He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Just came off a nice weekend followed by an early screening of "Taking Woodstock", the new Ang Lee film about how the festival came about (should open on the 28th and I’ll have a review next week. One thing the movie did was to help stoke the fires of remembering what music is all about. It was during my years at WRHO in Oneonta, NY where I really came to love the special power that music has over people and how it affects our memories, both happy and sad. Those three and a half years on the air were very special and were probably some of the best shows I ever did. While I am still doing a radio show on a weekly basis (currently Saturdays 8-10Am on WXOU 88.3FM or online at www.wxou.org), I still wish I could recapture that spirit of connecting with other music lovers to put on a show that at one point was ranked the third most listened to show in the area. It was there I found exciting new artists that I had never heard before such as Phranc, Michelle Shocked, the 4 of Us, King Missile, Animal Logic, etc. All my friends had shows which featured many different styles including ska, world music, Irish, oldies, metal, etc and I started to form a show that was an amalgam of all my friends shows. Today, WXOU has the diversity that my old station had but something is missing. Maybe the newness of it all has been worn away or I trying to hard to recapture when I just need to let my spirit sour. Whatever it is, I still feel I put on a quality show for music lovers and I still love finding new groups that I never heard of before.
For example, I interviewed Alex Wand, the lead singer of the band Light In August, last week outside the radio studio and that interview will play next week on my show around 8:30AM along with a couple of tracks off their new album, entitled "Places". So take the time to tune in and check out an exciting local band. They will be playing the Emerald on Aug 29th and Arts Beats & Eats on Sept 7th. For more info, go to their myspace page or their website - www.lightinaugustmusic.com
I also had a good time roadtripping to Lapeer on Sunday t o see Bill Haley’s Comets. Yes, the band is actually one of three groups performing under the name which makes rock n’ roll history interesting, but this band was tight and put on a very entertaining show (about 100 musicians played in the Comets over the years). The band itself has a rich history, which I’ll try to give you glimpses of. Haley himself was a huge name back in the 50’s and while their song "Rock Around The Clock" has arguably been considered the first rock n’ roll records, his earlier Country-Western hit record "Rocket 88" was the real genesis behind the bands new direction which included them being the first all white rock band to bring rock n roll to the masses. Even his hit "Shake, Rattle and Roll" was released first but "Rock Around The Clock" is special for a number of reasons which make it a convenient tag for the start of what is considered rock n roll despite arguments for other songs like "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (1951), Wynonie Harris' 1947 cover of Roy Brown's "Good Rocking Tonight".
It was the first #1 rock n’ roll song on the charts which got Billboard to label 1955-on as the Rock And Roll Era for the charts, it is the biggest selling single of all time according to Guinness and it was the theme for the first 2 seasons of Happy Days which most people of my generation look at their first impressions of what the 50’s were about. Whatever you consider the first record, Bill Haley and the Comets were international stars that commanded sold out shows and even played a special performance for the Queen Elizabeth II in 1979 whose favorite song was said to have been "Skinny Minnie". Also, like many great rock songs, it was seen as a accident since "Rock Around The Clock" was originally the b-side (remember 45’s) to a songs entitled "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town)" which was supposed to be the song that made them famous. His version of "See You Later, Alligator" also popularized the catchphrase that we all have probably used at one time or another. Anyway, the show rocked with original Comets Marshall Lytle (bass), Joey Ambrose (sax) and Franny Beecher (guitar) covering a lot of Bill Haley standards and bringing in a ton of memories. The drummer for the show is a young kid who also has played in Woody Allen’s Dixieland Jazz Band and plays drums for the Broadway musical ‘The Lion King’ which Marshall joked the kid takes a pay cut to play with them. Haley himself died in 1981 and while he might have been overshadowed by the arrival of Elvis, he was still a large figure in music and I’m glad I got to see a part of the band that made history.
Along with the concert, I found some other places of interest starting with a store called Roadside Attractions located on 3549 S Lapeer Rd which is part flea market, part automotive and petroliana museum which includes some classic cars, old gas pumps, roadside markings, road maps and other pieces of nostalgia that makes for a nice stop if out for a drive. They also have Car Shows and Flea Markets, the next one coming up being on Saturday, September 26th which will also have a dance contest and games for the kids. Check out their website at carsantiquesandmore.com. I also stopped by the Lapeer County Historical Museum, which is typically open on Wed & Sat from 10AM-3PM. Like most local museums, it has items that represent the early days of the town ranging from an amazing arrowhead display to vintage roller skates and other pioneer era household items. The museum also has a nice display of surveyor equipment and a genealogical research center. A short walk down the street will also take you to the Lapeer County Historic Courthouse that was built in 1846 and is the oldest working courthouse in Michigan. I am glad I had the time to see this town and hopefully I will get a job soon so I might make another trip up sometime.
