TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Todd Snider
at The Birchmere, 3/18

Todd Snider walks on stage in a goofy hat, trusty guitar, barefoot, but also with his equally raggedy dog, Cowboy Jim, who promptly lies down and listens to these songs and stories one more time.

“A dog! How folkie is that!” Snider exclaims to the appreciative audience at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria and starts in on one of his newest songs, a talking blues about television, reality, reality television, and our current situation (“Reality killed by a reality star”). It was so up to date it even had a commentary about Michael Jackson (“Reality killed that video star”).

Snider, 52, likes to take apart traditions even as he is extending them, so he took time to explain the rules of the talking blues format (“All you gotta rhyme is a line or two”) within the song. And the format seemed just right for him as his shows are a mix of songs with sometimes equally long stories. And if the songs are old favorites, some of the stories are too. They get their own titles on his live albums, and his audiences laugh anew at each one.

At least the audiences don’t (yet) yell requests for certain stories. But they’re full of song requests, and half the show Monday seemed full of songs that dated back a quarter century or so from “Alright Guy” and “Beer Run,” his most obvious and most popular, to “Play a Train Song” and “Statistician’s Blues.”

Snider first came to fame in 1994, with an offhand rock commentary, “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” about a band too cool to play a note. But that song’s been left off his list and from the requests.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Sol Seppy, The Bells of 12 vinyl reissue in stores 4/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | German label Groenland Records reissues The Bells of 12, the 2006 debut solo album from Sol Seppy, the project of British singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, Sophie Michalitsianos. She was a member of the band Sparklehorse and toured with Radiohead. The Bells of 12 is out April 13 on vinyl for Record Store Day followed by a CD and digital release on April 19.

All of the songs on The Bells of 12 were written and arranged over two years by Michalitsianos, a classically trained pianist and cellist. Born in England, and growing up between there and Australia, she was raised with music in her blood, beginning to write songs as early as 5 years old.

At sixteen, Sophie wrote music for television documentaries and lent her vocal abilities for free studio time at the EMI studios in Australia. For the next few years, labels would approach her with offers, provided she shifted her image to fit their ideals and sing the pop songs their producers wrote. She politely declined and continued on her own path of exploration. Here Sophie reached a peculiar juncture and went to university with the intention of becoming a diplomat. She soon shifted courses and was accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she studied contemporary composition and orchestration. In due course, she began making a name for herself as Australia’s improvising rock cellist, touring with numerous acts, though the position soon wore itself out and Sophie decided it was time to move on.

At twenty-three she moved to the US and not long after received word that Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse had heard her music and wanted her to join them for their tour with Radiohead. Sophie obliged and contributed on Sparklehorse’s albums, Good Morning Spider and It’s A Wonderful Life.

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TVD New Orleans

Etienne Charles’ Carnival: The Sound of
a People, Vol 1
in stores tomorrow, 3/22

Trinidad looms large on the latest album from trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles. It’s where he was born and when the Julliard-trained jazz musician went home for Carnival he ended up creating a wonderful homage to the musical history and Carnival traditions of the island.

Like other pre-Lenten festivals occurring throughout the African diaspora, the Carnival culture of Trinidad is much more than the steel drums, wild costumes, and frenetic dancing that characterizes the culture in the mainstream media. There are deep historical traditions and Charles mines the fertile terrain on an album that is falls clearly within the jazz genre, but is composed with many of the elements of this timeless culture in mind.

Primary among them are the songs created to invoke the archetypical figures that populate this unique celebration. There is Jab Molassie, the blue, fire-breathing carnival demon, as well as the voluptuous Dame Lorraine and the noble Moko Jumbie.

The tune “Moko Jumbie” sums up his efforts perfectly. Though I know little about the character he is summoning, the song has a sturdy melody and features great guitar work from Alex Wintz and keys from James Frances that expertly channel a truly noble spirit.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Tom Wardle, “Jacqueline”

British singer-songwriter Tom Wardle creates plaintive and powerful country-rock, full of grit and golden-hued ’70s vibes.

