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Real Music - March 2015 - A Teenage Dream

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Real Music - March 2015 - A Teenage Dream

by Robert Feuer

“Big Dave” Gross’s “Rockabilly Roadhouse” has been a fixture on KRSH radio for eight years. It’s a fun way to start your Saturday. Using a voice patterned after his early deejay favorites, including Cousin Brucie, the Wolfman, and Murray the K, “to add a little bit of manic zaniness,” he says, Gross mixes “a variety of music with an attitude.” This includes rockabilly, novelty songs, surf tunes and “retro tidbits,” like old commercials and TV show themes, for a lively-paced show that “jogs the memory banks.”

 “I like the raw nature of the rockabilly sound, but with a straight-ahead rockabilly show, I think people would be bored to death,” he says, during a recent interview at his home.

Gross, born on Long Island, “when Danny & the Juniors had the #1 hit in the U.S,” he says, was “weaned on 1950s rock n’ roll, collecting stacks of 45s, which were my toys.”

In the 70s, starting in high school, he worked at a college radio station playing San Francisco music, “heavily Grateful Dead-influenced,” he says.  “I had long hair and a beard and the whole routine.” He joined the Dead’s 15th anniversary tour all the way to Alaska.

After graduating college in 1980, Gross moved to San Francisco (“the right choice,” he says) where he did a lot of voiceover work and TV commercials, while dabbling in comedy, including impersonations. Considering himself   “a jokester and prankster,” he created the online “Punmaster’s Music Wire” for many years. Subscribers, including people like Dick Dale and Peter Noone, received music news, trivia, and press releases. This “labor of love” ended a year ago, but may return, Gross says.

While managing bands during the 90s, he began a “ten year tenure” as Harvey Mandel’s manager after finding Mandel, who had “dropped below the radar,” Gross says, living in a trailer, while struggling, playing no-name bars in Florida. Gross booked him into some California gigs, including the Fillmore and Golden Gate Park, leading to a reconnection with Mandel’s 60s band, Canned Heat, including tours of Europe.

Gross’s long-term affinity for the Grateful Dead paid off after moving to Marin County, and getting a job working as manager of their record division in the late 90s, leading to an RIAA-certified gold record for his work on their box set, “So Many Roads.”

In 2002, Gross moved to Sonoma County to work at KRSH. His other, “more laid-back,” current show, “Saturday Night Album Tracks,” is patterned on early free-form, progressive FM radio, and includes original vinyl albums with back history on the music and personnel.

 Gross has a full-time career in radio advertising and marketing, and booking relationships with music venues and festivals. For 23 years, he’s been a member of the Recording Academy, enabling him to vote on Grammy Awards. He’s truly a man who has parlayed his childhood dreams into a life in music.

Rockabilly Roadhouse is on KRSH, Saturdays at 9 a.m. Saturday Night Album Tracks at 9 p.m.

 

Real Music - Robert Feuer