Valet Confidential

Find out what I've been keeping under my hat

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A Multi-Part Celebration of Sun Ra

I saw the email come in from the station with time slots in need of substitute hosts and saw two jazz shows right around May 30, the 24th anniversary of Sun Ra’s return to Saturn. Of course, I offered immediately to cover both shows.

Part 1 of the celebration is an early evening show from May 30, and is usually more of a “traditional” jazz program (whatever that means – heck, I think it’s all jazz and all fits the bill, but one listener called in to complain that I wasn’t playing the right stuff), so I started off with some early Sun Ra recordings with R&B and jazz artists and tried to keep things for the rest of the show a little more on the traditional side of things (as “traditional” as things get with Sun Ra). Early on during the show a couple of listeners called in to say they were really enjoying it (one woman said something along the lines of “I don’t usually like jazz, but I’m really enjoying what you’re playing”)

“Son of a Preacher Man” for this show was performed by The Borna Sercar Trio

Download Sun Ra Celebration Part 1 (May 30, 2017)

Check out the playlist for Part 1

Part 2 is a late-night show on May 31, and I felt I could get a little weirder there. I played several sets of other artists playing Sun Ra tracks or tributes to Sun Ra, too. There’s even a Sun Ra “Fun With Fred’s Phone” feature! (OK, I cheated a little; in anticipation of these shows, temporarily I loaded my phone with ONLY Sun Ra music)

“Son of a Preacher Man” for this show was performed by Rebecca Jenkins

Download Sun Ra Celebration Part 2 (May 31, 2017)

Check out the playlist for Part 2

Finally, there’s a third archive, an excerpt from the following Sunday night (June 4). I had about an hour of Sun Ra music leftover from the first two shows (ready to play yet not enough time), so for the middle hour of my 3-hour Sunday night show, I decided to share that music. I ended up closing the whole show with “Love in Outer Space”, but that’s not included in this archive.

Download Sun Ra Celbration Coda (June 4, 2017)

Check out the playlist (this is for the entire show, not just the Sun Ra part of the show)

So there you have it. Seven hours of Sun Ra. Enjoy!

“Sunrise in Outer Space, Love for Everybody.”

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A Remembrance of Memorial Days Past

P1000617For the first 12 years or so of my life here on Cape Cod, Memorial Day Weekend meant seeing the Incredible Casuals at the Wellfleet Beachcomber, usually on the Sunday of the weekend. That started the “church” season for many of us, as every Summer Sunday afternoon from about 5pm to 8pm we would congregate at da Coma and rejoice in the music the band offered up to us. There was dancing, drinking, and lots of smiles.

I think it’s only been 4 years since the string of Memorial Day weekend shows ended (the every Sunday thing stopped a couple of years earlier), and I sure do miss it. Sure, I’ve found other things to do on Sunday afternoons (my radio show, for example), but if they were to do it again, I know I’d be there in a heartbeat.

I guess I was missing the lads and their music particularly strong this year, because I decided to devote hours two & three of my show to nothing but the Incredible Casuals.

You know, my show only goes until 4, and I could easily make it da Coma by 5 on Sundays …. just sayin’.

Download the show

Check out the playlist

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Buy Our Record – Support Community Radio

7 Inches in HeavenFor the fourth year in a row, I am the Artist Wrangler/Associate Producer of a record about records, “7 Inches in Heaven“. It’s a 7” 33 & 1/3 rpm compilation record filled with songs about records.

For the past four years, I’ve helped my pal DJ Belinda of the Bubbles in the Think Tank radio show make a compilation record for Record Store Day. Each year we get six musicians to contribute unreleased songs and get a couple of artists to create artwork for the labels and record jacket – all of it donated. Then we fund the initial record printing via a Kickstarter campaign and … voila … we end up with a limited run of 300 records. Half the proceeds from the record go to community radio station WMFO (91.5FM in Medford, MA) and the other half helps us make future records.

You can pre-order “7 Inches in Heaven” right now and we’ll ship it to you as soon as we have it in our hot little hands. We’re planning a packing & shipping party for Saturday which should get most of the records to purchasers in time for Record Store Day (Saturday April 18), so please go visit love.bubblesinthethinktank.com and buy the record – it’s a labor of love that we would love to share with you.

We’re pretty thrilled with this year’s record – as Belinda put it, it’s one of the best four records we’ve ever done! We have music from:

Dot Wiggin Band – that’s Dot Wiggin from The Shaggs – their album “Philosophy of the World” is included in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Most Influential Albums of All Time”

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby – Eric is probably best known for the classic Stiff Records track “Whole Wide World” and Amy for her album “Diary of a Mod Housewife” – together they’ve been making music together for 8 years.

