Author: Daniel, Bert

Radio Days Revisited

If you visit this web site often, you probably like to listen to Bluegrass, Old Time and Gospel music whenever you get the chance. You go to live venues, jams and festivals to hear your favorite music. You probably own a few CDs that you can pop into your car stereo, while you're driving down the highway, to listen to your favorite music when it's convenient for you.

But if you like rock and roll or some other more fashionable music, you have another option. Just turn on the radio, hit the search button, and you'll probably find just what you're looking for. If you can endure the commercial breaks, a knowledgeable DJ will spin great tunes you never would have thought of playing. And if you don't like it, just hit scan again and you'll probably find a more suitable alternative. But try to find a mix of good Bluegrass using this method? Good luck. It's not fair. Bluegrass fans deserve better.

If you visit this web site often, you may have sometimes noticed a great big picture of Marcos Alvira inviting you to listen to his Bluegrass program on KCSS in Turlock. Well I don't happen to live in that part of the San Joaquin Valley. My radio would never pull it in. The power of KCSS is surely not anything close the monster beacon of the old megastation, XERA. The Carter Family used that signal in the 1930's to stream the music I now prefer to literally every corner of America. Those were the days. Radio days. These days are different. Internet days.

I live in Sonoma County and I can get a few good Bluegrass themed programs locally on the radio. Gus Garelick hosts a biweekly fiddling program on KRCB and Garrison Keeler features lots of good Bluegrass performers on his weekly NPR variety show, for example. If you click the Radiograss link on this web site you'll be directed to an extensive list of Bluegrass radio shows. Hopefully some of them are in your area. There's just something special about hearing live music or programmed recorded music spontaneously over the airwaves on your own listening device. I've heard from a few Bluegrass friends about the wonders of satellite radio but I guess I'm too cheap for that. I want my music for free. OK with the occasional Martha White Biscuit commercial, that's fine. And I've known for years that the internet could theoretically be used to pull in almost any radio station you'd want to hear, but I guess I was just too lazy to try to figure it out.

Until now. Marcos, I've got you covered! I now have the power to listen to tons of streaming Bluegrass and it's so easy! I sure wish I had done this sooner. All I had to do was to download a free app for my iPad. It's called TuneIn. Depending on what mobile device (the new word for what we used to call a telephone) you have, there's probably a similar download for you. Listen to streaming Bluegrass wherever you are. How cool is that?

I'm still pretty new to all this and I'm still learning about the capabilities of my new radio app. Fortunately for me I had to do some long neglected home maintenance recently and I realized that what I really needed to make the job fun went far beyond selecting the proper screwdriver. Replacing mosquito netting on all the screen doors is tedious work (at least for me it is). What better workmate than my trusty iPad, especially if it could function as the perfect radio?

I had already successfully pulled in Marcos's great program, but this time I needed something streaming on a weekday afternoon. I thought of my old radio station in Maryland, WAMU. They had played Bluegrass all day long and, although Bluegrass was less featured on their airwaves there these days, I knew they had an active internet Bluegrass radio still going strong. So I tuned in. Some of my old DJ friends were still there, like Ray Davis and Dick Spottswood. If you have never listened to this station you should definitely put it on you favorites bar. Along with WNCW in Asheville, North Carolina.

I'm not very handy with tools so my project dragged on for hours. But the upside of that was that I got to listen to more Bluegrass. One program I happened to pick up on WAMU was a feed from Australia. They played a set from Ed Neff's recent tour there and that got my interest. Fortunately my screwdriver didn't poke a hole through the new netting (at least not a big one). I heard a guy named Mike Kear from a place called Foggy Hollow. Good program, but that got me thinking about the only Australian Bluegrass aficionado I had known of before that, my own fellow welcome columnist Geoff Morris. I've met Marcos of course, but I guess Geoff's just too lazy to travel 12,000 miles to show up at our annual welcome columnist jam at Grass Valley.

Maybe I can pull in Geoff over the internet, I thought. Well as write this column I'm listening to, the venue where Geoff supposedly hangs out. I don't really know yet. All I've heard the whole time I've been listening is music, good music. No talk yet. And I'm a slow typist. I'll add that one to my favorites list as soon as I sign off here. OK that tune was just too good. Gotta do it now. See you guys at Plymouth I hope!

Posted:  9/9/2012

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