A year and a month after the triumph and the first “With A Little Help From Our Friends” marathon of Beatles songs, Rubber Soul once again assembles an all-star collection of the state’s finest musicians to pay tribute to the Fab Four. On March 9, at The West Virginia Culture Center Theater on the State Capitol grounds, Rubber Soul presents: “With A Little Help From Our Friends – A West Virginia Tribute to the Beatles” As with last year’s show, this is a fundraiser for West Virginia’s Fund for The Arts.
This time around they’re not going to attempt to play every song The Beatles recorded, but they will present a “hard day’s night” of some of the state’s top bands diving into the Beatles songbook. This event features seven West Virgina groups paying tribute to the music of the Beatles. Each group will play music from an iconic Beatles album: Rubber Soul will play the “Rubber Soul” album; Qiet will perform music from “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”; Of The Dell will play music from “Help”, “Revolver” and tunes from the touring years; Carpenter Ants will play music from various Beatles albums; Independent State will feauture music from “Let It Be”; Beggars Clan will play music from “The White Album.”
Minor Swing will be set up in the lobby playing instrumental Beatles hits.
Mark Scarpelli and his group, Rubber Soul, have been spreading the gospel of The Saints from Liverpool for years, and this will be an evening of music that proves that all you need is love.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can order tickets through Showclix. The evening will begin at 7 PM, at the West Virginia Culture Center Theater.
Last year’s event was one of the most-talked-about concerts of the year, and this year’s show is sure to be a splendid time (I would even guarantee it for all). Sadly, your PopCulteer and his wife, Mel Larch (who performed in last year’s show) will not be able to participate because the date coincides with our annual trip to Atlanta for ToyLanta, which I will be telling you about all next week. Still, if you’re in town and love the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo, there is no place else to be but at this show, a week from this Saturday.
In Parkersburg this weekend Classics Plasticks presents the sixth annual Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo. We’ve gone in previous years, and it was a blast. The only thing keeping us away this year is another trip to a different toy show that you’ll be reading about all next week. Saturday March 2 & 3 are the dates, and the hours are 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, and 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday. Admission is $5 per person and kids 10 years old and younger get in for FREE.
Guests this year include Timothy Zahn – Star Wars author and character creator of Thrawn and fan favorite Mara Jade; Daniel Pesina, a martial artist who played Johnny Cage and others in Mortal Kombat; Comics creator Victor Dandridge Jr.: and artist, Michael Watson.
All this takes place at The Parkersburg Art Center, 725 Market St, Parkersburg, West Virginia. Admission is only five bucks.
Radio Free Charleston, the flagship show on the The AIR hits a milestone this week It’s not the first time we’ve hit it, but you can listen at The AIR or on this embedded player…
Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM The AIR presents a special episode of our flagship show, Radio Free Charleston. It’s our 100th show on The AIR, but to be honest, it’s not really our 100th show. It’s not even our first 100th show.
Let me explain: Radio Free Charleston debuted on broadcast radio (WVNS in Charleston) on Labor Day Weekend in 1989. This first version ran 33 episodes before office politics and petty jealousy caused it to be cancelled in 1990. With the aid of Douglas Imbrogno and The Gazz, RFC made a triumphant return as an online video show in 2006. This version of the show is “Volume 2,” and it’s still running, albiet not nearly as frequently as it used to. We’re up to episode 218 of the video version of RFC, and we have another 78 episodes of The RFC MINI SHOW to add to the mix.
In 2014 Radio Free Charleston became part of Voices of Appalachia, an internet radio station that had a great mix of programming, but was beset by persistant technical issues. By January, 2016 the station had morphed into “OnTheAIRadio”, and in July of that year I assumed ownership of the station and shortened the name to “The AIR.” We re-started Radio Free Charleston with a new number one, and it’s taken me about three years to crank out 100 editions of “RFCv4.”
