Hey Mr. Springsteen, We're Right Here
August 29, 2007
Bruce Springsteen recently released the first single from his new CD, Magic. The song, "Radio Nowhere," is a slam on the industry - terrestrial and satellite - and the lack of local broadcasting. While I agree with Springsteen that commercial radio has gone out of its way to eliminate a local "voice" and lower costs by creating generic music hubs, I don't see the big stars making an effort to connect with those of us who are actually playing their new music. We played the newest releases by Springsteen, Dylan, and Neil Young both on Folk Alley and on Jim Blum's terrestrial radio show and I don't recall any of them stopping by our studios for an interview (which we would have been happy to do). If Springsteen's going to go around producing an album that doesn't sound like his massive E-Street Band hit machine, he might actually need to do a little work and do some promotion to seek out new fans.
I realize it must be frustrating to have a promotional arrangement with Clear Channel that gets your CD on their website, but not their on-air programming. That's why we deserve a little love - we're playing these CDs because the artists are still producing excellent work and we know how much you want to hear new music (along with favorites you can't find anywhere else on your dial). When Springsteen's Seeger Sessions came out, I talked it up because the material was very folky (Pete Seeger for heaven's sake) and warranted the broad exposure that commercial radio was unlikely to offer. So, maybe along with railing at the mainstream, the big boys could pay a little more attention to the new radio reality that lives slightly off the grid and brings them a much more interesting and interested audience.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 10:25 AM
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What Chris is up to
August 6, 2007
Chris arrived at pretty much the time we expected him, toting a wheely suitcase and a rucksack full of tech-gear. Reassuringly he didn’t bat an eyelid at his “room”, or indeed the state of the neighbourhood. He wasn’t even fazed when I noticed that someone has stolen my bike from off my own roof!
We had some lunch then headed off for a pint. Conversation centrered mainly on music (and on some wonderfully scantily clad young ladies in the garden of of the pub. Sunday was the hottest day of the year so far.)
We arrived home to a quick jam session to demonstrate to each other how useless we are, honours go to my daughter who quickly realised she couldn’t keep up on her guitar and reached for the percussion instruments.
Claiming to have suffered no jet lag, Chris headed off to explore the neigbourhood (and some other pubs) while we got dinner ready – it’s all go around here! An hour later, while Isabelle and I shelled some peas he arrived back, stretched out on the living room couch and fell into what looked like a coma. I had to restrain Isabelle from tucking a bear under his arm – she believes everyone should have a bear to sleep with.
He surfaced as the rest of the guests arrived. Ian Blake, formerly of Pyewackett, now a composer based in Canberra Australia, followed by John and Leilani, from Wives and Servants (and Psychopath) Garlic bread, humous, cucumber, were followed by half a pig, vegetables and roast potatoes. I’d be thrilled to say I remember much of the conversation, but I saw Ian off at dawn after we finished the eighth bottle of wine. Chris had lasted well into the early morning. It all seems a little muddled in retrospect. We all agreed that JoLynn is a genuine force for good in the world of music!
He was awakend by my daughter shouting “Wake up Daddy, you’ve got to drive me to the childminder.” Unfortunately I wasn’t!
He’s now in London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower – a fabulously daft ritual where a bunch of soldiers in one outrageous uniform get shouted at by a bunch of retired soldiers in an even crazier uniform. Keys are involved.
I might drag him down to the acoustic night at my local if he makes it back in time.
Well – Chris got back well after closing time last night so we quite sensibly sat up until 3.00 shopping for tunes on the net. Bright and early with the lark (albeit a somewhat tardy lark), Chris set off for the British Museum today. Smearing herbal goop on his sore feet (London is a great walking city – you can get from one side of the centre to the other in about an hour’s brisk walk, and it’s all worth looking at). I did some research for diversions on tomorrow’s road trip. The Hook Norton Brewery and the Rollright stones are reasonably close. Must pack an Atlas.
Chris returned too late for chilli, but that’s OK because that’s what he was smearing on his feet! “It burns man!” he exclaimed on returning. I looked at the tube: Capsicum cream. “This is what the British Police spray in the eyes of people they want to slow down, Chris.” Veronique reached for the pump bottle of arnica she keeps in the fridge. Capsicum is a Native American remedy – I can’t help but recall that they used to string each other up by the nipples as a rite of passage – I’ve seen A Man Called Horse.
Pub tonight – we’re deep in the midst of a planning wrangle with the council, so Chris got to meet some of my local’s more entertaining figures, each vying for the most abusive thing they can say about local public figures. Sensibly we got ourselves around several pints of ale before Alice the barmaid sweetly told us to f*** off! I think she needs to retrain. Maybe as a grief councellor or a paediatric nurse.
