Music News

David Bickford, What Are You Listening To?

David Bickford

Bickford writes two prominent local blogs, PHX Rail Food and PHX Trail Dude.

When you put your key in the ignition and turn on the radio, what station
would play right now?
I listen to KJZZ for news by day and jazz by night. I grew up listening to rock, and it still forms the bulk of my music collection, but Blaise Lantana of KJZZ has really helped me appreciate the jazz my late father enjoyed. Otherwise, I listen to the thousands of songs in my iTunes library.

What's the first album you bought? I reluctantly admit that The Partridge Family, Sound Magazine was the first album that actually belonged to me. I got it as a gift in the early '70s. It took a few years beyond that for me to realize that my parents' copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles) was much more interesting. I then went out and got another great Beatles album, Revolver, the first one I obtained with my own allowance money.

What's your favorite concert you've ever been to? After decades of being a Paul Weller fan, I finally saw him live at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on my 40th birthday in 2005.

What's the first concert you saw? Yes, the British progressive rock band, at Madison Square Garden in 1978. I still have good memories of their extended live version of "Roundabout."

What's the last song played on your music player? "The Rumproller," a hard bop jazz classic by Lee Morgan. Morgan was a brilliant trumpet player and composer whose career was far too brief.

Preferred format: CD, vinyl, cassette, 8-Track or digital? I've owned every one of those formats except 8-track, which I'm happy to have skipped. These days, it's MP3 downloads from Amazon or iTunes or tracks ripped from used CDs I buy. I'm always a format behind, so I'm still obsessed with owning MP3's and just now experimenting with streaming services like Spotify.

What's your favorite album? New Order's Low-Life. It came out when I was in college in the mid-'80s. I played the CD over and over while studying and moping in my dorm room.

Who is your favorite singer or band? There are so many contenders, but since R.E.M. recently announced their breakup after three decades together, I'd choose them. A few of the later albums were weak, but most of the band's career was impressive, and they went out on a high note after a strong comeback.

Does you computer track how many times you've played something -- if so,
what's at the top of the list? 
Yes, iTunes keeps track of this, although I hadn't looked at the data until you asked. "Mexican Hip Dance," by jazz great Horace Silver, takes the title with 50 plays. It's an energetic, funky instrumental from an artist who wrote so much great music in his heyday.

What was your favorite new or new-to-you album from 2011? Black Rock, by blues rocker Joe Bonamassa, who played at the Orpheum Theatre here in Phoenix recently.

What one song would you play if you had a world-wide radio audience? "Other 99" by Big Audio Dynamite. It's thoroughly apolitical, but hearing the phrase "99 percent" so much lately has reminded me of how much I like the song's upbeat message.

Who is your favorite local artist? There are so many local acts worth hearing, but Elvis Before Noon is always a good time with their mix of pop and rock influences. Also, how can I not love their "How to Ride the Light Rail" song?

What is your favorite local venue to see music? The Rhythm Room has been my favorite for the past decade, but I'm just now getting to know the Crescent Ballroom, and I like what I see.

What is your favorite music video? Most of the videos I watched on MTV in the '80s have not aged well. Still, I'd say "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads because David Byrne's performance captured the song's neurotic energy so well.

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Nicki Escudero
Contact: Nicki Escudero