So while it’s cool to hit a milestone, like our 100th show, the truth is it more like our 469th show. Still, the milestone must go on, and we decided to pay tribute to our first 100th episode (which you can see HERE) by including the audio from the entire video episode in this show. Since that 100th episode was only 38 minutes long, we’ve included some rare bonuses, like Hasil Adkins performing the first local song ever broadcast on RFC, Brian Young singing and playing guitar and of course, Clownhole.
This is all part of our look back at thirty years of Radio Free Charleston, which we plan to do all year long, so you might as well get used to it.
Here’s the playlist for RFCv4100:
Hasil Adkins “Big Red Satellite”
RFC v2 100 including:
The Charleston Playhouse Quartet “RFC Theme”
“Hair Rage” trailer by Scott Elkins
Hellblinki “Sanjula’s Junk”
The Nanker Phelge “I’m Coming Home”
“Courting Disaster” promo
Eva Elution “I Don’t Want To Die”
David Synn “The Last Flight of Icarus”
Jeff Ellis “Fade”
Rudy, Mel Larch, Kitty Killton, Steven Allen Adams intro the RFC Medley
Brian Young “The Swinging Man” (Black Flag)
Clownhole “Heads On Fire”
John Radcliff “Rock N Rolla”
Three Bodies “Shingles and Tar”
Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at noon and Midnight, and Sunday at 3 PM exclusively on The AIR.
We also have a brand-new episode of The Swing Shift debuting today at 3 PM. This edition of our weekly hour of the best Swing Music of the last century features only one announcement segment by your PopCulteer, as he blew his voice out producing Radio Free Charleston. Here’s the music you get this week:
The Swing Shift 064
The Cat’s Pajamas “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me”
The Hot Swing Sextet “N.R.C. Jump”
Tullia Morand Orchestra “Guargale”
Gin Gypsy “Peaches”
Jennifer Wharton “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise”
The Clash “Look Here”
The Puppini Sisters “It Ain’t What You Do”
Ryal Crown Revue “Walkin’ Like Brando”
The Holcombe Family String Band “The Great Fire Of Armley”
Zazu “Stand By Me”
Richard Geere “Soul and Body”
Kieth Emerson “Big Horn Breakdown”
Duke Ellington “In A Sentimental Mood”
Cab Calloway “We The Cats Shall Hep You”
Robbie Williams “Puttin’ On The Ritz”
You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.
We open this week with a quick and sloppy pastel drawing of a New York City street scene, based on about half-a-dozen photos I took on a muggy day last August. This is a piece of real art, and I have the hand cramps to prove it. At the time I was struck by the juxtaposition of the very dark, grey buildings with the bright violet video screens carrying financial news, and the way the light from the screens bounced off of everything.
As always, click to see a bigger version.
Monday on The AIR, The Monday Marathon remains shrunken from 24 hours to 8. It still kicks off at 7 AM, every Monday, and it still showcases one of our popular music programs, but now it wraps up at 3 PM, to make way for two weekly marathon presentations of the best of two of our regular shows. This week it’s a marathon of Mr. Lee Harrah and Harrah’s Hard & Heavy, bringing you the hardest rock you’ll hear on The AIR. At 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Then at 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis.
You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
ToyLanta 2019 is less than two weeks away, and your PopCulteer will be there with bells on. To help get everyone excited about the South’s biggest toy show, I’m finally getting around to editing and posting some of the panels from last year’s show. Tonight we have a real winner.
Greg Autore is a noted toy designer with a career spanning more than two decades of work for Hasbro, Mattel and others. As one of the freelance designers contributing to the GI Joe Classic Collection line in the late 190s, Greg was responsible for many of the more interesting Adventure-themed sets.
At this panel appearance from the 2018 ToyLanta, in March of 2018, Greg shows off several prototypes for very cool action figures, many of which did not make it to toy store shelves. He pulls back the curtain and reveals many of the secrets of the toy industry. It’s more than an hour of fascinating toys that should have been, filled with lots of great behind-the-scenes stories of how the toy business works.
