Posts Tagged ‘The Velvelettes’

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 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, 3/8/13: Before I was so rudely interrupted …

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 18, 2013

For a link to this and my other archived Cygnus shows, click here.

So, a funny thing happened on the way to doing my second Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio:

Nothing.

I was prepared for March to come roaring in like the proverbial lion; instead, the first of March greeted me with deafening silence — except for the frenzied voice of yours truly, wondering what the hell happened and trying for three hours over the phone to fix what was wrong.

Remember when I said last post that technology could be pretty cool sometimes? Well, I lied. It could be pretty fucked-up.

Apparently, the broadcasting software didn’t like the fact that had gone out and bought a new USB mic/headphone headset from Target, and even though I plugged the new set into my laptop a couple days before, just to make sure everything was on the same page, when it came time to do the show that first Friday, I was on for about four seconds — then nothing. The software froze.

A quick, frantic call to Gary Gone? No good. Same with Swannie down in Maryland. The three of us wasted three hours trying every diagnostic thing they knew, tried improvising and running every possible contingency … nothing. The software somehow was totally corrupted. I felt badly because I had talked up the show so much to everyone, and then it didn’t even happen.

Anyway, the following Monday, I was over at La Casa de Gone, and we ripped out the offending software and downloaded an updated version. A little tinkering, some abracadabra, and that was more like it. And, that Friday, a week late, my second show was good to go. The mic volume controls and the delay echo in my headset are still a little boggling, but I’m slowly adjusting and ironing out the sound levels..

Anyway, it was an ugly late-winter Friday morning. I had driven in the snow down to Bridgeport the night before to do a midnight-to-2 a.m. show on WPKN as part of its special Speaking of Women programming, coinciding with International Women’s Day. A 40-minute drive home became an hour-and-a-half ordeal, driving very slowly in second gear uphill on state roads that hadn’t even been plowed. When I pulled into the driveway, there were three inches of snow; there would be about nine more by the time it ended in the afternoon (twice what the TV weather clowns had predicted — true to form for them this winter).

I got to bed around 4 and was up at 8 to get the Cygnus show ready and make sure the software was simpatico with the headset. And outside my window, the snow was damn near horizontal. Didn’t let up ’til about 2. So, thanks to the magic of radio imagination, I was able to give a summery feel to the show, especially early on to set the tone.

Also threw in some CDs that musicians had sent me (Edward O’Connell, Stark Raving Lulu, The Zambonis). In addition, I had received a huge care package of CDs from Sharon, a Facebook friend in Minneapolis. Some things I had, some files I had lost in the midst of a couple mass computer file transfers the past year, so I stocked up on my early Stones material, as well as The Left Banke.

A couple of visual elements also worked their way into the show. Earlier in the week, guitartist extraordinaire Deke Dickerson had posted a YouTube video compilation of the legendary R&B group The Treniers; while they were one of the most underrated musical acts of the rock’n’roll era, you just have to see them in action, too. Also, a couple nights before the show, I watched the Showtime premiere of the intense, totally depressing, yet somehow inspiring documentary Family Band: The Cowsiills Story.

And, the fun thing about doing this here show is that I’m starting to find mp3s of really cool songs that are awfully hard to find in physical form. There was The Ronettes’ original version of “I Can Hear Music” — which, until recently, was omitted from Phil Spector compilations. Or “Guess I’m Dumb,” the song Brian Wilson gave to Glen Campbell when he was launching his recording career. And especially Johnny Cash’s “The Folk Singer” — a very obscure song he recorded in 1958, which Nick Cave recorded as a 12-inch B-side at the time of his Kicking Against the Pricks album in ’88.

Anyway, technology sucks, but radio is fun. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern (7-10 a.m. Pacific, 3-6 p.m. GMT).  Hope you can drop in and keep me company. And please pass the word to your friends and loved ones — we want to grow this show and this station.

And if you’re a musician who has a CD and wants to get some airplay here — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Drop me a message here on or the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get you my mailing address.

I’ll finish catching up to playlists asap.

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WPKN Playlist, 1/10/13: Leading off the year …

February 7, 2013
The Suzan -- here to destroy your conceptions of Japanese girl groups.

The Suzan — here to destroy your conceptions of Japanese girl groups once and for all.

Feb. 7, 2013

Well, I’ve had a couple of previous WPKN playlists swimming around in my purse over the past month, and as you girls know, a purse is a dangerous place to place something, as most things that enter never leave. (Cue up the “BWAhahahaaaaaaaa!” and the ensuing shriek here …)

So after doing another fill-in this morning, I realized it was time to fishing for pieces of paper with journalist’s scrawl on them.

