Bluegrass legend is guest KVMR DJ during membership drive |

Bluegrass legend is guest KVMR DJ during membership drive

It didn’t take long for Grammy-winning bluegrass artist Laurie Lewis to jump at the chance to be a guest disc jockey on KVMR 89.5 FM.

“There’s so much music that I’m excited about, and the chance to delve into it and get specific” Lewis explained. “Then to present it to a (radio) audience was too good to pass up.”

The result will be a two hour fall membership drive special from 8 to 10 p.m. tonight (Thursday) and repeated 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday (89.5 FM, streaming), with some special Lewis-themed thank you gifts available as well.

She is saying the show will reflect her musical roots, all time favorites and some contemporaries as well.

“I hope people will stick with me while I ricochet about amongst some of my favorites sounds,” Laurie added. “Not everything I play will be for everyone, I’m guessing, but it’ll all be good.”

Lewis won a 1997 Grammy for an album of Bill Monroe songs, she’s a two-time winner of best bluegrass female vocalist and has won California fiddling competitions in the past.

“Judging by the respect she has among fans and peers in the industry,” says International Bluegrass Music Association director Dan Hayes, “Laurie is one of the pre-eminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time.”

Not bad for someone who started out playing classical violin and then fell in love with folk music as a teenager in the ‘60s, hanging around the Berkeley Folk Festivals.

“Every night, there were concerts, and during the day you’d be in a eucalyptus grove listening to someone making music with nothing between you and them,” she said with a smile. “Every day, I’d hear something new, like Doc Watson or the Greenbriar Boys.”

In the next decade, she discovered the fiddle and became part of a burgeoning Bay Area bluegrass scene.

“Here were all these people making music together, and I could immediately see myself as part of it,” recalled Lewis. “It woke up all the excitement I felt as a teenager, and I know this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

And she has, becoming a band leader by the early ‘80s and continuing a variety of projects, including a special show with performing partner Tom Rozum, her current band The Right Hands and special guest Nina Gerber, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Nevada Theater, downtown Nevada City, (see separate story, page 10).

“The collaboration of Nina joining the band with her electric guitar really makes for an amazing mash-up of sounds,” Lewis noted. “It gives the songs a depth and excitement that we all relish.”

The Thursday night radio show won’t be Laurie’s first host gig. Over the years, she’s done guests shows, not surprisingly, on community radio station KPFA in Berkeley.

“Community radio like KVMR has definitely influenced my life, not just in the obvious way in that it’s been an outlet for my own music for which I’m extremely grateful,” according to Lewis.

“But it’s also for exposing my ears to sounds I would never or very rarely find on corporate radio outlets,” she continued. “And then, of course, I depend on community radio for local news and an alternative to the spoon-feeding of commercial media ‘news’.”

Whew. No wonder Lewis once joined KVMR as she was driving on Interstate 5 to a gig north of here. Heck, she even lives in Berkeley, too.


A retrospective on the long and varied career of rock superstar Neil Young will air as part of KVMR’s “Be The Solution” membership drive. Hosts Michael Young and Diane McIntire will compare notes on Young, along with music from across his 50-plus year music career from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday (89.5 FM, streaming).

In addition, folk music legend Jean Ritchie will be profiled on a special edition of “Nevada City Limits” 10 a.m. to noon Friday with Dennis Brunnenmeyer and Laurie DesJardin.

Featured will be “Dear Jean,” a new two-CD compilation and possible Grammy nominee, with Ritchie’s lifetime work covered by John McCutcheon, Pete Seeger, Janis Ian, Judy Collins, Kathy Mattea and many others.


KVMR’s membership drive runs through this Sunday, with the station instituting seven day only on-air campaigns for its new fiscal year.

“We’re saying KVMR members are part of the solution through their contributions,” noted Program Director Steve Baker. “It’s like the old adage, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’.”

Information on the drive is available at, the station’s website or listeners can call 530/265-9555 to make their membership pledge.

A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM, streaming), a noncommercial station offering diverse musical programming, independent news and provocative public affairs from about 180 volunteer “citizen-broadcasters.” Complete program listings are available at

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