Greg tells more tales of his days making toys at his website, Twelve Inch Treasures. Check it out and sign up for updates on his new posts.
Greg will also make a return appearance at ToyLanta 2019, March 8-10 at The Marriott Century Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He promises to show off even more really cool toys from his personal archives.
Like I said, Mr. and Mrs. PopCulteer will be there, and we’d like to see a record-breaking crowd taking in all the toys, panels, guest artists, and other cool happenings at this annual show that benefits the Cody Lane Memorial Toy & Diorama Museum. I do have to apologize for taking almost a year to get these panels edited and posted. As some of you may remember, health issues since 2016 have put a serious dent in my video work. However, I am working hard to play catch-up.
This week we go back to October, 2012, for an episode of Radio Free Charleston devoted to the very first ShockaCon, Charleston’s first horror and sci-fi convention. Our musical guests are The Tom McGees, The Nanker Phelge, and The Renfields. Plus, we have a short film by convention guest, Appalachian horror author Frank Larnerd. The first ShockaCon was a free, one-day event that happened around The Mound in South Charleston.
We open the show with footage of the Monster Parade, shot by our trusty production assistant, Lee Harrah. At different points in the show, you will see more Shocka-Con footage, some of it captured by our Resident Diva, Melanie Larch. Yours truly joined in as all three of us manned cameras for the band sequences.
During our end credits, you will hear snippets of The Dead Ringers, rumored to be the re-animated corpses of members of The Kanawha Kordsmen and Sweet Adelines, plus “Do The Necronomicon,” performed by the cast of Kanawha Players “Evil Dead: The Musical.”
It’s been a while since I’ve written about a local civic issue here in PopCult, but yesterday, Michael Keller, a Facebook friend and a damned fine photographer, posted about the rise of pedestrian and bicylist fatalities nationwide, and made some observations about the local situation, and it got me to thinking.
I’m on record as not being happy about the very expensive bike path that reduced Kanawha Boulevard to three lanes near Patrick Street. I think it was a huge waste of money, severely disrupted the traffic flow of the evening rush, and has not served very many people.
The truth is, it’s been open well over a year now (maybe two, I haven’t been keeping track), and I have yet to witness a single bicyle using that path. Admittedly, I don’t drive to Charleston as much as I used to. When my wife worked downtown and had an hour for lunch, I would meet her for lunch two or three times a week. Now that she works at the Capitol Complex and doesn’t have as much time for lunch, I make it to Charleston once or twice a month.
But still, I think that particular project made very little sense.
I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot in recent years, and I see how they handle their bicycling issues. I know that Charleston is not really comparable to Chicago. First of all, they cram about twenty times as many people into an area one-fourth the size of Kanawha County. Also, Chicago is mostly flat land, while Charleston is not.
Topographically, Charleston is simply not bike-friendly. We could never have a bike-renting program like Divvy (seen left) here. We simply don’t have enough people, and the 30-minute time limit isn’t really feasible with our hills and mountains.
What we do have is a smallish stretch of bike-friendly flat land, from the State Capitol Complex to Patrick Street, that could be made more accessible to bikes and pedestrians.
We still need to cater to people who drive, though. Due to the nature of the terrain, cars are necessary in West Virginia. So a happy medium must be struck.
To be honest, when I do drive in Downtown Charleston these days, I’m noticing a lot of traffic insanity on the part of pedestrians, cyclists and most of all with my fellow drivers.
It’s gotten so bad that when I see someone making a right-turn from the left lane (or a left-turn from the right lane), I call it “Doing The Charleston.” People are driving like idiots. They’re also walking and biking like idiots.
I would suggest that Charleston turn to some of the very talented graphic designers, educators and advertising agencies in town, and develop a traffic education program, to remind everyone that we need to share the road, and maybe remember how the hell to drive, for a change.
Drivers need to be on alert for bikes and pedestrians. Bicyclists need to obey the same traffic rules as all vehicles. You can’t blow through a red light and be surprised if a car hits you. Pedestrians need to cross streets at the designated crossing areas and obey the crossing signals. Walking in front of a moving car is never a good idea, although lately it seems to have become a sport in Charleston. We also need to address motorcycles and electric scooters while we’re at it.
