Riffin'

Riffin' North Carolina and South Carolina garage rock and roll
  • Thursday 11am-1pm
Genre: 
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!

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Riffin''s Blog

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?

Jan. 3 2015
Silver Shirt uniform and flag

A bit of uncomfortable local history... It may not have much to do with music other than the martial marching variety and probably absolutely nothing to do with rock 'n' roll other than the fact that a few members would have appreciated the right-wing rabble-rousing of Ted Nugent.

The Silver Legion of America, aka Silvershirts / Silver Shirts, was a pro-Hitler paramilitary and metaphysical fraternal organization founded in 1933 in Asheville, North Carolina by author / mystic William Dudley Pelley.

The web is loaded with references, footnotes and a few photos, but a militaria collector friend of mine just made a point in our recent conversation. WE know what a Silvershirt uniform would look like. We've seen the photos. However, unlike the obvious implications following the chance discovery of white hoods and robes in grandpa's trunk, most folks wouldn't recognize Silvershirt items even if they held them in their hands.

The Travel Channel and History Channel have both aired segments in recent months depicting the Silver Shirts, so it is possible that wider public recognition of such rather non-descript items is due. After all, there were several thousand members with large posts in several major cities during the 1930s. The stuff has to be out there, though no uniform items have apparently ended up in any museum collections. There was supposedly a temporary exhibit at a small regional history museum in Chehalis or Centralia, Washington 15 or so years ago, but current curators remember nothing of the exhibit or the uniform reportedly displayed at the time.

So, my friend and I, avid long-time eBay hunters for obscure historical items, regalia and ephemera, started to brainstorm... If a person found something like this, how would they describe it in a few words? What sort of auction title would they use?

Sellers of such unknown stuff often first turn to the internet in an attempt to identify their goods. This entry, even though it would seem quite out of context on a local community radio site at first glance, seems to me a good way to become a result and point-of-contact for any such search.

The group did not have a large uniformed public presence in Asheville, even though headquartered here for its entire run, 1933-1940, and most certainly vanquished by the outbreak of World War Two and the imprisonment of its leader, Pelley, for sedition in 1942.

I knew one old local fellow, quite an eccentric and resembling Colonel Sanders when he used to haunt Pack Library in the mid-1990s, quite elderly at the time, dead for 15 years now, who WAS a Silver Shirt and made no apologies. He was a sweet little marshmallow of an old man, attended Jubilee church and was quite liberal in his worldview, nearly the opposite of what you might expect from an old Nazi. He told me that the staff around Asheville was mostly associated with the publishing end of things, distributing millions of pieces of propaganda all over the country. The publications are not as hard to find or identify.

By 1938 the printing presses were set up at 645 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, where Pineapple Jack's sandwich shop was located in recent years. The employees work uniform was also the standard Silver Shirt attire.

So, what did it look like? What did the flag and insignia look like?

The uniform was a gray shirt with large red "L" over the left breast, navy blue tie and trousers. On parade or in the field, the get-up was topped with a military campaign hat, that is, standard drill instructor, highway patrol, boy scout, or Stetson Austral hat.

The flag was a standard dimension white banner with large red "L" in the upper left corner and was flown alongside the 48-star US flag of the day.

The insignia was again the capitol "L" surrounded by a wreath or laurel, sometimes backed by a burning torch and with long narrow wings extending straight to either side.

In 1936 Pelley started a political third party, The Christian Party, which insignia was an illuminated or glowing, shining anvil.

If a web search brought you to this post, maybe you've seen such things. I'd love to hear from you and talk more about what it is you have stumbled across. It could indeed be an obscure artifact from a dark chapter in American history that most would like to forget. On the other hand, as a historian, I believe that any trace of this buried history should be recognized, studied and preserved with proper context and respect.

To end, here is a word cloud which might catch off-hand descriptions of all such things:

long sleeve sleeved gray grey shirt with blood crimson scarlet red letter l letter l in red capitol letter capital L l over pocket breast heart left shoulder, uniform masonic lions club parade dress military police drill insignia vintage school college team white flag with red L antique old, fraternal organization, church group, militaria, medal decoration pin L in wreath with wings and torch, glowing anvil. pre-WW2 great depression anti-Roosevelt 1930s World War Two World War 2 Hitler Asheville sedition third party president Seattle Los Angeles San Diego Chicago. Riot rally protest anti-government nationalist nationalism extreme right wing ultra conservative historical reenactor replica in image at top of post.

