Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Musical Heaven

I’m in love, and as close to heaven as I’m ever going to get. I’ve recently met Radio Paradise. And just as the millions of other RP fans must be thinking, I’m positive we’re made for each other.

The backstory. My husband gave me a Squeezebox Internet Radio this Chanukah. I kindly said thank you, then wondered what I was supposed to do with it.

“You can listen to any internet radio station in the world with it,” he said, knowing how eclectic my musical tastes are. Saying that, he assumed everything would fall into place. “You can get reggae straight from Jamaica, TED podcasts, bluegrass from Alabama, Rihanna and Eminem on a Top 40s station, Soca straight from the streets of Port of Spain...you name it.”

Problem was, I didn’t know the name or call numbers for any station other than my own trusted CBC 99.1, so how was I going to pull anything up. I felt useless with this beautiful shiny black box I was presented with. But I knew in time, everything would unfold as it should. It did. Within a few hours, I found an All Van All the Time station. Van Morrison 24/7. How much better can you get than that, I thought. Much better, as it turned out.

“They’ve got Staff Picks” to start you off,” my husband said. “Why don’t you tune into some of their suggested stations first. You’ll find something you like. Start there.’

He was right. I went first to check out what my new best friend Andy thought. Of course I didn't know anything about Andy other than he was an employee of Squeezebox and presumably liked music, but what kind, I hadn’t a clue. Andy sent me to Sofaspace, Ambient Radio, SomaFM – Groove Salad and Radio Paradise. I didn’t know where the stations were coming from or what kind of music they coughed up, but the names were fun. But before I made any moves, though, I wanted to check out Ben.

Ben’s first pick was Radio Paradise, followed by selected Podcasts, TSF Jazz Paris, SomaFM Groove Salad. The names were intriguing, so I moved onto Michael next. Mike likes Radio Paradise, DRS3 Couleur3, and the Real Music Peter Gabriel Station.

An entire Peter Gabriel station, too? Cool. But since I was on a Staff Pick Roll, I looked to Steven next. He directed me to DeliciousAgony, Groove SaladProgRock.com, then Radio Paradise. Last but not least was Tom. He was pretty clear. Radio Paradise stood alone.

At anytime, all I had to do was push the button on the dial where their fave radio station was listed. It would send me directly there. But I held back to get The Long View before I made a move. Since Radio Paradise was a common denominator to all my new buddies at Squeezebox, I just pushed a button, and up it came, straight from Paradise, California. I didn’t know a thing about them, so just sat back for a listen.

And that’s when I fell in love. 

Turns out, RP, as they say on their website, is a blend of many styles and genres of music carefully selected and mixed by two live human beings. They play modern and classic rock, bluegrass, folk, world music, electronica even a bit of classical and jazz What you won’t hear are random computer-generated playlists or commercials.

This sounds like hyperbole, I know, (and I am prone), but in my first few hours of listening, I loved everything. I had never heard of many of the recording artists before. I was familiar with some, and some turned out to be members of my Hit Parade All-Stars.

Here’s a selection of who I heard: Pearl Jam, Kate Bush, P.J. Harvey, The Wailin’ Jennys, Neko Case, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Teddy Thompson, Steppenwolf, Snow Patrol, Lifeboats, Coldplay, White Shadows, Porcupine Tree, Natalie Merchant, Paul Simon, Bjork, Los Lobos, Emmylou Harris, CSNY, Chris Isaak, Robert Plant, Black Keys, Cowboy Junkies, Crowded House, Sam Phillips, Verve, Aimee Mann, Frou Frou, Orbital, Harmonia, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon, and last but not least, Leonard Cohen.

I usually listen to the radio while doing a million other things around the house. I never give myself permission to turn on the radio and just kick back. It’s always background music for me. And honestly, since I’m such an information junkie anyway, my radio is usually turned to the CBC FM talk station that has news, eclectic current affairs and arts programming.

But the first songs I heard on Radio Paradise were so great, I decided to devote my whole entire being to the station for a few minutes – a few minutes that turned into hours. I first tried listening while lying on my bed with my eyes closed in order to really relax and get into the music. But that didn't work because every time a new song came on, I started searching for my glasses, raised my head off the bed and looked up at the radio so I could see who and what was playing. Hardly relaxing, but I wanted to make note so I could seek the musicians out again. It happened repeatedly.

Yes, they were all that good. The owners of Radio Paradise really knew what they are doing. That’s why Radio Paradise was on everyone's Staff Pick at Squeezebox. Though I don’t know for sure, they too may be in love.

Check out Radio Paradise. You can listen on your computer, Mp3 player, even iPhone app. Go to http://www.radioparadise.com to find out more.

RP has a great website too. The folks there are trying to build a community of like-minded listeners and musicians, and they’ve got a knack for pulling you in. I, for the first time in my life, signed up for a Forum discussion.  Love will do that to you.

1 comment:

  1. Fresh-water GroupieFebruary 26, 2011 at 6:17 AM

    Oh, dear! First time you've steered me wrong!
    I obediently clicked on the link to RP, being the faithful fan I am. Bingo. Immediately, Muddy Waters was here in my wee study, making waaay too much noise (I've never been a fan).
    No prob, right? Wrong. I couldn't stop the music.
    (After much scrambling and random button-pushing, I managed to make it stop. How? By closing my web-browser.)
    I'll keep reading - I do love what you do! - but I'm afraid I'll have to take a much warier approach to clicking on your hot links.
    While I'm glad you've found your perfect music-broadcasters, me, I'll continue to enjoy your blog in peaceful, blissful, quiet.