Reprogram Your Life
To Racket, at least, chaos is usually more interesting than order, certainly in the case of post-Garland Ganter KPFT. Ganter's streamlined "Sounds Like Texas" format at times slid dangerously close to a "Sounds Like a Fern Bar" format, and since his ouster, weekdays over there have been a lot more intriguing, at least when music is being played. (That it has been chaotic -- with some shows alternating weeks and others being bumped somewhat arbitrarily from long-held time slots -- is also true, but that's another story.)
One of the enlightening and downright fun shows of the new regime is Reprogram Radio, which airs every Monday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Hosted by turntablists CeePlus and Samplistik and record jock Matt Sonzala (who also is, among other things, the Press's music listings editor), Reprogram Radio is a genre-destroying juggernaut of record-wrecking delight. Nothing is sacred, nothing is safe when confronted by Samplistik and CeePlus's fearsome turntable skills.
"Last show we put a beat over Johnny Cash's 'Man in Black,' " says Samplistik from under a vintage dark blue Astros lid.
"We'll even put a beat over the Beatles," adds CeePlus.
Feats like that put the lie to the notion that deejaying is by and for the young alone. "I field phone calls for the show and I'd say about 85 to 90 percent are from people 35 and older. They want to be introduced to turntable music, the whole mix thing," says Samplistik. "They're like, 'We like this. What is this called? What do you call what you're doing right now?' There's definitely people out there who are into what we are doing, but they just don't know it yet.
"I think because we mix not just hip-hop -- we mix Fever Tree, older psych rock, folk-rock stuff like that -- it's easier for them to digest. We get a lot of people who used to listen to Roark's [classic rock] show, and they like to be introduced to new stuff like the new hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz."
"I came up in punk rock and then I got into hip-hop, and I got bored with the fact that everything is genre-fied," adds Ceeplus. "We play every type of genre -- we play indie rock songs, jazz songs, country songs, and use our talents as turntablists to make it all work somehow."
According to Sonzala, the show comes together because a hip-hop vibe, if not hip-hop music, pervades. The chaos is controlled. Contrast that with KTRU, where three minutes of bliss is often followed by nine minutes of inane rumpus.
"Sometimes I'll listen to KTRU, which I totally like, but it'll be death metal, then synth pop, then an Irish song, and I'm like, 'What's the matter with you people?' " Sonzala says. "Reprogram is all different kinds of music, but it's all filtered through a hip-hop aesthetic, in a sense. CeePlus and Samp will cut up a 13th Floor Elevators song hip-hop-style."
"We don't want to play this record and then say, 'Here's another song for you, and another,' " adds Samplistik. "We want to create new mixes, almost new songs."
The fact that three co-hosts are like-minded doesn't hurt, either, according to CeePlus. First off, they're all devout crate-diggers. "We're record collectors first and foremost," he says. "If we quit deejaying tonight, we'd still be collecting records for the rest of our lives."
And luckily, they seek out comparable stuff. "All three of us have similar taste," he says. "We all came from similar backgrounds. We're all into hip-hop and punk, but at the same time we were all raised on jazz, soul, country "
Sonzala picks up the tale. "CeePlus might dig more into soul and Samp might dig more into psych rock and I might dig more into international hip-hop, but none of us ever knows what the others are gonna bring any given week."
"It's like a beautiful accident," Samplistik says. "It's like, 'Oops, we did it again.' "
"It's a beautiful accident, with turntable skills," clarifies CeePlus, who apparently has no use for false modesty. "Me and Samp pride ourselves on that. Not only do we have the taste and the selection, but I'll be braggadocious about it: We have some of the top turntable skills in the nation. We're giving the city of Houston something it needs and maybe one day it will be something that it will get. It's starting to happen already in places like New York. I've talked to people up there and they've told me they're starting to do more eclectic formats, and they're starting to do things like indie rock/hip-hop/old soul shows."
Which kind of describes the benefit for KPFT and the Orange Show that the Reprogram DJs will be hosting September 27 at Jeff McKissack's shrine to citrus fruit. Speaking of the bill for that gig, CeePlus says, "They're a great representation of the styles we've got on the radio -- you've got indie rock groups like Fatal Flying Guilloteens, Attic Ted and the Jonx; hip-hop like Bavu Blakes and Studemont Project; electronic stuff like Robbie Hardkiss. And then there's A Pink Cloud. That's [Rusted Shut's] Dom doing a noise DJ set."
Rounding up all this talent wasn't hard. "The people that prank-call us every week are the ones that are playing the show," says Samplistik, who adds that most of them are buddies of his. "It's like six degrees of separation -- every band is either a friend or a friend of a friend. It's not like we called some people and told 'em, 'We want you to play for your fame or your following.' It was more like, 'Come on, help us out.' "
Those who may have wavered were swayed by a chance to play at the weirdest venue in Houston. Says Samplistik: "Most of the bands would have done it wherever it was, but when we told them it was at the Orange Show, they were like, 'Yeah! I'm there!' "
"There were a lot of people upset because they couldn't do it," CeePlus adds. "They had band members out of town or whatever."
"It's the perfect venue for what we do," Sonzala says.
Indeed it is. If there was a man who knew about controlled chaos, it was Jeff McKissack, and his Orange Show is a beautiful accident if ever there was one.
The Reprogram Radio benefit is Saturday, September 27, at the Orange Show, 2402 Munger Street. Attic Ted, VHX (featuring members of Dubtex), Robbie Hardkiss, Freedom Sold, Killers for Hire DJs, Freedom Sold, Bavu Blakes, Witnes, Edin, DJ Baby C of the Phonographers, A Pink Cloud, Studemont Project, Hightower for President, the Jonx and the Last Place You Look are on the bill. Doors open at 3 p.m. For more info about the show, call 713-863-1353.
Baby Bash's Tha Smokin' Nephew came out on September 23 on Universal. A few weeks ago, the San Francisco native and Houston resident's heavy-on-the-R&B rap single "Suga Suga" was the fastest-growing retail track in America. Bash -- alternately known as Baby Beesh -- will appear live at the Import Expo Car Show at Reliant Arena with Frankie Jay, Gemini and Big Moe and the Wreckshop Family on September 27 Tim Murrah is out at Stuka, which will be renamed shortly if it hasn't been by the time you read this Blue October returns home from a Midwest/ Southeast tour on October 10, when the band will play the 610 Arena Funky jazzmen Drop Trio will celebrate the release of Big Dipper in style at Cactus Music and Video on September 28 Roots music loonies J.W. Americana have been invited to contribute a track for the upcoming Daniel Johnston tribute album. J.W. will perform "Speeding Motorcycle" Is this Monday or Utah? Panic in Detroit are currently amid a 13-day, 13-city tour of the Far West If you've got mad jack and really love Carolyn Wonderland, Amsterdam's where you'll want to be in November. Wonderland will be playing at Malo Meloe in the Dutch metropolis November 6 to 12. And, oh yeah, her most famous fan, Bob Dylan, just happens to have a couple of shows lined up there at the same time. His Bobness plays November 10 and 11 at Heineken Hall. Package deals -- including airfare, hotel and show tickets -- are available for under a grand at Wonderland's Web site (www.carolynwonderland.com) What more is left to be said about Johnny Cash? Like the Man in Black intoned, as only he could, on "The Highwayman," "I will remain." Indeed he will, as long as there are cotton fields in Arkansas, as long as there is good and evil in the world, as long as there is music, Johnny Cash will remain.
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