Getting back to what I’ve observed in Chicago, I’m still a bit befuddled about the decision to take part of Kanawha Boulevard and convert it into a bike trail. That would be like shutting down part of Lake Shore Drive so that the cyclists could all enjoy the wonderful view. They wouldn’t take that route because it doesn’t take cyclists to the most likely places for them to go, just like in Charleston.
Most of the people who advocated for that bike trail would have to ride twenty minutes just to use part of it, and won’t do it because we don’t have that many days of good bicycling weather in Charleston. It’s either way too cold or way too hot and humid, or it’s raining or snowing.
That money should have been spent carving out some of the ample sidewalk space downtown, taking a couple of feet of street, and creating a series of bike lanes that are protected by physical barriers. They have these all over Chicago, and they seem to do a pretty good job of keeping cars and bikes from occupying the same space. The barriers have the added benefit of acting as a deterrent for pedestrians who might otherwise try to cross in the middle of a block.
It’s not really a very attractive solution, but it does work, and it makes it safer for cyclists to go downtown, where there are places they may actually want to do business. The amount of money spent to create a bike path that takes people from Patrick Street, half-way to Magic Island was ridiculous. It was our “bridge to nowhere,” only for bikes.
Even if the pipe-dream of the anti-Kanawha Boulevard forces prevailed, and turned the Boulevard into a car-free paradise, those cyclists would still have to leave that trail and venture into the car-populated downtown area to get where they want to go. I wrote about this in PopCult over thirteen years ago, but my observations were dismissed.
At the very least, Charleston needs some kind of traffic education campaign, and should study the practicality of different types of barriers. That bike trail on the Boulevard did not solve a single thing, and hasn’t been worth the money, or the traffic disruption that it’s caused.
So that’s my thoughts on the matter. Thanks to Michael for inspiring them.
Friday on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat
The Haversham Recording Institute shows have all been new this week, and we have another great two-hour trip into the New Wave era today at 3 PM on The AIR.
You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
Sydney Fileen is back with a new show that opens with The Clash, and includes a set of New Wave covers of classic rock songs. Check out the playlist here…
The Clash “London Calling”
Shriekback “Madness Into Method”
Martha and the Muffins “Three Hundred Years/Chemistry”
The Cure “The Top”
The Police “Murder By Numbers”
The Ruts “Staring At The Rude Boys”
The Fall “Kicker Conspiracy”
The Slits “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”
The Dickies “Nights In White Satin”
The Mo Dettes “Paint It Black”
Stewart & Gaskin “It’s My Party”
Klaus Nomi “Lightning Strikes”
Personal Effects “End Of The World”
Men At Work “Be Good Johnny”
Missing Persons “Words” Bully Boy “Can You Hear Me”
Quickflight “Fade To Glory”
The Fans “Mind Over Matter”
Ballistic Kisses “Migrant Memories”
The Human League “Mirror Man”
The Stranglers “Baroque Bordello”
The The “Soul Mining”
Laurie Anderson “O Superman”
New Musik “World Of Water”
The Belle Stars “Sign of the Times”
Each week Sydney Fileen brings you two hours of the best music of the New Wave era. Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard on Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM and Thursday at 10AM, exclusively on The AIR.
And that is this week’s PopCulteer. Thanks for reading and please check back for all our regular features. We’ll also be wrapping up our coverage of Toy Fair, and looking ahead to ToyLanta, which is a mere two weeks away!
Herman Linte returns with a new episode of our Progressive Rock showcase, Prognosis Thursday at 3 PM on The AIR. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
Our Thursday morning line up sees Psychedelic Shack gaining an addtional replay at 9 AM, followed by a replay of the previous week’s edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat at 10 AM and Radio Free Charleston International at Noon. Then at 2 PM we replay episode 17 of Radio Free Charleston, before kicking into a brand-new Prognosis at 3 PM.
