Monthly Archives: September 2022

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Sunday morning / Sun shining from your eyes / Sleepy face / Smiling into mine

Sunday morning / Lots of time with nothing to do / Lots of time to spend with you / On Sunday morning

It’s so quiet in the street / We can hear the sound of feet walking by / I’ll put coffee on to brew / We can have a cup or two / And do what other people do / On Sunday morning

Sunday morning, Sunday morning, Sunday, Sunday / I love Sunday, Sunday morning

It’s actually rare these days that I’ll create a straight up “theme based” Idelic Hour set. This week however, “Sundays” fell out of my head. As a muse, a Sunday morning seemed too little to do with many of the new songs a fresh crop of baby bands have been creating.

The challenge of “standing,” a Margo Guryan classic, next. To the latest Nafets release, it’s really the entire point of doing The Idelic Hour week after week.

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TVD Live: Tav Falco and His Panther Burns at The Runaway, 9/21

Rock ’n’ roll is a sound and it is a style, and Tav Falco’s been straddling both since the late 1970s.

The latest version of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, on a cross country tour, stopped at The Runaway in DC for a midweek show that was strangely mesmerizing and altogether rocking thanks largely to his straight-outta-Rome backing trio led by Mario Monterosso. At 77, Falco doesn’t look all that different than he did when Alex Chilton joined forces with him to form Panther Burns back in Memphis. Minus his pencil mustache, he’s maintained his black pompadour, and certainly his style.

With only a subtle croon, he does a lot with his moves, taking the stage with maracas—that forgotten engine of old Bo Diddley songs—before slowly putting on his Hofner guitar to add rhythm to the stinging lead that Monterosso had already nailed down (the length of time it took him to get the guitar over his head and adjusted was the only giveaway to his advancing age).

There’s a lot to be said about the guy’s taste. Panther Burns got its name after a legendary cat set afire on a Southern plantation, and the band has similarly mined the swampy and mysterious sounds of the American South for its inspiration.

There was so much ground to cover, Falco played exactly nothing from his latest release, the 2021 EP “Club Car Zodiac” on ORG Music. Instead he dived into his story about a New Orleans voodoo queen and his version of the classic bolero “Sway” before the somewhat surprising, straight ahead version of the Honeycombs’ 1964 chart topper “Have I the Right?” with a 1-2-3-4 countdown right from the Ramones. Then, as if another inspired turn of a jukebox, over to the 1950s country standard “He’ll Have to Go,” before his own throbbing tune of existential anguish, as he described it, “Born Too Late.”

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TVD Radar: Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast 30th anniversary 3LP in stores 11/18

VIA PRESS RELEASE | BMG are delighted to announce the release of a commemorative triple black vinyl album in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Iron Maiden’s seminal third album, The Number Of The Beast, which was also the first to feature Bruce Dickinson on vocals and was to become the record which catapulted the band to international stardom.

Included in the new vinyl package is Beast Over Hammersmith—available now officially for the very first time on vinyl—featuring the live concert from March 1982’s now legendary Hammersmith Odeon London show from the Beast On The Road World Tour. Recorded only days before the release of The Number Of The Beast album, it’s remarkable to think these now classic songs at that time were still brand new, unfamiliar, and being heard live by fans for the very first time. A real piece of history in the making.

The package features exclusive liner notes written by Maiden founder and bassist Steve Harris as well as restored and expanded artwork taken from the CD format of Beast Over Hammersmith, previously only available in the Limited Edition Eddie’s Archive boxset originally released in 2002.

Steve Harris comments, “On this vinyl release we get the chance to put “Total Eclipse” in its rightful spot on the album for the first time. The reason it didn’t make it in the first place was that it was all a mad rush when we were finishing the record and we had to get the “Run to the Hills” single out before the tour and we basically had to pick a B-side and it was between “Gangland” and “Total Eclipse” and we just picked the wrong one, really! I think “Total Eclipse” is a stronger song and the album would have been stronger if it had been on there.”

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 84: Caitlin Cary

The great alt-country band Whiskeytown had only two permanent members during its tenure: one of them was Ryan Adams and the other was Caitlin Cary.

While Caitlin’s name will always be intertwined with that band’s history, she’s also got a history all her own. After the group disbanded, Caitlin decided it was time for her to share the songs that may not have gotten the attention they deserved in her previous group. So, after connecting with Chris Stamey and Yep Roc Records, in 2002 she released her first solo album titled, While You Weren’t Looking.

