Posts Tagged ‘Franorama 2.0’

Why I do cry, or all good things do have to end (Chip Damiani, 1945-2014)

February 24, 2014
The Remains in their first prime. From left: Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, Barry Tashian and Vern Miller.

The Remains in their first prime. From left: Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, Barry Tashian and Vern Miller.

How I got through the last three hours of work this past evening and remained something resembling productive while being emotionally numb is beyond me.

I’ve written tributes to deceased musicians many times, both for newspapers and here on this blog. But until now, I had never been written one about a friend.

As in any instance when a friend dies suddenly, totally unexpectedly, it’s awfully hard to articulate. It’s hard to even say it.

Okay, I’ll just get the hard part out and let the rest flow. After jamming through a whole bunch of work, I stopped around 9 p.m. to have a bite and check out my Facebook messages. A writer from Westport named Dan Woog posted a link to his blog on my page: Chip Damiani, the drummer for one of the best rock’n’roll bands America ever produced, The Remains — and, what is really important to me, a good friend and former neighbor-of-sorts — died yesterday afternoon of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was 68 going on 35.

Go figure — trim, in a fighting shape forged from all those years as a roofer, in the best physical shape by far of everyone in the band, their backbone and fiery, no-bullshit, you-knew-where-you-stood presence. And he’s the one who went first.

And it was Chip who provided me with one of my favorite stories in two-plus decades as a music writer. And introduced me to the band that provided me with two of my favorite moments as a music fan.

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Cygnus Radio playlist 7/19/13: The heat was hot and the ground was dry but the air was full of sound

July 20, 2013

sunFranorama 2.0 airs live every Friday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT on Cygnus Radio, and in semi-perpetuity in the archives. To access the archives, click here.

No, for the record, I did NOT play “A Horse With No Name” on my latest Franorama 2.0 show. But it was, indeed, a hot one — in a heatwave of a week here in Connecticut. The projected high here was 96 degrees — in or out of the shade — with the humidity around 70 percent. And so, the show responded accordingly.

(And yes, Fresno friends, the heat is a lot different back here, as someone who knows. The mid-to-upper 90s out there are bearable. The low-to-mid-90s here are brutal when you throw in that humidity.)

Lots of songs about heat, and coping with it, on this latest show. But some detours as well:

  • “In the City,” “In the City”: Decided to throw two totally different songs with the songs back-to-back in the opening set, which I tend to do sometimes. The first was by The Jam, of course. The second was by the Big Boys, one of Texas’ first hardcore bands — a group that really was too eclectic and experimental and way-before-their-time to be categorized so rigidly.
  • Supporting the loosely based tribe: Laura Jane Grace fronts the pop-punk band Against Me!, and she, like your hostess, has gone through gender transition. (I don’t talk about this much on the radio because 1) Many listeners are friends who know my story already; and 2) It often has no bearing on what I play.) But her transition has been a little harder than mine in two regards: 1) She’s the singer for a nationally known band; and 2) She came out in Florida, that clusterfuck of radical right-wing gooberism and intolerance. Anyway, she released a free download online of her new single, “True Trans Soul Rebel,” so that triggered a set.
  • “Mi Sento Felice”: The Box Tops in Italian! From 1969, set to “Cry Like a Baby.” The only American recording I’ve seen that includes it is Rhino’s Best of The Box Tops compilation LP in the early ’80s. And now you’ve heard it — or can if you click the link to the second hour …
  • “Long Blond Hair”: Bookended my final set with two versions of this rockabilly classic (which I used to sing occasionally with New Haven rockabilly trio Gone Native in the ’90s). The opener was a 1997 version by an artsy, atmospheric Los Angeles combo called The Hyperions, from their album Howl. Saw them play this at the Continental Club in Austin when I was at South X Southwest in ’98. The latter was Johnny Powers’ 1957 original. (Powers was a Detroit native who was the only artist ever signed to both Sun and Motown, and the first male artist signed to Motown. And he did the foot stompin’ on The Supremes’ “Baby Love.”)

Okay, that’s enough. Off to have an iced tea. Please drop in live or in the archives. And tell your friends — we’ve got a thing going on. Ciao …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 7/12/13: The Fleshtones and the American Beat

July 16, 2013
The Fleshtones in action -- they're never at rest -- this past Saturday at Sailfest, at the Hygienic Art Park in New London, CT. From left: Ken Fox, Peter Zaremba, Bill Milhizer and Keith Streng.

