Mark Curdo

Mark Curdo

Homecoming: What Keeps Bebe Buell Rockin'

In a time where rock 'n’ roll has lost a lot of its shine, its sparkle, its bark and its bite, we need some artists to stay true to form. We need someone who never caves into the projections and the trends. Rock 'n’ roll used to be a real thing. An honest thing. It wasn’t so planned out and stripped of its rawness. It was there in the bloodline of the streets, swerving through the malls, popping out of magazines and hot on your radio. It was exploding on stage.

 

Luckily, one of Portland’s favorite former inhabitants comes home this weekend to bring that honest rock 'n’ roll spirit back to us with her show, “Baring It All." She's a mother, musician, model, manager, muse, mover and shaker. I'm talking about Bebe Buell.

 

People who’ve watched the Cameron Crowe classic Almost Famous think they know all about Buell. That’s a super small portion of the story. Bebe’s life would be hard to capture in a single motion picture. Her involvement and influence on not only rock music, but the culture and lifestyle that surrounded it is worthy of a mini-series.

 

Born and raised in Virginia makes Bebe a Southern gal, technically. The South is deep in her heart and soul, but the years to follow would prove she belonged everywhere she landed. The Sunset Strip and New York City were the pulse of rock 'n’ roll in the late 60s and 70s and BeBe was right in the center of it all. A popular model, fashionista and a rocker deep down, Bebe was Madonna meets Jerry Lee Lewis at a Warhol party.     

 

It was during her time in Portland in the '80s when Bebe put her own stamp on the scene. Through two bands she initiated in town, Bebe made her own noise. The tall, slim blonde crowding the microphone stand swaying back n’ forth, did it all herself, inspired from being around the greatest names in music.

 

Since the '80s, Bebe's been rockin’.

 

She moved from Portland about eight years ago. Her and husband musician Jimmy Walls/Wallerstein (Vacationland, Das Damen) moved back to New York City. They’d eventually head to Nashville — "Music City" — where they still live to this day.

 

This Saturday, Bebe makes her way to Portland House of Music & Events for a special “storyteller” type show with her band, The Rebel Souls. It’s also a continuation of Bebe’s birthday week so expect a party! Bebe is beyond excited as are her friends here waiting for mama to bring some rock n’ roll home. I had a chance to chat with Bebe prior to her Portland return.  

 

Talk a bit about what you've been doing lately down in music city, Bebe. 

 

Nashville has been an awakening and craft-honing experience. Like finishing school. The only thing Music City is missing is the ocean, because it's got everything else. It's a healthy music scene and people really love to go out and see music live. What I've been doing is just working as hard as I can and making what's to come next on my journey.

 

I know you can appreciate music of all kinds, but there seems to be a major lack of rock music lately. It's vanishing from the mainstream, radio, award shows and sales charts. In your opinion, what gives and what will it take to bring it back to the good stuff?

 

In Nashville, "rock" music is exploding again. I play often with Thee Rock 'N' Roll Residency, who are as true to rock music as anyone can get. I think what will bring "rock" music back to the mainstream are the fans. People want to see entertainers who move from their hearts and soul ... not their sample tracks.

 

What makes a good rock star to you?

 

A great entertainer cares about his/her audience. I know when I'm onstage I can feel the energy from my crowds and they map out how the evening goes by what they send me energy wise. That's why I still do this — I actually love what happens when I'm onstage. I love the adrenaline and the rush.

 

What keeps the fires burning for you to continue and stay with it, Bebe? 

 

I'm not sure that's definable. It's just who I am. I wake up wanting to rock. Wanting to create music and play live. The feeling I get from playing live is right up there with all the most precious things in life. Some of us are just born to do this, and it's my happy place. I'll show you up close and personal on Saturday... 

 

Any current favorite bands right now?

 

I like Royal Blood, The Struts, Cage The Elephant, The National, Blackfoot Gypsies, Margo Price and all Jack White (projects). Of course, classic rock which is a mainstay in my palette; Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, The Flamin' Groovies ... I'm a sucker for a great song — I don't care what genre it is. A good song is a good song.

 

I’m sure you miss Portland…  

 

I have a connection to Portland that stays with me wherever I go. My musical connection is especially important because I formed my first two bands in this city, The B-Sides (1980-1985) and then The Gargoyles (1985-1991). There will be lots of stories in my show this Saturday and many of them include tales of the vibrant 1980s Portland music scene. I'm over the moon to bring my show, "Baring It All," to one of my "home" cities. 

Jeff Beam – We've Got Love for the Underdog

Somewhere buried deep in a beat up, but solid green army duffle bag is a bunch of cassettes and 8-tracks. There’s some Beck, Sean Lennon, Flaming Lips, Elliot Smith and a copy of The White Album outtakes. You’ll also find a pair of vintage orange pants lost by someone in San Francisco back in 1967, a thin yellow scarf, a Speak n’ Spell connected by Bluetooth, a sombrero type hat, a small paperback copy of On The Road, a Harry Nilsson button and a “Feel The Bern” t-shirt. This is an official Jeff Beam overnight bag.

For about a baker’s dozen years now, Beam has been writing and performing a mind-bending blend of singer-songwriter based psychedelic music that can be found on about ten solo releases at this point. That’s a heck of an effort. That along with a quality stint in The Milkman’s Union that brought him everywhere, time in The Stereo Flys (Boston), half a year with the Rustic Overtones, Beatles Nights, that wonderful Bowie Tribute concert, various Clash of the Titans appearances, shows at just about every venue in town and possibly one or two in your neighborhood’s backyard. Jeff Beam is out there, always. He is writing and recording, always. He might not be all up in your face with his business, but that’s not his style. A bit shy, but hugely prolific with the goods. Plays almost every instrument in the room too. He’s one of the great people in our scene. No one has a bad word to say about Beamer. Folks like him, Dominic Lavoie, Myles Bullen, Kenya Hall and a few others from our local peace sign.