The title-track from his gorgeous little 5 song EP, “Jacqueline,” is Wardle at his best, throwing his husky voice around like Rod Stewart in his heyday, milking his melodies over a jangly bed of drums and glowing organ. His soulful cry is suited for this kind of ballad, which reaches anthemic heights without losing the feeling of being grounded in reality. It’s no wonder that Tom has become fixture at high-end events around the globe with spins on the BBC and celebrity endorsements becoming a regular thing.

The “Jacqueline” EP arrived in stores this past February and features a set of impressive Americana-leaning gems and even a dip into reggae. All these tracks are worth a listen and provide a more upbeat approach than “Jacqueline,” and come across as raw, potent, and unprocessed. Wardle is one of the more promising crooners in recent years and it is clear that he knows how to play on his strengths, especially when given the space to serve the song in an intimate, slow burning way as he does on “Jacqueline.”

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for March 2019, Part Three

Part three of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases—and more—presently in stores for March, 2019. Part one is here and part two is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, S/T (Free Dirt) The debut of this duo, with de Groot playing clawhammer banjo and Hargreaves bowing the fiddle, coheres into a powerful instrumental statement with numerous vocals turns that dives deep into the old-time style and comes up with something wonderfully fresh. The combined acumen comes from experience, with de Groot a member of Molsky’s Mountain Drifters and her own groups The Goodbye Girls and Oh My Darling, and Hargreaves backing such august names as Gillian Welch and Laurie Lewis, playing on the latter’s Grammy-nominated The Hazel and Alice Sessions, and releasing her own debut Started Out to Ramble at age 14. The freshness of this LP comes in part through their inspired, unusual choice of material.

It’s not an attempt to one-up folks into old-time stuff. For one thing, they dig into “Willie Moore,” a song well-known from The Anthology of American Folk Music (through the version by Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford). No, the objective is to lessen the divide between the world that spawned the music we now refer to as old-time and the cultural climate of the present day. They do so by tackling the work of black guitar-fiddle duo Nathan Frazier and Frank Patterson, digging into “Farewell Whiskey” by John Hatcher, “the avant-garde fiddler of 1930s Mississippi,” dishing the trad tune “I Don’t Want to Get Married” (with lyrics by Edna Poplin), and shedding light on sexual assault of women in prison with a reading of Alice Gerrard’s “Beaufort County Jail” that reminds me of Dock Boggs. And more. Top-flight. A

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: June Chikuma, Les Archives (Freedom to Spend) This is a “reinvented” and retitled edition of composer Chikuma’s Divertimento LP, which was originally released in 1986 on Toru Hatano’s Picture Label. The transformation largely centers on a total sleeve redesign and an adjustment in first name; in ’86 she went by Atsushi Chikuma. The sequencing of Divertimento is essentially retained, though for the close of side one there is the previously unreleased “Mujo to Ifukoto” from the same sessions. Giving video game ambience a methodical cut-and-paste treatment, the effect is not so much disorienting but rather a precise scramble of psychedelia. Along with another unreleased cut offered on a bonus 45 with the record’s vinyl edition, “Mujo to Ifukoto” is a considerable boon.

Speaking of video games, Chikuma is maybe best-known for her soundtracks to Nintendo’s Bomberman franchise, though she’s also composed for film and TV. The first Bomberman game appeared in ’83, three years prior to what is now Les Archives, but while game sounds are tangible, this record is onto something more, stemming from a one-person show that utilized a KORG SDD-3000 digital delay, drum machines and samplers. This presents a sort of best-of-all-possible-outcomes scenario. While I’ve liked some of the vid game soundtracks I’ve heard, they’ve never really attained repeat listening potential. In branching out, with inspirations including Satie, Mozart, and Paul Hindemith and modes ranging from hurky-jerky dance action to a piece for string-quartet, the likelihood of return listens here is assured. A

