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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Drongos And My 'Net Legacy

When I first got on the Internet back in '98, I picked as a handle drongozone, which I still have/use to this day in some form or another. I got the word "drongo" from a New Zealandish rockabilly quartet with the monicker The Drongos. They used to busk at lunch time in Liberty Plaza, diagonally across Church St from the World Trade Center, back in the early '80s. They were a skinny bunch, three cats with big sideburns on gee-tar, bass, and snare drum and a guitar-playin' chick in a very short skirt. They could really rock. I didn't know it at the time but they also played out at CBGB's and other joints. But the street was their main theater, and I saw them all the time that one summer. And, yes, I did contribute to their bucket.
Anyway, several years later, I asked a Kiwi co-worker with the great name of Bronwyn Collie what the hell a "drongo" was and she told me in NZ it means "nerd" or "stupid person." And while I don't think those two descriptors actually describe me, I did like the way the word looked and sounded. So, I became Drongo, thanks to the skinny Kiwi rockabillies of Lower Manhattan.

Old Punks Never Die, They Just Sing Live Band Karaoke

The pic above features me at the microphone singing The Clash's version of Bobby Fuller's "I Fought The Law." The occasion was the WFMU 91.1FM Record Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th St. in October 2005. The group was called something like the Happy Fun Karaoke Band, and I was one of about 20 brave warblers seeking the spotlight in front of thousands of record collectors and millions of records in boxes, hoping to win some kind of gag prize. WFMU Saturday afternoon DJ Terre T emceed.
I had never sang live band karaoke before, just the usual guy-in-a-bar with music-machine type. It was a little daunting, but a couple of Bud bottles really made it easier to sign up. The group was pretty tight and their covers sounded a lot like the originals. It's hard to remember the numbers other contestants sang, but I do recall "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" and some Igg Pop tune.
I felt exhiliarated while singing, the band and I meshed really well, and the crowd reacted favorably. It felt really good. And then when Terre T put her hand over my head for crowd applause, I made it as a top-5 finalist. I didn't win ("Boots" did, I recall the gal who sang it was from Toronto). But it was great being part of a rock & roll show instead of just observing.
That's what this blog will be about--I intend to attempt to to recall every band I've ever seen, from about 1972 to present. This blog will amuse and inform and will provide a unique view on the grand history of one of America's great traditions--Rock & Roll.