Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Material Issue "Goin' Thru Your Purse"

My wife asked me to retrieve something from her purse.

"It's in the front pocket."

"I don't see it," I said, fishing through the front pocket.

"It's in the one right near the front."

And I realized that there was another compartment.

"I still don't see it."

"Right in front," she said.

And then I realized that there was another, even smaller compartment, closer to the front.

But I still couldn't find it.


"It's there."

"Wait a minute," I said.  "Found it."

It was in yet another compartment, hidden, that was inside the smaller compartment that I'd previously found.

Why is a pocketbook so complicated?

It made me think of both this Seth Myers "Weekend Update" joke, and of this Material Issue song.

See the video on NBC.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Laura Veirs "Sun Song"

Add this one to the list of dorky reactions to meeting famous people.

We got the word a week or so before Newport Folk, that Laura Veirs was going to be on the scene.

She wasn't on the Festival bill, but our Record Promotion friend Jen Daunt, who's working Viers new record, let us know that Laura had a nearby gig the day before, and she wanted to come down to the festival to see some of her Portland friends like Colin Meloy and Black Prairie.

Barbara was pretty excited to interview Laura, and talk about her new record "Warp And Weft" which features Jim James, KD Lang and Neko Case.  And it's produced by her husband Tucker Martine, who has made a slew of great records for artists like The Decemberists and Tift Merritt.

I was headed back to the mvyradio backstage tent at some point during the Festival weekend, and just coming out of the tent was Barbara and Laura.  They'd just finished recording the interview, and Laura had suggested that they go over to the beer tent to get a drink and meet up with Tucker and their new baby.  They invited me along.

I'm not one to say no to free beer.  Plus, I had a camera so I could take a picture of Barbara with Laura and Tucker.

After getting a beer and locating Tucker, and some chit chat (Tucker and I talked about these particular muslin baby blankets that they had for their baby, that my wife and I also used for our kids), someone suggested taking that picture.

I pulled out my camera, and motioned for the 3 of them to get together.

"Do you want to get in the picture?" Laura asked.

I looked from side to side to see if there was someone I could ask to take our picture.  There was . . .

"I can ask Jim to take it," Laura said, motioning toward Jim.

Standing next to me, chatting with someone, was Jim James of My Morning Jacket.  His set on the main stage had ended not long before, and now he was just hanging out in the hospitality tent.

I looked at Barbara.  I looked at Laura.  I looked at Jim.  I thought about it for a second.

When I'm backstage at a concert/festival, I'm pretty conscious of the artists' space.  The whole reason they have a backstage area, is to give the artists somewhere where they can just hang out without fan-boys interrupting their meals or their conversations with friends or their quiet moments.

I won't say I never engage an artist backstage, but I try be respect the space and gauge whether they are up for an interruption or a picture or not.

But I wasn't actually going to ask Jim James if I could get a picture with him.  I was going to ask Jim James if he could take a picture of me and Barbara with his friends Laura and Tucker.

Somehow that seemed like an even weirder, more intrusive thing to do.

Really, would Jim James have minded?  He's just a regular guy.  Any time I have seen him around the grounds of Newport, he has giving off nothing but a pleasant, generous air.  He's friends with Laura and Tucker.  I'm sure it wouldn't have been a big deal.

But all these thoughts are flying through my mind in the split second between Laura saying "I can ask Jim to take it," and the time I should unfreeze my body and do something.

So I just said "Nah, that's alright."  And I snapped the photo.

Here is the picture that Jim James did not take.

Hear "Sun Song" on Youtube.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hurray For The Riff Raff at Newport Folk

It's a little thing, but it's something you can't get from a record.

I love it when band members turn in and face each other in a circle.  Communication . . .

We have more coverage of Newport Folk coming up today.

See the snippet on Youtube.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Amanda Shires "Devastate"

A blogger's work is never done . . .

Despite writing like 1000 posts about Newport Folk artists, there are still people I didn't get to mention.

Look and listen for Amanda Shires.

The Festival is stepping into the artist curated stage scene, using the indoor Museum Of Yachting room as a small space for performances.

Yesterday, The Low Anthem chose a series of artists to perform.

Today, Rhode Island's Joe Fletcher has put together what he calls "Nashville To Newport," bringing in some of his favorite Nashville singer-songwriters.

Amanda Shires has a new album out next week, and the singer, songwriter, player will do a short set on the MOY stage.

But I don't expect that to be all we'll see of her.  Her husband, Jason Isbell, is also on the bill today, and she regularly backs him.

Watch live video, or hear audio, and see the broadcast line-up on our site.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Iris Dement "Let The Mystery Be"

A very pleasant woman arrived at our doorstep this week, to talk about religion.  She asked about our beliefs.

I've written a number of times about religion, and what it means to me.

I wish I'd remembered this Iris Dement song.  I think this sums up my philosophy, as well as anything.

