KJ Mac of 101.5 KOOL Boise Brings Musical Memories To The Treasure Valley

KJ Mac of 101.5 KOOL Boise

KJ Mac of 101.5 KOOL Boise has a mission—-to bring music that brings memories back to the Treasure Valley. KJ has been in the Boise area for many years, moving to Idaho in 1978 with his family to begin his career in the Treasure Valley. For many years he played country music on local stations such as KGEM, KQFC and KFXD-AM.

The music he grew up with, however, kept calling him, so ultimately he moved to playing music of the 60s, 70s and 80s on K-HITS before coming to KOOL Boise to play the music of the 60s, 70s and even some 50s too. Currently, KJ Mac of 101.5 KOOL Boise is both their Morning Drive-Time DJ as well as the station’s Program Director. In addition to that, KJ has been the voice of the Boise State Broncos Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, as well as the voice of Boise State University Softball. KJ Mac sat down with the Boise Beat last week to talk about his career, the Oldies he loves and life in the Treasure Valley.

Q: Why do these songs have memories and meanings for so many people?

A: Because we grew up with them. Just the other day I was talking about a song, Kodachrome, that just hit me with a memory about my Dad and I driving to work. He worked in the corporate offices and I worked in the maintenance crew. We would listen to the radio and hear these songs and it just brings back a special memory. Sometimes they’re not so good of a memory, but I think that’s the reason. Continue reading

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Fork In Downtown Boise Has Great Cubano Sandwich, Cocktails & More

Cubano Sandwich at Fork In Downtown BoiseEven before moving here, the Fork in Downtown Boise has been one of my favorite places to enjoy a nice meal at. Fork has been a fixture in Boise for some time now, with food that emphasizes international flavor made with local ingredients. Going in for an early dinner, I had my heart set on something simple—–a cocktail and a sandwich. At Fork, they have a sandwich list that is sure to please anyone, everything from their Grown Up Grilled Ham and Cheese to a Grilled Salmon or Chilled Prime Rib Sammy as well as a signature Urban Burger. If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, they also have an excellent choice of Main, From the Garden (salads) and Share Sample and Savor (appetizers and sides) dishes.

A nice cocktail was in order and the Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned was just the thing. Usually my favorite is their excellent Thyme for Bourbon cocktail, but this time I selected the Vanilla Bean Old Fashion. Made with Pendleton Whiskey from nearby Pendleton Oregon, this may be one of the smoothest cocktails around. The light aroma of the vanilla bean and slight tang of the bitters worked extremely well, allowing the taste of the whiskey to come through. For anyone who likes the taste of a nice smooth whiskey, this is a great drink to get. As is with many of the spirits, wines and beers, Fork in Downtown Boise steers towards local sources.

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Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – A Surfeit of Strange

Cyborg 2087You could spend all of 2018 dissecting and bemoaning the strange, weird and just plain awful aspects of 2017, but on Saturday mornings, I prefer to recall the strange from that year in a entertaining, digital-based audio-visual format and not, say, soul-blanching or near-apocalyptic. Case in point: “Cyborg 2087” (1966, Kino Lorber), which finds star Michael Rennie (“The Day the Earth Stood still) again in otherworldly mode, this time as a robotic agent sent from the titular year (a la “The Terminator”) to stop scientist Eduard Franz from creating a mind control device that will eventually fall into the hands of a totalitarian government (sort of like Breitbart News). “Cyborg 2087” has abundant production and logic flaws, but like many low-budget genre films, those aspects can also be the most enjoyable elements (like Rennie’s Moonage Daydream boots, or the full-stop in the plot to allow Sherry Alberoni – later a prolific cartoon voice actor – and her pals to dance like fools in dad Warren Stevens’ living room). As such, it’s low-calorie, high-fructose fun, much in line with some of director Franklin Adreon and screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce‘s other genre efforts (like the serial “Panther Girl of the Congo” and “The Navy vs. the Night Monsters,” respectively); Kino’s Blu-ray includes the original trailer and kvetchy commentary by Chris Alexander.

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The Impossibly Delicious Impossible Burger!

The Impossible Burger at The Counter

Impossible Burger at The Counter. Photo by Billy Bennight.

I caught wind of the Impossible Burger from a friend a day before I received an email offering the chance to experience the Impossible Burger at a special launch at The Counter. My friend’s recommendations was glowing, and knowing that they love meat, yet were satisfied with a meatless burger, was sufficient praise to drive me to The Counter. The new meatless wonder combines nature and science to create a burger that’s good for both people and the planet. The Impossible Burger lessens the negative environmental impact on the planet by reducing water usage, greenhouse gasses and land exploitation/erosion. My culinary curiosity was piqued by an ecologically friendly food using innovative technology so diners could enjoy something seemingly impossible!

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Patti Jo’s Country: Fiddlin’ Red and Desiree are Ruff Shodd

Fiddlin' Red and Desiree are Ruff Shodd

Fiddle and country banjo are pure delight. Tapping my foot and smiling, I looked at the name of the group. It was, Ruff Shodd: an old time string band that plays traditional, Celtic, folk, vintage blues, vintage country, and original songs.

“Rough shod” – Where had I heard that before? It was a term from my childhood, from my Midwestern mom. She would say, “They just run rough shod over ’em and there was nothin’ to be done.” I never thought much about it. I knew what she meant.

