We’re covering quite a few topics this week, from the latest RFC, to a reminder about “A Delicate Balance,” to a confession of a Beatle freak to a rundown of weekend events. Let us dive in and wallow, shall we?
Radio Free Charleston 184 dropped Monday, and it’s a great show, with the RFC debuts of The Carpenter Ants and Time and Distance, plus other great stuff. Watch it right now!
Now read the production notes.
A Delicate Balance
The Alban Arts Center production of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, “A Delicate Balance,” has three more performances that you can catch. Audiences have been thrilled and intrigued, with the exception of the Gazette reviewer, who apparently fancies herself a better judge of drama than the Pulitzer committee. An amazing cast (including your PopCulteer’s fiancee) wonderfully brings to life Edward Albee’s Pulitzer-winning script. This production can be seen three more times, May 3, 4, and 5, at the Alban Arts Center. Showtime is 8 PM Friday and Saturday, with a Sunday matinee at 2 PM. See it for yourself. Fight the power.
Your PopCulteer is an unabashed Beatles fan. I’m a bit of an expert on the Fab Four. When a new book about The Beatles comes out, I usually flip through it in the store and find mistakes. But I have a confession to make.
I never would have gotten interested in The Beatles if it were not for The Rutles.
I’m of an age where I was constantly exposed to The Beatles growing up. I liked the music. It was a soundtrack to the 1960s. I watched the crappy Rankin-Bass cartoon, both on the network and again as segments on Mr. Cartoon.
When The Yellow Submarine movie came out, I was changed for life by the graphics, the design, and the comedy.
But comedy was my main interest. As a kid, I didn’t really buy many music records. I was into comedy. First it was Bill Cosby stand-up records. Then later Bob Newhart. I was exposed to Monty Python in 1970, via a summer replacement series, “Dean Martin’s World of Comedy.” Despite protestations to the contrary by the official Python biographer, I have vivid memories of Monty Python airing on WMUL (now WPBY) as early as 1971.
I was a rabid Python fan. I bought both their 1973 record albums as soon as they were released. I devoured all things Python.
Until late 1978, the Charleston/Huntington television market was deprived of Saturday Night Live by WSAZ, who preferred showing old movies and tape-delayed Kentucky basketball games to airing the most-talked-about TV show of the day. Our only exposure to classic SNL was the disastrous prime-time show from New Orleans.
When NBC scheduled a show that would team up SNL’s Not Ready For Prime Time Players with members of Monty Python in a parody of The Beatles, I didn’t really know what to expect.
The story was hilarious, even to a young PopCulteer who only barely knew the story of The Beatles. Not only was I hooked by the animated parody of Yellow Submarine, but the imagery from “Piggy In The Middle” stuck with me, and, well…I wanted more.
The next day I bothered my older brother until he took me to Budget Tapes and Records, where I found, in the cutout bin no less, the soundtrack to The Rutles special. It was $2.99, plus tax, and it included a fully-illustrated booklet loaded with parody images, lyrics, and transcripts of interviews with Paul Simon and Mick Jagger. The songs by Neil Innes, all homages to The Beatles, resonated with me in a way that no other music had up to that point.
I probably spent the next month listening to this album. Then I still wanted more. I borrowed my sister’s copies of Let It Be and the blue Beatles best-of album (1966-1970). I pretty much spent that summer listening to Beatles and/or Rutles music non-stop. I think I only left the house to go to The Arcade Bookstore to buy “The Beatles Illustrated Record” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler and “Beatles Forever” by Hunter Davies.
Later in the year, Marvel Comics published a magazine-sized history of The Beatles, written by David Anthony Kraft and drawn by George Perez and Klaus Janson, and it very nicely dove-tailed with the story of The Rutles. With all this reading material, I was able to get all the jokes in the mockumentary.
You can read the Marvel version of the Fab Four here, where it’s been posted to Flickr. Of note for comic book fans, that’s the penciller of “The New Teen Titans” and “JLA vs. The Avengers,” teamed with the inker of “The Dark Knight Returns.”
It was that summer that I became a rabid Beatles fan, and then a rabid music fan as my interests spread to progressive rock, new wave, punk, techno, big band swing and more. It’s what lead me to become a radio deejay and develop the first incarnation of Radio Free Charleston. And it’s why I still produce RFC today.
I owe it all to The Rutles. The music by Innes, and the sketch by Innes and Eric Idle, connected me to The Beatles Matrix, and I am still logged in.
The Rutles were my gateway drug to The Beatles. To this day I still thank them for that.
Stuff To Do
George Washington High School’s improve troupe, Batteries Not Included, puts on their spring show tonight at 7 PM at the GWHS Auditorium. Admission is free.
Free Music Friday night sees Bare Bones brining their tight acapella harmonies to Taylor Books beginning at 7:30 PM. Dugan Carter and Friends take the stage at Bruno’s at 9 PM. Also at 9 PM, Renegade Mary returns to Smiley’s Lounge in St. Albans.
At 8 PM The Hackensaw Boys bring their string band sound to The Sound Factory at 8 PM, with PD Bird opening and a $15 cover. The Wild Rumpus will be at The Boulevard Tavern at 10 PM for a five-dollar cover. The McGees will be at The Empty Glass with the seven/five-dollar sliding cover charge.
Free music includes Renegade Mary, back at Smiley’s Lounge at 9 PM, and the way-cool Ritchy Collins Three-O at Taylor Books at 7 PM. The big free show is all evening at Los Agaves in South Charleston, as Comparsa and The VooDoo Katz offer up a couple of sets each at an outdoor stage, starting at 4 PM and 7 PM. Sunday, 600 lbs of SIN takes the stage at 4 PM.
Everpulse is hosting an all-day, all-ages show at the Elkview Community Center, starting at 12:30 PM. Bands include Natural Born Talent, Deck of Fools, Breedlove, Trielement, Everpulse and more. No word yet on an admission fee, but it’s sure to be a bargain with so many great bands (many of which have been on Radio Free Charleston).
The Nanker Phelge, Ryan Wright and No Pretty Pictures will be at Sam’s Uptown Cafe at 10 PM with a five-dollar cover.
Soon-to-be RFC guests, The Red Lights, will celebrate Cinco De Mayo at The Empty Glass at 10 PM, with a seven dollar cover.
That’s it for this week. Keep on PopCult’!