Meet Your Wizards: Sirena Wilson

Born: Nashville, Tennessee
Home: Inglewood, East Nashville
Drafted into WXNA: 2018
Shows: Music for Grownups, Bring Out Your Dead

In the 20-oughts, Sirena loved to listen to two DJs: Bob Parlocha, host of the syndicated show Jazz with Bob Parlocha, and Pete Wilson, host of Nashville Jumps on Vanderbilt University’s WRVU. In the teens, both jocks suffered major blows: Pete’s station died in 2011, and Bob died in 2015. Sirena was cheered to find out, though, that a group of ex-RVU jocks, including Pete, were suffering years-long withdrawal symptoms and trying to get a brand new station off the ground. Miraculously, they succeeded. Sirena attended an event held by the new station in the summer of 2016, found out which of the middle-aged boys was Pete, and introduced herself. A little less than two years later they were married. Before honeymooning in England, they spent a couple of hours the day after the wedding doing Pete’s Sunday show Music for Grownups together. As she did in Pete’s life as well, Sirena morphed from guest to partner, and now she’s the better half of Music for Grownups. As DJ Indigo, she’s also one of the growing rotation of DJs who take turns hosting Bring Out Your Dead. She spent many happy days as a Deadhead and brings flair and savvy to her presentation of the Dead and related bands, Dead-inspired groups, and related musicians like Elizabeth Cotten.

Salina at Tomato Art FestYou may not be surprised when I tell you this is Pete writing this. You surely will not be surprised when I say Sirena is my favorite DJ. I admire her great work as host of Bring Out Your Dead, but her co-hosting of Music for Grownups is closer to my heart. Before WXNA went on the air I knew I wanted to do a show of good old pre-rock pop music, jazz vocals and show tunes. To my mind when I was a youngster in the 60s and 70s, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole were the Music for Grownups–NOT the Eagles or the Stones or the Allman Brothers or even the Beatles. I wanted a show that would appeal to the inner adult inside each of us. Or even the inner nerd–at one point I wanted to call the show “Music for Squares,” which I guess might have been heavier on polkas and Lawrence Welk. Randy is still mad that I abandoned that name, but I wasn’t sure listeners would want to self-identify as Squares.

STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF PETE! I was just leading up to why the show is better with Sirena. Each week we choose some themes, or songwriters to celebrate, or we find out whose birthday it is, and sift through stacks and stacks of CDs (we may be old-fashioned but not so much that we play phonograph records on the show!) to find great and appropriate songs. So many times Sirena has stumbled across an intriguing title that led to a three-minute gold mine. She finds cuts that sound great in succession but contrast enough to keep the ears perked, and has a great ear for a witty lyric. Working together, we’ve come to love many particular singers in common–Lee Wiley, Matt Dennis, and the king of them all, Bobby Short–while also individually claiming certain songs as our own pets. For Sirena those include “Big Spender” from the show Sweet Charity, Bobby Short’s cut of “I’m in Love Again,” and Stacey Kent’s version of “He Loves and She Loves.” Kent herself is an example of something else Sirena brought to the show: contemporary performers whose styles and choices absolutely fit our premise. Kent and Harry Connick Jr., for two examples. The contemporary crooner she’s championed most is the handsome singing archivist Michael Feinstein, whom we both call Candy Face out of love and respect. What’s more, Sirena’s playful enthusiasm on the air makes our talk breaks a blessing. She is audibly pumped about introducing our listeners to standards of the Great American Songbook.

Also, she rustles up new PSAs for the station. SO MANY NEW PSAs!

Pete Wilson, Nashville Jumps

Our Favorite Records of 2021

We have completed yet another trip around the sun. While there were certainly some patches of optimism (remember how great the early summer felt, pre-Delta?), 2021, like 2020 before it, was a tough one. Thankfully, the music helped get us across the finish line. There seemed to be a ton of new releases this past year, likely a byproduct of artists being home-bound for so much of 2020. We asked our DJs to recommend some of their favorites. The list below not only provides an excellent time-capsule for year, but also illustrates the wide variety of musical styles and genres played on WXNA.

