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[Weekly Q&A]

Homegrown hero: KOMP’s Laurie Steele celebrates 15 years of local music

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Laurie Steele has focused on Las Vegas bands for 15 years as the host of KOMP 92.3’s Homegrown Show.
Photo: Spencer Burton

Since January 4, 1998, Laurie Steele has been the host of the Homegrown Show on KOMP 92.3-FM, a two-hour showcase of music from local bands. As other local music showcases have left the airwaves, Steele has emerged as Vegas radio’s pre-eminent champion of the local scene. This week she’s celebrating the 15th anniversary of her show with the release of the third Homegrown compilation CD, along with a free show at Whiskey Dick’s in North Las Vegas, featuring Left Standing, Ministry of Love, Dinner Music for the Gods and Sin City Sinners.

How has the show evolved from when it first started? I would say that the biggest change would be that I added interns, and they brought just a completely different energy. It’s different sitting in a room by yourself and talking about stuff, and then having someone to bounce comments off of. You never know what someone else is going to say, or their take on something. So it adds a completely different energy. And then over time I added a few features. For the five-year anniversary of the show, I added a segment called Heritage Homegrown, and that’s where I reach back into the archives and pull out a track I was spinning five years previously, to kind of give people an idea of what was happening musically on the show, in a little time capsule. Other than that, the show has been pretty consistent. I sat down and I kind of came up with a formula that, at the risk of sounding arrogant, has worked for the past 15 years without really much tweaking at all.

Do the interns help keep you in touch with what’s new in the local music scene? Yeah. Some of them have come from local bands in town. The one that had the biggest impact on the show was Jason McNelis, who was the drummer for Corner Stone, who was killed in a car accident about six years ago. He was just a really incredible guy, and in fact, I dedicated the second compilation CD to him at the 10-year anniversary.

Do you have any favorite memories from the past 15 years of doing the show? The 10-year anniversary was really cool, because the mayor of Henderson and the mayor of Las Vegas both did proclamations and commendations recognizing the show. Being featured in a BBC documentary on The Killers was another bright spot. Being featured in an indie music book out of Canada was neat, because it showed that the show has impact that’s much farther than just the Las Vegas Valley, especially with the advent of online listening.

Was there ever a local band that you thought was going to be huge but just never made it? Yeah, and actually they’re one of the bands that’s going to be playing my CD-release party: Left Standing. They have all the right ingredients, and they’ve just never really broken out. And I don’t know why. The talent’s there, the dedication. They’ve done everything right, and they just haven’t been able to really get that huge success.

Have you tried to use your clout to reunite a local band that you wanted to see get back together? I actually did. Not long-term, but I had Inside Scarlet get back together to play one of my birthday shows eight years ago or so. And they got back with everyone, and they did just that one show, and that was it. It was amazing. It was an incredible show. But if bands break up, it’s kind of like a marriage. They break up for a reason. And other people meddling in them, who don’t have the full story what went down—it’s usually not a good idea. But there’s definitely some bands that have ended that I’d like to still see together.

What do you envision for the future of the show? More of the same, hopefully. Like I said, there’s been so many incredible memories and so many opportunities. Being on the ground floor of so many different bands, knowing that I spun them before anyone else would even go out to their shows—I just want to keep doing that. And that’s the goal and the intention, is to just keep doing it for as long as people keep wanting it.

Homegrown Show 15th Birthday Bash July 12, 9 p.m., free. Whiskey Dick’s, 2750 E. Craig Road, 399-3425.

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