Happy Amplifiers Love Week 2018! All week long, we are celebrating our 10,000 Amplifiers and what they make possible here at KEXP. Today we are turning the spotlight on two of them, Ben and Wendy. Ben shares a bit about his dad’s Pacific Northwest garage rock roots while Wendy inspires us with a meaningful story about finding community in punk rock. Ben and Wendy, thank you both for amplifying KEXP!
Ben Erickson was raised near Tacoma, WA and music has always played an important role in his life. So much so, in fact, that he has a unique way of associating songs with the people most meaningful to him:
“Music connects me to people I love. Ask me who I care about and the first thing in my mind is a song about them. My mom is 'Somewhere over the Rainbow.' My dad is 'Louie Louie.' My Grandma is Glenn Miller's 'String of Pearls.' Music enriches so much, but music shared with others has got to be one of the best things human beings are capable of.”
It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Ben has some rock and roll in his lineage:
“My father played his way through college in northwest rock bands (Take Five and the Band Aid Society), so I have early memories of him pulling out his old Gibson or the Fender P-bass he played back in the day. I always coveted his flat-wound strings. My dad is a pretty buttoned-down sort of guy, but after learning to play bass well enough to jam with him, he let me in on a secret: he was the designated 'screamer' in his bands.”
Ben goes way back with KEXP. He recalls driving with his older brother and waiting anxiously to get into range of the old KEXP transmitters. He remembers “being amazed at how much more music there was to hear.”
No wonder, considering his family’s passion for music, Ben is committed to helping music reach others. Supporting KEXP as an Amplifier makes Ben feel connected to a community of listeners: “I am giving back to people who will use my donation to help others grow.”
For Wendy Watkins, music has been an integral part of her life since she was a baby: “My dad said I couldn’t fall asleep unless Led Zeppelin was blasting through his quadraphonic sound system!”
A turning point for Wendy was attending her first punk gig when she was 14 years old in Nevada City, CA. It was at that show, where she realized for the first time she was part of a community. “That sense of community has carried me through many situations in my life.”
For the past 20 years, Wendy has lived in West Seattle where she and her wife, Krystel love to listen to music, record shop at Easy Street Records, fly kites, and spend time with their two kitties.
It all comes back to the community for Wendy. She feels KEXP does “an outstanding job of participating in and bringing the musical community together.” She also appreciates that the DJs “speak to the listeners, not at us, and aren’t afraid to show their own vulnerabilities.
To Wendy, “Supporting KEXP allows me to contribute to the community and ensure that sense of community I felt as a young teenager is passed on to another kid who needs it, and that makes me feel good.”
She takes her Amplifier status seriously and knows the impact she is making:
“My impact is helping to ensure thinking, breathing, heart beating humans are spinning tunes from their heart each and every day. We have enough robots and algorithms in our lives, and when it comes down to it, human connection is what life is all about.”