Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thank You Sonny Knight and The Lakers!

We told you not to miss this - and I sure hope you didn't! Last night Mankato was blessed with one of the tightest, funkiest, kick-assiest bands you will ever hear, Sonny Knight and The Lakers. In my opinion, Sonny Knight could probably not only raise the dead when he takes the stage, but get them up shaking their dry bones to his dance music. Even I was standing upfront doing my awkward stand/shake/dance moves! The last time we all saw the band together was at last year's Rockbend Folk Festival. Since then they have stretched out a bit. The Lakers starts each set with a number instrumental pieces before bringing Sonny up on the stage. This band is the real deal and at the top of their game, and so it is a real treat to hear them play. AND - you just got to love a band with a horn section and an organ!

Last night we were given a very special treat - the band debuted three new songs as an encore. They were all amazing - the first two soulfully heartbreaking - really showing off Sonny's vocal expertise and the third made us all shake our tail feathers. We were the first people to hear them, and I for one cannot wait to hear them again. This band is so very special, and are still having so much fun on the stage that it is contagious. You will also not meet a kinder and friendlier band than Sonny Knight and The Lakers. Before the show, during the break, and long after they were done they each took time talking and laughing with their fans. Rarely do you get to do that at a show - but they encouraged it and again had a blast chatting away. If you didn't get out to see them - you need to catch them a future show. You don't want to go through life not having enjoyed this great band - and they are in our own backyard! Thanks again to Sonny Knight and all The Lakers. You gave us another night we won't forget.



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Saturday, March 21, 2015

got some free time this weekend?

Tonight there is Sonny Knight and The Lakers and tomorrow night we have an hour of Last Man On Earth, but if you have some free time in between let me recommend a couple of things you might do. Right now there are two great documentaries streaming on Netflix that you should spend some time with. Each are very different in subject matter, but are both so courageously honest in their storytelling that you can't help but feel like a fly on the wall. It is not always a comfortable observation spot, but the willingness to not paint a rosy picture over difficult circumstances is what sets these films apart.

The first documentary is called Harmontown, and it's subject matter is Dan Harmon. He is the show runner and creator of the TV show Community, and this film follows him through the year of his life when he was fired from his show, and eventually re-hired to his show. As a lover of Community, and a listener of his podcast called Harmontown, I knew of the circumstances behind his firing. I'd heard the stories about his unconventional work habits, his mean spirited temper, and his inability to follow direction. But to me he was still the guy responsible for my peals of laughter every Thursday night on Community. I was, and am a true believer, but I love him even more after watching this film. When the film starts, there are a number of talking heads trying to describe who Dan Harmon is. I think John Oliver describes him best when he says "Dan Harmon is a human hand grenade that is fond of pulling his own pin". We see him do this in Harmontown, as he and the other members of the podcast hit the country on tour. But to his credit we get to see Dan Harmon be amazing and funny but also inebriated beyond control and exasperated and loathing of his own tiresome bad habits. It's a train wreck that you can't take your eyes off of, even if at times it seems Harmon willingly punched his own one-way ticket. I will tell you this though - as much as I am drawn to Dan Harmon's story, it is Harmontown's own Dungeon Master Spencer who will steal your heart. Painfully shy and introverted, the transformation we see him go through on the podcast's tour is heart warming. Although transformation probably isn't the right word, I don't think Spencer will ever change. Enjoy folks!

The next documentary is called Life Itself and is about film critic Roger Ebert. I wanted to see this the second I heard it was being made, but sadly it never came to Mankato. It was made by Steve James who made the documentary film Hoop Dreams, which was championed by Roger Ebert when it was released. It was begun not long before Ebert's death and shows in great detail the last stages of Ebert's fight against cancer. As the film describes after the death of his TV co-host Gene Siskel, Ebert decided to be open about his own health concerns. For much of the film we see Ebert in the hospital, at this point he is no longer able to speak, drink or eat. It is almost unbearable to watch at times, and uncomfortable to witness. But if you are a fan of film, you are probably an Ebert fan. You get a taste of Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, the tumultuous relationship behind At The Movies, and Ebert's love affair with the cinema but it is the words of some of my favorite directors of all time describing what Roger Ebert meant to them as film makers that moved me most. Werner Herzog describes dedicating a film to Ebert, Errol Morris says he would not be where he is today without Ebert's help, and perhaps most moving is watching Martin Scorsese choke up when he tells of being lost in the world and aimless until Siskel and Ebert invited him to Toronto for a retrospective of his films. It was after that event that Scorsese knew he was a good if not great film maker, because Ebert believed in him. There are plenty of tears to be cried in watching this documentary, and that is just one of them. 

