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KAFM Livens up the Radio Room

By David Goe

For KAFM’s 15th anniversary year, the community radio station is wasting no time getting the celebration started.

Cash Kiser, KAFM’s event and outreach coordinator, is kicking off the banner year with a fantastic rock show featuring Peanut Butter Lovesicle, Bronco Country and Wavebaby. Those are three bands, none of which you would expect to find playing the Radio Room, ready to blow what you think about KAFM out of the water.

“The Radio Room has historically been known as a ‘listening space’ rather than a full on, in your face, base thumping experience,” Kiser said.

In previous years, you’d typically find singer/songwriters and folk guitarist headlining the room, which prides itself in sharp, accurate sound. Rarely did full rock bands play the space.

To achieve a higher level of sound production capable of supporting rock bands, Kiser and co. made several changes to the space. New to the Radio Room in 2014 are a number of cosmetic fixes and upgrades to the sound system. Those upgrades include two larger subs, a 32-channel soundboard, upgraded speakers and additional amps to support low and high-end audio output.

“For something like a rock show, adding energy to the mix with subs and bigger amps while keeping the vocals crisp and clear will really bring the Radio Room experience to a new level. I hope it sets the bar in town for sound quality at a venue,” Kiser said.

The subs and amps are already in place for tonight and the full complement of sound improvements will be installed in time for the Tony Furtado show on Jan. 21.

Ready to test the new space Friday night, Jan. 10, are Grand Junction’s only surf/skate rock duo Wavebaby.

Anyone who has hung around the local music scene should recognize Wavebaby, the new project from former Heavy Drags members and skate bros for life, Gavin Bistodeau and Andrew Watson.

In Heavy Drags, Bistodeau played guitar while Watson assumed the role of lead singer and purveyor of mayhem. In the new band, the roles have been switched. Oh, Watson still brings the mayhem, only now behind a stripped down drum set. It’s Bistodeau who fronts the duo, a role that he is still getting comfortable with.

“I have to admit that I’m still terrified of singing into that mic in front of people,” Bistodeau said. “It’s getting a bit easier but normally it takes a few songs to rid myself of the shakes. By the time I get settled in, it’s already the end of the set and I want to keep going.”

While Bistodeau may deal with a bit of stage fright, it doesn’t show in the band’s live performances. The cohesion between Bistodeau and Watson is obvious and their sets come off just as confident as Heavy Drags’ sets ever did.

“Andrew is like a brother to me,” Bistodeau said. “I’ve looked up to him for a long time and feel lucky to have him as a friend and a band mate.”

“Writing tunes with [Watson] has always come naturally, probably because we’re into the same kind of stuff. You know the little skater punks pumping down the street blasting Misfits and Minor Threat? That was us. We definitely share the same blurry vision that is Wavebaby,” Bistodeau said.

In addition to upgraded sound equipment and more bookings for local rock bands such as Wavebaby and Bronco Country, KAFM also is making an investment in the community’s youth.

Kiser promises that the Radio Room will not alienate its current customer base and will continue to book all genres of music, but it is obvious that several shows — Friday night’s and the upcoming Photo Atlas, Obtuse and CheapArt show, for example — will cater to younger audiences who are likely unfamiliar with KAFM.

“I’ve never been to the Radio Room. I’m interested to see what it’s all about,” Bistodeau said. “Anytime you can get a bunch of our friends together, funky things will happen. As long as the crowd and your friends are having fun, dancing, laughing or whatever, you’re doing something right.”

As we will see Friday night. It looks like KAFM is definitely doing something right. 

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