Rodents of Unusual Size, Jazz lightning & Willie

Area fires  have clouded my eyes and I’m seeing rodents of unusual size. Start the show with James Andrews’ “Catch the Willie” and I’ll explain.

nutriaThe Northwest has been blanketed with smoke this week, perhaps playing tricks on my eyes. But there really are rodents of unusual size around in Washington and Oregon. I’m talking about nutria or Myocastor coypus —   a semi-aquatic rodent that is native to South America but was introduced into the states as a potential fur-creating creature. As often happens though, the beast is just a nuisance now, creating a problem in Louisiana but also in the more temperate parts of  Oregon and Washington.  A documentary about them is getting screenings in the region including Olympia at the Capitol Theater (Olympia Film Society) on September 30 at 7:30 p.m.  The director will be at the movie to take questions.

All this might be interesting to you (you haven’t stopped reading so far)  but you might be asking what does it have to do with my show? Aside from giving my current home and my hometown something else in common, this week’s show includes “Norris the Nocturnal Nutria” by Benny Grunch & the Bunch. It’s sort of a Christmas song and its not very serious but it is in fact the only song I know of that even touches on the subject of coypus or nutria. That’s LARGELY it.


But before you get to that song, you’ll hear an awesome rendition of “Bill Bailey” by clarinetist and singer Doreen Ketchens who does a duet of the song with I believe her husband Lawrence who, in the course of the song, has been struck by “jazz lightning.” It really is quite good.  Perhaps its playing right now if you started it when I asked you. If you didn’t, scroll back up and click the arrow.

Lots of other fun stuff follows but I’ll let you decide if its worth it.  Cheers.


Pledge drive show is all about money

This week’s show is about money. . .because despite community radio being free of commercial pressure it still depends on hard green cash to run. You can start the show now while you finish reading this.  (Don’t worry, I’ve edited out the lengthy pledge appeals.)

As a 12-year-old, I would turn the radio on instead of going to sleep and from the shadows of my bedroom in Norman, Oklahoma, I would listen to deejays from Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas.  The deejays would tell me about the weather, describe the music, and talk about their day while their commercials would hail the virtues of car dealers and appliance stores in their communities. Snuggled in my bed, I would envision what it would be like to live there.

Kicking Ass Olympia Style
KAOS is re-issuing a classic t-shirt as part of its premium for members. Your support keeps real radio alive.

I’ve always loved radio for its ability to ground me in the moment while also transporting me to other places. Unlike the constructed mass appeal of television, radio is a personal  and live experience.  One person speaking into a mike, sharing music and stories, talking to me wherever I might be.

While much of commercial radio has changed to a more decentralized and impersonal experience, community radio, particularly KAOS, 89.3 FM, Olympia, has moved in the other direction.  Housed and supported by The Evergreen State College, KAOS trains its volunteer deejays, works with them on developing a show, provides them the studio platform and then cuts them loose to do their thing. The result is some inconsistency in delivery and mechanics but because of that diversity, the station preserves the spontaneity and joy of being in the moment.   I tell that to myself every time I push the wrong button or cue up the wrong song or stammer through some sort of transition.

We’re not slick, we’re real

And though we wouldn’t exist if not for the generous support of the college and its students, we do need to show that the station has listeners.  Listeners who appreciate the station’s existence enough to help underwrite its cost. It’s a different model from the commercial era, but worth it if you love real radio.

Here’s how you can support KAOS. (It will open a new link so your music will continue)

(Today’s show – see above podcast – starts with the New Orleans Suspects, features two songs by Chubby Newsome recorded in New Orleans, a vinyl track of Huey “Piano” Smith, the Tin Men, Lil Rascals Brass Band, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars, Ingrid Lucia, James Andrews and much more)