In my ongoing series asking local music people to share with us a “wow” or cool moment in their busy years; we’ve come to a real special story. Imagine covering one of your favorite band’s music and they show up! The extra coolness here is it happened in Portland. Stories like Jeff’s create a huge spotlight for our city on the big scale. This story became super buzzy in the following days thanks to social media. When artists enjoy our city and share that enjoyment publicly, people take notice. That's good for Portland and good for our musicians. 

Jeff Beam:

I got the idea to do this show from when Kyle Gervais (KGFREEZE, then Grand Hotel) did a Pixies tribute years ago at The Big Easy. A few of the Pixies showed up and watched. I'm a huge fan of Spoon; they were set to play the State Theatre back in June of 2015, so we decided the night of their show to cover two of their earlier albums, Girls Can Tell and Kill The Moonlight. I picked Empire because it was a closer walk to the State Theatre. The band playing with me then (Sam Peisner, Sean Morin, Jacob Wolk, Scott Nebel) was well rehearsed.

We tried a few different avenues to let the band know about the show. I think they all reached the band. Holly Nunan (Frank FM) was clutch. She connected with Britt on Instagram and let him know. We put a few concert flyers backstage at the State Theatre. Keyboardist Sean Morin's girlfriend won a contest on WCLZ to go see Spoon's soundcheck. So, Sean went to that with her and invited the band personally.

After Spoon’s show at the State ended, we started up our show down the street. There were about 50 people in the crowd. Just as we were finishing Girls Can Tell, Spoon showed up. A palpable excitement spread across the room. The band and I had kind of an "oh shit" moment when they arrived since we hadn't really planned on what would happen after that.

At one point, their keyboardist Eric Harvey jumped up on stage and joined in on "Back To The Life". We did one more song to finish the set, then the rest of Spoon jumped up, took our instruments and showed us how it's really done. 

Britt (Daniel, Spoon frontman/songwriter) told my dad how surreal it was to see our gig because I was about his age (27ish) when he put out Kill The Moonlight, which is what we were playing when he saw us. Britt didn't really find success right away as a professional musician, and I kind of believe that can make all the difference in someone's temperament and ego. Make no mistake, he's a bonafide rock star on the stage, but to a couple that swagger with graciousness and humility — unreal, and a true role model. 

Britt and I have stayed in touch a little bit since. He mentioned that he wanted to make me part of the show the next time Spoon came to town, and he's a man of his word. We're opening for them July 22nd at the State Theatre. Come early, we're on at 8 pm sharp.

Follow Jeff at jeffbeammusic.com and on Facebook at JeffBeamMusic | Oh and don’t forget to see Jeff and Spoon’s interaction from 2015 on YouTube! Search Spoon & Jeff Beam Portland, Maine

 

Why See the Same Live Show Again and Again?

The super fantastic Hall & Oates just played a show in Boston over the weekend with the equally awesome band Tears For Fears. Great bill. Because of my past outspoken passion and support for the inclusion of Hall and Oates into the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame; people all year have been asking me if I’m going to the show. Did I get good seats? How excited am I?  

One by one I’d explain that I was taking a pass on this one. Eyes widened and a look of confusion crossed most faces, prompting me to give a reason for my absence. I told them all I’ve been lucky enough to see Hall & Oates three times in the past five years and at all three shows I was in the front ten rows. They were terrific seats and experiences not to be beaten. I actually saw Tears for Fears about six or seven years ago as well at a smaller venue. So essentially, I've gotten my fix. 

Not to mention H&O’s set barely changed each time. Each show was different by one song, maybe two. So I was seeing the same show basically. Seeing them in a big arena wouldn’t haven been as great as those first few experiences. You’ve heard the expression, leave well enough alone. I didn’t want to spoil things. 

But what makes us go back to see bands again and again? There are some acts we will go see religiously no matter the circumstances, venue, or ticket price. We don’t question, we just go. We know what we’re going to get and it’s fully approved. 

People love live music so much around here, and I’m always blown away by a number of people who have seen artists multiple times. I’m guilty too — proud of it! I’ve seen bands like the Melvins, Faith No More, Van Halen, Joan Jett, The Roots, Clutch, Danko Jones, Nine Inch Nails, Monster Magnet, Against Me!, Mr. Bungle, Flaming Lips, Cage the Elephant, Superdrag, Ours, Secret Machines and And Your Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead at least four or five times each. I’ve seen Cheap Trick, Queens of the Stone Age and Fantomas at least eight or nine times each. I remember them well too! I saw QOTSA at Asylum in 1999 with barely 30 people. I saw them with Dave Grohl on drums at the Paradise in Boston. I saw Fantomas’ second, third, fourth and fifth shows ever in NYC. We remember the shows and certain moments of these repeat acts. They always stay with us because we know we might never see it again. 

Sometimes, we tempt fate though. I recently asked some musicians and music folks which artists they've seen the most and why they go back again and again.

Tim Mercer (musician/songwriter)

Jane’s Addiction, five times.

"I’ve seen them more than any other band. They play different tunes in different settings. There is something about the energy exchange between the performer and the audience that can be quite personal.”

Melissa Anne Martin (music fan/collector)

Guster, six times.

“Their audience makes the experience enjoyable along with their music but the energy is way up.”

