Author Archives: Roger Catlin

TVD Premiere: Kelly Finnigan, “Santa’s Watching You”

Kelly Finnigan has always added classic soul to his sound and does so in his original new Christmas release next month, A Joyful Sound on Colemine Records. But he brings a whole new menace to the holiday with his second single from the set, which amplifies the familiar warning, “You better watch out, you better not cry” into the sizzling “Santa’s Watching You,” which we’re happy to premiere today at The Vinyl District.

“This song came to me like all good ideas, by accident,” Finnigan tells us. “I was deep in making this record and thinking a lot about Christmas music pretty consistently. I was sitting around, hanging out listening to some different records. A great gospel tune by The Sacred Four came on called ‘Somebody’s Watching You.’ In that instant, I realized that somebody else watches people too.” So the jolly North Pole denizen turns into somewhat of an NSA super spy in the hands of the soulful Bay Area singer, producer and songwriter.

If the funky feel of “Santa’s Watching You” has the easy camaraderie of an office Christmas party, it’s because he’s enlisted musicians from the esteemed Ohio label, headquartered upstairs from the Plaid Room Records in downtown Loveland, a shop definitely worth a stop to vinyl lovers in the Cincinnati area.

Backing Finnigan alongside label head Terry Cole is Plaid Room Records employee Henry Allen. It also features Jimmy James, guitarist for the Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, and no less than the Harlem Gospel Travelers on backing vocals. That meant some widespread geographic contributions to the album, Finnigan says, with “drums and bass in Ohio, guitar in Seattle, organ, percussion and vocals at my place with some additional background vocals by the Harlem Gospel Travelers in New York.”

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Rat Scabies,
The TVD Interview

PHOTO: JASON BRIDGES | One of the best-named drummers of the original punk wave, Rat Scabies remains busy with a handful of projects these days, including the new one from The Professor and the Madman, Séance, due out November 13 on Fullertone Records. The band combines Alfie Agnew of the Adolescents and Sean Elliott of Mind Over Four (who was also in D.I. with Agnew), with Scabies and a bandmate he had in The Damned on a series of albums, bassist Paul Gray. Scabies, who is also in the instrumental duo The Sinclairs and plays with the psychobilly band 69 Cats and the goth Nosferatu, also makes the occasional solo album.

No longer the shirtless maniac of his youth, the former Christopher John Millar is a more thoughtful but no less passionate player at 65, though he speaks of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Drummer. We spoke to him via Zoom from the attic of his home in the Brentford district of London, and talked about days in The Damned, how perfection is overrated, his work with Joe Strummer and Ginger Baker, and how good things can come out of a Bad Christmas Sweater Party.

With the pandemic shutting everything down, has it been a long time since you’ve played out live?

I haven’t been on a big tour for a long time. The last tour I did was with The Members which was a lot of small bars in Europe and was pretty good. I have to say, touring Europe as opposed to England—where the band that shows up to play that evening is regarded as a pain in the ass and something that makes the stalls life a little more difficult—in Europe, France, Germany and like that, they’re actually quite pleased to see you and make you tea and chocolate when you arrive. You feel much more appreciated. But now nobody’s getting to go on the road at all.

In actual fact, it’s turned into quite a blessing because most of my work is studio-based, so during lockdown, I regard myself incredibly lucky that I can still function and work and make music without being dependent on going on the road, whereas most of my friends have absolutely been killed by the whole thing. It’s tragic. It is what it is, but I just really hope we can get some kind of recovery from it. Everything public, not just this business but football, rugby, cricket.

This album was recorded much the same way with previous albums by Professor and the Madmen. How does that work?

Well, apart from the distances and the problems with work visas, it’s one of those things where actually technology, as much as I am a Luddite—“No the old ways are by far the best!”—works well. I like being able to send the drum takes from the studio and by the time I get home by train they’ve got them in California and they’ve already emailed me to say yeah, these are OK, that’s pretty good. So I have to say I really enjoy that.

And the recording process is generally always been one of laying the drums and then everybody else kind of works around that. Dropping and overdubbing. So the process is actually for me very much the same it’s always been. I guess the thing I really miss is having a band there—people in the background making comments and farting. That kind of thing where you can tell when you walk into a room whether you’ve done a good take or not, whether people are happy.