Who is the bad guy in all of this? Chevy Chase. He was key to Dan Harmon being fired from Community, and in Life Itself we see him re-act to Ebert telling him that The Three Amigos is not a good film on the Tonight Show. It's a bold move, and Chevy Chase does exactly what you would expect him to do.

Thank you Netflix.


Thursday, March 19, 2015



Take the last week of April off from work, obligations, whatever, because Shuffle Function and KMSU have packed it was all kinds of awesome!  Start jotting down dates, gang!

Saturday, April 18th - RECORD STORE DAY!

This annual celebration of independent record stores just gets better and better (and more expensive for music geeks) every year!  Tune Town, the Mankato connection for Record Store Day, will be opening at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 18th so that music geeks in the area can go nuts on all kinds of exclusive vinyl releases that you can only pick up at Mom and Pop Record Shops.  There's a reason we've been calling it Second Christmas!  Check out the OFFICIAL LIST and start figuring out what you can't live without.

Then, at about 9:30 a.m. (or whenever we're finished with our over-doing it) we'll be playing Shuffle Function Radio Roulette.  The radio gods will be controlling your Record Store Day playlist as we play Radio Roulette until noon.  Swing by and draw a number so we don't have to take all the blame for the audio brutality that may or may not be inflicted upon us all.


Sunday, April 19th - NOTHING

You're gonna need this day of rest, gang.


What started as fun has now become tradition.  Well, this will be the third year for it, at least.  Come up to KMSU during the morning show and YOU.  WILL.  GET.  BACON!  Shelley will be kicking out the bacon jams as we celebrate the ultimate salty treat, and I'll be making my famous Peanut Butter and Bacon sandwiches.  It's the bacon rapture! 

Tuesday, April 21st - WORLD BOOK DAY!

Stop up to the station during the Morning Show and YOU. WILL. GET. A BOOK!  It's all about celebrating literacy, so swing by and find your new favorite read.  GET INTO IT!


We mean business, kids.  The Spring Pledge Drive is the biggest drive of the year, and with that comes a lofty goal.  This year it's a whopping $40,000!  This isn't an arbitrary number.  The KMSU transmitter is on its last legs, and these things are not cheap, but on the plus side we're getting VERY CLOSE to hitting our transmitter goal.  Details on swag to come, but we can tell you that we're thrilled to offer it.

Also, it's my birthday.


Shuffle Function will be live from six p.m. Thursday , April 23rd to Six p.m. Friday, April 24th in a desperate act that will hopefully convince you guys that KMSU is a station that needs to stay on the air!  We will be surviving only on the basic human needs of caffeine and rock and roll, and anxiously awaiting your phone calls as we punish ourselves in the name of Independent Public Radio.

There's all kinds of stuff we have planned, including some exclusive marathon swag, so stay tuned to this blog for further information!

Also, it's my birthday.

Saturday, April 25th - GRIND-FU CINEMA!

With second exciting feature

Saturday, April 25th @ 7:00pm
Wiecking 220 Auditorium
Minnesota State University, Mankato

As a way to wind down from the marathon and celebrate with friends, we're once again having a post-marathon Grind-Fu Cinema!  Back by popular demand, we're showing THE GUY FROM HARLEM!  Of all the terrible films we've show, none is more beloved than The Guy From Harlem.  It holds the distinction of being the only film we've shown five years in a row, but that's only because the audiences have begged for more.

More you say?  HECK YES!  We're following TGFH with FIST OF FEAR, TOUCH OF DEATH, one of THE WORST Bruce Lee exploitation films ever made.  This haphazard assembly of random footage and conspiracy theories is a masterpiece of cashing in.  If there was a dime to be squeezed from Bruce Lee's death, this film was going to get it.  I don't think it go too many.

Also, Grind-Fu Cinema is FREE!  Bring your friends, some snacks, dress in layers (because the temp in all over the place in this theater) and join us for a night of laughs.

