Riffin'

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

Mar. 24 2016
North Carolina 1960s Garage band history project

from the Carolina Rock 'n' Roll Remembered group on facebook:

For a couple of years now this group has been one of the best regional music history networks going. Members are watching with interest, sharing with their old friends, contributing great photos and memories... so, should we step it up?

I started, and remain focused, on Asheville. Simple reason... I'm here and I know people. Every person making music here 50 years ago knows how to get ahold of half-a-dozen others... and so on.

BUT The response from across the state and SC too has been so electric in some cases that I want to pitch an idea out. In some cases one or a few people from a town get really excited about the possibility of capturing some of this history... and make no mistake it IS history. I remember my dad having his 50th anniversay WW2 Navy reunion. Of course, service to this country during a time of war when the whole nation pulled together IS well-recognized as of historic significance and should be. All the same, what took place on the homefront a generation later (not to mention the looming possibility, and reality for many, of Viet Nam) is just as valuable in many ways. Don't sell yourself short just because you were a teenager in a rock 'n' roll band that might not have made a big splash.

Here are a few things I've noticed happen when the spark is lit for certain folks, some who hadn't thought twice about their musical misadventures in decades.

MANY HAPPY REUNIONS with old bandmates, classmates, fans and fellow musicians... often this has been as much a thrill for the families, especially grandkids who never knew grandpa was a rockstar, ha ha.

These reunions lead to story swapping, being reminded of some hysterical and genuinely unique experiences.

Sometimes people can break out the scrapbooks and photo albums to illustrate a moment in time that is nearly lost in the pages of academic history books.

EVEN actual musical reunions have been known to happen. I know of at least half-a-dozen groups who have returned to the stage, often with some line-up changes from the original, and performed the music of yesteryear to the delight of all involved.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE? Basically someone "on the ground" in a given locale willing to reach out to their friends and fellow musicians. Like I said, everyone knows 6 more people, many of them who have never gotten with the computer age (and who can blame them really?), so a few phone calls have people swapping stories that are undocumented and have not been told for decades.

I suppose it would be a lot like an average high school reunion only with a city-wide musical emphasis.

One person starts making a list of all the local players they knew... start wondering about where they are now and, if they don't know, who can find them. I guarantee that a weekend spent at this hobby will have you back in touch with people you haven't spoken to in ages rehashing some good times.

HOW TO HANDLE THE RESULTS / WHAT IS THE END-GAME? I would say that the most important final acheivement of any such reunion is to preserve a piece of our musical heritage which will be GONE in another 25 years... no getting it back. But right now we have a lot of these folks on hand who are reaching retirement and deserve a shot of nostalgia and a chance to share with the grandkids... even the ones who haven't been born yet.

So... taking pictures, making videos, recordings of "oral history" and telephone interviews. Where there are scrapbooks and photo albums, setting up time with a good scanner and someone who knows how to handle the digitization process (I guarantee every one of you have a friend who can make this happen and would probably be excited about what they stand to learn). You know who the biggest supporter of such a project should be locally? Your neighborhood library or historical society. They, of all people, should recognize this as a golden opportunity. Librarians and historians are usually blown away by such a windfall... their wide-eyed reaction when being faced with such a thriving local music scene is generally, "I had no idea!"

Then and finally... the music itself. Has it been preserved? The most obvious medium is the one-off 45rpm record the kids down the street cut in 1966 and tried to peddle at school for months afterwards. We need to get the audio from every little one of those songs digitized. Again, not too complicated and chances are you know someone who will do it for nothing. If you are willing to spend a little bit of money I can recommend a Carolina business which does this work affordably and can often make the final product sound BETTER than the day it was cut (assuming no one played catch with the family dog using your copy of the record over the years).

THEN there are the one-of-a-kind recordings on old reel tapes that have been in the closet growing mold for 45 years... Yes, they are out there. Yes, we have rescued many of them. In this case I would strongly advise the layman against attempting to handle/play/transfer these tapes. They may have become very delicate by now and I've seen the magnetic recording stripped right off the clear tape the first time they go back on a reel player after so long. These cases need professional attention. I'm not in the business of selling such a specialized service but, again, "I know a guy." Roughly speaking, a couple of reels of audio professionally handled right here in North Carolina, can yield a CD after tedious restoration for a couple of hundred bucks. Worth it!

