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‘Local Tunes’ host signs off

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | JULY 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City musicians know Tuesdays from 10 p.m. to midnight are reserved for one thing: “Local Tunes” on KRUI.

For the last five years, Jason Larson has hosted the show he created, but now he’s stepping down. Tonight will be his last regular broadcast before his big send-off July 29, a live final performance at Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St.

“ ‘Local Tunes’ started as a promotional tool for local bands and as a way for me to always get my local-music fix,” Larson said. “Having bands perform live in the studio has been one of the greatest joys of my life. It’s like a personal concert. Live music is my favorite way to listen to it.”

The show’s popularity has made Larson a recognizable face — and voice — in the local music scene. He has had the opportunity to MC shows and perform at Camp Euforia earlier this month, and, he said, he’s even signed a few autographs.

But nothing gold can stay.

“I’ve decided to leave the show because it just felt the right time,” he said. “I almost canceled it before, when I went through a real rough patch after my ex-fiancée left me, but my listeners and the musicians in the area protested against it, begging me to keep it up. Glad I did. I plan on staying at KRUI doing my second show called ‘The Dude’s Vinyl,’ in which I play my favorite vinyl records.”

Just because he’s going, though, doesn’t mean he’s going quietly. Larson has quite the grand finale planned.

“I chose to do a live broadcast because I wanted a big sendoff and to end on a high note,” Larson said. “The event at Gabe’s is going to be a look at the past five years of recordings, and I’ve also invited a few musicians to come play a song or two. Gabe’s is a great place for this because I don’t need a stage — just a bar and the Internet.

“I’m still a bit sad about leaving the show, but I think it needs to move on and grow.”

“Local Tunes” will continue on with a new leader at the helm, Joe Verstraete, who has been co-hosting and studying under Larson’s tutelage the past few months. Verstraete was selected in part because of his involvement in local music; he’s the drummer for Fire Sale.

“I was glad that [Larson] wanted to pick someone that is on the inside,” Verstraete said. “I know what it’s like to play and meet people and the benefits of connections. I’m, hopefully, going to have a few people on at a time to hook up those connections.”

That networking potential has been a big draw for Robert Abrams, a local drummer most known for his playing with Item 9 and the Mad Hatters. Abrams has been on the show nearly a dozen times over the past three years.

“ ‘Local Tunes’ has been a big part of the local music scene and a big tool utilized by a lot of local musicians and music fans,” he said. “It connected everybody in the music scene. It got the information out there — knowledge of when the shows are, where they are, where to go, and what they’re about.”

The overall structure and goal of the show, Verstraete said, will not be much altered.

“I’m going to pretty much keep it very similar, just have the same types of acts come through, support the local music,” he said. “The people who play around here, they’re students, just like a lot of the listeners.”

He feels any changes would be unnecessary, because the show has served its purpose so well over the last half-decade.

“This is a very necessary show,” Verstraete said. “It’s a great thing that Jason did. You can listen to this online, and I’ll be podcasting it, and I think this’ll be great for local musicians to listen to and know who’s out there. And let me know they’re out there, so I can promote them.”


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