishing friend hid himself away from a drunken poet and his dreary tragedies and an elderly minister and his dry epics, both of whom believed in themselves. He went on to write that “believing in one’s self” is “hysterical and superstitious,” and “is one of the commonest signs of a rotter.”
We should ponder those bold assertions on the weakness of self-confidence.
All this to say, you might love your song, but I might think it needs a re-write (and probably a bridge), before my fingers twitch with that old adolescent urge to hit record.
None of this is to suggest that my lack of reply, were you to send me music, is an avoidance – it’s not – nor am I at all insinuating that you’re a boring drunk – as if!
N= (A x B) / T + E + (or -) C
Iaan’s Neglect equals Albums received by 9:30 AM divided by Time plus Energy plus (or minus) Coffee.
But – and this is the important part – you might write beauts which you rarely share. And maybe your song would give us all goosebumps, were we so lucky to hear it on some Wednesday morning when the coffee is just out of reach. So go ahead. Send it in.