I grew up in the Bronx, where I first learned to deejay at Friday night dances at a local church during the late 50s and early 60s. Since then I’ve held jobs ranging from cab driver and stock boy to social worker, ad salesman, and writer of technical articles, medical sales brochures, music reviews, and business stories. No matter what I did, music of all sorts would take up my free time. Like many teenagers, rock n’ roll was the first music that I actively sought out. Vocal group harmony was the hook, and I would often go to the fabled Times Square Records to get my fix. I still deejay, playing vinyl, with a weekly gig for Sunday Brunch at the Nightingale in Minneapolis, where I spin classic soul and funk, in addition to occasional gigs elsewhere.
I was first exposed to jazz in my late teens. Among the first jazz albums I bought were Things Are Getting Better, by Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson, Focus, by Stan Getz, Big Bags, by the Milt Jackson Orchestra, and Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk, by Cal Tjader. I didn’t stop listening to rock n’ roll, however. In fact, I broadened my musical palette with blues, New Orleans R&B, roots, and reggae (which led to other worldbeat music as time passed).
For about five years in the 80s, I was a free-lance music writer for City Pages, a Minneapolis weekly, interviewing artists like Bobby Blue Bland, James Brown, Claudia Schmidt, Nanci Griffith, The Persuasions, and Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I also reviewed albums, as well as performances by artists such as Sonny Rollins, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, the Neville Brothers, and Dr. John. Since about 2002, I’ve had the opportunity to interview many visiting as well as resident artists for Rhythm and Grooves (my radio show – see below). A number of those interviews, of people like George Duke, Maceo Parker, David Sanborn, Esperanza Spalding, and others, can be found on this blog. I also wrote quite a few stories about resident musicians for The Villager, as 60,000 – circulation neighborhood newspaper covering the Highland, Mac Groveland, West 7th, and downtown neighborhoods of Saint Paul, as well as the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis.
I began broadcasting at KFAI in 1980, when I’d begin the stations’ broadcast day as a host of Shake Up Southside on Monday Mornings. I then moved to Wednesdays from Midnight to 2AM, with a show called Streetlight Serenade. I moved Streetlight to Saturday nights from 9PM – 11PM, before “retiring” to go back to school in 1989. I came back to the station in the last half of the 90s, and started Rhythm & Grooves in July of 2002. After more than 15 years of hosting the show, I stepped down on Dec 30, 2017. I was on from 10:30 AM to Noon (Central Time) each Saturday, and played all kinds of jazz, from the occasional Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, or Louis Armstrong, to Joe Lovano, John Scofield, and Charlie Hunter.
Though Rhythm & Grooves focused on jazz, my record collection (which actually includes vinyl as well as CDs, and electronic storage) encompasses rock n’ roll, pop, rhythm n’ blues, roots, and world music, with a special section for the music of New Orleans. This blog will feature interviews from the past as well as the present, along with an occasional review or two.
Photo courtesy of my nephew Gustav Hoiland, whose photoblog can be found here.