Well, while we weren’t looking, the album has now turned 20 years old and Yep Roc is giving the album a remaster, a reissue, and is finally putting Caitlin’s music on vinyl where her compositions seem yearning to belong.

Caitlin joins me to discuss her transition from those wild and wooly Whiskeytown days to her own solo career. We also explore how her songs may be ripe for a new audience in the 21st century. Nowadays, Caitlin enjoys her time as a noted visual artist creating needleprint designs and running her own art gallery, The Pocket, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

But, as she traverses through her latest life’s incarnation, every once in a while, she must get flashes of those heady Whiskeytown days and the creation of her own music. Even though she’s more or less left the music world behind, she’s still pleasantly amused that the music she released those two decades ago still reverberates today.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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The DC Record Fair returns to the Eaton DC with a special Capital Audiofest on-site preview, 10/16

Back in its 13th year is DC’s twice yearly record dig, The DC Record Fair which comes to Washington’s vinyl and community-centric Eaton Hotel on Sunday, October 16, 2022. As with each event, we’ll have 35+ vinyl vendors from up and down the East Coast, the special DJ line up—and hey, keep your wallet in your pocket for this one as the event is free of charge for the entire day.

In addition, we’re pleased to welcome an advance on-site preview of November’s Capital Audiofest, Washington DC’s premier high-end audio festival. As such, expect thousands of records and hi-fi options for your enjoyment of them.

Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together the above feature a little while back that provides a handy overview of the event for the uninitiated.

Mark your calendars! 

Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the Eaton DC, 1201 K Street, NW DC
11:00AM–5:00PM—and free all day!

RSVP and follow via the Facebook invite!

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Graded on a Curve:
The 5th Dimension, Master Hits

Celebrating Marilyn McCoo on her 79th birthday.Ed.

It seems like just yesterday I had hair down to my ass and was rolling in the mud at Woodstock. What a time! The dope was good, the music was far out, and even the brown acid was groovy, once you got past the part where your decomposing grandmother was squatting by your side, her breath reeking of grave dirt and burning sulphur. It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and peace would soon be guiding the stars.

Odd, though, that “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” was the product of a very square Black chorale group that would have been more at home in a Las Vegas nightclub than Woodstock (where they didn’t play) or Harlem’s Cultural Festival that same year (where they did). The vocal group’s repertory of styles—which included R&B, jazz, pop and soul—was labeled “champagne soul,” perhaps because their musical stylings were all bubbles and no kick.

It’s hard to imagine a group less qualified to sum up the era’s Zeitgeist. To the hippies and yippies wearing psychedelic paint on their faces and nothing else, The 5th Dimension—whose best known songs are compiled on 1999’s Master Hits—had zero freak cred. At least you knew they weren’t narcs, because narcs made it their job to fit in. Amongst the Jimis and Joplins of the time, The 5th Dimension stood out like a house cat in a panther cage.

“The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”—which first appeared in 1967’s risible Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical—is an example par excellence of cultural appropriation. The song took the revolutionary spirit of the time and diluted it, and by so doing offered the non-LSD crowd a reassuring lense through which they could catch a glimpse of a youth phenomenon they found threatening. How much of a menace could America’s young people be if their anthem was a song like this?

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In rotation: 9/30/22

Dallas, TX | How Dallas’ Good Records became the Alice Cooper capital of the world: Fans can relive a reunion for the ages with a new documentary. One of the most unlikely and unique nights in recent Dallas music history, and especially in the life of Good Records co-owner Chris Penn, didn’t exactly start with all engines running. In fact, it was an engine that stopped running 24 hours prior that nearly ruined the night Penn had dreamed of. After months of planning and hoping and waiting, Penn had helped reunite the original Alice Cooper Group, his favorite band, and on top of that, the band was going to perform its first show together in decades on the tiny stage inside of Good Records on Lower Greenville Avenue on Oct. 6, 2015. But in order to play a gig, the band has to make it to the gig.