So, I'm not telling you folks anything that hasn't crossed your mind before when thinking on all this old stuff. I WILL offer my support. I'll make phone calls, I'll track down long-lost drummers last seen hitch-hiking west in '68, I'll try to drum up local support from the history community, recommend venues/meeting places... whatever I can do voluntarily, simply because I love the music of that era and every time I hear another "lost" song it gives me a thrill to know that somehow it survived half-a-century... and in many cases so did the guys who played it.

So, what next? Make your list of potential contacts. If you know they are on FB, point them here. Get the phone numbers and ask them the big questions...

1. Do you have some good stories to share?

2. Do you have newsclippings, flyers, posters, photos, home movies (in other words, documentation).

3. Do you have recordings?

An answer of "YES" to any of the above calls for a next step... arrange a meeting and/or recorded phone interview. Set up to scan, transfer existing materials... This is about as grass roots as it gets and can be done by nearly any of us one on one. The BIG maybe depends on the sort of response you get after a few of these contacts... Do you wanna attend a reunion and/or Do you wanna get the band back together? That, my friends, is entirely within the realm of possibilities.

Don't wait another 5 years. As we've seen in recent months, rock 'n' rollers don't last forever... only their music does.

WHAT SAY YE?

Visit: https://www.facebook.com/notes/carolina-rock-n-roll-remembered/carolina-...