The Fleshtones in action — on stage, they’re never at rest  — this past Saturday (July 13) at Sailfest, at the Hygienic Art Park in New London, CT. From left: Ken Fox, Peter Zaremba, Bill Milhizer and Keith Streng.

Franorama 2.0 airs live every Friday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in semi-perpetuity. For the link to the archived shows, click here.

“The Fantastic Johnny C! Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon! The incredible James Brown! Roy Brown! Chuck Brown! The Reverend Richard Penniman! Elvis Presley and all the kings of rock’n’roll. Lou Costello! The Intruders! The Illusions! Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly! The Dell-Vikings, Del Fuegos, Del Shannon, MC5. The Velvets! The Stooges! Louie Jordan, Rosco Gordon! The Raiders and the Wailers and The Kingsmen and The Sonics. Phast Phreddie, The Last! The Unclaimed, The Plimsouls! The Lyres and The Real Kids. The Modern Lovers! Alan Vega, Los Lobos, The Gentrys, The Dantes and The Headhunters, too. Mitch Ryder! Ritchie Valens! The Osmonds! Parliament and The Jackson 5. The Rivingtons! Donna Summer! Martha Reeves! Richard Berry! Berry Gordy! Hoo — Chuck Berry! LouieLouieLouieLouieLouieLouieLoueeeee! Come on, Louie! LouieLouieLouieeee!”

The above roll call comes at the tail end of the Franorama 2.0 national anthem — the song I use to open nearly every show, be it on Cygnus Radio online or WPKN in Bridgeport — “American Beat ’84” by my eternal favorite band, Brooklyn’s uncrowned kings of pop and soul since 1976, The Fleshtones. A re-recording of their very first single, from 1978, it ran in the end-title credits of Tom Hanks’ first starring feature, Bachelor Party (where he shared marquee time with the illustrious Adrian Zmed and Tawny Kitaen).

Peter taking his chances out in the crowd.

Peter taking his chances out in the crowd.

And in this re-done version. Peter Zaremba, the group’s kinetic frontman, honored some of the people who’ve shaped rock and soul — both familiar and unfamiliar names.

And since they were playing in Connecticut for the first time since my move home last August — this last Saturday (July 13) as part of New London’s annual Sailfest, and playing in the prime pre- and post-fireworks slot once held by The Reducers, I devoted the whole show to them. And, in particular, the American Beat. Took me more than 20 years to finally do this show, based on the roll call. I’m not the first person who’s done this, but hey — it doesn’t happen very often. And I had more fun than a barrel of people.

Keith impersonates Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" album cover.

Keith impersonates Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album cover.

Anyway, by the time I put together all the songs for the roll call, I realized, “Holy shit! I have over three hours of music for a three-hour show! And no Fleshtones!” So I texted Gary Gone, the head G of this Cygnus operation, seeing if he minded if I go over an extra hour; he was fine with it — after all, there were four hours until D.J. Lotto’s Happy Hour show, and I draw (hopefully) better ratings than the autobot that runs during the dead-air times — so all’s well that ends well.

And their show Saturday night was as fun and energetic as I’ve seen them in years. They were firing on all cylinders. I’ve seen both good and bad shows over nearly 30 years, and this was one of the good ones. The Fleshtones are the most fun you can have on a Saturday night without a prescription, and this show was proof.

Keith and Eddie Munoz during The Split Squad's opening set.

Keith and Eddie Munoz during The Split Squad’s opening set.

And the opening act was a revelation. ‘Shtones guitarist Keith Streng also plays in The Split Squad, all of whom have other jobs. Surrounding singer/bassist Michael Giblin (of The Parallax Project) are Keith and Eddie Munoz of Plimsouls fame on guitar, organist Josh Kantor of The Baseball Project and Fenway Park, and, normally on drums, Clem Burke. But since Clem was away with some other band he plays with (Blondie), pinch-drumming was Linda Pitmon, also of The Baseball Project and, with husband Steve Wynn, The Miracle 3. Lots of unexpected fun.

