CULTURE KLASH: Ranch Party Rogue

By on August 9, 2016

A pirate radio DJ-artist takes on the LockhArt Ranch party from his mobile radio station.

Get acquainted with the Lucille Valentine during the LockhArt Ranch party Saturday.

Get acquainted with the Lucille Valentine during the LockhArt Ranch party Saturday.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – What happens when a locavore ranch party hosts a pirate radio station?

Five hundred people will discover the answer to that question this Saturday at the LockhART Ranch party when a San Francisco artist parks his mobile “bomb shelter radio” station in the Lockharts’ hayfield.

Teton Artlab’s Travis Walker described former resident Josh Short’s “bomb shelter radio” as honky-tonk and post-apocalyptic.

Walker curates art for the party, produced by Slow Food in the Tetons and now in its third year. The farm-to-table dinner takes place outside on the Lockhart property and features Lockhart beef barbecue, local veggies and local brews. The Canyon Kids will provide live entertainment, and Short, back for a four-week residency with the Artlab, will broadcast live before and during the dinner.

Short is touring the nation with his mobile radio station constructed out of the back of an old Chevy pickup truck, which he hauls like a trailer. He calls the project, “Lucille Valentine.” The “bomb shelter” reference has to do with the history of pirate radio, which got its start after World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War. Pirate radio stations are unregulated.

“When I bring the radio around it becomes very situational,” Short said. “The wonderful thing about radio is the opportunity to be the reporter on the ground. You can talk to people about what’s going on at that moment.”

Short refers to his radio broadcasts as performances, and he invites viewers and listeners to become part of the art. Influenced by DIY and punk culture, he often uses cast-off or repurposed materials in his work. He co-founded The Cardboard Institute of Technology, an art collective focused on making art with cardboard and recycled materials. In one project, Short created an entire racecar course—and car—from cardboard.

“Josh has a unique way of engaging viewers with his art through games, music, and just having fun with it mostly,” Walker said. “He will be broadcasting before and during the event and visitors will be able to check out his rig and maybe get on the air.”

Short says he has been picking up a lot of old rock ‘n’ roll and soul albums lately and that’s what he plans to play on Saturday.

“The reason I’ve been doing that is that I find there’s something really punk rock about it,” he said. “A lot of that stuff has all those old backbeats that punk music hyped up. Punk’s roots come from old rock ‘n’ roll.”

Short noted punk rock and slow food have more in common than people might think. “Reclaiming something that’s rightfully ours, producing our own food, and taking control of our health. That’s pretty punk rock.”

During a residency in Kansas in 2012, Short spoke with a reporter about his musical influences. “I have a love of vibrational forces, and the great thing about metal is that it really embraces that,” he said. “There’s escapism involved in listening to metal for me—and American culture is big on escapism.”

Short riffs on escapism and other American themes in small and big ways in his art. He’s an artist for whom life and art intermingle. He has been on the road travelling from residency to residency for several years, never stopping in more than one place for longer than a few months. While he might escape being tied down, he also discovers aspects of America other people may never see.

“Wherever I am it’s going to be a little different,” he said. “You don’t know what will happen.”

After the Lockhart Ranch party, Short will set up shop in Jackson until mid-September. He plans to broadcast from 10 p.m. to midnight most nights.

“People who are following the project can touch base as it’s happening,” he said.

“I’ve been running around amassing rock ‘n’ roll 45s and making soundscapes from old westerns and Godzilla movies. All these things are built into this performance.”

One way Short selects the music he wants to play is based in the function of a bomb shelter itself. “At end of world, what do you want in your bunker? What cultural memory do you want to keep? What can you build with?” PJH

The Lucille Valentine project will broadcast on 87.9 FM or 95.5 FM, and online at mixlr.com/bomb-shelter-radio.

The LockhART Ranch party is 5:30 p.m., Saturday, August 13 at the Lockhart Ranch. Tickets are $45 at tetonslowfood.org.


About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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