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/21/19

York, UK | Shoppers could lose York HMV ‘by the end of the month’: Shoppers in York are set to lose another high street favourite, with the closure of HMV. The Coney Street store was at risk just weeks ago, after HMV went into administration, but 1,500 jobs around the country were saved when Canadian retailer Sunrise Records bought 100 stores around the UK. Although the York shop was thought to be safe, staff were told on Monday, March 18, that the store would be closing. Signs appeared on Tuesday which announced the store was to close, and ‘everything must go’, while The Press understands workers in York expect their final shifts to be the weekend of March 30/31. HMV Managing Director Neil Taylor would not confirm the closing date, but said it “will be closing, despite our best efforts to keep this store open,” and praised “superb staff.”

Pittsburgh, PA | Who moves across the country to open a record store in Pittsburgh? Most people popping up with new record stores in Pittsburgh will tell tales of shopping at Jim’s Records, Eide’s or The Attic as a kid. Josh Cozby doesn’t have those stories. The owner of the Government Center, a new shop on East Ohio Street in the North Side’s East Allegheny neighborhood, grew up buying records in Southern California and was living in Salem, Ore., when he decided to move his vast record collection 2,600 miles to make them the basis of his first retail venture. What makes one quit his job and switch coasts to open a record store? “First,” he says, “I owned a bunch of records and came to the conclusion that I have more records than I was ever gonna use. And second, I was burned out on being a public high school teacher. “I was realizing the only thing I was interested in talking to students about anymore was what kind of music they were into and how that interacted with them trying to navigate adolescence. It was a good set of clues that it was time to figure out something else to do.”

Toronto, CA | Tokyo Smoke cannabis dispensary set to open in former HMV flagship store: The latest application for cannabis retail shows that one dispensary is moving into the former location of HMV’s flagship record store. According to the ACGO’s website, an application has been submitted for a cannabis retail location at 333 Young Street by Tokyo Smoke. The owner is listed as one of the five retail license lottery winners in the city, Colin Campbell. Tokyo Smoke itself began as part of the city’s cannabis scene in 2015 as a coffee shop owned by Alan and Lorne Gertner. Since legalization, the store’s parent company HIKU Brands, has been purchased by Canopy Growth, the country’s largest cannabis producer by market cap, and runs four licensed dispensaries in Manitoba and two cafe locations in Toronto. According to the AGCO, public notice period runs until April 2, which means this location will not be ready to open by April 1, the earliest date for cannabis retail locations to open in Ontario.

Summerland, BC | ‘Our sales are hurting’ Kelowna music hub takes hit after big competition moves in: Milkcrate Records still taking a hit after Sunrise Records moved into town 2 years ago. At least four nights a week, Milkcrate Records provides space for local musicians and artists to perform at one of the only remaining early shows in Kelowna. Record sales have fallen by 40 per cent at the record store since Sunrise Records’ opening two years ago in Orchard Park Mall. “Our sales are hurting… even though vinyl is still on the increase. We are also being hurt by online shopping. It’s something that everyone needs to be aware of. Even though it may be more convenient we need to be aware of how we are putting these brick and mortar business out of business,” said owner Richard Rafton, with Milkcrate Records. Milkcrate Records is not just a store in downtown Kelowna, it has grown into a cultural epicentre for the music and arts scene.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: The Flesh Eaters at Union Stage, 3/16

The poet and writer Chris Desjardins created The Flesh Eaters in the heyday of the LA punk scene of the late 1970s, enlisting many of his friends to be among the revolving roster in the band over a handful of albums. The most potent lineup was the one in 1981 that produced the band’s strongest album A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die that featured Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman of the Blasters, John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake of X as well as Steve Berlin of the Plugz, Blasters, and Los Lobos.

