While Madison offers abundant opportunities to see nationally-recognized artists, the area’s local music scene is particularly delightful. Whether one finds it on community airwaves or at intimate venues, homegrown talent affirms Madison’s creative energies. Highlighting such acts has proven a sustained commitment for The Rattlesnake Shake host Sal Serio (DJ el Serpentine).
The Rattlesnake Shake, which is part of the “Friday on My Mind” series, launched at WORT in 2011, but Serio (pictured below) has co-hosted and been a guest on various music programs since the 1990s. After the late great DJ Ted Offensive passed in November 2017, Serio moved into the former’s regular Friday night shift, which regularly featured local bands, and decided to continue featuring local and regional artists in addition to new releases and previews of future shows.
As with much of WORT’s own “homegrown” programming, The Rattlesnake Shake toys with conventional notions of genre. “People think of me as a punk and metal guy, but my musical knowledge and appreciation is way more eclectic than that,” Serio shares. “On The Rattlesnake Shake you could hear anything from ’50s rockabilly/surf to country/folk, to hip-hop and funk.”
Although these entries may appear out of place on a “rock” show, they reflect the genre’s kaleidoscopic breadth that commercial radio often forgoes. “One thing I always tell people is to keep an open mind and don’t stop listening to new music,” says Serio. “There’s always something new that you’ll find that you like, but if you don’t explore, you’ll never know what’s out there.”
Such curiosity applies to community involvement as well. Serio became a WORT listener sponsor upon moving to Madison, and was so inspired by Tanya Hyde’s The Cruelest Cuts and Colleen Cronin’s The Farm Report/Tripping Hour that he decided to sit in on shows with Randy B, Ted Offensive, and Bill The Walkin’ Doctor. In 1994, he played a live set during Harry Rag’s show, and quickly credits the live music aspect of his program to sound engineers Aaron, Dustin, and Ryan.
“All of WORT’s music, news, and those unique shows that incorporate both have their own personalities and provide value to our community,” Serio notes. “The beauty is that we’re honest and free to develop our own content without the influence of commercial advertising interests. That’s a rare commodity in this day and age.” Indeed, WORT’s DJs can only do this with your help.
Serio’s ongoing engagement with music extends beyond radio, too. After moving to Madison in the late ’80s, he began promoting and booking shows while playing in the punk rock band Moral Disgust. Serio has written for Maximum Ink since 2006, and has worked with the families of guitarists Tommy Bolin (Zephyr) and Terry Kath (Chicago) to preserve their musical legacies.
Listeners have a few options to hear DJ el Serpentine. The show airs on WORT 89.9 FM every fourth Friday from between 8:00 and 11:00 PM, or anytime on the station’s audio archives. Those who need an extra dose may catch the show on WSUM 91.7 FM every Thursday from 8:00 to 9:00 PM. The Rattlesnake Shake next airs for WORT on Friday, September 28th. Shake it!
The Rattlesnake Shake‘s Upcoming Live Music Schedule for WORT is as follows:
28 September, 2018: Bassliss
October 26 or November 2, 2018 (TBD): The Low Czars
23 November, 2018: (TBA)
28 December, 2018: The Bottles
25 January, 2019: Tentative Terry Kath Tribute
22 February, 2019: Cindy Set My Hair on Fire
22 March, 2019: Clean Room
26 April, 2019: Casket Robbery