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Our Favorite Records of 2020

It used to be that the end of a year was a time to look back, to reminisce, to think fondly of days gone. But not this year! So long 2020! You were the worst. Please don’t come back. But with that said, time is amorphous and doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed. Just because those 365 days felt like an endless hangover (and not the good kind!), doesn’t mean that there were no sources of joy. In fact, it was a good year for music — which makes sense, because music is how many of us weather tough times. Below is a list of the best music as picked by the WXNA DJs. This is music they played, listened to and got them through a truly rough year. Luckily we can look ahead to 2021. I’m sorry, what’s that? Oh, 2021 is also a total mess? Ah, so it is. Well, we still have the music.

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WXNA Works From Home

In this time of COVID, WXNA has been keeping good music on the air with the help of some brave souls who are willing to come into the studio and even more braver souls who are recording brand new shows at home. We wanted to give you a glimpse of what goes into the pre-recording process for WNXA DJs. It’s a brand-new world that we are exploring, and everyone has their own take on it. Read below about what your favorite DJs and shows are doing to keep the X explosive.

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National Poetry Month on WXNA

Dear WXNA listeners,

How are you doing? We hope you’re well. It may not have even occurred to some of you that it’s April yet, and we completely understand. It’s difficult to identify time as a relevant measurement at all these days, but we’re here to remind you: April is National Poetry Month! All month long—you still have three weeks left to celebrate! Perhaps poetry can be a comfort to you in such a surreal time—what better art form to mirror that?

Here are some ways you can engage with poetry this month:

And, most importantly—don’t forget to take some time to pause in stillness or listen to your radio or the birds singing their poetry month poems for you. Please, take care!

Love,
WXNA

Disaster Relief Resources for You

Our community’s response to the March 3 tornado has once again demonstrated what it means to be #NashvilleStrong. The work continues.

(Send your event/resource information to radio@wxnafm.org)

 

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

 

RELIEF AND RESOURCES

 

DONATE FUNDS

 

Photo Credit: Mobe Oner. Mural painted and designed by Jason Galaz, Milton Chavez, and Mobe Oner. Located on the side of Boston Commons at Five Points in East Nashville.

Our Favorite Records of 2019

The year is nearing its end. At WXNA we commemorate this occassion by asking our volunteer DJ army a simple question: what is your favorite record of the year? Then they answer that question, and we present the results here. Just as the prophecy foretold!

So have a look and check out some of these amazing recommendations. It’s an excellent way to kick-start the new year (after all, music is forever).

