Red Dragon TV founder seeking to create a paradise for independent voices

Red Dragon TV founder Ari-John White-Wolf, left, interviews a band during a performance of Inna Godda Davida (Esta Pratt-Kielley/Madison Commons)Red Dragon TV founder Ari-John White-Wolf, left, interviews a band during a performance of Inna Godda Davida (Esta Pratt-Kielley/Madison Commons)


Walking into the Red Dragon TV clubhouse, you may feel as if you have entered the Garden of Eden. Except instead of a tree of knowledge, there is a soundboard of reverberations. Instead of beautiful gardens, there is a spot lit stage. And instead of a serpent, there is a red dragon.

You are not in the Garden of Eden, but rather a part of Inna Godda Davida, Red Dragon TV’s live Friday night music show named after rock and roll band Iron Butterfly’s 1968 album. And perhaps this title is more fitting, as it is rumored that Iron Butterfly got its album name from a drunken attempt at saying the lyrics “In the Garden of Eden.”

Red Dragon TV founder and executive producer Ari-John White-Wolf, who goes by his first name primarily, said he thinks the name encompasses the human condition.

“I like it because we’re all in the Garden of Eden,” Ari-John said. “It’s just kind of skewed a little bit.”

That idea reflects Red Dragon TV’s mission: “to provide a highway for independent talent to be seen around the world.”

Red Dragon TV is a 24-hour internet television station that broadcasts solely independent media. The 24-hour broadcast includes past live performances and music videos submitted by bands. There is also the occasional live comedy hour or open mic show. It can be found at

“I wanted to do something different,” Ari-John said. “My process was thinking about what I want to hear as a consumer: overproduced stuff or do I want to hear something raw in the moment?”

Ari-John started the station to give independent music a voice in the business-dominated landscape.

“Overproduced music is nice and great for the number crunchers on the radio,” Ari-John said. “But it doesn’t move you quite as much as somebody who is burying their soul without a hundred takes. And that, to me, is important.”

What started as broadcasting open mic sessions at Java Joint using its free wifi has evolved to 24-hour broadcasting from a house on 109 East Lakeside Street. Inna Godda Davida is open to the public, every Friday night at 7 p.m. for one hour.

“It’s been a dream of mine for 20 years to do something this size,” Ari-John said. “I may not have always seen it the exactly same way it is today, but it’s always been a dream.”

Red Dragon TV has attracted bands from as far away as Mexico City, Ari-John said. Recently, a singer touring from New Jersey played on Inna Godda Davida.

“I wanted to find a local, independent venue in Madison,” singer Deena Shoshkes said. “Red Dragon allows artists to be raw, and that’s exactly what we were looking for.”

Local band Sexy Ester also played at Red Dragon when they were just starting out. Many bands have started out at Red Dragon and continued to come back and play shows.

Located at 109 E. Lakeside, Red Dragon TV hosts a live taping of Inna Godda Davida on Friday nights (Esta Pratt-Kielley/Madison Commons)Located at 109 E. Lakeside, Red Dragon TV hosts a live taping of Inna Godda Davida on Friday nights (Esta Pratt-Kielley/Madison Commons)Ari-John finds bands online mostly, on Facebook and Craigslist. He said Red Dragon’s reputation has built via word of mouth between band members. Many who play on Inna Godda Davida say they heard about the venue from previous performers. 

During Inna Godda Davida, Ari-John takes a break to get to know the band performing.

“I think you want to know every element of the music and know where they’re coming from,” Ari-John said.

He interviews much like he runs Red Dragon TV, with no formulas or plans set in stone.

“When I interview a band, for example, I don’t come into it knowing anything about that band because they might take us in a direction, in the moment, that I never expected us to go,” he said. “And I don’t want to limit that ability to happen.”

Ari-John is self-taught in broadcasting and all the technology that comes along with it.

But doing everything yourself is tough. Ari-John said he funds Red Dragon primarily out of his own pocket with about two percent coming from donations, and about eight percent coming from bands renting the space for rehearsal.

“I keep going probably because I’m a lunatic,” he said, laughing. “No, I do love doing what I do even thought financially it can be a drag at times.”

Red Dragon TV has a tremendous need for interns and volunteers in just about every area from video recording to social media.

“The biggest problem is the lack of bodies for projects,” Ari-John said. “I feel like I have 10 to 15 things going at once. It’s hard to reach out and get more volunteers.”

Two volunteers have been coming regularly since last fall to help with Inna Godda Davida every Friday.

Red Dragon TV is run by volunteers, and more are always welcome (Esta Pratt- Kielley/Madison Commons).Red Dragon TV is run by volunteers, and more are always welcome (Esta Pratt- Kielley/Madison Commons).David “The Earl” Ihde said he had no experience with video technology before volunteering.

“I could feel Ari’s need and the anxiety he was suffering from not having any help,” Ihde said. “I didn’t know what I could contribute, but I thought I could make just some difference to help him out.”

Thomas Brockert got involved after he came to watch a friend’s band perform. He had some previous sound technology experience and was inspired by Ari-John’s mission.

“I thought he was a really positive person and really trying to make it happen and archive all these bands,” Brockert said. “What he was trying to create here is what drew me here more than anything.”

“My volunteers are amazing souls,” Ari-John said. “Doing it all myself is too much. They help to set up artists and run the audio and video in back.”

Ari-John is a Marine Corps veteran. He started Red Dragon TV after getting a settlement from the Marine Corps when he reacted to the smallpox vaccination he received in the service. He spent about a decade in a wheelchair and now uses a cane to get around, but still will break out in fevers.

Red Dragon has helped Ari-John recover, he said.

“I deal tremendously with PTSD and it helps that a lot,” Ari-John said. “It calms the savage beast to be able to do the things that I’m doing.”

Being part of and giving back to the community is a huge part of that for Ari-John.

“My oath of office as a Marine to God and Country very much is why I do what I do at Red Dragon TV,” he said. “This is my way of continuing that mission of being part of my community and country.”

 To be a part of a community is helping the unheard voices be heard, said Ari-John.

“Community is putting in what you can to give back,” Ari-John said. “A nation can never be greater than its lowest person. For me, that is helping the lowest of the low to no longer be lowest of the low.”

He is always looking to improve Red Dragon and take it to the next level. He would love to get sponsors and expand to other programming each week, like talk shows and comedy hours.

“It’s a continuous evolution,” Ari-John said.

He hopes to do more remote shows as well, broadcasting from different locations. He said Red Dragon TV will always be around in some form.

Ari-John uses the surname “White-Wolf.” He and his family are estranged and he reached out to some friends at church to support him. They came up with the name White-Wolf for Ari-John after the Native American totem symbolism.

And much like a white wolf, Ari-John shows an appetite for freedom and a passion in his everyday endeavors. He serves as a reminder to always keep your spirit alive, trust your instincts and find your way in the best way that suits you.

Ari-John White-Wolf helps build a bridge between the physical world and the spiritual world, helping others see the underlying purposes in life.

He commented on his spirituality and how he feels a great connection to everyone who comes to play Fridays during Inna Godda Davida.

“It’s a lot like a flower,” Ari-John said. “Everything all closed up right now, but in a couple of hours, it will all open up. Each pedal will be where it is supposed to be.”