Riffin' North Carolina and South Carolina garage rock and roll
  • Thursday 11am-1pm
Rock, Talk, Free-form

Listening to music with friends. A weekly mix-tape of songs often neglected but "not to be missed" as recommended by guests who take time to "riff" about their love of music. -While this mission statement is still true in essence, as of April 2015 the show has evolved into THE forum for all things Carolina Rock 'n' Roll, with emphasis on regional garage rock bands from the 1960s. The show has taken on a number of close friends, supporters and regular contributors such as noted NC record collector and curator Ken Friedman of the great Tobacco-A-Go-Go compilations, Asheville historian and vinyl archivist Rick Russell who has become a permanent guest and co-host with his "box of tricks" giving us the welcome opportunity to play straight to the airwaves from his amazing collection of rare original 45 records. Daniel Coston, who has written the book on NC '60s rock is a willing collaborator and partner in crime. The list goes on... including dozens of original artists who have made appearances, over the phone AND in person. The standing invitation is open... if you like what you hear and have song/artist requests/suggestions or would like to appear on the show, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH with your host: vancepollock at hotmail dot com. Stay Tuned!


Riffin''s Blog

Apr. 30 2015
The Mod VI Mod Six; Carolina Garage Rock Greats!

It's been a while since we did a big interview show. This week on Riffin', Thursday, 30 April, a double-decker two-hour episode featuring interviews with members of SC garage monsters The Mod VI and my Fayetteville, NC favorites Dayv Butler and The Delmars. Both of these bands are poorly represented on the interwebz and deserve your attention!

The Mod VI from Aiken, SC scored a regional top ten hit with their single "It's Not The Same" in February of 1968. They followed it up with appearances in the Augusta area supporting some of the top national acts of the day. Then a second single appeared further elevating the group to garage rock cult status, "What Can I Do?"

We'll be joined by lead singer Dennis Lundy and lead guitarist Billy Chapman by phone (and fingers crossed). Get the inside scoop on one of Carolina's lost rock 'n' roll treasures, The Mod VI, who we are proud to announce will be reuniting for The 3rd Annual Rock 'n' Roll Reunion in Charlotte on 27 June at The Neighborhood Theatre. Tickets available NOW! Look it up.

The second half, at least tenatively for this late hour, I am so very pleased to chat with a fellow I'm proud to call a friend, who has contributed so much to the show that I've neglected to get him on the line until now. Mike Butler was the original drummer for Dayv Butler & The Delmars. This fabulous Fayetteville outfit produced two singles circa '65 which ride the wave of Beatle-mania and yet demonstrate uniquely original and highly infectious sounds. "If I Had A Girl" and "She's No Baby" are two of my favorite tunes, and you've heard them before on Riffin' if you were listening, along with fantastic tracks from Dayv's later group The News.

Mike can tell us something about Dayv's co-writer and piano man Jay Spell, who will be inducted (belatedly and, sadly, posthumously) into The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame later this year. Jay was such a great talent! It's easy to say and just as easy to mean it once you've listened to a bit of his career output spanning several decades and performing alongside the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Canned Heat, David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears... the list goes on and on... and on.

This show promises to be an advanced college-level course in Carolina Rock 'n' Roll with these special guest lecturers. We're setting the bar high as anticipation of Asheville FM's arrival on the local airwaves grows. Go ahead and point a preset button in your Buick to 103.3 FM and in just a few weeks the static will finally be replaced by the most excellent sound of WSFM... and Riffin' every Thursday from 11am to 1pm. Stay Tuned!

Apr. 25 2015
Jay Spell

I am pleased to announce that the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame class of 2015 includes one of my favorite regional artists, the late great Jay Spell. Also, Asheville native Warren Haynes will be inducted!

I am honored to have been among those invited to submit a letter on Jay's behalf while the nomination process was underway.

Here is what I had to offer...

For the consideration of the good folks at The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame:

Jay Spell may not be a household name or a headline grabber, but his contribution to North Carolina music , indeed the music of the world, cannot be overstated.

While I grew up hearing Jay Spell's work with national artists such as Jimmy Buffett, it was only last year that I learned his story and began to connect the dots. I'm sure other folks will have much to say about his role as a contemporary and friend of Ronnie Milsap, his work with David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat... the list goes on. My discovery and admiration jumps back to his early years as a hard-working, young, local musician.

As a journalist, historian and music lover, I was invited to host a show on Asheville Free Media community radio a few years ago. I committed to a project that has been most rewarding: digging up the small local record labels and talent representing North Carolina during the 1960s, primarily the teen garage band scene responsible for hundreds of neglected 45 singles.

Much work had already been done by compilers such as Ken Friedman who started his Tobacco-A-Go-Go series in the early '80s. I formed a working friendship with Ken and he has been a constant source of lost gems from his collection, many of them never reissued. One day he handed me a homemade CD on which he had written "TAGG Xtras," being an assortment of some 30 songs he felt had much merit but which had come to hand between volumes in his series and were never used.

