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Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al

After writing the “Weird Al” biography, with “Weird Al” himself, Nathan Rabin dug even deeper into his “Weird Al” fandom to write a detailed account of, as the subtitle says, “Every ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Album Analyzed in Obsessive Detail.”

“Weird Al” wrote the (short) introduction and then Nathan drops the needle on “Weird Al” Yankovic, Al’s 1983 debut album.

Nathan goes into varying degrees of detail on each of the songs.  Nathan was a rabid “Weird Al” fan from when he was a little kid.  And when he talks about how much he loves Al, you can see his deep abiding appreciation for everything Al has done.

Some songs get a paragraph, nut most get a page or so.  He usually talks about how much he likes (or loves) the song (and occasionally dislikes).  There’s nostalgia in the older songs and jokes and observations about contemporary things as well (Rabin’s politics poke through once in a while.  Good thing he’s a smart guy.

Because he did the Al biography with Al, he presumably got a lot of insight into the man and his work.  So although sometimes his insights seem like maybe he’s reading too much into a goofy parody, perhaps he’s on to things.  Maybe Al’s depth is deeper than rhyming Sharona with Bologna.  Which is not in any way to diminish Al’s intelligence.  He’s obviously very smart, especially as his later songs indicate.

Rabin’s tone throughout the book is smart and snarky.  He talks about the songs and the video (if there is one).  He talks about the production quality (or lack thereof) on the first album.  He references Dr. Demento (because the Dr is essential to Al’s career).  He also references Don DeLillo’s White Noise and says things like “Al is in deconstructionist mode.” (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 22, 2021] KT Tunstall / Christine Havrilla [moved from August 23, 2020]

So KT Tunstall was supposed to play three shows in my area.  The show at Ardmore was added when the other shows were rescheduled.  Then COVID pushed the shows back again.

For some reason this show was listed as being on December 8 for a short time before it was corrected to being on December 22.

That meant that it looked like she was playing four shows in the Philly area at different venues.

I like Ardmore, although if I can see a band closer I will go there instead.  Even though KT’s SOPAC show was postponed, the fact that it was postponed and not cancelled meant that I could just wait until she came back to South Orange. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 11, 2021] Stars / Kevin Devine

Back The Montreal band Stars, whom I loved in the early 2000s and would love to see live, announced plans to play some Christmas shows in New York.  I knew I couldn’t go–logistically there was no way.

Then I saw that they also announced a show at World Cafe Live.  Yes!

But it was the same day as our holiday party.  There was no way I could get to this one either.  I held out hope that our party might end early, but again, the logistics were not in my favor.

Kevin Devine, whom I love and whom I have seen live a few times was opening.  I would love to see him again as well.  It really was a perfect bill.  But sometimes timing doesn’t work out.

So Stars, please come back to Philly or NJ.  I will cancel everything else for you.

 

 

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[POSTPONED: December 10, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020 and February 12, 2021]

I enjoyed watching the saga of KT Tunstall’s shows getting scheduled and postponed and reschedule and postponed again.  Not because I want her (or anyone to be unhappy), but because it was a good bellweather as to what was going on.  Unlike most artists, KT was really game to get out there.

Plus she had three shows in my area and it seemed like I saw her name all the time.

Well, things finally opened up and she was playing her shows.  Of the three, I was most likely to go to this one since it was closest.  And then a short time before the show, it was postponed as well.  But her other shows weren’t

But this time it wasn’t because of COVID or other health related issues, it was actually a boon for her (although not for SOPAC).

She was invited to sing at the 41st Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at Symphony Space in New York City.  A good reason to postpone a show.

I see that in the new year, KT is on the West Coast, so I’m not sure when she’ll be back for SOPAC, but I’m sure her local fans will be waiting.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.

