Volunteer Profile: Rod Simmons

  1. CFBX Rod2How long have you been doing your radio show?

I started as co-host of On the Marquee with Julie in October, 2017. I started my own show, When Swing Was King, in April of 2018.

  1. What made you want to volunteer with CFBX?

I have always been interested in audio production. I was originally drawn here for the opportunity to work behind the scenes, producing artist interview features. Working with Julie on On the Marquee got me thinking that I could contribute further by exposing the CFBX community to one of my great loves, the music of the Big Band Era.

  1. What is your show about? What can we hear in your show?

When Swing Was King covers big band jazz and closely related popular music between 1925 and 1950. I play all the big name bands – Ellington, Goodman, Miller, Basie, the Dorseys – plus many of their lesser-known but equally great contemporaries. Apart from the instrumentals, I feature the vocalists of the era – Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and the like. You can hear anything from New Orleans Dixieland all the way to the early bebop of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

  1. What makes your show unique? Why should we tune in?

The commercial dial does not offer anything like what I play. As a professional performer myself, I have always sought somewhere to listen to this music. Now, I get to bring it, and the stories behind it to the public. In addition to playing the music, I endeavor to learn something about the development of the music and those who made it each week. I also do my best to place the music and the artists into the historical context of their time.

  1. What was the best show you’ve done to date?

I have been pleased with many of my shows, but two in particular stand out in my mind. My 1990’s swing revival show from July 2018 was quite fun. It featured bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Colin James and Harry Connick Jr. I had fun researching that one, having lived through that era in my university days. I was also proud of my 2 hour show from March, 2019. Julie was away that week, so I combined our shows by featuring Swing!, the Broadway musical from 1999. Top notch covers of classic charts, plus some original music, all made for high energy dancing.

  1. Name an artist you’ve discovered in the past year you think your audience should know about?

There’s a crooner/musical theatre vocalist in Calgary named Michael Hope I discovered at a used music sale last year. He does material suitable for both shows I work on. Julie and I contacted him to look for some of his older, out of print albums, and he was kind enough to send us digital copies at no charge. He also plays bassoon professionally with the Calgary Philharmonic.

Check him out at michaelhope.net .

  1. What was a recent live concert or show you have been to that you enjoyed and why you enjoyed it?

I have attended a lot of live performances in the past year or so. My highlights are seeing the new musical, Marie at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle this spring, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical this month at Seattle’s Paramount Theater, and seeing Disney and theater legend Lea Salonga in Richmond this past May.

  1. Are there any local artists, writers or musicians that you think your audience should know about?

Kamloops has an amazingly diverse performing arts community. I, personally have had connections with the Thompson Valley Orchestra, Brandenburg Orchestra and the Kamloops Symphony. If classics and orchestral pops are your thing, there is definitely a group in town for you, whatever your budget.

On the swing side, I like to catch Beyond Brass (formerly the Kamloops Big Band) whenever I can.

As a high school drama and musical theatre teacher, I highly recommend catching anything presented by Western Canada Theatre as well. For a city of this size, Kamloops has a lot to offer.

  1. Name another show on CFBX you enjoy and why you enjoy it.

I am quite partial to Anime-d in Japan on Sundays from 2 PM-4 PM. The show is fun and informative. Jeremy is all over the Japanese anime and pop scenes. His love and knowledge of the material comes through on the air. I also enjoy Jazz Notes on Wednesdays, 5 PM- 7 PM. Jim covers areas of jazz that my show does not. I find that both entertaining and educational.

  1. What are your plans for your show in the next year?

My format will be similar going forward. I like to mix instrumental and vocal tracks most weeks. I regularly do shows around themes such as particular bandleaders, particular vocalists, or the music of a particular year. My exploration of more modern swing will continue this year. I’m also planning a Canadian swing special and some wartime music shows for this fall.

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