So enduring was that match of music with the poetry of Chris D., as he is known, that they were enticed to reunite occasionally for special events this century. That led to recording once more last spring for the album I Used to Be Pretty, released on Yep Roc in January, and a tour that had its penultimate show Saturday at Union Stage in DC.

It was quite a sight, this superstar lineup in a modest-sized basement club, from Alvin in his cowboy duds and Doe, solid in his bass rocking, to the behatted Bonebrake, largely handling the mallets on marimba and leaving the drums to Bateman. That light, jazzy touch from Bonebrake’s playing mixed with Berlin’s improvisational sax gave this a very different sound than what one might think of LA Punk from the days of the Masque, where The Flesh Eaters played alongside the Misfits, Dickies, and Circle Jerks.

While they packed the beat and attitude of the era, they could also groove along to solos from Alvin or Berlin. But it was all in service to Chris D., who with his bushy black eyebrows, stern profile, and balding white pate, looked like Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show. In his baritone and poetic point of view, he called to mind another LA rock poet from half a century back, Jim Morrison of the Doors, especially in longer songs that slowly built to explosive climaxes.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Ronnie Lane, Just for a Moment: Music 1973–1997 in stores 5/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “For me the music here brings a joyful tear. How wonderful to get a sense of the entire arc of Ronnie’s work, rough and smooth, lost and found.”Pete Townshend

Ronnie Lane, bass player for the Small Faces and the Faces—songwriter behind iconic songs such as “Ooh La La,” “Itchycoo Park,” “The Poacher,” “Annie and Debris.” In many ways Ronnie Lane remains an enigma in the story of rock ‘n’ roll. An artist who was determined to chart his own destiny and break free from the demands of the music “business.” His sense of disillusion with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle led him to leave his hugely successful band for a ramshackle country farm (Fishpool) and a life on the road (of sorts…) He assembled a new band—Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance—and would create The Passing Show—a now legendary circus tent tour of the country with assorted clowns, acrobats and comedians. To further his ambition to do as he pleased musically, he built his own recording studio—The Lane Mobile Studio—itself an icon in the history of rock recordings.

Ronnie created a sound that was unique in British music, a style that leaned heavily on an array of influences particularly folk, country music, and later r ’n’ b with welcome contributions from the band of musicians he surrounded himself with. Ronnie was not alone in his rural idyll—many friends would join him in his new artistic endeavours—Gallagher and Lyle, Kevin Westlake, Billy Livesey as well as Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton (the latter wrote “Wonderful Tonight” round the fire at Ronnie’s Fishpool Farm). Eventually the symptoms of MS would surface and in the ’80s Ronnie would move to Austin, Texas where he still wrote and performed up until his death in 1997.

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TVD New Orleans

Loup Garou’s Jimmy
Mac releases new single “Sugar in the Rain”

Jimmy Mac, the acclaimed accordionist, vocalist and songwriter who created quite a buzz in the late 1980s and early 1990s with his New York-based, Louisiana-inspired indie rock band Loup Garou, has released a new single. “Sugar in the Rain” features an all-star, mostly New Orleans-based groove band. A full album is expected later this year.

Loup Garou gained national critical and commercial attention by merging classic Cajun traditional sounds and instrumentation with the contemporary rock sounds of the period. They were a seminal outfit that attracted the attention of the major stars and tastemakers of the day.

Jimmy Mac appeared on a single with David Byrne, which was released on the Red, Hot And Blue Cole Porter charity tribute. The band was featured on Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints tour and made its soundtrack debut in John Sayles’ film Passion Fish. Other major supporters included Bryan Ferry and Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club fame.

