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Bonfire Jams: A KJHK Collaborative Playlist


Well, there’s no escaping it, Fall is here. No more shorts (unless you like to live winter in expert-mode), no more barbecues or outdoor parties, or so you would think. We asked our staff what their go-to bonfire jam was to celebrate the colorful and sometimes very cold arrival of Autumn.

So take a listen, learn a thing or two and maybe take it to your next inexplicable fire in the middle of nowhere!

Take “Bonfire Jams” everywhere you go with our Spotify playlist!


Name: Kyle Wernimont

Year at KU and Major: Junior, Secondary Education

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Content Director, Breakfast for Beatlovers on Friday

Your Bonfire/Fall Jam: “The Worst Guys” by Childish Gambino: Having not been to almost any bonfires in my life (or any ones worthy of note for that matter), this one is tough for me.. What do I pick? What encapsulates a group of teenagers to 20-somethings standing around a big fire during the fall months, usually enhanced by food or some other accoutrement? What would I want to hear? What would make me feel cozy yet like i’m still holding onto one last gasp of summer? And is it even a jam???? So many questions… but I know that in my heart, “The Worst Guys” by Childish Gambino is the answer. Sure, it’s cliche, a little overdone and the media could not be more obsessed with “SNL” and “Community”’s comedy darling turned international music act. All that being said, for me there is clearly no other choice. From that beat with that nostalgic dial-up tone to Chance the Rapper’s bouncy feature and the video that everyone should see at least once before they die, this song screams “It’s the end of summer, so go live it up with some friends”. And what better way to do that than with a bonfire?

Youtube or other streaming link: 


Name: Michaela Behymer

Year at KU and Major: Junior, English

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Engagement Director, Alternative Flashback

Your Bonfire Jam: Okay, I know this is going to sound cliche, and I know we’re supposed to be an alternative station, but dang it I just can’t help it. When it comes to autumn sometimes you just need to go back to basics and for me that’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. No song makes me feel the cool air of fall and the smell of apples and hear the crunch of leaves under me like this song, no matter what time of year. Curling up in front of a fire with your closest friends or family is definitely a time for nostalgia and this song does not disappoint. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, but next time you’re at a bonfire, or a high school football game, or baking some holiday themed food, throw this song on and see how it makes you feel. You never know, maybe it’ll be your new bonfire jam too.

Youtube or other streaming link:


Name: Christian Toth

Year at KU and Major: Freshman, Journalism-Strategic Communications

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Mondays from 3-6 p.m.

Your Bonfire Jam: “Raising Cain” by Gregory Alan Isakov

If you have actually been to a bonfire then you know you need to listen to a country / acoustical sound to look when seeing the stars. SO YOU KNOW I GOTTA GO WITH RAISING CAIN. Still one of my favorite songs that Gregory Alan Isakov produced and is a true testament to the “bonfire” sound. From the album “That Sea, The Gambler,” Isakov dwells and mixes that acoustical sound with more of an alternative tone and feel that makes rolling down your windows a heaven on the highway. I have a whole playlist to my Spotify devoted to “Calm Outdoor Sounds” and by golly! This song is at the top of that list. SO GRAB A GUITAR AND SING.

Youtube or other streaming link: 


Name: Dakota Behrman

Year at KU and Major: Senior- Journalism Major

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Multimedia Producer

Your Bonfire Jam: At a bonfire, nobody wants to hear the experimental jams on your Soundcloud playlist. We want the classics. And thus enters “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Easiest choice of my life for this prompt. It is a staple of pop culture after it’s use in countless Vietnam films and this song compliments the great American pastime of bonfires by being the protest song of an entire generation. That opening riff is embedded in the minds of all Americans and the chorus can be a guaranteed sing-a-long at any respectable bonfire. Sit down, lean back, sip a cold one and enjoy your freedom with the best protest song ever. Seriously, who doesn’t like this song, cause it ain’t me.

