Jay Sauseda is aware we live in a digital age. But, he said, there’s still something special about a terrestrial radio setting, something that musicians still find romantic and inspiring. It’s something he’s witnessed time and again as one of the on-air talents for KPFT 90.1 FM’s Night Sounds.
“It’s a live thing; it’s not recorded and brought in later to play another time. And it’s fun for artists and musicians to come up to the station and experience that feeling of, ‘Okay, I can have my mom listen from a different area.’”
Night Sounds is the current emanation of the show that preceded it, Pat and Rosie’s Night Sounds, which began bringing local musicians on to perform and talk music left of the dial more than 20 years ago. When the original hosts turned the reins over to producer/DJ Lisa Blaylock, she kept the tradition alive because she’s a fellow musician and understood that Houston-based artists need every format available to make their work known.
Tomorrow, the program kicks off its annual fundraising with "Spring Sounds," a daylong music festival that will feature a bill heavily oriented toward hip-hop at two locales, Last Concert Cafe and Midtown Bar & Grill. More than a dozen acts will be featured, among them headliners The Aspiring Me, Coughee Brothaz RUMe and Lyric Michelle. A silent auction at Last Concert Cafe (1403 Nance) will end by 6 p.m. At that time, the balance of the festival will shift to Midtown Bar & Grill (415 West Gray).
“The whole reason we have this festival-benefit thing is so we can pay for our time slot and help local musicians hear and play their music on FM radio,” Sauseda says. “Most stations don’t give local musicians that opportunity. KPFT is community-sponsored radio, so in order to keep us going and have that place for local musicians, we put on festivals to generate money to go back into the program.”
A suggested $10 donation will get attendees a wristband good for entry at both venues. Sauseda and Night Sounds DJ Joanie Maverick will post up at Midtown and Blaylock, and Night Sounds’ Austin music correspondent DJ Supa Fly will be stationed at Last Concert. Events begin at 3 p.m. at both venues.
“Everybody is huge, as far as the bands go, they’re big acts,” said Blaylock. And she’s not kidding. The show closer is Lyric Michelle, whose MissDirection album release at Walters in January was a star-studded event. The Aspiring Me is rap royalty, son of the late Houston rap legend Big Mello. RUMe is a “Coughee Brotha extraordinaire,” a member of the evolved version of Da Odd Squad.
The acts playing the event are some of the city’s busiest, too, Blaylock said. Pop-punk sister act StarFlight (3:45 p.m. at LCC) just played the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Rockers The Footnotes (5 p.m. at LCC) just performed at Discovery Green. Reggae heroes Idiginis (10 p.m. at Midtown) is fresh off a show at House of Blues last month. A full listing of the acts can be found here.
Blaylock said all the musicians expected at the event aren’t necessarily just the stellar lineup of performers.
“Something local musicians need to know about this is that Visionary Noise, Urban Circus, there are several record labels that are gonna show up at this event,” Blaylock says.
Sauseda interjects, “Alternative Houston will be there with their new dotcom center that is looking for local music and taking pictures and specializing in calendar dates for things that are happening in Houston.”
The acts playing Spring Sounds all have one thing in common, Blaylock says: “They love what we do, they love KPFT and that’s why they’re supporting it.”
“With new acts that are coming up through the ranks in Houston, who are trying to make a name for themselves, we’re that platform for them,” Sauseda adds. “Not a lot of people around the mid-twenties age [group] know about KPFT. They listen to commercial radio or they listen to the top 40 pop hits. They may follow a musician in town and go to their shows, but do you know there’s a radio station that plays their music that isn’t sponsored by anybody else, like a college or church or Clear Channel?”
Tonight – Saturday morning beginning at 1 a.m. to be exact – it’s local rappers Lil Trey, Turb Kafelon and Feezarelli. Next week, it’s blues-rockers Hellina Bucket and psych/Southern rock act Lone Star Disciples. Giving these bands a place to make their voices heard is critical to KPFT’s long-running objectives.
“For a long time, the station has been fighting to give the community a place for their voices to be heard, and others out there didn’t want that to happen.” Blaylock says. “Even today, in the year 2016, we still go through those things. That’s why it’s important to have the station that we have and to celebrate the 46 years that it’s been there and keep it going.”
Find more info about KPFT's "Spring Sounds" benefit at this link.