Anyway, back to “American Beat.” Some notes for the uninitiated:

Peter gave a quick mention to “all the kings of rock’n’roll,” so I took artistic license to conjure as many American Kings as I could muster … Thee Precisions were Phast Phreddie’s band — longtime L.A. scenester Phast Phreddie Patterson … The Unclaimed was an L.A. garage band  from the late ’70s/early ’80s, best known for being Sid Griffin’s first band, before The Long Ryders … Alan Vega was half (with Martin Rev) of minimalist no-wave duo Suicide in the late ’70s/early ’80s … The Gentrys, of “Keep on Damcing” fame, included future famed pro wrestling “manager” Jimmy Hart … The Dantes were a garage band from Ohio whose breakout single from 1964, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” was covered by The Fleshtones in the mid-to-late ’80s … Motown mogul Berry Gordy, of course, was never a recording artist, and Motown was represented already, so I included his first big claim to fame — as co-writer of “Lonely Teardrops” for his Detroit friend Jackie Wilson.

Well, that’s all. No themes planned for this Friday’s show. But I guarantee a fun time. So tune in while you work, tell your friends and, if you haven’t done so yet, please “like” my Facebook radio/blog page. I want this show, and this station, to blow up bigtime. Have fun — I know I did.

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Cygnus Radio playlist 7/5/13: The Zombies were having fun …

July 7, 2013
Yes, it's the Zombies, but no no no, no, no, no, it's not from last Friday night's show in Hamden; this is from June 16 in Rockville, Md. From left: Rod Argent, Jim Rodford and Colin Blunstone. From YouTube.

Yes, it’s The Zombies, but no no no, no, no, no, it’s not from last Friday night’s show in Hamden; this is from June 16 in Rockville, Md. From left: Rod Argent, Jim Rodford and Colin Blunstone. From YouTube.

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in perpetuity in the archives. To go to the archives, click here.

Well, all the years I was writing about music at the New Haven Register, the Hamden Arts Commission would hold a free summer concert series at Meadowbrook Park, an old golf course in the center of town, but despite writing about it every year in the Weekend section, I never went to a show. (I think it was just not wanting to do anything on a Friday night after a 55-to 60-hour work week. Usually just exhaustion and/or decompression.)

Finally, in this, my first summer home from my eight-year exile in California, I went to a show. And it was, indeed, a show. This year, the commission opened its four-Fridays-in-July series with The Zombies.

I’d heard good things from discerning musical friends about the reconstituted Zombies — maybe the most understated and underappreciated act of the British Invasion — since singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent began touring under that name again in the early 2000s. But I’d never had the chance to see them.

My friend Theresa and her hubby, Fred, picked me up (thanks again!), and we made a night of it. And for such a skeevy, sticky summer day, it was a gorgeous evening. And The Zombies were well worth it. A packed hour and a half as it got dark — all the hits, five tunes from Odessey and Oracle, some newer stuff, Rod playing “Hold Your Head Up,” “She’s Not There” to end the set, then “Just out of Reach” and “Summertime” to end it.

And Blunstone — who, like Argent, just turned 68 — was in most excellent voice. All these years, I’ve seen so many performers cut corners to compensate for the vocal ranges they’ve lost. He still has his. The only other singer I can think of who kept his voice well into his 60s like that was Ronnie Dio (who lived to 67; his stomach may have failed him, but not his larynx).

Anyway, I celebrated in advance by playing a half-hour of Zombies on the show that morning, a 10-song set.

And some of the other tunes of note from the 5th:

