Sunday, November 04, 2007

Check these out

...first, the band from Shetland attracting heavy duty interest from record companies, lawyers and music biz types from a' the airts. This is their first video, shot by my old pal Dave Hammond. Black Bic Biro, then - whaddaya think?
...and another wee word about my Logik Reciva wi-fi radio: the whole experience of using it is I think akin to what radio must have been like in the early days of clothes line aerials dragging in Hilversum and Luxembourg and the American Forces Network to valve sets assembled from kits. You have to position the Logik somewhere it can pick up the wi-fi signal, and somewhere social. It's not a bedroom radio, it needs to be a place you can hear it while you're doing what you do...well, it needs, in my case, to be in the kitchen. Because that's what live radio is: a soundtrack to activity, and why podcasts are basically the sonic equivalent of write-in factsheets or cassette tapes of favourite shows.
Anyway, you find a place where it works, and then you start searching for stations (only five presets: way too few). You do it by genre or location, which means your longing for Zimbabwean township jive or the real Radio Norwich can be satisfied wherever you are (in the kitchen, in my case). It picks up anything registered with the Reciva system, and that obviously opens up the slightly (sometimes very) esoteric world of internet-only radio stations. And there are tens of thousands out there, many you just stumble across because of their interesting or evocative names.
My favourite so far (chosen because if it's called East Village Radio it has to be cool), and the one that had me writing down snatches of song lyrics all day in a desperate effort to identify tracks (especially on Lexi's soul and funk programme How Urban Radio Saved My Life), is East Village Radio from New York City. It's already somewhat famous for the show Mark Ronson hosts on a Thursday, Authentic S**t, but it has everything musical and odd you could ask for, from 1920s jazz on scratchy 78s to psychedelia, electronic bleeps, fractured dance and bizarre, disturbed country. And that's just a fraction of what's on offer. All from a tiny storefront in the heart of NYC. And no ads.
It reminded me of the way Shetlanders Tom Anderson (born and raised just up the road, who built, and installed some of the first radios in the isles) and Peerie Willie Johnson spent hours tuned to the AFN signal from Schenectady, New York, before World War Two, listening to the likes of Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, learning and adapting that transatlantic music to their own Shetland styles.
Now here I am, scribbling down Nothing But a Heartache and Giving Up Food for Funk, when a simple look at the EVR website would have given me the names I was looking for (The Flirtations and the JBs. Great, unfussy website too. It's easier for me. I don't have to go outside and wrestle with a 30-foot aerial in high winds.
Obviously you (and I) should be listening to BBC Radio Scotland, particularly weekdays between two and four. But if it wasn't for Mr J Zycinski, head of Radio Scotland, I wouldn't have bought the Logik anyway. So it's really his fault...

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