Friday, September 28, 2007

Michael Savage family throws party at Playboy Mansion

Next time you hear talk show host Michael Savage railing about indecency and immorality --he's gone on record saying that 9/11 was a response to the pornography feared by the Muslim world--take a gander at this ad for a party at the Playboy mansion thrown by Savage's family business.

"An Evening of Decadent Dreams'' is sponsored by Rockstar, the energy drink.

Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, used to have plenty of pictures of himself on his Website promoting Rockstar, which is owned by his son, Russ Weiner (the guy who looks like Howdy Doody in this pic with Rod Stewart). Savage's wife, Janet, is company CFO and Savage's daughter is on the company's board (interestingly someone keeps taking these facts off Wikipedia's entry).

One of the early celebrity endorsers of the drink was porn star Ron Jeremy, and the company has also done parties with Penthouse magazine.

Next time you hear Savage talking about how gays or pornography have destroyed America's morality, keep Rockstar in mind. And next time you think about buying an energy drink, keep in mind what kind of fascist hypocrite you are supporting.

Check the pics of Savage fondling a Barbra Steisand wax figure; and selling vitamins in his old gig...that one speaks volumes about what kind of sleazy liar this guy is.

RONN OWENS Friday show with author Robert D. Kaplan was excellent

How many times do you hear an author on radio and immediately have to go out and buy the hardcover, no less?

That's what happened to me today, hearing Robert Kaplan, the Atlantic Monthly's military correspondent, talking about his time embedded with the top echelons of the U.S. military.

The hour was like a great college course, and did what radio should do: educated, enlightened and entertained. Who knew soldiers are being trained for Iraq in Alaska and missions are being fought at mobile home technology bases in Las Vegas?

Then, for comic relief, Owens did an hour of letting anyone say anything for 30 seconds. It was partly scary, that some people could be so stupid; and partly uplifting, that some can be so caring and funny.

I liked the guy claiming to be gay in Iran and the woman reminding victims of abuse that they aren't at fault. You can keep the Stephen King guy and the lady who couldn't figure out when to talk.

Don't believe me. Check it out for yourself. KGO lets you hear what you missed at

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Satellite radio beefs up on Bruce Springsteen, Jazz and the elections

Sirius radio starts a Bruce Springsteen channel this month, starting with a New Jersey live show from 1978.
The channel starts today and runs through March on Channel 10.

I wish the boss's new disc, "Magic," was as good as the single, "Radio Nowhere." At least after a few listens, this reminded me of Tom Joad: lots of passion, but tunes, nowhere. We'll see if I feel that way after his Oakland show Oct. 26.

Doghouse Riley guitarist Peter Stanley says that the tune for Radio Nowhere seems borrowed from somewhere --namely Tommy Tutone's "Jenny (867 5309)" -- and damn if that doesn't seem true.

Over on XM there will be two new jazz series, "Live from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola" and "Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center" on Channel 70

Live from Dizzy's starts Oct. 19 with a performance by Cedar Walton. Jazz at Lincoln starts Oct. 20 with a celebration of Benny Carter's Centennial.

XM has launched it POTUS channel (President of the United States), all election news, all the 130.

And XM adds live music from the Grand Ole Opry on XM 10

These are the things that drive old school broadcasters crazy. So many choices.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bill O'Reilly discovers that blacks are people just like whites; then attacks Media Matters for quoting him

This Bill O'Reilly is so repugnant, so isolated from anyone in America with basic intelligence and decency, that it's scary.

Nothing proves it more than this segment of his show, in which he eats at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, and comes to the great realization that blacks eat and act like white people....

Here are the quotes:
Discussing his recent dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." O'Reilly added: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

What the F does this guy think a black restaurant is supposed to be like? How the F do people give this guy any credibility about anything. When the F is the woman he settled the sexual harrassment suit with going to have some guts and release the terms of the settlement?

And then, after saying something so dumb, he spins it to look like a media monitoring group is out to get him?

This guy is the All Spin Zone, the No Spine Zone, the biggest liar on radio. OK, one of the biggest...The other day I heard Dennis Miller talk about how back in the day you didn't have to be good looking to be on television.

He used as examples of people who had great success on TV, Michael Savage, who was fired after several weeks, and Rush Limbaugh, whom he claimed was "very successful" on the medium.

Sorry, Dennis...that was just plain making up the facts.....neither did well, because on TV, you could look into their eyes and see when they are lying....

I don't know why that hasn't caught up with O'Lielly.

Check the Media Matters accounts here?

PS: you can now hear O'Reilly on KNEW-AM (910), noon to 3 p.m., replacing the bald headed actor whose name I have already forgotten.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

KSCO-AM FOR SALE in Santa Cruz

Michael Zwerling, one of the last independent radio station owners, announced that he's selling talk station KSCO-AM (1080) and oldies rocker KOMY-AM (1340). He hasn't set a price and says he would prefer local owners to buy the duo.

I talked with Zwerling, 55, Thursday at a lunch honoring former radio and TV owner Jim Gabbert, and he said he's often toyed with selling his 10,000 watt stations, broadcast from three towers in Santa Cruz by the beach near 26th street.

He was frustrated with radio, saying it wasn't producing enough revenue and he was working too hard. He's been making most of his money from multilevel marketing of vitamins and health products that he started after broadcasting Joel Wallach's supplement show, "Dead Doctors Don't Lie."

"That's what's been keeping me going," he said.

A real estate investor who appeared on KSCO as a high school student, he bought the station 17 years ago for $600,000. He had been fired for making a fart noise on the air, and promised someday to own the station.

He bought KOMY a decade ago and has experimented with a number of formats, including Air America, which he dropped, claiming he couldn't get advertisers to sponsor it in one of the most liberal markets in the country.

Zwerling, a Santa Cruz native, has been living in Point Richmond. His mother, Kay, who does extremely conservative opinion pieces and has a strong voice in running the stations, has been in ill-health.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brad Kava Flood Photo, 1986

This pic of me in the Yuba flood of 1986 is nowhere on the forgive me. I had to post it here to get it back in circulation.

It won the photographer, Craig Lee, an award, and got us both $500 for a story/photo shoot for the now defunct Memories magazine. It was in People magazine, and in newspapers around the world...and it's up in every store in Linda, Calif, the town where me, four photographers and four national guardsmen capsized while doing rooftop rescues.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rock radio, long thought to be dead, is making a comeback across the country

San Francisco Bay Area is in its last ratings period using the old method of people reporting what stations they listened to by penciling it in a diary.

Starting next year, ratings will be done by electronic monitors called "People Meters," as they are now done in cities such as Philadelphia and Houston.

The biggest change in the results so far, according to Tom Taylor of Chicago's

Men are now being counted more, and they listen to more rock radio than had previously been accounted for.

The reason why is fairly logical. Women are better diary keepers. Its something they are trained to do from an early age.

In Philadelphia, writes Taylor, Clear Channel flipped a Spanish station back to alternative rock (as it has also recently done in San Jose with KCNL, Channel 104.9) and caught a "strong wave."

Taylor says he expects Clear Channel to do the same in Los Angeles Monday with its KYSR, "Star FM," adult contemporary station heading to a more male-oriented 90s alternative rock format.

For years male fans in the Bay Area have been complaining as they watch stations switch to Spanish music or soft rock. It will be interesting to see whether the new ratings will bring more changes here. Will we see less Elton John and Eagles and more AC/DC and Zeppelin on the classics, and less My Chemical Romance and more Atreyu on the modern rockers?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

KGO-AM host Ronn Owens will be back Monday

Ronn Owens called into his own show today, with host Brian Copeland, and said he is still undergoing tests and will return to KGO at the start of next week.

"At least I got a week off," he said, looking at the bright side.

In just a bit, I'm going to file a report from the Radio Legends lunch honoring Jim was fascinating....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

KGO's Ronn Owens due back Friday

Longtime KGO-AM (810) morning host Ronn Owens, who left his show Monday when he was stricken with symptoms that resembled a minor stroke, says he's doing better and will be back Friday.

Fill-in host Brian Copeland reported the problem may have been the result of medications Owens is taking.

In an email this morning, Owens said it was "just a scare" and the "tests are looking good."

