'Let's Make Music'

'Let's Make Music'

Musician and Internet radio show host Joe Armstrong celebrates 100th episode of ‘Independent’s Day’ at Chloe’s at Golden Road Brewing on Wednesday

By Bliss Bowen 01/16/2014

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About five years ago, when the economy took a dive, musician/self-confessed public radio addict Joe Armstrong was “looking to do something different.” He enrolled in a radio production class at Pasadena City College, and eventually interned for Larry Mantle’s “AirTalk” on KPCC. (“An incredible education on public radio — the guy is absolutely brilliant,” Armstrong says.)

Little did he realize he was embarking on a path that would lead to hosting his own Internet radio show, “Independent’s Day.”

Armstrong traces the genesis of “Independent’s Day” to a PCC class assignment, but the show is no longer affiliated with KPCC. Nowadays, it’s a podcast on his Web site, indepday.com, where he maintains an extensive archive of previous broadcasts. Additionally, 12 episodes are live in iTunes, with more to be added soon. Episodes air live at 7 p.m. most Wednesdays; Armstrong promotes them through Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.

“It’s really about independent music,” he says. “With the notable exception of people who’ve been in the business forever, like Tom Petty, everyone is independent [now]. Half the reason I do the show is I’m curious about how musicians are navigating the modern music paradigm. All of us have watched the business collapse underneath us. Some things will never change about music, but technology has radically altered the way it’s distributed and shared, the way artists reach their fans.”

Over the past three years he’s hosted Calexico’s John Convertino (“the first name artist I booked”), Eugene Edwards, Hem, Son Volt/Blood and Oranges guitarist Mark Spencer, Tom Freund, Big Harp, Joy Kills Sorrow, Dustbowl Revival and Leftover Cuties, among numerous others. Upcoming episodes will feature Tim Easton and the Moth and the Flame. 

Another guest was pop artist Freedy Johnston — “a perfect example,” Armstrong says, “of a guy who had a label deal, who was big enough to hire Butch Vig; now the paradigm has shifted and he’s independent. Most musicians have dealt with this in one aspect or another and are eager to tell their story.”

He’s celebrating his 100th episode Wednesday with fans and previous guests; he plans to conduct on-the-spot interviews with artists that will be spliced into an episode. There will also be some performances, details of which were still being hashed out at press time. 

“Something I think is missing in music in our society: it seems like performance has to be this big thing — ‘I’m onstage and you’re not.’ We’re so connected yet disconnected through all this social media, and I think people are yearning for something real and organic. A lot of guests on my show talk about that. You can go and play music but it doesn’t have to be a big fancy thing with flashpots and choreography; let’s just make music. Wednesday will be a celebration of music.”   

“Independent’s Day” 100th Episode Shindig with Joe Armstrong and friends 7 p.m.-midnight Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Chloe’s at Golden Road Brewing, 5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles; free admission. Info: indepday.com

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