Presented for you in no particular order…

Fontaines D.C., Dogrel
DJ Ed, Eighties Schmeighties
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, Take Heart, Take Care
Chad, Dustbin Days
Bill Callahan, Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
DJ Trev, Our Golden Tones
North Mississippi Allstars, Up and Rolling
Hound Dog Hoover, Goin’ Down South
Stray Cats, 40
Jammin’ James Riley, Rockabilly ‘n’ Blues Radio Hour
Orville Peck, Pony
Erin Mock, Wishful Thinking
Jenny Lewis, On the Line
Dave Brown, The Black Ark
The New Pornographers, In The Morse Code of Brake Lights
DJ Hot Car, Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Hot Chip, A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Grigsby, Set Records To Stun
Gauche, A People’s History of Gauche
Anna Lundy, Untune the Sky
Ruth Garbus, Kleinmeister
DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!
Young Guv, GUV I & II
Alexis, Free Association
The Highwomen, The Highwomen
Laurel Creech, All About Nashville
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Brady Brock, Fidelity High
Ioanna Gika, Thalassa
DJ Travis T, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
popGeezer, The English Breakfast
Guided By Voices, Zeppelin Over China
Mello-D (aka Doyle Davis), Groovy Potential
The Chemical Brothers, No Geography
DJ Rodge, Delicious Elixir
Brittany Howard, Jaime
JMar, Transmission
Jazz Funk Soul, Life and Times
Chris Nochowicz, The Future of Jazz
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
DJ Cajun Mitch, Sounds of the Bayou
Blood Incantation, Hidden History Of The Human Race
DJAK, No Remorse
Frank LoCrasto, Lost Dispatch
DJ rhatfink, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox
Elkhorn, Sun Cycle
Mike Mannix, Psych Out!
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Mike Hester, Flying Lesson
Amyl and the Sniffers, Amyl and the Sniffers
Laura Powers, Needles+Pins
Aldous Harding, Designer
DJ Charlotte Rollerskates, The Maiden Voyager
Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
DJ Juan, International Echo
Nicholas Payton, Relaxin’ with Nick
DJ Big Chief Chaz, Gilded Splinters
Quelle Chris, Guns
BadN8, Coolin’
Anderson .Paak, Ventura
Jason Piffier
Carl Perkins, Discovering Carl Perkins – Eastview, Tennessee 1952-53
Randy, Hipbilly Jamboree Pick
The Muffs, No Holiday
Randy, Randy’s Record Shop
Brittany Howard, Jaime
R Reid, Holistic Revolution
Lingua Ignota, Caligula
Adam Ebb
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen
Michael Roark, Slings & Arrows
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana
Blackcircle, The Root
Temporary High, Nick Piunti
Tommy Womack’s Happiness Hour
Icejjfish, The Gospel
DJ Jonni Downer, The Unlistenable Hour
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
Heather Lose, Aging Hipster
Dry Cleaning, Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks / Sweet Princess
Jay Millar, Plural of Vinyl
Sunn O))), Life Metal/Pyroclasts
Josh Mock, Sad Songs for Happy People
Green Ribbons, Green Ribbons
DJ Lauren, Different Every Time
Darrin Bradbury, Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs
Double-Shot with Joe & Sue

Jenny Lewis, On The Line
DJ Nexus, Musical Mysticism
Juleah, Desert Skies
Michael, The Scatter Shot
Gene Clark, No Other
Ashley, Set Records to Stun
Crumb, Jinx
DJ TJ, Static Wall
Steve Gunn, The Unseen In Between
DJ Susan, The Inconsiderate Mixtape
Kali Malone, The Sacrificial Code
popcorn brain, Dreambeat
Robyn Hitchcock/Andy Partridge, Planet England
Anne McCue, Songs On The Wire

A WXNA Holiday EP

Here at WXNA we would be remiss if we let the season pass by without suggesting a few seasonal tunes to play while baking cookies or wrapping packages or fretting about the future of democracy decorating the tree. But let’s be honest, there is no shortage of holiday playlists to be found around this-here internet. That’s why this year, we’re focusing on a holiday EP. Leave them wanting more, that’s what we always say. Also, life is chaotic. Who has time to compile the top 15,000 holiday songs of all time? Not us!

You can listen to this playlist on Spotify by clicking on these words.


“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

DJ Sue of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
This 1947 Frank Loesser-penned song was a favorite of my parents, when Mom was pregnant with me for New Year’s Eve that year. She played it every year for the holidays, and now, so do I. My parents loved music and would have been thrilled to know that I am part of WXNA.


“I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake

DJ Joe of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
When that came on MTV for the first time every year, I knew it was Christmas.


“River” by Joni Mitchell

DJ LT of Shout, Sister, Shout!
Not a real crate-diggin’ choice, but I can’t imagine a holiday season without this song in it, providing a respite from the expectations of joyfulness and jingling.


“Christmas At the Airport” by Nick Lowe

Rick Pecoraro, WXNA Contributor
A relatively new entry to the Christmas canon (2013), and one of the few songs that really get to the nut of holiday travel: that it can all fall into chaos at a moments notice. When I hear this song I’m usually reminded of Christmas 2005 when my flight from Newark to Omaha was cancelled. I ended up flying to Chicago and then in a hail mary attempt at forward progression rented the last available car and drove the remaining 8 hours to Nebraska. I hadn’t slept the night before, was exhausted and falling asleep behind the wheel. When I hit the Quad Cities I pulled off, and went into a Best Buy in an attempt to stay awake. I bought a copy of Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” and Gwen Steffani’s first solo record. Anyway, this Nick Lowe song takes me back to that Christmas. To its credit I look back fondly.