Iris Dement performs this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival.  For artist previews and mvyradio's Newport Folk Channel, visit the mvyradio Bloggers page

And hear full coverage of the Festival starting today at 2pm, with live sets from the stage, on

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the 10,000 Maniacs/David Byrne version on Youtube.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tift Merritt "Broken"

I was looking at the list of Newport Folk artists, to see if their names jogged any memories that would make good blog posts.

And when I saw the name Tift Merritt it made me smile, and blush just a little.

At Merlefest 2008, our set up was right in the middle of the Community College campus, in pretty much the geographic center of the 14 stage sprawl.  They had us, believe it or not, in an actual old caboose, which they'd outfitted with power and internet.

And if you stood on the back of the train, you were overlooking the table where artists would be scheduled to autograph CDs and meet with fans.

It was pretty revealing and entertaining, to note what the crowd in that autograph line looked like, based on which artist was at the table that hour.

When legendary pickers like Jorma Kaukonen were seated behind the table, the line was filled with middle aged guys with pot bellies, holding their own guitar to have it signed, ready with their technical question.

When young rebel bands like The Avett Brothers sat there, the line was made up of young hipsters, sporting tattoos and fashionable but perhaps inappropriate gear, like wool caps (it was April).

I watched Tift Merritt coming across campus, headed to her turn to meet and greet.

She was wearing a sleek little dress, that had a plunging neckline and stopped short at the knees, to give full view of her kick-ass boots.

She strutted right up to the table.  Looked at the chair set out for her.  Then back at the table.

And then she jauntily hopped herself right onto the table itself, crossing her legs, ready to meet her fans.

Oh, and looking at those guys just made me laugh.

I mean, look at those awkward 40-something-year-old guys in line.  In their jeans and their band t-shirts.

Look at them shyly, awkwardly, try to talk to the cool, pretty singer.

And watch the cool, pretty singer just charm these guys into a puddle.

What dorks!  What losers!  What . . . wait.

Pretty much every guy in that line, looks like me.

(Sad trombone)

Tift Merrit performs this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival.  For artist previews and mvyradio's Newport Folk Channel, visit the mvyradio Bloggers page.  And hear full coverage of the Festival, with live sets from the stage, on

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Black Prairie "How Do You Ruin Me"

Let me continue my grand tradition of Newport rumor-mongering . . .

Two years ago, I incorrectly speculated that Jack White would make a surprise appearance.

Last year, I incorrectly declared that a Robert Plant sighting might be imminent. 

So this year, I am predicting a surprise reunion of The Decemberists!

You may or may not know that Black Prairie includes several members of The Decemberists.  They are on the bill for Sunday.

And Decemberists' lead singer Colin Meloy is scheduled to perform on Saturday.

It's notable that both acts are not booked to play anywhere else, in the days before or after their Folk Festival gig.  Meaning, they are free to come a day early/stay a day late, so their can be crossover.

Decemberists reunion!  Listen this weekend!  Because it's probably not happening!

Black Prairie and Colin Meloy perform this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival.  For artist previews and mvyradio's Newport Folk Channel, visit the mvyradio Bloggers page.  And hear full coverage of the Festival, with live sets from the stage, on

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bare Jr "Song For Bobby's Ex"

Buried deep into the lineup page for Newport Folk, I found a little gem that I'm super excited about.

Waaaay at the bottom of the line-up page, on Saturday, there's a listing for Joe Fletcher's Nashville To Newport.  I enjoyed Fletcher's set last year, and so I was intrigued by this posting.

This year, they let Fletcher curate a whole stage---the indoor room in the Museum Of Yachting.  And he's bringing in a number of his Rhode Island friends, and a number of his Nashville friends, to play sets.

And there, in very small print, I saw the name Bobby Bare Jr.

I loved the debut Bare Jr. record called "Boo-tay."  And I was thinking about it recently, when I was trying to come up with a Hot Seat about hidden tracks.

One of my favorite hidden tracks on a CD ever, is on "Boo-tay."  I don't want to say too much about it, because what I love about it is the comical way it's delivered.  As well as the realness of the part the precedes the song.

So check out the hidden track, turn up the volume for the beginning (but put on headphones, because it's NSFW) and don't miss Bare's hidden set at Newport Folk on Saturday.

Bobby Bare Jr performs this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival.  For artist previews and mvyradio's Newport Folk Channel, visit the mvyradio Bloggers page.  And hear full coverage of the Festival, with live sets from the stage, on

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, July 22, 2013

JD McPherson "North Side Gal"

In high school we took a class trip to Washington DC as part of a program called “Close Up.”  It was there I discovered the terrible truth about myself.

I had an accent.  A New England accent.  A strong New England accent.