DID WE FORGET ANYTHING?  Probably, but we'll update the blog as things pop up.  Until then, use this post as your life plan.

Thanks for all your support.  You guys are the best.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Community began its unlikely sixth season on Yahoo Screen on Tuesday.  This show has had more second chances than most, and the world is a better place because of it.  Dan Harmon's baby has managed to make me laugh out loud consistently, and that is a rare thing.  I had a few concerns, simply because it was moving from a network to a website, and the fact that the cast has shrunk by three made me wonder if the dynamics would change too much.  My concerns were set aside almost instantly.  The sharp writing, strange surreal turns, and great performances are all still there.

If there's any downside to the new season, it's that Yahoo Screen seems kind of clunky.  The video was a bit jerky, and the commercial breaks seemed to step on the beginnings of the following scenes.  I'm sure this will be fixed, as they are bound to get complaints.  Other than that, this move to the web seems like a liberating one for Dan Harmon.  It feels like he finally doesn't have art police watching his every move, and he's able to let scenes breathe without having to cut jokes for time.

The first two episodes are online right now, but they can't be embedded due to licensing restrictions, so swing by Yahoo and check them out.  New episodes will appear every Tuesday, and I'm very relieved to say that I'll be looking forward to them all.



Saturday, March 21st @ 8pm
Hooligans Neighborhood Pub
1400 East Madison Avenue, Mankato
Admission: $15

Oh man... you guys... if you missed Sonny Knight & The Lakers at Rockbend last year, then you missed out big time.  That was a show for the ages, and Sonny created an army of new fans in Southern Minnesota.  Sonny and The Lakers bring some serious R&B grooves, and you'll be dancing before you know it.  I don't care if you aren't a dancer.  It can't be helped.  There's a reason City Pages called The Lakers the best live act of 2014.

It's all going down this Saturday at Hooligans.  Bring your friends and a willingness to be rocked.  It'll happen to you whether you want it or not.



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Sunday, March 15, 2015


So this is a reality now. Have you watched The Room yet? It's a modern day un-classic. Legendary for WTF factor alone. You should probably watch it right now so you have an idea of what you're in for.

Tommy Wiseau's latest project has just been unleashed upon an undeserving world.  The Neighbors follows the lives of tenants that live in an apartment complex run by Tommy's character Charlie.  The series exhibits all the trademark quality that The Room is filled with, but with even more shouting.  More shouting than anyone could ever want.  Jeez... so much shouting.

Here's the first episode.  Swing by Hulu to enjoy the rest of this unique endurance test.


Friday, March 13, 2015


The third (technically fourth) episode of The Last Man On Earth is on this Sunday, and you need to see it.  Have you seen it?  WHY NOT?!!!  Here's everything that has aired so far.  Get ready for bowling, raisin meatballs, flame throwers, and mannequin love.    This is one of the funniest shows I've seen in ages, and Will Forte is a god. 'Nuff said.


Episode Two isn't embeddable, so CLICK HERE TO WATCH!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The official list for Record Store Day 2015 has finally hit!  While many of the titles have already appeared on leaked lists, this is the one you want to look at to finalize just how broke you are willing to become.  There are a lot of great one-of-a-kind titles that will only be available at independent record stores around the world, and you don't want to miss out on them!

The local connection for Kato cool kids is Tune Town.  Carl set up an event page on Facebook, so be sure to check it out.  There are some new rules this year, as the day has become too huge.  Study up and plan accordingly, kids!

Saturday, April 18th from 9am to close
630 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato


Vanessa Bayer is one of my favorites from the current cast of SNL, and recently she's been doing a great web series called Sound Advice.  She plays Janessa Slater, a clueless media coach that gives advice to famous musicians.  The most recent episode features Sleater-Kinney enduring Janessa's clueless interpretation of feminism.  So very clueless.

Sleater-Kinney also announced that they'll be taping a live performance for Austin City Limits on April 15th.  The episode will stream live, with a television broadcast occurring later this year.  This is good news for those of us that missed them live on their current tour, or for anybody that just loves to see a great band kick loads of ass.

What's that?  You can't wait until April?  How about an ENTIRE SHOW from the 9:30 Club in DC!