“I Wish I Had More” by Andrew Bryant

DJ Chad Pelton, Dustbin Days
Andrew Bryant (formerly of the band Water Liars, and now a solo artist) has released singles around the holidays for the past few years (my count is at 5 on Bandcamp). This one should appeal to those that love the sadder side of things around the holidays, or maybe I shouldn’t say sad, but honest. It’s a reminder of those folks dealing with tough relationships, which the holidays have a way of amplifying, and although it’s a fairly brutal tale of a family amidst breakup, I find it uplifting, sincere, and quite heartfelt.


“Patti Smith for Xmas” by Kyle Hamlett Uno

DJ Trev of Our Golden Tones


“Merry Christmas From The Family” by Robert Earl Keen

DJ Houndog Hoover of Goin’ Down South
Funny, and gets all the details right!

WXNA Gives Thanks

This Thanksgiving, WXNA has so much to be grateful for. Last week was our Fall Pledge Drive, and thanks to YOU, we exceeded our goal of $30k! Because of your generous support, we’re keeping the home fires burning and the tunes spinning into the colder months. Here’s what we’ll be playing over the airwaves and in our homes tomorrow to celebrate the season (you can also listen along via Spotify)!

DJ Picks:

It’s Halloween! An Introduction To The Surreal World of The Shaggs

It’s Halloween, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only WXNA DJ with The Shaggs’ 1969 Philosophy of the World album as their seasonal soundtrack. The band of sisters from Fremont, NH may not have looked as witchy as Stevie Nicks or sounded as ghoulish as Sunn O)))– but Helen, Betty, Dot, and (sometimes) Rachel Wiggin possessed something much deeper beneath the surface. And isn’t that, after all, the spookiest place imaginable?

The Wiggin sisters were managed by their father, Austin Wiggin, who organized their concerts in Fremont and depleted his savings on their studio sessions. It can be said that perhaps their cult following began with him, who may have bordered on obsessive in his attempt to make his daughters rock stars. Since Philosophy of the World was released in 1969, record collectors and music heads across the world have fulfilled his dream by becoming similarly obsessed with and possessed by this record and this band. The Shaggs’ sound demands a response in this way– you can’t listen to their angular, artless rock n’roll without feeling something. There’s a declarative kind of joy that emanates from their sing-song melodies. The obtuse jangle of it all is beautiful, like the broad strokes of a de stijl painting.

It’s time for games
It’s time for fun
Not for just one
But for everyone
The jack-o-lanterns are all lit up
All the dummies are made and stuffed
By just looking you will see
It’s this time of year again
It’s Halloween!

I’m not sure who made these dummies and what they’re stuffed with, but they sure sound terrifying! Even more terrifying to some might be the evidence of a recurring Shaggs theme– that something might be for everyone. In the title track of Philosophy of the World, they outline their worldview with a disarming simplicity:

Oh, the rich people want what the poor people’s got
And the poor people want what the rich people’s got
And the skinny people want what the fat people’s got
And the fat people want what the skinny people’s got
You can never please anybody in this world
It doesn’t matter what you do
It doesn’t matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way

In form and content, The Shaggs were champions of the everyday person– they didn’t have expensive equipment, glitzy outfits, or beautiful harmonies. They were sisters that sang about the universal struggle of obeying your parents, losing your cat, heartbreak, and God— but did so with an unnerving singularity. Sometimes they’d sing the melody, all at once, but each with different phrasing. What could be more witchy than that? These weren’t seances, perhaps, but spellbinding all the same in their dissonant, wide-eyed wonder.

Further reading/listening:

 

DJ LT
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm