Show Spotlight: Spoonful

Jason Beek, host of Spoonful

He’s a musical man about the nation with an adorable co-host and exquisite tastes in the vintage Blues and Roots treasures he digs up and spins on Radio Boise. Meet Jason Beek and learn a spoonful in this Show Spotlight interview.

(Spoonful airs live every Sunday morning from 10 AM – 12 PM or listen anytime on-demand with Radio Free America’s archive.)

How did you discover Radio Boise?

I drank the Radio Boise Kool-Aid almost immediately after moving to Boise in 2012. I wasn’t aware of the pre-terresterial station when it lived on the internet. My brother-in-law Ed was volunteering at Radio Boise and told me about it. I was so freakin’ excited to learn that Boise was starting a community station. I dug in and tried to find the shows that spoke to me and it wasn’t long before I figured out how to become involved.

How long has Spoonful been on the air? What drew you to take on this show?

Spoonful has been on the air for four and a half years.

I’m a rambler so this will take a bit to explain. I have a deep love for community radio and the medium in general. I studied broadcasting as an undergrad at Suffolk University in Boston. In the summers, I was the morning drive news guy on WCAP, an AM talk station in my hometown of Lowell, MA. I also hosted a show for five years at WMBR, M.I.T.’s community radio station. That show, American Primitive, focused on Blues, old-time, jug band and gospel music—even earlier stuff than what I typically play on Spoonful.

My wife and I travel around the world performing her original music. It is community radio stations (and college stations and NPR affiliates) who support and spin our music and the music of so many independent artists. I am indebted to community radio for that.

I met my wife, a Boise native, in Boston. Seven years ago we moved here to Boise and it wasn’t long before I heard KRBX. Sunday morning/afternoon programming was a natural fit for my house. Angel Moran was hosting The Gospel Brunch less and less as Guru Donuts’ ship began to sail. There was a revolving cast of DJs due to Angel’s absence, and I felt the show lacked consistency from week to week. As a listener and a fan of the station, the different spins on the show were not jiving for me. (I should mention I am a huge music snob.) One week I wrote to [Global Grooves host and station Operations Manager] Brian Allred to say I liked a track he played by Blind Willie Johnson and some other folks too. He mentioned that they were looking for a host for the show. So I jumped into the pool. After a month or so of subbing for the Gospel Brunch, Colby (aka DJ Dusty C) suggested I talk to Wayne Birt, our Program Director, about curating my own show. Spoonful was born.

For those who may not be familiar with your show, how would you describe its sound?

It’s a lot of twanging guitars. Screaming vocals and moans. Sweet songs too. My tag line week to week is early Blues, classic Country, vintage Rock ’n’ Roll, Rockabilly and Gospel music. I champion the obscure and not-so-obscure music from the 1950s to 1970s, as well as pre-war recordings from the late 1920s and early ’30s.

Do you have a ritual surrounding your show? You know, a ritual meal or a certain artist you have to play?

I spin only vinyl and only records from my personal collection. So, there is a bit of a ritual each week where I pull the records from my stacks and piles at home and plan the show ahead of time. There are a lot of flashing lights and buttons and levers I have to manipulate during the show and playlists to upload to the website. So I like to have the sets picked out and ready to rock. I have done some shows on the fly and that’s fun too, but most of the time I put about two hours of planning into my two hour show.

I kick off the show most weeks with Howlin’ Wolf’s version of a song called “Spoonful”. He usually sneaks his way in the program later as well.

When I announce back the artists and tracks I just spun on the show, I like to have a music bed behind me. It might be genre appropriate to what I just played or it could be a wacky Martin Denny record, but I feel the background music adds atmosphere and fun to those segments of the show when I’m on the mic. This is community radio. We try to be professional. But we ain’t. From time to time there’s some silence or a brain fart. So it’s nice to have the tunes back there supporting me if I suddenly lose my train of thought.

A few years ago I started giving shout-outs to my daughter Mavis. I pull down the aforementioned music bed and give her a what’s up. People seem to like this.

This year Mavis began joining me on the air from time to time. She sings songs and tells stories. It’s pretty amazing. Now the fans want Mavis to have her own air time. Jason who?

What is going on in the Treasure Valley that you’re excited about?

Nice people. I’m definitely not in Boston anymore. I love that so many folks are excited about exercise and locally sourced food. People love to bike, hike, run, walk the dog, ride the wave, etc…. Our local farms are producing amazing food and the small, but vibrant, restaurant scene in Boise is cooking it up right. I love that Boise is a welcoming community and that my daughter is sharing kindergarten with students from around the world.

I love the Snake River Valley wine scene. We are making beautiful big wines out there! The beer scene is diverse and delicious.

I’m proud to be part of Boise’s music scene. It’s not a very deep bench of players relative to other cities, but we have some fantastic pickers in this town. You can make a great record here with this crowd of players. I also love that Boise is a music town. If a good artist is touring through the Treasure Valley that is worthy of a crowd, they often will have one.

What other kinds of things keep you busy in life [outside of radio]?

I’m the proud papa of five year-old Mavis Beek. She is the boss and I happily get in line.

I run a few miles every other day. I had open heart surgery back in April to repair my mitral valve. I ran for a few years before surgery and I had a pretty fast recovery that I owe to exercise and diet. I spend many months of the year on the road playing the drums with my wife Eilen Jewell. When we’re home, I play with Cityfolk, The Country Club, Charlie Sutton, Pinto Bennett or whoever else I’ve fooled into hiring me. We have a small garden. We have a lot of sunflowers and native plants. Eilen and I grow a few different berries, various herbs, apple trees and pear trees. I’ve seen Bob Dylan about 20 times. I make a mean Baingan Bharta.

What other KRBX shows do you listen to?

This is a loaded question, but I have to give some love to my fellow early Sunday DJs. Greasy Greens (a few months ago I watched DJ Tim Andreae spinning a Gospel sermon mixed with a Pysch Rock band and one other record all at the same time. It was mind blowing!), Sunday Soul Party, Sunday Sound System. That Sunday block is strong, man!

Grant Olsen into Dusky Durango is great radio [on Wednesday nights from 7 PM ’til midnight]. Two Ducks and a Pollywog. Fever Dream. Bangers and Mashups. DJ Winkle is a major talent among us. Infield Dirt is such a cool idea for a show.

There have been many moments where I Shazam a tune on a show I’m not familiar with at all. It’s fantastic programming.

Why do you believe volunteering for community radio is important?

What a time we live in today. Community radio is absolutely crucial in bringing together the voices of the Treasure Valley who share a vision of supporting one another in a positive and productive way. We’re the host or the umbrella for artists, businesses, activists, leaders, students and so many who lift up independent messages in this community.

I believe my program offers music you can’t find anywhere else on the dial. It’s important to our history and our culture. It’s important for us to know about these trailblazing men and women in recorded music.

It’s important to have a vehicle like Radio Boise, a community radio station, for shows like Spoonful to be heard. It’s important to have a vehicle for an alternative viewpoint like Democracy Now to be blasted to the people of the Treasure Valley. It’s important for independent music and messaging to have a chance to be heard in this crazy, mixed-up corporate world.

Spoonful airs Thursdays from 10 AM – 12 PM.

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Past 2019 Show Spotlights

August: The Big Tent
June: Feelings’ Sunday Soul Party
May: John’s McCarty’s Jazz: Beyond the Sky
April: Joe Black’s Sonic Mushroom Cloud

March: Daphne’s Stanford’s The Poetry Show!
February: Joe Pollard’s Daft Manifesto
January: DJ Winkle’s Bangers and Mashups

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