Ten days into the new year, I did my first fill-in of 2013, a two-hour drag race (10 a.m.-noon), filling in for Binnie Klein. (She said “drag” …) It was a short and sweet and fun two hours, that’s for sure. After my previous show, two days following the Newtown massacre, anything would’ve been a step up. But it was a few steps up from that.

Let’s see … Three things stick out from this show:

  • My Fresno pal Jes Farnsworth, the frontman for The Backstabbers and nephew of late Reducers bassist Steve Kaika, has a bigger job at the moment: playing guitar for Newsted, the new trio fronted by ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. The debut four-song EP, Metal, came out two days before. And since it was Jes (who also has a tour as a gun for hire with Jetboy on his resume), I placed them in a Reducers sandwich — Frigate’s track from the tribute album on top, my track with The Backstabbers and one by The Reducers themselves on the bottom …
  • New David Bowie, who turned 66 two days before the show. We managed to get a hold of “Where Are We Now,” the first song from his first album in 10 years, The Next Day, due out in March. It’s kind of a dirgy, gloomy song, but we hear the album as a whole (as produced by his old collaborator, Tony Visconti) is a bit more spirited. His health has been rumoured to have been bad for some time (think about the non-cancerous illnesses one encounters after years of smoking), but ill or not, here he is.
  • The Suzan. I saw them the previous Saturday night at Cafe Nine. Four girls who moved from Tokyo to Harlem two years ago. Talk about shattering concepts … I thought they’d be this cutesy group playing tinny-sounding songs with phonetically sung words and saying things like “Thank you! Buy our CDs!” after every songs, such as The 5.6.7.8’s (who actually did that when they opened for Dick Dale at Maxwell’s in Hoboken in October ’93) and Shonen Knife. The Suzan led off with two songs that reminded me of Talking Heads — in fact, “Come Come” sounded like a hybrid of “(Nothing but) Flowers” and “Iko Iko.” And along the way, they channeled Blondie as well. (And oddly enough, their manager, Greg Vegas, an old friend from his days in the Danbury scene in the late ’80s/early ’90s, told me they had never heard Talking Heads …) A lot of osmosis going on and pleasant surprise.

Anyway, enough yapping. It was fun. Here you go — two more to come in the coming days:

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Five Songs, Parts 90-91

August 3, 2012

In a frenzy unrivaled until Ethel Merman’s disco single, even Lurch had his own ’60s dance.

Hi. This will be an extended Five Songs to make up for missing last week, between packing for my impending move and having to run out and buy a new laptop last Friday.

And guess what? I learned something new/old. Insatiable TV junkie as I was as a kid, I always loved “Makin’ With the Magilla,” from a 1965 Magilla Gorilla short at the height of the surf craze. Never gave any thought as to the artist(s) who recorded it. Now I know. And now you’ll know — and as a bonus, I included both the cartoon version and a better-sound-quality version.

Not sure whether this is the building anxiety about the move in a week and a half or just the caffeine. But if you’re not digging these, have someone check your pulse.

BTW: If you feel like sending a loan or a donation (specify which) to defray the big move, I won’t stop you. There’s a PayPal donate button below:

Makin’ With the MagillaLittle Eva (From Magilla Gorilla)

The Lurch — Ted Cassidy

A Love So Deep Inside — The Velvelettes

She Is So — A Craze

David Watts — The Kinks

Pizza Pie — Norman Fox & the Rob Roys

Crash — The Primitives

What Do I Get? — The Buzzcocks

At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama) — The El Dorados

The Animal Speaks — The Golden Palominos w/John Lydon

Five Songs, Part 75 (fIREHOSE and then some)

April 13, 2012

fIREHOSE: My poker game has improved vastly since I interviewed Mike Watt (center, with edFROMOHIO Crawford and George Hurley) in '87.

Hi. This week’s Five Songs grows a couple of extra bonus tracks this lucky Friday the 13th. That’s because a band I never thought I’d see again is coming to Fresno tonight — fIREHOSE is playing at Fulton 55.

Got a rave review from Wednesday’s show at Slim’s in San Francisco, My pal Dema, fashion designer superb and a kitty who’s forgotten more good bands than many have ever heard, not only said the show was great, but added that Mike Watt, after all these years, was still “crushable.”

Just hearing about the show earlier this week, and the idea of Mike, Ed and George together again, were intriguing enough; they wouldn’t have had any reason to have reunited if there was a chance of embarrassing themselves. And now, a rave. I think I’ll have to be there. Guess I’m a little more excited than I’ve been letting on.

Plus, a quarter-century ago, a fIREHOSE show was a gateway into an exciting time in my life.

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