I’ve always been envious of DJs: What fun it must be to spin music and chat all day, taking the occasional phone call from all sorts of people. I love visiting radio stations, too, giving unpredictable answers to unexpected questions, talking about a new record or show my band is doing. I never know exactly how it’s going to go, as every DJ I meet is so very different.
Recently, I got a chance to both be a DJ and to talk with one within a couple weeks of each other, and both were exceptionally good times.
“Lisa the DJ” was asked to create an hour-long special for WXOJ’s Hilltown Family Variety Show, 103.5 FM in Northhampton, MA. My show would air on Saturday & Sunday, February 16th and 17th, right after Valentine’s Day, and since my theme was love and social consciousness, the timing was perfect. Little did I realize how much work it would involve. Gathering the right songs seemed the easy part. Putting it all together in a way that made sense, writing a script and making it all fit neatly into 58 minutes was no small task. Luckily, I had great helpers. My daughter Jesse would say yes or no to some songs – like when I asked, “Do you think kids of all ages would be okay with Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’?”
“NO, Mom! That’ll scare them! Especially the burning flesh part! It’s horrific!” she said. I was impressed she knew the lyrics so well (not to mention the word “horrific”). In our family, racism isn’t tolerated, and the school she attends teaches her the same thing.
So I settled with “God Bless the Child” instead.
When I asked my husband if he thought Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was a good social consciousness song, I received an emphatic “YES!” That went into my playlist. Happily, Milkshake had some great ones to use, including our new anti-bullying song Let ’em Know and the look-outside-yourself gem More Than Me.
When it was time to put it all together and record the show, I headed down to our favorite studio, Invisible Sound, and handed everything to Dave Nachodsky. We started with my read of a little Danish story called Frog In Love. It fit perfectly with my theme of love and social consciousness, since frog falls in love with a duck and, despite the naysayers, they manage to become a couple: “A frog and a duck. Green and White. Love knows no boundaries.” The read took all of 5 minutes, and then we worked outward from there. Some songs had to be cut, like Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Night and Day,” and Pink’s “Glitter in the Air,” along with my story of watching Pink swinging above us as she sang at the Grammy Awards a couple years ago. It was breathtaking, but I didn’t have time to share it on the show. In the end, I think we put together a thought-provoking show for growing musical ears and minds. You can hear it when it’s been added to the podcast list: Hilltown Family Variety Show
Alex Cortright, Mikel & Lisa
On the other side of the radio mic, Mikel and I headed down to WRNR in Annapolis, MD to play a few love songs and chat about our Valentine Concert Matinee at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. We chatted with DJ Alex Cortright about the good old days of Love Riot, and our wonderful time with Milkshake. Alex was excited to spin an unreleased song we wrote and recorded toward the end of Love Riot, a song I wrote for my dad called One of These Days. To my surprise, it didn’t sound old or dated, and it reminded me of what a wonderful band Love Riot was.
The Valentine’s Concert wasn’t a Milkshake thing. It was more a Love Riot thing, pumped up and expanded. We did some old songs from the Love Riot catalog, along with a couple new ones and some favorite covers. Look for pics and more about the show in my next post.