  • Musicians, get played here! A wonderful thing happened in the midst of the opening set. The irrepressible Palmyra Delran — onetime guitarist and leader of The Friggs — messaged me on Facebook with links to her two most recent singles, “Shy Boy” and “You’re My Brian Jones.” My unofficial motto is “If I like it, I’ll play it” — so I processed both cuts and got them on before the set was over. The moral of the story: If you have an album (CD or files) you think is worthy of playing, well, as I said, if I like it, I’ll play it! message me here or on my Facebook page, and I’ll let you know where to send the album.
  • Musicians, get played here! Part two: The Lost Riots, from New Havenish. I’ve known the lead guitarist, Sean Beirne, since he was a young squirt playing with The Battlecats. Saw them for the first time Wednesday night at the Punk Rock BBQ at Cafe Nine. And ahead if the show, they posted their forthcoming cassette (yes, cassette), “Crown Street Stories,” as a free download on Bandcamp. I played “You Don’t Like Otis Redding.”
  • 50 years? Really? According to the FB page for the documentary The Wrecking Crew, Friday was the 50th anniversary of the day the famed group of L.A. studio musicians laid down the tracks for “By My Baby” at Gold Star Studios. Brian Wilson’s all-time favorite single and source of production inspiration. History.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Coming up this Friday: A special rave-up with the band that’s headlining before and after the fireworks Saturday evening at the Sailfest in New London — my faves, The Fleshtones. Get ready for three hours of wildness.

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Cygnus Radio playlist 6/28/13: The week that was the last wek of June

July 2, 2013

June calendarFranorama 2.0 airs live on Cygnus Radio from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (9 a.m.-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-4 p.m. GMT) and in the archive in perpetuity. To get to the archives, click here.

Well, for the first time in a long time, there was no planned theme to the most recent episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio. But, as usually happens, some mini-themes begin to sprout from the fertile little garden that is my brain (and, by extension, my wife the laptop, upon which I write this here blog and do this here radio show):

Game Theory and Big Star: Two cult-following groups that were honored with tribute shows in Manhattan this past weekend. Actually went to the Scott Miller benefit tribute show Saturday night at the Cake Shop, thanks to Ms. Marice, who had an extra ticket. (The quick backstory: Scott, a fine pop singer/songwriter who led Game Theory in the ’80s and The Loud Family in the ’90s, died unexpectedly in April. The benefit was to raise money for his family.) The 18-song show was kinda sloppy and (especially early on) disorganized, but got better as the night went on, highlighted by a couple songs performed by Ted Leo. I didn’t get to the free show at Central Park’s Summerstage the next night — a performance of Big Star’s Third in its entirety (if not in order), headed by Mitch Easter, along with Big Star’s Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow, and including the likes of Marshall Crenshaw, Mike Mills and Richard Lloyd. But I noted both events on my show.

Gettysburg: Yesterday (July 1) was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the most pivotal event in the most pivotal period of American history. The three bloodiest days ever encountered on American soil. And so I called up the two Civil War rock songs I knew of — David Kincaid (who is a Civil War re-enactor and has carved a career singing period songs in authentic replica Union uniforms) leading The Brandos through “Gettysburg,” and Richard X. Heyman’s “Civil War Buff.” (Well, five songs, but I wasn’t gonna play Iced Earth’s 31-minute “Gettysburg” Trilogy …)

That was the week that was: The Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, a filibuster in Texas that turned a heretofore-unknown state senator from Fort Worth into a national political figure (and unwitting Mizuno running shoe pitchwoman), the Supremes striking two huge blows for marriage equality, and the (still-continuing as of now) Nelson Mandela death watch. A heavy news week that made its way, in a way, into the show.

Anyway, catch you this Friday. Stay tuned. And please tell your friends to tune in while they while away at their desks or loaf or do the housework …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 6/21/13: ‘Cause it’s summer

June 25, 2013

SummerSolstice7Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9 a.m.-noon CDT/7-10 a.m. PDT/2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the link to the archives, click here.

The summer solstice took place at 1:04 a.m. Friday, while most of you were sleeping. But not here at Franorama 2.0 World Domination Headquarters, where the staff (okay, it’s just me, but please do pay attention to the woman behind the curtain) worked feverishly rounding up songs that screamed summer. Well, maybe not all of them screamed, but emoted it melodically. And it did serve to launch your summer — and mine — in a fun way.

And not all of it was The Beach Boys. In fact, very little of it had to do with The Beach Boys — though the summer tribute show did dovetail nicely into acknowledgements of both Brian Wilson’s 71st birthday, and the 69th birthday of another of my faves, Ray Davies  of The Kinks.

Get SlimBut there were also a couple of small tributes to people who left the mortal coil ahead of the show. The musical bed for most of the show was A3’s “Woke Up This Morning” — aka the theme to The Sopranos — as my small nod to that acting giant, James Gandolfini. (And as an aside, one of the bands I played actually did appear on The Sopranos — The Swingin’ Neckbreakers once performed in a scene in Adriana’s nightclub.) And a singer who died earlier Wednesday, who was part of my late-night TV repertoire for years — the man who sold more records on late-night TV than Elvis or The Beatles, the man who saved the planet from a Martian invasion! — Slim Whitman.