Tim Aballo (The Outsiders)

Reverend Horton Heat and The Amazing Royal Crowns, 50 times combined.

“Awesome acts. High energy. Why so many times? The feeling of being a part of a specific scene/culture subset would be a good answer. A comfortable familiarity where you know all the words and the next chord change. You're a part of it. Inclusion. Maybe the same reason we listen to the same albums over and over?”

Brzowski (rapper/hard worker)

The Body, 10 times.

“I've seen Rhode Island's sludgiest export ten times spanning as many years. I've caught them performing a set with a full choir, as well as sets performing with other bands doing all new collaborative material. They aren't a go-to band to, slap on the turntable at home very often, but I will always go see their new deafening iteration when they play within striking distance of Portland.”

Josiah Babcock (a wonderful father/Dead Head)

Strangefolk, 150 times. Grateful Dead with Jerry Garcia, 60 times, and Post-Jerry Dead related shows 120 time.

“All play a completely unique setlist from night to night. Huge repertoires of songs, never played the same way twice, in different orders and combinations, many different venues, crowd energies, indoor/outdoor, with different friends, guest artists and so on.”

Holly Nunan (DJ/Frank FM)

Tom Petty, six times.

”Thomas Earl Petty and his band of unbelievably talented musical merrymakers are a gift to rock and roll that we don't even deserve! Mike Campbell is still one of the most underrated guitarists out there. I have no shame in saying that I have regularly drained my savings account to see this band live and will do so as long as they continue to tour.”

Jumpy McGee (Maine Roller Derby)

Goldfinger, 10 times.

”They caught my attention on the radio, but kept my attention with the live shows because of the energy. It was always fun to see if Charlie's spins would eventually take out the drum set.” 

Release It Already: Local Albums Dropping This Summer

Myles BullenWake Up Century (out this week)

Myles BullenAlbum

Cover art by Anna Welch. 

I came up with “Hippie Hop” a while back to describe all that is Myles Bullen. He’s a peaceful lad roaming around with a heart full of love spitting positive and encouraging rhymes to anyone who will stop and listen. I predict more people will listen to his latest record recorded with producer/vocalist, Earth Person. Even with one full length, some previous singles and EP’s under his belt; Bullen seems to really have it together this time for a proper introduction to a bigger audience. The title track and video for it are the gateway, Want more? You couldn’t dodge him if you wanted to. He’s all over this town like a parking meter maid. Between nights at Flask, WMPG, “Rap Night” at Aura, The Telling Room, Congress Street or a backyard open mic party down the street from you; Myles Bullen is out there in the world spreading positivity and can’t be stopped. And that's a good thing for the world.  

     

BeautifulWeirdRetrospect (out now, proper release soon)

BeautifulWeirdalbumcover

Photo By J Roberts. 

This is a band still way under the radar and for obvious reasons; they haven’t fully released their debut EP yet nor have they played in town. I have the debut release though and I have seen them play and they are going to be a super good thing. I was impressed upon a first listen a few months ago. Maybe think of a shy Paramore or a more mainstream Weakened Friends possibly. It’s alternative pop rock fronted by a confident and cool vocalist, Kelly Huston. The band also includes two former members of local metal band, Absence of the Sun. Trading in death growls and ripping shreds for sweet licks with some echo on them and an 80s influenced feel; BeautifulWeird won’t be under the radar for much longer.   

 

An Overnight Low - Waverley (June 30)

AnOvernightLow

Waverley is the third and final release in the British travel trilogy inspired by band member Chad Walls’s time in England while studying in Manchester. The three albums, named after train stations he frequented — Euston, Piccadilly and now Waverley — wrap up the package with more clever songs that will please anyone who loved that amazing college rock we got from the later '80s into the early '90s (REM, The Posies, Blur). Fans of Big Star, The Kinks and the Beatles will find a warm place here as well. Mature, yet carefully playful and cheeky Brit-inspired pop rock is my best way to describe An Overnight Low for those who haven’t visited either train stop yet. Get on board this time around though if you have the taste for their flavor. Next stop, happiness.   

 

Sygnal To Noise - Horns High (July 1

SygnalToNoise HornsHigh

Certainly the most masked band around, Sygnal To Noise returns with their 3rd release in just about five years. Fronted by long-running vocalist Mark Cooper (David’s Playground, Boomslang, Hours Past), Sygnal To Noise release another collection for the rock fans who still save room to put Godsmack, Shinedown, Papa Roach and Stone Sour CDs in their racks. Coop still remains one of local hard rock’s strongest singers. His son Austin, unfortunately, had to give up his seat behind the drums due to personal reasons, but his replacement will do I suppose. Enter the one and only Sonny Robinson of local rock godfathers, Twisted Roots. Not a bad pick up. Coop and Sonny make for a heck of a rock battery.   

 

Jeremiah FreedCompanion Pt. 1 (July 11)

JeremiahFreedCompanion

I doubt anyone saw this coming. Why would you?! These 70s rock influenced cats from York took the local music scene by storm and stormed onto Universal Republic Records in the early 00s. After a brief run due to the typical lack of artist development from record labels, Freed freed up and tried a couple of final moves. Most went to LA for a run at it, but would eventually go their own ways. One to Nashville, some stayed around here playing music some stayed out West. Years passed. People change. Vows exchanged and hopes and dreams are altered. The music never goes away though, does it? That's what’s happened here. The original line up, sans drummer Kerry Ryan, is about to serve up their most mature and rich collection yet. Fifteen years after their major label deal was signed and lost, Jeremiah Freed does it all for the right reasons like back when they started and were unable to buy beer. They’re doing it now because there is great music still in them that needs to be released and given to the world.    

