March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011 : Cause & Effect : The Year That Punk Broke 20 Years Later

By the middle of January 1991 America was embroiled in the Gulf War which would quickly be dubbed Operation Desert Storm. An amateur video taken in March captured the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers and this trial's end result would lead to the Los Angeles Riots that lasted six days the following year. Late summer serial killer Jerffrey Dahmer was murdering a person a week and was finally arrested in July when the remains of 11 men were found in his apartment. On August 6th Tim Berners-Lee announced a little project called the World Wide Web. Nintendo that same month unleashed their Super NES giving a whole generation of kids a reason to never play outside again. And the music community said good-bye to Serge Gainsbourg, Stan Getz, and Miles Davis.

At that time I certainly could not have predicted the impact on music history by the music that was being released that year and I feel fortunate to have been involved in it in any way. In 1991 I was a record clerk and indie music buyer at a small independent record store in NJ. I had graduated from high school just the year before and like anyone at that age, was impressionable and hungry to participate in something I believed in. My passion was (and still is) for all things Indie but this would be the year that major labels started to heavily troll the independent music scene to sign them. I couldn't have possibly known the music I was stocking for our store's shelves would be revolutionary in nature but as time has shown, many of the records that debuted in 1991 changed music and people's lives forever.

Here is a little look at my 1991:

I was buying music from a distributor that I would eventually work for called Caroline. They had a gaggle of debut records that we not only carried at the store but afforded me dibbs on free tickets and guest list spots to check out these new signings. Among them were Smashing Pumpkins and Hole. I had the opportunity to see both bands at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ which is a venue not much bigger than a two car garage. Comically just a little bit  later I was pushed by a different label rep to check out the new Temple of the Dog / Mother Love Bone band called Pearl Jam who had scored the opening slot in a tour with the Pumpkins. This was in a much larger venue but the moral of this story is that the Smashing Pumpkins were not much a live band and Pearl Jam crushed them, they literally destroyed the room with them vitality. They were charismatic, energetic, and emotional in a whole new direction from Dischord's hardcore version. I was skeptical of the band at first but after that one performance they won me over and I continued to see them play in places like Wetlands in NYC before radio and MTV made the band superstars. I even had a Pearl Jam promotional door mat in front of my apartment door until they got so popular that somebody else in my building stole it. I also remember when Matt Chamberlain replaced PJ's first drummer, he was talked into making promotional phone calls to record stores to hype the release of Ten and we spent an awkward ten minutes or so talking about the band and joking with me that the band was hazing into the band by making him do all he crappy promotional junk the rest of the band wanted nothing to do with.

I prided myself on being a record store employee that didn't make people feel bad about the music they were buying but at the same time I tried to champion new music that was along the same lines of other artists a customer liked but was not as well known. By 1991 My Bloody Valentine already had an established following so while I loved Loveless, I would have never guessed that this one record would create decades on knock off versions to come. At the time, MBV fans were already so protective of the group that they called any other band with a similar sound copy cats and unfortunately a lot of incredible bands were written off because of it. The Swirlies, The Lily's, Slowdive...the list goes on and on....were all bands I loved, honestly more than I loved MBV, and to this day the disgruntled record clerk in me wants to give a speech when I hear someone paint My Bloody Valentine as the only shoegaze band that matters. I feel very fortunate to have also seen MBV play at Maxwell's before their really took off but I think the thing that amazes me the most about Loveless is that 20 years later we are STILL waiting for a follow up release.

Swervedriver released Raise in 1991. Their label's big promotional idea was to send record stores a cassette walkman and headphones with a copy of Raise sealed inside it and it remains the first and only tape listening station I have ever seen at a record store. Memory two about the band is being very disappointed with Swervedriver live.  They played a big show in NYC with, let me think about this, maybe Ned's Atomic Dustbin and The Doughboys (???) and Swervedriver was sleepy and dull. Having loved their music as much as they did I was pretty crushed that live they drove into sleepytown and parked there. 

Teenage Fanclub released Bandwagonesque and while at the time I thought the record was pretty good, I wasn't wild about it but I did like their promo item. Their label had made these cute hot pink promotional money bags out of balloons filled with sand (matched the cover art) and it was a cherished item displayed at the store until time had its way with it and the balloon eventually leaked sand everywhere. In 1991 record labels still had money to make promotional items and even the smallest band on a major label had some sort of kitsch item created in their name and or a massive open bar dinner meet and greet type event happening in every major city too. It boggles the mind to think of the money major labels were spending on signing bands and marketing them during this time period.

Nirvana is really worthy of a post in itself. Our NJ store was buying records from Sub Pop directly in 1988 so we were already hip to grunge and many of the bands that didn't really break into the mainstream until 1992.  As a high school senior I was asked by my Sub Pop rep to see the Nirvana play at Maxwell's and make sure they had a place to stay that night. So there I was as an 18 year old living at home asking Nirvana if they had a place to crash and if not that they were welcome to stay with my family. The DIY community looks after each other this way and as crazy as it sounds now, it was the most natural thing in the world at the time.

By 1991 I was already a HUGE fan of Nirvana (but an even bigger Mudhoney fan) and was waiting with baited breath for Nevermind to come out.There were already a few tape bootlegs floating around of the demo versions of the record so I already knew the music was amazing and it felt like agony waiting for it to finally have a proper release. Their label ran a window display contest for the release and first place was a $100, a trip to Seattle for two to see Nirvana play a festival happening in our near Seattle (along with Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, and L7), meet the band, and get a tour of all the hot spots of the city. What I didn't know at the time was that many stores refused to participate in the window display contest because they were afraid the naked baby whose penis was showing on the cover art might offend some of their customers. Being a punk rock store with attitude, we didn't care. My boss gave me his blessing and in turn I created our front window to look like an aquarium or view into an ocean. I created a water line, hung fish to look like they were swimming, placed sand and coral at the bottom with a giant subway poster of the album art centered in the middle so it looked like the baby was swimming in our window. Without much competition out there from our region, we won. My boss and I went to Seattle only it turned out that the press had just gotten a hold of the news that parents to be Kurt and Courtney were using drugs and a PR nightmare began for two stars on the rise. Nirvana ended up being pulled from that festival and I didn't end up meeting with any of the members that trip. A poor label rep (who is still a friend of mine after all these years) got stuck babysitting us "winners" while in Seattle and the extra irony of this trip was nobody had ever asked my age. In Seattle you had to be 21 to go to most shows and all bars so I couldn't go very many places. In an effort to keep my trip age appropriate I toured Sub Pop, C/Z, Jack Endino's studio, a few recording studios, the Sound Garden sculpture park; all things in hindsight I feel so honored to have seen in person as a 19 year old. While Nirvana's Nevermind became an angsty anthem to a whole generation, they opened the door to Seattle for me and it was this trip that inspired me to eventually move there a few years later and work at C/Z records.

At this point in my life I wasn't completely sold on Beat Happening. My Sub Pop sales rep pushed them on me but it wasn't until I saw them open for Fugazi (once again at Maxell's + Steady Diet of Nothing came out that year too!) that I finally appreciated the band for all their cockeyed charm.  Years later when I worked for C/Z and had to call K Records who is owned by Calvin from Beat Happening, a co-worker played a pretty amazing prank on me. He told me that Calvin's real voice wasn't really that deep and that he only used that voice for the band and to mess with people he didn't like. Since I was basically a kid freshly imported from NJ I had no idea that this wasn't true. He seemed like a pretty oddball guy so it wasn't totally impossible to me. I called K Records that day and was devastated that Calvin only spoke to me with a baritone rumble. As soon as I hung up the phone my co-worker asked me how it went and being new at the job and already feeling overwhelmed, I was teary when I told him he used his funny voice with me. The whole office burst into laughter at this report and that was the moment I learned that there was only one Calvin voice and it is always sounds deep and devilish.

While some bands were just hitting their peak of popularity with the masses, for those of us embedded in the indie scene, many of the hot bands were old news and no longer of major consequence to us. Babes in Toyland, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, and Mudhoney were among the list of artists who out records that year and at the top of my over it list was Dinosaur Jr. By 1992 I had moved onto other bands and I almost feel guilty confessing my lack of interest in these classic bands by this time. Most of the world was just discovering these bands and their music but for an elite group of us, these bands were old news and their records didn't alter our world or even add a ripple to it.I spent a good deal of time from 1988 to 1991 seeing these artists play tiny backroom spaces and like many fans who loose their favorite band to the masses when they become popular, I found up and coming bands that still offered an intimate live experience and were easily accessible via letter or in person at their shows. I can't explain why contact with these bands were so important then but I think at the core of this phenomena was that we were all in it together. They weren't stars and we weren't just fans; we were equals. There was an energy exchange shared at live shows. We were our own weird dysfunctional little country with a culture onto itself.   

