CHIRP Radio’s The First Time: First Car
On Wednesday, I went to Schuba’s to attend a series called The First Time, hosted by CHIRP Radio. At each event, the participants are asked to speak on a particular theme. Each talk is limited to 5 minutes, and includes a reference to a particular artist or song. Immediately following each speaker, a band performs that song before the next participant takes the stage.
Tonight’s theme was about “First Cars,” and my friend James was one of the speakers. Having been on the airwaves since 1994 (and still on the air over at Q101), James is incredibly passionate about music, and shared the stage with a lot of other local writers, musicians, and music lovers.
Quick view of the stage. It’s been an age and a day since I last attended a show here. I remember the room being much bigger than it was, but perhaps that was due to all the chairs set up in the middle. I’ve always liked this space – small, cozy, intimate.
A view of the crowd. The event didn’t start until past 8:30, so this was still relatively early on. By the time the lights went down, nearly all the seats were filled and a good group of folks were standing in back.
For his talk, James brought along some notes. Or rather, a set list.
A bit later, I was joined by Sandra and a few other folks from work. L to R it’s Brian, Ally and Katie.
My seat was in the middle aisle, as I was hoping to get some photos and video of the speakers. After my camera display kept turning on/off, I felt like I was distracting people around me… so I moved. I snuck up closer to the stage, and found a nice spot off to the side where I hunkered down for the remainder of the evening.
Jocelyn, who was a great hostess and kept the audience entertained between sets.
Josh Caterer, of the Smoking Popes.
Josh talked about his first car (bought for $800, and in ridiculously pristine condition), and how he pretty much spent all his money buying cigarettes and gas for the car. Over time, because he couldn’t afford some of the repairs, the car slowly broke down. After the heat and muffler both went out, he ended up driving with gloves, a heavy jacket, a ski mask, and ear plugs to muffle out the muffler sounds.
Song: Cars, by Gary Numan.
Jim talked music and hallucinogens, recounting a road trip with a friend that left him on his own… on acid… playing records by himself while watching a TV full of static. His description of having a portable cassette player, nestled between them in the car, was hysterical and reminded me of car rides where we had to make our own soundsystems.
For whatever reason, the topic of hallucinogens and mushrooms came up quite often.
Song: Shine a Light, by The Rolling Stones.
Matt’s talk focused on adulthood, and how he’s been booted and towed over 6 times. Not only did he count specific (and numerous) road trips, but like other speakers… he talked about driving to see concerts, or to buy music. It was amazing to see how many speakers had such a natural connection, linking their love of music to their vehicles.
Song: Tennessee Jed, by the Grateful Dead.
I don’t have any photos of James, but captured a video of his talk instead. Though I may be a bit biased, I thought his was the top set of the night. I’m always a fan of memorizing talks like this, and I felt a stronger sense of connection with those readers who chose to go without notes.
James had some impeccable timing, and his sense of humor really comes through. More than that though, his love of music permeates his talk – his passion for it, and his interest in sharing it with others. I still think him not getting the funds he needed for his book was an outright crime. And I hope, after seeing this video, you can imagine how fantastic that book would have been.
Song: Is Your Love Strong Enough, by Bryan Ferry.
Erin Shea, blogger.
Her car (which she had nicknamed “Elmo”) was the centerpiece of Erin’s talk. She described it as a 3 cylinder car that was powered by a small hive of bees in the engine block, with an odometer that only had 5 slots for numbers. When first asked to participate in the series, she was five months pregnant and when she took the stage tonight… she was at eight months.
Erin reflected a lot on her growing up as a sad, chubby, geeky, indie girl and spoke about her concerns and hopes for her child. It was a moving talk, and quite touching.
Song: Fuck and Run, by Liz Phair.
Robbie Fulks, musician.
Robbie far and away got the crowd laughing the hardest, with his fantastic story about his first van. Breaking down while on tour, he sent his bandmates home while he stuck around waiting for repairs to be done by a mechanic named Fabio. What was originally a two-day delay for parts turned into a 9 day dreamlike walkabout, with Robbie visiting several friends in nearby cities.
At the end of the ordeal, he discovered Fabio was not actually a mechanic, but was stalling because the mechanic had quit (and he was looking for the guy). Robbie never did see Fabio again and, as far as he knows, the van never did get repaired.
Song: The Road, by Tenacious D.
One of the most moving talks of the night, Susan spoke with incredible passion and feeling about her love for her father. Not only were cars representative of freedom to her, they were an extension of her dad. He loved to drive, and so she loved to drive. Susan talked about her first stick shift car, and the difficulties she had learning to drive in a town that was studded with small hills. When her daughter asked susan where her father was, Susan tells her that granpda is smiling from up above all the time… and helps them get good parking spots.
Like so many others, she deftly led the audience between some really hysterical moments… and some incredibly heartfelt ones. Since there were so many radio personalities and performers on stage, it’s no surprise the show was a good one. This was one of the better readings/performances I’ve attended, where everyone was top-notch. Looking forward to the next event (and definitely considering trying out for a future slot).
Song: Blue, Red and Grey, by The Who.
Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis and Gerald Dowd were the musicians who performed every song. They took turns at the mic and each one of them had excellent, excellent voices. This photo is of them playing a fantastic cover of Blue, Red and Grey by The Who.
Seems fitting to close out this post with that song:
// Edit: I didn’t write down the songs played, and can’t seem to recall them offhand. I’ll swing back and update this once I found out what they were.
// Edit 2: Songs updated!