Part of the challenge as an independent musician of course is getting heard. I find myself always pushing pushing pushing toward targets on the horizon... you know, that new record is never "coming quick enough"... that elusive review or booking is lost in the limbo of an unrequited email inquiry. You push the bounds of your life outside the day job, and probably of your health. And the reward for the effort is more and more deafening silence as you target bigger and bigger goals. It's a war of attrition, it sometimes seems.
But then there are moments where I'm forced to stop my march toward whatever I've targeted over that next bridge, take off the blinders, and really reflect on where I'm standing at the moment.
So yesterday, hours after playing live on the radio, while decompressing shotgun, as Veek weaved back through rush hour traffic toward the rehearsal space to dump off our gear, I saw someone walking with her guitar to a class at Old Town School of Folk Music on Armitage. This girl was off to learn the guitar (I imagine. Maybe she's a virtuoso teacher for all I know).
Regardless it gave me a chance to really think about how at one point I was learning barre chords.
At that moment, I thought, "Damn that used to be me, but today I was on the radio."
|photo by Di Kulka|
How did I get from there to here??
The way I see it, I got to play live on the radio because of at least three basic things: I made what I hope is pretty good music. I found a team of musicians that (for the moment) believes in my music and/or hasn't pissed me off. And thirdly, after many years, I've gotten to know two DJs here in Chicago who genuinely seem to like the music, me and the people in my band.
Sometimes in the past the convergence of those three things has felt like impossibility.
So assuming you're a musician in Chicago writing your own music (and if not, I do highly recommend training at the Old Town School of Folk Music), and you have a cool band... allow me to introduce you, if you haven’t met, to Razor and Di of "The Razor and Die Show" on Chicago's WLUW.org (88.7 fm).
Hosts of what is becoming a Friday afternoon tradition in Chicago, Di and Razor embody an authentic rock spirit in my opinion, and in my mind are two of the greatest, most-genuine champions of independent music going.
In an era where six companies control most of the music we hear (resulting in some 80% of all radio playlists matching across our airwaves), Razor and Di are a throwback to an endangered species – the legendary Johnny Fever type of DJs that spin records because they like them, not because market research tells them what to play... the type of DJs who still care so passionately about music that (a lot like us indie musicians ourselves) they sacrifice their time not for money, but instead to celebrate an art form so primal that birds and cavemen were creating it in the beginning of time.
And they definitely have the music history acumen to take on this role. With audiophile roots dating at least back to the early 80s punk and new wave scene (if the images of them as badass Psychedelic Furs looking kids posted on their anniversary party invitation are any sort of clue), if you're ever lucky enough to sit in the studio and hear their off-mic banter about unfamiliar songs old and new, take full advantage.
By the way, I just reminded myself - DAMMIT I meant to shoot them "Happy Anniversary!" wishes on the air but forgot... but really that's Di's fault, cuz she took so much time and care to prepare an interview that was customized specifically for me, with "real" thought-provoking questions, that I simply forgot... instead having to manage on-air toughies like:
"So what’s in the future for Trakan now that you finally have a band together and new recordings? What's after that?"
For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know that "the band" and "the future" keep me cautiously optimistic at best (and wide awake with insomnia in the middle of the night on bad days). So much so that in tough times (for those who know me even more personally) it's a fundamental question that sometimes makes me want to quit entirely!
|photo by Rob Gaczol|
But not today. Today I feel fulfilled. Fueled by playing my music on the radio to two amazing DJs and everyone that tuned in, I am putting the blinders back on and charging toward the next stretch of deafening silence, onward toward that next ellusive big goal over the bridge, whatever it is.
Meantime, I leave you with The Razor and Di Show.
their official facebook page. And their official website.
Listen to then here next week Friday from 2pm till 6pm on wluw.org (88.7 on the local Chicago FM dial) for more live local music, thoughtful interviews and a ton of great music.
I know I will... whatever you're in the mood to play, Di and Razor, I'm just gonna sit back at my day job and enjoy whatever tunes you show up with, to cap another work week.
(I'll post more photos after I get them. Meantime listen to the show here if you missed it!)
Oh and Happy Anniversary, Razor and Di!