Shame on those of you who wrote that Owens was drunk, although in this cynical world I understand it's hard to believe anything you hear (or think, as Pete Wilson used to say).

Knowing Owens as I do, there is more chance that OJ is innocent of murder, or that I'll win the lottery without buying a ticket, than that Owens would show up for work drunk.

More troubling is the fact that he had a health problem, in light of the recent tragic death of afternoon host Wilson. The scare made plenty of listeners plenty nervous.

Looking forward to hearing him talk about it Friday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Led Zeppelin working on shorter songs for reunion, says drummer Bonham

Fans who caught up with Led Zeppelin drummer Jason Bonham outside his Concord hotel today, said the son of original member John Bonham told them the legendary quartet has rehearsed eight times, and has only worked on standard-length songs.

"You won't hear a 30-minute 'Dazed and Confused'," said Bonham, who signed a fan's drum head with the Zep logo.

Which is sad, in a way, because the highlights of the last Page/Plant tours were the long versions of old tunes, beefed up with an Egyptian wedding orchestra, classical musicians and a hurdy gurdy player.

But whatever: a Zep reunion will be the biggest thing in current rock rebirths, making the likes of Van Halen or Genesis forgettable.

Bonham was in town because he is the road drummer for Foreigner, which plays Concord Pavilion with Styx and Def Leppard.

I'll post a picture soon.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gas guzzling radio promotion proves Clear Channel not so green after all

On a week when fires choked skies with smoke and air quality was so bad that people with breathing conditions were asked to stay indoors, Clear Channel's Modesto radio station KOSO-FM (B-93) ran one of radio's most brainless contests.

The station, along with Tracy Chevrolet, left a car running in idle and had listeners guess when it would run out of gas. See the promotion here.

The person who guessed when the car ran out, down to the second, would get a year's worth of free gas.

This Merced Sun-star blogger called the car dealer, where an employee told her that the promotion was no worse than getting stuck in traffic, something she took issue with. Idling cars throw out more pollution.

Here's what California's Energy Commission has to say about idling:

HERE'S THE RULE OF THUMB: If you're in a drive-through restaurant/business line or waiting for someone and you'll be parked and sitting for 10 seconds or longer... turn off your car's engine. Why?? For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile.

The great irony here is that Clear Channel and its concert spin off Live Nation, have been promoting themselves as green companies. Clear Channel's San Francisco outpost, KKGN-AM calls itself "Green 960."

Did the company sanction such a dumb promotion, held just down the freeway from where a Sacramento station last year held the water drinking contest that killed a mother trying to win a video game console for her children?

If there isn't a law against this kind of stupidity, there should be.

(photo: B93.1 DJ Zac Davis)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sting gets stung in German brothel

Sting fans have to read this Daily Mail account of the singer's hypocrisy:::The guy's been living like a king, literally.

One of my friends, who should comment here, spent hours with the rock star at a Las Vegas strip that part is no surprise....but the mistreatment of servants and the ecological hypocrisy is distressing.

What do you expect from a guy who left a kick ass rock band to make supermarket backround music?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Best Radio Tag Lines: Bernie Ward, Ralph Barbieri, Edward R. Murrow and more...

Here's the next column running in the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times. You get it here early and if you add some comments about your favorite radio slogans and tag lines, I'll include them in a future column.:::

(Photos: Grace Hopper; GK Chesterton; Bernie Ward; Ralph Barbieri)

Every night KGO-AM (810) liberal, anti-war talk show host Bernie Ward ends his show with a quote from the Navy’s first female admiral.

“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission,” he says, quoting Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who died in 1962 and was also a noted computer programmer.

Ward, who has used the quote since 1989, says he read it in her biography and thought it defined his philosophy. A liberal in a medium dominated by conservatives and moderates, Ward has often been in trouble with management and listeners.

Six years ago,on September 11, when the rest of the country seemed to be one unified Kumba-ya, he did a show arguing that bad U.S. foreign policy caused the massacre of 9/11, as his managers screamed that this was career suicide.

“I do everything without ever asking anyone and wait to see what trouble I’ll be in after,” says Ward, 56, a former priest and school teacher who has flourished on the Bay Area airwaves.

