If it’s Friday, it’s time for Rev Cool: WYSO host loves to spin new beats

Today, any music fan can go to a streaming service and easily create an eclectic playlist featuring reggae, punk, roots rock and other disparate genres. Back in the early 1980s, only a hardcore music fanatic could manage that feat, which led Daytonian Jim Carter to take to the airwaves with the program, “Around the Fringe.”

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More than 38 years later, the host, known to longtime listeners as Rev Cool, is still playing a diverse, danceable mix of songs from around the world from 8 to 10 p.m. every Friday night on WYSO-FM (91.3).

Carter recently checked in from his home quarantine to discuss creating his popular program remotely and to share three musical recommendations.

Q: How would you describe “Around the Fringe” to the uninitiated?

A: It's an eclectic music show. Because it's a Friday night, I try to keep it upbeat, with a seamless mixture of world beats and outer-worldly tunes that range from Afropop to international funk to danceable beats to under-discovered rock to salsa to rare mixes of familiar cuts that can only be found in alternate universes and "Around the Fringe."

Q: How have the COVID-19 shutdowns changed life for you?

A: First of all, the tragic effects of COVID-19 really have made me appreciate life with every breath I take. It reminds me not to take for granted the loveliness of the space of silence between notes of a song. It gives me a new view of the simplest of spring beauties and bluebells. I glance with love on the beauty of my wife as she picks a flower. I appreciate in amazement the art and music of our local creators. My heart goes out all who have been sick or lost a loved one. My love goes out to all of the essential workers as well as medical personal on the front line. There is nothing I do in my life that compares with that. Much love and respect.

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Q: What has it been like doing your show during the pandemic?

A: The staff of WYSO has been reduced to a skeleton crew and I've really had to bone up on doing a show remotely and outside of the comforts of our studio. I really have to thank lil'Let, our programming coordinator Juliet Fromholt, music coordinator Niki Dakota and our engineer Peter Hayes for helping me present new and fresh shows while at home.

Q: What’s your first recommendation?

A: There's a terrific record label located just south of Dayton, in Loveland, Ohio, called Coalmine Records. It was started by Terry Cole and Bob Cole, who spend their time mining for solid gold soul and funk releases that are completely fresh but with a feel of classic raw soul vibes. They also have a brick-and-mortar store called Plaid Records.

Q: How did you discover the label?

A: I really enjoy the sounds of bands like Dayton's Ohio Untouchables, the Dayton Sidewinders and the London Fog and the Continentals and I stumbled across the label looking for slabs like those.

Q: What about this selection resonates with you?

A: The entire operation is an absolute labor of love for Colemine, and you can tell it by how they have curated their releases. They most likely don't even know it but I've played just about every release from Colemine on my show. They're the real deal.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about Colemine Records?

A: Check out their new releases by the Black Pumas, Black Market Brass and the Harlem Gospel Travelers. I believe Omega carries quite a bit of their product.

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Q: What’s your second recommendation?

A: Anything by a Dayton collective of musicians called the Elements that's composed of Michael and Sandy Bashaw and Sharon Leahy and Rick Good.

Q: How did you discover their music?

A: I believe Sharon landed in Dayton in the '80s, while Sandy, Michael and Rick have been playing since the days of the Lemon Tree Coffeehouse in the '60s. It doesn't matter if it was (Sandy's old group) Jonathan and Leigh, the Hotmud Family, the Slugs, Puzzle of Light or Rhythm in Shoes, they are part of the fabric of Dayton and should never be taken for granted. Their material as individual artists and in groups can be found through a number of sources including YouTube and SoundCloud.

Q: What about their music resonates with you?

A: I admire their constant dedication as artists and their unstoppable urge to create with devotion and beauty. I was just listening to an album on Vanguard Records in 1967 by Jonathan and Leigh titled "Third and Main" and it's as good if not better than any folk-rock album of that period. Yet the Elements are completely current. For example, right after the mass shooting in the Oregon District, the Elements released an excellent song called "Do Something." Rick has a collection of topical material on SoundCloud and Sandy has a tremendous new video directed by David Sherman called "Talkin' Truth To Power."

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Q: Anything else you’d like to add about this selection?

A: I may present a more ruckus sound on my Friday night radio show but actually listen to a vast variety of the elements of music of which this is just one example.

Q: What’s your third recommendation?

A: The Chicano band out of East L.A. called Las Cafeteras.

Q: How did you discover it?

A: I saw them on tour in Detroit and in London, Ontario.

Q: What about this group resonates with you?

A: They play an exhilarating and modernized version of an Afro-Mexican style of music called son jarocho and when performing live, control the stage like rock stars. They are a six-piece made up of two women and four men with multiple vocalists and fabulous musicianship. They play different sizes of jaranas, which are similar to small guitars and stomp and dance wildly on a wooden percussion box called a zapateado. Think of "La Bamba" on steroids.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about this selection?

A: Las Cafeteras has two albums out, "It's Time" and "Tastes of LA," and just released a cover of "I'm Not Your Puppet." They do an incredible version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" in Spanish and English and incorporate elements of hip hop in the moving immigrant story "If I Was President."

More info: www.wyso.org.

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