OpenAir host Aaron Johnson always knew he wanted to lead a band.
“[But] I was a terrible singer, and I couldn’t play an instrument,” he says.
Today, that terrible singer leads a six-piece band, which has twice performed at well-known Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and serves as on-air host and production and fundraising coordinator for CPR’s OpenAir.
Aaron—or “Ukulele Loki” as he’s known on stage—calls the spectacle of his Gadabout Orchestra an indie rock version of a Victorian circus. The group, which has opened for Devotchka and The Dresden Dolls, integrates circus-style sideshow elements like high ropes and trapeze.
“I like to delight and amaze audiences,” he says.
Weekends with Aaron
Since joining CPR in December, 2014, Aaron delights Openair listeners on Saturday and Sunday mornings. He draws connections between new music and music that may have been overlooked in the past.
“Aaron is a true veteran of the local music scene,” says OpenAir Program Director Mike Flanagan. “He’ll help listeners tap into music discovery, while also providing context about Colorado’s thriving new-music community.”
To stay connected with and informed about the Colorado music scene, Aaron generally attends five to six local music shows each week. Fortunately, he loves the research.
“I have a deep affection for the local nightlife and music scene,” he says, “and I am ridiculously social.”
DJ for a decade
Aaron got his start in radio in Boulder. Along with 15-20 other DJs, Aaron founded the University of Colorado Boulder’s station, Radio 1190 AM—one of his proudest achievements. He worked with the student-run station—in both volunteer and professional roles—for more than a decade.
Aaron’s professional experiences also include working as a seventh-grade teacher in Denver Public Schools, emceeing city-sponsored concerts and films in Skyline Park and teaching music lessons at Swallow Hill Music. Once, in an effort to break the record for largest ukulele lesson, he instructed 412 students simultaneously in Denver’s Ruby Hill Park.
Of all the places he’s worked, Colorado Public Radio may be the most like home to Aaron.
“I walked into Colorado Public Radio and immediately felt good,” he says.