The all-star band on “Sugar in the Rain” includes Jimmy Mac on vocals and accordion, drummer Shannon Powell, Chris Severin on electric bass. Ike Stubblefield on organ, and Grant Green Jr. on guitar and backing vocals. Up and coming soul singer Nyo Jones is also on vocals. The tune was recorded at the famed Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

“Sugar in the Rain” marks an exciting return for Jimmy Mac. While on the road to the countryside, documentarian Sarah Borealis filmed the video.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Clash,
Combat Rock

I just listened to The Clash’s Combat Rock, and my ears have gone MIA! I don’t know whether they crawled into a foxhole to get away from the damn thing only to have the abominable “Rock the Casbah” drop dead smack on ‘em, or flat-out took to their heels screaming “Fuck it! I didn’t sign up for this shit!”

But one thing I do know–when the Village Voice’s Robert Christgau ass-kissingly cited this sonic shitpile as proof positive that The Clash were evolving, he failed to say what they were evolving into–Allen Fucking Ginsberg is my guess.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that my ears are born cowards who have been known to flee at the first sign of a firefight, but then again they’ve stood up to some really savage combat over the years; they bravely endured more than their fair share of ELP albums, after all, and walked away from the Battle of Captain and Tennille with Distinguished Service Crosses.

But Combat Rock? Sheeeit, man, who could blame ‘em for dropping their earbuds and deserting like Private Eddie Slovak? The poor bastards were expecting a punk album! They weren’t expecting to get spattered with horseshit! They walked into the worst ambush since the Battle of Little Big Horn and I don’t blame ‘em for beating a hasty retreat. I ran too, and I’m their fucking commanding officer!

Allow me to just say here that I respect The Clash for occupying the moral high ground during the abysmal Reagan/Thatcher years, and commend them for addressing the plethora of ills that kept all right-minded people on the brink of ethical apoplexy during that benighted time. But when it comes to probing analyses of the pressing issues of the day I’ll take the Minutemen any day, because they never failed to make me jump up and down while they were deploring the sad state of El Salvador.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere: Lucky 757, “Memphis Sun”

Lucky 757 are the genuine article when in comes to modern-day rockabilly, tipping their hat to the past pioneers of the genre while pushing the retro sound forward with a combo of chops, passion, and innovation.

The band has maintained a relentless show schedule and consistent artistic output, becoming a prominent fixture and sought after live act around their home state of Virginia. But they journeyed away from their stomping grounds to record their latest record, making a pilgrimage to Sun Studios in Memphis in order to insure their tracks were bursting with that vintage rockabilly flavor.

Their insanely cool album cover shows the quintet in a moment of reprieve from what I can only imagine to be an all night session in the legendary cramped room that once housed the burgeoning talents of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison.

What’s equally as cool, is that the core of the Lucky 757 is made up of a father/son duo who clearly vibe on the same kind of rhythms. The dad writes the cagey lyrics and the son belts them out in such a nonchalant fashion, it’s hard to believe he knew the tape was rolling, let alone the camera which captured the whole session. The joyful, rowdy, and downright delightful video is a perfect companion piece for the band’s new 3-song EP “Memphis Sun” which arrives in stores on May 4th.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Mary Lattimore +
Mac McCaughan,
New Rain Duets

Mary Lattimore is known for collaboration; if the scene were jazz, she’d be rated as a first-call harpist. Mac McCaughan is noted as the singer-guitarist in Superchunk, a band that has thrived in four decades; it sorta goes without saying that collaboration is in his skill set. Still, the prospect of a duo record from these artists came with a tinge of uncertainty, as the team-up didn’t seem a natural fit. New Rain Duets, out on clear or black vinyl and digital March 22 through Three Lobed Recordings, exceeds expectations. One reason why: McCaughan isn’t slinging guitar but helming an array of synths. Meanwhile, Lattimore is plucking like a champ. The results are appealingly celestial, but also more.