One of the very smart, interesting things about the “Close Up” program, beyond showing you the sites of Washington, DC, was that they made pairs of kids share rooms with other pairs of kids who were from a decidedly different place.  The week we were there, we New Englanders were paired up with kids from California and Colorado.

Our accent became a point of discussion for the kids from elsewhere.  It was funny sounding.  Stupid sounding even.

I watched in our group discussions, as classmates who were making bright and salient points, could be dismissed for the “dumb” way they sounded, due to their accent.

I realized then and there that if I wanted a life beyond New England, if I wanted to be taken seriously, I had to tone down my thick, thick accent.

And in the ensuing years, I became hyper-conscious of the way I pronounced everything.  By the time I had graduated college, my local accent was mostly gone.

Little things did persist.  I could never get the hang of “drawer” so it didn’t sound like “draw.”  And “figures” remained “figgers” for a long time time.

But most vexing became the words that inadvertantly just made it sound like I had an accent.

A college friend pointed out that she would call it a “door handle,” because saying “knob” just sounded like a New Englander mispronouncing the word “Norb.”

Years later, I became a DJ, and much like being on TV adds 10 pounds, being on the radio has a way of amplifying your accent.

For instance, on my first day on the air, the station owner at WABN pulled me aside to help me straighten out the way I said the call letters.

“What is the first letter of our call letters?” she asked.

“W?” I answered, unsure if this were a trick question.

“Say it again.”

“Dubya,” is how I was pronouncing it.

She wrote the letter in cursive on the piece of paper.

“The letter is actually two ‘U’s put together.  It is a double-U.  Say it like that.”

To this day, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard when I hear a professional broadcaster pronounce the letter “dubya.”  Or just really fumble any pronunciation.

And in my years in Virginia, I really had to guard against picking up that accent, as it was all around me every day.

It was easy to let words like "fire" rhyme with "car," and "pen" sound like "pin," unless you were vigilant, careful and conscious.

It's a practice I have to continue today.

Which is why I have so much trouble when I talk on the air about JD McPherson.

Initially, I just assumed you pronounced his last name “mick-FEAR-son.”  That’s a pretty common pronouncation.

But then I watched a Youtube video where he introduced himself.

He pronounces it “mick-FUR-son.”

So now when I say it on the air, I try to pronounce it, respecting his way.

But me saying “mick-FUR-son” for some reason sounds, to my ears, like it’s just me mispronouncing the guys name with a Virginia accent.

Listen to me on the air sometime.  You’ll actually hear me stumble, as the professional in me who's trying to say it right, is brawling with the kid in me, trying not to sound stupid.

JD McPherson performs this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival.  For artist previews and mvyradio's Newport Folk Channel, visit the mvyradio Bloggers page.  And hear full coverage of the Festival, with live sets from the stage, on

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beth Orton "She Cries Your Name"

Here's another Weekend Post:

As I was saying yesterday, there are surprisingly few artists on the bill, who had any 1990s output.  But Beth Orton goes back that far . . .

Hear the song on Youtube

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Beck "New Pollution"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I was going to do some weekend posts about artists who'll be at Newport Folk, who were 90s faves . . .  but I realize that the intersection on that Venn diagram, is pretty small.   But Beck fills the bill . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Black Prairie "Song Remains The Same"

So I've been writing lots of Newport Folk Festival preview blog posts for the mvyradio bloggers page, trying to learn a little about, and write a little about every single band.

Admittedly, there are tons of bands on the bill that I am simply unfamiliar with, so writing requires a little research and listening, before banging out a few sentences and posting a few videos.

When I don't really know the band, or if the band is new/unfamiliar to the general audience, it's tempting to want to post live videos of the bands doing cover tunes, because it does create a clean, clear shorthand for what the band sounds like.

But it's also pretty lazy.  So I studiously avoid it, when possible.

That being said, when I came across this video of Black Prairie doing "The Song Remains The Same," I had to check it out.

I can't tell you if it's truly good or not.  But here's what I can tell you . . .

That opening riff, even though it is done acoustically---featuring an accordion, no less---and would not be mistaken for Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones, gave me goosebumps.

I was a huge Zeppelin fan as a kid, and hearing that riff today instantly brought forth every youthful emotion that I attached to my "Song Remains The Same" listening.

It's not one emotion per se.  More of a mix of all the things that went along with the angst and exuberance of being a teenager.

That a song can unlock this within me, still kinda surprises me, even after 1300 F-N blog posts on the subject of how a song can make you remember and feel something.

Anyway, be on the look-out next week, for some stories/posts about Newport Folk artists on this blog, and more previews on the Bloggers page.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jon Brion & Sarah Jaffe "Blue Umbrella Suite"

After taking the kids to see "Despicable Me 2" last week, we sought the refuge of an air conditioned movie theater yet again this week, this time catching "Monsters University" (that is, "Monsters, Inc 2").