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Name: Matthew Gwin

Year at KU and Major: Junior News and Information

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Sports staff

Your Bonfire Jam:  “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino — the name says it all, but Donald goes in on this throwback from his first full-length release, Camp. Not to mention this music video is masterful itself. Need I say more?

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Name: Cole Billings

Year at KU and Major: Freshman, Film and Media Studies

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Friday Noon-3

Your Bonfire Jam: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel: As hard as it may be, just try to imagine a group of eight “indie kids” probably ranging from 16-21 years old actually sitting around a bonfire… What are they listening to? Neutral Milk Hotel. Mostly acoustic tunes with a side of noise rock, probably a pack Marlboro reds (or if you’re lucky enough, some viceroy’s,) and a blazing fire in the night sky. You could listen to one track, or you could listen to the entire album, which at times has an eerie but very warm, familiar feeling. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is definitely the go-to

Youtube or other streaming link: 

Name: Jamie Martin

Year at KU and Major: Senior, Biology

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Program Director, Input/Output, Punk Rock Steady

Your Bonfire Jam: “Roscoe (Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve Remix)” by Midlake: I thrive in the fall- and really, it’s the only time where I can really feel comfortably content on an overdose of indie folk-rock. I’m able to completely and fully immerse myself in the warmth of Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and Kings of Convenience- truly becoming the embodiment of an indiehead. But, my bonfire jam would have to actually be a remix of Midlakes’, ‘Roscoe’ that I discovered on a Late Night Tales compilation by Groove Armada. The track is an extended mix with a folksy, psychedelic 70’s-influenced sound. Not only does the album art call me back to my memories of camping out as a child, but the song, artist, and compilation fully resonates what I would classify as a ‘late night tale’.

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Name: Nick Hinman

Year at KU and Major: Sophomore, Philosophy & Political Science

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Arts & Culture; I make podcasts

Your Bonfire Jam: Someone else mentioned that bonfires are times for the classics, and I wholly agree. Thus, I present to you my bonfire jam: “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” by Wu-Tang Clan. It may seem unorthodox, but this song embodies the best parts of October bonfire parties. First, Wu-Tang is always great let’s-get-f*cked-up music, which is an integral part of any good bonfire. Second, the entire album (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)) has a spooky sound made for those nights leading up to Halloween, and this song channels that energy perfectly. ODB literally moans “GHOSTFACE KILLaAaAaAH like a ghost. Plus, how can you have a bad time if you and all your friends are standing around a fire screaming the ubiquitous “WU-TANG, WU TANG, WU-TANG, WU-TANG”?

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Name: Jaya Chakka

Year at KU and Major: Sophomore; Behavioral Neuroscience / Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Staffer

Your Bonfire Jam: “Monday” by Matt Corby

In my opinion, autumn is by far the best season. The weather is perfect, the leaves are turning beautiful colors, and I can wear so. much. flannel. Of course, artists like Fleet Foxes, Hozier, and Bon Iver are fall staples. In a similar vein is Matt Corby, whose music reminds me of a Bon Iver-Hozier lovechild; in other words, it is excellent. “Monday” is the first song of his I ever heard, and I was immediately hooked by the harmonies and natural lilt of the tune. It evokes the same feelings as drinking a warm cup of coffee on the back porch or wrapping up in a cozy sweater, which makes it the perfect bonfire jam.

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Name: Patrick Kennedy

Year at KU and Major: Senior; Geography

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Director

Your Bonfire Jam: “Coals” by Modern Baseball: It’d only really work as a bonfire jam with a certain crowd but almost no song puts me in the fall mood more than this one. Even though the song is barely over two minutes long it meets practically all the requirements for my ideal fall jam. Emo? Check. Acoustic? Check. Lyrics that make me laugh and cry? Check and check. I’m going to link my favorite live version of the song because I promise that it will make you want to learn the words, and then we can all hang out at my emo bonfire and sing along to some mobo! What a dream!!

