Pictured above is Peterborough joke metal act Knifehammer from the cover of their 2007 classic Hooked on Colonics. Truly, a jewels of the Kawarthas — and just one of the regional treasures I discovered sifting through Radio Free Peterborough's massive streaming archive.
Radio Free Peterborough is a volunteer-run radio project begun by Steve McNabb and Brian Sanderson in 2004 with the mission to preserve and promote Peterborough's rich musical heritage. In partnership with CFFF 92.7 FM Trent Radio, RFP has grown a catalogue of nearly 13,000 tracks produced by Peterborough musicians and broadcast more than 85,000 hours of music.
On its 12th birthday, Radio Free Peterborough has launched a new website and two new apps, making the unique audio culture of The Patch accessible globally with a bounty of free streams. All this, their press release reminds us, on an operating budget of $0.
“We want to show people just how far you can go on guts, passion and hard work” says McNabb. “Radio Free Peterborough is a love letter to our community and a way to celebrate all of its talent, hard work, and dedication to the music we love so much.”
McNabb began collecting local music playing in bands during university. When the collection neared 400 tracks, he started to organize and catalogue his holdings, realizing that most of the works were small-run recordings, many by bands that only ever played a handful of shows.
“It dawned on me,“ he says, “that maybe I had the last surviving copy of many of these recordings, and if I didn’t archive them properly they might be lost forever. Many of these were homemade: produced one at a time with photocopied or handdrawn cover art and sold from coat pockets or backpacks for a few bucks or a beer.”
A document partly of the bands that lived and died in basements and Legion branches — it makes me wish every scene had a resource like Radio Free Peterborough and archivists as dedicated as McNabb, Sanderson, and the RFP volunteers.
In just 30 minutes clicking around, my hearts been won by songs from late '90s PTBO industrial metal act R.E.Flexxx, lo-fi folkies Catrafts, garage rock trio Stacey Green Jumps, and whatever wonderful thing Max Diamond is. And there's way more Peterborough to discover.