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James Rawson | Between the Lines

6 December 2004 Host Spotlight

by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

James Rawson’s music show, “Betweenthelines,” airs Thursdays at six, just after “Writers on Writing,” so as I motor away from the studio in the winter dark, I listen, and absorb, and discover. Listening to James? show, I have a new favorite, the Tomasz Stanko Quartet. And so I became curious about James Rawson.

Q: How did you come to have a show at KUCI?
A: The main person responsible for that is Bill Gentry, who was music director at the time in 2002, and also had a show called “Syzagy.” He encouraged me, and helped out tremendously. Also Mike Boyle was, and still is, a tremendous force behind things at the station. The DJs and staff at KUCI were extremely nice and helpful, and even though there are new faces now, I think the same spirit exists today. KUCI is truly a unique place.
My first show was called “Nach Moskau,” which I co-hosted with Pavla. Our format was freeform, and we managed to never play a band or artist twice, which helped to push exploration of different music. After about six months, Pavla decided to move on with other projects, and I retired the show?s name. In September 2002, “Betweenthelines” was born.

Q: Talk about the title of your show and the format.
A: I think coming up with names is one of the hardest things?everything seems to sound strange or it has already been taken. Since about 90 percent of what I play is instrumental, and ranges from mainly experimental music to classical, rock, and some jazz, the name “Betweenthelines” (with no spaces) seemed to be a good fit. At first I thought it was too common, but something about it just stuck with me. As far as format for the show, it is primarily minimalist experimental music that dominates. You’ll hear a range of instrumental rock to electronic and ambient music on any show. I try to play something brand new each week, and play newer releases regularly. Other times I bring in older things from home.

Q: Favorite musical artists?
A: That would be a long list. In classical: Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, it’s tough to keep it short. Also Steve Reich, and Kronos Quartet, and most anything that Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra perform. Other music: Ativin, Bedhead, Kenny Burrell, Can, Rhys Chatham, Codeine, Crispy Ambulance, Miles Davis, Fly Pan Am, Low, Matmos, Brad Mehldau, The Meters, The New Year, Pan American, Pell Mell, Stars of the Lid, Tarentel, To Rococo Rot, [the user], Wilco, Windsor for the Derby, how long can I make this list? I know I’m leaving out too many good ones.

Q: Day job?
A: I work in a Dental Laboratory office, and for fun, a Tower Records store. Nothing glamorous. I also play in a band.

Q: Listen to anything else?
A: Film scores, people like Angelo Badalamenti, Jon Brion, Carter Burwell, Danny Elfman, Philip Glass, Thomas Newman. And I’m just getting into blues, but the really old-timey stuff like in the film “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” I recently got a box set by Big Bill Broonzy from 1928-1937, amazing stuff.

Q: What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you as a result of having your show?
A: Having my show listed in a Press Release sheet for an album. It had mentioned that I played the previous album a lot on my show, and had good response. When you broadcast, you basically talk to four walls most of the time. It’s nice to be reminded that people are out there listening.

Q: What else should listeners know about you?
A: Well, I am 6′, 180 lbs. single…ha ha. I guess they should know that I take the privledge of having a show seriously, am always looking for new stuff to share, and try to give out as much info as possible on what I play to the listener.

I want to say a big thank you to KUCI, and everyone involved with it.

— December 6, 2004