I’m turning into my catchphrase this year: the Loneliness of the Long Distance Drummer. I’ve done a couple of albums like that this year. And it’s kind of weird, because they’re turning me into an engineer. The judgmental call of whether it sounds right, or whether it sounds good, that suddenly all gets thrown on me, when I’m used to being the drunk guy who says, “I’m going to go out for a cigarette while you listen to this and tell me if you want me to do this again.” It’s shifted the whole way I think about what I do.

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Chris Hillman,
The TVD Interview

PHOTO: LORI STOLL | The first book from Chris Hillman has the same title as the first song he wrote as a founding member of The Byrds, Time Between.

Subtitled “My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond,” the volume, due out November 17 on BMG Books, chronicles the nearly 60 years of music he’s made as a member of a handful of potent musical units that combined bluegrass and country into folk and rock, from The Byrds to The Flying Burrito Brothers to Manassas and the Desert Rose Band, not to mention a trio of amalgamations that sounded more like law firms from Souther-Hillman-Furay to McGuinn, Clark & Hillman.

His intent in writing, he says over the phone from his home in Ventura, California, is “to leave some kind of record, a story of me, for my kids,” that includes two grandkids so far. But also he adds, “ I’d read so many inaccurate stories, inaccuracies on The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers,” that it made him think, “Wait a minute, I was there! Let me clarify this a bit!”

Setting the record straight means dousing the notion that, say, The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which celebrated a 50th anniversary tour in 2018, was not in fact either the first country-rock record nor the first hint of Americana. “We were doing country stuff way before Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” says Hillman, 75. The band’s second album Turn! Turn! Turn! in 1965, with the hit title song and two Bob Dylan covers, included the track “Satisfied Mind.”

“I had heard that song by Porter Wagoner when he had the hit on it, and loved it. I loved the lyric. It was great. It was perfect for The Byrds. And I talked the guys into doing it,” Hillman says. “It was the first time we had really done a country song,” he says. But he adds, “It wasn’t a stretch for us. It never was. Because we were basically folk musicians, you know. I was more bluegrass, but we did not come from a garage rock band background. I would say we literally plugged our amps into the wall, and started to transpose, going from acoustic to electric.”’

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TVD SLR30 Premieres: Flowers, “Erik” and Neutrals, “Personal Computing”

Slumberland Records winds up its 18-month, 30th anniversary series, offering a baker’s dozen of SLR30 singles with a pair of 45s getting their debut here at The Vinyl District.

From England comes the trio Flowers, who have cited the Slumberland ethic as an influence since the noisy indie pop band formed in London eight years ago. “Flowers always wanted to release a record on Slumberland,” the band says.

“Erik” is the band’s first single since 2017, and concerns the antics of a wayward pet hamster, with Rachel Kennedy’s ethereal voice rising over Sam Ayres guitar and Jordan Hockley’s drums. When issued to subscribers November 13, “Candour” will be the B-side.

The trio Neutrals are out of San Francisco, who issued an album in 2019 on Emotional Response Records and an EP earlier this year on Domestic Departure. The jagged guitar pop of “Personal Computing,” the final entry in the SLR30 Singles Series, looks back to the intersection of pop music and home computing, back in the days when you could “buy dodgy bootleg Spectrum games like Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, etc, from the same stall at Barras in Glasgow where you could buy illicit recordings of the gigs that went on there at night,” says the band’s Allan McNaughton, who moved from Scotland to the Bay Area decades ago.

“‘Personal Computing’ takes nostalgia for that simpler time—typing BASIC into your ZX81 from a printed magazine, buzzing tape head cleaner to get high—to the point of obsession or even fetish.” Recorded just before COVID-19 locked down the world, “In the Future” continues the theme on the flip, also out on November 13.

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David Johansen tries to right a ‘Sinking Ship’

PHOTO: SIKELIA PRODUCTIONS | Nearly 40 years ago, when an inept politician took control in Trinidad and Tobago after the first prime minister leader died suddenly, the calypso singer Gypsy recorded a call to action. Not only was “Sinking Ship” a hit, it preceded both the worst ever electoral defeat of George Chambers’ party in 1986 and the rise of Gypsy, also known as Winston Peters, to his own political career, as member of Parliament. Now, David Johansen, onetime lead singer of The New York Dolls and the Harry Smiths, as well as accomplished solo artist, has taken up the call for his own country.

Johansen, 70, has released his own version of “Sinking Ship,” needing to only tweak a few lyrics to have it apply to America’s political condition. “I’ve always liked the song,” Johansen told The Vinyl District over the phone recently. Having recently played it on his own wide-ranging Mansion of Fun radio show on Sirius XM, it struck him, he said. “I should sing this song and make it about the U.S.”

