OK, I admit it, I am a radio junkie. Or at least I was, it is hard to embrace what most radio has become today. Back in the day, they was a magic to it. It captured your imagination, made you feel as if the communication was directed to you alone, or in the case of tuning in faraway AM stations, you felt as if you were peering into life on another planet. Part of the joy of it all was music discovery, which is something that will never happen if you are listening to your iPod. In the annals of far off signals, maybe none have been so romanticized as those of the Mexican border radio stations which started to see light of day in the 1930s. It was in homage to border radio that my XM station was named with a “X” for Cross, X Country. Speaking of which, I would love to be programming a radio station again, but I digress….
Dave Alvin used to do a show for my now defunct station. We called it “9 Volt” after a tune on his 2004 Ashgrove album, and the monthly show was simply some of the finest radio that there ever was. The show was totally eclectic; he made it work by the art of the segues and the depth his knowledge as a musicologist. When Dave came to me with the idea for the show originally, of course the first thing that came to my mind was to call it “Border Radio,” after yet another of his homage songs noting the indelible mark radio left on his psyche growing up. Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis covered the song during their appearance before the Music Fog cameras last month in Austin at Threadgill’s WHQ. This is hot news, as Bruce and Kelly, each with illustrious solo credentials, have formed a most amazing band. We are talking layers of virtuosity here, from the songwriting, to the singing, to the phrasing to the immaculate playing They did the Kickstarter thing, to fund their new album which will be out later this year. Yes, we have no choice but to wait, but first, savor their take on “Border Radio” from the Spring Music Fog Marathon.
- Jessie Scott