Catch phrases are one way that radio personalities try to stand out from the pack and forge their way into your consciousness as you are driving, gardening, jogging or whatever it is you do while listening to the audio medium.

Ward says he’s gotten more mail about his phrase than anything else he’s done, with writers claiming he is promoting anarchy and setting a bad example for children.

I’ve always loved KNBR-AM (680) sportscaster Ralph Barbieri’s: “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly,” which seems like the perfect antidote to hours of callers’ painfully serious debates about the latest pitching change. The quote comes not from Babe Ruth or Joe Montana, but from the English philosopher and journalist Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who died in 1936.

Chesterton had another great quote in 1924, so fitting today: “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

Barbieri says he heard the angels quote from the Zen Buddhism philosopher Alan Watts, which lets you know that there is more to this guy than who's on first.

"It's a way of saying that on a bigger plane of existence, all this means nothing," says the sports talker, who sounds like Joe Pesci on the air, but more like Robert Redford off of it. You almost wonder why he doesn't try some other kind of talk.

Radio pioneer Edward R. Murrow had his own trove of sign offs. In 1939, during the London blitz, he began his news broadcasts from the field with “ London,” with a brief pause after the this. (You can hear the same pause today on CNN ( CNN) and Amy Goodman’s radio show “Democracy Now.”)

After 1940, Murrow borrowed his closing from Queen Elizabeth, who ended a speech saying “Good night and good luck to you all.” Murrow shortened his nightly ending to “Good night and good luck.”

Some attempts fail miserably for me. Monterey/Santa Cruz newscaster Susan Simon ends every broadcast on KSCO-AM (1080) with a long pause between her names. “This is Susan (pause... pause.... pause) Simon.”

If I were her boss, I would have fired her after the first pause. Isn’t a news broadcast too important to waste so much dead air, just for the sake of a cute ploy to make people remember the broadcaster’s name?

I guess you could argue that it works, because I remember her name and wrote it here. She likes it so much that her biography page on the KSCO Website ( lists her as Susan............Simon.

Even before he got into radio, KGO’s Ward imagined having a catch phrase like one of his heroes, Gene Nelson, who ended shows with “Put on the coffee, Bubbles, I’m coming home.”

Later the emperor of the KYA-AM airwaves switched to “Tuskataha,” the meaning of which escapes Ward, but I bet one of you loyal listeners knows.

Jim Lange ended broadcasts with “Yeth Sir.” Brian Copeland, on KGO, ends with the cute: “Be kind to your neighbor, he knows where you live.”

I know there are many more out there. What are your favorites? Send them to me at and I’ll include them in a future column.

TALK NEWS at NEWS TALK: The Bay’s top-rated station for three decades, KGO, announced a new 2 p.m. host, replacing the much-missed Pete Wilson, who died in July. Veteran ABC newsman Gil Gross gets the spot.

It’s a good pick. Gross, who often fills in for Ronn Owens in the mornings, is a balanced, intelligent newsman, who does a sharp, quick show that is equally adept at news and entertainment. His voice of moderation will stand out from the field of factless yellers and Bush lackies on other spots on the dial.

I can remember one moment when Gross was filling in last December with the author of a book about losing loved ones, “Always Too Soon,” when a distraught woman called and spilled her guts to the host, like he was a friend. Gross adeptly walked the line between paid entertainer and compassionate soul, and made radio feel like what it should be: a community.

Read and comment on Brad Kava’s daily radio blog at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Led Zeppelin to Reunite????????????

Forget Van Halen, the Police, Genesis, and even Abba.

The rumors swirling right now about a Led Zeppelin reunion would make it the biggest reunion in rock (tied with, for my money, a Pink Floyd extravaganza).

I know it's a mixed up muddled up shook up world ---I just read some music writer say that he thinks Stevie Wonder has more mass appeal than Elvis ---but I'm passing on this rumor report anyway from Artist

According to the British music magazine NME, Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant has confirmed that a band reunion will happen as soon as later this year. The reunion, which has been rumored for years, will allegedly take place only once. The show is said to take place in London for a charity event during the month of November, although these particular details are unconfirmed. It seems as though the death of famed drummer John Bonham in 1980 isn't deterring the reunion plans.

