Friday, May 20, 2016

Sam Kopper and his incredible green bus

This morning I met a local legend completely by accident. Sam Kopper has been around the Boston music scene for decades, going as far back as the 1970s, but this morning he was outside the new Sullivan Tire Store on Beacon Street in Somerville with his green bus and his assistant Justin Vining. 

Sam Kopper and Justin Vining in front of the Locomote green bus
Together, Sam and Justin are Locomote Media, and if you've never heard of them, you're not alone. But they were the reason the WERS morning show could come to you from a tire store this morning.

Sullivan Tire, WERS and the green bus
Sam started this whole gig back in 1975, when he bought an old Boston school bus and converted it into a mobile home of sorts. In the finest hippie style of the era, he completed it with a cedar shower, and a small broadcast studio as well. Over time, the living space in the bus shrank and the broadcast studio grew, until he just simply decided to stop living in buses and use the whole thing for music. 

A bus is useful for live broadcasts because sound engineers need a place free from noise to get proper mixing done. Mixing from the music venue during the performance means the sound from the show impacts sound levels. In a bus parked in a parking lot, everything is easier.
Justin inside the broadcast studio
Long connected with the famous local radio station WBCN in Boston, Sam Kopper says the first live show he ever did was Bonnie Raitt with Maria Muldaur as the opener. That would have been a long time ago.

This morning, he was just chilling in the parking lot, and I was very honored to meet him. 

Here's a cool video Sam pulled together of his morning with WERS and George Knight at the new Sullivan Tire in Somerville. It even includes some live music ...

Sam, Justin and the incredible green bus