 

Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems - Losing the Frequency (July 28)

KrisRodger

Rodgers is back with another blast of piano/pop rock that can’t be confused for anyone else around. Rodgers music is always gutsy and pushy as it is soulful and thoughtful. He also remains one of the strongest singers around in my book. His growth in this scene has not gone overlooked. This album, his third proper release takes a chance or two. Check out the album closer, “Who’s Gonna Save You Now”. It’s an epic, pop-rock gem that makes you realize Rodgers has become much more than just a piano man. 

  

 

Tired Mosh Pits: Should punk bands keep playing 40 years later?

I made it out to Aura last Saturday for one of the coolest lineups I’ve seen in a while: Flat Duo Jets, punk legends Agent Orange, and the always rockin’ headliners, Reverend Horton Heat. What a three-pack!

As I walked in it was clear to see this wasn’t a 21+ crowd. It was more like a 31+ crowd. It was so refreshing to see more folks swearing off Netflix and couches for the night. Cool sexy gals with Social Distortion t-shirts on and hair all done up in bandanas with their jeans rolled up high. A lot of the fellas looking like they came from a hot rod expo. This lineup was sure to bring out the wonderful crossover crowd of punk rock/rockabilly fans. None of the bands disappointed. 

The two-man punch of the Flat Duo Jets slugged away as frontman Dexter Romweber laid out their brand of psychobilly/rockin’ bluegrass to a cheering crowd. It was easy to tell why — since the late '80s — the North Carolina act was a major influence on people like Jack White.        

Orange County punk act Agent Orange (featuring only remaining original member Mike Palm) ripped through a solid hour set of originals and covers that shook the room up a bit. Well, as much as that older crowd could shake. A small, four-man mosh pit formed only to cave in due to the boredom and exhaustion of its participants. Yet there was some slight pogo action by fans going on closer to the stage. When the band blasted into the classic “Bloodstains”, the dust shook off a few more people. 

The Reverend played the same as always, absolutely fantastic. Rock 'n’ roll origins. With the recent passing of Chuck Berry and the current state of dog shit the music industry is in, watching the Reverend was like charging a battery. Time has only made this band better, the music richer, the presentation more striking. Jim Heath prowled the stage with that comic book bad guy grin and managed to lay out some of the most faith-restoring guitar sounds anyone ever heard. They ended paying tribute to Lemmy with a nice story and then diving into Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” I say this with all respect folks, all respect; the Reverend owns that song now. Really. If there was ever a perfect fit and someone to carry on such a tradition, it’s them and this song. It was everything the song is supposed to be: Heath’s screeching vocals, ear-ripping Gretsch's guitar-playing and Jimbo Wallace’s manic stand-up bass-slapping. Lemmy was smirking on the Rev from wherever he’s drinking these days. 

As I watched this whole show from start to finish, I think about these cats and what they’ve been through. I watched Agent Orange who started in 1979 in California and thought to myself, kindly, should a punk rock band be playing almost 40 years later? 

Punk rock is an immediate thing. It’s hasty and impatient. It happens because it has to happen, right then and there. It explodes onto all of us and what's to follow is of no one’s concern. It’s do or die music. Punk bands who played years ago, like Agent Orange, did it to live. Not to be able to make a career, but because it was their only way to exist in this world. Those bands weren’t filled with great musicians. They weren’t looking for the golden ring as they circled around the country time and again in busted-up vans littered with taco wrappers and dirty socks. They didn’t do it for record deals or money. It just had to be done, and they'd be fooling themselves if they didn’t deliver it, usually on their own dime and sleeping on someone else’s living room floor. 

I then saw Agent Orange that night and thought ... why do it now? I’m not complaining. I’m psyched to be able to see them, but why do they need to do this? I can imagine there’s more pressure on them now more than ever. Now they need the money, they need to pay bills, they need to feed others. It’s weird to think, but now these older bands, punk bands specifically, are doing it to make a living. How ironic to see a band decide in their later years to make a go of it. 

Reality set in though when Dexter from Flat Duo Jets mentioned on stage that their check from the previous night’s gig bounced and they had $300 between the two of them. Yet there they were, still playing. It's what you have to do, right? Try to get paid, sell shirts, and put gas in the tank to make it to the next city to do the same thing. They play to get paid to play again. Amazing. Even 30 or 40 years later, some of these acts are still living the right way.  

Mark Curdo is the director of lifestyle & entertainment branding for Shipyard Brewing Company and longtime host of the Spinout radio show now on Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 94.3 WCYY.

Your ultimate summer music playlist

A few months ago the weather was pretty decent, at least for the end of winter. I remember thinking, I hope that’s it. I hope we’re in the clear now. I’m not normally an anti-winter or snow person. Just last year. Last year I wasn’t feeling the winter one bit. I do love to see my friends having fun hitting the slopes and enjoying mountain area activities. It’s been a bumpy few years for our winter business, so you like to see them have it go their way a little bit each year. Last year, I was not in winter wonderland mode at all.   

As the weather stayed, decent, for most of March and April; I also remember thinking that we’re gonna pay for this. Easy winter must make lame start to the summer. We can’t have it all, right? And so it is. The weather has sucked recently! I’m not expecting 85 degree days every single day, nor do I really want that ever, but I’ve had a friggin’ jacket on most of the last two weeks.  

