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

Dec. 6 2016
Stevie Tombstone with the original Atlanta Tombstones, circa 1990

Flashback to 1990ish. While everyone else was listening to Zodiac Mindwarp, Saigon Kick, or closer to home, The Black Crowes and Drivin' 'N' Cryin', I grabbed up an album at Tower Records, New Orleans by The Tombstones, purely based on it's excellent cover art and dark song titles... and the fact that it only set me back $6.99. I might share some stories about my attempts to see this awesome Atlanta line-up over the next couple of years, including watching (hardly hearing) half a set in Ybor City through a grimy warehouse window from a fire escape above the legendary Cuban Club. This arrangement because they were one of a dozen bands on some sort of benefit dinner package show for which tickets were $50! I also showed up at The Rock-It Club to see them after spotting their name in the Tampa Tribune concert listings, only to discover they weren't there and the door guy obviously didn't even know who the hell they were. I followed blurbs in Creative Loafing and other regional entertainment papers about their upcoming album "Welcome to Nowhere" with excited enthusiasm... an album that was recorded for Relativity Records but never released (though I eventually got a cassette bootleg from a DJ at WRFG, Atlanta). My fun but frivolous right-out-of-highschool punk band covered their theme song "Tombstone Tales," quite poorly I suppose, but with all good intentions. All this to say, I NEVER properly attended a Tombstones show, or any performance by frontman Stevie T. in his later career. It was tough to love a band like this from 500 miles away in the days before the internet... or a job, or any semblance of responsible behavior which would have permitted unbridled travel on a whim... a little matter of not getting my driver's license until I was almost 20 (pure slack which I partially attribute to a great gang of friends who I could persuade to drive nearly anywhere for $3 in gas money). FINALLY this Friday I get to see Stevie T. right here in Asheville with as many friends as I can muster in tow. Aside from a time machine to transport me back to see this classic line-up (featuring the late great bass player Will Platt, who I did get to meet and chat on the phone with around this time), this show is as good as it gets. Imagine getting to see your teenage rock hero +25 years in a small room doing an original set. That's what I get to do this weekend. You may not have as much pent up enthusiasm invested as I do, but you oughta come out just to see the glow on my face. https://www.facebook.com/events/2161168174108822/

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May. 5 2016
Time to feed the jukebox

Anybody got a quarter for the jukebox? Asheville FM 103.3 is a volunteer-supported and operated community radio station. No 5-minute commercial breaks between every 3 songs! How do we do it? Thru the generosity of good listeners like you. Let's just assume that I'll play 60 songs you love in any given 6 months. That amounts to $5 toward our Spring Fund Drive by old jukebox rates. If you're using modern money that's still a measly $20. I'll be making my late-in-the-week pitch for your support on-air and in-person today from 11a-1p ET. Go ahead and be a sport. Contribute what you can and keep great local and original content on the air and around the web from wherever in the world you may find yourself at the moment. Click the DONATE button from the station website ---> www.ashevillefm.org or check the comments for the old-school option.

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-...

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