Posts Tagged ‘The Woggles’

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 5/3/13: I’ll go crazy

May 4, 2013
Just a prisoner of love.

From the heights (the Godfather) …

For the links to this and all other archived Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. The show airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET Fridays (that’s 7-10 a.m. PT, 2-5 p.m. GMT). 

Now this is the type of show I envisioned when I started doing this online radio thang a couple months ago: No technical glitches and pretty freewheeling as it took me — and, hopefully, you — to places I didn’t expect.

This week’s Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio was a kinda nutty show — and not just because James Brown was singing “I’ll Go Crazy,” as I put together an hour of his earlier stuff to commemorate what would’ve been the Godfather’s 80th birthday. (Bit of trivia: James died on Christmas morning 2006 — two days before he was to play a show at Waterbury’s Palace Theatre, about 10 minutes from home. If I remember right, his final interview was with, of all places, my evil and heinous first newspaper, the Republican-American.)

I mean, as I rebuild my music library online, I’ve been finding all the nooks and crannies of my memory banks — and that includes a lot of the scrapings. Crazy tunes. And I kinda went crazy on that front, too. Let’s see …

  • A truckload of ’80s garage tunes, some from the ROIR Garage Sale! cassette …
  • A couple tunes from one of the great garage collections ever — Crypt Records’ Going All the Way With The Squires! from 1986. The Squires (ne The Rogues) were from nearby Bristol, more than a decade before the Worldwide Leader in Sports Television was founded there. One locally produced single under their original name, one under their later name for Atco Records, then college and Vietnam and all the things that broke up garage bands back then. And hordes of collectors in the following years. And a lot of great tunes, many released until this. This album will be a staple in shows to come.
  • A single from my college years featuring an electric mixer … one of the great wakeup records of all time (you’re welcome, West Coast) …
  • The B-side to one of the most controversial hit singles of the ’60s — the song runs in reverse, and the label is even printed in reverse!
  • A single about a primitive robot from my toddlerhood in Brooklyn in the early ’60s, when robots were a big thing …
  • Adam & the Ants’ spoof of “Y.M.C.A.,” released in the early ’80s as a flexidisc for the short-lived English music mag Flexipop
  • And the most timeless group I’ve ever heard, King Uszniewicz and His Uszniwicztones. By timeless, I mean no sense of tempo whatsoever. Imagine four instruments racing to cram themselves down the same funnel hole at the same time, with a voice that sounds like air being slowly let out of a tire forever. So the legend goes, it was a Detroit bowling alley lounge band from the mid-’70s “produced” by the late, great Cub Koda. I always thought it was a goof perpetuated by him and Billy Miller of Norton Records; both strongly denied it to me. Plan B theory: It was Brownsville Station on a bender.

    king u

    to the depths (the King).

  • And, oh yeah, the original version of a song re-“recorded” by King U — “Little Dead Surfer Girl,” an early-’70s surf/doo-wop ditty by another Connecticut group, The Incredible Broadside Brass Bed Band. Recorded at Trod Nossel Studios in nearby Wallingford — whose late owner, Doc Cavalier, was Cub’s producer/manager in his final years. (Coincidence?)

Anyway, you can hear the show in perpetuity online, or check in live next Friday morning. Enjoy the week!

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Cygnus Radio playlist 4/26/13: Tributes to life and death

April 29, 2013
George Jones: One of the greatest voices -- and, in his younger days, the greatest flattop -- in American music.

George Jones: One of the greatest voices — and, in his younger days, the greatest flattop — in American music.

For the link to this and all other Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here.

Well, after being rudely technically interrupted for a week — software nightmares caused me to shut down the planned April 19 show — Franorama 2.0 returned to Cygnus Radio this past Friday and picked up where I was left off.

I started the show with the opening set I planned for the week before, when it was more topical — save for the first four songs, an overstuffed set of Boston tunes. (And by that, I don’t mean the band Boston — I mean the land of my esteemed enemies, the Sawx. I mean Boston area-based musicians, with the glaring exception being the most famous song about Boston ever recorded by a band from L.A.)

And in the midst of the first set, the news feed on the Book of Faces was suddenly ablaze with the news of death earlier in the morning of George Jones. What I couldn’t get was all the sadness going around. I mean, the guy was 81, and let’s face it — this man, whose every obituary included a more-than-passing reference hi his legendary drinking, should have been dead 30, 40 years ago. Hell, his longevity was even more incredible than his career!

What is, indeed, sad is that one of the truly great and no-bullshit voices in American music — not to mention, in his younger days, the greatest flattop — is gone. Leaving “country” more and more in the hands of prepackaged blonde tarts, and twerps who play bad “classic” “rawk” and pass it off as “country” by wearing a cowboy hat or a Larry the Cable Guy-style baseball hat.

Anyway, these are the moments when you realize that your backup hard drive didn’t quite capture every song from your old laptop. And that included almost everything of George’s. So I played the only two songs I had: “Rock It,” his 1956 rockabilly single for Starday Records under the alias Thumper Jones; and his 1981 duet with Elvis Costello on “Stranger in the House” that pretty much redefined Elvis’ career in the public eye.

Scott Miller in his Game Theory days.

Scott Miller in his Game Theory days.

And I had a couple of tributes in store. One, left over from the previous week, was to Scott Miller, the former frontman for ’80s Bay Area alt-pop group Game Theory, who died at 53. “Here It Is Tomorrow,” from his 1986 album The Big Game Chronicles, was one of the best songs of the whole ’80s. And the group, which broke up in ’89, was set to reunite and record a new album later this year. Another was a soul cover you probably never heard by Ella Fitzgerald, the day after what would have been her 96th birthday. And two more passings in the final set: the sultry and tough Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett, who finally lost her twin battles with breast cancer and MS last week at 53; and one I found out about from March: Buddy McRae, the last surviving member of The Chords, of “Sh-Boom” fame.

Other tidbits from the show:

  • Songs for the living. Three acts who performed at Cafe Nine. Quintron, from New Orleans, played in the middle of the week before, and was a revelation. A wacky mix of a puppet show, a DJ and a young man, Quintron, who cranks out a Hammond B-3 sound way beyond his years and in ways that weren’t conceivable back in the day. And joined by a lovely blonde singer named Miss Pussycat. A night and a half before my show, The Woggles (from Atlanta, except, these days. for singer Manfred Jones, who lives in L.A. and hosts a show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM) returned for their second show since I’ve been home. How Manfred stays that limber and manic (he has to be my age) is beyond me. I played something from their latest album, The Big Beat. And the night after my radio show, one of my favorite music people, the lovely fiddler/pop singer/songwriter Deni Bonet played, so I played four tunes from her new album, It’s All Good.
  • The name remains the same. Two instances where I played songs back to back with the same title but which were totally different. First, The Rascals (who not only have buried their hatchets after all these years, but are currently on Broadway, to boot), with one of my favorite songs of the many songs of theirs I like, “A Girl Like You,” followed by Edwyn Collins’ tune, the best song of the ’90s, far as I’m concerned. Then I segued out of Deni’s “Cynical Girl” into Marshall Crenshaw’s song of the fame name from his classic debut disc.

Anyway, that’s all. Catch you this Friday. I hope.

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