There were a whole new army of bands that had captured my attention and Superchunk and Seaweed are perfect examples of where my interest was turning towards.  Both had released new albums that year (No Pocky / Despised, had toured together and represented a new breed of heavy bands that also carried a melody. I was so carried away with Seaweed that I took the time to write them fan letters (which for that time period was also a norm in the DIY world) and this began a pen pal relationship with the band. By Seaweed's second or third tour we were friends and most of the band stayed with me whenever they came to NJ or NYC. They were among some of the first bands to ever stay with me and 1991 became the year I started housing bands regularly. Failure, Treepeople, Archers of Loaf, Jawbox (whose debut came out in 1991 too), Peechees, Jessamine, Karp, Fitz of Depression, Pegboy, Small 23, Red Stars Theory, Heavy Vegetable, Superconductor; there are actually too many to list or recall! I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that Seaweed will be playing a one off reunion show in NYC next month and in case it wasn't obvious, hell yeah I will be there!

While Sonic Youth did not release a record this year, they were busy touring for Goo and their European tour became the meat for the documentary called "The Year Punk Broke" that also included many of the bands I have written about here like Nirvana and Babes in Toyland. It was this movie that forever dubbed 1991 "The Year Punk Broke" and it is this VHS that has inspired me to revisit the theme twenty years later for Cause & Effect. By the end of 1991 the whole world knew about these bands that up until these artists had lived in the shadow of popular culture - not the spotlight. It was a pivotal time for music but for me too as I grew from kid to adult. So as it turns out, 1991 was an off the charts momentous time in my life too. I look forward to playing two hours of music from this year tonight and sharing some more stories about these records.

Tune in from 7PM to 9PM on WRIR at 97.3fm on your dial here in Richmond or stream the show live at where you will also see the set list as the night progresses.

UPDATE: Download the full radio show here.
Here is the link to the set list.

March 30, 2011

Pretty Hate Book

My pal has a new book out. Check it out here and at her website.

From Daphne Carr:

The Becoming

In 1979 Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called “The River,” a story of a teen pregnancy prompting a loveless marriage in which the father works a crummy job whose future is uncertain “on account of the economy.” If you take Pretty Hate Machine as the sound of that child’s growing up, then the album is not a harbinger of the technofuture but the continued articulation of dread felt by a certain kind of man given certain chances.

Pretty Hate Machine arrived in the final year in office for Ronald Reagan, a fiercely antilabor president whose tax incentives made it easy to close American factories and whose trickle-down economics curbed 1970s inflation while crushing the country’s working people. Reagan’s mantra of personal responsibility focused the blame for lost jobs on workers, and his government cut social programs that could help the newly unemployed, including health care, food stamps, and education. This was the playbook of economic neoliberalism, which would come to be a global strategy to redistribute wealth back to elites. 

Reagan’s policies drove the U.S. into the postindustrial era at an enormous human cost. Industrial music was one poetic response to this trauma, much like country music was earlier in the history of industrialization. Country rose as a genre at the moment when most Americans had left rural areas for cities, as a kind of modern music about rural, social, and temporal distance. It was a way to understand the lost connection to the land, along with the humiliations heaped onto working-class, mostly white folks trying to make a decent living. Country musicians have defined themselves against the urban, cosmopolitan, and technologically modern world through recordings that emphasize acoustic timbres and rough vocal qualities. Lyrics idealize the rural, celebrate the pride of manual labor and integrity of a promise, and lament the singer’s or others’ actions when they fail to live up to an ideal or “sell out” for the modern.

