The Geography of Rock & Roll and the World Around You

I got a posting on my Facebook wall about a band that was from Iowa, The Autumn Project. The question was about if I knew about them because we’re both from the same state and the person really hoped they would come to Vancouver.

It seems like I’ve seen their name float by me at some point, but it’s tough to say that I know a whole lot about them. Reading up on them a little bit, I found out that they’re from Des Moines, Iowa. And actually, they’re right in the middle of one of those “indefinite hiatus” situations.

But the thing that struck me is when I found on that they were from the central portion of Iowa, my first thought was, “Of course I don’t know who they are, they’re from the central portion of the state.” And it’s completely true.

A night out at Gabe's Oasis (2003)

My hub for a music scene was Iowa City for a number of years. There were those two or three hour road trips for a show on occasion, and that was often for acts from other states or countries on their tour route.

I think that once you start to get into a local music scene, your efforts of venturing out of your home base doesn’t seem as important. It’s not about losing connection with it. You just have the ability to have close proximity to something you enjoy while having plenty of friends who are able to tag along (or drag along in some cases).

In the last six months before I moved to Vancouver, we took one of our popular WSUI radio shows on the road to a coffee shop in downtown Des Moines, and the neighborhood in the area of the downtown core that I discovered really surprised me.

There was a feeling of creativity in the area we were in, and the amount of concert flyers I saw for local bands and musicians performing in the downtown area alone was impressive. I recall thinking at the time that I had never given Des Moines much of a thought for a local music scene. That’s almost a regret… Almost.

And yes, Slipknot came from that city and is one of the only bands that many people know from Iowa. They were the only ones I could actually name around that time, but my knowledge was more populated with artists from the eastern part of the state. You never looked west.

Photo with Troubled Hubble at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City (2003)

I became friends with a lot of bands who called Iowa City home or claimed it to be one of them. I’d get other friends to come along or have great nights out with those passing through town, sometimes to catch a good show.

Being in Vancouver, that’s what’s fun about finding a new music scene, and I’m still learning. Even brief excursions to Victoria, cover band or not, goes to show that getting out of your comfort zone is healthy more often than none. Even if you’re let down, that’s just apart of the education of learning what finding a diamond in the rough is all about.

Comforts of the Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Vancouver

My Hamburg Inn No. 2 coffee mug

This has to be one of my favorite coffee mugs that we added to our collection when we were back in my old stomping grounds this past January. Just a quick shot while doing some client work for sixty4media on a Saturday.

Sadly, I never went to the Hamburg Inn No. 2 as often as I probably should have when I lived in Iowa City. Breakfast was never something I really regarded as important to me until I moved out of the downtown area of IC, and then it got to the point where I never wanted to bother with the pains of parking in the area or waiting in line for a table or booth to open up. That all seems completely insignificant now, but it’s nice to have this memento at least.

Filmspotting interview on Podcast411

An episode of Podcast411 came through recently that really caught my attention. Filmspotting is a podcast that I stumbled onto about a year ago, and the host’s name of Adam Kempenaar stuck out to me.

He was the host of the show Burn Hollywood Burn during my days at KRUI, a brilliant, popular program about movies. Two hours a week with more phone calls in one night than most other shows would pray for in just one semester. The guys were good at what they did, and Adam has taken the formula to the podcasting realm as well as a once a month spot on WBEZ in Chicago.

You can listen to the MP3 directly or check out the show notes for the episode. And if you dig movies, check out Filmspotting for yourself.

They Might Be Giants – the sun

A little something for your Friday, especially if you are enjoying the summer sun like we are (trying to) in Vancouver. I know they say this song is called, “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”, but I’ve always called it “The Sun”.

I used to co-host a weekly morning show at KRUI on Wednesdays called “In The Middle”. Clever, eh? Well, every week at 9:30AM, we poked fun at the surrounding FM, rock stations and their “mandatory Metallica” with our own, “Mandatory They Might Be Giants“. Yes, they are near and dear to my heart.

Forever will be the experience of John and John doing a live, acoustic performance in our little studio be remembered, then throwing on our station t-shirt at their encore that night. If Muffin is watching this post, which you see him perk up here from time to time and was my co-host of said show, he’ll agree about that. Knowing that he was a huge fan, and still is, I got him to do that interview in the studio, if not fulfill a lifetime dream. Rock.

The royal treatment of college radio

Let’s be honest. The greatness that was once college radio is wanning. I have this deep, passionate feeling that it will rise up once again to be a driving force to make the rest of the world take notice. It might also be safe to say that it’s never been a spectrum of the medium to really be noticed in the first place. The brilliance gets harvested for its potential and profit.

I’m still a firm believer in the sanctity of college radio. Like it or not, it has an important role to play, and that mantra was my driving force during the years I put into KRUI.

I find the following story really funny, and I’ll explain why after the excerpt.

UI officials hope to raze an old laundry building that is adjacent to where a new campus recreation and wellness center’s future home on the southwest corner of Burlington and Madison streets.

Currently used as storage for campus landscaping and maintenance equipment, that space could be used for parking and holding materials and equipment during the construction of the recreation center, and could save the university money. It is not immediately clear how much it would save.

Regents gave approval for UI to look into the feasibility of relocating the equipment currently stored there. [presscitizen]

The KRUI that I came to know and love started out in a house that was tucked away on campus. But the university kinda saw it as a bastard child, pushing it into a handful of various locations in its just under twenty years of existence. Within just a few months of my three years of being a director, the news came that the station would be forced into another relocation. Continue reading “The royal treatment of college radio”