Well, one thing is for sure, we can’t do nothin’ about the weather. Mother Nature isn’t taking requests. We can, however, build a little fire of inspiration and anticipation for the good stuff that should be happening with more consistency. I asked a few local music friends to shoot me a summer kick off playlist. Ten songs you’d put on a mixtape/playlist to fire up some spirit of summer! Which will be coming soon, I think.

I’ll start off things with this blend. 

Jr. Walker & The All-stars “Shotgun”

Cheap Trick “California Man” 

The Blueskins “Stupid Ones” 

The Clash “Clampdown”

Otis Redding “Satisfaction” 

The Strangeloves “I Want Candy”

Lou Reed “I Love You, Suzanne” 

The Who “Run Run Run”

J. Geils Band “Night Time”

Curtis Mayfield “Move On Up”

The Smiths “Panic” (bonus track)

Kris Rodgers (musician, Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems)

The Role Models - “Radio”

The Beach Boys - “Girl From New York City”

Corin Ashley - “Little Crumbles”

The Casanovas - “Born To Run”

Jeremiah Freed - “Don’t Go Hungry”

Holy Boys Danger Club - “City Kid Town”

Biters - “Hang Around”

Bullet Proof Lovers - “I Am My Radio”

The Wildhearts - “I Want To Go Where The People Go”

The Hellacopters - “Before The Fall”

Bri Lane (musician, singer/songwriter) 

Arcade Fire - “Everything Now”

The Shelters - “Rebel Heart”

Roosevelt - “Fever” 

Alt-J - “Left Hand Free”

Aurora - ”Running With the Wolves”

Sigma feat. Birdy - “Find Me”

Lorde - “Green Light”

Pacific Air - “Float”

Coldplay - “Strawberry Swing”

Broken Bells - “The High Road”

Jeff Beam (musician, singer/songwriter) 

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - “Farewell American Primitive”

Mac Demarco - “Freaking Out the Neighborhood”

Jaw Gems - “Graymalkin”

Deerhoof - “Scream Team”

Broadcast - “Pendulum”

Chris Cohen - “As If Apart”

Shuggie Otis - “Strawberry Letter 23”

Grizzly Bear - “Southern Point”

Big Thief - “Masterpiece”

Ruth Garbus - “Certain Kind”

Tom Long (owner, Long’s Board Shop) 

Mariachi El Bronx - “48 Roses”

NERD - “Rock Star”

Warpaint - “Disco//Very”

Operation Ivy - “Soundsystem”

Box Car Racer - “I Feel So”

Beastie Boys - “Flute Loop”

311 - “Stealing Happy Hours”

Walking Concert - “Animals”

Transplants - “California Babylon”

Jane's Addiction - “Summertime Rolls”

 

Nick Lavallee (comedian, musician “Donaher”)

Theo Katzman - "As The Romans Do"

Spose - "King Of Maine"

Big Grams - "Fell In The Sun"

Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Noise Brigade"

The Menzingers - "Your Wild Years"

The Hold Steady - "Constructive Summer"

A Tribe Called Quest - "Can I Kick It?"

Fountains of Wayne - "Radiation Vibe"

Weezer - "Holiday"

Donaher - “Heather”

Myles Bullen (hip hop artist, teacher, motivator, peace maker)

Earth Person - “Flower Honey Bee”

Ayla Nereo - “It's Okay” 

Erykah Badu - “Honey”

Watsky - “Strong As An Oak”

Anderson Paak - “The Bird”

Kendrick Lamar - “I” (music video version)

Chance The Rapper - “Blessings”

Shane Reis - “Smile”

Robert Glasper - “Thinkin ‘Bout You”

Janelle Monae - “Q.U.E.E.N”

Tim Patrick Emery (musician, genius at Buckdancers Choice)

The Beatles - “Here Comes the Sun”

Eddie Cochran - “Summertime Blues”

The Ramones - “Rockaway Beach”

The Trashment - “Surfin' Bird”

Mungo Jerry - “In the Summertime”

Desmond Decker and the Aces - “The Israelites”

The Beach Boys - “Fun Fun Fun”

Kiss - “Shout it Out Loud”

Edgar Winter Group - “Frankenstein”

The Beach Boys - “Sail On Sailor”

Radio Loses a Legend: Rodney Bingenheimer, after four decades on air, hosts his last show

Unless you’re deeply involved in the music world, and even then it might be a stretch, you probably wouldn’t know much about radio DJ’s from around the country.

There's one you should know about though. I mean, when you’re the first DJ in the country to break artists like The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Blondie, Nirvana, Van Halen, The Clash, Green Day, Oasis, Devo, Cheap Trick, X, Duran Duran, The Smiths and tens of thousands of others; you deserve some recognition. 

For 41 years, Rodney Bingenheimer has hosted a radio show, “Rodney on the ROQ” on LA’s KROQ-FM. First cracking the airwaves in 1976, Bingenheimer has been the most important channel for breaking new artists in the world. No one in radio, media in general, or the music industry has done more to expose and suggest more important new artists like Rodney has during his time on air. 

Prior to all the radio and industry involvement, he was just a passionate fan. He grew up a pop music fan in the 50‘s and 60‘s, collecting magazines with his favorite artists in them. He listened to a transistor radio at his home in Mountain View, California. When he was old enough to get out of the house, he sought out the artists he followed, wanting to be close to all that was going on. He became friends with many of his favorites and even doubled as Davey Jones in a Monkees movie. 

Some felt the young Bingenheimer was nothing more than a groupie, but what people don’t understand is that this was a person overtaken spiritually, emotionally and physically by all the excitement and appeal of pop rock music and Hollywood. He was drawn into it all. 

