ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE BLUES | Finding the Perfect Line

05/10/14 | By | More

(For link to music, paste in your browser)

For people who love music, deejaying at KOTO is like skiing three feet of powder on a bluebird day. Sitting in the deejay stool with a blank slate of musical possibilities in front of you is simply nirvana.

For two years, I deejayed the afternoon drive at a commercial radio station called 98.3 The Penguin in Wilmington, N.C. I had more leeway than most commercial radio deejays, but there still was a script you had to follow.

But KOTO offers total freedom, the only rule being keep the bad language off the airwaves, your opinions to yourself and read the hourly community service notes (community calendar, lost and found, etc.).

You are at the top of a perfect pitch of unskied powder. You know that there are only so many of these runs before the hill gets skied off, so you hope you can bring your best stuff. You have a plan, you see the line you want to ski, and you hope that you can put your turns together in a successful way.

But sometimes you can’t find your groove – you forget a CD, you leave the microphone on and chat away, not knowing your voice is going out over the air, you blow a segue, you play the wrong song, your CD skips – there are myriad ways to blow a perfectly good groove. And often, once you blow it, it’s hard to get back in it. You’ve had a yard sale. Your skis are 20 yards behind you and you’re right under the lift.

But some days you have total command. You come into the studio with a list of songs you want to play but aren’t sure how you will string them together, and when you sequence them, they fit together perfectly. You don’t say “um” ten times during a break, you’re technically flawless, you even make a seamless transition by mistake. You have skied hero powder like a true hero. You just might be the best skier on the mountain (a thought shared concurrently by over a hundred other masters of the powder universe).

Such was my radio show on April 30. It was just one of those days. I came in to rock the good people of Telluride, and made good on my promise. If I do another show this good this year, I will be elated. Here’s a round up of how it went down.

(Read the rest of this “One Step Ahead of the Blues” – and previous columns ­– at; scroll down, on main page, to MUSIC NOTES.)

“Hard to Handle – Hush” is the medley with which the Black Crowes closed their show Saturday night of Brews and Blues. “Hard to Handle” is the song that put the Black Crowes on the map and combining it with Deep Purple’s “Hush Hush” was spot on. This version comes from their 12/13/13 show in Las Vegas, their last show before going on yet another hiatus. The Robinson brothers just can’t keep it together.

“No More Okie Doke” is a real cool track from the Meters 1977 record Last Direction, their last record before reuniting in 1991 as the Funky Meters. This version comes off of my vinyl record of the release. I love playing vinyl on the radio; there’s nothing like the moment when the needle hits the groove, and I have several hundred records that I like to trot out and give a spin.

“Janxta Funk” is a great track from the Pimps of Joy time. If you name your band the Pimps of Joy time then you better rock. They do and so does this track. “My baby does it for me” is a dynamite track off Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe record New Ammo, which was released in February. This track features Nikki Bluhm, the new Grace Potter, which is high praise, because Grace Potter rocks.

“Lady Don’t Mind” comes off of the Talking Heads’ album Little Creatures. Listening to the track is a sad reminder that this was the band’s last recorded album. Talking Heads is one of the bands that one can only hope reunites at some point. It is difficult to describe their music. The fact that Bootsy Collins played on the Stop Making Sense tour suggests a serious dose of funk. Punk rock is definitely a part of the mix. They were a staple at CBGB’s, the famed birthplace of American Punk Rock in New York’s East Village. And finally, their sound boasts a heavy dose of what was known at the time as “new wave.” I saw the Stop Making Sense tour when I was 15 years old. I was also lucky enough to see the band play a private party when I was a student at Yale (this after they had broken up!). I met Keith Haring that night. Love the Talking Heads.

“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” is a standard blues tune that was a staple in the catalogue of North Mississippi Blues master RL Burnside. The North Mississippi Allstars are RL’s prodigies. This version comes off of The Allstars latest release World Boogie is Coming. This is the first album that really captures the dirty side of the Allstars. All the previous releases have been too clean, too well produced. You can feel the Mississippi mud flying off the band as you listen to this fantastic album, by far their best in my opinion.

“Always Alright” by the Alabama Shakes comes off of the soundtrack to Silver Linings Playbook.   It is a dynamite track by one of the greatest and fastest rising bands in rock ‘n’ roll. Brittany Howard may have the closest-sounding voice to Janis Joplin, since the Blues queen died in 1970.

“Saturday Night Blues” comes off the record Dancin’ with Wolves, the sophomore effort by the Nashville trio Natural Child. This album is fantastic. For the album, Natural Child added keyboards and pedal steel to the mix to great effect. These guys are close to the top of the list of bands I want to see. You can stream Dancin’ with Wolves in its entirety here:—dancin-with-wolves.html

“Shit Shots” is the opening track off the Drive by Truckers record English Oceans. I wrote in a column that Jason Isbell had set the bar high with his latest record Southeastern and would the Drive by Truckers be able to come close to matching it with their new record. Well, the answer is yes. English Oceans is by far the best Drive-By Truckers record since Isbell left the band in 2007.

“Long Train Runnin’ is a live track that comes off of the Doobie Brothers album The Last Concert. I received three different calls about this track (my favorite Doobie Brothers song). Listen to it and you’ll see why.

“Got to Get Better in a Little While” kicks off with a real funky lick by Eric Clapton. This version comes off of the release 1212, a concert at Madison Square Garden held to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“Bootleg Flier” is a track by Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s first band that reunited to record the eponymous record in 2007 (released in 2008). The album is fantastic and there are rumors that a second album is forthcoming. This version comes from a four song EP called Extended Play Live.

Enjoy the tunes and stay one step ahead of the blues.

Geoff Hanson’s “One Step Ahead of the Blues” radio show airs on KOTO-FM radio, in Telluride, on alternating Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m. His next show airs on Wednesday, May 14. The songs for this week’s article are available on the sendspace link above.

01 Al Dean Intro.mp3               Al Dean

02 Hard to Hush.mp3                Black Crowes

03 No more okie doke.mp3                     The Meters

04 janxta funk.mp3                           Pimps of Joytime

05 My baby does it for me .mp3              Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with Nikki Bluhm

06 Al Dean .mp3                       Al Dean

07 Lady don’t mind.mp3                  Talking Heads

08 Rollin and Tumblin.mp3                     North Mississippi All stars

09 Always Alright (Audio Single).mp3   Alabama Shakes

10 Postcard _.mp3                            Widespread Panic

11 Saturday Night Blues.mp3          Natural Child

12 Al Dean Natty Child.mp3                   Al Dean

13 Shit shots count.mp3                   Drive by Truckers

14 Suffragette City .mp3                  David Bowie

15 Big Railroad Blues.mp3                      Grateful Dead

16 Lodi>Al Dean .mp3                     Creedence Clearwater revival

17 Long Train Runnin’.mp3                    Doobie Brothers

18 Gotta get better in a little while .mp3Eric Clapton

19 Bootleg Flier .mp3               Mudcrutch





Share on StumbleUponDigg thisPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someonePrint this page

Category: One Step Ahead of the Blues

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.