Youtube or other streaming link:


Name: Deegan Poores

Year at KU and Major: Sophomore; Political Science

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Staff, For the Record

Your Bonfire Jam: Fall is probably my favorite season; it’s the time right between summer and winter when its not painfully hot or dreadfully cold. It also gives me chance to bust out my jeans, sweatshirts, and flannel! Most of the bonfires I have been to have been with my friend Isaac, who plays the banjo. I always bring my guitar and we play some songs for everybody to sing along to. One of our favorites to play is “I Want You” by Bob Dylan off his album Blonde on Blonde. The wistful guitar melody from Robbie Robertson of The Band stays the same throughout the changing chords until the final chord of the progression, when it gives in to the changes, much like those that fall is associated with. And then it cycles back around, much like the passing years, lending the song the sense of melancholy fall brings as the weather gets colder and the trees lose their leaves. Still love fall though! Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Blonde on Blonde this season.

Youtube or other streaming link: 


Name: Olivia Jones

Year at KU and Major: Sophomore, Journalism & History

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Live Music Committee & Saturday nights 10pm-midnight

Your Bonfire Jam: “Doesn’t Matter” – Christine and the Queens

Growing up in Maine gave me ~plenty~ of opportunities to have bonfires. Most weekends throughout the summer and fall were dedicated to making smores and chilling outside. The best day ever consisted of watching a football game at my high school, going apple picking in the afternoon, and hosting a bonfire at my house. “Doesn’t Matter” by Christine and the Queens brings back those memories for me. The leaves were changing and the nights were getting longer but it was such a happy, beautiful time of year. “Doesn’t Matter” reminds me to focus on the important things, like family and enjoying life. Ironically, the lyrics are somewhat melancholy. It reminds me of “Rusholme Ruffians” by the Smiths: sounds happy but not like, actually happy.

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Name: Cami Koons

Year at KU and Major: Sophomore; News & Information and Film Studies

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Arts and Culture Director; Wednesday Local Block

Your Bonfire Jam:

I really should choose Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” because I can’t think of a single bonfire that I haven’t sang that song. BUT there are too many other songs that are…better (no offense Mr. Joel). Now to my actual selection.

Imagine yourself in an earlier age, heading out West through the deserts, and on horseback. You stop to make camp for the night. A coyote howls in the distance as the sun sets behind a distance plateau. As you eat some beans out of a tin can cooked over the fire, what song do you hear?  America’s “Ventura Highway.”

Aside from that imagery, most people know this song, so when you break out an acoustic guitar at the bonfire and start playing, you’re guaranteed a sing along. And if they don’t know it? Well you’ll still get to see some fire-lit faces trying to discern what an alligator lizard is.

Youtube or other streaming link: 

Name: Miranda Roberts

Year at KU and Major: Junior, Marketing

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Director, Hickory Wind Host

Your Bonfire Jam: “Runners in the Night” by The Rural Alberta Advanatage

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s pine-needle folk rock sound is one I cannot imagine fall without. The song “Runners in the Night” is perfect for any bonfire. Nils Edenloff vocals manage to be both warm and biting, sort of like the cracks you hear from a fire. Mix this in with some ’98 Neutral Milk Hotel and some s’mores and you’ve got yourself the perfect October night. If that’s not enough to convince you, or if you are just more literal, the first line of this song is about “rushing to the fire.” That is exactly what I plan to do in these amber nights to come.

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Name: Kade Schoenfeldt

Year at KU and Major: Freshman, Biochemistry/Spanish

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Staff

Your Bonfire Jam: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

This adorable, cheesy love song from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros holds a lot of personal significance for me. I associate it with some of the most important people in my life, who are incidentally exactly who I want to be huddled around a bonfire with on a chilly autumn evening. The call-and-response lyrics are perfect for singing along at the top of your lungs and the band’s characteristic stomp-and-clap style make this song both chill and fun to dance to. “Home” represents exactly the feeling I get from being at a bonfire with friends – an energetic, laugh-filled night with the people I love most.