A holiday, a holiday and the first one of the year…
Posted by Huw Pryce at 2:41 PM
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The Eagle has landed
Word has come from Chris Boros that he safely landed in the UK. In fact, we've already had a listener sighting. His first duty, so he told me, was to visit every record store in Greater London (sounds a lot like my brother and Dad). Here's his note:
"Hello kind friends. I'm writing to you from Jolly Old England. The people I am staying with couldn't be nicer. I'm off to the city for the day...and then onto the Fairport Cropredy Festival on Wednesday.
Lots to do and see....I slept till Noon---jetlag, so I can't waste any more of the day.
See ya soon,
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 9:41 AM
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A True Gentleman and a Scholar - Memories of Tommy Makem
August 3, 2007
First gig with Tommy at Cocheco Park, Dover, NH - 1992
My friend, Irish singer Tommy Makem, passed away the evening of August 1, 2007. My phone rang at 9:00 PM with the caller ID showing that the call was from Thomas Makem. I picked it up quickly, not only hoping for good news about his health but also hopeful that he was inviting me to back him up for a short tour as he had so many times before throughout the years. It was Rory Makem, Tommy’s eldest son, speaking in a voice identical to Tommy’s and telling me that his dad had died peacefully at his home in Dover, NH three hours earlier.
My friendship and admiration of Tommy Makem all began with my childhood friend, the late Ray Harvey, banjo player, guitarist and mandolin player extraordinaire. Ray and I grew up together on Long Island, NY and early on realized our love of music together. The Back Alley Boys, as we were known, played bluegrass everywhere and anywhere during our teens, including talent shows, a gig at the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing, NY, and everything in between.
Moving to Boston from New York in 1967, Ray followed and became part of my extended family in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Ray tended to move in Irish music circles and I in the folk/blues circles. In the early 1980s, Ray became a member of the Garrison Brothers, an award winning Canadian folk group, which included as a principal member, Eugene Bryne. Eugene is a wonderfully talented Irish entertainer who had emigrated from Dublin and moved to New Hampshire to pursue his music career in the US and to be close to his friend and countryman, Tommy Makem. He, as well as Ray, also backed Tommy up from time to time, substituting for Ron D'Addario.
Tommy and Bob on the road in Hilton Head, SC, 1998
In 1992, I got a call from Eugene to accompany Tommy on guitar for what I thought was a one-time gig at an outdoor concert at Cocheco Falls in Dover, New Hampshire, Tommy’s adopted hometown, with the Makem Brothers, Rory, Connor and Shane, as opening act. Tommy and I had never met before that night but it was apparent during the first few minutes of the concert that we were going to become fast friends, which we did.
During the following years, I had the honor of backing up Tommy as his guitarist on tours throughout the country. My travels with him took me to venues in Los Angeles, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, his annual concert at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, NH, Irish festivals in Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Tampa, Dallas, Minneapolis, Boulder and a week in New York City at Tommy’s own music club, the Irish Pavilion, plus so many other cities. That trip to NYC coincided with the US premiere of Riverdance at a black tie affair at Radio City Music Hall. I knew Tommy had the respect of his peers when we were seated in front of the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy, also a friend, and spent the evening at the cast party with Michael Moore and Malachy McCourt.
Bob and Tommy at the Colorado Irish Festival, 2003
To friends, I compared his popularity to the Grateful Dead, all wrapped up into one person. Fans followed him from city to city. In Chicago, I would be introduced to a fan and two years later, in Madison, Wisconsin, that same fan would introduce himself to me again. I got chills myself every time he performed his classic Irish freedom song, Four Green Fields, Gentle Annie, and the song his mother, Sarah Makem, wrote, Red is the Rose, and couldn’t get out of my mind the wonderful tunes he sang like “Dancing With Bears” and many others. We have never seen the likes of Tommy Makem and I doubt we will ever see anyone like him again. He was truly a delight to work with.
"The Bard of Armagh", the “Godfather of Irish Music” was a most extraordinary musician, songwriter, storyteller, performer, Irishman and, most importantly, a family man, and I was privileged to become part of what he had to offer to the world. He was a true gentleman and a scholar and the opportunity to work with such a courageous man was an honor and invaluable learning experience which I will carry with me throughout my life. The world is a much better place to have had him for so many years and we will all miss him. Rest in peace, Tommy.
- Bob McCarthy, Winnisquam, NH
Posted by Matt Watroba at 9:39 AM
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