I’ve bumped into a few people of notoriety in my life... I once lifted free weights in a Denver health club next to Tommy Chong (the dude was cut!)... I was at a Mookie Blaylock show at the Off Ramp where Matt Dillon was hanging out, doing research for Singles... when I was 13 I got on stage at the Everett Mall and aerobicized with an 1980s exercise guru (his name escapes me)... and I once requested and was granted a business lunch with former Washington State Governor Mike Lowry... to name a few.
I always played it cool and aloof. Even with Matt Dillon, whom I’ve crushed hard on since I was about 12 when he was that badass kid in Over the Edge.
Wednesday, Carrie Akre was answering phones during the Spring Membership Drive, and I kind of lost it. When I realized who she was, I got sloppy excited, grabbed her arm and said “Oh, my God, you’re Carrie Akre?! Oh my GOD, I LOVE you!” She was very kind, and said thank you. And, I just got gushier and crazier -- “You see, I couldn’t afford to ship my records back home after grad school, so I only kept two: With the Beatles and Hammerbox. They’re the only two records I own today! I LOVE you!” And, she said some other kind things, and then we gabbed about some other stuff.
It got me thinking about my long relationship with KEXP. It’s been a reliable, solid constant. In 1991, it gave me an education before I moved away to a tiny town in Maine, where music was harder to come by than on Harrison St. on Capitol Hill. In 1994, Best Ambiance helped me relive and expand upon my travel experiences in West Africa. In 1998, it served as the palette for the soundtrack of my wedding reception. In 2004, KEXP literally saved my life and reawakened my passion for music, as I recovered from kidney failure and a subsequent transplant. And since 2006, as Director of Development, it has been an incredible part of my daily life in a way I could never have thought possible.
I guess after nearly 20 years into my loving, satisfying relationship with KEXP, it’s not surprising that I flipped the hell out when I met Carrie Akre. Hammerbox came out in 1991, I bought it at Cellophane Square on Broadway. I played it all summer, memorizing the sunsets while a shirtless guy in the next building played a conga on his balcony. I was leaving home for the first time, and I was soaking in everything I could, so that I wouldn’t forget. It was the record I was listening to when I kissed Seattle goodbye and went off to be an adult.
And that the 23-year old me’s hyperactive enthusiasm came rushing forward when I met Carrie Akre in the KEXP studios was just my life reminding me that they both have been here for me, whenever I’ve cared to pay attention.