As the 60’s gave way to the 70’s, Bingenheimer’s involvement and contributions went beyond the fan clubs and became more substantial. With stints at records labels, working press and promotions for artists like Linda Ronstadt and Rod Stewart to name a few, Rodney’s contacts were growing and his ears were resolutely pointed toward the LA music scene. 

After a trip to England (where David Bowie’s manager stole Rodney’s girlfriend) our radio titan would head home alone with his head hung low, but with an arm full of new records from overseas. Love works in mysterious ways. Upon his return, he would open the legendary music venue, “The English Disco” which introduced the LA Sunset Strip to the world of glitter and glam rock. Artists like Sweet, Bowie, T-Rex, NY Dolls and Iggy Pop played weekly at the club. It was the place to be. 

In the mid 70’s, Bingenheimer found an open slot on the radio at the LA rock station KROQ. His show couldn’t have debuted at a better time. Between punk, glam, power pop and new wave in his first four years on air, Bingenheimer became the gateway to all that’s cool and all that you would soon bow to in the world of music. 

He gave a shot to unknowns and local acts too. During the show, he fed listeners what they weren’t getting. He debuted Oasis off a demo cassette sent to him. Now and then, David Bowie might call up the show. Brian Wilson recorded the theme to Rodney’s show! There’s simply no one in radio since 1976 more important. When we include those before him into the conversation like Wolfman Jack, Alan Freed, Cousin Brucie, Murray the K and others; Rodney is still in the top bunch. 

Bingenheimer’s handprints are all over each of us in terms of the music and culture that has shaped the last four-plus decades. 

Last week new management at KROQ announced changes were being made to its lineup and Rodney would no longer be needed to host his show after 41 years. Was the show by the now 69 yr. old really in the way? His show started off in primetime but has resided at the disrespectful time slot of midnight to 3 am on Sundays for a while now. According to a post on Bingenheimer’s Facebook page, he said “I didn’t leave KROQ, in fact, KROQ is really leaving me. I may be done with KROQ, but I am not retiring.” 

I’ve been lucky to have Rodney as a guest on the phone for my show, Spinout on WCYY. I gave him a full hour on the show in which we played some artists like the Ramones, Devo and Cheap Trick. He still remains my favorite guest to this day. At the end of every show, I thank him. I was planning to have him back on again soon, then the news broke that radio lost again. 

There’s a terrific documentary about Rodney you can find on Netflix called, “The Mayor of Sunset Strip”. I’ve watched it easily 15 times, but fair warning it’s as heartbreaking as it is mind blowing and inspiring. 

In the film, KROQ DJ, Jed The Fish (no longer on air) gave a quote that always burned my ass. He says, “It’s unbelievable that someone could be in the music business this long and help so many people... and just be in it because they love the music.”

That is why you are in it, because you love the music! You’re on a boat because you love the sea and fishing. Your arms are elbow deep in malts and grains because you love making beer. You have a massive collection of first editions because you love to read or write books. This world needs to stop questioning those who are passionate about things and start embracing them instead. Because passion nurtures creativity. 

Rodney’s last show is this coming Sunday night from midnight to 3 am. You can listen live at kroq.com

Looking back on a special recording time with Spencer Albee

Listening to Relentlessly Yours the latest album from Spencer Albee, I hit a moment here and there when I was thrown back to a prior memory of one of his other projects. I have to think it’s impossible for someone who’s been along for the ride as a fan not to think about his previous doings at some point of enjoying the new record. This guy has been busy alongside us for over two decades.

As I traveled through clever new songs laced with all kinds of keyboard and organ sounds, playful timing, sweet background vocals and always in season sleigh bells, I was thrown back to all the great work this guy has done. The Rustic Overtones stuff alone is enough to hang your hat on. That wasn’t going to happen though. If anything, that was the launch pad for Spencer to truly fly his way.

His own way has come in various ways. The first was the fun, all over the place project, “The Popsicko”, which allowed him to shake a bunch of styles at people. That lead to the pop rock, suit & tie offerings of Rocktopus, which a couple of years later molded into As Fast As and scored Spencer another record deal and another chance at the big time. Of course, we all know around that time, in 2003-2004 the music industry was becoming... well, something else. I’ll refrain from my accurate and passionate description of what the industry became and just say that due to a changing world of music and the state of the world at his record label, Spencer and As Fast As wouldn’t get the full shot they deserved. They would shift to operate out of home base here in Portland and continue to put out records maintaining the fanbase they worked hard for and earned from around the country.

AFA eventually called it a day, but Spencer was just getting warmed up. Adventurously, he would pull together ten wonderful musicians and friends to form Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia, a fine blend of influences from the Beatles, middle-era Kinks, Johnny Cash, and your high school marching band after a few drinks.

After a year plus with the Mafia came Space Vs. Speed, a slightly newer alternative rock approach for Spencer. SvS included other local music legends Walt Craven (6Gig, Lost on Liftoff) and Neil Collins (Twisted Roots, Murcielago), but that wasn’t meant to be either unfortunately. What would follow that band would be a string of solo releases as Spencer and Spencer Albee, which is where we’re at now with this popular, new release. Spencer Albee, Relentlessly Yours.

I’m not sure there’s a more appropriately titled local album in history that this one. The guy has never stopped working at his craft or eased up on his production of albums for us to have.

Spencer has once again compiled a great mix of talented folk to help bring his music alive: Renee Coolbrith, McCrae Hathaway, Scott Mohler, Blythe Armitage and his former As Fast As drummer Andrew Hodgkins are all on board for the latest journey with Spencer. It's a journey I hope will stay the course for a little while as he once again has an amazing set of musicians on his side and a terrific record to support. Better judgment tells me though that he probably already has his next album started and well underway. If so, we won’t be surprised. With a now remarkable 20 studio releases under his belt, the one thing Spencer Albee will never be is idle. That relentlessness has aways been there, lucky for us.

