Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’

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, 3/15/13: Chasing away winter

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 19, 2013

For the links to this and all my other archived Cygnus Radio shows, click here.

So, now that my broadcasting software is going full guns with no glitches, Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio is starting to find its place. I’m getting more comfortable with the software, with the voice levels, and I’m able to turn the show on a dime if and when I have to — to get reacquainted with the thousands of songs in the music folders of my laptop.

And I devoted this show to chasing away winter. And I didn’t want to get wrapped up with  March 17th, so I settled for two songs by my pal Larry Kirwan, of New York by way of Wexford — one with Black 47 near the top of the show and the show-ending single that he put out my senior year of college with Major Thinkers (and which I heard plenty on WLIR back then).

“Avenue B” was one of the tunes I dredged up from the online world thanks the the magic of mp3 downloads.  Been finding some really cool things to share on the show there. One was one of Connecticut’s greatest gems from the days of ’70s FM rock, The Dirty Angels’ “Tell Me.”

Another was a segue I’ve had kicking around in my head since my early 20s. One of the many singles my father brought up from the cellar when I was eight years old — along with a ’50s RCA 45 layer — was “Love My Lady,” Bobby Helms’ obscure 1958 follow-up to “Jingle Bell Rock.” I always thought it was a song Stevie Ray Vaughan would’ve had a field day with had he known about it and/or lived to record it. So I found Helms on the download and ran it right into “Pride and Joy.” You can hear for yourself.

I also took advantage of another musical care package — this one from old friend Craig Bell. Craig was on the ground floor of two cities’ alt-music scenes in the ’70s — Cleveland, with Rocket From the Tombs (where he wrote “Final Solution” with the pre-Pere Ubu David Thomas, a song later cut by Bauhaus), and New Haven (The Saucers, with a pre-Miracle Legion Mark Mulcahy). My first night as part of the New Haven scene, as it were,  was the night before Easter 1982, at Brothers in West Haven, seeing Craig’s band at the time, then called Future Plan (later The Plan, later The Bell System).

Anyway, Craig and wonderful wife Claude live in Indianapolis these days, where he leads The Down-Fi, also goes on the road occasionally for Rocket From the Tombs reunion shows, and recorded an EP two years ago as Second Saucer with all the Saucers except Mulcahy. And he sent me a little of all the above, as well as the enhanced, 2000s double-CD version of It Happened but Nobody Noticed,” his compilation of early New Haven bands (including The Excerpts and The Bats, two groups that featured the young Jon Brion before he moved to L.A. and became king of the pop scene there).

I also read my recent blog post of Lou Reed stories and played the two songs that accompanied it.

There was also the incongruous segue that only made sense to me — the dark moodiness of Mary Gauthier (from her recently released Live at Blue Rock album) into a raucous early, garagey gem by The Guess Who.

Thanks to the kindness of my friends Sascha and Jim, I saw Mary perform the night before at Cafe Nine in New Haven (a most excellent show), and her backing musicians, keyboardist/guitarist Scott Nolan and drummer Joanna Miller, were also the opening act. I was talking to Scott outside while he was having a smoke break; he and Joanna are from Winnipeg (and how they hooked up with a Louisiana woman is beyond me), and I was asking  about the scene there. He told me how thriving it is, and how on any given night, anyone can come walking in, and he mentioned Burton Cummings. Hence, the connection from Mary to The Guess Who, because most anything goes on this show.

And what would March 15 have been without The Ides of March?

Anyway, drop on in, even archivally. I love company. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET (7-10 a.m. PT, 3-6 p.m. GMT). And if you like what you hear, please tell your friends and other wonderful people. I want this thing to turn into a monster. And if, like Craig, you want to get your CDs played on the show — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Message me here on the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get back to you with a mailing address.

Well, this should have chased away the winter. See you in the spring!

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Musical War Stories: Lou Reed

March 12, 2013

lou-reed-sizedOct. 27, 2013

Editor’s note: Lou Reed died this morning. I never did get the Musical War Stories category too far off the ground — between job hunting, finding a job and job hunting yet again — but I’ll let this stand as kind of an obit to him.

March 12, 2013

By way of introduction to a new category in this here blog, Musical War Stories

Got a call this afternoon from my old pal Tom Hearn, who lives in the neighboring town of Cheshire. Tom, a tall redhead who wears glasses like the ones my father wore in the early ’60s, is so low-key and unassuming that you’d just never know, unless you knew him, that he has done some pret-teeee cool things in his life.

