Dave Anderson was always a musical child. In the same manner, most kids were scolded by their parents for sitting too close to the TV, Dave was prone to hugging the family radio, with his head and ear pressed firmly against the speaker until reprimanded by his mother. It is this love for music that leads inevitably to his learning guitar and the formation of his first band Dave & the Wharf Rats in 1960. The next four years saw him playing in several bands including one that went by the name The Pink Panthers. He took a long break from the road, got a respectable job, and soon left the Two Harbors area upon getting married in 64’. He returned to the area after retiring from the Teamster’s Union in 1998. He then set about becoming involved in 4 separate bands as a dobro player.
One of the early volunteers and content producers for Two Harbors Community Radio, Mr. Anderson was involved doing on the spot recordings for the station at various events prior to the launch of the Big Dave’s Beat Farm. He describes the 2-hour weekly broadcast as “an upbeat mix of Tex-Mex, Blues, Boogie, Swing, etc. Each show features a live music segment with area bands and musicians of varying skills, styles and instruments.” The live performance spot is open to anyone from the area regardless of professional experience.
Getting the best performance from someone who has never played ‘live’ requires a bit of wizardry. The magic begins with Dave’s hospitality towards his guests. His demeanor is genial and unrushed. As a musician himself, he can anticipate concerns and questions a first timer might have. Watching him interact with last week’s guest, Larry South, before the show, the outside observer comes away with the sense that Dave is truly interested in the person before him and the story behind their music. The show is not an altar to his ego, and this segment is purely a vehicle designed to showcase community artists of all skill levels.
A few minutes before going on-air the radio station office suddenly transforms into the lobby of a local civic center as friends and fans of both the performer and the show casually file in to lend support and add to the overall energy. Stories and names are traded between audience members until the signal is given for the one-minute to air countdown. The small rows of folding chairs now take on a church-like quality as everyone sits quietly waiting for the show to begin.
One could easily draw parallels between the Beat Farm’s live broadcast and the in-the-field recordings made by the late great archivist, folklorist, and musicologist John Lomax. The musicians, their stories, and their songs that Mr. Anderson makes available to the world are, for the most part, those rarely heard outside of living rooms, multi-family BBQs, or the occasional coffee house.
The wrap party between host, performer and their supporters is brief as there is still another hour of programming to be filled. After each show, at his own expense, Dave snail mails each artist a digitized copy of their performance. For some first timers, this makes all the pre-show jitters well worth it.
Big Dave’s Beat Farm airs Friday nights at 7 PM and repeats again Sundays at 3 PM. KTWH-LP, 99.5 FM, is a volunteer run non-profit serving the town of Two Harbors and surrounding area with a broadcast range of 10 miles. It streams online at ktwh.org.