Here's the catch: NME is relying on the validity of a source who is an autograph hunter. When said source approached Plant, he reportedly explained that he was on his way to meet with ex-bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. "We've got a band meeting about it this afternoon," Plant told the complete stranger. "There's not a lot to work out as it's only going to be one-off gig." Um, sure.

We're super skeptical here but we had to report it regardless because, well, what happens if it's true. Then we totally look like we're keeping them all to ourselves, and we'd never do that.

—The ARTISTdirect Staff
09.05.07 .

Gil Gross Gets Pete Wilson's Slot on KGO-AM (810)

Click here for the release from KGO.

It's a good call for them, looking for a moderate, mid-range voice for that slot, someone with a political and news-oriented range like Wilson's.

Contrast to the shouting on other stations at those hours and he'll be a welcome voice of reason and intelligence.

I'm sure there are a lot of disappointed hosts who would have liked to have moved into those weekday hours (and at least one columnist: I applied for the job)...

But I like the call. Gross is very, very good.

I can remember one standout moment subbing for Ronn Owens when he had a caller who was clearly depressed and suffering over the death of a loved one, when he deftly walked the line between entertainer and caring person, sharing drama and compassion, without being the least bit gratuitous.

Did anyone else hear that?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


The 2007 Bridge School Benefit takes over the Shoreline Amphitheatre on October 27th and 28th. Tickets at ticketmaster sunday, 10 a.m.

The lineup:

Neil Young
Eddie Vedder w/ Flea
& Jack Irons
Jerry Lee Lewis
Tom Waits w/ Kronos Quartet
John Mayer
Tegan and Sarah
Regina Spektor

Monday, September 3, 2007

KGO-AM's Production God Mike Amatori's Great Commercial for the Summer of Love

Had the new 40th Anniversary Concert sponsored by Viagra and Lipitor....For a minute...maybe more, I thought it was for real...

Check the Summer of Love on Ronn Owens's show replayed here...

Amatori's fake ad stole the show...but the rest was interesting too...with Ben Fong Torres and Rock Scully...

Ignore Scully's promises of great special unannounced special guests showing up. There were none, unless you count Starship, who played the Sausalito Arts Festival the day before and play every county fair that will book them....

Peace, Love and Scam us one more time....

(photo: wavy gravy and paul kantner)


Download it here...It's great to have him back.

Tickets for the Oakland Arena Oct. 26 show go on sale Sept 15..And one month until the album, "Magic" comes out.

This song...lots of echo; lots of guitar; an edge like "The River"...the theme...darkness on the edge of there anyone alive out there? Just searching for a world with some soul.

This is so what I need as the darkness of winter descends again...I've played it five times already and, like in the old days of running out to buy a new disc, don't want to stoop.

Forget the summer of love...these are some of the darkest times we've ever faced...a ridiculous never ending war being funded by generations to come; secret armies paid for by our taxes and snuck into power by elected criminals (read Blackwater) real opposition party....and a dumbed-down narcotized populace. Maybe Bruce will help get people out in the streets where they belong.

what do you think?

40th Reunion of the Summer of Love Review, for Premiere Radio

Spent nine hours Sunday with the tie-dyed masses.

Here's a review I wrote for Premiere Radio network, you'll be able to hear on classic rock stations across the country.

I kept wondering....what would a 40th reunion of music sound like in 1967?

The 1927 artists would have included George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, the Carter family, Bix Biederbecke (who has a yearly festival in his name in Davenport, Iowa) and Blind Willie McTell.

The big tunes? "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" and "Aint' She Sweet."

SUMMER OF LOVE: 40 Years Later

Sunday's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love drew more than 50-thousand people to a nine-hour concert at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Although many of the era's big-name artists are gone -- either dead or retired -- the music of the late 1960s is holding on strong.

With drummer Fito de la Para as the only original member, Canned Heat ran through such durable boogies as “On the Road Again.” Marty Balin and Paul Kantner fronted a Starship of much younger members, including singer Diana Mangana, who did her best Grace Slick impersonation, but never quite captured the anarchistic fire of the original on “Somebody to Love” and “Volunteers.” A reformed Moby Grape, with the late Skip Spence’s son Omar in its ranks, delivered an off-kilter, unpolished set that included “Fall on You,” “805” and “Hey, Grandma.”