Out now on streaming services, “Sinking Ship” doesn’t have to provide a lot of background on its target. “He’s unhinged! He’s gonna kill us all!” he begins. “This is an S.O.S. from the U.S.A.” He substitutes Barack Obama for Trinidad’s Eric Williams as a beloved and competent former leader and adds just a few key details: “Locking children up in cages / Dog-whistling your racists / How low can we go?” The solution to righting the ship, as it was in Trinidad, is up to the citizenry. “It’s up to you, it’s up to me,” Johansen sings, as Gypsy once did.

And where there is a soundbite from a Trinidadian politician on the original, a couple of quotes from Trump appear in the new one from “You should ask China” to “It’s going to disappear one day, it’s like a miracle,” as the singer puts on a face mask.

“Sinking Ship” returns Johansen to the island sounds that fueled his biggest hit under the name Buster Poindexter, his 1987 cover of Arrow’s soca “Hot Hot Hot.” Calypso musicians are especially known for their topical songs, which helped fuel the independence movement in Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1950s and later grew to comment on world events from artists such as Lord Kitchener to Mighty Sparrow.

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The Go-Go’s Reborn in Showtime Documentary

They weren’t the first all female rock band. Nor were they the first female band to write their own songs or play their own instruments. Rather, the very specific superlative accomplishment of The Go-Go’s is that they were the first all-female rock band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to become so successful—when their indelible 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat went to No. 1.

Their seemingly swift rise, coupled with their own glamor and spunk, was followed by the inevitable slump and backlashes afforded such a band. By 1985, they had broken up. But many of their songs remain vibrant and sturdy all these years later, and were most recently featured in a 2018 Broadway production Head Over Heels. The band’s occasional reunions over the past few decades never fail to spark New Wave nostalgia among their fans.

Now their story is being told in perhaps the most complete way in Alison Ellwood’s new documentary The Go-Go’s, premiering Saturday, August 1 at 9PM on Showtime. Ellwood is becoming something of the queen of rockumentaries of late, following the big two part Laurel Canyon earlier this summer for Epix, and The History of the Eagles.

Here, it’s bracing to whip from early footage of teenage fans Belinda Carlisle or Jane Wiedlin ringing stages at early LA punk shows to seeing them today with the other band members—all in their early to mid 60s, with at least one of them already eligible for Medicare. As strange as it might seem to see a grey-haired Wiedlin, emulating the sharpest mom at PTA, or the impossibly sleek Carlisle, looking (and sounding) like Gloria Steinem, telling their remarkable tale, they also share a kind of sisterhood that means that even if they didn’t speak for five years following their bitter breakup, the bond would eventually bring them back together.

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Save Our Stages: David Byrne and Benjamin Clementine at the Anthem in Washington, DC, 5/12/18

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week as we did last week, we’re turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNSDavid Byrne has always been as interested in visual art as in music. So his tours with the Taking Heads became increasingly more creative performance pieces with the herky, jerky music, big suits, and band movements to accompany his spiky, polyrthmic sounds. His solo tours were often just as arresting, and for the current “American Utopia” tour accompanying his first solo album in 16 years, he is breaking new ground.

On the vast, completely empty stage at the Anthem Saturday, ringed only by a curtain of chains, he appeared at a table and chair and picked up the life-sized model of a brain as he pointed out hemispheres of the organ and sang, “Here is a region of abundant details, here is a region that is seldom used…” It was just about the last stage props put on the stage. When joined by his musicians—nine all dressed in similar grey suits and two singers—they were all fully portable.

With wireless microphones, a wireless bass, wireless guitar, and wireless keyboard (which provided a lot of the sound), fully half of the musicians were assigned to parts of what would be a traditional drum set—toms, snare, timbale, other percussion—as if they were ready to be a marching band. Instead of striding into the crowd in formation though, they moved in planned patterns, stood 12-people across, or in two six-person lines, in a circle or a pinwheel in what must be the most choreographed rock concert for musicians ever devised.

So unusual did it seem, with nary a snaking wire, microphone stand, effects box, amp, or drum set in sight that it almost seemed like an all-dancing, little-playing track show. Byrne had to stop in the middle of the show to point out that it was not the case. Indeed, the dozen could have marched down the aisles and into the boxes, wifi willing, but chose to stay on the well-lit set, which changed hue or intensity with every song.