After getting back from Lapeer, I was able to take in the Shock Game at the Palace where they defeated the San Antonio Silver Stars 99-81on the back of Katie Smith’s season high 31 point effort. Alexis Hornbuckle also put out a wonderful game with 14 points and seven assists on the night her mother, Quandora, sang the Star-Spangled Banner before the game. San Antonio kept the game within distance but the Shock played one of their best games this year and put the game out of reach by the fourth. Taj McWilliams hit a milestone by reaching 4,000 career points in the WNBA making her only the 10th player to hit this mark. She started out slow offensively but put forth a great defensive effort in this game. The Shock is currently 11-14 and is 2 wins behind Chicago and Washington for the final playoff spot. The next home game is on the 27th against the Atlanta Dream. Come out and support. Also by scoring over 85 points in a win, I got a free butterburger at Culver’s after the game and must say I enjoyed it. It has a different taste that I found very appealing and would make me want to try it again.
In the world of cinema, I had the opportunity to check out the new Quentin Tarantino film "Inglorious Basterds" which was the only US film to win an award at Cannes this past year. The film which he has been working on since 2001 is basically an alternative history look at WWII where we follow two separate plots, one by the motley crew of Jewish Americans Nazi killing force the Basterds and one by a young woman whose family was killed by the Nazis and now runs a theatre in Paris, to kill Hitler at a film premiere about a German sniper who killed 300 American soldiers. While the film doesn’t have the same soundtrack perks of other Tarantino films (with the exception of David Bowie’s “Catpeople”), it does claim to have some wonderful acting performances from lesser-known actors such as French actress Melanie Laurent as the young female theatre owner Shosanna and German actor Christopher Waltz as Standartenfuhrer Hans Landa aka "The Jew Hunter" in what I feel is the best role in the movie and one of the best Nazi villains in film. Brad Pitt plays the leader of the Basterds with a wonderful rellish and I appreciate the fact that Tarantino doesn’t give you the backstories of all the characters but just lets the audience figure it out.
For example, why does Pitt’s character have a lynch scar arounds his neck or what are the names on the bat of the “Bear Jew” (the names are actually the names of Jews who died so whenever he beats a Nazi to death he is doing so with the names of those killed). Little things like that make this while not he most fun film, but probably his best film overall. After being in the theatre for 2 ½ hours, I was amazed since it only felt like 1 ½ to me which is amazing considering how little actual action sequences are in the film. I would love to praise more of the actors in the film but to do so would take just too damn long. Just known going in you will be seeing a wonderfully crafted film about an assassination attempt on Hitler (better than Cruise’s “Valkyrie” of last year) with an ending that should make everyone excited. Even some of the critics who don’t typically like Tarantino’s work were excited about the film while walking out. I give this film an enthusiastic A+ and say you should rush out and see it.
In music news, lets take a look at some upcoming concerts but sorry to disappoint that the Charlatan UK have cancelled their US tour due to a shoulder injury with their drummer. Tuesday (8/25) has the music of Louisiana come to town with one of my favorite musicians Buckwheat Zydeco @ the Magic Bag. Wednesday (8/26) has nothing that stands out right now though the Wailers have rescheduled their Magic Bag date. Thursday (8/27) will see Soul Asylum w/Seven Mary Three and Sponge @ Meadowbrook Theatre. Friday (8/28) has the music of Styx @ Pine Knob, the rocking Edgar Winter Band @ Ren Center, the Von Bondies @ the Magic Stick, local pop band Atavan @ Eagle Theatre and Mark Farner @ Michigan State Fair (this is the first day of the Fair this year). Saturday (8/29) will see Grand Funk Railroad @ Ceasar’s Windsor and local guitarist Laith Al-Saadi @ Magic Bag. Sunday (8/30) also has nothing right now that stands out for me to recommend. Monday (8/31) will see the Classic Rock All-Stars (with members of Rare Earth and Sugarloaf) & Temptations Review @ the Michigan State Fair. If I find anything else, I will do a midweek update since I am running out of time right now.
Have a good week everyone and I’ll see you around town.