The music in the animated Pixar feature is outstanding as always, and I was a bit surprised to see in the end credits that it was Randy Newman who scored the movie.  Newman has always done great work for Pixar, but this score had a really different feel from his previous work.  Good stuff.

But the bigger musical surprise came before the movie.

Pixar always includes an animated short, before the feature (old school!).  And it is generally unrelated to the feature.  Often it is stylistically different than the feature.  But this clip had some serious wow to it.

Check out a scene below, and note that this is animation.  But it's done in this photo-realistic style, where umbrellas and buildings come to life in a way that more recalls Jim Henson than "Toy Story."

See the clip on Youtube.

The short clip doesn't give to much away, which is good, but it also doesn't quite reveal how stunning the piece looked.

But the thing that really sold it, was the music behind it.

While seeing it in the theatre, I couldn't quite place the tuneful, hummable touch of the composer, or place the familiar sounding vocalization, that was wordless yet expressive.

At home, my wife did the Googling.

The music was composed by Jon Brion, who has done some excellent scores for PT Anderson films like "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights" as well as scores for "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" and "I Heart Huckabees."

He's also produced some excellent records for the likes of Aimee Mann, Rhett Miller, Fiona Apple and Evan Dando.

He's even been part of some good bands, like Jellyfish and The Grays.

Meanwhile, the vocals were provided by Sarah Jaffe.  Apparently the animator who envisioned the story is a Jaffe fan, and listened to her music while initially creating the short.

Great stuff.

Hear the full song on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Neil Young "Powderfinger"

I know you love those alternate history stories.  The ones where they go back in time and send Hitler to art school, or put a bullet-proof vest on Lincoln or convinced Buddy Holly to take the tour bus.

Here's an alternate music history story . . .

You may know Neil Young's "Powderfinger" from Side 2 of 1979's "Rust Never Sleeps."  But Young had been hanging onto that song for a while.

There are (unreleased) acoustic versions of the song that go back to 1975.  And reportedly, Young sent one of these versions to Ronnie Van Zandt, for Lynyrd Skynyrd to use on their next album.

Van Zandt died in a plane crash in 1977, and as far as anyone knows, his band had not recorded a version of Neil Young's song.

But imagine if they had, prior to the unfortunate plane crash?  Imagine if Van Zandt had sung Young's lines:
Just think of me as one you never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love; I know I'll miss her
No doubt that right now in an alternate timeline, "Freebird" is a forgotten hit of the 70s, and when the bar band is between songs, the drunk idiots yell:


Hear the "Rust Never Sleeps" version on Youtube.

Hear the acoustic version on Youtube.

Hear a live version of "Freebird" on Youtube.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

David Ford "Pour A Little Poison"

I held off adding this song to the rotation, because it falls into this very specific genre.  And I think the load bearing structure of MVY's playlist can only accommodate so many songs from this particular genre.

I don't know if it's really a genre, but it's one in my mind.  One I'm particularly fond of:  Sarcastic, drunk, comically self-pitying/self flagellating guys with punk rock sensibilities on acoustic guitars with a penchant for sing-along choruses.

Frank Turner and Jake Bugg sound great on the air.  But a whole station of that would be a little too same-y.

On the other hand, this song sticks right in my head.  And with all the tunes competing for space up there (despite the cavernous climes), for a song to hold its place for a couple months speaks well of it.

So you'll find it in the newly added section of MVY's playlist page . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, July 15, 2013

James Taylor "Shower The People"

Here's the first entry in a mini-series of posts, called "They Don't Like The Song For A Random Reason."

We all have prejudices.  Sometimes they come from a place that you can logically understand/forgive.  Sometimes they are just bizarre.

I'll occasionally post simple stories that come to mind when I hear a song, because a certain friend once said the disliked a song for a random, picayune or bizarre reason. 

For instance, my friend Craig told me he didn't like James Taylor's "Shower The People" because Taylor sings:

"Things are gonna work out fine if you only will, do as i say, yeah"

Taylor hits the "do as I say" line hard.

Craig said he didn't like the song because, "I don't like James Taylor ordering me around."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yo La Tengo "Tom Courtenay"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Yesterday was my sister's birthday, so I was searching for "Julie" songs, and I remembered how much I liked this tune, which starts off with the line "Julie Christie, the rumors are true . . ."

I don't think I've ever seen this video, but I got a few good laughs out of it, especially with the Beatles references.

See the video on Youtube

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fountains Of Wayne "Hey Julie"

Hey, Julie!  Hope you are having a happy birthday, sister of mine.

Hear the song on Youtube.

(I went looking for a song where Julie is the singer's sister, instead of his girlfriend.  No luck.  This will have to do.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Travis "Flowers In The Window"

There was an awkward pause.  No one knew what to say.  Someone had to break the ice.

