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Feb 192015

Dave Cloud beard 15022008

Nashville punk/lounge legend, Gospel of Power singer, actor in Gummo and Trash Humpers, Murakami of pickup artists, force of nature, and king of karaoke night at the Springwater Supper Club Dave Cloud passed away last night due to complications from cancer. Sources close to him say he passed calmly surrounded by friends and family. He was 58 years old.

Dave appeared on two episodes of Theatre Intangible, two of our best: the episode that got us banned permanently from WRVU and the Fourth Annual Halloween Extravaganza. Whenever I ran into Dave after that final WRVU episode, he told me he felt terrible and guilty about getting my show banned. And then I would reassure him that it was not his fault. He was very careful to avoid the FCC dirty words and to replace anything objectionable with surrealistic placeholders. The objectionable material came from the callers, who we monitored (unsatisfactorily, apparently) with a three-second delay. I would then tell Dave that were it not for Theatre Intangible getting banned from WRVU, I would never have started the website and podcast version. I guess I owe all that to Dave and everyone involved with the episode Get It On with Dave Cloud.

Then he would ask me to buy him a beer, and I would. Dave was a drinker and a chain-smoker. While we were taping Get It On, he would excuse himself for “quick” smoke breaks that ended up lasting 20 minutes. The other performers just kept improvising music until Dave returned. When it was time to record the Halloween Extravaganza, I had learned my lesson. At this point, I was recording the episodes in my basement, and when Dave asked to take a smoke break, I told him he could smoke while performing. Before long, other performers were lighting up, and my house smelled like cigarette smoke for two weeks. But the recording is better for it.

I didn’t know Dave very well, and I don’t feel qualified to write a eulogy for him. We only had a handful of conversations at the Springwater and Betty’s, and, of course, we had the live tapings. One thing that I do know is that Dave possessed a rare magnetism that made his performances (and pickup lines, rants, boasts) hypnotic. And that has me thinking about the parallels between Dave and other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston, Frank Sidebottom, and Wesley Willis. Magnetism such as Dave’s often comes with depression and mental illness, and I wonder if we enabled Dave with our attention and admiration. We were always willing to buy him a beer in exchange for a song. Jon Ronson writes about the magnetism / mental illness duality beautifully in Frank: The True Story That Inspired the Movie. In an interview with the The Wire about his time performing with the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, Ronson writes,

… it just interested me so much, that kind of beautiful naïveté when you’re young and see the tortured artist as being fabulous, and then when you’re faced with the reality of being with a tortured person and it’s not at all fabulous. It’s not fabulous to the person and it’s not fabulous to the people around the person. I’ve known that from my own life, and also this brilliant documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston talks about that too, about how awful it is to be Daniel Johnston’s parents, the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s heartbreaking, and there’s nothing romanticizing about mental illness in that documentary.

Dave lived with his parents for most of his adult life, and right now I’m thinking about them. I am sorry for their loss. I will never know Dave, in all his unvarnished glory, the way they did. I will never know the struggles Dave and his family faced. I only know the Dave behind the microphone. But that is enough.

Oct 132013
WRFN's 2005 barnraising. Photo by futurequake.com

WRFN’s 2005 barnraising. Photo by futurequake.com

DJ, programmer and board president Scott Sanders has grown to love his idyllic countryside commute to Radio Free Nashville, the Pasquo, Tennessee low-power FM station 30 minutes southwest of Nashville. He uses the time to finalize the set list for his next Hold the Funk radio show. Every October, Scott trades the regularly-scheduled golden age funk for a monthlong celebration of gospel music. Last week, he used his commute to preview songs on dozens of gospel CDs strewn over the passenger seat — CDs such as the box set Goodbye, Babylon and selections from the archival record label The Numero Group. It’s all about finding connections between the songs, the same topic, a lyric, similar fuzz guitar sounds, Scott told me as we talked over a beer last Saturday at Craft Brewed Nashville.

If you want to hear Scott’s show in Nashville, you’re probably out of luck. 107.1 WRFN’s 100 watt signal isn’t powerful enough to reach the entire Nashville area. On top of that, the frequency is plagued with interference from a higher-wattage station in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

In 2005 Scott, a number of other future DJs, and volunteers from the media advocacy group Prometheus Radio Project — one all the way from Japan — erected the small studio building in rural Pasquo. In April of 2005 after eight years of planning and licensing, they turned on the transmitter and signed onto the airwaves. (Learn more about WRFN’s history in this barnraising video.)

The subsequent eight years have been enormously successful. As a Pacifica Network affiliate, WRFN broadcasts popular syndicated shows like Democracy NowProject Censored and Counterspin. They produce quality local programming like Angie Dorin’s Cat Beast Party, which was recently dubbed the Best Radio Show Hardly Anyone Can Hear in the 2013 Nashville Scene Best of Nashville issue. There are specialty music shows, talk shows, local music spotlights, a fitness show, a dog-training show and an upcoming film review show that only covers movies streamable on Netflix.

But that success is choked by a tiny coverage area. For the last eight years, this has been a simple fact of life, nigh-impossible to change under strict FCC regulations.

Until now.

A few years ago, the FCC opened up a window to apply for a few available translators in the Nashville area. Translators augment a signal’s coverage by rebroadcasting on another frequency. A friend of WRFN said what the hell and applied, thinking he had no chance to be granted a license.

By some stroke of good fortune, he was granted a license, and he generously agreed to use the translator to expand WRFN’s signal to all of Nashville. The only remaining obstacle is the significant cost of equipment involved in the expansion.

WRFN recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the $20,000 needed to make the expansion a reality. I’d like to encourage you to donate as much as you can afford. Nashville lost its only citywide community station when Vanderbilt University’s WRVU sold its FM license in 2011. A citywide WRFN would fill the dire need of a community-driven, non-profit, socially-conscious radio station in Nashville.