St. Louis, MO | Best Record Store: Circa: Now! Records: Circa: Now! Records is by far the coziest record store in St. Louis. It’s also the best. Operating out of a small storefront on South Grand, the store can comfortably fit about six people browsing its impressive inventory at any one time. But into that small space owner Brad Sadl has packed a trove of finds, often at unbeatable prices. Bargain crates with records priced from $3 to $5 dot the shop’s nooks and crannies. The crates are replete with great finds — a $3 After the Gold Rush, anyone? Sadl has a vast knowledge of music history, and rather than use that knowledge to make you feel like a noob, he uses it to ensure you go home with a record you’ll love. In addition to the bargain crates, the store has a well-curated inventory that would impress any collector. Punk, garage and new wave genres are very well represented, but so are rock, pop, hip-hop, obscure blues, jazz, soundtracks … the list goes on. You’ll definitely leave with some new tunes and, given the tight quarters, maybe even a new pal.

Farmers Branch, TX | The Tex Factor: The Texas Music Mecca: What’s your favorite music? Jazz? Rock? Pop? Soul? Polka? Whatever you like, no matter how unusual–you’ll probably find it at Josey Records in Dallas. It’s the largest Independent record store in Texas and one of the largest in America. Josey Records is leading a vinyl revolution, and new generations are discovering the art of the album cover and the romance of the record experience. The store owners credit their love of records to their former employer and mentor, the late Bill Wisener. In fact, part of the store is a shrine to Bill’s Records.

George Robertson, organiser of the Dundee Record Fair, is retiring. He’s holding his last fair on Sunday and is looking for someone to take over the mantle

Dundee, UK | Dundee Record Fair could close after 40 years as organiser retires: Dundee Record Fair – thought to be the longest-running in Scotland – could be forced to close as its organiser retires. George Robertson has run the event at the Marryat Hall, inside the Caird Hall, since the death of Groucho’s boss Alasdair ‘Breeks’ Brodie. The 74-year-old had assisted Breeks in running it for several years before that, but now wants someone else to step in due to his age and him being located in Edinburgh. George, a former Kirkton High School pupil, will oversee his final fair this Sunday. He said: “I’m hopeful that somebody might take it over, but nobody has definitively said they’ll do that. “If we can’t find anyone, that would be the end to something that’s been running for 40 years. “I’d be delighted for it to continue. I’m looking for someone with an enthusiasm for music, somebody who’s young and and willing to take on a small venture once or twice a year.”

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TVD Radar: Vince Guaraldi Trio, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus 60th anniversary releases
in stores 11/18 & 2/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings proudly celebrates the 60th anniversary of Vince Guaraldi’s breakthrough album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, with a variety of reissues. A deluxe, expanded edition of the 1962 album—featuring the GRAMMY® Award-winning instrumental hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”—offers 16 bonus tracks, including 12 previously unreleased selections, with outtakes and alternate takes of nearly every track on the album.

Available to pre-order beginning today, this definitive edition will be released as a 3-LP, 2-CD, or 24-track digital collection, with newly remastered audio by engineer Paul Blakemore. Produced by Nick Phillips, the original album is cut from the original master, while the bonus material was transferred from the original analog tapes by Plangent Processes. Lacquers for the 3-LP edition were cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed at RTI on 180-gram vinyl. Both physical formats also include new, in-depth liner notes by jazz writer Andrew Gilbert (San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, KQED Arts). The digital offering comes in standard and Hi-Res options. The CD and digital formats will be released on November 18th with the LP set due to follow on February 24th.

Additionally, Craft will offer a limited and numbered pressing of the original, eight-track album as part of their acclaimed Small Batch series, which offers discerning listeners the highest-quality, authentic sound—distilled to its purest form. As with previous Small Batch pressings, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus was cut from its original analog tapes by legendary engineer Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound and a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record.

The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording. Craft’s all-analog, one-step series has drawn praise from critics far and wide, with Hi-Fi Choice describing the audio quality as “Extraordinary,” while Stereophile commented that the series is “beautifully done,” and Record Collector described the sound as “flawless.”

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New Release Section:
Ron Sexsmith, “What I Had In Mind”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Half man, half melody Ron Sexsmith will release a new album entitled The Vivian Line on 17th February ’23. The first single “What I Had In Mind” is available at all reputable digital thingys today and you can order it (or even pre-order it!) and pre-save it now for when it’s finally available in all its glory here. The animated video for “What I Had In Mind” was made by C.J. Wallis at Fortyfps Films in Vancouver. The Vivian Line is Ron Sexsmith’s 17th album. It features 12 new songs written and performed by Ron.