Anyway, no theme, rhyme or reason planned for this Friday’s show — and hopefully, no tributes to the dearly departed for once. Pass the sunscreen …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 6/14/13: The rain, Newtown and other things

June 17, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and forever and ever in the archives. To listen to the archived link to this and all other Cygnus shows, click here.

Last Friday’s episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio revolved around three spheres

The Rain. It had rained heavily the two previous days, and Friday began just as dark and wet until the sky cleared considerably just around lunchtime. In fact, as I sat here in the cellar home studio, I would leave the laptop aside every half-hour or so and turn on the wet-vac and suck another buckets of water from the carpet near the cellar door. (Yes, multitasking.)

The spring here in Connecticut has been full of weather stops-starts like this, with intermittent storms and sharp temperature drops

Anyway, I had a lot more songs about rain , both literally and metaphorically, than I realized, but I kept it to two sets’ worth. Notables: ending one set with the Dead (“Box of Rain”) and beginning the next with the Dead, from their earliest recording session as The Warlocks (“Early Morning Rain”). And, of course, I had to play The Cowsills.

Sandy Hook SchoolNewtown. It was six months to the very hour — also on a Friday morning — that the news crawls on local TVs began running the news that there were reports of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown. And as morning progressed into lunchtime into afternoon into mourning, the disbelief that usually goes with such horrific events — and Newtown, as well as most of western Connecticut really IS a sleepy town where little ever happens — was countered by the wretched enormity of what had happened.

And living a half-hour away, and having the privilege of having a microphone on this milestone day — and having known a couple whose daughter was one of the murdered teachers — I couldn’t let the day pass unnoticed. But how to commemorate it? The TV stations were gonna milk it for all they could — the maudlin piano chords, the “Tragedy at Sandy Hook” graphics, all of which I find pretty damn offensive.

I didn’t want to get bogged down in the politics of it, but I read aloud the eloquent-but-angry op-ed piece in the morning;s Newtown Bee. It came from Tucson — from Gabby Giffords and Roxanna Green. (Green’s young daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was killed in the shooting that critically wounded Giffords.) The words speak for themselves.

I don’t have a lot of kid-related music. But I do have parts of They Might Be Giants’ album NO! It was a children’s album, and my favorite song on the album was a Lovin’ Spoonful-style tune written about one of the great many questions a curious kid would ask about the world. And it sounded as if it were something that a first-grader would ask. Where do they make balloons? So that’s what I led with.

I also played one of Marvin Gaye’s most poignant songs from one of his most troubled and brilliant times, along with some of the childlike innocence from Brian Wilson at his most vulnerable and troubled period, and finished the set with Judy Garland. It was all I could do to not lose it. Had I played the version of “Over the Rainbow” that the surviving Sandy Hook students recorded (at Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s home studio in Fairfield), I most definitely would never have made it through the song.

And other things. Well, some of the other threads:

Arturo Vega. The Saturday before, Arturo Vega died. Technically, there were eight men who were Ramones at one point or another — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, the short-stinted Clem Burke (aka Elvis Ramone) and C.J. But in reality, Arturo was the fifth Ramone. He designed their iconic logo; he was a confidant; the band rehearsed and recorded demos at his East Village loft; and Joey and Dee Dee lived with him at various points. I remembered him by playing some better-known songs and some early and little-heard demos as well.

Jet-setting. Saw Los Straitjackets a few nights before at Cafe Nine in New Haven, and since their latest album is Jet Set, I put together the three songs I have with those words in the title — them, Joe Jackson and The Fleshtones.

Dock Ellis. Last Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of one of the greatest feats in baseball history — Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter against the Padres in San Diego while tripping his brains out. Barbara Manning and her group, The SF Seals (named after San Francisco’s legendary pre-Giants minor league team, whose most famous alum was hometown boy Joe DiMaggio), recorded a three-song 7-inch Baseball Trilogy single for Matador 20 years ago already. A wild trip of a song called “Dock Ellis” was part of it.

