Back in 1987, I decided to head up to Harling's upstairs one sweltering summer evening to play a little guitar, sing a little music, jam maybe with some friends and all in all learn to improve my performing, vocal, and guitar skills. Little did I know at that time that my life would change forever.
That night, a then singer/songwriter/school teacher came in by the name of David Hakan who started to talk about this unique radio station that was going to hit the airways sometime in the next year and was looking for people to help volunteer. I thought, "What the hell?" I'd always wanted to go into radio. I knew some about the local songwriter scene and had just returned from 10 glorious rain soaked days listening to songwriters from all over the world in the middle of nowhere in Texas at a place called the Kerrville Folk Festival. Maybe I could learn something new!
I remember the night an up and coming songwriter took the stage at Kerrville. As this unassuming writer stepped up to the microphone, with just a huge guitar and hands that barely looked big enough to stretch around the neck much less make a chord, I heard this voice. Soft at first, with a touch of a Texas drawl, with a melody that was heart wrenching and a story in words neatly wrapped into a four-minute package that told of love at a five and dime store that lasted a lifetime with a few bumps along the way. I knew that forevermore I would champion this art form, but the bitterness and realization that I could never be able to write like that made it a bittersweet night. And so, I learned.
I already knew the power of music, and the emotions it could evoke, but I never thought about the lyrics that much. I had pretty much been soured on romance and there seemed to be nothing on other radio stations except falling in love. Falling out of love. Falling back in love, or maybe lust. What was the difference?
It was the stories that made the difference. Not of only love or of heartache, but the one about the soldier who was the war hero, but no one knew about that until he died. It was the song about the dog who saved the human, or the human that saved the dog. It was the story of someone who overcame the abuse and learned to stop the cycle. It was the poem spoken over the music talking about how water, flowing gently, could crack the stone. It was the exquisiteness of a guitar in perfect tune at the hands of a prodigy who could write lines of lyrics Dylan would never have thought of. A worldview that only if you had an open mind, then you really might be able to see what it was like being in that person's shoes.
I learned how to run the mixing board for radio, and how to announce over a microphone. I learned to splice tape with a razor blade and tape it together again and how to make sure that things ended just on time. Neatly wrapped. In a then one hour show. The Coffeehouse Radio Show came into being.
So, 25 years later, for the first time ever, the Coffeehouse Radio Show is having a celebration. Bringing in some of the finest writers and with one exception, all of them are tied to Kansas City.
On March 23 starting at 7 pm, five acts will take the stage at Knuckleheads Saloon. Kansas City's finest will unite in a night of magic in support of the Coffeehouse Radio Show on KKFI, and in support of 25 years of the finest songwriting ever to go out on the air.
Proceeds will go to benefit KKFI and there will be some surprise guest appearances here and there. I DO promise a night of memories that will last a lifetime, and hopefully a night of enlightenment of the power of the song and music from the heart. Tickets are on sale now in advance at kkfi.org, knuckleheadskc.com, and brownpapertickets.org. You can also call KKFI at (816) 931-3122 and ask for Bill Clause. Come celebrate a Silver Anniversary for KKFI, and the hope of another 25 years of contemporary singer/songwriters from the Coffeehouse Radio Show on KKFI 90.1 FM.
Jeanne Jasperse is host of the Coffeehouse Radio show and can be reached on Facebook or at KKFI. Coming up next month on Music Beat: the wonder of the Kerrville Folk Festival.