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[ATTENDED: October 15, 2021] Jade Bird

I’ve really enjoyed the rocking songs that Jade Bird releases.  Her voice is so powerful and big that I rally wanted to see her live.  Well, we did kind of see her live at Newport Folk Festival, but that was more hearing her as we were walking around.  So when she announced a tour I definitely wanted to see her.

But it turned out that her show at Underground Arts was Thursday the 14th and I’d already had three shows in a row that week.  (One did get cancelled, but I didn’t change my plans).  So I wouldn’t get to see her.  Until WXPN announced that she’d be playing a Free at Noon (one of the few they did this year).

A Free at Noon show is weird for me.  I have to leave at least 90 minutes before the show for travel time and parking and then it takes me an hour at least to get back to work. So that’s two and a half hours, not including the show which is usually an hour.  So, if traffic is bad, it could be a four hour Free at Noon for me.  But if you have extra vacation time, why not use it?

So I drove down to Philly and got a great spot on the street.  I actually wound up being very early because of the lack of traffic.  And that was fine.  I got a spot right by the stage and waited for Jade Bird to come out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE PEELS-“Juanita Banana” (1966).

I heard this song today on WXPN’s “Worst Song in the World” segment.  And as soon as it started, I understood why it was on there.

The person who submitted the song said she just wanted to know…  why? Why would someone make this?  And this is a good question.  More amazingly why would they make a Part 2?  (They did).

The song opens with a kind of Mexican guitar intro and spoken word story of Juanita–a banana grower’s daughter.  She wanted to sing at the opera, so she left the banana fields and went to the city.  And as the chorus comes in Juanita sings an incredibly high pitched (and way out of context) note that turns into the melody of “Caro Nome” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.

What?

Then the band sings the “Juanita Banana” chorus in a kind of Mexican accent complete with horns.

What?

Her melody comes one more time and just when you think that the operatic vocals are enough, Juanita’s father burns down the trees, moves to the city and sings in a deep voice the same melody.

They even duet at the end!

It is so bizarre, so potentially offensive, and yet so catchy (that Rigoletto part is wonderful) that it could only be a mid 60’s novelty song.

The DJ explained that it was a novelty song but it was actually a minor hit in 1966.  He said a little more about it, but sadly I  didn’t catch the whole story.

And yet I can’t get that scream melody out of my head.

[READ: May 3, 2021] “The Case for and Against Love Potions”

This story opens with an older, married man talking to a younger, single man.  The younger man asks what one should do if the person he loves does not love him back.  The older man is pleased that the younger man recognized that the older man is “the most sagacious man in this part of the country.”

I rather enjoyed the tone of the story and the amusing way the sagacious man spoke:

As you know, there are a million and three solutions to this problem.. .I imagine you tried at least twenty-eight of them before coming to see me today.

The best advice the man can give is simple: love potions. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: February 12, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020; moved to December 10, 2021]

index

The SOPAC site says that new dates will be announced for this show.  It’s nice to read postponed rather than cancelled.

When it was announced that KT Tunstall was going to play SOPAC, my first thought was probably, huh, she’s still around?

Then over the last few months I’ve been seeing more and more about her.  I also feel like her name keeps cropping up in local venues.

After listening to a live show of hers on WXPN, I realized that she’s really good (and released songs I didn’t realize were hers).  I had no intention of going to this show but with all of her shows rescheduled and the new one being moved to next year, this might be a nice show to go to.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.

sopac

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SOUNDTRACK: BLACK PUMAS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #122 (December 7, 2020).

After hearing a couple of Black Pumas songs on WXPN, I had to get the album.  They played such an interesting and catchy style of “gritty, retro soul.”

I was pretty happy for them when the were nominated for a bunch of Grammies.  Then S. and I were laughing because so many people we knew (who follow pop music) had never heard of them.  So I guess they are quite the niche band.  But I’m glad to have heard them.  And I’m glad they get the Tiny Desk Home Concert.

