Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: December 2019 (Page 1 of 4)

Tyler Childers on The RFC MINI SHOW

As we have done in the last week of each of the previous two years, we bring you a Winter’s surprise. This time, at the head of this post, it’s the first new episode of The RFC MINI SHOW since January, 2016.

The plan was to bring you a whole new episode of the Radio Free Charleston video show, but we simply ran out of time to do it right, so we intend to have that show ready in January, 2020.

However, I have been sitting on some archival footage for over five years now, and I have a feeling that a lot of my readers might want to see it.

In November, 2014, superstar Country artist, Tyler Childers, had not quite yet reached “superstar” status. He was a remarkable talent, and anybody who saw him could have easily imagined him making it big, but back in 2014, he was still up for the idea of playing a solo show at a bowling alley in Dunbar, West Virginia, just for the hell of it.

Scotty Johnson, who was booking the performances at Dunbar Lanes at the time, was a big fan, and he was such a big fan that he convinced me to come out and record some of Tyler’s show, despite the fact that Country Music is really not my cup of tea. I have to be honest, some arm-twisting was involved.

Mel and I went to the show, and we were really impressed by Tyler’s talent. Even though neither of us are fans of Country Music, we could see that this was a star in the making. I used one of the songs we recorded that night on Radio Free Charleston 203,  just a few days after we recorded it.

This was a time when I was recording bands at a fast and furious pace. I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but I felt like I was racing the clock. I thought I was in the early stage of ALS, and wanted to document as much local music as possible while I could.  Even though Tyler was from Kentucky, he played in town often enough to be considered local.

Since I was recording so many musicians, much of that material wound up stashed away on hard drives for future use. As I have mentioned, probably too many times here, in the late winter of 2016, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, which meant that I did NOT have ALS, but which did mean that I was about to begin a time-consuming medical adventure that would take me away from my then-habit of cranking out video versions of RFC on an almost-weekly basis. Since then, I’ve been doing RFC as a radio show, with the video version coming out about once a year.

Recently, with Tyler’s sold-out appearance on Mountain Stage earlier this month, and with news of him selling out huge arenas all over the country, I remembered that I had unused footage of him from Dunbar Lanes in 2014. In fact, it was someone on social media complaining about not being able to get a ticket to Mountain Stage that caused the light bulb to go off.

It seems like as good a time as any to bust out that footage, so in this RFC MINI SHOW we bring you three songs performed by Tyler, including a cover of the classic “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” I have a feeling that it’ll be a long time before Tyler plays another bowling alley, and I hope you enjoy seeing him in this intimate setting. He’s a great guy, and it’s a kick seeing all the success he’s had.

And this RFC MINI SHOW is our New Year’s Eve surprise drop, just to keep our consecutive year streak of doing at least one show per annum going at fourteen. Don’t be shocked, but if our plans come to fruition, not only will there be a new full-length episode of RFC next month, but we’ll probably have another RFC MINI SHOW, starring a band from Chicago.

Don’t forget, you can tune in to The AIR starting Tuesday at 10 AM for a marathon of all of the Radio Free Charleston Radio shows from 2019. The rest of this week, The AIR will present marathons of all of the episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call and The Swing Shift from 2019.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

We hope everybody has a very safe and Happy New Year.

Monday Morning Art: The Water Tower At Night


As you probably know, if you are a regular reader of PopCult, your faithful blogger spent a week in Chicago earlier this month. The wife and I had a great time taking in theater, shopping, riding the “L” and just having a good time in general. One night we walked the Magnificent Mile, just to see the lights, and for this week’s art, I decided to go all post-impressionistic on you and drag out my virtual Van Gogh brushes for this digital painting depicting part of that stroll.  It’s my way of having a little fun while trying to see the world through the eyes of a guy who had trouble keeping his glasses from slipping.

If you wish, you can click this image to see it bigger.

Meanwhile, over in radio-land, Monday on The AIR, our Monday Marathon runs from 7 AM to 7 PM, and brings you most of 2019’s episodes of Nigel Pye’s Psychedelic Shack.   At 7 PM, you can hear all four of Steven Allen Adams’ episodes of NOISE BRIGADE, so far. The rest of this week, The AIR will present marathons of all of the episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call and The Swing Shift from 2019.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

We hope everybody has a very safe and Happy New Year, as we prepare one last surprise before 2020.

Sunday Evening Videos: Menard’s Model Railroading

Yesterday your PopCulteer took a day trip with his lovely wife to exotic Lancaster, Ohio, so that I could visit a Menard’s store.

Menard’s is a large hardware store chain, sort of like a Lowe’s or Home Depot on steroids, and many of them also carry groceries and other cool stuff.