Zoë Lewis – Zoe’s one of my favorite entertainers – a real joyful performer. The Boston Herald said Zoe mixes “Quirky lyrics, a little jazz, a little salsa, and a lot of enjoyment”

J. Cournoyer– You may know him from Calamity J and the Giants, drummer for any number of Cape Cod greats (Spampinato Brothers, Link Montana, High Kings, Lester), or even playing with Mumble & Peg(!).  Now you will know him as a member of the Bubbles in the Think Tank Stable of Stars!

The Marconis – the newest project of Sal Baglio of The Stompers, Woodpeckers and, often The Catbirds! A musician with a bag o’ songs and one ol’ soft shoe…

And introducing that up and comer Chandler Travis – John Donohue of The New Yorker says that Chandler writes “playful original songs that mix mind-bending wordplay with jazz, shimmering rock, and horn-fuelled R & B.”

This package promises to be one you’ll never want to put down with the incredible cover designed by Courtney Waite  and the most fabulous label and vinyl from  J.D. King.

Oh, and there are bonus download songs included!

We have 2015 version of Fred “Freddy” Stockwell’s “Hooray For Record Store Day”, this year performed by the enigmatic Swampy Junior & Swami.

The Tom Hambridge song “12 Inches”, which was co-written by the aforementioned Sal Baglio.

And two versions of one of the all-time great songs about records, “Records Go ‘Round”.  We have the original version recorded by Men & Volts from the belatedly released “Boomtown” (recorded c1984, released 2015!) and we a recording by then 9-year old Jack Moriarity on guitar & vocals with his dad Pat on drums – believe-you-me, it’s chock-full of youthful exuberance!

So please, won’t you buy our record? Orders in advance of Record Store Day will get some cool swag (we have buttons & stickers & other cool things from several bands) in addition to the record!

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We’re making another record and need your help!

Rosemary Clooney - BITTT triptych

Oh dear readers, won’t you please help us make another record about records for Record Store Day?

For the fourth year in a row, I’m the Associate Producer/Artist Wrangler for this project from Bubbles in the Think Tank Records.  “7 Inches in Heaven” is a compilation of previously unreleased songs about records that we’re going to release just in time for Record Store Day 2015 (Saturday April 18).  The last three have been absolutely fabulous and this year’s model looks to be equally fantastic.  Oh, and half the proceeds we make from the records goes to community radio station WMFO (91.5FM/Medford, MA)

Read all about it and donate on the project’s Kickstarter page – the good folks at Kickstarter already made it a “staff pick”, so you’ll totally be one of the cool kids by donating!

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My Funny Valentine

The Boaks on the Phones

The Chandler Travis Three-O played on Valentine’s Day this year, part of our weekly fall/winter residency at the Harvest Gallery Wine Bar (every Friday – at least through the end of February – come on out & see us!). We broke out a slew of Chandler’s more romantic songs that we don’t normally performed (“Sex Magnet“, “In My Hand“), as well as this old standard that Berke suggested.

When I heard we might play the song, I asked to sing a verse or bridge, because “My Funny Valentine” was my parents’ song. Instead, both Chandler  & I took a crack at the whole song – he during the first set, me in the second set. Both versions came out pretty well, I think – mostly due to the fantastic backing by John Clark (bass) and Berke McKelvey (sax & keyboards), of course.

I think I only sang this song once before – I remember singing it at my parents’ surprise 20th anniversary party, and that’s it.

Dedicated to Bill & Carolyn Boak.  I love you guys and miss you every day.

xo

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Meeting “Van”

photo by Rich Borden

photo by Rich Borden

This one is long over-due.  Back at the end of August we took the Philharmonette on the road to the Hudson Valley in New York for shows at two of our favorite venues out that way, the Peint O’Gwrw Tafran, a Welsh tavern in Chatham, and Musica, a musical instrument store in Hudson.

Our good friends Denise & Rich setup the shows so that we could meet a very special man, George D Brantley, who was in the area for about a week.  George recorded two singles with his brother Billy back in 1968 under the name “Van & Titus” – George was “Van”/Billy was “Titus”.  One of the four songs they released is a fantastic number called “Cry Baby Cry”, which came to Chandler’s attention by way of Christine Ohlman, “The Beehive Queen”, who found the record in a yard sale (or thrift store or something like that) and re-recorded the song as a duet with Dion on her album “The Deep End“.  We’ve been performing the song off & on for several years now, and I just love singing it.

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Pete LaBonne Performing Live 4 Hours Away? Road Trip!

Pete LaBonne outside the River Street Beat Shop, Troy NYLast Saturday Berke swung by my house at about 7am and we headed out to Troy, NY to see the one-of-a-kind Pete LaBonne play an extremely rare gig at Jimmy Barrett’s fabulous River Street Beat Shop in Troy, NY.  We were both home by 10pm.  Zip in, zip out.

I believe Pete may have played a show in Rochester, NY earlier this year. Other than that, I’m pretty sure his last few shows were those we did together last year at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs and Valentine’s in Albany. The opportunity to see Pete play a full show, as long as he wanted, without having to worry about getting off the stage for the next act, was just too great for us to pass up.

We were not disappointed.

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