Program Notes

I'm tired, real tired. But this theory seems so straight-up simple: If, as the fascist censors insist, listening to the 2 Live Crew will turn you into a rapist and if listening to Body Count's "Cop Killer" will make you murder an officer of the law, then couldn't the opposite also hold? Someone bent on rape avoids committing the crime by substituting a few spins of "Me So Horny," and the poor black kid whose only vision of pleasure exists in a cathode-ray box, whose immediate future likely lies in a pine box, turns his anger and frustration inside out by jamming to a few urban musical rants. Do incendiary rap songs predicate or proscribe violence on the streets? Is there a choice between rapping and rioting? If America had listened to what the rappers were saying, could the L.A. riots have been averted? Or, if the rappers had kept their mouths shut, would the natives not have been so restless in the first place? Think about all that while listening to the fresh compilation from Priority Records called Street Soldiers. The blueprint of urban mayhem and S.O.P. injustice is laid out like a historical review: N.W.A.'s "Fuck Tha Police" from 1988; Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and "911 Is a Joke" from 1990; a remix of 1990's "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)" by Ice Cube with Chuck D; "6 'N the Mornin'," a 1987 Ice-T tune; "Illegal Search," by LL Cool J (1989); and others. So is Priority trying to explain away/justify the burning of Los Angeles with this new release? You wish. Money raised by sales of Street Soldiers is promised to organizations attempting to rebuild the city. Go figure.

Thanks to solid response, Spec's is extending its Saturday voter registration drive through October 3. You can sign onto the machine at any of the chain's stores.

I'm sick and tired of all the chaos swirling around our community radio station, WDNA-FM. As you know, two "boards of directors" are fighting in court over control of the station. Have been for a year now, probably will be for some time to come. Dunno what they're fighting over, as WDNA doesn't exist any more -- it's been off the air for weeks. Even so, Howard Gross, appointed by the court to settle the control dispute, has recently asked for $5000 in pay due him. Apparently the two "boards" are each responsible for half that fee. The group that is trying to toss out the old board is conducting a fund raiser at the Cactus Cantina tomorrow (Thursday) at 8:00 p.m. The evening begins with a jazz jam -- including Roger Wilder on keys and Be-Bob Grabowski on bass -- then moves into a Latin/jazz blowout headed by Dario Rosendo. There'll also be a drawing for prizes, and your donation will be appreciated.

Robbie Gennet, rested after providing keyboards for Saigon Kick on their tour, will play some of his own stuff at the Musicians Exchange on Saturday.

For a long time we missed out on the hyped ride of Dramarama. Duh. Then one day Rooster Head's Michael Kennedy sent me an eclectic tape of songs he finds therapeutic. It certainly helped me get through a few tiresomely funky days. One song especially stood out, but I had no idea what it was or who it was performed by. "Do kittens die on Christmas/Do monkeys like the zoo/I haven't got a clue" sung over driving traditional rock instrumentation -- wowser. Turned out to be Dramarama, and after obtaining their Vinyl cassette, it all makes perfect sense. Besides gut-check rockers, the band delves deep into acid-washed psychedelia a la Dukes of Stratosphear ("Tiny Candles") and unself-conscious ballad-essays ("What Are We Gonna Do?") spiced by bizarro sound bites. In the diversity and the passion, Dramarama is similar to Rooster Head. And here's the rub. At least two local clubs have told the Roosters they wouldn't be booked to play live unless they lose the country songs from their repertoire. Their loss, your loss, 'cause I'd bet the farm the Roosters won't compromise their music for anybody. That's just one reason Rooster Head is the best rock band in the nation right now. With Dramarama right on their tails.

Maybe it's just age. "I don't know how old you are," says Zeta-4 program director Pete Bolger, "but I remember when radio stations would devote whole weekends to nothing but, say, Bob Dylan songs. But today there's less and less interest in specialized programming, listeners have less tolerance for deviations from what the station usually plays. A lot of our special programs that we used to have had their fans, but it was a small group." So it's not Zeta-4 that's changing, it's the whole world. And while the station did cancel Kimba's blues hour, for the above cited reasons, it did not kill Dr. Demento. "The syndicator canceled it," Bolger explains. "Not enough stations were running it, and there wasn't enough advertising to support it. This is part ofthe continued shake out." Block programming is passe. As for Kimba's show, Bolger notes that the DJ has plenty to do since taking over morning drive a few weeks ago, and that the station will integrate mo' blues into its regular programming. The station is retaining one block show, the Grateful Dead Hour (Sundays at 11:00 p.m.). And while we're on the Zeta-4 frequency, let's offer congrats to publicist Toni Shreffler, who's on maternity leave, and kudos to DJ Mike Lyons for relentlessly pursuing the details of Bruce Springsteen's fall concert appearance at the Miami Arena. (Note to Mike: If that series of shows is moved out of the Arena for a bigger venue, I'll buy you a beer and let you say anything you want in this column. Bet.)

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