The Austin-based rock band Black Pumas is having a good 2020. The group, led by singer Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada, was just nominated for three Grammys, including album of the year for Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), and both record of the year and best American roots performance for the track “Colors.” The band’s turn behind a tiny desk (and chair) shows why its debut album — now more than a year old — is receiving so much recognition right now.

The band is socially distanced in a studio with singer Eric Burton in a bad ass leather jacket up front.

Behind him are terrific backing singers Lauren Cervantes and Angela Miller.

Then, masked in the back row are guitarist Adrian Quesada, drummer Steve Bidwell bassist, Brendan Bond and keyboardist JaRon Marshall.

They play four songs and

the intensity level builds gradually throughout this four-song set. It’s clear why the band’s live shows have won over fans. From the opening strains of “Red Rover,” Burton digs deep and by the time we get to the ballad “OCT 33,” he’s burning with old-school soul heartbreak.

“Red Rover” is on the second disc of the deluxe edition, so I wasn’t as familiar with it.  But it’s got a nifty wah wah and echoed guitar solo from Quesada.

Up next is “Fire.”  Burton grabs a guitar as a keyboard melody opens the song.  Quesada plays a cool surf riff and then Burton takes over the vocals.  His voice is outstanding and this song is crazy cathy (the backing vocals are just icing on the cake).  When Burton sings a note mid song and kicks it even higher, his hat falls off–that’s the kind of intensity they bring.

Burton opens “OCT 33” with a soft, echoing guitar melody.  It’s simple but instantly grabbing.  He starts to sing as bass is added.  The song slowly builds over the length of it to a wonderful moment mid song where Burton sings and Quesada plays a ripping fuzzy guitar solo.

They end with the wonderful “Colors.”  An echoing, instantly memorable guitar lick opens the song.  Burton’s voice sounds fantastic as he sings.  I love the “doo doo doo doo” part in the middle and JaRon’s extended old soul-sounding organ solo is a fantastic treat.

The Pumas are probably my favorite new band of 2020.

[READ: January 3, 2021] “Rwanda”

I’ve really had a hard time getting into Wideman’s stories in the past.  I don’t like his writing style and I often feel like I know what’s going on until he starts to get really elliptical and he loses me.  I feel like this is a failing on my part, but who knows.

This story is told in four parts.

Part I

The narrator asks his niece (and us) a thought experiment.  If you were in charge of running the world and you learned that life on earth was going to end shortly (6 months at most) would you tell the public?

Wideman ties the story to what’s happening in the world.

What if this deadly plague meant that all life would soon end.  Would they tell us?  How would people react?  Would people freak out and go crazy–everyone for himself, or would some carry on as normal? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE NIGHT BEFORE–WXPN (December 24, 2020).

Every year, from Midnight on December 23 to Midnight on December 24, DJ Robert Drake plays TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of the most esoteric Christmas music around.  Sure, there’s some familiar songs, but mostly, this is weird, wonderful Christmas music.  It is a MUST LISTEN for your Christmas Eve.  Especially around 11PM, when he’s been up for over 24 hours.

Check out the stream here and read all about this fascinating history below

It was 28 years ago when WXPN came to me, with those puppy-dog eyes, hoping that I’d fill in on December 24. Seems no one was available, and in those days before digital, you needed a body to oversee any programming. So, I agreed – as long as they gave me complete freedom to spin an aural web of sounds of the season – direct from my collection of holiday tunes.

What they didn’t know was that I had already developed a fascination for Christmas songs. Not the burnt cookies anyone can hear up and down the dial in December. My collection was chock-full of unique nuggets – some not given the light of day for decades.

So, they agreed to give me three hours and I delivered. The three hours went to four – which went to six and then to twelve, to celebrate twelve years of tradition! The following year management asked what I planned to do to top my 12-hour marathon. I said, how ’bout 24 hours?! After checking my pulse and temperature – just to be sure I wasn’t babbling under some illness – they agreed. Ever since, I’ve been on the air for 24-nonstop hours every Christmas Eve.