Industrial is a postmodern music about the failures of modernity, a genre begun as an avant-garde practice in 1970s England but which grew into a network of underground scenes in fading Western industrial cities by the Eighties. The dry irony of Throbbing Gristle’s maxim “Industrial music for industrial people” has been interpreted across the globe by different instruments and musical styles, and with varied lyrical approaches. One thing is constant: industrial musicians embrace the technologies of management, the sounds of the shop floor, and flexible, nonlinear production techniques in their critique of power. Their cut-ups, sputtering drum machines, and shreds of harsh noise are the ugly mirrors of pop music’s technological wonderland, while their lyrics literalize the horror of humans’ being treated as dead machines in pop-Marxist language and production styles that robotize the voice. Like the sci-fi traditions it samples so heavily, industrial posits a central theme: dystopia is already around us, if only we were awake enough to see it. The music becomes a way for its listeners to stay sharp, to hear and feel not sorrow for the betrayals that have led to their lost way of life but to see causes, feel rage, and be moved to resistance.

Nine Inch Nails borrow the sound and style of electro-industrial but reject the overt politics and parody of the subgenre to focus almost exclusively on the personal tragedy of the people and institutions that fail one individual: Trent Reznor. NIN’s lyrics explore the repressions of religion, family, and society, but only as they pertain to one life, sung in almost too-human melodies and without perceivable irony. With Nine Inch Nails, the effects of mechanization are laid bare: the human experience of powerlessness in postmodern, postindustrial life is crystallized by someone screaming in and against an impossible room full of synthesized sensations.

A generation of young men and women had sympathy for such a sound. Dead-end job, no health care, apocalyptic faith, broken family. They wanted to switch off entirely, but there was one nagging problem: they were still human.

Crooning melodies and sweet pop hooks were Reznor’s major sonic crimes against 1980s industrial music. Another was this focus on the personal, the absence of real politics. That Reznor subsumed industrial’s clangs, grinds, and warps into pop and sold millions of records only made the case against NIN worse. It is possible to hear Nine Inch Nails as the watering down and commodification of industrial’s anticapitalist musical subculture, but for the majority of people slumbering through Reagan’s American morning, Nine Inch Nails was a stunning revelation: dissent from the complacence of suburbia was possible, and it could sound so strange.

Other mainstream alternative bands of the 1990s inspired similar awakenings, but none so bluntly addressed the undersides of religion, power, sexuality, corporeality, and trust as did Nine Inch Nails. Take, for instance, the band’s most famous song, “Closer.” It’s a six-minute pop hit built from the kick of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing,” with an inhuman metronome, a queer synth hook, and distant distortion that builds into the lyrical confession that only the least human of intimacies is tolerable for he who feels vile, broken, fallen—that only through carnality can he experience something like salvation. After all the hard drums, synths, and lyrics, the song ends with a naive keyboard hook.
Tenderness and brutality: Reznor has veered between the two throughout Nine Inch Nails’ career. This can be seen best in his approach to the keyboard—in his legato fingertips and in his fist. As a child, Reznor distinguished himself on the piano, and was encouraged by his teacher Rita Beglin to study music for a profession. He showed a fondness for works with long legato lines, such as those of Frédéric Chopin and Erik Satie. Practicing this style of French salon music, he would learn to press a key with constant energy, to linger with patience and release only after the next finger connected. The last key of a phrase in this style is a slow release into nothingness. These scores demand incredibly tender phrasing, as the player’s fingers mimic the breath of an anguished singer. But from the first moment of NIN, Reznor beat the hell out of his keyboards. As he grew wealthier and the stage shows larger, more keyboards and guitars joined the heaps that roadies glue together after gigs. His mission was to focus the energy of this European parlor instrument turned tone trigger into an aggressively masculine form of expression. Turning synths tough was part of Reznor’s artistic achievement: he dramatized the expressive qualities of the machine for the purpose of sounding human. The trick of Nine Inch Nails is to make synth-pop sound like hard rock through gesture, distortion, and banks of noise.

But in the Hate Machine era, the music was still pretty synth and pretty pop.

The Man Who Fell To Earth - Not Bowie

To be more specific, this is a DVD documentary about Brian Eno spanning the groundbreaking years of '71 until '77. This means footage and interviews from his brief time with Roxy Music as well as solo record material from Here Comes the Warm Jets to Before and After Science. The DVD comes out May 17th which I know feels like a long way away but at least we have this trailer.

Tinsel jacket not included.