You think that meeting a rock star is awkward for you.  But really, it's awkward for them too.

We were backstage at Fleet Boston Pavillion in 2007, about to meet the band Travis.

I had not been a fan of Travis initially, turned off by what I had perceived as yet another whiny Brit band.

But when I'd met my wife, she immediately set about turning me around on the subject.

She was a huge Travis fan, had seen them multiple times, and in the time we'd been together had played me plenty of fun, light songs that brightened my view of the band.

For instance, "Flowers In The Window" is a sweet song by singer Fran Healy, who writes about being surprised at how much he loved his sibling's new baby.

As soon as I heard that Travis had a new album, and was coming to Boston, I made sure to pull a few favors and get a chance to take my wife to the show, AND meet the band beforehand.

We spent the whole ride up to Boston listening to the new album "The Boy With No Name."  And we were especially focused on the song "My Eyes" which was about the birth of Healy's new baby boy.  Our own baby was due in just 3 months, so we were very wrapped up in the joy and wonder of it all.

At the gate to the backstage area, we loitered with some super-fans, some contest winners and some record store owners, until the local record label rep to arrived to take us backstage.

We were led into a small, unoccupied dressing room, where we milled about quietly waiting for the band, and wondering if we were allowed to eat anything off the vegetable tray.

After a wait that was probably shorter than it felt (due to the excitement and anticipation), the label rep ushered the band into the room.

"Please welcome Fran, Dougie, Neil and Andy.  Travis!"

There was an awkward pause.

The band didn't really seem to know what to say.  And the fans didn't really know what to say.  We just kind of stood there.

Someone had to break the ice.

Fran Healy decided to do it.

"What's going on here?!" he said to my wife, pointing at her round belly.

There was an awkward pause.

She was a little too nervous to immediately response.

And you could see a flash of fear in his eyes that said, "Oh my God, I hope this woman is pregnant, and not just fat."

"We're due in November," I said, and all three of us smiled broadly.

We congratulated him on his new baby, and he immediately whipped out his new iPhone (in 2007, he was the first person I'd ever met who had an iPhone), and showed us pictures of his boy.

And when I asked him to sign our CD, he just handed to the phone over to my wife so she could continue to look at baby pictures while he used two hands to sign.

With the ice broken, the full crowd had now engaged the band, and they were signing CDs and snapping photos all around.

"I have Fran Healy's iPhone!" my wife whispered to me.

We briefly considered adding our own phone number into his contact list, but, being new to iPhones, we weren't sure how to do it.

Instead, we settled for this photo of the band, me, my wife and yes, a little bun in her oven.

So, if it's not clear in relation to yesterday's post . . . I should have known that it had been 5 years since Travis' last album, as my daughter was born just a few months before the last record "Ode To J Smith" which had come out just one year after "The Boy With No Name."  And I remember that "The Boy With No Name" came out while my wife was pregnant.  So I know how long it has been, because I know how old my daughter is.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travis "Moving"

I hadn't heard that Travis was putting out a new album this summer until about two weeks ago, when Sean Coakley, an independent promoter, mentioned that we'd be getting the new single "Moving," shortly.

"It's their first album in five years," he noted.

"Five years?  Really?  Yeah, I guess it has . . ."

But of course it's been 5 years.

Because their record "Ode To J Smith" came out in 2008, right on the heels of the album "The Boy With No Name," which had arrived only a year before.

And how do I know that album came out in 2008?  I'll tell you tomorrow.

For today, enjoy the new track . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Father John Misty "Only Son Of The Ladies Man"

Speaking of me inadvertently saying something unnecessarily stupid resulting in more work for me . . .

Somewhere along the line I thought it would be a great idea for mvy to have a "station blog."  Something that was less personally focused than this blog (or the ones Jess and Jer Bear write) and was instead dedicated to the things going on programming-wise.

Everyone thought it was a great idea.

So guess who's writing it most days . . .

But it suddenly became more than worth it, the moment I found video below.

See, I was putting together some posts to preview artists coming to Newport Folk Fest 2013, and when I got around to writing a post for Father John Misty I knew I wanted to find the video of him singing "Only Son Of The Ladies Man" when he appeared on David Letterman.

As I recalled, his performance was so sexy, if I were a woman I'd be afraid it would impregnate me.

As Youtube is wont to do, it put some interesting FJM-related links up next to the Letterman performance, and so I thought I'd check out one of the interviews.

Within the first few seconds, I nearly turned it off as you could see pretty early on that this interviewer was going to perform an ironic interview.  (Or is that an "ironic" interview?  Or should "ironic" be italicized?  I'm not detached enough to know.)  But I kept watching, because J Tillman (FJM's real name) was giving thoughtful, funny answers, while being sincere instead of ironic.

I won't say anymore, other than to implore you to watch this video, as I found myself crying laughing by the end.  All credit to the interviewer, who rolls with the interview as it spins from a contrived start to realness that's the exact opposite of ironic.


