At nine on Thursday nights, if you tune into SPU’s radio station, KSPU, you are greeted by the sound of lively banjos. As the last notes of a folky riff drifts off, the DJ of “Banjo Thursdays with Chase” leans close to the mic and gives an enthusiastic shout.
“YEEEHAAW!” he exclaims.
For listeners, Banjo Thursdays offer an hour of banjo music, folk songs and intermittent banter from Chase and his guest of the week.
Junior Robert Rabideau, better known by his middle name Chase, is a musician. He writes, records and plays songs on his KSPU radio show. He’s majoring in Music Therapy to further share his talents with the people around him.
Music has always been one of the biggest parts of Rabideau’s life. He began playing music with the video game Guitar Hero II.
“I started to memorize all the buttons and stuff like that, and my friend at the time said ‘Hey, I’ll sell you my guitar for thirty dollars.’ So I started playing guitar in eighth grade,” Rabideau says.
Rabideau went from being able to play a video game guitar in eighth grade, to now being able to play guitar, both acoustic and electric, ukulele, bass, mandolin, banjo, auto harp, piano, Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer, harmonica, as well as being able to sing.
“I play other [instruments], I know how to play them, but those are the ones I play primarily,” Rabideau says.
As he got into high school, Rabideau got into folk music, like the band Fleet Foxes, largely influenced by his girlfriend at the time.
“I liked the kinda genuine side of the lyrics. How raw everything was,” Rabideau says about folk music. “It’s real music.”
Rabideau approaches folk by looking at more contemporary groups, like the Avett Brothers, and tracing their roots back to artists like Bob Dylan or Woodie Guthrie.
During his freshman year of High School, Rabideau would play music for the same girlfriend who first got him into folk. Her brother played with a folk band at the time, which gave him his first opportunity to play live for an audience.
He opened for the band–playing five or six songs. After that, he started playing whenever he could, mainly at open mics.
The first band he joined was a rock band called Salida, which means “exit” in Spanish. He mainly played electric guitar and a friend who played the drums, and they played loose rock music.
Now, Rabideau is involved with a couple of musical groups while continuing work on his solo material, like his newest album “Chase Rabideau Live at Black Dog Arts Café.”
Since coming to SPU, Rabideau has gotten involved in its musical community.
He says he really enjoys the music program and finds his professors helpful. He also thinks that the addition of Nickerson Studios provides unique opportunities.
However, Rabideau also gives back to the vibrant SPU community by hosting his radio show, Banjo Thursdays with Chase.
“The overall vibe is hanging out in a room listening to music with friends,” Rabideau says.
He plays folk music and anything having to do with the banjo.
He also features local groups, just starting out. He also has a different guest on every show to bounce off of.
During one show, he sarcastically and humorously mentioned how Beethoven was a huge banjo fan, and he tried to incorporate Beethoven into his 5th symphony.
Rabideau says he hopes to come across as a “Wayne’s World of Radio.”
One of Rabideau’s favorite parts of the show is how he incorporates the SPU community into it. Each week begins with an intro song that he writes and performs.
Every week he gets random students from the campus to yell “yeehaw,” and he incorporates them into the theme music, adding a personal touch to the station.
Rabideau said if he could give beginning musicians one piece of advice, it’d be to find their passion, and remember it. The first parts of playing music are difficult and discouraging, according to Rabideau.
“It’s not impossible. It’s not a foreign thing, take time to learn and it’ll come to you,” advises Rabideau.
True to form, Rabideau gave a final piece of advice to both budding musicians and those who don’t play.
“Have faith in the banjo,” Rabideau says.