Come on, DJ, Play that Song
April 16, 2017
I borrowed a little snippet from one of my favorite J.Lo songs for the title of this blog because:
1. Who doesn't love J.Lo and all of her glittery wonder?
2. Who remembers the days before digital media when you actually had to wait for the DJ to play your song alllll dayyyyy loooong? You'd find yourself screaming at the speakers as if the DJ could actually hear you.
3. It's totally fitting for what I'm about to discuss in this blog: my very first live, on-air, in-studio radio experience.
Hearing my songs on the radio is a total thrill. I know in past blogs I've said singing my songs on stage is a high like no other, but I gotta say for reals - Airwave High > Performance High. Switching to my favorite radio station and hearing my song pulsing through the car speakers (my fave place to listen to music), knowing other people are hearing the same thing totally electrifies my bones. Now what would happen if you took Airwave High and Performance High and mushed them together? I can't. I just...I can't. It's too mind-blowing to fathom.
But fathom, I did. And, mind? Blown. (Not literally.)
When radio show host Sandy Streid told me she'd like to feature me on her show "Twilight Showcase" on 95.9FM WATD I thought she meant that she wanted to play one or two of my songs, say a few words about me and I was all "Supes awesome!" What I didn't fully realize until we spoke on the phone was that she literally wanted to feature me. In the studio. Live. Singing my songs over the airwaves.
Sandy and I were put in touch through Lauribeth Quinlivan, a talented artist whom I met on the set of Community Auditions a few years ago. Fellow contestants on the show, Lauribeth and I have been supporting and following each other's careers ever since and I so appreciate her thinking of me. Shout out to you, Lauribeth - Thank you!
Sandy and her husband Keith not only host "Twilight Showcase," but they are the house band as well. Talented singer/songwriters themselves, they have done and continue to do so many wonderful things for the music community here on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Their show recognizes musicians, performers and entertainers of all ages every Sunday from 8-9pm. When I spoke with Sandy over the phone for the first time, she so kindly expressed her thoughts on my songwriting, explaining how she loves that my songs tell a story; an important one. I always hope that what I'm writing speaks to someone in some way so I was overjoyed that Sandy "heard" me. I knew immediately that I was meant to meet her and sing my little heart out, not just for the experience, but for Sandy and Keith - my new fans.
Sandy and I discussed the location of the studio and how it might be a bit on the stair-y side. Although WATD has their official studio in Marshfield, Sandy and Keith have set up shop in their beautiful home studio in Plymouth which, unfortunately, isn't wheelchair accessible. Little did she know (don't worry, I filled her in) that my Dad is MacGyver. He can get me and my chunky wheels in and out of a submarine, if and when that time comes. He's got tools and paraphernalia for even the toughest jobs 😬. So Angus (a.k.a. Lindy, a.k.a. my Dad), Chrissy (my puppy) and I took a ride to Sandy and Keith's one day to scope out the location. We also had the opportunity to meet Sandy who is even sweeter in person than she is on the phone, if that's even possible! My Dad walked around the house, checking out all entrances, carefully mapping out his plan of action. "This one is going to be a challenge," he said, (rare), "but we'll get 'er in! It'll just take a couple of eight-footers, a plank or two..." #concreteformjibberjabber
In the coming months I thought long and hard about my plan of action. Sandy informed me that the feature would be the entire hour of the show with time for five of my songs and conversation in between. She requested that one of the five songs be the original version of "Euphoria," as she felt the production shouldn't be missed by listeners. I agreed. The production is preeeeetty killer. For the remaining songs I took into consideration my own vocal ability. I'm not the featured singer on most of my songs and I didn't want to change them to the point that they would be unrecognizable. I don't usually appreciate when an artist does that so I didn't want to be guilty of doing it, either. In the end, I decided to sing three songs that do, in fact, feature my vocals. "100," because it was my first sorta-kinda popular release (plus it was another of Sandy's requests as she felt a connection to the lyrics and who am I to argue with that!?), "Played," because it is one of my favorites and "Sometimes," because of the message. For the fourth song I looked to my trusty and talented friends Cory Paza (acoustic guitar) and Benny Goodman (piano) for their advice. They felt that since "Solitaire" was my most recent release it should definitely take the final slot. Although I agreed, I knew it was going to take a bit of work in order to slow it down enough to give me breathing room.
