She’s got a Lot of What They Call the Most
By Hollie Gibbs
We live in an age when people define themselves by adhering stick figure characters to the windows of their innocuous sedans and SUVs as automated systems spoon-feed us the same mundane Top 40 we’ve been hearing for the past 20 years.
I grew up in the dystopic future that Queen warned of in “Radio Ga Ga,” and I can honestly tell the Ramones that I do not remember rock ‘n roll radio, having never lived through it. I heard people tell stories of DJs who introduced new music to the public — find one with your sensibilities and he could lead you into new worlds. But corporations had long since buried that concept under piles of commercial deals, personal agendas and money. Luckily, though, there are still small rays of light that spill out of the cracks of college radio to give us hope. (Sure, there’s Internet radio too, but with it comes a lot of crap to weed through — and quite frankly — it lacks that retro charm).
Now, when I say charm I mean sweaty, sleazy, heart beating out of your chest rock ‘n roll that leaves you exhausted and running on pure adrenaline. And from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Tuesday nights Erin Ryan hosts Hot Trash on WCSB 89.3 playing just that kind of vintage trashy garage rock — with playlists that include everything from Howlin’ Wolf, Pico Pete and Zygoteens in the same show and live guests that have included Ex Humans, The Brothers Gross, Boxcar Satan, and The Frantic, among many others. And she has a few stories to tell about these colorful guests.
“My favorite guest to have on the radio show is Jeff Magnum, bass player of the legendary Dead Boys and former Ohio native,” Erin said. “Back when [my cousin] Beth and I were doing the show together still, we got an email one day from someone claiming to be Jeff Magnum of the Dead Boys wanting to request the song ‘Dancing the Night Away’ by the Motors. We laughed it off because there was NO WAY any of the Dead Boys would be listening to our show, and when we went back on the air we dedicated the song to ‘some guy who thinks he’s Jeff Magnum of the Dead Boys.’ We were laughing the whole time. The nerve of someone to punk us (pardon the pun) like that!
“Moments later we got another email: ‘No, really. I really AM Jeff! I’ll be in Cleveland in a few weeks.’ Without thinking twice, we responded, ‘Prove it. Come down to the station and be a guest on our show.’ He said okay, and that was when the reality of the situation began to sink in for us: Did we just invite some creepy stranger or crazed fan down to the station, where we would be alone in the middle of the night?
“When the evening finally arrived that Jeff was supposed to show up, we went down the elevator to greet him and we were holding hands and saying goodbye in case this was out last moment together. We agreed that if the person on the other side of the door looked scary (or was holding an ax), we would just run back up to the station.
“As it turned out, Jeff really was who he said he was. He lived in New York but made semi-regular trips back home to visit. He came across our radio show by accident while online and tuned in to check it out. Boy did we feel like dummies! Since that time, Jeff has been a guest on Hot Trash just about every trip back, and he listens regularly 8 years later even though we totally made fun of him by accident. He always brings awesome records with him to spin, and tells really great stories about his days playing in the Dead Boys, other bands he played with and people he knew, and what he is up to these days.”
Musicians and music fans alike quickly recognize Erin’s vast knowledge of a diversity of artists and eras. Her personal record collection rivals that of a radio station, and she brings in her own vinyl to spin for her show instead of using WCSB’s library. Authentic through and through, this chick doesn’t just spin Little Richard records — she has his image permanently inked into her arm. She can talk music, flea market finds, and vintage culture with an authority that comes from spending one’s life engrossed in such endeavors.
When she’s not on air, she’s DJing live rock shows, car shows, benefits, clubs, theaters and galleries. And when she’s not DJing, she and her husband Wolfboy Slim make up the photography team Swamp Rat Photography, snapping pics of abandoned amusement parks, sideshows, and carnivals, among other oddities of yesteryear.
Measuring her success by how many people she can get to dance, Erin said she never set out with a goal in mind. “I always just wanted to play records and have fun doing it, and if other people wanna join in, the more the merrier. Music is one of the only things I feel truly passionate about. I can’t imagine not being involved with it somehow, whether it’s playing records, helping bands book shows, or continuing the hunt for the next elusive record I’m dying to get my hands on.”
Check out Erin’s work for yourself at https://www.facebook.com/hottrash or http://www.facebook.com/swampratphotography. And be sure to tune in to Hot Trash every Tuesday night from 11pm – 1am on WCSB 89.3 FM.