Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Dee & Several Men of Mystery’

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 and WPKN playlists, 5/17/13: I got (algo)rithm

May 20, 2013
Ernie Banks was right -- it was a wonderful day to play two.

Ernie Banks was right — it was a wonderful day to play two.

For the links to this and all other Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. For the link to this episode of Franorama 2.0 on WPKN, click here. Franorama 2.0 can be heard live on Cygnus Radio from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT) Fridays; WPKN shows are on a fill-in basis for now; keep posted on the station’s Facebook page.

Well, this past Friday, for the first time, I did radio shows on two different stations on the same day — the Franorama 2.0 Double-Duty Day-Night Doubleheader. First, my regular 10 a.m.-1 p.m. shift from the comfort of home on Cygnus Radio, then down to Bridgeport for a 4-7 p.m. fill-in on WPKN. Howard Thompson, the host of the regularly scheduled show, Pure — and a longtime big-label record executive — trusted my musical tastes (thanks for the endorsement), to let me take the reins.

Anyway, it was exhausting but fun. I think I swept both ends of the doubleheader. And the day wasn’t just fun, it left me feeling a little optimistic at a time when I desperately need optimism.

The Cygnus show, now on the air three months, is still a fledging show on an upstart station, and understandably, the audience is small for now. But a funny thing happened just past the first half hour — the number of listeners jumped 2 1/2 times, then it tripled, and withing five minutes, it had quadrupled. (I have the analytics right there on the screen as I play.) And I kept about two-thirds of that audience for the rest of the show.

This had to be a glitch, right? A spam attack or something? An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese? Well, no. I texted our fearless leader, Gary Gone, to ask about this, and he explained: However the Apple algorithems work — and who knows how these damn things work? — someone at iTunes apparently labeled my show as a must-listen, which prompted huge the jump in listeners all of a sudden.

Coolness! I’m hoping this is the door opening just a crack enough for the flood to start rushing in. I need something to happen! I’m hoping the people who came and stayed will tell their friends, who, in turn, will tell their friends, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera …

Anyway, a couple musical highlights of the day:

The Outta Sites (both shows): Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, who made a sideways appearance in a blog post here a couple weeks ago, is one of the hardest-working musicians I know: longtime drummer/second guitarist for

Chris Sprague (second from left) fronting The Outta Sites.

Chris Sprague (second from left) fronting The Outta Sites.

Deke Dickerson … has been playing drums for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys (who came to Cafe Nine in New Haven the previous weekend) … behind the kit for Los Straitjackets (who come to Cafe Nine June 10) … and now, he fronts his own band, The Outta Sites. Their newly released debut album, Up All Night, is a killer. Think one part Dave Clark Five, one part That Thing You Do, one part Nuggets and Pebbles collections, throw in the atmosphere of the mid-’60s L.A. club scene, and you get the picture.

Jonathan Richman and The Velvet Underground (WPKN): An old friend, Lauren, who lives and works around Hartford, messaged me on the Book of Faces the night before to ask if I could play the Velvets. I started, at long last, pulling boxes of CDs from my storage space to rip into this laptop that serves as my radio station and traveling music library. But I haven’t found my Velvets box set yet. Anyway, I did find one VU song, but not until after I steered her to Jonathan Richman, the onetime VU groupie, singing “Velvet Underground” … and one of our mutual faves, “Double Chocolate Malted” (No nuts! No nuts!), and, for good measure, The Groovie Ghoulies playing a Jonathan song.

Well, that’s enough for now. Back to a single Cygnus shift this Friday, leading into the holiday weekend. Please drop in and give a listen. And if you like what you hear, tell your friends, and tell your friends to tell their friends. And “like” my Franorama 2.0/Franorama World Facebook page. And if you’re so inclined to help out financially, there’s a PayPal button at the end of each blog post.  Anyway, catch you this Friday!

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Cygnus Radio playlist 5/10/13: Mr. Jones, smooth sailing and ‘Stormy Weather’

May 11, 2013
Blake Jones was on top of the world this week.

Blake Jones, on top in this photo and on top of the world this week.

For the archive links for this and all my Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. The show airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) Fridays.

With each week, I’m more psyched about this online radio thing.

In terms of technical matters, this latest edition of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio was the best and smoothest yet in my nearly three short months there. No glitches — the software and the mic/headset were both on their best behavior, and the voice levels were perfect. (Laptop radio is, indeed, a different world than terrestrial radio, with its higher-end equipment …)

Musically, it was smooth sailing, too. I finally started, after nine months home, plowing into my storage bin and pulling CDs to rip into this here laptop/station. The little things mean a lot. In this case: getting comfortable with processing the thousands of songs through my computer music files instead of manually rifling through records and CD cases, as in days of old. I think I’m finally there. Like everything, it takes a little time, and the more I do it, and the more I access my files, the more I remember what I have … and the more angles I can bounce into my shows. Garage meets soul meets rockabilly/roots meets country meets punk meets … the Great American Songbook.

To start the final hour, I featured a set to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of my favorite people — and one of the best pop songwriters you might never have heard — the first non-Fresno Bee person I met in Fresno in 2004, Blake Jones. This comes in advance of his new EP, Teasers from the Whispermaphone, which should be out any day now.

The only thing that came close to a glitch, but ended up being a happy accident, came right at the end of the show. Curse that social media …

Still dead, unfortunately.

Still dead, unfortunately.

I usually keep up with things on my Facebook page as I do the show just in case some news breaks (like the death of George Jones two weeks prior). In this case, a few minutes before the end, someone, or someones, posted links to Lena Horne’s obituary. I read it, saw that she had died May 9 — which would have been the day before the show — and quickly shared the post and subbed out my final song, Dave Edmunds’ version of John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night,” for “Stormy Weather.”

Not realizing that she died May 9 three years ago. Something that somehow slipped past me at the time. Since she’s ageless, it wasn’t a bad choice to close the show, but still … Damn that social media!

Anyway, what is encouraging is that musicians are starting to respond to the show and send their latest recordings for airplay — just like old times. This week, Ed Valauskas, onetime New Haven scenester (with The Gravel Pit) and longtime Boston fixture, sent two new offerings from his Q Division studio — The new album by Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters, Everything’s Up for Grabs, and the new country EP by Ed’s wife, Jen D’Angora (of Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents fame), under the name Jenny Dee & Several Men of Mystery.

Anyway, if you’re a musician who wants to get some airplay here — if I like it, I’ll play it. Message me here or on my Facebook page — and I’ll send you my address. And come back and join me next week — there’s always room for you here in the studio!

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