Among the stand-out tracks was a tune called "Blue Shoes" by a group I had never heard of before, The News.

Quick to tackle further research on this band, I soon discovered the songwriters Dave Butler and Jay Spell. I was pleased to learn that they had managed to see at least half-a-dozen singles issued either with themselves appearing as the musicians or written for other artists such as soul greats Johnnie Taylor and Kip Anderson, making waves as far up the musical food chain as Stax Records.

Then I heard their earliest collaborations for the first time and those moments will always remain for me personally on par with the discovery of King Tut's tomb. The Delmars singles "She's A Baby" and "If I Had A Girl" might strike some folks as the typical Beatles-inspired teen anthems of their day. What I heard, in comparison to any number of songs recorded about the same time and under similar conditons, were sparks of genius. Here were some teenagers who actually had a grasp on composing solid, hooky rhythms and melodies. When I brought them to the attention of friends and fellow enthusiasts who had never heard them, they are quite scarce records, the consensus was the same. As Ken Friedman replied with excitement, "This Dave Butler stuff is certainly a cut above!"

I fell in love with what I still consider THE greatest North Carolina garage/psychedelic song I've ever encountered, "The Boy Who Only Smiles" by Dayv Butler and The News (no, the fancy spelling of "Dave" here is not a typo, just stage glitter). I recommend it to people who are always taken by its maturity, fine craftsmanship and drawing on later British pop influences which were frankly over the heads of most American kids in those days.

This was how Jay Spell was first heard as a professional recording artist by an admittedly limited regional audience. If I knew nothing else about these guys, hearing that one little record would provoke the idea that they were going places. They were... from Fayetteville to Memphis to Hollywood... to the stars!

I hope you will humor me this opportunity to dote on the neglected songwriting talents of my favorite North Carolina duo, Dave Butler and Jay Spell. The well-deserved recognition of Jay Spell by your committee might help me convince my wife that I'm not crazy... or at least not in this case.

Vance Pollock
host of Riffin'
on Asheville Free Media

Jan. 14 2015
Slow Radio

Not that there's anything new under the sun... this concept occurred to me after an off-hand remark during my show last week. "Thanks for letting me do things my slow way." It's true. Being a strictly not-commercial operation, Asheville Free Media rewards its listeners and volunteers with room to breathe.

Dead air? Simply a chance to catch our breath. While a million ad-selling stations run on the old axiom "Time is Money," and feature over-caffeinated, fast-talking pitchmen... you know the guy that can rattle off the obligatory legal stuff in those used car ads at speeds that make a courtroom stenographers head spin... I love the pregnant pause.

And why not? In an age that glosses over the good stuff, reducing greatness to a sound-bite, why not hesitate for a moment of reflection... let it sink in. The music, lovingly curated, speaks for itself. But all the thought and care that goes into selecting the best tunes gets lost in the medium far too often.

My formula is habit. I'm one of those slow-drawling southerners that gets type-cast as an idiot anyway. Why not let the audience decide if there's anything going on in that hollow gourd on my shoulders? A script? No. An outline? Maybe, but rarely written down.

So, what comes to hand? Slow Radio... just like the fashionable Slow Food movement, and with much in common. Slow Food, in contrast to Fast Food, is all about the synergy or dynamic between the preparer and the consumer, and of course a high regard and respect for the ingredients. Isn't Asheville FM much the same?

It takes me literally hours of research each week to unearth new old tunes. Sometimes it means money out of pocket. Fine. I love it. The rewards are a chance to hear some of the better neglected music ever made... like a mouth-watering dish of the finest, painstakingly procured delicacy.

So, when the show hits the air its supper time. Welcome to our little table. Here's the backstory on this fine meal we're about to put down. Hold your horses there, hoss! Don't gulp that soup. Don't rush me away to fetch you another glass of iced tea just yet. I've got a lot riding on this little feast and I need time to reflect. You need time to appreciate what's about to be put in front of you.

Until now, our internet presence has catered to this way of presentation. Most folks are seated at their computer, carefully and intentionally choosing to listen with their full attention. So, is this going to change with the coming broadcast signal? Not on my part. Just because you'll have a chance to listen in the car doesn't reduce our status to that of a cheap burger grabbed at the drive-thru and eaten at the wheel. Slow Radio is completely portable. When you're stuck in your car with time to think it's the perfect opportunity to absorb and digest good radio content.

Let Slow Radio feed your brain and soul. Get thoughtful. Grow smarter. Think about what you're hearing and the people responsible, whether the teenage kids with dreams of rock 'n' roll stardom who made that giddy trek to a studio 3 hours away fifty years ago, or the dude who dusted off their record and played it in the Asheville FM studio last week.

It has taken a lot of work to tend our little garden. Farm-to-Table ain't got nothing on Asheville FM! We Support Free Media (WSFM) and so should you. Tell a friend about us. Are the airwaves all warmed up yet?

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