Image by David Freid
Since 2013, My KUTX has provided a space for musicians to turn the (turn)tables. Each week, different personalities–be it an Austin country legend, up-and-coming rap crew, local literary luminary, or spacey Swedish retro-futurists–curate KUTX for an hour, playing whatever the heck they want to play. That’s included musical influences, touring stories, track-by-track commentaries on their latest albums, and a whole lot of Bowie, Prince, and Willie.
So, what makes a great My KUTX episode? From a producer’s perspective, that’s some unquantifiable mix of great songs and (maybe more importantly) great hosting. My personal favorites make me laugh or think about old music in a new way or introduce me to something completely off my radar. Below, you’ll find a (highly subjective) list of the five best My KUTXes from the last five years, plus five more to check out (cuz lists are hard). As always, thank you for listening, and here’s to many more years of musicians showing us DJs how it’s really done.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
Hear each episode at the bottom of the page.
Ian McLagan earned a place in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for his keyboard and piano work with the Small Faces and the Faces, as well as sessions backing up Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, and many, many more. But for a lot of Austinites, he was known simply as “Mac,” a beaming, happy-go-lucky presence around his adopted hometown. In 2012, McLagan recorded a preliminary guest DJ episode to test out the idea–and boy, did it ever work. His hour is fueled by his rock-and-soul memories and deep cuts, and it took on added emotional resonance with his passing in 2014.
(see also: Jimmie Vaughan’s own trip down memory lane, soundtracked by some exceptional blues, jazz, and country cuts. One of our most popular episodes.)
We have a running joke here at KUTX every time another Adrian Quesada venture crosses our desks: does this guy ever sleep?! The Austin producer and guitarist extraordinaire has worked with Prince and Wu Tang Clan’s GZA; played with Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Spanish Gold, the Echocentrics; and produced records by San Antonio rappers Third Root and Austin metalheads the Sword. Suffice to say, picking his musical brain is fascinating. Quesada’s guest DJ set from 2016 covers his Laredo roots, his hip-hop influences, and even finds time for French and Nigerian pop.
(see also: Kathy Valentine’s all-over-the-map influences. The Austin guitarist helped launch the Go-Gos and now plays with the Bluebonnets.)
Real talk: touring bands are busy. Playing shows and driving vans only looks easy to the outsider, but lest we forget, it is a job with pretty regimented hours. So credit Sylvan Esso for taking the time not once but twice to play guest DJ for us. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn make an earthy form of electronic music, and their mix from 2015 reflects this. They’re also hilarious hosts, breaking down Wyclef Jean’s questionable lyrical choices and secretive Swedish inspirations (that definitely don’t want to talk to Sylvan Esso).
(see also: Exene Cervenka and John Doe from X. The punk icons trade banter and old-school soul cuts in this illuminating and instructive set.)
Across four decades, Dallas’ Bobby Patterson has worked every angle of the music business: singer, songwriter, producer, label owner, and DJ. In 2013, we asked Patterson to recreate one of his much-beloved broadcasts…and he nearly destroyed our mics with his throat-shredding brilliance. Patterson’s knowledge of soul and funk is unparalleled, and his between-song raps are not to be missed.
(see also: Kurt Braunohler. The stand-up comedian has a hilarious/awkward story for each of his song picks. Also, to date the first and last time “Like A G6” has been played on our airwaves.)
Austin’s Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell is another repeat guest DJ, and for good reason. “Pontificatin’ and curatin'”–as he puts it in his East Texas patois–just come naturally. Whether it’s spinning Sun Ra, singing along to the Stones, or telling a heartfelt story about how KUTX’s Paul Ray blew his musical mind, Shinyribs makes sure everyone’s invited to the party–and he absolutely makes sure that party is bumping.
(see also: Iron & Wine. Brazilian folk, Peruvian harp music, Cocteau Twins, and John Aielli memories–the connecting thread is Sam Beam’s contagious giddiness.)