Updated: Jun 28, 2020
Last fall, my wife Tamara saw that CD102.5 FM, our local radio station that plays a lot of independent and local music, had a crowdfunding campaign to purchase their own signal. It had a reward tier, and the $250 reward was to be a guest DJ. I pondered this for a little bit, and decided to go for it.
I contributed, and eventually got a date set for my hour of radio fame, January 26. I was told that I could play whatever radio-friendly music I wanted. I could have easily gone with a great Who/Stones/Zeppelin mix. But I thought I could make it much more unique and interesting if I invited my musician friends and peers to have their own songs played.
The DJ I picked, Tom Butler, was all for the idea. So I developed this into a Local Music Showcase, and invited 10 people to send me a couple songs and bios. They were all very excited, even a couple of them who have had considerable levels of success in other areas. I was excited too, and worked hard to filter their bios down to single paragraphs, and getting the order set.
The show started at 8pm, and I arrived around 7:30. Tom was great, made me feel at ease, and was enthusiastic. We chatted quite a bit before and during the broadcast. I basically just did my thing, talking about the musicians, their songs, and that was that. It turned out great!
The next morning, I found out that Rachel Karryn needed me to play guitar for her......live, on TV. She had tried out for American Idol, their last season, and made it to Hollywood. She hadn't made it past the first Hollywood round but it's still a huge accomplishment, and something she can hopefully use to catapult her career.
Her success with the show got the attention of our local news. Fox 28 (WTTE)'s "Good Day Columbus" invited her to perform. I caught wind of it Monday or so, but since nobody on her end had mentioned it directly, assumed that Steve, her grandfather, was playing guitar for her. Not so.
Suddenly, I was needed, and as great as the notion of playing live was, the song she wanted to sing, "Don't Tell Me", was one we last played together in the fall of 2014, at Java Central. It's one that Steve wrote, and is a really nice fingerpicking tune, fairly intricate, with interesting chord changes. Not a simple song at all. Thankfully, I was available all day, so Rachel came over and we practiced. We were somewhat relieved that we picked up the song pretty well, but she was a little worried about remembering all the words, and I really had to keep track of all the chords.
At any rate, we were all set. Then I had to go host my open MIC at O'Toole's. It's been going absolutely great this year, and last week I had the stage open until 12:45am, it was that busy. Which was fine, because I don't have to get up super early for a job. But this week? Suddenly, I couldn't afford to be out extra late.
However, it was a fun night. A jam broke out when a new guitarist started playing some killer lead guitar with a guy playing banjo, and we had drums, vocals, and harmonica with it. Really cool stuff. Jim and I played four songs to close out the night, and it ended at midnight.
I got to bed around 1am, but only got four hours of sleep. I got to the TV studio early, they did a sound check, and we actually played a little teaser while the anchors in the next room talked about the upcoming show. They aired that live.
TV sets are much smaller than they appear on TV. Not that this was cramped, but they actually had three sets in one space, and a family came in after us and started setting up in a kitchen area where some little girl was apparently going to make some great dish. It was interesting to watch people move around and talk about how they wanted to roll into different segments. They actually didn't have a solid plan for how to do that for us, and were making things up on the fly.
Rachel was interviewed first, just for three minutes. She'd been far more nervous about that part than singing, but did just fine. Then it was just a couple more minutes until performing time, so we got in our spots, and waited. And I guess, thinking back, the coolest part of it was waiting for the wave of the cameraman's hand to indicate it was time to start. I was too focused to really appreciate the moment at the time, but here I was, ready to play guitar in front of a TV audience that I would imagine could have been over 100,000, and since the song started with me playing chords alone, it was up to me to get the whole thing going.
I guess my point is, Rachel and I were just standing in a corner of a room with a fake fireplace (and fake kitty cat) behind us, so you really couldn't get the feel of it being a big thing. It was very cozy, relaxed, and quiet. But we nailed the song, and had a great experience!