In the weeks leading up to the show, whenever I had a moment alone, I exercised these dusty ol' pipes of mine. I hadn't seriously sung these songs for anyone in quite a while and I wanted to figure out the best versions of each to sing on the show. Because Cory and Benny were coming over for a practice session I knew that my pipes weren't the only things that needed dusting: my piano needed one, too. There are lots of little kiddos in my life who like to not-so-delicately "play" my precious piano when they're here and, don't get me wrong, it's cute and all, but it does a number (ha!) to the tuning. Who ya gonna call? Mr. Erik Wuotila (my piano's lifelong tuner)! He's a perfectionist, so professional, has tons of experience plus I swear he has some kind of supersonic hearing. He always gives Everett (if you're following, you already know this is my piano's name) back his sparkle. Okay, now I was ready to do a little practice session with the fellahs. About a week before the show Cory, Benny and I sat around my living room (Chrissy on Cory's guitar case, chiming in with her little barks and coughs), working through each song. The guys came prepared (not that I doubted it for a second) and knew my songs forward and backward. I gave them my thoughts on each, they threw in their creative ideas and in just two hours we had our set down. On to the show...
MacGy--ahem--my Dad got a head start in his truck to Keith and Sandy's Plymouth studio with all of the necessary ramp-building materials. My Mom and I met him there a little while later so as to give him a chance to set up. Upon my arrival Sandy and Keith welcomed me with open arms. One of the very best parts of this journey is getting the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people that I can call friends; Keith and Sandy were/are no exception. As I sat on a chair inside the studio, my Dad worked on getting my chair up and in. As usual, he wanted no help whatsoever. I didn't see any signs of struggle, hear any loud bangs or see any fires so I would say it went smoothly. I was back in my chair in no time (it was still in one piece!) and on to a tour of the show-ready studio.
The space itself was gorgeous with a stone fireplace reaching up to the vaulted ceiling (the backdrop for our little trio), shiny wood floor and tons of light filtering in through the windows and doors. We were so close to the ocean that you could smell the sand and surf in the air and, as it was a warm and sunny spring evening, it brought out all the happy inside of me. Could there be a more perfect way to spend a Sunday evening but at a studio by the beach, creating music with incredibly talented, warm-hearted people? I think not. Sandy had so thoughtfully set up a table full of delicious snacks with offers of endless hot teas and water. She and Keith also made up a great promo poster for the show as well as a huge sign that every "Twilight" performer signed - and we were next!
Cory and Benny arrived shortly thereafter and Sandy gave us printouts of how the show would go, minute by minute. Everything was so organized, effortless and fun. The casual atmosphere with the adorable, friendly studio cats milling about made any jitters I may have had fly right out the window. I was as calm as a palm tree sipping on a piña colada. (Bet you've never heard that one before. Neither have I.) We did some last minute run-throughs of the songs for our audience (my Mom, Dad, Cory's girlfriend Domitila and the cats) as a soundcheck. A few minutes before 8:00, it was time for Sandy and Keith to connect to the studio in Marshfield and we waited the last few minutes for our turn to go live.
Showtime! For the next hour, if you listened, you heard Sandy's soft, soothing, radio-perfect voice over the airwaves saying lovely things about me, Cory, Benny and our music. We laughed, we talked, we sang, we jammed. We even got a handful of callers saying even more lovely things to us. Cory's guitar and Benny's piano-playing made my songs sound so pretty. That's really the perfect word for me to use - pretty. And I was happy because that is exactly the sound I was hoping for for this performance. The entire show was recorded (on camera) which usually makes me a touch self-conscious but that night I didn't feel self-conscious. I felt....well...lovely. I was truly moved by the entire experience. The only bummer was that I wasn't able to hear it on the radio myself but, thanks to all of my listeners that night, I was able to "hear" it through all of your generous feedback.
I always try to explain just how thankful I am to each and every person who has helped me along this journey. Those who have made it possible for me to make music, who have spent time listening to and sharing my music, have joined me (and given me confidence) on stage, who have been and continue to be my audience, who become part of my projects and who give me incredible opportunities like this one - I'm so, so grateful to all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sandy and Keith, for making my first, in-studio radio experience unforgettable and for writing another important chapter in my story.
Next time you're listening to the radio make sure to yell "C'mon, DJ, play that song!" and maybe, just maybe, it will be one of mine... 😉 (Or one of J.Lo's, because she is the coolest. And the glow-iest.)
PS - Don't miss Sandy and Keith Streid's show "Twilight Showcase" every Sunday night at 8pm on 95.9FM WATD.