Tom is the oldest childhood friend of the man who gave punk its name: Eddie “Legs” McNeil. He’s also the frontman for a band of local renown, The Big Fat Combo. (They have chops. And I’m proud to say I made my recording debut with the combo 10 years ago — under the name Fran Fried & the American People — cutting a tune called “(All I Get Is) Letters” for Let’s Get Furious, a two-disc tribute to that quirky, beloved and longtime New Haven duo, The Furors.)

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo.

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo — March 2, 2013, the Old Dublin, Wallingford, CT. Coincidentally, Lou’s 71st birthday.

And Tom’s also a photographer extraordinaire. He shot a great many photos of the early days of the punk scene — lots of Debbie Harry, lots of Ramones — and some of his shots wound up in Punk, the magazine started in 1975 by fellow Cheshire refugee John Holmstrom and Legs to chronicle a Lower East Side music scene that didn’t have a name … at least until it came time to figure out what to call the magazine. Mr. Hearn, oddly enough, was so low-key about his work that it didn’t occur to him to get around to showing it until about seven years ago.

Anyway, Big Red called to ask me if I want to contribute any stories, musical lists, etc. to pleasekillme.com, the website whose nucleus is Please Kill Me, the acclaimed 1996 oral history of punk by Legs and Gillian McCain. Several writers are contributing items to the site.

Yeah, I know, another non-paying thang. But at least it’s people I know (or at least know of), their hearts are in the right place, and they’re not getting paid, either.

Anyway, I cobbled these first tidbits together a week and a half ago — grabbed them from some fold in the memory bank — the day Lou Reed turned 71 and originally posted them as two separate items on my Facebook page. So anyway, whether Please Kill Me picks this up or not, this might be the start of something new on my blog. I figure hey — Lou was the cover boy on the first issue of Punk; why not start this new trip with Lou as well?

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Five Songs, Part 99

November 16, 2012

The Elegants, turning a preschool ditty into a doo-wop classic. But those suits had to go.

Well, while I try to finish the last installment of my epic Going Home saga and wait to see Lincoln (which opens tonight) and wait for Thanksgiving and wait for Mercury to come back out of retrograde and wait to hear on a big job I interviewed for two weeks ago, might as well keep myself amused with the latest installment of Five Songs.

Two things to captivate your interest: 1) The second “Little Star” link is to the 1957 demo version of the doo-wop classic (interesting, but doesn’t hold a candle to the classic single version); and 2) Note the similarity in the ending sax parts on the following two songs (an early-’70s rock classic and a rare mid-’60s Northern soul gem, respectively). Anyway, have fun …

Little StarThe Elegants

Walk on the Wild Side — Lou Reed

Wee Oo I’ll Let It Be You Babe — Louise Lewis

The Waiting — Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

I Tell No Lies — The Escapades

25 Songs for Norton’s 25th (and then some)

November 20, 2011

Well, this was supposed to have come out on 11/11/11, but steady work (not complaining about that, mind you) and the urgent search for a car precluded me doing pretty much anything else — including finishing off this tribute.

I can tell you that there are some people last weekend for whom the double-sticks weren’t the day’s lucky number. It was 25. As in a quarter-century of tear-em-down musical madness foisted upon the world — with a few extras years tacked on before that for bad behavior — by the fine folks at the coolest archival record label in the universe: Norton Records.

This was to have come out last weekend in the midst of the social event of the decade — the sold-out-for-months, four-night 25th-anniversary celebration at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Lots of great musicians showed up.

Anyway, I figured I’d honor this momentous occasion in my own special way. So here you go: 25 songs for 25 years — with triple awarded for damages.

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I can hear him screaming in my mind: Long live rock’n’roll! (Ronnie James Dio, 1942-2010)

May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio never played an instrument onstage, but he was his own horn section -- devil's horns, that is.

This will surprise some of my friends, but one of the first albums I ever bought — well, maybe among the first 30, and back then they were mostly the Columbia House cassettes I would order through my mom — was “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” by Rainbow in my junior year of high school (1977-78). I remember hearing the blistering title anthem on the radio, and thinking I needed to hear the rest of the album. And besides, it was Ritchie Blackmore’s band after he left Deep Purple — and every rock fan in the universe at the time, it seemed, either owned “Machine Head” or listened to it 3,700 times by that point — so we knew how good the guitar was.

OK, so I came to the album for the title song and for Blackmore — but I stayed for the singer.

Ronnie James Dio, who died of stomach cancer this morning, had a voice that blew me away, and probably a lot of other impressionable teens as well. And not-so-impressionable adults, too.  He had one of the most powerful voices in rock’n’roll history — a loud but refined, barely contained fury, with a keen sense of the mythological and the dramatic.

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