The great thing about reading a blog is the ease with which you can access material from the beginning. With other media, you might have to raid collections of old video or audiotapes, or take a trip to the microfiche archives. But with blogs, and in this case, My Old Kentucky Blog (http://myoldkentuckyblog.com), the mp3 blog phenomenon created and edited by Craig Lile under the non de plume Dodge, you can start at the very beginning with just one click.
So what did Dodge have in mind for his new project when, on Jan. 7, 2005, he made his first post? "We'll see how things go as direction develops," Dodge writes. "I am a huge music fan as are a lot of bloggers out there. I imagine it will take on the direction of an mp3 blog, but I'll probably babble about myself, my life and world news and events as well. We'll see!" From this unassuming but flexible beginning (the dreaded "my dream last night was so weird" followed a few days later), Dodge has garnered national attention for his enthusiastic and knowledgeable posts about independent music, snagged a DJ gig on satellite radio, lured bands to a high school station in Pendleton, Ind., to record in-studio performances and generally helped to put Indianapolis on the map as a city that's increasingly hip to new music.
Not compelled to hog the limelight, Dodge has picked up five writers for his blog in the past year, and continues to look for opportunities to collaborate with other local music fans: His work with Midwest Music Summit organizer Josh Baker on the upcoming MOKB show at Radio Radio and his in-studio sessions recorded at 91.7 WEEM are just a couple examples.
Taking a look at the subjects for the Holiday Interview Series that Dodge posted in 2007 can give an idea of the kind of performers that he's come to champion: Represented are British indie-pop duo The Ting Tings, hip-hop intellectual Aesop Rock, Jagjaguwar's Parts and Labor, Jona Bechtolt's (formerly of Portland's The Blow) solo project YACHT, comedians Patton Oswalt and Michael Showalter, Minneapolis foursome Tapes 'n' Tapes and about 30 others. Nor has Dodge taken a break with the turn of a new year: An upcoming series of posts will feature interviews by Chris Schlarb with musicians who contributed to his new record, Twilight and Ghost Stories, including Parker Paul and Sufjan Stevens.
Lile moved to Indianapolis in late 1999, after graduating from the University of Evansville (he grew up near Louisville, hence the Old Kentucky Home reference). He makes his home in the Castleton area these days, where he lives with his wife, Micki, and 1-year-old daughter, Lucy. To help support his family, Lile makes a little money from advertising on the blog, which supplements his day job as an e-commerce manager.
Since advertising can be a sensitive subject for blog readers, Lile explains his decision to run a banner ad or two: "I don't write about anybody that advertises on the site, because most of the people who advertise on the site are PR labels. I don't let any of the advertising affect the content, because it's very important to never let that happen. Blog readers are really savvy; they'll call you out on everything. If there's any doubt that money affects anything on the site, they'll immediately say so."
MKOB has picked up Best Music Blog nominations for the past two years by the Plug Awards and Weblog, and was recognized as the Best Music Blog locally by NUVO and a competing weekly. USA Today's Pop Candy blog even called Lile No. 92 out of the Top 100 People of 2006.
Maybe the most impressive illustration of Lile's national clout was the call he got one day from Sirius satellite radio. "Sirius reached out to me a year and a half ago," Lile says. "My first show was in December of last year . The program director was a fan of the site. They had started the Blog Radio series with three blogs, and he basically wanted to expand it into a week-long series. So, he said, 'I visit your site every day. I love the way that you talk about music ... We'd love to have someone in the Midwest.' That was a big part of it: having someone in the Midwest."
My Old Kentucky Blog radio can be heard on Sirius channel "Left of Center" (Channel 26) every Tuesday at 12 p.m. and again at midnight. The other days are held down by the blogs Gorilla vs. Bear, Brooklyn Vegan, Product Shop NYC, Aquarium Drunkard and It's a Trap.
91.7 WEEM, a new-music/AAA station broadcasting out of Pendleton Heights High School, was doing an in-studio session or two with traveling and local bands, but it was the Sirius show and Lile's involvement that brought in the big names. Jeff DuPont, the WEEM station manager who records the sessions, tells how it began: "I've known Craig for three years now, I think. We met on a fluke through a random series of friends and realized we had similar interests. I started reading his blog, and we'd see each other at shows from time to time. Then he got his Sirius gig, and it was basically his idea to collaborate together. Using his national name as a blogger and a Sirius DJ, it definitely upped the ante as far as who was willing to come in."
Lile and DuPont have scored some excellent national acts without neglecting the locals: Traveling guests include John Vanderslice, Nada Surf, White Rabbits, The Whigs, Tokyo Police Club and Josh Rouse, while local groups such as Beta Male, Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band and Margot & the Nuclear So and So's have also come out to play. Clips of all sessions are posted on MOKB, and the cream of the crop are played on the Sirius show.
The recordings have gotten better since those first somewhat ramshackle shows, according to DuPont: "I think it's been a good experience; I think [Craig] trusts me as an engineer now. He's had a couple shows that he's only played stuff that's been recorded for in-studios. He's made mention that, 'Here's an early recording, and here's a more modern recording, and look at how much better these things have gotten.'"
Friday's concert at Radio Radio is the first that's been booked under the MOKB name, and will feature Chicago singer-songwriter Cameron McGill, Muncie indie-pop consortium Everything, Now!, the innovative local folk-hop group Grampall Jookabox and former Chamberlain singer David Moore.
The show is a collaboration between Lile and Josh Baker, who is currently working on this summer's Monolith Festival at the Red Rocks. "We're hoping to do more live shows," Lile reports. "Josh recently said we should do one of these every couple weeks ... But if we could get something going once a month or once every six weeks, that would be great."
WHAT: My Old Kentucky Blog presents Everything, Now!, Cameron McGill, Grampall Jookabox, David Moore
WHERE: Radio Radio
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m., $5, 21+