Biographical Sketch for Peter Branum, AKA “Professor Peter”
Host of Sunday Vespers Program 7-9 pm (CST) on WildmanSteve Radio

I was born in North Alabama back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and came of age sometime after the end of the “war of northern aggression”, as my mama always called it. Love of music was my primary means of emotional survival in those formative days. I cherish a fuzzy precognizant memory of how my parents’ 78 rpm classical and big band jazz recordings were used as lullabies for the baby. My earliest true memories are likewise permeated with musical groove. An ancient black woman named Hallie, full of soul and of undetermined age, was my closest companion during infancy and childhood. Sometimes I think I can yet feel her planetary bosom, smell tobacco snuff on her breath or hear her husky voice crooning a simple gospel or blues phrase. Her record collection was small but seminal—I mean, how many little cripple cracker kids ate their grits to the tunes of Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, Muddy Waters, and Big Bill Broonzy? I also learned early the joys of ducking out of church on Sunday mornings so I could “cross the tracks” to a rundown boarding house by the Tennessee River bridge. If I was lucky and he felt like it, I could listen to my “black sheep” Uncle Otha Lee blow the mouth harp and play the blues on an old slide guitar that he got with Top Value stamps. It was my good fortune that my siblings were also attracted to music. My older sister lived and breathed Elvis Presley and my brother brought home (from unidentified and unsavory sources, according to our mother) recordings by the likes of Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker.
Growing up with this interesting soundtrack in my head, it is little wonder that my interests and vocations have made for a long strange pilgrimage in life. In my time I have been a museum curator, a minister, a professor, a counselor, a theologian, an historian, an archivist, an art dealer, a story-teller, a musician and now, once again, a radio host. I had my first fling with radio in the late 1960’s as a teenaged kid, hanging around bumming smokes at my town’s only rock and roll radio station. From the time I was fifteen years old, people said my voice and especially my face were perfect for radio, so when I moved to Auburn in the late 1980’s, I hooked up with the campus station WEGL-FM. For several years I hosted a variety of specialty shows such as The Blues Show, The Jazz Show and The Back Porch (a bluegrass/acoustic/ Americana program) and naturally, fossil that I am, I also hosted a Golden Oldies Show for several years.
Undoubtedly a person of my ilk would eventually come upon Wildman Steve, who was the proprietor of a very cool Auburn record store I frequented. Through the years we discovered a vast galaxy of interests, opinions and goals that were common to the both of us, and a close and cooperative relationship has been the result. Our musical tastes had clearly been nurtured by radio in the 1960s and 1970s, and yet we were consistently hearing so much truly amazing music being created in the present day, inspired by work of previous generations. This new, brilliant and creative rock and roll was not to be heard on the major corporate stations, so we valiantly waded into the mostly schwag cosmos of FM radio, to give a specific stage to new music that is diverse and exciting. We added just the right amount of classic rock and other related genres, and then threw in an appropriate amount of interesting history and trivia about the music, the artists and the times. With this formula we set about to winning six national FM radio awards in four consecutive years. With “good music knows no genre”, as our mantra, we are now using the internet to build an entirely new kind of commercial free musical vehicle. Since Rock & Roll is a very big family, with lots of brothers, parents, grandparents, sisters, uncles, aunts, children and cousins, we play only the good stuff that reflects the essential organic relationships between Rock and all her relatives. Sure, we play new and classic rock plus alternative rock and jam band music, but beyond that, we play great music of every kind that has influence on or has been influenced by rock. The music we play is from many eras of time, and comes from a variety of geographical (and inter-planetary) locations. We play all the sub-genres…progressive rock, folk, Cajun, rockabilly, soul, reggae, Motown, gospel, punk, world beat, funk, metal, jazz, psychedelic, zydeco, blues, Americana, new age, rhythm & blues, doo-wop, be-bop, bluegrass, swamp stomp and roots music of the South. We especially love that stuff which denies categorization and therefore would never get played anywhere else. Like Duke Ellington said, “There’s only two kinds of music, good music and bad.” I guarantee you’ll only hear the “good stuff” on Wildman Steve Radio.
For six years now I have been making my contribution to Wildman Steve’s tasty musical gumbo via my weekly program Sunday Vespers, from 7-9 pm, CST, every Sunday night. It’s a great chance to introduce some significant and exhilarating sounds to people around the world. I put a lot of thought into each show and try to include something provoking or musically unexpected each week. The program not only takes its name and groove directly from the “Jazz Vespers” of the 1950-70’s but also from the “end of day” rituals and traditions of many cultures and religions, whose vesper observances revere and call upon the setting sun for the blessings of tomorrow. In that sense, each Sunday, at the setting sun, SV plays music that is uplifting or reflective, with the purpose of refocusing energy for the week ahead. On any given Sunday, the diversity is extreme--ranging from the Allman Brothers to John Scofield, from James McMurtry to Los Hombres Calientes, from the Funky Meters to John Zorn; yet all are bound together as a seamless fabric by the common threads of astonishingly talented musicians, intriguing rhythms, and inspired composition. Please tune us in. I’m sure you’ll like most of what you hear.

Your friend,
Professor Peter
AKA The Right Rev. Peter “The Heater” Branum

Former Musical Affiliations:
Soul Invasion, The Congregation, Silver Lake, Psychotronic Blues Unit, The Sorghum Biscuit Boys, Burns and the Sideburns, Fat Elvis, Pretty Beat Up, Absinthe Minded, The Morbid Carbuncle Choir

Musical and Philosophical Influences:
Babatunde Olatunji, Sam Meyers, Horace Silver, John Lee Hooker, Bo Didley, Otis Redding, Col. Bruce Hampton, Bill Summers, Brother Dave Gardner, Lao-Tzu, Black Elk, Jesus, the Ranters, Eddie Owen Martin (St. EOM)