The who, what, where, why and how of the record are best explained by Ron himself: “The Vivian Line is a rural route right near where we live in Stratford (Ontario). Whenever we have to get out of the city we jump on The Vivian Line and it dumps us out onto the highway. I wondered about the name when we first moved there and thought it was intriguing… it sort of represents escaping from our old life in Toronto to this new phase we’re in. And it’s also like a portal to my old life when I have to get back there. I recorded it (The Vivian Line) with Brad Jones in Nashville. (Brad played bass on 3 of my earlier records Other Songs, Whereabouts, and Blue Boy) and it’s a very lush sounding almost baroque pop record. (A distant cousin of Whereabouts.) The songs were mostly inspired by this stage in life that I find myself in and trying to figure it all out.”

Ron Sexsmith is one of Canada’s most accomplished singer-songwriters. Born and bred in St Catherine’s near Niagara Falls and currently resident in Stratford, Ontario, he has released 16 albums to date—Grand Opera Lane (1991), Ron Sexsmith (1995), Other Songs (1997), Whereabouts (1999), Blue Boy (2001), Cobblestone Runway (2002), Rarities (2003), Retriever (2004), Destination Unknown (2005, with Don Kerr, released as Sexsmith & Kerr), Time Being (2006), Exit Strategy Of The Soul (2008), Long Player Late Bloomer (2011), Forever Endeavour (2013), Carousel One (2015), The Last Rider (2017) and Hermitage (2020).

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TVD Radar: The Beach Boys, Sail On Sailor–1972 box sets in stores 11/18

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Beach Boys landmark albums, 1972’s Carl and the Passions—“So Tough” and 1973’s Holland, will take center focus in Sail On Sailor – 1972, a new expansive multi-disc and digital box set, releasing November 18th via Capitol Records/UMe, that documents and dives deep into their transformative and fruitful 1972 era.

The latest chapter in the Beach Boys’ archival series was produced by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, the team behind 2013’s GRAMMY® Award-winning SMiLE Sessions and last year’s acclaimed Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971, the comprehensive 6CD Super Deluxe Edition features newly remastered versions of Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” and Holland, plus “Holland’s Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairytale)” EP (complete with its original instructions to “please listen in the dark”), and boasts an unreleased live concert recorded at NYC’s famed Carnegie Hall on Thanksgiving, 1972, the first-ever release of a complete Beach Boys concert from this era with the original setlist.

Similar to Feel Flows, which topped many year-end lists in 2022 and was selected by MOJO as their prestigious “Reissue Of The Year,” Sail On Sailor – 1972 includes a bounty of unreleased outtakes, live recordings, radio promos, alternate versions, alternate mixes, isolated backing tracks and a cappella versions, culled from the historic album sessions. In all, it contains 105 tracks, 80 of which are previously unreleased.

Sail On Sailor – 1972 is being previewed with the previously unreleased performance of Carl and The Passions’ album opener, “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone,” recorded live during their performance at Carnegie Hall on November 23, 1972. The complete Carnegie Hall set, which has remained unreleased for 50 years, was recorded on then state-of-the-art 16-track tape, rare for the time and a great advantage given the number of instruments and vocalists in the band.

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Graded on a Curve: Honey & The Bees,

Soulful gal vocal group Honey & the Bees began recording in the mid-1960s and released their only LP in 1970 for the Josie label. Featuring their best known single, a version of the Royalettes’ “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle,” original copies of Love are scarce and quite expensive, so here comes Real Gone Music to the rescue, with a high quality reissue remastered by Mike Milchner and pressed on honey colored (bees)wax in an edition of 2,000 copies. If not a masterpiece, its contents are thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s difficult to imagine a fan of classic soul not wanting this set in their collection. It’s out October 7.

The biography of Honey & the Bees isn’t exactly extensive, but the story is that a group using the moniker cut a couple singles for the Academy label in 1965, but the members quickly spilt the scene, which led musician-songwriter-producer Phil Hurtt to organize a new lineup under the name, with the recruits Jean Davis, Nadine Felder, Gwendolyn Oliver, and Cassandra Ann Wooten debuting on a 1966 single for the Arctic label, “I’m Confessin’” b/w “One Time is Forever.”

