Friday, September 18, 2009

WNEW-FM 102.7 Summer Park Series 1972/1973


If you were cool you listened to WNEW, which at the time was pretty much free-form radio. You had your young Pete Fornatele, Scott Muni, Allison Steele the Nightbird, Vin Scelsa etc. as DJs. The station put on a free concert in each borough in the summertime, and this 13-year old's first one was in 1972 at Silver Lake Park on Staten Island. My brother Charlie and I and a couple of friends went. An interesting line-up. We sat on the grass in front of the bandstand while viewing Fleetwood Mac--but not the version you're probably used to hearing. It was all hairy guys and they played nothing but the blues, nothing at all like their pop-ish and popular persona of a few years later. There was Taj Mahal, a solo blues act who has been around forever. Several other bands whose names I can't recall played. One I do remember is McKendree Spring, a country rock Byrds-like outfit. They were all hairy, too.
In 1973, the concert returned. Allison Steele emceed. That's her in the upper right corner of this post. She was a beautiful red-headed woman. It was the first time I ever saw her, whether in the flesh or even a photo for that matter. This 14-year old wanted her so badly. On the radio, her soothing voice came on at 10 p.m., usually opening the show with some heavy poetry and then playing mind-bending, spacy music for the next few hours. I first heard Pink Floyd on her show.
Anyway, this concert was notable for me in that afterward I went out and purchased albums by two of the acts at the Record Baron on Forest Ave. One was Tower of Power, whose minor hit "What is Hip?" I really dug. These soulsters were from Oakland, Cal. and had a lot of horns action. Very energetic and dynamic, performancewise.
The other group I liked was Wet Willie, a bluesy rock/soul group that were stablemates of The Allman Brothers at Capricorn Records. Yes, they were from the South. This list of songs from a live album of thiers will give you an idea of what they were all about: !.That's Alright Mama, 2. She Caught the Katy, 3. No Good Woman Blues, 4. Red Hot Chicken, 5. Airport, 6. I'd Rather Be Blind, 7. Macon Georgia Greezy Hambone Blues, 8. Shout Bamalama. Oh yeah, they were hairy.
I don't know if WNEW continued the concert series after that, but 1972 and 1973 were it for me. Those were my first-ever concerts. I wanted more.

11 comments:

  1. i remember all those DJs and their respective shows. i was too young to see these first few concerts in SI (being 7 in 1972 - ha!) but the first concert i ever saw at the Garden was Fleetwood Mac - i was in HS so it must 80 0r 81. keep em comin'...

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  2. Hey John,

    I too was at that 73 show in Silver Lake Park. I actually recognize you...we went to SHS together (maybe Farrell too?) I went to that show with Eric Chalico.

    Ray Rusinak

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    1. Well it's only 7 years later for my reply but I don't remember you! hahaha

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  3. LOVED TO LISSEN TO ALLISON EVERY NIGHT HER SHOW WAS THEE BEST, LIVED IN HUNTINGTON L.I. AT THE TIME ABOUT 16 IN MY TEENS.70'S WERE THE BEST, CAN'T FORGET FIRER ISLAND LOTS PARTYING ? PHIL MORGAN

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  4. JACKIE MCKENNA OF NAVADA CDL OPERATOR PHILL MORGAN ON F.B.

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  5. Bill W, I was at that show----4 of us danced our asses off in front of the stage. WNEW was rock n roll in the early 70's---- oh my misspent youth

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  6. I was at those 2 shows; I don't remember Fleetwood Mac, but I remember Taj Mahal, Buzzy Linhart, Mckendree Spring and Revival in 1972, and Tower of Power & Wet Willie in 1973. In 1972, Taj was with Howard Johnson on tuba, McKendree Spring did a great "Down by the River" with electric violin, Buzzy Linhart performed solo with his Strat tuned down a la Jimi. In '73, all the WNEW DJs made an appearance onstage with their matching t-shirts, and Tower of Power's horn section marched through the audience playing an extended solo. Great shows!

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    1. Frank I forgot about Buzzy Linhart! Whatever happened to that dude haha

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  7. I was at the Taj mahal Tower of Power show. I was 14 also. I weaseled my way up to the front and was standing right next to Alison. I didn't even know who she was. All I know was that all these guys were trying to get her autograph.

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    1. All's I know I loved her show then to see her in the flesh and this kid swooned

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