I haven’t listened to everything Mary Lattimore’s recorded, but to varying degrees, I’ve liked everything I’ve heard. Her own stuff, either solo or in collaboration (she’s released records with Jeff Zeigler and Meg Baird and played with many others) displays an admirable range and comfort with experimentation while avoiding falling back onto the baseline cascades of lushness that are associated with her chosen instrument. If I see the name Mary Lattimore in the credits of someone else’s album (as I did with Sharron van Etten’s Are We There or Marissa Nadler’s For My Crimes) I note it as a sign of promise.

Of course, no artist is infallible, and I was unsure over what exactly New Rain Duets held in store. This is not to suggest that I don’t hold Mac McCaughan’s work in high regard. To the contrary, Superchunk was amongst my most-played bands of the ’90s, in part because they consistently delivered hooky songs with punk energy and edge while never coming off like a bunch of hackneyed doofuses.

I really dig his other bands Portastatic and Bricks, as well. Same goes for his 2015 solo LP Non-Believers. But a common thread in McCaughan’s work is pop, though it’s far from one-note. Over the years, he’s expanded from early Superchunk’s post-hardcore Buzzcocks-zone into lo-fi melodicism and power-pop-shaded singer-songwriter territory, and later augmented his sturdy strum with vivid baroque flourishes. On Non-Believers, he even productively integrated New Wavy synths into the scheme.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/20/19

Murfreesboro, TN | The Great Escape used media store opens location in the heart of Murfreesboro: If you have used media you’d like to sell or you’re looking for new items to add to your collection, you’re in luck. The Great Escape media store has opened in Jackson Heights Plaza at 810 N.W. Broad St., Suite 200, in Murfreesboro. This is the fifth location for the store, which opened in 1977 in Nashville. “(We sell) new and used records, new and back-issue comic books, CDs, video games, toys, movies and many more items,” said Rob Baker, who co-owns The Great Escape with his wife, Candace Baker. The store also pays cash for collections and collectibles, or trades with people bringing in items to sell…The Bakers have been residents of downtown Murfreesboro since 2012 and wanted to open a shop close by in their hometown.

Hanover, PA | Hunting for vintage vinyl records? Head to Vinyl Visions in downtown Hanover: For Perry Musselman, part of the fun of collecting and buying records is the hunt to find the exact one you want. On April 3, Musselman’s own record shop, Vinyl Visions, will be open at 10 York Street in Hanover. “I am 60 years old, and I never put away my turntable,” Musselman said. “I have been playing record albums all my life.” In the new shop, Musselman will be selling CDs, DVDs, rock and roll posters and other miscellaneous paraphernalia in addition to vinyl records. Two-thirds of the inventory at Vinyl Visions will be rock and roll and “the music I grew up with in the 70s, only because it’s what I like and have a passion for,” Musselman said. However, there will be records going as far back as the 50s and more recent content, too.

Berlin, DE | Inside the vinyl archives of Berlin’s biggest music library: Where almost everything is borrowable. Following our feature discovering incredible record libraries around the world, DJ and producer Max Graef uncovers an audio treasure trove at the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek BerlinZentral. The largest public music library in Germany’s capital boasts a huge range of sonic archives (salsa, Russian folklore, rap, medieval and more), music publications, over 43,000 CDs, over 95,000 pieces of sheet music, and a “piano room” where you can reserve your slot to tickle a Bechstein or Steinway piano ivories for up to two hours a week. As for vinyl? There are over 73,000 records in its collection, all housed in a closed storage container at the ZLB’s Berliner Stadtbibliothek location.

UK | Journalist Pete Paphides Launches New Label: Music journalist Pete Paphides has announced the launch of new label Needle Mythology. A noted scribe, Pete Paphides’ excellent Soho Radio show is a perennial spin in the Clash office, matching classics against lesser known gems. The latter certainly form the spine of new label Needle Mythology, with Pete Paphides aiming to bring sought after records to vinyl for the first time while expanding on the original CD format. The label’s name comes from a song by Stephen Duffy, with the indie legend’s 1997 album ‘I Love My Friends’ becoming one of the imprint’s first releases. Needle Mythology also launches with a rare 2004 solo record from Ian Broudie, seemingly recorded in a hotel in the wee small hours after he was finished producing The Coral. It sounds like an excellent project, with Pete Paphides giving a lengthy interview to Super Deluxe Edition about his motivations, and what lies ahead for the imprint.