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Save Our Stages: Ex
Hex and The Messthetics at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, 5/10/19

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week and next we’ll be turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Mixed amid the sheer exhilaration of an Ex Hex gig at the 9:30 Club is the added pride of a hometown date. The DC rockers led by Mary Timony, once of Helium, Wild Flag, and Autoclave, quite rightfully nearly sold out the place, but I’m wondering why the trio isn’t selling out everywhere they go.

The songs are catchy, the guitars rock out, the female harmonies alternately bracing and empowering. Female-led bands aren’t the novelty they once were, thankfully, and the trio has moved into trying to recreate the crunching, double-guitar attack of arena rock. But they’re better than that, with catchier songs that are smarter and more fun. One quietly has to be happy they aren’t bigger than they are, or they’d be in some cavernous theater or arena instead of a cozier rock club.

Closing out a six-week US tour to boost their newest release on Merge, It’s Real, the band seemed as fresh as if starting it, a big neon logo behind them underscoring their determination to glow. Topping a bill that also boasted the best of DC rock, particularly The Messthetics, the instrumental power trio of guitar whiz Anthony Pirog with the Fugazi rhythm section of Brendan Canty on drums and Joe Lally on bass, the night seemed to make a case of the health of rock in the Nation’s Capital.

Ex Hex is almost sunny compared to their darker sound, but there’s every indication that Timony wants to stretch things out on guitar as well, even if her songs seem best suited to be short and exuberantly punchy as anything from the Ramones. She means to get more textures and aggressive sharpness with every release, though, with a couple of the tracks on It’s Real clocking in at over five minutes.

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TVD Video Premiere:
The Roadside Bandits Project, “My Own Lies”

The Roadside Bandits Project, from West London producer Santi Arribas, takes on the scourge of untrustworthy public servants with the directness of Gang of Four, whose lead singer John Sterry collaborates and sings the group’s latest snarling single “My Own Lies.” “I look you in the eye,” Sterry snarls, “and I almost believe my own lies.”

The Vinyl District is proud to premiere the timely video for “My Own Lies” today, with its very contemporary Know Nothing declaration “You don’t need knowledge to know/ Experts are past it/ Time to put your faith on show” coming just a week after Sen. Rand Paul mused pretty much the same thing in a Senate coronavirus hearing (“We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best for everyone.”)

Politics rule on The Roadside Bandits Project’s eponymously named album this fall, with songs like “Borders,” “Landfill,” and an earlier single “Sombre Circus” featuring Nell Bryden. The new video for “My Own Lies” features sinister footsteps, under the table payments, and a cactus-headed politician that seems out of Magritte. We also see Sterry sing, but only in a very close shot of his mouth—showing only the parts of his face that would be covered by a mask in the pandemic era.

“The video tries to show through simple imagery, the behavior of modern politicians whose only resource to convince the public is to lie,” Arribas says. “The symbolism highlights their cynicism and detachment, as well as the way in which they attempt to bolster support, appease and control by building a narrative which is everything to everyone.”

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TVD Premiere:
Honey Radar,
“Wind-Up Man”

Leave it to lo-fi Philly rockers Honey Radar to dig up and redo one of The Monkees’ most obscure songs. The appropriately robotic “Wind-Up Man,” a self-lacerating attack at the cookie cutter pop music machine that created the Prefab Four, was first performed in the strange and equally obscure TV special 33 1/2 Revolutions Per Monkee that was also the last creative endeavor of the original quartet before they broke up.

For Honey Radar, it’s one of a slew of recordings collected for a compilation of things they did for the Atlanta-based label Chunklet Industries. Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years is due in stores June 20, but The Vinyl District is proud today to debut that weird Monkees cover that works better and certainly rocks harder in the hands of Honey Radar than it did by its originators, who never did commit it to a recording.

“The Monkees were the first group I was obsessed with when I was a little kid,” says Honey Radar bandleader Jason Henn. Though he says the 1969, purposely trippy 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV special was “almost unwatchable, worse than Magical Mystery Tour,” it had “some songs in it that I like, and ‘Wind-up Man’ always sounded to me like it would make a good straight-forward rock song.”

The band played it live a few times and put it on a 2016 split single with label owner Henry Owings where it stood out, mostly because his side was more conceptual comedy—Owings’ extended impression of the band Slint: three minutes of awkward silence, poking fun of that band’s lengthy breaks between songs at gigs.

