Years ago there were literally thousands of independent radio stations spread across the United States, today they are a dying breed. Today’s music legends will tell you that years ago they could drive right up to a station and the likelihood existed that they could end up being interviewed on the air. Not so much today because those small but ever so important radio stations are fading away. Huge corporations are now allowed to buy literally hundreds of stations and of course they dictate what airs across their corporate air waves. Just imagine one person in New York City choosing the music that will air across the entire U.S. Kind of sad if you think about it. What’s next – independent music publications going away? One has to wonder if the expressive freedoms found in the 60s are now coming to an end.
But before we write this legacy off allow me to share something cool that is going on in Houston, Texas, USA. You see in Houston and in some other communities as well the death knell has not sounded for the independent artist. Some folks are still keeping the airwaves alive presenting world class tracks that are sure to set you free. That's cool because in this decade of change there are still independent stations that welcome independent artists and their music. One such station is KPFT 90.1 fm. This public radio station even broadcasts across the internet so music is not limited to just their local airwaves and this equates to sharing the blues with a wider audience and that’s not just cool, that’s way cool.
On Sundays, nicknamed Fun Day Sunday, KPFT hosts four major blues shows in a row. The station is not locked into what some corporate office says they have to play. Instead they are one of the few stations left that shares the blues from a local, regional, national, and international perspective and they welcome independent music with open arms. My Fun Day Sunday is comprised of KPFT’s individual shows - each eclectic in their own right and not a cookie cutter version of one another. Their on air personalities amazingly enough do not come across as sounding like the drone of a top forty station that employs the same familiar, rhythmic voice pattern show after show. So on Fun Day Sunday you can stay tuned in from 6am to 4pm and not get bored all day long.
Starting at 6am and airing through 8am central standard time (cst) two ladies take to the airwaves with their newly renamed show “Down Home Blues”. Hosts Anne Paget & Genie Mims kick the day off by including a bit of Chicago blues, some Delta blues, and a bit of everything in between which even includes a touch of gospel now and then. Their show is interesting because it not only presents the traditional blues music we all enjoy but they also embrace the re-creations that modern day artists are presenting to America. Imagine hearing Willie Dixon or Bobby Blue Bland lay down “Hoochie Coochie Man” and then hearing the Allman Brothers knock it out afterward. That’s cool and it keeps the broadcast interesting and fresh.
Then at 8am you can tune into Mr and Mrs V who host “Blues on the Move” along with their sidekicks, Nancy & Buddy Love, right up until 11. Listening to this husband and wife team cut up between themselves while on the air, which by the way is not contrived for the airwaves, is a sheer delight. It’s like two blues experts being in your kitchen at 8am holding an everyday conversation between a husband and a wife and oh it does get interesting folks. Houston Texas is rich in blues history and the V’s make it a point to rekindle the memories of those that blazed the blues trail. I’ve gotten lost in my rekindled memories from years gone by when this duo brings what’s good back to the forefront. When you tune into “Blues on the Move” you know you are listening to people that lived it, still live it, that know the real stories of what went down, and will pass along the coolest of cool facts. More than once my wife has come into the kitchen on Sunday morning and asked me what I am laughing so hard about and I tell her these two people are something else.
At 11am until 2 KPFT presents a show by a very knowledgeable gentleman, Nuri Nuri. The Big Bad Boss Man of the Blues as he is affectionately known presents “Blues Brunch” which is one very cool example of delivering blues music without borders. Nuri delivers recent classics from artists such as Stevie Ray and Ray Charles as well as hot driving new licks from the likes of Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton to name just two. I can tell you from tuning in that this man does his blues home work and he is real good about sharing CD credits that include all of the band members and even those that might have just sat in perhaps. By the time Nuri’s show airs at 11 well personally I am usually into the hair of the dog portion of my day, busy whipping up a personal favorite such as a spicy bloody mary. So I must say that I find the show’s name Blues Brunch rather befitting on Fun Day Sunday.
Then at 2pm cst through 4 the Blues Hound takes to the airwaves with his lovely wife, Colleen. Their show is aptly named “Howlin the Blues” and from the moment they light up the airwaves you learn about what’s happening out and about locally, regionally, and also on the national scene. The blues music the team delivers comes from the Blues Hound’s personal collection and that collection smokes ladies and gentlemen - and I say this without any hesitation or reservation - you will absolutely dig their choices. The two hour show also presents live interviews with blues artists from around the globe. In addition allow me to pass along that any of the live performances on the show are second to none. The Blues Hound and Baby Girl open the phone lines and callers can be heard on the air from just about everywhere. Which reminds me that by now on my Fun Day Sunday I am in the pool with our outdoor speakers on while keeping an eye on the smoker over on the deck. Ahhhh, life is good! Man I hope these shows never, ever go away.
At one point in time international country music sensation Loretta Lynn was an independent artist and her husband would literally drive her to small independent stations and the DJs would graciously invite her in. America got to know about this coal miner’s daughter and came to love her music through these conversations. I share this because in that time stamped tradition KPFT 90.1 has a legacy of its own going on as they are still welcoming independent blues artists from around the globe to their station. The four shows I mention today are a gleaming example of the original freedom of the American independent radio station and that my friends that isn’t just cool, that’s way cool. Tune in via the air waves or if you prefer the internet. If you are away from the power of their on air transmission you simply log into http://kpft.org/player.php and stream the shows to your devices.
Have a Fun Day Sunday too - no matter where in the world you call home… See you on the radio!