Feb. 28 2016
Orange Purple Marmalade Carolina Rock 'n' Roll

The Butterfly Effect in Carolina Rock ‘n’ Roll
A little over three years ago I stepped through some sort of vortex. I think I may have just now made it back.
Hosting a rock ‘n’ roll show called Riffin’ on Asheville FM community radio had given me an excuse to devote hours seeking out fresh music fodder. Since I was interested in vintage recordings, the natural move was to dig up deep cuts, lesser known album tracks and, eventually, locally produced 45s.
The local records offered the biggest challenge to date. First of all, they were largely uncatalogued. They were hardly known in the next county even at the time and nearly forgotten in their hometown 50 years later. I seriously doubt they would have set off alarms in my brain had it not been for a few harmonious events. The very first Asheville record brought to my attention was a 1965 obscurity by The Satyrs, “Don’t Be Surprised.”
Conveniently, Satyrs singer/songwriter Bucky Hanks was the father of two close friends. Just as I started quizzing Micah Hanks about his dad’s high school garage band, a cover article on the outfit appeared in our local entertainment weekly Mountain Xpress. Miles Britton’s piece was the key to a musical time-capsule. He also rounded up members of half-a-dozen other local bands of the era and did a fine series of interviews comprising an oral history of Asheville garage rock during the 1960s.
So, up front, Miles was the man who scratched the surface… or, rather, gave me the itch. In short order he had demonstrated that Asheville, despite being an isolated small town, was a fertile and thriving music hotbed in those days and years to follow.
My curiosity soon led me to inquire further afield. How did the Asheville scene fit in with what was going on across the wider region? Had other historians tackled similar stories from other cities across the state? I found to my great pleasure that it was happening at that very moment. Music photographer Daniel Coston had just finished the first edition of his book “There Was A Time” detailing the Charlotte rock scene of half a century ago and hinting at musical happenings all across the Carolinas.
Charlotte was certainly a good place to start. As home to Arthur Smith Studios, the city featured the finest professional recording venue in the state. It was the point of origin for James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and The Swinging Medallions anthem “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love.” Any regional talent who could afford it recorded at Arthur Smith. This included dozens if not hundreds of teenage rock groups… and soul… and R&B… and our own genre “beach music,” though the lines between are often blurred.
Most such sessions usually resulted in two songs pressed on about 500 copies (perhaps even fewer) of a seven-inch 45 rpm record. I soon learned that some of these things sell for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars EACH in good condition today. Arthur Smith’s signature pink “Pyramid” label on nearly anything can easily fetch $50… $25 if run over by a school bus. Don’t let the grandkids play Frisbee with them!
Back to Asheville and The Satyrs. Miles had uncovered in his interview that in the fall of 1965 Bucky and the boys had been invited by music producer Will Hammond to Mark V Studios in Greenville, SC to cut some demos. These were shelved and forgotten as the war in Viet Nam held sway on the future of the group, as it did with so many maturing musicians of the day. However, Satyrs singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Phillips had kept a crumbling reel of tape containing the songs they cut at that session.
In the wake of the Satyrs article, former bandmates began to meet again socially. On one such occasion Jeff approached Bucky’s son Micah Hanks and handed him a cassette tape. Finding the original reel of Satyrs demos was deteriorating, Jeff had dubbed it off. This was, so far as known, the last surviving example of those recordings… five songs of their own, one rocked-out Johnny Cash cover and two songs provided by studio personnel and learned on the spot at the session.
What I heard was beautiful… and genuinely talented! Had fate intended, there could have been a hit or two in there. Then I thought, why can’t we just pretend? For just two minutes (a single in those days rarely reached the three-minute mark), let’s close our eyes and imagine that this song is all there is. In the moment, any such song is just as real and relevant in our life as a “Hey Jude” or “Wooly Bully.”
I knew by then that this was no one-off. There were other bands, other “lost” tapes, other would-be anthems out there waiting to be unearthed. One town and one independent label at a time, constantly, for three years I have indulged and tested this hunch. In North and South Carolina I can reasonably estimate a couple of thousand rock ‘n’ roll songs recorded during the latter half of the 1960s. The average person would be hard-pressed to recognize a dozen of them.
Ken Friedman of Chapel Hill pioneered the public collection of North Carolina ‘60s rock in the early ‘80s with the first installment of his “Tobacco-A-Go-Go” album series. Daniel Coston, author of the Charlotte book “There Was A Time” previously mentioned, pointed me to Ken very early in my snooping.
Ken had featured something of a mystery disk on the much later third volume of his NC compilations. The song was “Pink and Green” by Shirley Hughey. I put my Sherlock hat on and soon found Shirley. She told me that the song had been recorded by a rock group with a female drummer from Hendersonville who had left town before the record was released and that producer Dave Smith brought her to the studio, fresh out of high school, to put down an alternate vocal track.
This female rock drummer thing sounded familiar. Local buddy Wayne Liles had just been asking me if I had found anything about Theresa the Queen of the Drums or her band Orange Purple Marmalade. I asked Shirley, was “Pink and Green” Orange Purple Marmalade’s song? Yes, it was, she said, launching me on another fact-finding mission.
I found Theresa Crouch Justus. She had married her OPM bandmate, the late Terry Justus. Their son Christian Justus has been tremendously helpful in helping share the legacy of his parents. Most of the band’s early original material was written by guitarist “Hobby” Pruitt. Dave Smith of Asheville’s Bandit label licensed several of these songs in 1969 under his “Witty Smitty” publishing brand. Theresa told me about some of these early tapes done at Galaxie III Studios in Taylorsville, NC with engineer Harry Deal. She might even have the reels.
I acquired a small stack of tape reels from Theresa and set out to find the “lost” Orange Purple Marmalade vocal cut of “Pink and Green” and another unreleased original “Butterfly.” I took them to friend Dan Lewis who does some of the best audio restoration work anywhere. Lucky for me, his Acoustic Audio Transfer operates just a few miles up the road from me so I could personally deliver the musty, mildew-covered tapes. Dan “baked” and rescued the reels and provided us with transfers of some good stuff, including a circa ’69 session at Galaxie III featuring a couple of CCR covers and an awesome 8-minute jam of “Summertime” featuring Theresa in top Janis mode on vocals. But no alternate take of “Pink and Green” or “Butterfly.” I reluctantly put the OPM project aside, somewhat half-realized.
Fast-forward a year or so. I’ve been digging up bands from across NC, and Upstate SC too since finding out that Mark V Studios, Greenville had given locals greater access to professional recording than most areas. One of my favorite discoveries is the work of songwriter Dave Butler (stage spelling “Dayv”) from Fayetteville. As early as 1965 he was writing and playing with The Delmars, who recorded two 45s on the JCP (Jimmy Capps Productions) label out of Raleigh. In 1967 Dayv’s band evolved into The News and cut two fantastic psychedelic-tinged 45s on MU (Music Unlimited) of Salisbury, NC, operated by Frank Rogers.
For months now I’ve been fishing for info on Frank Rogers and Music Unlimited. Having produced only 3 known records, all of good quality and production, I had to believe… wanted to believe, that Rogers had done more. Finally I spoke with a fellow who had been active in the Salisbury scene of the ‘60s as a member of The Court Jesters, Nathan Harris. Nate was immediately supportive in trying to help me unravel the local mystery. He mentioned a talented black vocal group, The Marlboros, who his band had backed at venues such as the Catawba College Crystal Lounge. Within a year or so The Marlboros cut an LP at Justice Records, Winston-Salem, the infamous “absentee engineer” and “pay-to-play” studio run by Calvin Newton. Whatever it’s short-comings, Justice did preserve extended slices of regional music, much of it now reissued and readily available.
On a hunch, I checked the usual online catalogs of 45s and record auction results. One other match turned up for The Marlboros, a 45 called “(My Love Was A) Sunny Day.” Only did I get my “Eureka!” moment after finding a picture of the label, subtitled “A Product of Music Unlimited.”
Was this record from the same fold as my old favorite Dayv Butler records? I went to the US Catalog of Copyright Entries; Music for the years 1968 and 1969. There they were under “Mupa Co.” the publishing title of Music Unlimited. The Marlboros “Sunny Day” was such a strong contender, even at first listen, that I needed to find the writer.
I found an entry from 1969 for a song co-written by the same fellow, Joe Moon, and label boss Frank Rogers… “Butterfly.” Get this… it was in the same column just a paragraph away from the entry for the “lost” Orange Purple Marmalade song! This is the national copyright catalog with literally millions of entries and here I am staring at a page with two lost North Carolina butterflies side-by-side.
I don’t know what it means… and I don’t know if I’ll ever hear the two songs… but if you see me running through your neighborhood green space with a faraway look in my eye swinging a net, don’t worry. I intend to keep chasing the local variety of rock ‘n’ roll butterflies for years to come. Sanity be damned!