It's an annual music geek tradition that's worth contributing to!  The WFMU Fundraising Marathon is going on RIGHT NOW!  'FMU is the greatest radio station on the planet (followed closely by KMSU) and the Shuffle Function gang make regular donations to keep it on the air.  They are entirely listener supported, and that support comes from all around the world.  WFMU is on the vanguard of radio creativity and innovation, and they set the bar when it comes to their programming.  Really, 'FMU is king.

This Saturday Yo La Tengo will be making their annual Marathon appearance, and they will play your requests for donations!  From 2-5pm CST, the band will entertain your suggestions, and they'll give 'em a shot.  They might not truly know them, but they'll see what they can do.  The results are all over the map, but they're always solidly entertaining.  WFMU has set up a link to make your donation and request in advance, which isn't a bad idea.  This is a marquee event for the station, and folks just wanna hear them tackle some really strange stuff.  You're gonna love it.

Examples for your consideration:

Saturday, March 14th from 2-5pm


Sunday, March 08, 2015


HEY!  We just found about this show, and the line-up is pretty amazing.  If you're looking for a night of killer bands then you're not gonna want to miss it.  On Saturday, March 14th, there will be a benefit show for Dan Boardman, a long time fixture of the Twin Cities music scene.  You've probably heard his work on Shuffle Function, because we play the hell out of one of his bands, The Spectors.  They're really good.  You should get all of their music RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, this show features two bands that get relentless airplay on our show.  The Spectors will be making a rare live appearance towards the end of the night.  These guys are scattered all over the country, so when you hear that they're playing you need to take notice.  We caught them about ten years ago for their record release show at First Avenue, and they kicked all kinds of ass all over the place.  Don't miss out on this rare opportunity.

The other band we're stoked about is The Beatifics, who also don't play nearly enough.  Their criminally unavailable album How I Learned To Stop Worrying is my favorite album of all time, so any opportunity to see them is exciting.  The handful of times I've caught a live show by them have been pretty wonderful, so again... don't miss.

Those two bands are reason enough, but you also get The Mighty Mofos, Trailer Trash, Kinda Kinky... well, read the damn flyer!  It's a sick lineup, and the proceeds go to help Dan Boardman with his Cancer treatment.  It'll be worth it to attend.

The show goes down at Eagles Club 34 in Minneapolis.  $10 at the door. Doors open at six p.m. and the show runs until midnight-ish.  It's gonna be a great night of music, so we'll see you there!


Saturday, March 07, 2015

Must Hear Radio - KMSU's New 3 p.m. Radio Shows

We have welcomed a number of new radio show hosts to the 3 o'clock hour on KMSU. For as long as I can remember we would air three hours of World Cafe, but the third hour would be a repeat of the first hour. This was a great opportunity to expand the KMSU volunteer community and I highly recommend you to tune in at 3 p.m. and give them a listen. So let me introduce you to the new shows.

Monday 3 p.m. Embrace The Sound with Steve Guse

Guse has been with KMSU for a number of years but you might not have ever heard him (his show was on really really late on Sunday nights). Now it is much easier to catch his show, and you definitely should. His playlist is vast, from old school country to folk, to local music, brass bands, rock, you name it. You can find out more at his facebook page here. Guse is also the guy who brought Sonny Knight and The Lakers to the Rockbend Folk Festival, the guy who told me about Kanesville Kollectibles, and the guy responsible for our annual Neil Young Day Sponsorship. Yep, Guse is all that and more!

Tuesday 3 p.m. Foxy Playground with Ruby and Maya

If you have listened to Shuffle Function for a few years, than you might already know who Ruby is. She has been a repeat offender on our morning show as Program Director For The Day, and she and her mom Slamara Sue have joined us as well to talk about the MAD Girls Roller Derby team. Ruby has also been an honorary member of The Fleshtones when pulled on stage to play bass guitar for them at a gig in Chicago. Ruby and her co-host Maya are both attending MSU Mankato, and both have a fondness for the TV show Frasier and drive-thru Taco Bell. Their playlist ranges from new to old; classic to loud, and basically consists of music they like, as it always should. They also have a facebook page that you can find here.