Orrville, OH | Younger generation intrigued by technology from the past: Rotary telephones, 8mm video cameras and Atari video computer systems were once the talk of the town, but now they reside in places like the Old Technology Museum that was on display at the Orrville Public Library on Friday. Colin Daniels, a junior at Smithville High School, was shocked that some of the items in the museum, like the Nintendo GameCube, were ones he has actually used. “It is kind of cool how technology progresses,” he said. “The GameCube came out in 2002, I used it and I am not old. Even though it came out recently, it is now considered old.” …While some of the items on view appeared almost foreign to Daniels, he was drawn to the vinyl record display. “I have a record player,” he said. “There is a cool novelty about putting the record on the player and sitting back and listening to it. It even sounds better than digital music, it feels warmer and it is cool that people are getting back into (vinyl).”

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Justin Timberlake at the Oracle Arena, 3/15

It’s been over a year since Justin Timberlake dropped Man of the Woods and he finally brought the show to Oakland, California after having to reschedule from last fall due to bruised vocal chords. The delay certainly did not seem to impact the enthusiasm of the crowd which was clearly in the mood to party.

Upon entering the venue it became immediately clear why there were twenty or so semis parked out front. Timberlake’s stage took the concept of the “in the round” concert to a new level with a main stage on one end with a catwalk snaking through the crowd to a smaller stage on the other end. In the middle, the “Stage Bar” in the VIP “Party Pit” kept the drinks flowing.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was mostly women (many of whom seem to be dating Justin look-alikes) and when Timberlake finally emerged onto the stage back-lit by blazing white light, they collectively lost their shit. Well-choreographed and perfectly executed, Timberlake sprinted and danced across the arena floor along with his dance troupe, “The Tennessee Kids.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Andre Williams, “Bacon Fat” b/w “Just Because
of a Kiss”

Today we remember Andre Williams who passed away on March 17, with a look back from our archives.Ed.

Zephire Andre Williams has packed a lot of living into his nearly 80 years on this planet, and along the way his name has been attached to a whole lot of records. In the second half of the 1950s he cut a slew of smolderingly low-fi platters for Detroit’s Fortune label, with “Bacon Fat” b/w “Just Because of a Kiss” growing into a national hit. The a-side is amongst the most potent R&B of its era, and it rightfully stands as a classic.

Specifically due to its scarcity, Andre Williams’ early work was once the stuff of legend. Not just his run of singles for Fortune, but his subsequent motions for ventures of differing size and longevity such as  Wingate, Sport, Avin, Checker, and Duke. He was also noted for his role behind the scenes at Motown during the first half of the ‘60s and as a co-writer (with Otha Hayes and Verlie Rice) of “Shake a Tail Feather,” the original of which was recorded in Chicago by The Five Du-Tones for the One-derful imprint.

The waxing of that ludicrously swank monster occurred in 1963 during one of Williams’ absences from Motown. It’s now well-established that he and Berry Gordy’s relationship was a highly volatile one, and by ’65 the two men had parted ways for good. His biggest post-Motown success came at Checker, one of the numerous subsidiaries belonging to Phil and Leonard Chess. Hooking up with Ike Turner in the early-‘70s sent Williams’ life into a downward spiral, mainly due to the steady availability of copious amounts of cocaine.

And Williams’ frequent label-hopping combined with his overall lack of national hits to basically insure difficulty and neglect in the anthologizing of his discography, even after he’d made his comeback. In ’84 Fortune Records, still in business against seemingly insurmountable odds, issued the compilation Jail Bait, but by the point of his ‘90s resurgence copies of that slab were long gone.

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