Dec. 5 2015
The Penny Peepshow

You might know that we here at Riffin' love late '60s British psych-pop. The Move, The Pink Floyd, The Soft Machine, The Nice, The Who... The Penny Peepshow? Well, we love them now but didn't know it a week ago.

Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Lancelot Barre played the Grey Eagle in Asheville last night (a great crowd and phenomenal performance by all accounts). Before the show he hung around Asheville FM for a good while and chatted with JD, host of Closer to the Edge (our favorite prog rock Thursday brother show). Check out the replay of THAT awesome interview all week on his show page here: http://www.ashevillefm.org/closer-to-the-edge/ Find the replay in the audio bar there or pop-out "Listen" link. Interview portion kicks in about the 34 minute mark.

We rather warmed up the airwaves for Marty by dredging up some real oldies, I'm talking pre-Tull here! A few of his tunes from two singles (and a rare outtake) on Liberty (UK) as guitarist with The Penny Peeps, who should have rightfully appeared on the label as The Penny Peepshow, but someone at the label or BBC was uptight about the naughty implications of the sort of thing one might have seen at a show so named.

We also set the tone with a great track from contemporaries Tomorrow (feat. Steve Howe of later YES fame) and my obligatory favorite Move tune.

Anyway, check it out and do a little time travel to an age when the only Jethro Tull anyone knew was the original agriculturalist the band nicked its name from.

You'll want to follow the link to a post on the station facebook page (below) for a fun photo and clever caption (not the more proper one shown at bottom).

http://www.facebook.com/AshevilleFM/posts/1121135937897969

"Legendary rock band Jethro Tull has long been drawn by the mystic allure of Asheville and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. In 1975 they chose Asheville for the launch of their "Warchild" album US tour and spent a week rehearsing here. They have returned often over the years, as artists and on holiday. Here is our buddy Vance Pollock meeting up with guitarist Martin Lancelot Barre in town this week."

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