Fifth in a series about music in the time of Covid-19
Fourteen years ago, the phrase, “Ha Ha that was great Kevin, that was funny, that was really funny,” landed Dennis Alexander a show on KTKE, Truckee Tahoe Independent Radio.
Three weeks after being the “laugh guy” with DJ Kevin (a past DJ on KTKE), Alexander started the show he describes as, “a show that’s deep tracks, not the A sides or even the B sides, but the C and D sides. The stuff that’s golden that gets no radio play at all. In the beginning, I concentrated on covers. I would find The Rolling Stones doing The Who or Etta James doing Guns N’ Roses.”
His show became, “DeepTraxx with Mr. D.”
Can you talk a little about your radio program and what it was before Covid-19?
“DeepTraxx was live and interactive. I have a Facebook page called DeepTraxx with Mr. D. I pay attention to it only on Wednesdays. Say I play The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” I will post on the DeepTraxx page a picture of something from that song, lyrics, maybe the album cover that it came from then fans that are listening interact with me. They’ll write, ‘This song reminds me of college, will you play this …,’ and I’ll write back, ‘Yeah, I’ll find that.’ So people get involved. It’s interactive radio.”
Mr. D’s been providing interactive radio since Facebook began in 2006, the same year his radio show went live.
How are you producing your show now?
“The boss, J.D. Hoss, he asked me to prerecord my show at home and send it into the station manager. He asked me like I knew what I was doing, but I’ve never done that before. My show’s always been live. It took me a week or two to fumble through how to prerecord it and make it sound good.”
I plugged (a condenser mic) into GarageBand and it worked. I can put a show together now. My show was usually two hours, during this time I’m doing only one hour. When the show airs, I’ll flip open my MacBook, still interact and it looks like I’m live, as if I’m in the studio, but I’m not.”
Mr. D taught himself GarageBand. He uses Apple Music for managing tunes when he’s live at the station and can drag tunes that he wants from his Apple Music Library into a track on GarageBand. Plugging the mic into another track enables him to mimic live radio, playing tunes and talking at the same time.
So, you’re listening to yourself on the radio while you’re interacting on Facebook?
Karen “Kandy” Xander, Mr. D’s partner, is in the frontwoman in the band Metal Echo. She is with us during the interview and the three of us start laughing.
“It’s weird, it’s so weird because I’ve never done that. I’m my worst critique. After last week’s show I was like, ‘That was a good show.’ I was totally stoked on myself.”
Mr. D’s nose crinkles, he gets a little louder and he shakes his head up and down while reminiscing.
Kandy chimes in, “He’s super shy, though you wouldn’t think that when you hear him on air.”
Mr. D raises his eyebrows and his voice softens as he says, “In the studio, magic happens but put me in front of a podium with 50 people looking at me and I get tongue-tied. I start sweating, my vision blurs, it’s horrible.”
Mr. D, who is 54, had a heart attack two years ago. Can you talk about why you can’t have any interaction with people?
“I’m high risk with Covid-19. I had a triple bypass. My cardiologist and my cardio nurse both told me that I’m high risk and I should follow the guidelines of a 75-year-old man even though it was two years ago. They ripped my chest open, took my lungs out and the guy had my heart in his hand. So, I haven’t left the house in literally 60-something days except for hiking back here in the woods. My lovely lady here, she goes to the post office and to Costco for us, to Trader Joe’s and does all of that stuff for us, then I make her take a shower and disrobe as soon as she gets home.”
They both let out a giggle.
“Mark, my best friend in New York, he’s a mental health doctor and he’s helped me out a lot. He’s telling me a lot of behind the scenes things that they’ll never show you on TV and one thing he keeps telling me is how contagious it is. If someone coughs and holds their elbow (over their mouth) it’s still airborne. It’s in droplets. He highly stressed for me to wear a mask, stay home and all that stuff. A 75-year-old should stay home and that’s it. No human contact.”
Mr. D said Kandy and him started a DJ company eight years ago, “People would call the radio station and say, Does Mr. D do weddings? Does he do events?’”
After six months of getting these calls, Mr. D exclaims, “I can DJ a wedding. It morphed into a company and then she joined,” pointing at Kandy. “She officiates now too. She got ordained.”
Kandy: “We finally do jobs that entail music, what we love, being in a band doesn’t pay my bills, but I love doing it on the side. We love it! But now we’re facing people postponing or canceling their events and weddings. We just want to work with everyone the best that we can.”
So, what will events look like? As far as weddings, how many people can be in a room together?”
Mr. D responds, “and that depends on the venue. They’ve got laws to obey too.”
All four of Mr. D’s jobs involve people interaction, including booking bands for both Alibi Ale Works Public House locations. They were all shut down. Within a couple of weeks, his recorded one-hour radio show was greenlit, broadcasting on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and now rebroadcast on Saturday nights at 9 on 101.5 FM KTKE radio. Tahoe Central Market continues to sponsor the show and has been for nearly seven years. There wouldn’t be a show without it.
Mr. D, what have you been doing with all of your free time?
“I’ve been marketing Mr. D DJ Services. As far as booking with Alibi my job right now is to keep all the bands at bay. Jessie Dunn and Jenni Charles, The Dead Winter Carpenters, Darren Senn, Mark Sexton. People are really eager to get back and playing.”
Truckee, Incline Alibi Ale Works reopen
Both the Truckee and Incline Village Alibi Ale Works have reopened.
Alibi Ale Works – Truckee Public House opened today, Friday, May 22, at noon. The Incline Village site opened one week earlier, on May 15.
When live music returns, it will be held outdoors. Co-owner Kevin Drake is unsure when the music will be presented.
“We are taking it one day at a time, learning to run a Covid-style operation,” he said.
The Truckee site will be open noon to 8 p.m. through Memorial Day. It will be closed next Tuesday and Wednesday. Eventually, the off-days will be Monday and Tuesday. The Incline Village pub is open daily from noon to 9 p.m.