In my ongoing, STILL un-named series (I Once Caught a Fish This Big or Have I Got a Story For You), Spencer took a break from rehearsing with his band for next week's album release show to share a memory of recording in a busy place with As Fast As a few years back.

Spencer Albee:

In 2004, As Fast As had the pleasure of working with producer Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Replacements, Maroon 5) at the legendary and recently cinematically memorialized Sound City studios in Van Nuys, CA. Throughout the two-plus months of recording there and Matt's studio which shared a courtyard with Sound City, we were treated to an audience with a cavalcade of influential luminaries.

Jermaine Jackson took an interest in us and even brought his family over for a listen to what we were up to one day. I crushed a week's worth of coffee and cigarettes in 2 or 3 days with Chad Smith. Hell, Zach Jones was even mistaken for Tom Morello by his guitar tech and was nearly handed Tom's iconic guitar.

My most fond memory was sharing a lobby/kitchenette with Josh Homme, who was in Studio B cutting an Eagles of Death Metal record while we were recording basic tracks in Studio A. We chummed around a lot and were even invited (through sheer necessity of hands) to provide some claps for one of their songs.

We hoped that Josh would play some guitar on one of our songs, but that never came to fruition on account of who the fuck were we? AND they were in the middle of making a record. I still wonder what that would have sounded like, though. He's the one that got away.

Check out Spencer’s album release show June 2 at Port City Music Hall and visit him online at spenceralbee.com or on Facebook at Spence Albee Official. 

Chris Gervais enters the local scene like a bat out of hell

I love it when family members show up to a party and shake things up. 

I’ve always been intrigued by bands with family members in them; Van Halen, Kings of Leon, The Kinks and CCR, etc. More times than not, drama comes along for the ride. It can fuel the writing and the music or it can kill everything dead in the studio and backstage. Brotherly love doesn’t always belong in rock n roll. 

Locally we’ve seen some family affairs over the years. There’s been Twisted Roots, The Wrecking, Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia, Mallett Brothers Band and Sygnal to Noise to name a few. With the Gervais brothers, Kyle and Chris; what was once some dabbling in music together thirteen years ago (on Kyle’s first EP for his band, Cosades) has now led them to become full on bandmates. 

Chris, the younger Gervais, recently took the drum seat for older brother Kyle’s pop rock/hip hop/pop/r&b/alt rock/electronic get up known as, KGFREEZE. What’s to come from that? Who the hell knows. If you know Kyle, anything is possible and mostly likely will happen. And more. 

Keeping busy, Chris is breaking into the scene in various ways. With former band Cool Tara helping to introduce himself to local crowds, Chris Gervais is moving towards a busy sophomore stage.

Besides drumming for KGFREEZE, Chris is also a part of the band, Wedding Camp, he’s started a cassette-only record label and he’s fired up a new music series at Geno’s aimed to shine a light on local upstarts. A light that’s been too dim in recent years. Or maybe it's been accidentally unplugged. New bands, new label, new local club night... this guy's got his work cut out for him!   

You're finally fully in a band with your brother now playing drums in KGFREEZE. Being brothers, is it just smart to take it all day by day and see what happens? Because with brothers in bands, you just never know what’s going to happen.

I think being older and having our own families definitely makes a difference. We don't get to spend as much time together as we used to, so we channel all of that into the band. Plus Nate Carll is back on guitar (from the Cosades days with Kyle) and having my good friend Jason Engler (and co-creator of the tape label with me) on bass has definitely created a familiar, close, fun environment, too.

A few years back you became a lot more active in the music scene stepping out with Cool Tara and releasing a couple of EPs. For someone so close to music for so long, why did it take you so long to become more active in the local music scene? 

To be honest, I'm not sure how to answer that. I was at a pretty weird point in life and was struggling with a lot of issues and decided I needed an outlet. I chose music and during a very weird time in the Portland scene, too. It took me a while to find the right people to seriously start a band with, and by the time it all came to fruition, I was already 25. I think a big factor of Cool Tara being so successful was the fact that nobody knew us and we were fresh, different and unknown. That's unheard of now.

With the music industry being a total mess, you up and start a record label called, "Are You Kidding Me?" that only releases cassettes. The vinyl resurgence has been stronger than ANYONE expected, but cassettes seems to be hurtling along in its big comeback. I've seen them popping up a bit more over recent years, but what was your gut telling you when you started that operation? To put music out only on tapes in 2017.  

I just started to see that CD's are a dying outlet and vinyl is too expensive. So why not tapes? That's when Jason Engler and I decided to start “Are You Kidding Me?” In the past couple years, the resurgence of tapes has been overwhelming, to the point that now big artists are releasing tapes themselves. So we decided to help bands out. Allow them to get their music out there and onto a format that isn't going to cost an arm and a leg. 

Do you sit there at a dual cassette deck and reel off those puppies? 

Jason does a lot of the dealings with artwork and finances and I find the bands and organize the releases. We have a couple of different people locally who duplicate the tapes for us. Other times we do it by ourselves.

The live scene is stronger than it's ever been in Portland in terms of activity. A major portion of that activity is from national touring acts, which is great, but too many people forget about the super music we already have right here in town. Talk about the new evening of local music at Geno’s to help spotlight that local need. 