March 27, 2011

Dream Come True : A Record ------> Bar

And when I say bar, I mean serving coffee and beer/wine. And I almost forgot, PINBALL ! ! ! This is a record store that has it all; dang that is a record store for me.

They are called Record Room and are located (sadly for me - across the country) in Portland, OR.

March 24, 2011

French C&E Show

Listen to Sara and I wrestle our way through two hours of French music we aren't sure how to pronounce here. Our pronunciation may not be great but I promise you, the music is!

March 24th, 2011 : Cause & Effect Celebrates Richmond's Annual French Film Fest

It's hard to recall how I got hooked on French Yé-Yé music. As a music junkie my gateway drug to an artist or genre of music can come from just about anywhere. A cool looking record cover that peaks my interest. A song in a movie. A fellow DJ. A friend. An oddball used record collection that come into the store and in my effort to test play one for condition, the music wins me over. The radio. Truly it can happen in a moment and often and the right song can have me hooked in under 30 seconds.

My earliest memory of falling in love with '60s French pop comes from the WFMU record fair in the late '90s. A dealer from Montreal had a table there and he specialized in these records. While I couldn't afford even one of them at the time, he was also selling a CD comp that featured all of the tracks found on the records he was selling. The CD was called Ultra Chicks Vol 1. and it was that collection of material that sent me on what has become a life long obsession with weird/obscure/ fun French music from the late '50s until now.

What will be a surprise to many film enthusiasts is Richmond, VA is the home of a quite large and spectacular annual French Film Festival created by a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond. (Yeah we do art and basketball here, ha!) Starting today March 24th and running through March 27th we have non stop events and showings of new French films that often include Q&A with directors and the actors / actresses from these films. It is a remarkable cultural event that brings France right into our backyard and I am excited to have a chance to kick the festival off tonight with two hours of French speaking music from the past 5 decades.

And if that isn't enough, one of my favorite ladies on the planet will be guest hosting with me tonight. Sara is not only a brilliant local DJ and artist but happens to own one of the best personal collections of lesser known French music I have ever seen. We have cherry picked songs from both of our collections and will be sharing them with you tonight from 7PM to 9PM on WRIR. You can tune in the old fashioned way locally at 97.3 FM on your dial or stream us live anywhere at The picture above is Sara and I DJing together at Cous Cous here in town last year and the grin on my face shows just how much I LOVE spinning records with this lovely lady.

Here is a general idea of the kind of music we will playing tonight.

March 23, 2011


How music appears in the world never ceases to amazes me. Rastamouse started as a children's book series in 2005 but has since snowballed into a British animated top motion television kid's show. There are over 50 episodes and "it features crime-fighting special agents Rastamouse, Scratchy and Zoomer, who solve mysteries and have adventures"

Every time I watch these clips I high am I right now? And then I think, oh, wait, I don't do drugs, this is just a way surreal "children's" show that I half suspect was created more for parents than their kin.

March 22, 2011

Lemmy, the Movie

Lemmy is rock and roll; 49% motherfucker / 51% son of a bitch.

March 21, 2011

Joyce Raskin : Then and Now

Joyce Raskin was introduced to me during the early '90s for two reasons.

1) She was a member of a band called Scarce that featured a gentleman by the name of Chick who had previously played in a band called Anastasia Screamed that I was wildly passionate about at the time. They were emotionally charged and raw the way Husker Du or Squirrel Bait was. A friend who was also a fan of the band insisted that I HAD to check out this new band Scarce who were just as good if not better than A.S. and featured a women who in style and personality could be my long lost sister.

2) As a woman in music who was NOT tied into the Riot Grrrl movement it was always exciting to meet other women who had nothing to do with that scene. I was told that I would be hard pressed to ever see a woman play bass as hard and and as passionately as she did. It was never a question of if I would meet Joyce, it was more like how quickly can I meet this woman and see her play?

Joyce wrote a band memoir called Aching to Be  in 2007.

In 2008 Scarce reformed and is recording new music as well as playing shows again.

Joyce wrote another book last year that incorporates Scarce lyrics called The Fall and Rise of Circus Boy Blue. As you read the story and the songs unfold in print form there is a digital link to the songs that are performed by Scarce and the reader actually gets to hear the music that coincides with the book.