Among that “other cool stuff” is their own line of O scale and HO scale pre-built, fully painted and wired for lights model railroading buildings. They also make a lot of accessories in both scales and lots of O scale rolling stock. Plus they sell some train sets made by other manufacturers.

I’m an armchair model railroader, meaning that I don’t currently have the room to build a layout or set up any trains. Consequently, I don’t follow the hobby nearly closely enough to keep up with what’s going on where.  Still, when my weary brain recently made the connection that the Menard’s who advertise in the toy train magazines was the same company as the big-box hardware store that I’ve known about for years, my mind was somewhat blown.

Menard’s had a catalog in a recent issue of Classic Toy Trains Magazine, and in that catalog, one item struck me. It was this animated UFO scene, with a farmer playing tug-of-war with a UFO that’s trying to steal one of his cows.

I sort of had to have that. And they also make it in HO Scale, so it’s compatible with the bulk of my train stuff, which is all tucked away in storage at the moment.

I started looking for the nearest Menard’s. We almost went to one in while we were Chicago a few weeks ago, but ironically enough, it was too far away from the L for us to visit without taking a cab, plus when we go to Chicago we’re limited somewhat in how much stuff we can bring back…again ironically…on Amtrak.

So I found out that Ohio is blessed with a trainload of Menard’s stores, and while they aren’t too close, there are a few that are within a comfortable day trip’s drive. We couldn’t fit in a pre-Christmas trip, but the weekend after the holiday was open, so we decided to get out and enjoy the warm and overcast day. I could have ordered this from their website, but where’s the fun in that?

I did not shoot video of my first visit to Menard’s, but the video at the head of this post was made by someone from the Pittsburgh area who made their first visit to Menard’s back in November, and it’s a quick and fun watch that will give you an idea of what to expect.  Menard’s only dedicates half of one aisle and an endcap to toy trains in most stores, but that half-aisle is packed with so much cool stuff that it’s well worth the trip. The other nice thing about that is that Menards, though dedicated to the hobby, will not force any full-service hobby shops out of business, since they don’t compete across every product line in the vas world of model railroading.

What’s really interesting for my local readers is that Menard’s has been flirting with opening stores here in West Virginia for years. Nothing came of an announced store in Wheeling back in 2015, but Menard’s now owns land at Tanyard Station near Huntington, as well as in Morgantown, near Clarksburg, in Parkersburg and we even passed a new store under construction in Belpre, Ohio, on the way back from Lancaster. I’m guessing that we’re at least a year (or more) away from any West Virginia Menard’s being ready to open, but it’s nice knowing that they’re eventually coming closer. In the meantime, it makes for a fun day trip, or a cool stop on the way to Columbus.

Yesterday’s day trip was to Lancaster, Ohio, where we found Menard’s, Meijer, an interestingly not-dead mall and a Frisch’s Big Boy, all within a two-mile stretch. It’s eye-opening to venture out of Charleston and see that, even as nearby as Parkersburg, the retail environment is thriving with new businesses popping up and new chain stores attracted to the area.

Since we’ve never had a Menard’s in this market before, I never got to see cool commercials that would have clued me on on their train stuff earlier, like this one…

Anyway, below are a couple more videos that show some of the cool model railroad offerings from Menards…

You can order Menard’s Trains and see more videos of their buildings HERE.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 196

This week we go back to March, 2014, for a loaded edition of RFC. Radio Free Charleston 196, “Test Subject MCHM” was a jam-packed show with three musical acts making their RFC debuts, and two acts returning after more than five years away. We also had animation from Jake Fertig, and “PrelinGERD” by Frank Panucci.

Project Biscotti had been lighting up the music scene with their punk cabaret sound when we recorded them. Shortly after that, they scattered to the four winds, and are still making music separately. We captured the band at the old Kanawha Players Theater performing a song in public for the first time ever. This episode presented Project Biscotti with “Gypsy Blues.”

Mark Cline Bates hadn’t been on RFC since episode 58, more than five years before this episode debuted,Mark is still performing in the area and making great music. We featured Mark, recorded just days prior at The Empty Glass, performing “Comfort in the Darkness Here,” a song he co-wrote with Clark Paterson.

Our animation was a “Deep Space Microsode” by Jake Fertig, and it furthers The Flocking storyline. Jake is still preparing his animated feature for an eminent release.

We discovered singer/songwriter Dina Hornbaker at Third Eye Cabaret and Mel and I were instantly impressed with her voice, playing and songs, and knew instantly that we’d showcase her on RFC. Dina is still making cool music. This week we featured Dina performing her original song, “Mountain Mama.”