Wednesday 3 p.m. Sessions In 3/4 Time with Mark Martinez

I first met Mark when he stopped by the station during our Shuffle Function 24 hour Pledge Drive A-Go-Go a few years back. He told us that he'd just moved into the area and had found KMSU on the radio dial, and wanted to help answer phones during the Pledge Drive. From that moment on we knew Mark was someone to keep an eye on. Over the years he has been a Program Director for the day on the Shuffle Function morning show - spinning records from his early years engrossed in the California Punk scene to dedicating a show to Jeff Tweedy. He also helped us out with Radio Karaoke - singing a killer version of Wichita Lineman one year. His show will look at one artist or musician and explore their roots and influences. I guarantee you will  hear some new tunes and some old favorites on his show. I don't believe he has a facebook page yet, but I will let you know when he does.

Thursday 3 p.m. The Variety Pack with Jameson Sweiger

I met Jameson via Dave from Free Form Freakout. He was a guest on Dave's FFFoxy Podcast a few times, and vinyl collector and a perfect addition to the KMSU record loving community. Recently he was in the Mankato Free Press - click on this link if you didn't get a chance to see it.  When you tune into The Variety Pack you will hear a lot of hiss and pop of vinyl, and a playlist to drool over. If you are a fan of soul, R & B, and Numero Records you will definitely not want to miss Jameson's show. Again I don't know of a facebook page or blog for The Variety Pack, but I will pass along a link to one if I can in the future.

Friday 3 p.m. The Way Out with Joe Tougas 

YES !!! THAT JOE TOUGAS !!! Joe is not a stranger to KMSU. He has hosted a number of shows on the station over the years (The Zappa Hour comes to mind), and he is back for more. Joe plans on exploring the creative world, be it through music, writing or art. Sometimes he will host solo, and other times he will invite co-hosts in to play music or just talk about whatever comes to mind. In writing this description, I realize I just assume that you all know Joe, either from his days at The Free Press reviewing movies and tracking down the Arts and Culture Scene, or as one half of The Frye. If you don't know who Joe Tougas is, then tune in at 3 p.m. on Fridays and get to know him. He is a fountain of creativity, a fantastic musical resource and all around fun and funny guy. We are very glad to have him back at the station!

So there you go - all of the new 3 p.m. shows. Please keep in mind that this is just a brief overview of each new show. The best way to learn more is to tune in at 3 o'clock and hear for yourself. It is always a treat to add more local volunteers to the world of KMSU, more people playing the music they love is never ever a bad thing! Welcome to the airwaves Joe, Guse, Ruby, Maya, Mark and Jameson!


Friday, March 06, 2015

now here is the joke I messed up this morning.......

I can never remember a joke, and so it is very difficult for me to tell a joke. If you are a long time Shuffle Function listener, you may recall my difficulty with even delivering a knock - knock joke successfully. This morning on the show I tried to share with you all a joke made by my co-worker's son. His name is Gabriel, and he is only four years old, but he wrote a perfect joke. If you heard me try to tell it this morning, please try to block it from your memory. Here is the real deal:

Gabriel's Joke

What does a duck do when he has no legs?

He finds them.

A big thanks to Mindy for sharing this joke with me  - and for helping me make sure I got it right. In sixteen years from now keep an eye out for Gabriel Smith, head writer for Saturday Night Live!



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The Genius of Chris Ware

In my eyes, this man can do no wrong. His name is Chris Ware and if that name isn't ringing any bells, I bet his artwork will. I first came across his work through This American Life. I then fell head over heels in love with his graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth. The levels of detail that he manages to capture on a blank piece of paper is mind boggling. The stories he tells are often melancholy, personal, and seemingly hopeless. But there is always a light at the end of his tunnels, making the journey worth all the heartbreak.

this is the fold -out of the hard cover version of Jimmy Corrigan
I just found out that he has been doing a weekly graphic novella at The Guardian website called The Last Saturday. You can find a link to it here:

I've not had a chance to read through it yet, but you better believe I will catch up with it over the weekend. It follows I recommend you do as well. 

the decoder ring he designed for This American Life
the t-shirt he designed for WFMU
For me - nobody does old buildings and snow better than Chris Ware.

This is a wormhole for me folks - I could just share favorite strips for days with you, but I will stop here. Do some on-line searching for yourselves. You won't regret it!