Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pledge of Allegiance

It's membership time at my local public radio station. A good time to tune away with most stations, but a reminder to me to give props and dig into the local music angle I promised.

Said station is The Current, an interesting little experiment I was highly cynical of when I first heard about it. Minnesota Public Radio was going to launch a contemporary music station? I knew what they were looking for was replacement* members for the news and classical music station members dying of old age (exaggeration but fundamentally true, demographically). The Current was to be the harmless joint given to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard that would eventually leading to the full-blown crack addiction that is the Leadership Circle Pledge Level.

And, of course, I'm still convinced I'm right on that point, but a funny thing happened on the way to the membership drive: Minnesota Public Radio created a kickass radio station.

Not that they didn't have good, raw working material. If you know music, you know Minnesota has always had a pretty vibrant music scene, from the grunge days of TwinTone Records to the pranciness of His Purpleness, over to the jam of Flyte Tyme Productions, and now the rap, rattle, and strum of DoomTree and a host of other individual and collective artists. There are only so many jobs at restaurants these musicians--and the thousands of other musician wannabees--can have. Some of them have got to be DJs.

To the credit of the Minnesota Public Radio Powers-That-Be, they started with a station philosophy that embraced the eclectic, the independent (including the playlists and the DJs--no, let's not hang them), and the local. And after five years now, they haven't yet managed to f~ck it up.

And I mention this all now, because The Current is doing several great local-artist centered activities right at the moment:
  1. All day May 15, 2010, is going to be nothing but MN music.

  2. They are streaming all month long the entire album of local artist Peter Wolf Crier. (Don't have 40 minutes or so, just listen to the first song, Crutch & Cane.

On an ongoing basis,

  1. They also have great in-studio performances (including nonlocal artists) that you can catch on YouTube. Check out Dessa and The Chacone--

    with backing vocals by Jeremy Messersmith, who had his own in-studio performance recently and whose entire album you can also stream.

  2. You can stream The Current from anywhere, anytime.

I've lived in Chicago and Portland, in addition to Minnesota. I've streamed WFUV in New York and twisted the dial both left and right in every major city I've ever been to (about 50 so far). While I will always give a shout out to central Minnesota's little KVSC ("Less Power Than a Lightbulb--and Proud of It")**, I don't think I've found any station (IMHO) so consistently entertaining as The Current.

So, no need to Panic on the streets of Minnesota (or wherever you are): Just tune in The Current, turn on, and pledge allegiance.

* Yes, at some point, of course I'll get around to talking about The Replacements.
** You can start humming Robyn Hitchcock's Man with the Lightbulb Head, if you must.

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