(The interview is NSFW)

Hear "Only Son Of The Ladies Man" on Youtube.

Hear the hilarious interview on Youtube.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Minions "I Swear"

We took the kids to see "Despicable Me 2" at the movie theater last night.

I started thinking about what a different experience going to the movies is for our kids, compared to how it was when my wife and I were the same age.

When we were young, there were no DVDs or VHS.  When we were their age, if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to a movie theater.

My kids, at ages 3 and 5, have seen dozens of movies.  And they've seen some of those movies, dozens of times.  Such is the way of the DVD era.

I can't think of ANY movie that I saw more than once, before the age of 10, except for the very rare movie that segued to television.

On the flip side, my kids have only been to a movie theater a couple of times.  And their experience of watching a movie in a theater is shaped by how they are used to watching a movie at home.  

Getting them to sit still for 90 minutes is a challenge, as "watching a movie" for them usually includes bouncing on the couch, moving around, perhaps acting out scenes . . .

Getting them to stay quiet for 90 minutes is also a challenge, because in your living room, there's no expectation of quiet like there is in a movie theater.

That said, last night the kids were pretty darn well-behaved, and in a theater filled with other kids their age, so the expectation of quiet wasn't quite the same as if we'd taken them to "Schindler's List" or anything.

They had a blast watching the film's abundant physical humor courtesy of the "Minions," but I imagine there were more than a few parts that sailed right over their heads.

I guess adding in references to 90s Boy Band videos and The Village People (which came at the end of the movie), were the filmmakers attempt at a nod to those parents who'd spent the last hour and a half holding their kids in their laps, and quietly answering the question "Why is he doing that?" every 2 minutes.

Hear "I Swear" on Youtube.

Hear "YMCA" on Youtube.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alison Krauss "Paper Airplane" (live)

I was a pretty smart little kid.  Sometimes too smart for my own good.  And sometimes so smart, I was stupid.

Here's a little life lesson for the other youngsters out there . . .

When I was in 5th grade, I didn't much like school.  Not that I found it hard.  Actually, the opposite.  I found a lot of it stupid and unnecessary.

By 6th grade, my marks were slipping.  When questioned by my parents about this, I explained that the work wasn't very challenging.  In fact it was insultingly dull a lot of the time and I just didn't feel like doing it.

"I'm bored," I said.  Stupidly.

And that is how I found myself in a private, Catholic School for the start of 7th grade.

In my town, the kids that graduated from The Immaculate Conception had a reputation for being better educated, and better disciplined than their public school counterparts.

Kids, if your parents ask you how school is going, saying it's too easy and your bored is a one-way ticket to a whole new world.

She stood in front of our class, rocking back and forth on her heels.  Tongue in her cheek.  Staring us down.

I felt myself break a light sweat.

It was my first day in Catholic School.  And it was her first day as principal of that Catholic School.  She was trying to intimidate us.  She was doing a good job.

Now, I'd had plenty of interactions with nuns.  My dad's sister is a Sister and we're very close.  When my parents would go out of town, my Auntie the nun and some of her nun friends would come and spend the weekend with us.

Up to that point, my interactions with nuns consisted of them in pastel sport coats, watching episodes of Dallas while eating popcorn in my basement.

I hadn't had any run-ins with the nun stereotype, until now.

She gave a bit of a speech from the front of the class on that first day.  The gist of it was that she would tolerate no bullshit.

She didn't actually say the word bullshit.  And honestly, I was afraid to even think the word bullshit lest she read my thoughts.

Her taciturn manner set the tone for the school.  Even the lay teachers seemed a bit cowed by her presence.

But there were a lot of lighter things about the school.  One of my best friends from the neighborhood also went there.  And the I.C. had a basketball team---the funding for Public School 7th and 8th grade sports had just been cut.  I met a lot of great kids.  My 7th grade lay teacher was actually pretty attractive.  School wasn't fun, per se, but it wasn't boring anymore either.

In fact, it was pretty challenging.  Which was why the breaks throughout the day were such a relief.

After a morning of heads in a book, we'd get a bathroom break and 15 minutes or so to talk, finish up projects and prepare for the next stretch of learning.

Some kids would talk about what they watched on television the night before.  Some kids played that paper-triangle-football game.  Some studious kids kept studying.

I took advantage of the privacy of the bathroom.

Not to go the bathroom, of course.  No, I used my bathroom breaks to make paper airplanes.

I'm not exactly sure if I started this, but no doubt I was quick to become a driving force behind it.  Or rather, a flying force.

While we were released to go to the boys bathroom, a few friends and I would bring a piece of paper along.  And in the bathroom, we'd each quickly fold our paper airplanes.

