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Musician friends kick in to help KXCI

Citizen Staff Writer

POLLY HIGGINS

phiggins@tucsoncitizen.com

The Beatles sang that they got by with a little help from their friends, but, for that to happen, you have to have those friends in the first place.

KXCI (91.3-FM) community radio is, apparently, really good at maintaining friendships. The next several days sees three separate benefits for the station that include performances by Kevin Pakulis, Greyhound Soul and the 17th Street Band.

“Without KXCI supporting local music Greyhound Soul would not be on the radio in Tucson,” Greyhound Soul bassist Duane Hollis writes in an e-mail interview. “KXCI has supported Greyhound Soul since our first record – ‘Freaks’ – back in ’96.”

Pakulis will share the stage Saturday with Greyhound Soul, one of his favorite bands, and, like Hollis, is glad to help out a station that has given him so much.

“First and foremost, we love to play, so it’s not like a big sacrifice,” says Pakulis, who may start his set with the acoustic songs he and his bassist wrote for this year’s “Kevin Pakulis and Larry Lee Lerma.” “It’s always been a priority of mine to help out along those lines. I wouldn’t have gotten nearly the exposure I’ve gotten if it hadn’t been for KXCI. It’s a jungle out there.” Pakulis’ band also includes drummer Ralph Gilmore and keyboardist Duncan Stitt.

Three benefits in a week is not a sign of trouble for the station but more of a coincidence, says Randy Peterson, KXCI’s development director and acting general manager. The station, about to celebrate 25 years in December, isn’t flush, but will soon adopt a board-approved five-year plan, he says.

“It’s always tight,” Peterson says. “We’re able to fund our needs . . . and occasionally our wants.”

Those wants have included a recording studio at KXCI, just south of downtown on Fourth Avenue, which has hosted Greyhound Soul, Howe Gelb, John Coinman, Lisa Otey and many others since its completion.

The station’s budget, Peterson says, is about $700,000 annually, or just over $1,900 per day. Membership as well as the generosity of those members has increased over the years, he says. Such assistance from less high-profile friends, plus financial support from local businesses, has seen KXCI implement a new broadcast system in the past two years.

“We’re the first local station to go digital,” Peterson says, adding that future holds the possibility of three or four online multicasts.

The folks in the trenches are the volunteer DJs. Only two programs – the political “Democracy Now!” (12:30 p.m. weekdays) and the LGBT-minded “This Way Out” (4:30 p.m. Sundays) – are syndicated, Peterson notes, in an effort to keep things local.

“We think the best community radio is done by the community.”

The mix of roots, surf, blues, rock – and, of course, “Locals Only” – is as eclectic as the personnel, a group of locals that anyone can be a part of by taking the free adult DJ classes offered by KXCI. The next training sessions will likely be toward the end of September, Peterson says.

The upcoming benefits embrace this sense of open programming without playlists, with rock/ Americana from Greyhound Soul and Kevin Pakulis Saturday, blues from the 17th Street Band Tuesday and electronica from L.A.’s Bitter:Sweet Wednesday.

IF YOU GO

Three upcoming benefits for KXCI are as diverse as their playlists. To contact KXCI: 623-1000, kxci.org.

If you like rock:

What: Kevin Pakulis Band, Greyhound Soul

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

Price: $10

Info: 740-1000, rialtotheatre.com

If you like blues:

What: 17th Street Band

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Barrio Brewing, 800 E. 16th St.

Price: $5

Info: 791-BREW, barriobrewing.com

If you like electronica:

What: Bitter:Sweet, plus KXCI DJs Trinidad, Falcotronik and Corbin Dooley

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

Price: $10

Info: 622-8848, ticketweb.com

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