The B-side to the 45 was written by Kenny Gamble, an info tidbit that’s a tipoff to what’s heard on Love, and don’tcha know that Leon Huff plays piano on the album? Yes, the ten songs do indeed have a tangible connection to the sound of Philly Soul, but as the record lands pretty early in the scheme of that regional state of affairs and with what was pretty clearly a modest budget (but resourcefully utilized), the songs counterbalance finesse, as the strings arrangements are plentiful, with heft, as the punch of the rhythm section hits the ear like a predecessor to the production work of Leon Michels.

In 1970 Honey & the Bees’ manager Jimmy Bishop moved the group from Arctic to the Josie label, a realignment that improved their fortunes a bit, with single “We Got to Work Together,” the opening track on Love, generating a little buzz, and “It’s Going to Take a Miracle,” the closing track on side one, enduring as their highest profile tune amid numerous versions, preceded by the Royalettes and followed by Laura Nyro’s take with LaBelle on her ’71 album Gonna Take a Miracle and Deniece Williams’ ’82 R&B smash.

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In rotation: 9/29/22

Oxford, UK | Happy music memories a year on from HMV reopening: Here we feature some happy musical memories from the Oxford Mail archive to mark HMV’s return to Cornmarket just over a year ago. Since then, the music store has been busy with customers buying vinyl, CDs, record players, T-shirts, books and other items. HMV closed its Cornmarket branch in 2014 and made a comback last September. Former Boyzone star Ronan Keating was one of the first stars to visit and meet his fans. Today’s pop music fans probably haven’t heard of Brother Beyond. But the boy band had a strong following in the late 1980s and a number two hit with The Harder I Try. It was groups like these who would cause a stir when they turned up for in store signings in record stores like HMV in Cornmarket Street in Oxford. Jennifer Lafton, 18, was a big fan and she waited four hours to meet lead singer Nathan Moore back in 1986. There were lots of in store performances for fans over the years and local bands like Foals and Young Knives took the opportunity to turn up and play their latest singles.

Kingston, UK | Banquet Records passes one million online orders: Banquet Records is celebrating passing one million customer orders via its online shop. Banquet, a former Music Week Awards winner, reached the sales milestone for mail order at the weekend. It’s further positive news for physical music, following sales data for 2021 that showed the first year-on-year market increase in revenue terms for 20 years. The Kingston-based record store revealed that it hit seven figures with an order for a CD and ticket bundle for Michael Ball & Alfie Boe. The Banquet event takes place on November 2 at the Pryzm venue, which regularly hosts outstore gigs for the record shop. Orders at have increased three-fold compared to four years ago, with part of that down to the impact of Covid changing how fans purchased physical music.

London, UK | The 1975 to hold signing session at London’s Rough Trade East: Matt Healy and co. will drop into the record store next month. The 1975 are set to make an appearance for a signing session at London’s Rough Trade East. The band will drop into the record store from midday on Sunday, October 16, two days after the release of their new album ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language.’ You can purchase tickets for the special signing here now. You can also pre-order/ pre-save their fifth studio album. The news comes after the band recently shared their new single, ‘All I Need To Hear.’ Speaking to Apple Music 1 about the track, frontman Matty Healy explained: “A lot of my songs require me to perform them, but I think that I’d love to hear Joe Cocker [sing this] – not that we could have that, but it feels like one of those songs where it’s like I’ve stepped out of the Matty-ness of everything.”

Long Beach, CA | VIP Records owner launches ‘Where’s the Whistler’ campaign to give the legendary sign a home: In January of 2018, the world-famous VIP Record sign was removed from the iconic record store on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The sign and the attached store had become synonymous with launching the careers of Warren G, Snoop and Nate Dogg, but it was being removed after a 7-Eleven took over the building that housed VIP. Before the removal of the sign, a battle for the legacy the sign represents was underway. Kelvin Anderson, the owner of VIP, says he put the sign up for sale on eBay to help fund his retirement. The Long Beach City Council, who offered no assistance to keep the store in its original location, unanimously voted to make the sign a historic landmark as it attempted to block the sale. Since then, there has been no movement, no new location, and no answer on where the sign will be housed.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/18

It’s the final day of Riot Fest Chicago 2022. Today’s lineup has to be the most stacked. I’m having a hard time deciding which bands I’ll catch and which I’ll have to skip. If I could have a time machine so I could go back and enjoy every set, I’d gladly share it with all of my friends in the same boat today.

Opening the Riot stage is Zola Jesus, whose mesmerizing dance moves paired with her flowing dress hypnotize the crowd while she effortlessly serenades everyone. It’s not an easy feat being the first act to play the main stage at a festival, but Zola Jesus really showed out.

