Monday, September 26, 2016

They Stole My Crayon on the Radio (09.23.16)

Listen to an excerpt of the broadcast. Courtesy of 89.9 WJCT.

One of the main reasons that I like my band They Stole My Crayon has nothing to do with the music itself. It has a lot to do with the interaction between myself and my bandmates Bunny Knutson and Christina Lee. The only reason the band happened in the first place, back in 2012, is that we were hanging out together having a silly and fun time, as we tend to do as old friends. That level of frivolity has maintained itself throughout the years we've been friends and bandmates, and we tend to do things in somewhat unique ways.

An example happened last Friday night, when we'd heard we were going to get our first radio airplay of our music. The three of us are big NPR listeners, so it was a complete thrill to find out that an NPR affiliate, Jacksonville-FL's 89.9 WJCT, was going to give us a spin on DJ John Maycumber's acoustic alternative show String Theory. We knew that "Got Guilt", the opening track on our debut album, certainly met the requirements of being both acoustic-based and alternative, and felt pretty good about the idea that John could fit the tune into his program set pretty well. At first, we didn't hear back from him, and then when we initially did, we ended up getting bumped (which, by the way, happens a lot, whether it's an appearance on a talk show or any other promotional opportunity where there are a lot of entertainers competing for attention). But the following Friday night, which is when String Theory airs, we got a pretty solid confirmation that we'd be on.

The Crayon has an interesting way of communicating. We all live in Southern California -- Christina and I in the same home -- but Bunny is all the way up in the Valley. So, we get together in person less than many might assume. And, of course, we all have jobs and stuff that keeps us from hanging out and doing band stuff in person as much as we'd like. What we do instead is have these real-time conversations within a private Facebook group that we've used for years in putting together the album and so on (the only non-bandmate in that group being the "fourth Crayon", our mix engineer and friend Spencer Crewe). It just so happened that Friday night, Christina was cruising around the desert with her family, who'd come down from Seattle on a pre-scheduled trip. I was here in Redondo Beach, and Bunny was up in Tarzana. However, despite the distance, we weren't going to be "apart" during such an auspicious moment in our band's history.

So, there we were on our Facebook group, chatting away at 8PM on Friday night, and all of us listening to WJCT over the Internet stream of their broadcast. We had no idea when we'd be played, and we were all having a lot of fun while the show ran through its eclectic playlist. Then, about five songs into the hour-long show, I started getting text messages from friends and fans who were watching the show's online listing update. "OMG YOU'RE NEXT!" was the one that caught my attention.

Our little band being played on an NPR station. Image courtesy of Kirsten Max.

And sure enough, as a song trailed away, we heard the familiar (to us) sounds of Bunny's acoustic guitar playing the opening sequence of notes for "Got Guilt", followed by Christina's, mine, and finally Bunny's voices. Being a hyper-critical listener, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the audio quality of the stream held up pretty well for our music. When the song ended and we all congratulated each other, we continued to listen to the show, and after another song went by, John Maycumber (bless him and all DJs who still do this) back-announced the set so far. It was even better than we expected.

"... also, They Stole My Crayon before that. We'll dedicate that one to everyone in my first grade class, heh heh heh. "Got Guilt", name of that one."

Awesome! We couldn't have been happier. While Bunny and I have both had our music played on various radio stations, it was Christina's first experience hearing herself on the radio. It's still a very big deal for a musician to hear his or her original works broadcast to a large audience. There's no guarantee it will happen again, though we're certainly going to be making more efforts in that regard.

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