Friday, December 21, 2012

Sharon -- David Bromberg

You’re probably sick of the boring tales from my days as a volunteer DJ at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis.  Get ready to cure your insomnia, because I’m doing it again.  You have yet to hear the tale of my first time on the air.

You may recall a semi-running character in my blog posts by the name of Kent.  He was my only Blues Music ally back during my college years.  Kent and I were probably the only two guys in our fraternity who ever even heard of KFAI let alone listened to it (no offense to any former frat brothers).

One day Kent heard about some deal KFAI had going on Saturday mornings called “The Wave Project.”  The Wave Project basically let anyone come on the air and take up an hour slot for whatever they wanted to do.  You could play music, talk about politics, read fiction, whatever...the hour was yours.  Kent thought it would be a good idea if we went on to do a Blues show.  So he signed us up.

The Wave Project started at 6AM Saturday mornings.  On Friday night, I did something really stupid.  I went out and got wasted.  I barely got two hours of sound sleep before I had to pull my sorry ass off the couch.  I dragged my bag of bones down the stairs to my car and headed off to pick up Kent.  It felt like I had a sandbag in my head.

Way back during these early days of KFAI Community Radio, there were not a lot of funds to keep the station going.  KFAI had to survive on the donations of a small community of listeners.  KFAI also benefitted from the generosity of an old church in south Minneapolis.  The studios were located in a makeshift studio in the top of the enclosed church bell tower.  You literally walked up spiral staircases to the 2nd level where the record stacks were located.  Then you went up another floor and squeezed into this tiny studio with just barely room enough for 3 people, two turntables and an old radio console with circular knobs for volume control and mixing.  The place was being held together by chewing gum, duct tape and paperclips.

The station provided an engineer to us since we didn’t know how to operate the board.  So we just sat back, handed him the records to play and then occasionally we spoke into the microphone thinking we were cool.

The show went very well.  The engineer liked what we were playing.  So did another guy who called into the studios to give the local music venue schedule over the air with background music.  We started to get listener phone calls too.  However, they were not the phone calls we were fantasizing about.

Kent answered the first one and it was some punk who requested The Circle Jerks.  Kent said, “That sounds great, why don’t you guys sit in a circle and jerk off.”  I didn’t have time to stop and laugh my ass off because another phone call quickly came.  The engineer said I had to go downstairs to get the other line.  So I leaped down the spiral stairs and grabbed the other line.
I need to divert from the narrative for a moment.  You will recall my blog post from July 19th, 2012.  The harrowing story of my near death experience in Indiana.   The song in question for that post is “Will Not Be Your Fool” by David Bromberg.

Well, it so happened that that was the song playing when all these phone calls came in.  If you listened to the track on that post, you will recall the lyrics making a disparaging remark about “faggots.”

Anyway, I answered the phone call and it was a gay guy who didn’t find the song amusing.  At first I got defensive and was trying to dream up a good comeback like Kent.  But then it occurred to me that he was right.  I apologized and said that we didn’t put the song on to make a statement, we just put it on because it was an awesome Blues song.  He accepted my apology and we parted peacefully.  I felt good about that.

Kent and I were having such a good time, we didn’t want it to end.  The sandbags in my head had disappeared.  

Buried someplace in a cardboard suitcase full of old cassette tapes, is the on-air recording of that Saturday morning on The Wave Project.

Since I already played “Will Not Be Your Fool,” I will offer another classic Bromberg song, “Sharon.”  It is a great tale of a guy who goes to see a carnival tent stripper.  I have to strongly recommend you listen.

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