Joyce has written a new book this year called My Misadventures as a teenage Rock Star and here is a terrific interview with her about it.

If all this wasn't incredible enough, Joyce has also begun to post a series of videos to help girls learn how to play guitar. She continues to be a remarkable female roll model in my life and I am so excited to know she will influence and inspire hundreds if not thousands of more girls from a whole new generation. Truly awesome stuff.

March 15, 2011

No Regrets

I had no idea there were so many versions of this Tom Rush song out there; a favorite of mine first introduced to me via Lee Hazlewood. It's one of the kindest break up songs in the history of mankind and the guitar part on the chorus is centimeters from being a Led Zeppelin song.


March 13, 2011

Roadside Prophets

Not sure how I missed this film the first time around but first off, let's take a look at some of the cast of this 1992 film called Roadside Prophets:

John Doe (of X)
Adam Horovitz (Beastie Boys)
Arlo Guthrie
Timothy Leary
John Cusack
Flea (RHCP)
David Carridine

The Plot:
"Bizarre and surreal road movie about a biker and his unlikely sidekick. On a quest to fulfill a friend's last wish, Joe takes to the desert road on his 1957 Harley-Davidson and meets a succession of odd characters, including Sam. Sam begins following Joe, on a quest of his own, which necessitates staying in Motel 9's wherever they go. Themes such as friendship, faith, and isolation are brought into sharp relief by strange situations, the lonely road, and the stark emptiness of the desert. There are also several humorous cameos"

March 10, 2011

March 10th, 2001 / Cause & Effect / Tim Hecker

Tonight from 7PM to 9PM I will explore the music of Tim Hecker and the community of artists that help define the genre or lack there of that he belongs to.

Go to to stream the show live or 97.3fm for RVA locals.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that I wasn't just a music fan, I am passionate about sound in all its forms. As a child I used to play a game where I would close my eyes and try to count how many layers of sound I could hear starting from the closest to my body (heart beat, breathing) to the farthest away hum like a passing plane or the sound of my parents talking in the kitchen below my bedroom. I understand that to most people, the sounds discovered in an environment as they play out and carry on  in real time are not exactly a song, but to people like me, they are undoubtedly musical and interesting.

As an adult, after a stressful and exhausting day sometimes the last thing my ears want to hear is a traditional piece of music with a verse and chorus using the same notes and textures I have heard a billion times before and that carry a billion associations. In order for my mind to truly unwind, sometimes less melodic music plays the role of what others might use a "noise machine" for, you know, those electronic devices that reproduce the sound of the ocean or a steady rain.

And here is where I bring you to the Montreal electronic artist Tim Hecker.

I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding when people who are familiar with only traditional music are exposed to an artist like Tim Hecker. His approach to song writing (for a lack of a better term) is more like a sculptor who takes sounds and bends them into new an exciting forms. Less experienced listeners often don't hear music and because it comes from a record label, is released on the same formats as other kinds of music are, and are broken down into individual tracks, people have an expectation to hear something develop and play out in a more familiar and musical way. This isn't to say music by Tim Hecker can't be musical, it just doesn't follow the same rules that traditional song structures follow. If you think of it as something more organic yet pruned (like a Bonsai tree) and shaped just so, it becomes a totally different listening experience and a wonderfully adventurous one at that. Without the same boundaries and limitations that Pop music carries, ambient / drone / soundscape artists move out into much wider, more exotic places. As a person who listens to music of all kinds every waking hour, music like Tim Hecker's can actually be like a palate cleanser to my ears and mind.

I have been going through an incredibly stressful period in my life and I have to confess that the weeks leading up to this radio show spent living in these other worldly spaces of sounds has been a remarkable and joyous escape. I owned a minimal amount of this kind of music before (Eno at the top of the short list) so each journey towards investigating the music Tim Hecker has been involved with or inspired by lead me down new paths. Admittedly, not everything was something I loved but I think the most interesting thing about working on tonight's show is how differently I find myself to listening to everything around me. Hopefully tonight's radio show will offer a hint at some of the best examples of Tim's work, the music that inspires him, and the highlights from artists making music within the same sonic canyons.

March 6, 2011

Dulli Links

Here is a link to download the whole two hour radio show.

And here is the link to the list of songs I played.

March 4, 2011

Maybe We Should Have Trusted the Hippies?