Our classroom and the adjacent bathroom was on the 2nd floor of the school, and the little window in the bathroom overlooked a small stretch of courtyard, a brick wall, and beyond that Green Street.

We'd take turns throwing our creations out the window, to see whose plane could go the farthest.  If you could get it over the brick wall, you were psyched.  If the wind took it and carried it out to the street, well that was a day to remember.

Soon this activity became more elaborate, more competitive.  Kids experimented with different aerodynamic designs.  Sometimes the paper-airplane crafting would happen in the early morning, before class, allowing some time to decorate the plane with slogans or markers/colors.  Certain kids developed reputations for being "the best" due to their constant success at distance.

This continued day after day after day after day, until . . .

She stood at the front of the class.  She was trying to intimidate us.  She was doing a good job.

In her hands---as she silently eyeballed the classroom---was a brown paper shopping bag.

It overflowed with paper airplanes.

"These were picked up by the janitor, from the courtyard below this classroom.  Based on some of the writing written on them . . ."

I was frozen in place.  I did not move a muscle.

Sometimes we'd just draw pictures or write slogans on the planes.  But on more than one occasion, I had written my name on the wings.  "Finn Flyer."  "PJ Express."  Stuff like that.  I know that my cohorts had done the same, on occasion.  If she'd found one of these planes, we were toast.

". . . I believe I know who the culprits are."

I was toast.

"This ends today.  Not another single paper airplane in that courtyard."

She glared at us.

But she didn't say anymore.

She didn't call out my name.  Or anyone else's.

She glared for a moment more.  And then she sternly strode out of the classroom.

And that's when I realized that she had no idea who was involved.  Or at least she was uncertain enough, that she wasn't prepared to call anyone specific out.  She was going to make a general claim, and see if anyone cracked.

Before that day, it had never really occurred to me that an adult authority figure would stand in front of a class full of kids and say they knew the truth about something, when in fact it was . . .

. . . I knew I could say the word aloud in my head, and she couldn't hear it . . .


Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Decemberists "Valerie Plame"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I went looking for another song with Valerie in the title, for a second "Weekend Post," and found this one.  Though it's only a couple of years old, it's already a forgotten little gem with a great "Hey Jude" call-back.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Material Issue "Valerie Loves Me"

Here's another Weekend Post:

The name Valerie has come up a few times this week, as the station is getting assistance with our new non-profit fundraising plans from a woman named Valerie.  And I wrote about a singer with the same first name a few days ago.

Made me think of this one . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Wild Feathers "Left My Woman"

It's always an exciting time when we get an artist to do a show on our behalf.

More likely than not, if we get offered a national act, it's because they are up-and-comers.  And that means that our knowledge of the band may be limited.

The last week has been a little like high school finals week, with a lot of cramming.

We're very psyched about The Wild Feathers coming to the Island for a free show on the porch of the Harborview in Edgartown.  Barbara Dacey had seen the band in concert back in the Spring and was very impressed.

But the rest of the staff had only really heard the single "The Ceiling."  So the last few days I've been drinking from a firehose, trying to hear (and see) as much of them as I can.

Professionally, I do that so I can make our show sound exciting.  Personally, going into a show having heard a lot of the band, makes the show a better listen.

So if you're thinking of coming Saturday (and you should), listen up!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bruce Springsteen "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"

I always thought Bruce did a great job of capturing a certain melancholy feeling about the 4th Of July from the perspective of a young adolescent male.

When you're a kid, Independence Day is about parades and fireworks and your nascent understanding of patriotism.  It's hot and fun and loud and great.

When you're an adult, you enjoy those things too, but you also have a fully developed sense of what Independence Day means to you, which may or may not involve a mixture of pride, respect, sadness of loss, wonder or gratefulness.  You may just be eating a hot dog, but its likely to be a reflective hot dog.

But when you're a young man, you're too old for parades, and too young and stupid to fully embrace the emotional weight and/or complexities of the day.  You experience the day in that self-absorbed way that young men experience, well, most things.

The 4th Of July is kind of like a summertime New Year's Eve.  It never lives up to the hype.  You never have as much fun as you think you are going to have.  Sitting and watching fireworks just makes you feel a little bit lonely, especially when you start thinking about that waitress you were seeing.  The whole night feels like time is running out.  And if you do meet a girl, something about the whole thing smacks of desperation . . .

Bruce paints this picture quite vividly.

Happy 4th!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elvis Costello "Indoor Fireworks"

I think at this point, the truth can be told.

Probably my least favorite gig in radio, is covering fireworks.

I mean, c'mon, is there anything less designed to be broadcast on radio? 

(Go ahead and pause for a moment, because I know you want to top me with answers like: Staring Contest, Mime Olympics, Golf)

And yet, every year the stations I have worked for have been involved in local fireworks.  And that has required a DJ (me), to be on-site broadcasting live.

A fireworks event is a big game of hurry up and wait.