The Style Council: It was 30 summers ago already, about this time, that Paul Weller’s post-Jam group made its American vinyl debut with the EP Introducing … The Style Council, a compilation of songs already released as singles in England. Still a favorite piece of my library. Played three SC songs — a killer instrumental called “Mick’s Up” from the EP, plus two of my favorite later tunes. From 1983-85, Weller, Mick Talbot and Dee C. Lee were the shit.

So that’s it. On to this Friday’s show, the first show of summer. Get your sunscreen ready …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 6/7/13: So much to cram into three hours

June 10, 2013
Yes, Deacon Jones was briefly a recording artist.

Yes, Deacon Jones was briefly a recording artist.

Franorama 2.0 airs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9 a.m.-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio. For the archival link to this and all other past shows, click here.

As Al Anderson sang with NRBQ, there’s so much to do and so little time

That’s the way my latest Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio felt last Friday. How do you cram everything into one three-hour tour? Well, the way the Howells and Ginger crammed steamer trunks aboard the S.S. Minnow for their three-hour tour, I guess …

Here’s what I had to fit in — and did:

  • “52 Girls” because I just turned 52.
  • Los Straitjackets, The Outta Sites and The Big Fat Combo. Los Straitjackets, the surf combo with the Mexican wrestling masks, plays tonight (June 10) at Cafe Nine in New Haven. Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, the drummer, was just at the Nine a month ago playing for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. In addition, he fronts The Outta Sites, back in L.A.; their new debut album, Shake All Night with The Outta Sites, is wonderful shades of The Dave Clark Five and The Wonders from That Thing You Do. And local semi-legends The Big Fat Combo will open the show.
  • A tribute of sorts to the greatest defensive end of all time, Deacon Jones, who died last Monday (June 3). If you grew up in a certain era, as I did, you probably thought the Los Angeles Rams were pretty cool — the white-and-blue unis, Roman Gabriel, Jack Snow, and the most famous front four in NFL history: Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy. I often wondered whether David Jones took his nickname from a song, like fellow Hall-of-Famer Night Train Lane. I included two songs titled “Deacon Jones” (by Louis Jordan and zydeco king Boozoo Chavis, who recorded extremely down-and-dirty versions of it early and late in his life), as well as a 1965 single the Foursome recorded for Capitol.
  • In its entirety, the new CD by one of my favorite people (musician or not), Blake
    The inimitable Blake Jones & the Trike Shop.

    The inimitable Blake Jones & the Trike Shop.

    Jones & the Trike Shop, back in Fresno. One of the most whimsical and pedigreed pop groups you’ll ever hear. Their first album in three years, Teasers From the Whispermaphone, is just that — a seven-song look at early and now-out-of-print discs and hints of sounds and directions to come.

  • The Remains and The A-Bones. After the show, I jumped on a train to a rainy Brooklyn to see them play at the Bell House. What’s weird is that I’m now as old as The Remains, those ’60s Boston legends via Connecticut and Jersey, were when they started their second chapter back in 1998. Anyway,  hadn’t seen Barry Tashian, Bill Briggs, Vern Miller and Chip Damiani (an old New Haven near-neighbor of mine) since I drove from Fresno to Hollywood to appear in their documentary, America’s Lost Band. That was six years, one gender and one cross-country move ago. And the last time I
    Barry Tashian and Vern Miller of The Remains at The Bell House, Brooklyn, Friday night.

    Barry Tashian and Vern Miller of The Remains at The Bell House, Brooklyn, Friday night.

    got to see Billy Miller and Miriam Linna and Bruce Bennett and Marcus the Carcass was five summers ago at the now-gone Magnetic Field in Brooklyn. It was great to catch up, let me tell ya — even if my brake master cylinder went on me ion the way home …