I am utterly fascinated by this article on the Grateful Dead. It goes into great detail to explain how the band's  legacy shouldn't just be about the music but rather their genius strategic planning as a band to get their product out to into the market place. They really understood their customer base and found clever ways to work within that system.

"The Grateful Dead Archive, scheduled to open soon at the University of California at Santa Cruz, will be a mecca for academics of all stripes: from ethno­musicologists to philosophers, sociologists to historians. But the biggest beneficiaries may prove to be business scholars and management theorists, who are discovering that the Dead were visionary geniuses in the way they created “customer value,” promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning."

At long last : The Wanda Jackson C&E Download

Sorry, for some reason Sendspace was giving me trouble with this file for a few days. Here is the link to the two hour radio show I did on Wanda Jackson.

The Dulli show will be up tonight.

March 3, 2011

March 3rd, 2011 : Cause & Effect : All Things Greg Dulli

Tonight from 7PM to 9PM on my weekly radio show Cause & Effect I will be playing all things relating to one Mr. Greg Dulli. You many know him from such bands as The Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers, and Gutter Twins to name a few. You can tune in locally at 97.3 FM in RVA or stream the show live at

By the late '80s I was enamored with all things grunge and more specifically anything Sub Pop records was dishing out. Sure much of the music was based out of Seattle (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees) but every now and then (and then more often than not) a band from a different part of the country would sneak into their roster. It was my dedication to this one label in high school on top of the fact that I was buying records from them directly for the record store I worked at, that allowed me so many an early introduction to bands / artists that exploded onto the mainstream American music scene. (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Hazel, L7 to name a few)

All I needed to know about the Afghan Whigs at the time was that they were on a label that I trusted implicitly. The "I Am the Sticks" single backed with White Trash Party from 1989 was my gateway drug to the music of Greg Dulli and I have been following his career ever since.

As I began piecing together this week's show it was startling to realize over 20 years have passed since I first fell in love with The Afghan Whigs and was fortunate enough to see them play that early on in a room not much bigger than your average two car garage. Musically they embodied a variety of styles I loved at the time from the sheer force and energy of Husker Du to raw vocal gravel of Squirrel Bait to the guitar antics of J Mascis. And while admittedly, at that point Sub Pop could have probably sold me (and often did) just about anything, I fell for this band with all their twisted dark imagery and their masculine swagger in a big way.

I was a senior in high school when this love affair began and just as I began to explore new genres as I matured, it seemed like The Afghan Whigs and Greg Dulli (singer / guitar player) was doing the same thing. Suddenly Soul, Funk and R&B began seeping into their sound and not only was their a steady in flux of cover songs by the band, their sound headed into a more soulful and sinister place as well. By the mid '90s there was a much more layered, almost cinematic quality to the Whigs and I feel like Greg Dulli has been developing and trying to prefect that ever since. Not just as a solo artist but with the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins as well.

For most of us, life is never easy or simple and I think what I appreciate about Dulli's writing style is his life seems filled with even more trials and tribulations than you or I could possibly ever know. There is an odd comfort in listening to someone who has been around the block a few hundred times and has survived to tell the tale behind a guitar and microphone. His demons are exorcised time and time again in song form and while I don't always love the things he has to say, I am fascinated by a man who has been to hell and back (and back again and again) and has taken us along for a dangerous ride in his passenger seat. (enter "Get The Wheel" lyrics here)

PS: Here is a picture of the Afghan Whigs playing at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, Oct 5th 1990 and it was taken by the wonderful Mr. Richard Unhoch. The little lady in black rocking out is me - fresh out of high school.

Cause & Effect March Calendar

The March C&E calendar looks like this :

  • March 3rd : All things Greg Dulli (Twilight Singers have a solid new album)
  • March 10th : Tim Hecker (His new record is getting lots of love in the press)
  • March 17th with JJ : Radiohead (new record out now!)
  • March 24th: To celebrate the RVA French Film fest, my guest DJ Sara Gossett and I will break out our best French pop. (Mostly '60s material)
The show is in on WRIR every Thursday from 7PM to 9P. You can listen to in in RVA on your radio at 97.3fm or stream it live at

I try to record each show and post links to the download on this site as well as the station's and my FB page.