The event holders want to get the fireworks going as soon as possible.

But they have to wait for the sunset.

And they have to make sure the winds are right. 

And the technicians are in position.

And the safety checks have been performed.

And the fire department is ready.

And . . . and . . . and . . . I'm sure load of other important things.

All the while, they keep telling me, "We're almost ready to go.  Make sure they are ready back at the station.  Are you ready?  Really ready to go?  Because we're going in a minute.  As soon as everybody's ready.  Are you ready?"

This goes on for 30 to 45 minutes.

In the meantime, as the DJ in the field, I am speaking by phone with the radio station.

Back at the radio station, someone (often Alison) is playing CD after CD waiting for the event to start.  When they're ready---really ready---she'll play the coordinated "Fireworks Soundtrack" that has been designed by the fireworks company to match the display.  In the meantime, she's playing relevant tracks, picked by me.

Like "Fourth Of July" by Dave Alvin.  Or "Independence Day" by Bruce Springsteen.

"Are you ready to go?"

Yes, I say.

"Really ready?"

Yes, I say.

"Okay.  So are we.  Tell them to start."


Alison is playing "Indoor Fireworks."  She's not just going to stop the song in the middle.  Let's wait for it to end.

"How much longer?"

I dunno.  It's almost over, I think.

"Are they ready back at the station?"


"Is it almost over now?"

It doesn't seem like it.

"How long IS this song?"

At this moment, it feels like it's about 4 hours long.

"Is it going to end soon?"

I'm sure it will.

"We're waiting on you guys."

Yes, I know.

"We're ready."

Yes, I know.

"'Indoor Fireworks.'  He just keeps saying that."

Almost over.

"Is this it?  Is that the end?"

That's it.

"Are we ready?"

Let do this.


And from there, radio listeners can enjoy a half-hour of "The 1812 Overture" with the distant faint popping sounds of what probably are some spectacular fireworks, if you could somehow only see them on an audio system.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Valerie June "You Can't Be Told"

It's hard to not be cynical.

Like when a superhero movie has great success, and then the next year a dozen superhero movies come out.

Or when a few cupcake stores do surprisingly well, and suddenly there are cupcake stores everywhere.

It makes you cynical, because it feels like someone is just cashing in on a trend.

This happens in music all the time.

Remember in the 90s when a couple of Big Band sounding records broke, and suddenly there were dozens of bands making swing music?

In the last 18 months, The Black Keys went from being a cool under the radar indie band, to headlining arenas.  And Alabama Shakes came from absolutely nowhere, to have one of the best, and most successful rock records of 2012.

So it's hard not to hear some record executive shouting, "Get me a chick that sounds like Britney Howard---and make her a looker---backed by a band that sounds like The Black Keys, pronto!!!"

That's what I hear in my head, when I hear Valerie June.

And I suppose it's not fair.

Of course it sounds like The Black Keys.  June's record is produced by Dan Auerbach.  So that sound/reference makes sense.

And she's been performing live since 2000, loooong before The Black Keys or Alabama Shakes were making money, headlines or even records.  So to say she's hopping on a trend isn't fair.

Yet, when I think about adding this song as a single, its hard not to be stuck in that reactive place of "this sounds too much like some other, very distinct stuff."

As a listener, could you hard this as its own thing?  Or is this just another cupcake store?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bachman Turner Overdrive "Takin' Care Of Business"

When you are wandering around Martha's Vineyard, you might be inclined to look at the folks around you and put them into one of two categories:

Locals or tourists.

And yes, that covers a pretty big portion of who you might see.  But there IS one other group:


Every day, Martha's Vineyard imports a pretty large selection of folks who work all day on the Island, and head home to their families on the mainland.  These folks tend to either work in construction (in good times there is more construction work available on-Island, than there are construction workers on-Island), or work in 9 to 5 type jobs that are necessary to a community but don't really pay enough to make Island living affordable.  A ferry ride over to the Island in the early morning is filled with electricians, nurses, roofers, banker workers, UPS drivers, dental hygienists and such.

I heard the Bachman Turner Overdrive song "Takin' Care Of Business" the other day, and thought about the commuters.  I mean, it's a good working song for anyone, anywhere, but there are a few specifics that would make it easily transferable to a ferry commuter.

You get up every morning
From your 'larm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city

(There IS an 815 ferry from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven)

There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'
And the girls who try to look pretty

(The ferry has a whistle.  And especially when the boat is filled with tourists, there's plenty of pushing and shoving.  Yes, you can see some of the women doing their makeup on the boat)

And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay 

(Yes, the 815 boat does get in at 9)

If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I'll be Taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I've been taking care of business (it's all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime
Work out 

It probably needs a new verse about being stuck on the Island due to ferry cancellations caused by high winds.  But otherwise, it works!

Hear the song on Youtube.