Tag Archives: davis

They Reminisce Over You

7 Feb

Ten years ago today, J Dilla celebrated his 32nd birthday by releasing Donuts, an album produced entirely from his hospital bed. Three days later, he died.

He and a few other tragically early losses in the hip-hop world, plus those in our families, inspired the last radio show I hosted. When I was home in California for the holidays, I signed up to sub a Christmas Eve slot on KDVS, and it felt a fitting hour to honor those no longer celebrating and creating.

In this episode, you’ll hear tributes to J Dilla, Nujabes, and Gang Starr, a song for our mother, a song for your father, and more.


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.

Henry Rollins Station ID

14 Oct

Ian MacKaye, our archivist Jeff Place, Henry Rollins, and intern Bailey Cameron
I met Henry Rollins today!

Punk rock icon Ian MacKaye comes through our office every few months, since he’s old friends with our archivist Jeff Place and working on archival projects of his own. The first time I saw him, two summers ago, I remember hearing that next time he was going to bring his buddy, fellow punk rock icon Henry Rollins.

Today he followed through, stopping by before Rollins gave a talk on the D.C. punk scene at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

I told him I like his radio show, which was a highlight of being stuck in Saturday-evening Los Angeles traffic. But to be honest, I don’t think I’ve consciously listened to Black Flag until tonight. I didn’t tell him that when I asked to record a station ID for KDVS.

So, where should I start? Recommend an album to me!

Jonathan Richman in My Backyard

17 Sep

Jerry Encoe at the Robot Rocket Residence, photo by Craig Fergus
Once I had a dream that Jonathan Richman, one of my favorite musicians of all time, played a show in my backyard. I had been trying to book him—in real life—for six years, starting with a big benefit concert I organized in high school and then for the KDVS music festival when I was in college. And here he was—in my dreams—at my house.

I posted something about it on Facebook, and my musician buddy Michael Ulrich said something like, “Well I can curl my hair, wear a striped shirt and play some covers.” And the planning for the Robot Rocket Residence’s Open Mic Jonathan Richman Cover Night began.

We held the show a few days before I moved out, five years ago this week. I opened the night, with my roommate Sally Hensel on a drum, with a recitation of “I Eat with Gusto, Damn! You Bet” (also the very first track of my very first radio show). I also sang by myself, for the first and only time, with my cousin Jojo Brandel on guitar (Julia Sweeney from SNL sings this song with Jonathan).

[youtube http://youtu.be/_9vk09d-NJQ]


Jojo took the stage alone for a Modern Lovers jam.

[youtube http://youtu.be/e7lzPaTryOo]


Craig Fergus did a jive-talkin’ “Abominable Snowman in the Market.”

[youtube “http://youtu.be/-bDwIw2rNAg”%5D


Michael did not curl his hair or wear a striped shirt, but he had pretty dead-on Jonathan mannerisms. (By this time, some punk kids had showed up to party and were making a ruckus. Sorry.)

[youtube http://youtu.be/j8FgP_C23gU]


Ian Cameron rocked “Egyptian Reggae” (in a striped shirt),  Jerry Encoe borrowed Sally’s Fender Stratocaster to play “Fender Stratocaster,” and Joe Finkel led us in a group chorus of “Roadrunner.”

All kinds of magic happened in that home in the four years I lived there, and this night was a wonderfully fitting conclusion to my Robot Rocket reign.

A UCD Gamelan Reunion

4 Feb

uc davis gamelan
Another highlight of my California winter break, besides Point Reyes and the beautiful weather that’s causing a drought, was a reunion with some of the other longstanding members of the UC Davis Gamelan Ensemble.

It’s hard to explain how much this ensemble means to me. Our classroom was the closest thing I’ve ever known to a church, somewhere to find solace and calm. These songs and these people have helped me overcome some of the smallest and greatest challenges: from feeling confident performing for an audience and staying relaxed on a flight, to the hardest heartbreak and the loss of my mom.

“Jeruk Bali”

December was our last chance to play together before Adilla, the only original member left, who’s been in the class consecutively for over seven years, finishes her doctorate and goes back to Malaysia. She’s basically a gamelan pro, and she remembered all our old repertoire to reteach us how to play.

She even let me play the bonang on “Lutung Bingung,” arguably the coolest intro part we ever learned on the degung ensemble.

I hope the next reunion is in West Java!

uc davis gamelan
That’s all, folks!

“Veruca Salt” at Villanova

31 Oct

veruca salt halloween band

Even though it’s undergone a complete resident turnover, the Villanova house in Davis hosted its second annual Halloween cover band show last weekend.

The lineup included Veruca Salt (The Azeotropes featuring Sally Hensel), The Hives (Babs Johnson Gang), all your favorite ’90s female singer hits (Villanova house band), and a couple others I’d never heard of. Sally nailed it!

My favorite costumes of the night: Quailman, a sexy Carmen Sandiego (redundant, really), and groove mechanic (how funky are you?).

Happy Halloween!

Pavement Live on KDVS

25 Aug

pavement kdvs cassette tape
When we recruit new DJs at KDVS, there’s a few things we tell them: DJ Shadow started out here. Blackalicious met here. Noam Chomsky was interviewed here. Pavement played their first show in studio here.

But it’s always been a bit of a thing of legend, because even if there was a reel-to-reel recording, it has long been missing. A couple of tracks from a listener recording surfaced last year on Youtube and then Pitchfork, but it seemed like the whole session was lost.

So imagine my surprise when the following occurred:

I was exchanging contact info with the web director of Smithsonian Folkways at the beginning of my internship, and he noted my 916 Sacramento number.

“That’s pretty close to Stockton, huh? I’m a huge fan of a band from there called Pavement,” he said.

“Oh yeah? This is debatable, but we like to say that at my college radio station…”

“KDVS?” [Surprise #1]

“Yeah! You know it?”

“Yeah, they played their first show there. I have it all on tape.” [Surprise #2] “I’ll make you a copy.” [Surprise #3]

Well, here it is: 46 minutes featuring Stephen Malkmus, Spiral Stairs and Gary Young on December 14, 1989, transferred from cassette to cassette, acquired in a tape trade in the ’90s. Download here.

And here’s a little preview of “Debris Slide” live followed by a pre-recorded “Box Elder” that they kind of played over: