ON A RECENT FRIDAY AFTERNOON I was listening to Kim Phelps' new-release show on KMUD-FM and got to thinking about how we learn about artists and their music. Certainly through listening to our favorite radio stations, attending concerts or plowing through album covers at record stores.
I wondered, what music excites these people, the ones who choose the tunes the record store owners, the deejays, the concert promoters here on the North Coast.
I posed the question this way: "If you were buying three albums for someone just like you, which ones would they be?"
Some rattled off their choices quickly. Others, particularly those with eclectic tastes like Phelps, asked for a couple of days and still had a hard time narrowing down their choices.
KIM PHELPS is the host of Musical Possibilities (KMUD Fridays 3 to 5:30 p.m.), a program featuring new music in all genres. She has been involved peripherally with KMUD since it went on the air in 1979 and has been on-air since 1992.
Phelps' time is split between family, radioworking toward reopening the New Harris Store, "a general store with hardware and garden supplies and an accent on organic local foods."
Her picks for best albums were:
No. 1 John Scofield A Go Go on the Verve label (featuring Modeski, Martin and Wood).
No. 2 Tuatara Trading with the Enemy on Epic.
No. 3 Ali Khan Taswir City of Tribes (traditional Qawwali music modernized).
PAM LONG, music director for KHUM-FM in Ferndale, landed her first full-time radio gig by telling a station manager she was an experienced deejay when in fact she had flunked the only broadcasting class she had ever taken.
"I had a lot of attitude. I was fired and hired back three times."
She moved from KFMI to KEKA, her first country gig, then became "Kelly Powers" in the afternoons on Q92 (KRED). Following lengthy tenures at two adult contemporary stations, KRED and KXGO, she landed a network job out of Dallas where her show was broadcast to 60 markets across the U.S. including KXGO.
"It was excruciatingly boring. You're pretty much a robot pressing buttons. You have a computerized play list where you have to play Aerosmith every night," she said.
After three months she moved back and found her niche at KHUM.
"It's free-form radio. We're not constrained by play lists," said Long, who can be heard 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Her top picks:
No. 1 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road on Mercury.
No. 2 Patricia Barber Modern Cool on Premonition.
No. 3 Johnny Adams Man of My Word on Rounder.
(Photo by Mark Lufkin)
STEVE PARLATO is program director for the Fortuna-based contemporary "smooth" jazz station KQEX.
"We integrate a lot of straight-ahead jazz. We play Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman and Pat Metheny, so it's not all easy listening. What we're doing is fine-tuning it to the demographics on the North Coast," he said.
Parlato got his start in radio as a volunteer for a station at UC Santa Cruz in the mid-1970s and has been involved in radio ever since. In 1992 he moved to Humboldt County and met Steve Hastings who had just launched KQEX.
No. 1 Brian Bromberg You Know the Feeling on Zebra.
No. 2 Pat Metheny Group Imaginary Day Warner Brothers.
No. 3 Diane Krall Love Scenes Impulse/GRP.
ROLLIN TREHEARNE is program director, ad salesman and morning man for KRED Big Red Country (6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday). He also claims he's the station's janitor.
No. 1 Garth Brooks Double Live on Capital.
No. 2 Martina McBride Evolution RCA.
No. 3 Tim McGraw Everywhere Curb.
RUSS COLE is host of the Many Moods of Gus Mozart, an eclectic show on KHSU public radio (Mondays at 10 p.m.), but he earns his living as a sound engineer, setting up sound systems and running the board at CenterArts concerts and at events around Humboldt County.
He traces his interest in sound back to his grandfather, an amateur filmmaker who would send the family audio letters recorded on a reel-to-reel recorder.
Cole's top albums for 1998:
No. 1 Bill Frisell Gone, Just Like a Train Nonesuch.
No. 2 Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Girlfriend the Drunk Columbia.
No. 3 Ani DiFranco Little Plastic Castle Righteous Babe.
LES SCHER is an attorney and host of Lester Leaps In (KMUD Sundays at 7 p.m.). As part of the Backwoods Jazz Association he helps produce the annual Jazz on the Lake concerts at Benbow.
No. 1 Rahsaan Roland Kirk Complete Recordings of Roland Kirk (box set) Mercury.
No. 2 Duke Ellington and his Orchestra In Concert 1960 Hindsight.
No. 3 New Cool Collective More Soul Jazz Latin Flavors on Challenge Records.
DERRAL CAMPBELL aka Good Rockin' Derral, sax player and host of a blues show on KXGO (Sundays 7-11 p.m.). His top picks:
No. 1 B. B. King Blues on the Bayou MCA.
No. 2 W. C. Clark Lover's Plea Blacktop.
No. 3 E. C. Scott Hard Act to Follow Blind Pig.
BROOKS OTIS, along with his partner Mike Manetas, owns and operates Wildwood Music in Arcata.
Otis has been hosting a folk music show on KHSU since 1988 and he's a member of a swing combo called the Horn Band, playing New Year's eve at the Eureka Inn.
"I also work a few times a year with Fred (Neighbor) and Joyce (Hough) in the Country Pretenders. The rest of the time I play informally, playing lots of living room music, bluegrass, fiddle tunes, jazz, country western or swing. Whatever is fun."
No. 1 Various Anthology of American Folk Music: Edited By Harry Smith (box set) on Folkways.
No. 2 Ricky Scaggs Bluegrass Rules Rounder.
No. 3 John Hartford Speed of the Old Long Bow: A Tribute to Ed Haley Rounder.
(Photo by Brandi Easter)
JILL PAYDON aka Jane Le Strange, former KHSU deejay. Her choices:
No. 1 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road Mercury.
No. 2 Joni Mitchell Taming the Tiger Warner Brothers.
No. 3 Billy Bragg and Wilco Mermaid Avenue (songs by Woody Guthrie) Elektra.
SCOTT RAPPAPORT, marketing coordinator for CenterArts, has been playing guitar since he was 10.
"I used to sneak in when I was a child in Los Angeles. I've been to thousands of concerts. I always wanted to promote shows." He worked with concert promoter Deborah Lazio staging shows at the Old Town Bar and Grill in Eureka and later at the International Beer Garden in Arcata before joining CenterArts.
No. 1 Counting Crows Across A Wire Live in New York City Geffen.
No. 2 CPR (David Crosby, Jeff Pevar, James Raymond) CPR Golden Circle.
No. 3 Brian Blade Brian Blade Fellowship Blue Note.
ROY FURSHPAN, director of CenterArts by day and a guitarist by night, can be heard at the Vista as one half of Jeff and Roy.
"I played guitar in several bands when I was at Claremont College. Since no one else would do it, I started booking the band, handling the money and managing. I booked some tours up and down the coast. We even played at the Old Town Bar and Grill opening for David Lindley."
That led him to a career booking comedians and music groups and eventually the directorship of CenterArts.
"Right now I'm starting on bookings for the '99-2000 series. I can't let anything out of the bag at this point, but there's more exciting things coming."
Roy's picks are all Hawaiian music:
No. 1 Dennis Pavao Na Mele Henoheno Piliahloha.
No. 2 Wild Heart Wild Heart.
No. 3 Ledward Kaapana Whisper of the Wind Dancing Cat.
CAROL BRUNO runs People Productions, organizing concerts including Reggae on the River and the Spirit of Unity Tour.
She got her start in promotions about 17 years ago when she was asked to sit on the Mateel Community Center's board of directors.
"That was ... when the Mateel was still in the old Fireman's Hall in downtown Garberville,"she recalled. After the hall was torched in an arson fire, Bruno and some friends came up with the idea to put together a reggae festival to help raise money to rebuild the structure. And Reggae on the River was born.
Her radio show, The Rankin' Reggae Rotation, is on KMUD (Saturdays 7-10 p.m.).
No. 1 Buju Banton Inna Heights VP Records.
No. 2 Diana King Treat Her Like a Girl Work/Columbia.
No. 3 Alpha Blondy Itzak Rabin Tuff Gong.
BRAD MORRISON recently purchased the country concert promotion company Oak Leaf Productions.
"I worked with them on the Tim McGraw concert, watched and learned," he said, although his first love is rock 'n' roll.
Morrison, an accountant by trade, said there will be some changes ahead for Oak Leaf reflecting his dual music tastes.
"We've already got the Doobie Brothers booked (May 16 at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium), and we have offers in on several other rock groups. I want to bring all sorts of entertainment to the North Coast."
His country picks:
No. 1 Garth Brooks Double Live Capital.
No. 2 Shania Twain Come On Over Polygram.
No. 3 Faith Hill Faith Warner Brothers.
(photo by Mark Lufkin)
MIKE DONOHOE concert promoter for Creep Productions and clerk at People's Records.
No. 1 Flat Duo Jets Lucky Eye Outpost (punkabilly duo).
No. 2 The Makers Psychosexualis Estrus (snarling garage punk).
No. 3 Pine Valley Cosmonauts The Majesty of Bob Wills Bloodshot (western swing revival).
LEON BERLINER is owner of Berliner's Cornucopia, the place to go if you are serious about classical music. His passion for classical music goes back to his youth in Belgium, but that's a long story, so we skipped ahead to how he ended up opening his shop in Eureka.
"I was director of Redwoods United," he recalled. "I was 50 years old. On a vacation in Fort Bragg I went into a store and there was a piece playing by Vaughn Williams, `Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.' I thought about the ulcerating problems of running a private not-for-profit agency.
"I looked at my wife and I said to her, `You know, this is what I'd like to do for the rest of my working life. I'd like to have a store like this where I can listen to music all day, I can read when there are no people and I can sell what I like.'
"Now we are in our 15th year."
No. 1 Anne Sophie Mutter Beethoven's Violin Sonatas Complete Deutsche-Gramophone.
No. 2 Andrew Manze Devil's Sonata and Other Works by Tartani Harmonia Mundi.
No. 3 Roberto Algna and Angela Gheorghio Romeo and Juliet (an opera by Gournod) EMI Classics.
LARRY GLASS, owner of The Works in Arcata and Eureka, traces his involvement with the music business back to the '60s when he went to work for one of the first underground radio stations in the country, KPPC in Los Angeles, sister station to KMPX in San Francisco.
He was able to narrow his choices down to three albums, but had trouble ranking them. His picks for 1998:
No. 1 Robbie Robertson Contact from the Underworld of Redboy Capital.
No. 2 John Fogerty Premonition Warner Brothers.
No. 3 Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers Shifting Gears Blind Pig.
MICHELLE DERN and her husband, Larry, run the Metro CDs and Tapes on the Arcata Plaza. They got into the business after working for years as successful self-employed artisans, Larry crafting fine furniture and Michelle doing glass work.
"Larry was the catalyst for the change," said Dern, "He felt it was time for something new."
The Metro had been started by Elliot Burstien with a concept, listen before you buy.
"We thought it would be an interesting business and we enjoyed music and art," Michelle Dern said. "It's a youthful environment that is stimulating and keeps us in touch with the younger generation and with what's new."
No. 1 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road Mercury.
No. 2 Laura Love Shum Ticky Mercury.
No. 3 Bruce Springsteen Tracks (box set) Columbia.
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