This week Herman Linte presents two hours of great progressive rock at 3 PM, with a new show featuring music from Fish, Peter Gabriel, YES, King Crimson and much more. Then at 5 PM, starting this week, we follow that with a classic episode of Prognosis, giving you four solid hours of challenging and progressive music.
This week’s show includes the following:
Mörglbl “Crime Minister
Fish “Waverly Steps”
Martin Barre “And The Band Played On”
Nick Mason “Malta”
Dee Palmer “Urban Apocalypse”
Peter Gabriel “Animal Nation (Live)”
Robert Berry “Life Is On Fire”
Be Bop Deluxe “Sleep That Burns”
Keith Emerson & The Nice “America/Rondo (Live)”
Hawkwind “Flying Doctor”
David Bowie “Loving The Alien (Extended Dub Mix)”
White Witch “Class of 2000”
YES featuring ARW “Heart of the Sunrise (Live)”
King Crimson “Breathless (Live)”
Prognosis can be heard every Thursday at 3 PM, with replays Friday at 7 AM, Saturday at 8 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM and Wednesday at 10 PM, exclusively on The AIR. Also tune in Monday at 11 PM for a weekly eight-hour marathon of the best of Prognosis.
Our Thursday evening We continue to let our listeners play catch-up with the week’s new episodes of The Swing Shift, Curtain Call, Beatles Blast and Psychedelic Shack, beginning at 7 PM. At 11 PM we bring you an hour of comedy, then we kick into the all-night marathon of The Swing Shift.
Later this week we will run a detailed report on what Mattel showed for Barbie at the 2019 International Toy Fair in New York, which just concluded yesterday, but today we’re going to take a look at what we can expect from the other fashion doll lines on the market.
Right off the bat, because there has been so much interest in Monster High here in PopCult since I covered the demise of the toy line last year, I have to tell you that there is no real news to cover. However, there are some encouraging signs.
The Monster HighYouTube channel continues to be updated with fresh content every week or so. The property has been mentioned as possibly being among the 22 television pilots in development from Mattel’s new TV production unit, and the official website is still up and running. That’s the good news. Also, the Monster High girls have not been painted out of the huge Mattel mural on display in their press-friendly showroom.
The bad news is that there have been no new toys offered to retailers since late 2017. The Monster HighFacebook page has not been updated in nearly a year. Except for coloring books and the long-delayed crossover novel with Ever After High, there have been no new books since 2016. Garrett Sander, the person who created the line for Mattel, left the company last summer to move to Australia and work for Moose Toys, the folks who make Shopkins. No Monster High toys of any kind were shown at Toy Fair last week.
Word came from France last year that they were getting new dolls from the line, but when they were revealed, it turned out to be leftover product that had already been sold in the US and UK two years ago.
It’s a sure bet that, if Mattel’s possible Monster High pilot gets picked up by a network or streaming service, some new toys will be produced to exploit that new exposure. Until then, there is nothing new to report. It is entirely within the realm of possiblity that Monster High will return to the toy aisles, but probably not this year.
Likewise, Mattel’s Ever After High and Enchantimals(seen right) are in the same situation, with fresh content on their respective YouTube channels, but no new retail product on the horizon. Enchantimals may have set a land-speed record for having its production halted after less than a year on toy store shelves.
Two presumed dead Mattel fashion doll lines did return, somewhat, at Toy Fair this year. Both DC Superhero Girls and WWE’s fashion dolls were shown, although the WWE line didn’t seem to have any new dolls in the line, just figures that saw limited release last year (along with a new plush line, coming in the fall). It’s possible that the Amazon-exclusive dolls of Asuka, Lana and Bayley will turn up at Target or Walmart now, but the Toys R Us liquidation saw a huge glut of the first series of dolls, and those can still be found cheap at deep-discount stores.
