Radio Unnameable Documentary Trailer from Lost Footage Films
Radio Unnamable on WBAI 99.5fm New York is one of my favorite all time radio programs. Its host Bob Fass (probably arguably) invented “free form” radio with the shows inception in 1963, and continues to be its greatest practitioner to this day. Over the years Bob has had an incredible array of guests on his program, everyone from musicians like Bob Dylan, Skip James, Muddy Waters, Rambling Jack Elliot, The Holy Modal Rounders and Sis Cunningham, to Leftist political/cultural figures like Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Timothy Leary, Wavy Gravy and so many others. Radio Unnamable was one of the prime focal points in the media for the 1960’s era counter culture both musically and politically. Luckily many episodes of this amazing program were taped and have survived so there is a large archive that is slowly being digitized, a little taste of which is up here on Down Home Radio. This material will only be available for a couple days, I can’t keep it up indefinitely, so check it out now! –> time’s up on the audio, hope you enjoyed it, and keep checking back to DHR since I will be posting up more Radio Unnamable audio in the future.
The folks over at Lost Footage Films are in the middle of making a documentary about this historic radio show, and they need your help. So check out their fund raising website and help them out if you can so they can finish the film.
On today’s show we hear a few selections from the Radio Unnamable archives, courtesy of Lost Footage Films. The first is Jack Elliott and Arlo Guthrie live on the show. This is a pretty stoned out episode from 1967. Jack sings his talking song about truck driving and then Arlo sings a very different version of his hot off the press Alice’s Restaurant song with a totally different “story.” They’re obviously having a very good time! In the 2nd selection from Radio Unnamable on the show today we hear a remarkable recording that Bob Fass made as reporter. In 1968 he traveled to Chicago to cover the protest of the Democratic National Convention which ended in a major over reaction by the first Mayor Daley’s police department. Bob interviews protesters, gets tear gassed and reports on this now historic day. In the 3rd piece of audio we hear Abbie Hoffman calling in to Radio Unnamable to report on his own trial as a defendant in the Chicago 7 case. This was a landmark case were a number of leaders of the ’68 protest were charged with conspiracy to incite riot. The trial became a circus, a piece of political theater where counter cultural figures of every stripe paraded through the court room as witnesses and brought the 60’s counterculture more out in to the open, mass media, etc… on and on. Good stuff. This is a departure for Down Home Radio which usually sticks to folk music, but I just couldn’t sit on this stuff. Hope you enjoy.
As a side note- I will be on Radio Unnamable tonight! with Peter Stampfel and The Dust Busters. Bob Fass is still on the air and Radio Unnamable airs every Thursday night from midnight till 3am or so on WBAI 99.5fm and is is archived on the WBAI website.
Here’s the 2nd installment of our new venture into Down Home TV. That same night after speaking with Mamie Minch, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton stopped by and I was able to film a segment with him. If you’ve heard the interview from a year and a half ago that I did with him (when he was only 19) then you know that he is a truly amazing guitarist, banjoist and stride-piano player as well as an excellent singer. On today’s show Blind Boy plays a few guitar and banjo pieces for us on camera and talks a little bit about his background. For more information, be sure to check out the extended audio interview with him from back in the DHR Archives.
Thanks go once again to filmmaker Chris Low and his crew for shooting and editing this footage.
Hey everybody – just wanted to let you know about an event/conference that is happening at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC this week. Its called “The Black Banjo Gathering.” This is the second such gathering, the first happened back in 2005. Its organized by folklorist Cece Conway and is meant to bring attention to the African-American roots of Old Time music. My band The Dust Busters will be performing and doing workshops at this event, along with many many other performers. Its gonna be a really great gathering of people. If you live in North Carolina or can get there, this is definitely worth going to. – Eli
From their website:
The 2010 Black Banjo Gathering Reunion at Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
The Farthing Auditorium concert will be Wednesday, March 24th at 7:30p.m. (doors open at 6:30). Tickets: $10/$20 in advance (while tickets last) $12/$25 at the door. For tickets call Farthing Auditorium at 1-800-841- 2787, or visit www.farthing.appstate.edu. Fri & Sat Workshops & Legend Tickets TBA. Hotel Information.
The Reunion will feature lectures, workshops, concerts panels, films, outreach sessions to Appalachian State students and to the surrounding communities.
Tentative Schedule for the 2010 Black Banjo Gathering Reunion
Hey everybody, just wanted to let you know about a great show I organized for this coming Saturday at Jalopy:
Please support the production of the 2010 festival by attending –The Brooklyn Folk Festival Preview Concert and Benefit on Saturday March 13th at the Jalopy Theater.
This fabulous show will give you a taste of what is to come at this years festival and will also serve as a benefit to get vital funds necessary to make the Folk Fest possible. I need to fill Jalopy on Saturday night to get enough money to rent a big tent for the outdoor stage, get the festival promoted around town and hire some folks to help me run it, plus incidental expenses. Below is the info. Can’t wait to make this years festival a reality.
Hope to see you there! – Eli (the organizer).
Sat. March 13th 9pm till midnight or whenever it ends!
The Jalopy Theater
315 Columbia Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
p.s. There’s gonna be a raffle with awesome prizes! Plus I’ll have Down Home Radio T-shirts and stickers, as well as Brooklyn Folk Fest 2009 CDs for sale.
Eli here, you’re trusty Down Home Radio host. When I’m not on DHR playing records and recording interviews, I’m keeping busy by making records of my own! Here’s an album my friend Peter and I did recently. We asked ourselves, “can two banjo players play together?” After some experimentation we were able to answer, “yes!” Here’s a big ad for our new album:
(click tune to hear audio samples)
1. The Worried Blues
2. Jesse James
3. Soldier’s Joy
4. Goodbye Booze
5. John Henry
6. Otto Wood the Bandit
7. Marching Jaybird
8. Sweet Betsy from Pike
9. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
10. Poor Boy Long Way from Home
11. Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe?