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TVD Video Premiere: India Ramey, “King of
the Ashes”

PHOTO: STACIE HUCKEBA | India Ramey didn’t know for certain what would happen when she saw a political ill wind blow in late 2016. Still, she wrote the clarion warning “King of the Ashes” unaware it’d be so well suited to the most challenging American spring anyone can remember, with with more than 109,000 dead from a pandemic, millions out of work, and uprisings in every state against the country’s historic pandemic, racism. As such, Ramey’s warning, with twangy guitar and a call to action, couldn’t be more timely.

The Vinyl District is proud to premiere the stirring “King of the Ashes” video, a harbinger of her upcoming fourth album Shallow Graves due in stores September 4. “I woke up in a different world today,” it begins. “All that I held dear had been stripped away.” She warns of a man about to burn everything down, who preys on the fearful and the weak, who will “burn it down to be king of the ashes.”

By the time Ramey calls for people to rise up in the first ringing chorus, it’s all too clear of whom she speaks. “I wrote it about Trump, and was predicting that there would be some sort of apocalypse under his reign,” says Ramey, who was a a deputy district attorney in Montgomery, Alabama, before she became one of Nashville’s most promising voices.

“I am sorry to say that I was right. It proved to be quite the prophetic song, unfortunately,” says Ramey, who has been pegged an alt country performer to watch since her first album Junkyard Angel a decade ago. With a bracing righteousness that matches her tunefulness, Ramey is sometimes categorized alongside Jason Isbell, whose Southeastern engineer Mark Petaccia produced the new disc, her first since 2017’s Southern Gothic-flavored Snake Handler.

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Laurel Canyon’s countercultural history explored in new doc airing now on epix

Throughout history there have been communities where creative people gather, attracting like-minded artists who create something that becomes a legacy. Usually it involves low rent. In Los Angeles, the woody hills above Sunset with its cul de sacs and affordable rentals helped nurture what was also the natural sounding outgrowth of folk into rock in the late ’60s with occasional twangs of country.

More than 50 years after its heyday, Laurel Canyon has been heralded of late in documentary films. First came Jakob Dylan’s Echo in the Canyon, which was built around interviews with surviving originators alongside rehearsals for a contemporary salute to the bands. After a short run in theaters last year, it’s now showing on Netflix. Now comes the more expansive Laurel Canyon, a two-part, two-night, four-hour film that premiered on epix Sunday (May 31) and concludes this Sunday (June 7) and is available on demand.

With the goofy catchphrase of “Everything They Touched Turned to Music” it aims to capture a magic time when guitars rang through the hallows and The Byrds, The Turtles, Frank Zappa, and The Doors were all neighbors, more often trading joints than cups of sugar, and always apparently open to drop over and jam.

Alison Ellwood, whose previous similar extended music documentary was History of the Eagles, begins with what looks like it will be a ton of previously unseen or otherwise rare home movies of activities in Laurel Canyon, when handheld movie cameras were just another avenue of creativity for those capturing the freewheeling spirit of the era.

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TVD Premiere, Hawk,
“I Believe in You”

The road to joy in rock ’n’ roll is one of simplicity. A few chords, a pleasing refrain, and repeat ’til nirvana. It’s a familiar roadmap for Hawk, the project that brought 2016’s I’m on Fire and 2018’s Bomb Pop. It happens again like clockwork with the new Fly, which arrives in stores on May 15.

Not to be mistaken for the Pennsylvania metal band of the same name, this Hawk is a project that’s been hiding in plain sight for a few years, with Venice, California, writer and singer David Hawkins and guitarist Aaron Bakker at the center of an impressive pop supergroup, featuring multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, legendary Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, and now Mott the Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher. (Gary Louris who was part of past Hawk projects as well as Hawkins’ folk rock chamber group Be, had to bow out this time due to commitments to his main band, The Jayhawks).

The Vinyl District is proud to debut a particularly uplifting Fly track in these dark times, “I Believe in You.” Written to encourage his daughter, its opening line is a classic phrase of power pop, “Oh girl, you know that it’s true”—that’s much more in the vein of The Monkees (from “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”) than Milli Vanilli. With his formidable colleagues, Hawkins whips it up into a layered rock confection, with harmonies, keyboards, and a ringing Stringfellow guitar solo to boot while repeating its urgent truth.