Another prodigal act returning the RFC fold after more than five years was the recently reformed, dogSoldier.  Occastionally, with no warning, dogSoldier will still pp up and do a show when you least expect it. We brought you the band performing “Cops” on this edition of RFC.

Jordan Searls closes the show this week. In 2007 I caught Jordan at a high school talent show that also featured InFormation, Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen and Joe Slack on the bill. I knew then that I wanted to have him as a guest on RFC, but it took seven years for our trajectories to intersect.  We featured  Jordan Searls playing us out this week with his song “Anytime You’re In.”

Marathon Week On The AIR Begins With A New Sydney’s Big Electric Cat

The PopCulteer
December 27, 2019

Friday at 3 PM on The AIR we present our final new episode of 2019. It’s a special edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat that pulls back the veil, just a little, on our enigmatic hostess. Today’s new episode is part of a marathon of all of the editions of Big Electric Cat that have debuted in 2019, and that kicks off more than a week of marathons as we prepare The AIR for the new year, with new jingles, interstitials, episodes and special music programs in 2020.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

On Friday’s new Big Electric Cat, Sydney Fileen (not her real name) departs from the usual New Wave format of her show as she presents edited highlights of two airchecks from her 1984 stint as “Kelly Brown” (also not her real name), a deejay playing hard rock and heavy metal on the pirate radio station, UK Radio Wolverhampton.

UK Radio Wolverhampton was a station that broadcast legally on shortwave, and due to a loophole in British broadcast law, legally at certain heavily-restricted times over FM radio. These stations tended to ignore those restrictions, and thus, their deejays tended to use fake names to avoid prosecution.

In this week’s show, you will hear Sydney’s final broadcast as “Kelly Brown.” Her real name was leaked to newspapers and she had to drop out of the pirate game after this. She then began her career in legit radio and television announcing, and the rest would be history, if she were using her real name to present Big Electric Cat.

As I’ve explained before, our friends at Haversham Recording Institute use psuedonyms in part as a tribute to their roots in the UK pirate radio scene, but also because they are all highly-paid and highly sought-after voice talents in the UK, and don’t want people to know that they’re doing these shows for free. That’s also why sometimes we go weeks or months between fresh episodes, because as PopCult readers should know by now, paying work is a priority. The recent Brexit mess and Parliamentary elections are why this is the first Haversham Show we’ve had since October.

This desire for anonymity probably explains why, every time we ask Sydney for a photo, she sends us what turns out to be a picture of Cleo Rocas, a British comedienne.

The discovery of these airchecks allowed Sydney to take us back to the 1980s, as she does every week at 3 PM on The AIR, but in a different sort of way. She did ask me to stress that she is mortified at how “unprofessional” she thinks she sounds on these recordings. She also claims to be mortified by some of the music she was playing, though you may hear some New Wave-tinged tunes creep in among the Rush and AC/DC.

The Big Electric Cat marathon begins Friday, and runs over into Saturday, when it gives way to Radio Free Charleston International on Saturday and Sunday, and then we’ll play all of the 2019 episodes of Psychedelic Shack and NOISE BRIGADE on Monday.

All next week on The AIR, we will present marathons of our specialty music shows, as we gear up for some changes in the new year. Most of these changes will be cosmetic, with new promos and jingles. We’ll also be introducing some new shows, and re-introducing some old shows with new formats.

I’m seriously considering revamping Radio Free Charleston. For the last few years I’ve been hosting RFC as a local showcase, and then producing RFC International as the show where I play “Whatever the hell I want.”

I’m considering combining the two shows into a weekly three-hour program that would allow me to jump between national and international artists, and music by local creators. This was actually the format of the original Radio Free Charleston program on broadcast radio back in 1989, and I like the idea of showing that music made locally can stand, head and shoulders, with the best music in the world.

Unless I get talked out of this, Radio Free Charleston will keep its Tuesday 10 AM/10 PM timeslot, and will be rebroadcast Thursdays at 3 PM. I want to thank all our loyal listeners and all my loyal PopCult readers. The plan, in the new year, is to bring you even more quality internet radio, and more cool pop culture news.

That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check PopCult daily for fresh content.


BOXING DAY At PopCult and On The AIR!

The day after Christmas is called “Boxing Day.” Unlike last year, we aren’t going to recycle our holiday programming on The AIR and run it one last time. This year we’re going to program the latest episodes of our music specialty shows all day long, as we prepare to ring in the new year with celebratory marathons  all next week before kicking off the new decade with new episodes of everything the week after next.

We’re also taking today to slack off a bit here in PopCult, mainly because a brief power outage occurred while we were out visiting family on Christmas Day, and un-frying the system is taking more time than it should.

