Rez Rockin’ Reggae

KILI LogoBONGO’s      BIO   “WORD, SOUNDS AND POWER FROM THE TOP OF KILi TOWER, A HUNDRED THOUSAND WATTS OF VICIOUS LAKOTA POWER”, opened the REZ ROCKIN REGGAE SHOW from Porcupine South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation over the hill from Wounded Knee, one of the most infamous locations in American history.  Rasta themes of unity in struggle for survival and resistance to the Babylon system of oppression were well received in four states by the American Indian Movement and grandmas who have been resisting the shitstem their entire lives, praying in the old ways even when it was against the law.

To keep the show relevant I would visit among family and friends in Oglala, Pine Ridge and Slim Buttes practicing monologues.  When I said loudly ,YOUTMON YOU KNOW YOU BEEN DRINKING SO GIVE UP DE K.EYS AND DON’T SCRASH DE CYA AND MAKE THE GRANDMAS CRY!  Grandma Celene Not Help Him, a descendant of the Wounded Knee massacre said, “Yes.  Yes, say it, I’ll be listening, and so were thousands of Indians in rezes spread out over four states.

I know you want to hear more Indian radio stories because not to many of us washichu* know what Indians are like, what they do and how they think and I am the conduit for you.

In my first radio days I only had tapes recorded in Jamaica to work with, so it took nearly two hours to cue up the show.  So I pulled into the station and Buzzy Two Lance said,  Bongo, I’m glad you’re here.  I been here since dark, the relief dj never showed and I’m tired and hungry.  Start your show two hours early.  It was ten minutes to twelve and he had a reel to reel large tape playing, told me to turn it off play the promos and begin with de reggae ryddims

The transmitter was an old   US surplus army job from WW2 with huge knobs, and my training was non existent.  When I turned off the reel to reel, opened the show with the words at the beginning of this blog, hit the button on the small tape machine, nuttin happened.  In a panic of dead air, I tried to get the reel to reel back on, failed, so alls I had to work width was my small boom box and two mikes.  I swung mike two over to the boom box and said”Hey KILI djays, Bongo needs help Me cyant get the Bomboclat mac\hine to work, and by the time two songs played I could hear the roar of a Chevy 350sliding up the icy hill  to the station.  A long hair Indian youth ran in, clicked some switches and turned some huge knobs, and heavy like lead, AND DREADER THAN DREAD Reggae recorded in Jamaica rocked the speakers of Skins all over South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming

So gentle readers, please mention the Blogapus to your friends and I promise weekly true stories of early radio days.

*Lakota, “stealer of the fat”

Jazzman Jay

Editor note: This entry is part of “Roots Rockin’ Reggae” host Bongo’s continuing series of WDBX and music-related memories. Click here to see previous entries. If you’re digging these, be sure to tune in this Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m., and give him a call at the station to let him know!

One evening I was filling in for a DJ in the jazz genre. Me no know nuttin’ bout jazz. I run to the library and find a tune called Kiss My Ax, with a photo of a shiny sax on the front that ran twenty minutes. Great, a quarter of the show, and I send it out over the airwaves.

A neatly dressed black dude walks into the studio in the middle of the song. He wore a neatly trimmed white beard and said he was a retired insurance salesman who always wanted to be a DJ. I asked him what kind of music, he said jazz.

“Great ” I said, and sent him to the library, and he returned with half a dozen CDs. After he played a few songs I asked him if he wanted to introduce a song and say something about it. He was a little timid and balked at talking over the air. “Look, there’s lots of white in your beard, and it’s your dream. If you wanted to learn how to swim, you don’t need to read a book on swimming, you need to get in the water.”

He smiled, I turned on mic two and his career as a jazz DJ at DBX was launched.

Jimi and Me

My baby Brother Jack sat in a coffee shop in Greenwich Village.  Jimmie sat with two white women waiting for his supper.

“You know who that is?” I asked
“No!..It can’t be,” said Jack. “Go and find out. Please, please, please.”
I walk over to the guitar legends’ table taking off my elaborate Allan Stuck necklace made of copper and said, “You seem to like jewelery.  My friend is a jewelry maker who likes to share his work.  Would you like to have this necklace?”
Jimmie was wearing silver and turquoise, but he said “sure.”
I gave it to him, he said thanks and I turned to walk away.
“What’s your name?” he asked softly.
“Alex, what’s yours?”
“Jimmie.”
Jack came unglued and said no one would believe him at high school, and go ask for an autograph.  I said he wouldn’t want to be bothered, but Jack strongly insisted.
I took the two yellow submarine post cards to Jimmie’s table, apologized for bothering him, and he saw Jack all excited and gaga looking.
“My brother Jack would love to have an autograph.  Would you mind?”
“Sure” he said without hesitation.”This is my managers info, and I’m in Marrakesh in the winter because some of Africa’s finest musicians go there, so come see me.”
He finished his meal, crossed the street and sat in with Tom Hayden for an up close, kick ass set.