There's a number of incredible local bands in Portland that are busting their asses and don't get the recognition they deserve. So I decided, why not showcase these bands? And make the shows free? Get people out. Discover new stuff. Kaitlyn Tierney and Brooke Binion and everyone else at Geno's has been nothing but incredible with being behind me on this idea.

These days, what's the biggest problem stopping the progress of our scene in your opinion? 

Nobody wants to pay $10 for a show. $10 cover, plus drinks, plus any merch you plan on buying...that's an expensive fucking evening. More DIY spaces, more house shows, any sort of place where a show can be held and people can feel safe and have a good time.

Visit Chris (and Kyle) and Facebook.com/kgfreezemusic and check out the cassette label at Facebook.com/AYTKtapes

 

What you should know about this week in local music

Jeremiah Freed fully let the cat out of the bag last week. After years of inactivity on a collective level, the band (with replacement drummer Andy Cosby) have a new EP of music on the way and now a show to celebrate that new music. It’s been 10 years since the band played live together — longer than that for any release of music — so this is a big return year for the fellas. Tickets are on sale now for their album release show, Aug 19 at Portland House of Music and Events.

 

Biddeford rockers Sygnal To Noise have unfortunately lost their drummer Austin Cooper to upcoming family life and other interests. They found quite the replacement, though — our good friend Sonny Robinson (Twisted Roots) will fill the drum seat going forward for the band as they get set to release a new album called, Horns High on July 1. (At print time, we couldn’t confirm if Sonny needed to borrow Austin’s drum set or not. We’ll keep you posted ... in case you might have a kit to lend Sonny.) 

 

Fans of Dominic and the Lucid will be happy to know that although the band is no longer, the members are all steady busy. Drummer Chuck Gagne is rocking the sticks and brushes for the Mallett Brothers Band. Keyboardist/guitarist/producer/multi-tasker Scott Mohler is playing with Spencer Albee’s new outfit as well as with Lucid frontman and main man Dominic Lavoie on Dom’s new solo EP Mariposa will be out towards the end of the summer and will feature both Lucid guys as well as John Nels, Pete Genova, Mike Chasse, and Justin Wily. Dominic released one tune already, “Midnight Wind” on cassette for Record Store Day at Bull Moose. You might be able to still find some out there. The tape that is. Cassette decks? Check out Electric Buddhas or Flea-For-All for that action! You can hear more of Dominic’s new stuff live at Bayside Bowl on May 27.  

 

About a month ago, Spose released his phone app/video game, “The King of Maine." The app took much time and much money to make, but the votes are in: it’s a smash hit. It was the #2 music app the day it was released. Pretty damn impressive. Not #2 in Maine, #2 overall on iTunes! That’s some crazy stuff folks. The #2 selling music app, overall. Crazy! The more points you pile up playing the game the more free songs you can unlock from his latest album, Good Luck With Your Life. If you could care less about playing the game or battling Maine’s Governor in his office in the final round, you can go and pick up the CD (produced by God.Damn.Chan) as it was just released physically at Bull Moose last Friday.

 

Kevin Oates and his sensational Maine Youth Rock Orchestra just released a fully recorded/produced and mastered track called, “Love Me Again." A total of 23 high school students (all 17 or younger) recorded the song with Kevin Billingslea at Halo Studios. The song was written and mapped out by their 17-year-old pianist and vocalist, Sophia James. One listen and you’ll be absolutely blown away at what Sophia and MYRO made there. Listen for yourself. It’s on local radio all over this week and rightfully so. If we have talent like this to look out for in the years to come from MYRO and other outfits, music in Maine does luckily have a wonderful future.

 

The hardest working man in local show business, Brzowski recently dropped a new single, “To The Fellow Travellers”, produced by Milled Pavement label mate C Money Burns. For now, you can find it on his Bandcamp page. Hurry though, it sounds like the single might go away soon. The full album comes out the end of summer with a release show slated for SPACE Gallery. Until then, surely Brzo will tour the country about nineteen more times. It’s what he does.

 

The All Roads Music Festival is set to kick in for a third year next week, May 20 in Belfast. In a town beloved for its Curling rink, some of the best acts in the northeast pile into town to bring music to a spot that doesn’t get it as easily as we do down here. Great intentions Meg! Meg Shorette who also runs the show at Port City Music Hall has brought together about three dozen acts including the legendary Dave Mallett, Spose, Weakened Friends, Kenya Hall, Spencer Albee, Paranoid Social Club, The Mallett Brothers Band, Jeff Beam, Dan Blakeslee and much more. Jump over to the festival’s FB page for the full schedule and details.

 

If you can’t make it up to Belfast for All Roads, maybe hit a show in town that will support a family in need. An awful car accident in Gorham just before Christmas took the lives of two members of the Piawlock family; the father and one of their young daughters. Join the sensational Anna Lombard and ska-rockers El Grande at Port City Music for a show to raise funds and support for a family in our community hurting in the worst way possible. A Night of Love, Light and Peace for the Piawlocks starts at 7 pm. Silent auction and raffle also to take place.   

 

Pop singer/songwriter Amy Allen has just released her fifth EP, titled Get Me Outta Here, exclusively to Bull Moose for the first month. So grab your copy and look for Amy on the WCLZ stage at the Old Port Fest next month.  

 

New records on the way from Sarah Violette (formerly "Lady Essence") by late June produced by God.Damn.Chan, “Scapegoat” the album from KGFREEZE releases in June (featuring a slight return to the sound of Kyle Gervais' earlier band Cosades and the return of Cosades guitarist Nate Carl), the new Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems full album will come out by mid-July and Acadia will have a new EP by August.   

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