I just heard that the Daytrotter iPhone app was named App of the Week by the New York Times. That is sweet. If you haven’t already experienced Daytrotter, you might as well skip the rest of this article and head over there for the full experience. Or download the Daytrotter App for your iPhone, pick a session, and listen while you read. This story has an Oakland connection at the end, so bear with me.
When I lived in the Quad Cities I met Sean Moeller. He sang in a band and he loved the indie music. He had an idea that he floated to another guy I was working with: as indie bands in their beater vans were traveling across the country on I-80 they needed to stop for a break somewhere between Des Moines and Chicago. Why not Rock Island? It’s near the intersection of I-80 and Highway 61 (for you Bob Dylan fans). Sean had a friend who had a sweet analog recording studio and a collection of vintage rock and roll musical instruments. Sean figured he could entice a few of these bands to stop in Rock Island, lay down some live recordings of five of their favorite songs, they could play on the cool instruments in the studio, and then they’d pack up and be on their way. We figured we might be able to attract enough page views to sell some ads. We also toyed with selling subscriptions to the site, but eventually Sean and I convinced the business guy that the best shot we had would be to offer the songs as free downloads.
We started small – one band, four songs (which we called a “daytrotter session” — an homage to the Peel Sessions made by the famous British DJ John Peel) per week. Then two bands a week. Then Sean went down to SXSW and did some recordings and we started posting three sessions a week. Eventually, so many bands were stopping into the Rock Island studio that we were posting a new session every day. There are some great bands featured on the site and if you appreciate indie music, you will not be disappointed spending a few hours browsing through the site. My job was to design and operate the website and manage the digital library. It was a lot of fun. Eventually our business backer decided to sell the property to the guys who own Bill Graham’s archives – Wolfgang’s Vault. I worked for them for another year or so while they transitioned the site to their empire.
Here’s the Oakland connection. Tonight there’s a new years eve party at The Uptown nightclub featuring Audrye Sessions, one of the long list of bands (and not the only Oakland based band) to record live tracks for Daytrotter. Backing up Audrye Sessions tonight at the Uptown are the bands Hottub, Soft White Sixties, and Manatee. If you have nothing else planned for tonight, you might head over to for a little indie goodness. And ask the band about their Daytrotter session.
Bonus Oakland/Daytrotter connection: Joey Sayers is an Oakland artist who draws the weekly cartoon strip thingpart that has been a feature on the Daytrotter site since the very beginning.
Happy New Year!