Country Joe McDonald stretched his "Fish" cheer until the words stopped making sense. “What’s that spell?” he asked hundreds of times after giving the infamous four letters to the crowd. It went from absurd and ironic to surreal. His former bandmate, Barry “The Fish” Melton, now a Yolo County public defender, provided one of the day’s strongest sets, with a band that sounded more like 1967-era Grateful Dead than any of the day’s performers. He was joined by Banana of The Youngbloods on keyboards and former Blues Project drummer Roy Blumenfeld.

Lester Chambers, who made his name in the '60s with The Chamber Brothers, handed over cowbell chores to his son Dylan, saying that he’d had to have spinal surgery after years of hammering percussion.

Some of the Bay Area's biggest stars of 1967 were not represented. Carlos Santana was in New York, doing promotion for his upcoming tour and album, while the closest onstage connection to the Grateful Dead was the introduction of former Jerry Garcia collaborator Merle Saunders, who is recovering from a stroke. The New Riders of the Purple Sage played, with former frontman John Dawson making a rare appearance. The singer-guitarist, who has been recovering from his own drug battles in Mexico, paid respect to the late Dead guitarist, saying, “Jerry couldn’t be here. He sends his regards.”

Sets were kept brief, to three songs, leaving the stage to be filled by between-set nostalgia from D-Js, poets and Woodstock clown Wavy Gravy. The vibe was almost pure 1967, with tie-dye and marijuana smoke everywhere. The crowd at Speedway Meadows stood almost shoulder to shoulder, amid portable A-T-M machines and booths promoting such things as hippiegourmet-dot-com.

M-C Paul “Lobster” Wells jokingly promised that there would be sections for wheel chairs and walkers at the 50th anniversary gathering of the tribe, but there were already plenty in sight Sunday. Much more surprising was the number of people in their teens and 20s dancing to the music, wearing flowers in their hair, passing joints and singing along with tunes created decades before they were. –Brad Kava

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My First Article in the SF Chron Pink Section ran today

Here's the link:

and a pic of the Hipwaders:

Hear the Hipwaders here.

(that means you john wagner).

I have to say, it's pretty cool to be in the Chron's Pink, which is the Bay Area's best entertainment section, one I've read for three decades. It's the daily news bible for entertainment in these parts.

Here's a copy of the story::

For most bands, being invited to play the Lollapalooza festival is a chance to build major indie cred with a generation of tattooed and pierced music fans.

But it was kiddie cred that the Hipwaders were looking for when the Vacaville trio played the famous alternative-music festival last month in Chicago. They were aiming to impress the ink-free children of typical Lollapalooza fans on the Kidzapalooza stage, sandwiched between better-known artists such as Ben Harper and G. Love and Special Sauce.

And impress they did, according to Tor Hyams, who booked the band for Lollapalooza after its CD got the stamp of approval from his 7-year-old daughter, Sydnie.

"They played like they were in front of 50,000 people, even though they weren't," says Hyams, a Los Angeles record producer who persuaded Perry Farrell to add a children's stage to Lollapalooza three years ago. "People really loved them, more so than other acts we've had in the past. It's much harder to get respect and adoration as a kids' act. Kids don't care who you are, or about your image. They are either going to groove to it, or not. The music goes right to their primary core senses."

After years on the club circuit playing to indifferent audiences, the Hipwaders - Tito Uquillas on guitar, Chris Blubaugh on bass and drummer Nick Baca - are taking off as a kids' act. Their music is crisp and catchy, with in-jokes that kids and parents both get.

You can even imagine the feuding brothers Gallagher of Oasis or Davies of the Kinks singing along with the lyrics to the Hipwaders' song "Little Baby Brother": "Little baby brother, let's make a deal. I'll always have your back if you promise not to squeal."

The Hipwaders are part of a new wave of musicians writing intelligent songs that kids want to play over and over, without making their parents want to throw the disc out a window. The band will celebrate the release of its second CD, "Educated Kid," at 3 p.m. today at 12 Galaxies in San Francisco.