Youtube or other streaming link: 


Name: Lexi Westerterp

Year at KU and Major: Freshman, News and Information and Political Science

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Staff

Your Bonfire Jam: “Tenenbaum” by The Paper Kites

I’m a firm believer in the cheesy moments. Heath Ledger singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Frankie Valli to Julia Stiles. Saorise Ronan kissing Timothee Chalamet by the pool. And, of course, those milquetoast moments in movies when two protagonists are sat by the fire and they finally truly see each other while some acoustic song plays in the background.

If you don’t love those moments, even occasionally, you’re a liar.

“Tenenbaum”, with vocals softer than the smoke from the fire, is an evocative song about seeing someone wholly as they are paired with the universal motifs of pining and finding home within that special someone. The song makes you see that person’s eyes as a carbon copy imprint on the backs of your eyelids. It makes you feel hot embers hitting your cheeks, incomparable to the white hot feeling of that person sharing your microfiber blanket with you. It makes you wish, with all your heart, that whatever moment you’re in never ends, that it traps itself in amber and lasts as a relic for someone to find and awe over.

So sure, I’m a firm believer in the cheesy moments. Odds are, you are too.

Youtube or other streaming link: 


Name: Andrew Chávez

Year at KU and Major: Senior, Strategic Communications

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Social Media Director, Thursday’s Local Block host

Your Bonfire Jam: “Common Burn” by Mazzy Star

Although I would naturally hesitate to use “jam” to describe any of Mazzy Star’s songs, “Common Burn” absolutely belongs on this list. This is for all of those people who don’t need every bonfire to be a party. I can safely say I will never get tired of Hope Sandoval’s voice, and just thinking of complementing her honey-smooth vocals with the faint crackling of a bonfire sounds like absolute paradise to me. This song is for those of you aching to feel a bit more content and at ease with everything. “Common Burn” is the most suitable song to accommodate the last burning embers of the fire.

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Name: Savannah Adams

Year at KU and Major: Senior, Microbiology

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Music Staff

Your Bonfire Jam: “Location” by Freelance Whales

Freelance Whales is a band that riles within the listener an autumnal #mood. This song, with its easy-breezy folk-indie thematic style, reminds me of the winds that bring in the fall weather. The vocals are comfortable and warm amidst the “chilly” background instrumentation like a nice cup of warm seasonal beverage. This may not be a bonfire banger but it’s definitely a nice addition to any fall playlist and will have you wishing for sweater weather months before the first leaves start falling.

Youtube or other streaming link:


Name: Parker Freeman

Year at KU and Major: Senior, Strat Comm

DJ Shift or Position at KJHK: Production Director

Your Bonfire Jam: “Farewell Transmission” by Songs Ohia

Choosing a true bonfire jam is tricky. It’s gotta be upbeat enough keep everyone’s spirits high, but it also must allow for deep moments of introspection as you gaze into the flames; similar to you in its roaring vigor but also its impermanence.

What happens when my fire is stomped out and everyone goes home? Will they remember its warmth and the great times they had around it, or was it just another fire? Who am I living for? And where’s the rest of my beer? I swear if that f****r Trent stole it again I’m gonna throw a fit. God dammit dude.

You really have to take all of these things into account. Also you need guitars. But anyway, this song’s good. It fits the bill. It’s as devastatingly bleak as it is hopeful. It probably won’t ruin anyone’s vibe; if you weren’t really listening you’d think it was Bob Seeger or some s**t. But this is honestly one of the best alt-country/Americana/folk rock/whatever-ya-wanna-call-it songs ever made (opinion). It’s got one of the most memorable riffs out there, and I challenge you to find a better delivery of the word “town” in all of recorded music. Check it out.

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