Monday, January 16, 2012

Mr. Shovel Weaves His Magic on a New City of Night

It was three years ago, to the day that Mark Sovel, Indie 103.1’s illustrious music director (aka Mr. Shovel) had his last airshift on Indie. The next day, for all intents and purposes, Indie died.

It continued on (and continues on to this day, a shell of its former self) in Internet-only format. Which would be great if the powers that program it really knew what to do with it. And, of course, if Mr. Shovel was still there.

I remember it well. I turned on my radio (yes, I actually had a box sitting by my window that had FM stations, though the only one it was tuned to was Indie 103.1, of course). I turned on TK’s program in the morning, and everyone was talking about how great the station had been. Like using past tense about it.

Soon enough, with one final My Way (not the Frank Sinatra version), Indie was gone.

I sobbed at my radio that day, I sobbed all the way up to Sundance (driving, that’s a whole lotta sobbing). In many ways, I’m sobbing still. It hurts when the best radio station that ever existed goes away.

And what has been my music repast in the intervening three years? Well, being a digital girl, I’m big on Internet radio. I keep hoping someone somewhere will develop actual radio on the Internet. Like a Huffington Post for radio. (Well, except that pays people. Ok, bad example.)

I never really got into Pandora or Slacker, though I have friends who swear by both. I have friends who seek out all kinds of stations on the Internet. One cool one that played 60s music from Paris really intrigued me for awhile.

But after the wealth of musical treasure that was Indie, nothing really sufficed. There were people from Indie who left to develop other things. Kurt St. Thomas went off to develop Houndstooth Radio ( ), which I admit, I listen to more than anything.

Chuck P. and Henry Rollins ended up over at KCRW.

Chris Morris still puts out a great show on the Scion Network:

And a whole passel of ex-Indie-ites migrated over to Moheak Radio. Trouble is, every time I try to listen to it, it either pushes a bunch of annoying ads at me, or I have technological problems receiving it. Every time. So I don’t.

There are still some good tunes on Indie dot com, but the heart and soul (aka Mark Sovel) is gone. As he said when he left, “it’s like someone’s just playing their iPod for you.” (There are a couple of good shows here or there. I particularly like Bob Forrest’s Wednesday night show, “All Up in the Interweb,” which airs at 8 pm PST. Native Wayne’s show is fun too. My friend still listens to Retrograde, and wins tickets from them.

But pretty much, for me, there is nothing there worth listening to anymore. Nothing that made Indie Indie. (This is true of Moheak, too, btw, no matter how many ex-Indieites are there.)

Cause what made Indie “one of the best stations in the country,” according to Rolling Stone magazine, was quite simply its music director, Mark Sovel.

And he has been very quiet on the music front in that three years. Giving us bits of his genius with an amazing LobsterFest regularly, and other concerts curated here or there. But on the radio scene, he’s been silent.

Until now.

Mark Sovel’s first air show in three years (other than filling in for folks occasionally) aired Saturday, Jan. 14. Three years to the day of his last one.

It’s called “City of Night,” and it airs on college radio station KCSN (88.5 on your terrestrial radio dial, also available online and with a cool iPhone app that will record shows for you. LOVE that.). From 8 – 11 pm every Saturday.

One can’t help but wonder what’s up with this college station, KCSN. Sovel thanked the program director, Sky Daniels, by saying that he “made him want to get into radio.” He wasn’t kidding either. Hm.

In addition to Mr. Shovel, Daniels also brought on Sat Bisla, who has been airing Passport Approved on every station that’ll have him, it seems; and Terry Nunn, of Berlin fame. He had already brought on KCRW’s Nic Harcourt to do a show and Julie Slater. Radio heavyweights, to be sure. Hm.

The rest of the program schedule is an odd mix, a local blues maven called “Ann the Raven” has a show on Sundays. So does Robert Hilburn, the writer. There’s some Dylan, some roots music, some Americana and some bluegrass. And opera. Mr. Daniels, it seems has no problem with specialty shows.

Well, I don’t know about all that. Not sure if I’ll be checking out all those other choices. I do know this.

Mr. Shovel is on Saturday nights. His first show was like manna in the desert. Such great music played, and all over the musical spectrum. Some things you would expect: a number of local bands, some OMD, some Jam. Many things you wouldn’t expect.

He kicked it all off with the Rolling Stones’ “On with the Show.” Perfect. Not long after, some Pink Floyd. You heard me. Pink Floyd. And Zepplin, as in Led. One song from Indie’s regular rotation: Depeche Mode’s “Get the Balance Right,” and boy DID HE!

As usual with a Shovel show, it was all perfectly timed. Like puzzle pieces falling into place. The Kinks, for heaven’s sake. Followed by local band, Saint Motel, who enlivened Tar Fest this fall (Shovel curated part of it).

A song I can’t get enough of: Split Endz’ “Six Months in a Leaky Boat.” And another (I love it so much) Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” It just makes me happy to hear that song.

Gil Scott-Heron. Jimi Hendrix. Wow. LA band The Blood Arm from their “Berlin period” (aka now). Brand-new Giant Drag, and Sharkey’s Night, for gosh sakes (with William S. Burroughs).

And, if you’ll recall, Mr. Shovel is the one who spots the hot bands before anyone else does. His recommendation from this show? Electric Guest. Watch that name. You heard it here first (I promise you).

I could go on and on, but if you want to know where Indie went, you could look to that whole passel of people who talk about it incessantly, or you could simply look at this playlist for a minute.

That Dylan song he played made me cry. Followed up by some cuts from local bands from a Dylan tribute album, which is a fundraiser for Amnesty International called “Chimes of Freedom.” Airborne Toxic Event doing “Boots of Spanish Leather.” Silversun Pickups doing “Not Dark Yet.” Cage the Elephant (ok, they’re not from LA, but the song was great) doing “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”

I was literally so overwhelmed after all this good music after his show, it took me several hours to calm down. Oh, Mr. Shovel how we’ve missed you!

Tune in to the next City of Night next week at 8 pm. And pray really hard that they get podcasts sometime.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment. I encourage and welcome the dialogue.