After years of being almost embarrassed to be a kids' act, they are being taken seriously by some big players in the music business.

"Kids' music is now where the punk-rock rebellion was in the '70s and '80s," Hyams says. "No one has record deals. Everyone is managing themselves. But I think it's time to take what is happening on the streets and bring it to the mainstream. We had 167,000 people check it out at Lollapalooza."

The producer says this new generation of artists can be appreciated by the whole family because it is made up of solid songwriters and musicians who have also recorded adult albums. Some of the bigger names are They Might Be Giants, Dan Zanes (formerly with the rock band the Del Fuegos) and Justin Roberts from Pimentos for Gus.

"These groups are as good as any acts playing Lollapalooza," Hyams says. "The Hipwaders have as much value as Pearl Jam. They are a tight, focused group of musicians."

He says they should quit their day jobs and make music a full-time occupation, but the band members, two of whom are paramedics (the third is a high school ceramics teacher), say that's unlikely.

"I could imagine us living in an apartment and devoting ourselves to writing songs and touring if we didn't have wives and kids," says Blubaugh, 38, who works in an ambulance with Uquillas at Contra Costa's American Medical Response. "But it's not something we can do."

"We have regular jobs and mortgages and health benefits," says Uquillas, 45. "I can't jeopardize that."

It helps that the two manage to rehearse while they wait for emergency calls. Both had been in struggling bands before 1991, when they formed the Fallen Tarts, which evolved into the Hipwaders.

"We were playing Tuesday nights at midnight for five guys and they weren't interested," says Uquillas, whose biggest gigs were at San Francisco's Mabuhay Gardens and Berkeley's Keystone. "They were just interested in getting drunk. We'd make 5 bucks, enough to pay for gas home, and then have to get up at 8 for work."

Their biggest fans were the soundmen, who appreciated the contrast of their clear melodies with all the Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers clones out there.

Uquillas had written songs since he was young, but having his first son, Aidan, in 1997 started him looking for good-quality kids' music and finding none. When he was volunteering in Aidan's kindergarten class, inspiration struck.

"There was no music being made for kids their age or a little older," he says. "There was Barney and the Wiggles for preschoolers, and then Hilary Duff and teenyboppers, but those songs are all about relationships. Where were all the songs about things kids care about, like volcanoes, earthquakes, messy rooms and bullies?"

So, he started recording his own CDs, mixing kids' lyrics with jangly pop inspired by Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Squeeze. He gave them to family and friends and, before long, teachers and parents were asking for more.

The Hipwaders were reborn as a children's band, and the bookings started coming in. Their first gig was at a sparsely attended Diversity Fair at the Vacaville Community Center, where one of the attendees worked for the Jelly Belly candy company in Fairfield. She got them booked to a regular gig there, and they honed their skills, recorded a self-named disc in a garage in 2005 and added drummer-vocalist Baca, 41, who used to play in the Fremont pop band Inside Out.

They played street fairs, petting zoos and San Jose's Children's Discovery Museum and have been featured regularly on XM Kids radio. But Lollapalooza was their pinnacle.

"I would have played it for free," says Uquillas, who met rock heroes Patti Smith, guitarist Lenny Kaye and garage-band pioneer Roky Erickson at the event. "Are you kidding me? I would have paid to play it and walked there on bloody stumps. I enjoyed it so much, I forgot to pick up the check after we played. They had to mail it to me."

The Hipwaders received $2,000 for the gig but had to buy their own plane tickets and hotel rooms. Now, with the release of "Educated Kid" on Tuesday, Uquillas' goal is just to make back the $9,000 they spent recording it and buying T-shirts.

And maybe, they say, their songs about geometry, paleontology, sibling rivalry and the Dewey decimal system will get some respect from their musical peers.

"Everyone thinks they can write children's music," Uquillas says. "But it's like writing children's books. It's hard to be simple and not annoying. If it was so easy, everyone would do it."

THE HIPWADERS play at 3 p.m. today at 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission St., San Francisco. $5 for children, $10 for adults. (415) 970-9777,,

Brad Kava is a freelance writer.