Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m. on CKUW 95.9 FM or online at www.ckuw.ca
Stylus: Can you tell us about the origins of the TwangTrust?
Stu Reid: It was originally my friend Gaylene Dempsey’s show. She applied to do an alt-country show shortly before CKUW first came to the FM airwaves [in 1999], but because she was frequently out of town for work, she thought she should have a permanent co-host as a back-up and she asked me. Initially, I was scared to death of the idea, but I soon grew to love it. Gaylene lost interest a couple years into it and I’ve been a lone wolf ever since. I doubt I’d ever have done it without her, so I’m indebted to her forever.
Stylus: You’re known as “The $3000 Man” because you consistently raise that amount of money during your FunDrive show. What’s the secret to your success?
SR: Bruce content! No one else on CKUW plays Springsteen as much as I do. Coincidence? I think not. Seriously, though, while it’s not a “my music is better than your music” kind of thing, I think the kind of music I play has a deeper personal connection to the people who enjoy it than that of most other genres. Also, I don’t just throw together a bunch of songs that I like. Most everything I play gets played for a specific reason, whether it’s a local gig preview, a set of music with a theme, be it conceptual, historical or a common musician, songwriter or whatever. There’s something to learn on the show if you’re prepared to pay attention, and regular listeners appreciate the work I put into it.
Stylus: What can you tell us about TwangTrust listeners? Who are they? Where are they?
SR: International, good-hearted folks, all. Ever since CKUW started their podcasting feature, TwangTrust has been the most downloaded show. That’s on top of the dozens of folks who listen to my show each week via my own website (www.twangtrust.ca). That number ranges from 30 to 300, depending on whether a particular episode gets mentioned or linked on someone’s blog somewhere. Still, I spent months playing Elliott Brood’s first album, begging people to check them out at their first Winnipeg show and there were three of us that showed up. And I know the other two weren’t there because of me. So that puts things in perspective.
Stylus: Can you talk about the importance of Bruce Springsteen to the show, and to your life in general?
SR: I do have a personal relationship with Bruce Springsteen that I’d like to tell you about. My musical tastes aren’t as myopic as you might think, based on my show, but Bruce has been special from early on in many ways. To paraphrase the website www.thestureidexperiment.com (no, I have no idea what that’s about) [Ed note: He’s serious—our Stu Reid is in no way connected with that site. Weird.], “None of us are Bruce Springsteen. All of us are Bruce Springsteen. You are now Bruce Springsteen.” I learned the history of music from Bruce, through artists he would cover or talk about in interviews—everyone from Duke Ellington to Suicide. I started a fanzine, Bruceness, dedicated to him back in the prehistoric age of 1981 and even met my wife through it. I do often feel weird playing an established classic-rock artist on a campus station, but I have to. It wouldn’t be an honest show otherwise. The first time I heard Bruce was on the original CJUM back in the late ’70s. I have been in Bruce Springsteen’s dressing room before, and Bruce once stood on the actual boardwalk in Asbury Park and said “Yeah, I met that dude last night,” talking to a friend about me. Plus, I once insulted him to his face. His wife Patti was there and she peed herself laughing.
Stylus: What is the StuDome?
SR: My living room. My wife and I throw house concerts whenever the opportunity presents itself. We’ve had Mike Plume, Jim Bryson and Leeroy Stagger through twice each, as well as Pat DiNizio from the Smithereens. The coolest show ever was C.R. Avery and his string quartet. Three violins, a cello, a conductor who played guitar and snare drum and C.R. doing his thing. A friend who came without ever having heard of him, said it was among the ten best shows of his life. And this was a guy who’s seen a LOT of shows. Mike Plume christened it the StuDome. It was originally the Stu & Kathy Reid Theatre for the Performing Arts. Many StuDome patrons are just folks who listen to my show, who I don’t really know that well. And I should add there are many listeners who have become people I DO know very well. I’m very picky about who I book at the Dome, but as dream-come-truey as it is to have my fave bands playing in my living room, sometimes there’s something too polite about the whole thing. There’s only room for so much politeness in rock ‘n’ roll. I may soon require people to break things when they come to a StuDome show.
Stylus: Do you ever see a day when you’ll hand the reins of TwangTrust over to someone else, permanently? (Your daughter, Britt, perhaps?)
SR: Yes, I’m old and will be dead soon, it’s true. That was certainly the motivating factor in raising a child. Five-year-old Britt is coming along great, playing music for the whole family on Mud Puddle Radio every third Saturday at 9 a.m. (I occasionally tech for her). However, we may soon need to consider a second child as a backup. This past May, just before going in to see her third Springsteen show in St. Paul, we asked her if she was still a big Bruce fan. Britt said, “Uh… I’m actually more of a Tchaikovsky fan.” Damn kids and their classical music…