A few years ago, our friend Damion “DJ Supaman” Smith called to see if my sweetie Jason Krekel could take some boxes of records that were his father’s, Cleo “Mooseman” Shivers. He did not have room in his apartment, and did not want to throw them away. Having been to parties at our house, Supaman knew that Jason is a record collector and music lover. Jason of course said yes.
Mooseman has quite a legacy. He graduated from Asheville High School in 1970 and a few years later become a very popular DJ on WBMU-FM “Where Black Means Unity” Radio. Launched on the air in 1974, WBMU was the only Black-owned radio station in the area, and one of the few in the country at that time. Mooseman was also known for DJing at The Orange Peel on the nights when they didn’t have a band playing, and at parties around the city. He and his record collection were beloved to many listeners. Friends and neighbors have shared countless enthusiastic memories of those days with us. He also had a distinguished career in the social services field until his death in 2008.
Over time, Jason has been carefully cleaning Mooseman’s 45s and LPs, organizing them making notes about particularly good cuts and playability. Needless to say it is an incredible, curated collection of music that was popular during a vibrant period of Black Asheville culture.
As my neighbor Odell Irby says of the music of his youth, “Black history IS recorded.”
A Montford and Stumptown neighborhood history buff, I was particularly interested in the fact that Mooseman lived on Flint Street, which makes him one of Montford’s significant cultural treasures, though I’ve never seen his legacy celebrated by the neighborhood.
After spending time with the collection, we knew that these records needed to be shared in public again. So we collaborated with Supaman, Slay the Mic, and a few of our neighbors to hold a Block Party in Magnolia Park in Montford, across the street from Mooseman’s former home, where his family still lives. Supaman and Krekel played Mooseman’s music while we all shared food, laughter, and dance.
It was a joy.
The party was an opportunity for connection and celebration, and for legacy neighbors to claim space in a neighborhood which until very recently was majority Black (including during the time I’ve lived here), but has undergone dramatic gentrification.
One attendee at the party, Richard Pickens, remembered the summer nights when he and his friends would park their cars around the park, and roll their windows down with their radios all tuned to WBMU.
Ironically, we had the party two days before the City demolished the restrooms in the park. The Asheville City Parks & Rec survey about the park, which primarily serves toddlers and young children, did not include any questions about the restrooms, though the comments included numerous requests for keeping them, a desire I heard echoed by many other neighbors. Sigh.
Everything is ephemeral.
Groove while you can.
You can see more fun photos from the party here.