12. New Prisoner’s Song
Go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/siegelsmith where you can order online. Its also on iTunes.
About the Musicians:
These are Peter K. Siegel’s first recorded banjo performances since he played on Elektra’s Old Time Banjo Project in 1964. Says Siegel: “You play this thing long enough, it begins to sound pretty good.”
In the interim, he produced more than 60 albums of traditional and roots-based music. Peter’s productions include albums by Doc Watson, Hazel Dickens, Joseph Spence, Roy Buchanan, Paul Siebel, and Los Pleneros de la 21.
Siegel founded the Nonesuch Explorer Series, for which he produced 15 albums of traditional world music. Folk Roots (UK) called Siegel “one of the earliest shapers of interest in world music.” His Gorô Yamaguchi album, A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky, continues to make its way spaceward in NASA’s Voyager Time Capsule.
His recent three-CD boxed set Friends of Old Time Music was released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The New York Times called the set “a boxed set of awesome and concentrated power” and The Boston Globe called it “a precious, wildly beautiful document.”
Eli Smith is a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. He regularly plays in a string band known as The Dust Busters, as part of the Roots ‘n’ Ruckus show at the Jalopy Theater and hosts the internet radio show Down Home Radio. He also presents Down Home Live, every second Saturday of the month at Banjo Jim’s on the Lower East Side as well as the Brooklyn Folk Festival, scheduled for May 21-23rd, 2010.
On today’s show I’m happy to be bringing out a new addition to Down Home Radio. Well known field recordist, painter and musician Art Rosenbaum hosts his own weekly 15 minute radio program, “Backroads & Banjos” on AM 1690, WMLB out of Atlanta, GA. We will be periodically re-airing this wonderful program here on Down Home Radio. Rosenbaum is perhaps best known for his recent Grammy Award winning collections of his own field recordings, “The Art of Field Recording” on the Dust to Digital label.
On this episode Art Rosenbaum and Phil Tanner remembers their friend, guitarist Smokey Joe Miller who passed on in November of 2009. Miller played with 4 generations of Tanners – he played with Gid Tanner in the old original Skillet Lickers back in the 30’s, as well as with Gid’s son Gordon, then Phil and most lately Russ Tanner, the latest member of this Georgia musical family. This 1/2 hour program brings together 2 episodes of “Backroads & Banjos” dedicated to Smokey Joe.
Art Rosenbaum (right) talks with guest Phil Tanner as he tapes a segment of his radio show at AM 1690 in Atlanta, photo from an article about Rosenbaum on AccessAtlanta.com
Art Rosenbaum plays six string banjo in front of one of his paintings.
Down Home Radio Continues!
Well the fund drive has been a success! Thank you thank thank you thank you to all of you who donated to the program. I am very much looking forward to bringing you many more fun, interesting and educational episodes of Down Home Radio in 2010. The money raised through your donations will be put towards the purchase of new equipment to replace stuff that is getting to be pretty broken as well as to upgrade equipment and software and give me as your host and the program’s producer some compensation for the time it takes to make every episode of Down Home Radio that you see here on the website.
Of course it is still possible to donate to Down Home Radio. If you are a fan of the show and haven’t yet donated, and I know there are many such people out there, its not too late! No donation is too small, $25 dollars and up gets you one of the premiums, but $5 or $10 dollars gets you my everlasting gratitude and the promise of more great episodes of Down Home Radio on a much more regular basis. See below for details.
That said there has been a really great show of support for the program, both in the United States and from our friends in Europe and Canada. That in itself has been inspiring as many of you who donated also wrote into the program to express your appreciation for the show. Thank you.
Down Home Radio can now continue into 2010 as I get back to work doing interviews, spinning records, digging out archival treasures, digitizing LPs and being your source for “the greatest hits of the 1920’s, 30’s and today!”
Keep in touch,
Banjo Tunings and Styles Workshop with John Cohen
Here’s the first bit of audio I’m posting from the Brooklyn Folk Festival – John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers leads a banjo workshop focusing on different tunings and styles used by a number of banjo players he has learned from either directly or studied through their old recordings. Banjo player Wade Ward describes tunings as “different atmospheres.” Each banjo tuning carries its own set of possibilities and its own feeling. In 1965 John Cohen encountered Ward and many other banjo players as he journeyed through the South finding musicians, making field recordings, discovering banjo tunings and lots more along the way. Many of these field recordings were released on his wonderful album “High Atmosphere”. John discusses and demonstrates these many styles, sounds and techniques in this workshop from May, 17th, 2009.
The first play button plays a banjo music mix tape of all the original recordings of songs John covers in this workshop. The second play button plays the audio of the workshop itself. This is for banjo players only! (Unless you’re really interested)
John begins with a bit of Pete Seeger up picking, then a bit of frailing and thumb lead 2-finger picking, then more up picking (the same rhythm as clawhammer but picking up instead of hitting down on the string), Charlie Poole style finger picking banjo, Bascom Lamar Lunsford / George Landers style up picking (the workshop focuses a lot on this style, where in the first finger picks the melody and also then brushes up over the strings and the thumb picks the fifth string and drops down to some of the other strings. There are no downward motions in this style.) Sydna Myers style clawhammer, Dock Boggs finger picking and finally Pete Steele finger picking
Film about John Cohen on FolkStreams.net: Remembering the High Lonesome
Down Home Radio Rufus Crisp Feature Episode – playing recordings of Crisp, a banjo player very influential to John Cohen and the early folk music scene in New York.
Tunes included in the workshop: