Love at First Lecture: My KDVS Anniversary

15 Dec

Studio B self portrait at 3 a.m., first fundraiser show in 2005
Ten years ago on this night, I walked into a UC Davis lecture hall, and my life changed forever. No, I didn’t find a new favorite author or a new major—nothing that would go on my transcript. I discovered a whole new world of underground music and community media. It was my first KDVS volunteer class.

Over the seven years I DJ’ed, three years I served on staff, and ten years I’ve volunteered (in various capacities, to varying degrees), I learned so much about belonging to and being an active part of a community. KDVS was my home base in college, where I knew there would always be friendly faces, good tunes, and a comfy couch. Even when I visit now, surrounded by much younger DJs, I still feel like this is where I belong—the same feeling I had when I got my first hip-hop lecture and station tour on December 15, 2004.

Since my last love letter to KDVS, I moved across the country for a job that I couldn’t have gotten, wouldn’t have even known about, without the enriching, invigorating, (sometimes enraging) experiences I had in 14 Lower Freeborn Hall.

To celebrate, and to shake off some of the impending winter doldrums, here is my first daytime radio show from the beginning of summer 2006.


Andhe Andhe Lumut

25 Nov

embassy gamelan

By the end of next month, I’ll have been playing gamelan for eight years. I started out very timidly in the UC Davis Gamelan Ensemble, jammed once with the Evergreen State College instructor in Olympia, twice with the Geidai arts university in Okinawa, a year with the Los Angeles consulate, and now over a year at the Indonesian Embassy.

At the embassy, we’ve been practicing this epic wayang theater piece, Andhe Andhe Lumut, for several months. In May I challenged myself to the gongs, the largest and loudest instruments—which is fun for me as the smallest and quietest member. Sometimes it takes a bit of contorting to reach every kempul and some juggling with three different mallets, and that’s why I love it.

This recording is just an excerpt, but it’s some of my favorite parts. It sounds pretty echoey in the embassy’s ballroom instead of our basement practice space.

Tom Brosseau in Padova

8 Nov

tom brosseau
Our trip to Europe was full of highlights, but one serendipitous night stands out. By chance, our time in Italy matched the tour schedule of Tom Brosseau, a folk singer from North Dakota via Los Angeles who often played in Davis and put out a record called Grass Punks this year on my pal Michael Leahy’s label.

Tom played in a little co-work studio called CO+ in Padova, a river town 25 miles inland from Venice. It was such a treat to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice (speaking a language I speak!) 4,300 miles from my home, 6,100 miles from the last place I saw him!

I made a request from the new album, “Tami”:

But my favorite song of the night was an oldie, “West of Town”:

Keep an eye out for this guy on both U.S. coasts this winter (some dates with John C. Reilly) and another record out on Crossbill in February.

Buskers of Bologna

7 Nov

Bologna brass duo

On a search for new sounds, sights and smells in Bologna, Italy, I found the bulk of buskers in Piazza Maggiore, the center hub of the radial Roman city. This brass duo was pretty good. Mostly I like seeing tubas out in the wild.

Bologna accordion player

The accordion player was not bad either, although I gave him some euros and he didn’t even smile! By that point he was being drowned out and I was being lured away by these guys across the plaza…

Bologna busker band

Electric guitar with battery-powered amp, and a drum set of a bucket, paint can, busted coffee can, metal disc, and Tibetan singing bowl. This Eddie Veder soundalike and dreamboat of a drummer attracted the biggest crowd, stationed in front of the Fountain of Neptune. It took about the length of this recording to feel like I had fallen in love.

Sounds of the Türkenmarkt

31 Oct

Türkenmarkt vendor

Hello from Europe! I’m traveling around with my cousin this week, and my final stop is Berlin, Germany. Today we biked to the Türkischer Markt am Maybachufer, also known as the Türkenmarkt. The 200,000 Turks in Berlin make up the largest ethnic minority and the largest settlement outside of Turkey.

Twice a week, vendors take over the Landwehr Canal waterfront with this bustling market full of fresh produce, meats, spices, tzatziki, fabric, jewelry, clothing and more. Once I finished my breakfast feta and tomato wrap, and once I forfeited any sense of personal space, I started recording.

See more photos→

The Ghost at the Embassy

21 Oct
The ceiling of the ballroom is covered in elaborate paintings.

The ceiling of the ballroom is covered in elaborate paintings.

The Embassy of Indonesia in Washington, D.C., is a beautiful mansion on Massachusetts Avenue in DuPont Circle. The four-story, fifty-room home was completed in 1903 for the Walsh-McLean family. In 1951, the first Indonesian Ambassador to the United States purchased it  to house the embassy.

Since then, many children of Indonesian diplomats have grown up here, learning traditional dance, playing gamelan, and creating mischief in its many nooks and crannies. Many also get to know the ghost.

Gio Soeprapto shares his memories of an unusual playmate:

See more photos→

The Moon, the Roof, Gelabergrief and You

20 Oct

moon package
A few weeks ago, I was digging around in my external hard drive and found this piece of Microsoft Paint art I made in high school. I had dreamt that the moon flew down from the sky in a U.S. Postal Service package, through my bedroom window, and onto my floor where it started shrinking away. It was so silly and scary, I had to draw it.

Then last week, I was digging around my archive of mixtape playlists and remembered that I made a mix inspired by that dream and the subsequent events of that day. I discovered that, as the school theater’s lighting technician, I had access to the roof—the beginning of an urban exploration obsession. I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with some friends, and we were all overcome by a strange, conflicted emotion at the end that Nick ApRoberts coined “gelabergrief.” I finally admitted to myself that I had a crush on someone new. (Two weeks later, I sealed the deal with a Valentine’s Day candygram.)

As I wrote back then, “It was a cheery ending to a depressing week that I partially blame on watching Donnie Darko for the first time.”

So, here’s what me and my Limewire account were up to on February 1, 2003.