By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Singer-songwriter Bob Tyler, who's Krenz's collaborator in and out of the studio, says the deal with Bohemia Beat blossomed from his and Celeste's rapport with label owner Mark Shumate. "We've been friends with Mark for years, and to be honest with you, I don't think the thought of this happening ever occurred to any of us until recently," Tyler says. "I had just finished a new studio in my home, and we started talking about things, and it just went from there."
Shumate contributes a few more details: "I've always totally loved Celeste's music, and I felt the same way about Bob's songs. He was always giving me his tapes and CDs, and I just kept being more and more impressed with what he was doing. Then, when he was showing off the studio to me, he played some new songs that he and Celeste had written, and they were just great. And I thought that maybe it was time that we did something together." At first he was afraid that the three had grown too close for the situation to be workable: "I think we've all had relationships in our life that have soured us on trying to do business with friends." But, he adds, "we decided to try and keep everything on a fun level, and so far we've been able to do that."
Several intriguing musicians have already become part of the project, including co-producer Randy Rigby, Sally Van Meter (whose credits include work with Tony Furtado) and former Subdudes member John Magnie, with whom Tyler has been doing some writing. "We have about eighteen songs, and we're hoping to hone them down to twelve," Tyler asserts. "We're shooting for a spring release--and we think it's going to push Celeste to another level."
In this regard, Abra Moore is a potential role model. A performer who calls Austin home, Moore made a record called Sing for Bohemia Beat that got the attention of talent scouts at Arista Records. "They wanted to know if there was any reason to pursue signing her," Shumate recalls. "And at that point, I'd become acquainted with how much more a major label can do for an artist than an indie can. So I said, 'I'd welcome you getting involved, but first let me talk to Abra.' So I talk to her, and she says, 'Arista wants to do something, but I don't know--we really like the way your deal works, and we like working with you.' And I told her, 'Abra, you're crazy.'"
Moore's second album, Strangest Places, ultimately came out on Arista/Bohemia Beat and promptly racked up critical acclaim, loads of airplay for the single "Four Leaf Clover" and strong sales. "She got a review in People and articles in Interview and Spin and her own print ad for Visa," he crows. "She opened for Collective Soul, she's opened for Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and she's probably going to be on the Lilith Fair."
Shumate, who has a live CD by Jimmy LaFave and a studio package by Michael Fracasso in the works, stands to benefit from Moore's success, too; he's getting a portion of the Strangest Places action, and he will also have a financial interest in her next album. "The whole thing has made me wonder if my objective shouldn't be to work with an artist to the point where she gets national attention," he concedes. "Hopefully, that's what will happen with Celeste. Because she certainly deserves it."
Our final country item of the week is a sad one. KYGO-AM/1600, a classic-country station lauded in the December 12, 1996, article "Playing the Classics" and in this year's Best of Denver issue, is no more; it ceased broadcasting at midnight November 30 and is currently simulcasting the country programming heard on KCKK-FM/104.3. This sounds like more of an even trade than it is: While KCKK-FM is known for its concentration on commercial country from the Seventies and Eighties (not exactly the golden age of C&W), KYGO-AM played the best country tunes from a five-decade span, making it an oasis in an otherwise predictable radio landscape.
Says Chuck St. John, a seven-year veteran of KYGO-AM (he spent the last five as its program director): "The main reason we made the decision was from a long-term ratings standpoint. There's been some shrinkage in the size of the country audience nationwide, and with three country stations in the market [KCKK-FM, KYGO-AM and powerhouse KYGO-FM], it was hard to make room for them all. Plus, doing music on AM is tough. I think aside from us, only KEZW [an easy-listening station with a swing-music/big-band twist] has been able to survive."
Nonetheless, KYGO-AM had built a loyal, and sizable, audience. "I've gotten quite a few phone calls from people after the switch," St. John allows, "and I've been trying to call all of them back to explain why this had to be done. But if there's a plus side to all the calls, it's that it shows that people really had a love for the radio station. And that makes you feel good, knowing that you did something worthwhile."