And now I am doing it all again!

Within my 24 hour radio takeover on December 24, I will air some special programming that have become traditions within the tradition! Every Christmas Eve morning at 10am, I replay Home For The Holidays hosted by Helen Leicht. An amazing selection of regional artists perform classic sounds of the season.

At noon it’s my annual broadcast of STRIKING TWELVE – a wonderful and creative retelling of “The Little Match Girl”, a short story by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen and performed here by GroveLily.

Later in the evening at 7pm, I broadcast It’s A Wonderful Life – the 1947 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed … a perfect way to showcase the magic of radio on this most magical of nights!

Here’s a few songs you’ve already missed today

Bailen – Christmas Is All Around
The Piano Guys – Carol Of The Bells
Weird Al Yankovic – Christmas At Ground Zero
Asleep At The Wheel – Christmas In Jail
Wall Of Voodoo – Shouldn’t Have Given Him A Gun For Christmas
John Flynn – Christmas Balls

[READ: December 24, 2020] “A Portrait of an Unnamed Man”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 24.  Edward Carey, author of The Swallowed Man, writes his phone number on his hand for just such an occasion. [Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

This story read like a Mad Lib to me and I don;t understand why it was written.

It starts out fairly normally.  After a bad storm the air is full of the smell of rotting photographs.  That’s very specific, but I get it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATIE PRUITT-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #102 (October 26, 2020).

I was supposed to see Katie Pruitt open for City and Colour, but those shows were cancelled.  I didn’t know who Pruitt was at the time, but since then, her song “Experience” has been getting a lot of airplay on WXPN.  And I really like it.

I thought it was either a new or newly released Fleetwood Mac song.   Both Katie’s (fantastic) guitar sound and (more importantly) her vocal delivery sounds like classic Fleetwood Mac.  Even Zach Witcher’s bass seems to fit perfectly.  And the way he plays along with that super catchy opening and closing riff is perfect.  She adds a cool guitar solo to the end of the song, too.

She says that “Out of the Blue” is about letting someone go and growing from it.  It’s a slower song with more pretty guitars (and soft drums from Ross McReynolds).  It almost feels loungey with the echoey guitar and her delivery.  Witcher gets a nifty high note bass solo before Pruitt plays a solo of her own.

After the song, she says, “It’s been a hard year.”

“But one thing about painful experiences is that … it forces you to grow.” Expectations offers myriad scenes of such transformation, documenting Pruitt’s journey from a Southern Catholic childhood to adulthood as an out lesbian who, as she sings in “Loving Her,” is “staying true to who I am.”

“Loving Her”was another song by Pruitt that I knew by Pruitt.  She released it on national Coming Out Day.  It’s a lovely love song about loving who you want and loving yourself.  The lyrics are great.  Here’s sample

You see, I used to be ashamed to write a song that said her name
‘Cause I was too afraid of what they all might say
But if loving her is wrong and it’s not right to write this song
Then I’m still not gonna stop and you can turn the damn thing off
If loving her’s a choice, she’s all I’m gonna choose
No way you could sway me in another’s favor
Some people choose Buddha or Jesus or booze
But her body’s my temple and her soul is my savior

Now I’m even more bummed that the show was cancelled.

[READ: December 4, 2020] “Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Pairs of Sweatpants”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 4. Martin Riker, author of Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return, prefers the term “loungewear.”  [Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

Yesterday’s story was a little tough for me to read. But today’s story was fantastic.  I loved it immediately.  The nod to John Cage’s 4’33” was great but the story doesn’t have anything to do with Cage.

It is written from the point of view of a female musician. She say the story she wants to tell deals with Byron Brandt and Peter Smith.

Peter Smith is a minor celebrity now, but when they dated, he was a struggling artist.  Actually, she was the struggling artist, working four jobs, while he sat around and did very little. (more…)

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