I accidentally saw Old Crow Medicine Show 15 years ago. And they were good, these kids playing rippin’ bluegrass. It was at the Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg NY, in 2002. (Del McCoury played the same stage the next day, and Samite of Uganda as well in what’s still the most transcendent music performance I’ve ever seen.) Anyway. Old Crow Medicine Show. They’d met as buskers in nearby Ithaca NY in the late ’90s, and I saw them when the fame and accolades had just started rolling in… but before the agony of Wagon Wheel that they’d later unleash on the world. That said, I’d swear they played it.
They put out a best-of collection earlier this month, and in the first hour of the program this week I’m going to play a track-by-track commentary hosted by Jessie Scott with band members Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua. So, yeah, you’re gonna hear Wagon Wheel on Monsters and Hamsters. That’s a one-time deal.
Then in the second hour: The rumors are true… We’re expecting a phone call from Tom Jawbone of the awesomely cool hot gonzo primitive folk jive band The Cold River Ranters to talk about all the things.
Monsters and Hamsters on WOOL-FM every Wednesday night from 7 to 9, broadcasting live at 91.5 in the service area and streaming worldwide from www.wool.fm
This morning when I turned on my laptop, it went to a black screen with a warning about a cooling fan not working right, and it shut itself down. Needless to say, I freaked. Things seemed to be OK after a second startup attempt, but I’ve spent the last several hours babysitting the backups I’ve neglected to run for months and months.
So I took advantage of the screen time to change up the website. It’s a mostly-stock template that I’ll probably make increasingly less attractive over time. Enjoy it now.
Had a chat with former Vermonter Andy Scheinman, who’s down in Nashville these days with the jumpin’ blues and swing band Eight O’Five Jive. They’ve got a new album out named Swing Set and they’re headed for the big International Blues Challenge in Memphis right about now. Recorded January 30, 2017. Includes four songs from the new one.
When WOOL-FM upgraded from its low-power license to the full-power one it has now, the first thing over the air was an obscure recording of Woody Guthrie singing This Land Is Your Land.
I like that song, I love the lyric, but I’ve never been a real big fan of old social-justice folk that Woody inspired. Maybe it’s because I didn’t live in the time when that music was the soundtrack for a sweeping social movement. But I’m aware of the history of those tumultuous years, and I’m concerned about the ways that these times are mirroring those. The interview I did recently with Peter Yarrow touched pretty heavily on that stuff.
I never saw Woody perform because he died before I turned six. I saw Pete Seeger once in the ’80s, and he didn’t spark for me. But those two were pals, and their music changed the world. For the better, I think. The other day I came across a 2012 program called Pete Remembers Woody — it’s terrific. It’s an old guy remembering his old friend and old times.
I’m going to play it on Monsters & Hamsters this week. Wednesday night starting at 7:00 Eastern, 91.5 FM hereabouts and streaming from www.wool.fm everywhere else.
The GrooveBarber’s powerhouse and jocular bassman Charlie Evett checked in. The group will bring their “acapella rock and soul royalty” (Village Voice) to Next Stage in Putney VT on December 16 in their Annual Acapella Holiday Concert Extravaganza. Charlie gave us the dirt on the other members! Tickets to the show to see how all that works out are available from www.nexststagearts.org
Had loads of fun talking with Sean Altman of JEWMONGOUS, The GrooveBarbers, Everly Set, Rockapella, Blind Dates, Moon Pudding (is that an actual thing, moon pudding?), and more. So beloved is he in these parts that he’s going to be at Next Stage in Putney, Vermont, twice this month: with The GrooveBarbers for the annual GrooveBarbers’ Holiday Concert Extravaganza on December 16, and bringing JEWMONGOUS to that stage for the first time on December 23. Tickets and more info at www.nexststagearts.org
Yeah, still on hiatus. Did another interview anyway.
Had a chat on the phone with Peter Yarrow in advance of his concert at the Bellows Falls Opera House coming up on December 8. For those who don’t know: this is Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary. They sang with Martin Luther King on stage during the ’63 march on Washington (the one that the “I Have A Dream” speech is from), and had three of the top six slots on Billboard’s album chart the week Kennedy was assassinated. Talk about mixed feelings. Peter was on hand when Dylan caused a furor by going electric at the Newport Folk Festival, and he was a founder of Kerrville’s New Folk Series. Plus he wrote the music for Puff The Magic Dragon.
This man is still firmly planted in the activist folksinger garden, and I suspect we’re all better off for it.
He turned the tables on me off the bat with some good questions about Bellows Falls and the Opera House, but we kicked into gear quickly after that. There were things to say about politics lately and the positive path forward, the state of the nation and its citizens, and Standing Rock. We also glanced off some heyday highlights and his history in history, got into the nature of folk and of fame, the fact that he has six toes, and other fancy stuff.
Two new songs and two old ones are interspersed. Songs are included in this on-demand format with permission of the artist.
Tickets for the concert online at www.vermontfestivalsllc.com or tickets.catamountarts.org
Monsters & Hamsters is still on hiatus, but I took a break from the break to have a chat with big-deal fiddle guy Darol Anger, who’s bringing his 5th Annual Keepin’ It In The Fam world-class string-band holiday show back to Next Stage in Putney on December 2, along with big deal banjo guy Tony Trischka, the soulful Emy Phelps, and kickass whippersnappers Grant Gordy and Ethan Jodziewicz. Songs from last year’s Fam Holiday show are sprinkled in. More info at www.nextstagearts.org
Monsters & Hamsters is taking a sanity sabbatical through the end of 2016.
In addition to the usual ongoing behind-the-scenes tasks and chores around the station, I’ve been trying to catch up with deferred maintenance and needful upgrades… the sorts of things that go unnoticed until stuff goes off the rails and suddenly there’s a cascading series of emergencies.
It’s too much. I can’t do it all.
The quality of Monsters & Hamsters has suffered, and you good people deserve better. And I’m getting stressed and not having fun, and I deserve better (particularly since I, like everyone else at the station, am a volunteer). Plus I wanna get the www.stage33live.com project actually rolling, which is gonna require time and effort too, and if the station falls apart it’ll mess with that. So while I’d rather do my show than station grunt work, I gotta be strategic.
Some of our other hosts from other time slots will sit in on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 from time to time, and when that doesn’t happen, syndicated talk programs from the Black Sheep Radio schedule that you might have missed will air.
I’ll still be poppin’ ’round the station to get things done, but I’ll be off the air until January. Catch you in 2017! Probably. Happy New Year!
Usedta was before the fluffy-chat thing I do now that I had a music show back when I first got involved at WOOL. It was called A Pretty Big Place With Lots Of Room, and my cohost was a sexy robot because I was afraid of the microphone. The very first one was six years ago next month… though it seems like much, much longer ago than that.
Tonight, we’re gonna revisit that first show for no good reason other than that I had a tooth extracted a couple days ago and I’m not feeling fit for polite company.
Here’s what’s on the menu: Shaky Hands, Nortec Collective, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Polyrock, Times New Viking, Nils Frahm, Laura Veirs, Micachu and The Shapes, William Burroughs, Beirut, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Ramesh B Weeratunga, Fireman, Coolhand Band, Cows, Futureheads, De Ndirande Pitch Crooners, Wahala Project, Major Lazer, Chatmonchy, Doc Watson, James Brown, Mae Shi, The Slew, Ali Farka Toure, The Others, Welder, Deolinda, Twink, King Missile, and a crazed Christina Aguilara / Velvet Underground / Communards mashup.
WOOL-FM at 91.5 locally and streaming from www.wool.fm everywhere else at 7:00 Eastern on Wednesday nights.