  • Amaglamated Muck, Eric Hisaw, New Mystery Girl, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the Dead Kennedys. One of the weirdest sets I’ve played in a long time. Eric, a guitarist/singer/songwriter from Austin who found me on Facebook a month ago, was at the Nine last Wednesday playing lead for Zoe Muth. Played one of his new songs and something from a rock band he played with back there three years ago, New Mystery Girl, At the show, I met, at long last, Lauren Agnelli — onetime New Yorker who lives in central Connecticut now. She was in a new wave band in the late ’70s (Nervus Rex) and, a retro-folkie act in the ’80s (The Washington Squares). She now plays in another folkish group of sorts, Amalgamated Muck, and her hell of extended joblessness (which ended last year) inspired the title song of their 2012 debut album, The New Leisure Class. The Dap-Kings I played because Sharon broke the news last Monday that she’s battling stage-1 bile duct cancer. After the news broke about the government’s widespread electronic snooping on us, I played their incredible twist of “This Land Is Your Land” … into the DKs’ song about a surveillance state, “I Am the Owl.”
  • The Reducers. It’ll be a year already on Wednesday (June 12) that we lost Steve Kaika, the bass player from Connecticut’s greatest rock’n’roll band aside from The Wildweeds. Thirty-four years with the same four guys (only The Four Tops, 53 years with the same foursome, topped that). I played mostly of them, along with the three best tracks from Rave On, Vol. 1, the tribute album that his nephew back in Fresno, Jes Farnsworth (now touring Europe as the guitarist for ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted’s trio, Newsted), put together to help pay Steve’s medical expenses.
  • Birthdays living and dead. I found out just as my previous week’s show ended that it would’ve been the 50th birthday of outsider art’s link to rock’n’roll, Wesley Willis (who died 10 years ago in August), so I put him in with three Friday birthdays: Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes (50), Prince (55) and Tom Jones (73).
  • To close, the rarely heard original 1961 version of “Someday We’ll Be Together” — yes, The Diana & the Supremes swan song — by Johnny (Bristol) & Jackey (Beavers).

That’s enough fun for one week. I think I want to do it again next week, too. Tune in live or in the archives. Ciao for now …

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Cygnus Radio Playlist 5/31/13: A childhood regression of sorts

June 3, 2013
Dom-in-i-nique-a-nique-a-nique-a ...

Dom-i-nique-a-nique-a-nique-a …

June 3, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the link this all all other previous shows, click here.

I had never done this before: recaptured my childhood in the context of a radio show. But that’s what I did last Friday: rounded up every single song I remembered from the radio from my toddler years in Brooklyn in the early-to-mid-’60s (yep, I lived in Greenpoint 40 years before it was hip) and played them at the top of the 11 a.m. hour. (That would be the third set in the playlist below.)

My folks listened to WMCA, now a right-ring talk station but then a top-40 station, home of The Good Guys, with Joe O’Brien as the morning-drive host (accompanied by an obnixious occasional “sidekick” named Benny, who would burst out with “Hey! O’Brien!”). That’s what we listened to until we moved to Connecticut in the fall of ’65.

My folks gravitated to the old-folks’ stuff, but of course, MCA, and their Good Guys, were the ones who broke The Beatles to the masses in NYC when I was 2 1/2. So I got some Beatles, but also a lot of other diverse sounds. Maybe that’s why I’ve always had diverse musical tastes, which is why you see The Singing Nun and Louis Armstrong and the robotic novelty hit “Mechanical Man” among the set list.

The lights are much brighter there ...

The lights are much brighter there …

But my favorite song from childhood was from a pretty English singer named Petula Clark, singing about a mythical place called “Downtown.” Except I lived just across the Queens-Midtown Tunnel from midtown Manhattan,and there really was a Downtown, and, as she painted it for me, it sounded like this wonderful place full of life and activity. And there was one evening when we visited my mom’s cousin in Chelsea. It was my first time through the tunnel, all gleaming yellow brick, and when we exited among the dark gray clouds above, I remember shouting “Go downtown, Daddy! Go downtown!” And, of course, to my thrill, he did.

But yeah, all that probably had something to do with this deejay’s musical tastes.

Anyway, other random items from this past show: The chicken or the egg — did Little Richard begat Esquerita or vice versa? Played them back-to-back … Sister Sledge’s original 1973 version of “Mama Never Told Me,” redone in the early ’80s by Paul Weller protege Tracie Young with The Questions, and Boffalongo’s original 1970 recording of “Dancing in the Moonlight” … the first time I played a mashup — a tasty mix of Stevie Wonder singing “Uptight” over the remix of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” … and recent releases by The Outta Sites (whose frontman, Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, come to Cafe Nine on Monday (June 10) playing drums with Los Straitjackets; Texas singer/songwriter Eric Hisaw, who’ll play in Zoe Muth’s group when she comes to the Nine this Wednesday (June 5); Albany-based garage fiends The Mysteios; a couple things from the new She & Him album; an d a selection from a new country-laced EP by one of my favorite singers, Boston’s Jenny Dee (Jen D’Angora) & Several Men of Mystery.