Dec. 3 2014
WFLB radio Fayetteville, NC

For the past two years Riffin' on Asheville FM has been devoted to rediscovering the lost gems of regional Carolina rock 'n' roll. The project has brought me into contact with so many great folks I can't count them all, even with my socks off.

Every little while something great comes my way, usually with a simple note, "Thought you might like this." Here's the case of something extra special.

In 1970 DJ David Beecher at WFLB AM radio in Fayetteville, NC put together a two-hour showcase of local rock 'n' roll representing the area's wide range of neglected talent covering the entire previous decade. His guest host was Jay Spell, a blind piano player (actually a multi-instrumentalist of the first order) who went on to play with dozens of big names. Just Google him for a sampling of his artist credits.

Heavily featured is the work of Dave Butler (often credited as Dayv Butler) who had played and written with Jay Spell since they were teenagers. Their two early 45rpm singles as The Delmars include drummer Mike Butler. At the time (1970) Mike was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and his brother back home recorded the broadcast on a tape reel and mailed it to him.

Over the years Mike had the tape transferred, first to cassette tape and later to CD. It really is a regional time capsule, including songs of every imaginable style complete with comment and commercials of the era.

Mike was kind enough to share this broadcast with me a few months ago and encouraged my dabbling and discovery. I finally came up with an attempt to share the complete show, along with relevant illustrations where available, as a series of video segments. These have been uploaded to Facebook where I have solicited further comment and reaction in connection with the group Carolina Rock 'n' Roll Remembered. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ncrockhistory/ and various other hometown "back when" groups.

The videos are public and can be viewed/listened to even WITHOUT a Facebook account.

Of course, at some point they might receive wider attention when uploaded to YouTube. For now, they are one of our best kept little secrets.

At the bottom of this post are links for the 8 segments comprising this great musical artifact.

The music appearing runs roughly as follows:

Tommy Godbold: I Wanta Hold Your Hand; The Waylites: Summertime; Kip Anderson: I Get Carried Away, Without A Woman, A Knife & A Fork; Arlin Miller: Juicy Brucie; Jimmy Barden: Till I Met You; Lucky Landy; Lyndon Johnson and His Great Society; Dayv Butler: If I Had A Girl; Corporate Image: Not Fade Away; The Symbols: Can I See You Tonight; Dayv Butler: She's No Baby; The Malabous Ron: She's A Doll; Dayv Butler: Watch You Work It Out; Kip Anderson: You'll Lose A Good Thing; The Marke 5: Pay; Psychic Motion: Big Teaser; Wrong Rain: I'm So Proud; Dayv Butler and The News: The Boy Who Only Smiles, Blue Shoes, I Love Everybody; The Playthings: You Were Gone, Confused Again; The Waylites: If You Find It In Your Power; The Highsteps: Thank You John; Plant & See: Henrietta, Leaving; Dayv Butler: Say You Believe In Me; Neon Rainbow: Ain't No Reason For Believing, Can't Leave Me, Where Tomorrow; Liquid Smoke: Warm Touch; Dayv Butler: Tryin' to Get to Memphis.

Many of the recordings featured are from extremely scarce 45s and others from actual demo tapes on-hand at the studio that day, thus not released or available anywhere else.

Enjoy this most excellent blast from the past and experience the sort of stuff that drives Riffin' to uncover and share with our listeners the sort of lost treasures that are truly worth digging for!

The links...

pt. 1: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152749580251747&l=875821054931606...

pt. 2: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152758711851747&l=188144746706638...

pt. 3: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152687860371747&l=176281654530060...

pt. 4: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152761815761747&l=564569329433161...

pt. 5: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152767172241747&l=352463290924218...

pt. 6: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152767208246747&l=650808474503577...

pt. 7: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152768791901747&l=313585768481584...

pt. 8: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152768806121747&l=715247395425339...

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