Before Theatre Intangible was a podcast, it was a show on 91.1 WRVU Nashville. I spent many late-night hours in WRVU’s on-air studio, and I know how big of a loss that’s station’s FM signal was to Nashville. Many DJs felt disenfranchised with Vanderbilt Student Communications’ duplicitous handling of the FM sale. I have heard Vanderbilt alumni say time and time again that they refuse to donate money to their alma mater because of WRVU’s gutting. While that sends a strong message to the university, reallocating your donation to WRFN’s expansion would send an even stronger message. Many disenfranchised WRVU DJs have already found success on WRFN, including Angie Dorin with Cat Beast Party and, for a time, Pete Wilson with Nashville Jumps and myself with Theatre Intangible. By donating to WRFN, you are supporting a station focused on community outreach. Anyone can be a DJ. Scott Sanders told me he believes WRFN is a tool for the people to express themselves. It’s not about siphoning money to some big corporation. It’s about education, advocacy and exploration. WRFN DJs can be as creative as their imaginations allow. There’s no red tape. No ad dollars influencing content.

Radio Free Nashville’s IndieGoGo currently has 40 days left , and they need your help to reach the $20,000 goal. If we let this opportunity pass, there’s no telling when Nashville will have another chance at a citywide community FM station. Show your support by donating today.

Jul 202011

On September 8th, 2008, I stood in the WRVU master control room next to three completely nude string players. I was more than a little worried that we were going to get kicked off the air. Sure, the web cam had yet to be installed. Sure, there were no “official” clothing policies. Yes, it was 1AM in a deserted building. But this WAS WRVU we were talking about. Board members were scared to death of the FCC, and they exercised the chilling effect with a hypochondriac’s eye for detail.

The avant-jazz improv outfit  CJ BOYD SEXTET (now the KIRTAN CHOIR) were in town for a performance at Cafe Coco. They liked playing nude. Who was I to get in the way? We commandeered the studio at 1am Monday morning to record the very first artist showcase on Theatre Intangible. Regulars Lola Koeune and Melody Holt (The Violet Vixen) joined members CJ Boyd, Lauren Eison, Noah Peacock for the third and final segment. The results are quite beautiful.

And thankfully, we didn’t get kicked off the air. That would come later for Get It On with Dave Cloud.

CJ Boyd later released this session as a cd called Deep in the Outside. The image above is the cover. You can purchase it on the Kirtan Choir Bandcamp page.

Lola Koeune just released a new solo cd titled Ha Na Na Na available on CD Baby and Amazon. I’ve been listening to it nonstop for 2 weeks. It’s by far my favorite release of the year. If there’s one T.I. participant who has the potential for super-stardom, it’s Lola. Do yourself a favor and buy the new cd.

CJ plays bass guitar, harmonica, boomwhackers, beatbox, and sings; Lola sings and plays kalimba; Lauren plays violin and sings; Noah plays the tender train box, other small percussion, acoustic guitar, and sings; Melody Holt sings.

Feb 072011

In this episode:

  • THEATRE INTANGIBLE breaks into WRVU for one last in-station show!
  • A VSC BOARD MEMBER calls the COPS!
  • CODY BOTTOMS takes his clothes off for the webcam!
  • Trainee TERRY finds his broadcast voice!

THEATRE INTANGIBLE celebrates our 50th podcast by performing LIVE from our original home 91.1 WRVU fm on the campus of Vanderbilt University. As you might remember, I was kicked off of WRVU and permanently banned from the station. Luckily, my door key scan card still works. I’m joined Theatre Intangible’s first guest ever Cody Bottoms (THE MANPOWER), early collaborator William Davis (OH NO IT’S HOWARD), and ex-host of the also-banned WRVU show GET UP STAND UP Mark Anundson.

Things start off smoothly with calls from champion wrestler Jocephus The Shelby Street Brawler and WRVU’s POCKET NINJAS’ host Amanda Tucker. Things get a bit out of hand when Mark busts out the alcohol, we get a call from VSC Board Member Dick Shell, and a dj trainee hiding in the control booth becomes our “reluctant” guest. We barricade the door with the station couch and hunker down for an all-out siege.

We discuss VSC president Chris Carroll, Director of Student Media Jim Hayes, and since-resigned student general manager Mikil Taylor. Board member Dick Shell calls to complain and lets slip a shocking revelation about the sale of WRVU that you are most definitely NOT going to like.

Featuring call-ins by T.I. participants pimpdaddysupreme, Chris Rauh (Arclyte), Chris Murray and Craig Schenker (Square People), and Joseph Hudson (Dave Cloud). More calls from officer MacBeth, Officer Fritz, Hostage Negotiator Lieutenant McKinley, Amanda Tucker, Tiffany, Kurt, and trainee Terry’s mother Misty.

With music by T.I. participants Tim Kaiser, Ken Soper, Strotter Inst., Leslie Keffer, Anthony William Herndon, DaveX, pimpdaddysupreme, Lawrence Crow, Mark Anundson, and WORLD PREMIERE tracks by Square People Jazz Maturity and Lylas recorded exclusively for Theatre Intangible!

Special thanks to Brad Edwards, Sean Parrot, Ben Sullivan, Melody Holt, Tommy Stangroom, and most especially Jesse Perry. Mark, Brad, Sean, and Jesse are all podcasters too. Check out their many shows, including HAPPY FOR APATHY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARY, and MANGY DOG RADIO HOUR WHOOP-DEE-DOO.

If you like the show, tell a friend or write a review in iTunes. And without further ado, we bring you, the Theatre Intangible 50th Podcast Spectacular!

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