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December 18, 2013

Radio Free Joshua Tree and Ted Quinn at the Listening Lounge

Written by  Hilary Sloane
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Left: Ted Quinn of Radio Free Joshua Tree Left: Ted Quinn of Radio Free Joshua Tree Hilary Sloane

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ted Quinn - musician, song writer and local radio celebrity is the force behind Radio Free Joshua Tree and the Listening Lounge. When I arrived to interview him early in the morning on December 9th, Quinn greeted me outside the Lounge. We arrived at exactly the same time. He was wearing a black leather jacket and a coonskin cap, with a look very reminiscent of the 1960’s. The Lounge was already bustling with activity. A child played with his robot while local musicians were in the back room recording their music. The place was filled with a variety of arts and crafts created by local artists for the Christmas Bizarre the Lounge is hosting. There were paintings, macramé jewelry, a variety of small art objects for sale, a multi-colored fabric tent designated for fortune telling, and free coffee and cookies. Quinn and I huddled inside the tent to talk while people in search of holiday bargains walked in and out.

HS: How long have you been in Joshua Tree and what brought you here?

TQ: I have been here solidly since the fall of ‘97. I had been traveling around the country - San Francisco, New Orleans, New York and Austin. A friend of mine, who I collaborated with on music, loved coming out here and going to the national park. One weekend we came out to meet a friend we never found, but met some other friends from LA. It was a whole series of synchronistic events. After an incredible night in the park and wandering into town blurry eyed, we found Jeremy’s Cyber Cafe. We didn’t know it then, but moving to Joshua Tree was inevitable. The next morning we saw three houses for sale. We turned up the driveway and my friend Fred said, “This is where I’m going to put my recording studio,” which was completely imaginary at that moment. I called my partner at the time and she said, “let’s get the house next door,” and we did.

HS: What were you doing back then?

TQ: Music was my main thing, a love-love; a little hate-love thing, because the music and the creative part and the community part was always the love, and the business part of it was not what we hoped it would be. After years of doing that it got to be time to leave LA. I mentioned Jeremy’s Cyber Cafe. It was the only place to go for fifty miles that had espresso and an Internet connection twenty years ago. Around 2000, I began working here and hosting an open mic in this space that is now the Listening Lounge. It was the hub for a lot of the artists, musicians, and writers who were drawn to Joshua Tree for the park. I did the open mic for 7 years and then started doing an Internet radio show out of this place. The ownership changed over time. Then I started doing my thing at Pappy and Harriet’s and the open mic at the [Joshua Tree] Saloon. [About a year ago] I was working for the local radio station and left. I posted on Facebook ‘Hey what would happen if I did a local music podcast?’ I got so many positive responses that before I knew it Radio Free Joshua tree was born on 12/12/12.

HS: You have an anniversary this week.

TQ: I consider the solstice as being the anniversary of our first broadcast. One of the first people I contacted was Doctor Catherine Svelha who had done a mythological roundtable. I asked her if she would like to continue doing it as a radio show, which she wanted to do. I spoke to Cheryl Montelle from “Desert Stories” and asked her if we could do “Other Desert Stories” and she agreed. Leslie Mariah Andrews who is a wonderful musician and artist wanted to do a radio show. Christine Lukasik, Kate McCabe, Derwood Andrews, Dave Ryan who is a guitar maker and musician, Scott Weston who is also known as the Voodoo Organist and an aficionado of lounge/electronica music - all of these different people with different tastes in music started doing shows for the radio station. There is so much diverse music [in Joshua Tree] like Clive Wright who is a new artist in town, Patty Yang from England, Artemis from the Bay area, Mark Olson from the Jayhawks, Victoria Williams, and great bands like Gram Rabbit and the Sibleys, Small Wonder Experience, my own music, Fred Drake’s Music. We have a show called Trust Everyone Under Thirty. Joshua Tree is such a power spot for creativity. The listening Lounge is also doing community events. We did a composting workshop; we do a weekly meditation, a weekly Science of Mind meeting. The anti-marijuana anti-prohibition group meets monthly. The Mythological Round Table meets here monthly. And it’s also an art gallery. Right now we have a holiday bizarre.

HS: How are the Lounge and the radio show being supported?

TQ: We are operating under the umbrella of Transmissions and High Desert Living Arts Center; we can take donations and are in the process of becoming our own non-profit. We are looking for grants and we are always looking for people to help out with the Listening Lounge. And we are looking for more original programming. If people are interested in contributing, we are interested.

The station is available 24/7.

www.RFJT.org or www.radiofreejoshuatree.com

Ted Quinn Musician


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