I had so much fun that, what the hell, might as well do it again this Friday. Catch you then …

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Cygnus Radio Playlist 5/24/13: So many directions, so little time

May 28, 2013
The man, the myth, the legend, the Tiur de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13.

The man, the myth, the legend, the Tour de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13. Bethany Appleby photo.

Franorama 2.0 airs live Fridays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the archived links to this and all other shows, click here.

I came into this latest episode of Franorama 2.0 with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of territory to cover in three hours.

I was coming off a show where my audience quadrupled, thanks to a mention on iTunes as a must-listen. I was also coming off a very active week musically:

The death of Ray Manzarek that Monday. It’s one thing to play The Doors everyone does it. (And rightfully so; Ray’s keyboard playing stands up there along with Felix Cavaliere and Al Kooper as the best of the ’60s.) But there was more. In addition to the three obligatory Doors songs (my favorite, “Soul Kitchen”; “Peace Frog,” because you can’t live in or near New Haven without a little blood in the streets in the town of New Haven; and “Light My Fire,” a classic use or organ in a rock song), I played two 1965 songs from his pre-Doors band, Rick & the Ravens, and two songs from X’s first album, Los Angeles, which he produced.

Brute Force the night before in Bridgeport. Back in the late ’80s, an old friend let me borrow his copy of the damndest album in the history of Columbia Records: the 1967 release I, Brute Force: Confections of Love. Well-measured abdurdity of a time and place. Anyway, Mr, Force — who later recorded for Apple, having been championed by George Harrison and John Lennon, no strangers to absurd humor — is still plying his musical trade, and in an I-never-thought-I’d-see-the-day moment, he and his eyebrows and his band (including his daughter, Lilah, on backing vocals) came to Two Boots Pizza in downtown Bridgeport the night before the show. the audience was way too small (about 15) but enthusiastic. And rightfully so.

Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. I was kinda Bobbed out, having played three hours of him the previous day as part of a WPKN fundraiser. But since it was his actual birthday, I couldn’t let it slide. So I didn’t. Bob got a set of tunes from you actually could understand what he was singing.

She & Him. The new third album by She & Him, cleverly titled Volume 3, is out, and Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward raised the bar here, a difficult task since Volume Two was such a gem. Played three killer originals, plus a mini-battle of the bands: three songs remade by Zooey and M., alongside the original versions. The real revelation was “Baby,” a rare side of vinyl from 1965 by someone much better known for her songwriting, Ellie Greenwich. She wrote the song with her then-husband/songwriting partner, Jeff Barry, and the recently deceased Shadow Morton, the man who shaped The Shangri-Las’ sound. Both versions here were excellent, but Ellie’s was a revelation.

New sounds: I’ve been soliciting new sounds from musicians all across my Facebook spectrum. And musicians have been responding, and I played two new-to-me performers on the show for the first time last Friday. From Albany, N.Y., came The Mysteios, latter-day garage featuring Johnny Mystery on guitar and his daughter, Tambourine Girl, on vocals. They’ve been getting play on the Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM, and I’m glad to have them aboard this show as well. From Austin, Texas, came the reflective sounds of singer/songwriter Eric Hisaw, who’ll be coming this way for the first time, playing at Cane Nine in New Haven June 5.

Anyway, the only downer was that the audience was back to its original numbers last week; the bounce the week before didn’t hold. Hoping the algorithms line up again at some point and that I end up on iTunes’ radar again and get a huge chunk of new listeners, and that they’ll stick around.

Anyway, if you like what you hear, listen on Fridays or click on the archives and tune in at your leisure. Also, please like my Facebook page and get your friends to do the same. And if you’re a musician who wants to get played on my show, go to my Facebook page and message me, and I’ll send you my snail and email addresses. Anyway, let’s do this again this Friday:

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