DC Superhero Girls, which went from being a billion-dollar brand to being virtually abandoned by Mattel, is returning now that it will be featured in a new series on Cartoon Network. Unfortunately, the dolls have been drastically redesigned, with even bigger heads, and weird face sculpts, and they’ve lost some of their most marketable characters.
While still featuring Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl as their key heroines, it seems that the new cartoon series has jettisoned the villains, who admittedly were a bit of a logical sticking point, so we will no longer have Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy in the mix, which takes out two of the top-selling characters.
It’s possible that somebody realized that mixing the lead from an R-rated movie into a cartoon for little girls might not make the best business sense.
Or maybe it’s just that both characters are criminally insane murderers in the comics that made the powers that be think twice.
Either way, the line will have an uphill battle with this latest “refresh” of the concept. The original series sold very well with its initial realease at Target, but ran into problems when Mattel over-produced the same dolls and shipped them to other retailers, who wound up dumping them in their clearance sections. The line didn’t need this drastic of a new look, and probably would have benefitted from a less cartoony approach, making them more like fashion dolls with realistic proportions.
The way DC Superhero Girls look now, these weird new bug-eyed giant-headed dolls (see the close up right) that look like Bratz rejects might find it difficult to connect with young girls.
Our friends at Lammily did not display at Toy Fair this year. Supplies of the original Lammily dolls are running low, but they do continue to make new outfits and accessories. Currently they are redesigning the body for Lammily, and are asking collectors if they would prefer more articulation. We may see big things next year. This year they’re smarting a bit from watching Mattel get tons of press for releasing a wheelchair for Barbie, like Lammily did two years ago.
Hasbro, thanks to their deal with Disney (and Star Wars and Marvel) is a player in fashion dolls now, and showed off an array of new dolls based on Captain Marvel (in stores now), plus the Disney Princesses in slumber party mode, as seen in Ralph Breaks The Internet.
Hasbro also unleashed a slew of new dolls based on the upcoming Descendants 3 movie.
Late last year Robert Tonner shut down the Tonner Doll Company, and started over with the high-end Phyn & Aero company, which will continue some Tonner doll series, but not the licensed properties like DC Comics and Harry Potter. Phyn & Aero seems intent on chasing the high-ticket market, with dolls that sell for the $120 -$300 range.
MGA Entertainment, who had an amazing year with their award-winning L.O.L. Surprise line of blind box mini-dolls, seemed focused on that toy, which is one of the best-selling in the world, and doesn’t appear to have shown any new Bratz or Project Mc2 product this year. There is a new Bratz designer collection, with the first assortment featuring the work of Hayden Williams, but it is exclusive to Amazon and therefore was not on display at Toy Fair.
That’s a quick look at the non-Barbie fashion dolls. Check PopCult in a day or so for a look at what Mattel has planned for Barbie’s 60th year.
Wednesday afternoon on The AIR, Mel Larch brings you a new hour of Curtain Call, featuring the best of musical theater. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
Curtain Call airs at 3 PM. Wednesday’s show opens with a demo of a song from the musical 1776, and in the rest of the hour Mel presents songs from newer shows like Unbreakable, Mula Sa Buwan and Head over Heels, and classic numbers from shows like Grease and Follies.
There are also a few numbers from the hidden gems of the world of musical theater, like the very first collaboration from Alen Menken and Howard Ashman, on a musical based on the works of Kurt Vonnegut, and a song from a musical by Langston Hughes. The second half of the show is devoted to a rain-themed set of songs that is particularly appropriate for this soggy Wednesday.
After the new hour of Curtain Call, stick around for two additional episodes from the Curtain Call archives. Curtain Call can be heard Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM and Saturday at 6 PM. An all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight.
In the morning, following our regular 7 AM replay of the previous day’s episode of The Swing Shift, we will bring you up to date with Prognosis at 9 AM and Psychedelic Shack at 11 AM. At noon tune in for Word Association iwth Lee & Rudy, followed by 90 minutes of The AIR Music Mix. Beatles Blast comes on at 2 PM. All times listed inthis post are EST, by the way.