Now all these years later, I looked it up on the internet and found this definition:

rough-shod, 1680s, from rough (adj.) + shod. Originally of horses shod with the nails projecting from the shoe, to prevent slipping.

Two people performing traditional American music is fun, but wait until you see them. This is pure Americana. Continue reading

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DVD/BD Review: D.O.A. – A Right Of Passage (MVD Rewind Collection)

D.O.A.: A Right Of Passage DVD CoverOne of the recurring themes in the movie D.O.A.: A Right Of Passage, filmed in 1978 in a semi-aborted attempt to document the Sex Pistols’ American tour, is the frequent accusation that punk rockers are all in it for the money. Longhairs from record companies tut-tut the punk rockers’ bad behavior and declare “This is not a viable form of music in America,” and thus has no reason to exist. One member of the Greater London Council gives “money” as the sole reason why punk rock exists. (The city authorities of LA were more philosophical on the topic.) Even the poster for the film shows a punker girl about to get run over by a Rolls Royce with a safety pin through the wheel. Considering that the film’s whole existence is at the pleasure of High Times editor Tom Forcade, who insisted on making a Sex Pistols movie despite the Pistols’ record label refusing him access to the band and the shows, it’s easy to question just who was really in this thing for the big bucks.

But even if the film lacks focus or even any understanding of its topic, it happens to be pointing the camera at some truly great shit much of the time. Besides the Pistols footage — which is blistering, if amateurish-looking due to the stealthy shooting conditions — there are fierce performances by X-Ray Spex and the Dead Boys that rank among the best moments captured from that era. There’s a long interview segment with Sid and Nancy in which he can’t stay awake long enough to answer a question, and she can’t stop babbling long enough to let that register. Is that funny? I’m not sure, although I remember reading about Richard Hell getting obsessed with the idea that any time you laugh at something, it’s because an emotion has died.  He was pretty punk, but he’s not in this movie. Continue reading

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Jake Leg Puts On A Great Show At Big Mic’s In Kuna

Jake Leg at Big Mic's

Jake Leg, the popular local blues and rock band, played to a packed house last Saturday night when they returned to Big Mic’s in Kuna. The band, based in the Caldwell/Nampa area, really knows how to get the crowd excited and dancing. Playing songs ranging from the Allman Brother’s Whipping Post, CCR’s Proud Mary and Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally, they covered a lot of territory with the show. On Stormy Monday, the blues classic whose definitive version by the Allman Brothers brought it to a whole new crowd, singer Brooke Nicole showed why she should be considered one of the best singers around today. Not only does she have a phenomonal voice, but her stage presence and her ability to work a crowd are superb.

Jake Leg has been around for several years, but with their current lineup they really seen to have clicked. With member Dale “Harpdog” Wilson on harmonica and vocals, original member Mike Witmer holding down the bottom on bass, Brooke Nicole on vocals, Tony Songer on drums and the talented Bob Solomon on guitar, they have a great mix of musicians that have a combined experience of over 100 years playing music. They really know the blues, with Mike Witmer also hosting a blues show on KRBX 89.9 fm here in Boise Continue reading

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Scrumptious Fresh Chinese Food At Wok Fusion In Meridian

Hunan Pork CU at Wok Fusion in Meridian

Wok Fusion in Meridian is a nice neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Unlike most Chinese restaurants, the menu is not large, but what they have on it is well thought out and provides a nice variety of dishes. The dishes are all a la carte and intended to be shared family-style. As an option, there are also several combinations offered with a smaller portion of the entree, but adding steamed or fried rice, egg flower or hot and sour soup and an eggroll if desired. There is plenty of seating and it was easy enough to bring a group of 10 one night and get a nice table put together. Continue reading

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Movies Till Dawn: 2018 House Cleaning (Out with the New Edition)

Super Dark Times DVD coverAs its title suggests, “Super Dark Times” (2017, The Orchard) focuses on the bleaker aspects of growing up aimless in a dead-end town. First-time director Kevin Phillips and screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski understand teenage language and behavior and the emotional effect on them by an ever-present gloom in the Northeast during winter, and their talented if largely unknown cast does well in portraying the varying shades of outcasts that populate the edges of such places. Where the film loses some its footing is a second-half plunge into genre territory – specifically, from character/mood piece to something closer to psychological horror – but the impression left before that shift has a more lasting impact than any of the violence. Phillips – a director who, based on this initial effort, may prove worth following – provides commentary for The Orchard’s DVD-R.

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Idaho Potato Drop Festival in Boise Rings in 2018

Boise Statehouse during the Idaho Potato Drop Festival

The Potato Dropping at the Statehouse

New Year’s Eve, 2017 at The Idaho Potato Drop event. A lot of the snow had melted by the 31st, and the sun was shining into a beautiful blue Boise sky. The Idaho Potato Drop Festival is an end-of-the-year family friendly event that rings in the new year with a day of live music, inner-tube rides down ice ramps, wrestling matches, local food and drinks, a huge family tent warmed up with entertainment for the kids, and for the grand-finale, a potato the size of a bus is lowered by crane into the cheers of the crowd, and into our hopes and prayers for the new year.

The Boise Beat wishes everyone a happy, healthy and fun 2018!


Photo Gallery follows, all photos by Terrance Welch. 

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