Alice Glass runs on to the stage to a crowd full of screaming and dancing fans. The hyper pop pioneer stuns while she dances and expertly wraps her microphone cable around her body to the beat of the music.

Coolio, Pvris, Midtown, and Ice Cube are some notable acts of the evening. The sun is beating heavily on everyone, the dust clouds are swirling from the amount of people walking back and forth between the stages, and morale is high.

One of the biggest crowds of the weekend comes from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Frontwoman Karen O mentions that they don’t play very many shows, which explains why seemingly everyone at the fest is at this set. Playing a few new songs and a ton of fan favorites, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs command the crowd for the entire hour they are on the stage. No elaborate stage set ups, no choreographed sequences, just the band and their music.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/17

Saturday’s crowd gets a slight reprieve from the hot weather, as it is cloudy today! My plans for Riot Fest today involve plenty of angsty acts, so a break from the sun will be much appreciated.

Jxdn takes to the stage in front of a mass audience. Gaining popularity on the social media platform TikTok, the rocker quickly gained tons of fans for his blossoming music career. He rocks through some of his more well known tracks while sprucing in an unreleased song, a Limp Bizkit cover, and a XXXTENTACION cover. The crowd loves every last second.

Many of these fans stayed for Yungblud, turning up the energy even higher and truly getting rowdy. Yungblud really knows how to get everybody moving, shaking his hips and jumping all over the stage while he beckons for all of the festival goers to do the same.

The only set that rivals all of the crowd activity is The Story So Far. I dodge crowd surfers left and right and watch as the crowd energetically pumps their bodies over the barricade in sync with the music.

Other notable sets include Movements, Bad Religion, and Gogol Bordello. All of these sets help set up the main event, Yellowcard reuniting to play their record Ocean Avenue in full. Frontman Ryan Key mentions all the messages he’s read from dedicated fans that traveled from multiple countries to watch this reunion. I see signs in the crowd that state the number of years people have anxiously waited for this moment.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sun Records 70th Anniversary Reissues

2022 marks the 70th anniversary of the birth of Sun Records. The label was founded in Memphis, Tennessee by Sam Philips. The independent label essentially put rock ‘n’ roll on the map and launched the careers of some of the most important rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, and R&B artists. It was the label’s rock ‘n’ roll recordings of Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and especially Elvis Presley, among others, that forever enshrined the label in popular music history. To mark the label’s anniversary, a wide variety of albums are being reissued on 180-gram vinyl and in most cases have been curated by Chris Isaak. The albums are also very affordably priced, with beautiful era packaging.

A great place to start for the novice is Sun Records’ 70th Anniversary Compilation, Vol. 1. The album is curated by Chris Isaak and includes his liner notes. This album gives a fine overview of groundbreaking, legendary, and popular Sun artists, including the aforementioned, along with Johnny Cash, Patti Page and others. Staples of the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll are here, such as “Mystery Train” from Little Junior’s Blue Flames and “Breathless” by Jerry Lee Lewis, along with country classics like “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues” from Johnny Cash. The album does not include any of the music Elvis recorded for Sun, which occurred before he signed with RCA.

Other than maybe Johnny Cash, the Sun artist whose career lasted the longest was Roy Orbison. Orbison’s voice and the accompanying production have made his recordings some of the most beloved in popular music history. His rebirth and eventually joining the Traveling Wilburys attest to his timeless music and the respect he commands among musicians. The Original Sound, released in 1969, is one of Orbison’s more obscure albums, but it includes such classics as “Ooby Dooby.” While the album came at a stage in his career when the hippie rock culture was ascending and his influence and popularity were waning, it’s still an excellent album and one worthy of such a well-conceived reissue. This reissue includes liner notes by Orbison’s son Alex.

Like Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins had a long career and his influence on other musicians is incalculable. George Harrison of The Beatles was heavily influenced by the way Perkins played guitar. Perkins is perhaps the most important rockabilly artist in popular music history. Perkins was also a member of the famed Million Dollar Quartet, with Elvis, Cash, and Lewis. The King of Rockabilly is a collection of his hits, including an alternate version of “Honey Don’t,” famously covered by The Beatles. “Matchbox” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” also covered by The Beatles, are included here as well. This reissue includes liner notes by Carl’s son Stan Perkins.

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