“I wrote this song for my daughter. She is one of the coolest people I know; she is so positive and kind despite facing her own challenges, and every day she wakes up with a smile and shares it with everyone she sees; it’s really inspiring. I wrote it to celebrate her and encourage her,” Hawkins tells us. “I came up with the words and melody while I was feeding her breakfast one day, and I just started singing it to her in the mornings to start the day. She loves it. I had to explain to her what ‘outta sight’ means—so cute. She was super excited when I told her ‘her song’ was going to be on the record, and she just beams every time I play it.”

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Roger Joseph Manning Jr., The TVD Interview

Keyboard maven, studio whiz, and go-to arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr. has created in a number of forums since 1994 when the colorful and influential band Jellyfish that he co-founded with Andy Strummer broke up. But even after putting together bands that include Imperial Drag, Moog Cookbook, and TV Eyes, and working with artists from Beck to Air to Cheap Trick, Manning has returned to working with two other members of the final iteration of Jellyfish.

Manning had worked with Tim Smith and Eric Dover in other projects (including Umajets and Imperial Drag), but working together brought back a kind of Jellyfish sound to the group they’re calling The Lickerish Quartet (after the title of an arty 1970 Italian porn flick). Their debut EP “Threesome Vol. 1” is due in stores on May 15 via The Lickerish Quartet Label Logic, distributed by Ingrooves. We caught up with Manning over the phone from Los Angeles.

How is the pandemic lockdown affecting you?

Fortunately there’s very little strife at my end. I am mostly at home during the week anyway, working in my music room on a variety of things. So, aside from procuring supplies. I don’t mind that. My girl, who is a lot more social than me and her job requires her to be more social, she’s having a tougher time of it. But I’m just like pretty much business as usual.

What’s it like to release a project from a new band in the middle of all of it?

Mostly, I’ve come to find, it’s a blessing for the fans, who couldn’t be happier about having I guess what I call a pleasant distraction at this time. They have been demonstrating in their correspondence to us how appreciative they are that this happened when it did.

Obviously, we didn’t time it that way. And I’ve been thankful that the music has been able to take their minds off things. Of course, it’s all a double-edged sword. People are tightening their belts financially, obviously, so I don’t know who even wants to throw down for a $15 CD or whatever, vs. if we were in a regular economic climate like the oasis we were all on last year.

There are going to be three EPS, is that the plan?

Yeah, that is the plan. And we have most of the music ready to go. So barring anything unforeseen, that’s what the public should get within the next year and a half or so.

Why did you decide to release it that way, rather than on one album?

Mostly from an advised business standpoint of how things operate today, getting music to fans and that interaction, how it’s done now. Because everything is so singles-driven, because of DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music.

It’s certainly not my preference. It’s not what I grew up with. I like being lost in somebody’s 45-minute soundtrack that they would present with 10 or 12 songs. but I think an EP is a good compromise. I think it’s enough of a detour that really keeps the fans entertained for a while, and sets up an environment of—well hey, if you want some more, we’ve got something a few months away as opposed to a year or two away.

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Liveat930.com brings the live concert experience to your quarantine

PHOTOS: JOHN SHORE | In our time of the Coronavirus Clampdown, fans of live music are feeling the void, just as musicians have seen their livelihoods temporarily disappear. The nation’s string of music clubs reliably alive with nightly shows are shuttered and empty as the streets around them. One of the nation’s best-loved venues, the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC is attempting to fill that void by streaming a string of live shows it shot for a public television series that ran a few years back.

The 12 episodes of Live at 9:30, recorded in 2015 and 2016, features performances from nearly 60 different artists—from heritage acts like Garbage, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The English Beat to local heroes Trouble Funk and Thievery Corporation to groups that have long since outgrown playing 1,200-capacity clubs like the 9:30: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Grace Potter, and Lake Street Dive.

Filmed with 15 different cameras, the intent was to “capture the energy of the audience, something we unfortunately can’t reproduce at the moment,” says 9:30 spokesman Jordan Grobe. The shows, streaming free on Liveat930.com, reflect not only the energy of the room, but the variety of its bookings.

“Each episode focuses on five different artists to show people different genres they might not be familiar with,” Grobe says. “So for instance, you might love Gogol Bordello, but not be familiar with Shakey Graves, so those are in an episode together.” “The format of it is sort of a reverse Saturday Night Live, where instead of it being 85 percent comedy, 15 percent music, it’s 85 percent music, 15 percent variety.”

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