We should be back on track by Friday, though. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the holiday season.

Merry Christmas From PopCult

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and whatever good tidings fill your bill from PopCult and the Larch-Panucci household.

2019 has been an interesting year, and not necessarily in the Chinese curse way, but close enough for Advil and a nap. I hope that everybody can find some peace and well-being on this special day, and that the new year brings us all new happiness, joy, good health, and sound leadership. We are hoping to bring you a special post-Christmas treat sometime in the next week, so if you have time, keep checking PopCult.

As is our tradition on Christmas Day, we bring you Melanie Larch singing “Ave Maria” from the very first Christmas episode of Radio Free Charleston.

Let’s follow that up with the 2014 Christmas treat that saw Melanie backed by Mark Scarpelli…

And we’ll continue with Mel’s 2009 Christmas song with Diablo Blues Band…

How about this year we add one more to the mix?

Wishing you and yours the best-

Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Christmas Eve Brings A New NOISE BRIGADE On The AIR

We are still awash in holiday music on The AIR, but on this Christmas Eve, we are proud to bring you a brand-new episode of NOISE BRIGADE, hosted by Steven Allen Adams. At 2 PM this afternoon you can tune in for a solid hour of ska/punk XMas music of the highest order.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Check out this cool, Yule-flavored playlist of awesomeness…


Action Action “Father Christmas”
Bad Manners “It’s Christmas Time Again”
Bad Religion “Little Drummer Boy”
Big D and the Kids Table “Wicked Hardcore Christmas”
Blink-182 “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”
Cousin Oliver “Naked Christmas”
Cynimatics “All I Want for Christmas is You”
Dropkick Murphys “The Season’s Upon Us”
Fear “Another Christmas Beer”
Iggy Pop “White Christmas”
Impact “Punk Xmas”
Less Than Jake “I’m Getting Nuttin’ For Christmas”
Madness “Inanity Over Christmas”
MDC “Black Christmas”
Mojo Nixon “Christmas Christmas”
MU330 “Everyday Christmas”
MxPx “Christmas Night of the Living Dead”
NOFX “Xmas Has Been X’ed”
Reel Big Fish “Auld Lang Syne”

It’s all part of the never-ending onslaught of holiday music on The AIR.  If you want to stay in the Christmas spirit, just tune in as Christmas is in The AIR. You’ll hear special blocks of Christmas songs as well as holiday-oriented episodes of some of our specialty music programs, like Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call, The BS Crazy Show, Prognosis, The Swing Shift, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat and more.

You’ll be hearing this stuff until 12:00 AM, December 26. That’s when The AIR kicks into marathon mode for the rest of the year…with a surprise or two along the way.

The PopCult Tree

In the holiday spirit, and since I didn’t paint much detail on the tree in Monday Morning Art this morning, here are a lot of more detailed photos of this year’s PopCult Christmas tree, lovingly decorated by my wife, Mel Larch, who may stop rearranging things on it sometime in the new year.

It seems like this has become a tradition, but this year we’re doing it a little later than normal, mainly because of the shortened holiday season coinciding with a week in Chicago and a major magazine deadline.

As shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, you will find ornaments that pay tribute to Chicago, The Walking Dead, The Batman TV Show, The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, Tiki, Lucky Cats, and more. You can see part of the Batman section at right, with a little GI Joe and Yellow Submarine in on the act.

Mel really puts a lot of work into this, and we hardly have any guests over these days, so I thought PopCult would be the best avenue to share this with all of you. It also acts as our Christmas card, since we haven’t sent out physical cards in years, and this way you get way more pictures.

This is mostly with short or no captions, but I’ll explain a bit, here or there.

In addition to the usual suspects mentioned above, you’ll also find reminders of The New York Yankees, The Chicago Cubs, plays Mel has been involved in, and other things that mean something to our lives together.


Batgirl is new this year.

Aliens, accordians and marquees. The penguin mugs are from Christkindl Market.

Continue reading

Monday Morning Art: Christmas Tree Art


We’re all still in a holiday sort of mood this week, so today’s art is a digital painting of the Panucci/Larch Christmas Tree. Later today, we’ll have a photo essay with close-ups so you can see all the cool ornaments we’ve accumulated.

If you wish, you can click this image to see it bigger.

It’s supposed to make you feel all holiday-y and stuff.

Meanwhile, over in radio-land, Monday on The AIR, our Monday Marathon presents twenty-four hours more of holiday programming starting at 7 AM. We’ll have a little break overnight as we bring you some prog-rock, just to cleanse the pallette.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

We hope everybody has a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday or whatever the hell it is that you celebrate. Just be nice to one another, okay?


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