Get a copy
What: KBCO 25th Anniversary CD
When: 8 a.m. Dec. 7
Where: Denver Mattress, 1945 28th St., Boulder
More info: kbco.com
It all started with Melissa Etheridge in 1988.
When she visited the KBCO radio station in Boulder in mid-June, she brought her guitar inside to keep it out of the sun in her car. The precaution led to a spur-of-the-moment in-studio performance — a tradition that would snowball over the next couple of years with other artists. By 1990, KBCO’s Studio C was mixing and mastering the performances for a CD compilation.
Among the artists on that first collection, released in 1991, were James Taylor, Crash Test Dummies and Big Head Todd and the Monsters. For their 25th anniversary, Studio C pulled together some highlights from the past, such as a 1994 recording of the Dave Matthews Band, and the past year’s big names, including Phoenix, Atlas Genius and The Lone Bellow.
“It was totally unplanned,” KBCO’s Ginger Havlat recalled of that first recording. “She had released her EP and she happened to come in and it was a hot day in June and she brought in the guitar … It was just a very casual, ‘Hey do you wanna play some songs solo acoustic?’ And that was the birth of KBCO Studio C.”
As anyone might guess, Studio C is named for the production room where it all began and eventually lived. Over 25 years, the space would host some of the biggest names in music, before and after they became stars.
“I feel so fortunate that we’ve had a who’s who,” Havlat said. “We get the up-and-coming and we get those that are right at the top. It’s good word of mouth. We have the equipment, we have the acoustics — I don’t want to make it sound like we’re bragging, but we know how to do these sessions professionally.”
Havlat has been at KBCO since 1982, so she’s been with the station for the entire history of Studio C’s recording sessions. What’s still great for her is how down-to-earth and friendly the musicians are. Jack Johnson, for example, stands out in her memory for always delivering hugs and being receptive to the listeners.
“The result is incredible music,” she said. “And I still get star-struck sometimes.”
Brad White has been at the station for six years and he, too, has seen the kind of warm vibe Havlat describes. He remembers Mumford & Sons delivering on a promise to come back after Marcus Mumford canceled due to a cold, and Phoenix staying in good spirits after having to move its Red Rocks show to the 1stBank Center.
“It’s one of those places that all these bands take time in their day to come back to, and they want to, and if they can come in for many years to come,” White said. He thinks they find the at-home feeling they get at the station appealing.
Don’t forget that the product of these sessions, the physical CD, raises money for good causes. KBCO’s Studio C compilations have helped bring money in to the Boulder County AIDS Project for nearly 25 years. Recently, they started donating to the Food Bank of the Rockies, too. In the beginning, that was just the proceeds from fewer than 5,000 CDs. Now, they’re selling 30,000 copies.
“One in seven Coloradans struggle to make ends meet and we’re honored to partner with KBCO in providing hunger relief and hope. Every dollar turns into four meals through Food Bank of the Rockies, so the support of KBCO listeners makes a significant impact.” Kevin Seggelke, President and CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, said in a statement.