The AIR is ready and eager to bid farewell and good riddance to 2020 with a 12-hour New Year’s Eve Countdown of Disco Music, as we turn the station over to Mel Larch and MIRRORBALL starting at Noon, Thursday.
You can listen at The AIR website, or on the embedded radio player over in our right-hand column.
After a morning mini-marathon of Steven Allen Adams’ NOISE BRIGADE from 7 AM to Noon, we bring you half a day’s worth of Mel Larch’s Disco Showcase, MIRRORBALL, bringing you the greats hits of The Disco era, with a countdown between episodes leading up to Midnight, and the end of 2020.
You can dance out this trainwreck of a year in style…1970’s style. Then at Midnight, we keep dancing, but to a different beat, as we begin 24 hours of The Swing Shift. That will be followed by 24-hour marathons of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on Saturday, and Beatles Blast on Sunday, before we go back to work with new episodes of our shows beginning Monday.
Don’t forget that we dropped a new video episode of Radio Free Charleston, right here in this blog, yesterday, and tomorrow we’ll have some kind of special New Year’s Day PopCulteer.
In the meantime, let’s bury this year in the woods and hope for a less beastly 2021.
Above you see “Plan 9 Shirt,” the newest episode of the Radio Free Charleston video show.
The 2020 video edition of Radio Free Charleston features music by Tautologic (recorded in July, 2019 in Chicago), The Swivel Rockers (recorded February, 2020 in Charleston) and Go Van Gogh (recorded in 1990 in Charleston). Plus we have animation from Frank Panucci and our trademark mind-hurting weirdness.
Our title shirt this time is Mitch O’Connell’s recreation of the poster for Plan 9 From Outer Space, which you can find for sale at his webstore.
As with most folks in 2020, our plans for the year wound up totally trashed. Originally I had planned to ramp up production of our video show slightly, and produce three or four episodes of our video extravaganza. One of those shows was to be an extra-long episode devoted to The Swivel Rockers, who have recently reunited after 30 years apart, and we did record the band in February. You’ll see part of that night in this episode.
Since the pandemic hit, and nothing happened as planned, all of our video work got put on the back burner. Last week, right before Christmas, I decided to cobble together a show so we could drop in near the end of the year, thus continuing our streak of at least one video episode of RFC every year since 2006.
I spent about four sleepless nights after Christmas editing video, and we decided to shoot the host segments in our living room (“we” being me and Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch) because I am immuno-suppressed and didn’t want to go maskless out in the wilderness of Charleston.
So it’s not an exotic location, but I hope it’s at least interesting.
Our animation is basically table scraps from my brother, Frank Panucci, re-edited by yours truly. About “Dancin’ Rudy,” the less said, the better.
Tautologic, in Giddings Plaza, Lincoln Square, Chicago–July 2019
Our first music act is Tautologic, who are not local, Charleston-based musicians, nor did we record them locally. But they’re damned good, and I hadn’t done anything with this footage that I shot in July, 2019, so we included their medley of “High School Reunion” and “The Choirboy” in this episode.
Tautologic is a Chciago-based progressive pop band who have put out two albums so far, and will be releasing a third in 2021. You can go buy the lead-off single HERE. We didn’t really get to know the band, basically just asking if it was okay to shoot video, and they’ve already posted their version of these songs (shot at the same time) on their YouTube page, so I hope they don’t mind their inclusion here.
Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Actually their lead singer did say, “Cool,” so I’ll consider that permission (please don’t sue, please don’t sue).
We recorded this on the hottest day of the year in Chicago in 2019. I’m not supposed to be out in the heat with Myasthenia Gravis, but I was already a fan of the band, and they were playing at one of our favorite hangout spots in Chicago, Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square, so we basically got off the train, checked into our hotel, and took the L to Lincoln Square, where I was able to shoot for about twenty minutes before throwing in the towel.
I was wiped out, but it was worth it.
Unfortunately, the band’s guitarist was hiding on the back of the tiny stage, and with only two cameras for this shoot, we did not come close to getting a decent shot of him during his blazing solos, so apologies for that. It always drives me nuts when a soloist is not on camera during a solo, but in this case it couldn’t be helped. The bass player is tucked away a bit, too.
The next night we went to see a new production of True West at Steppenwolf Theater, and got to hang out with one of the stars of that play, Francis Guinan, on the way back to our hotel on the Red Line. It was a fun trip, and I had planned to turn the Tautologic footage into an RFC MINI SHOW for this year, but instead included it here.
The Swivel Rockers (and dancer) at Sam’s Uptown Cafe, Charleston WV–February 2020
Next up is a preview of our full-length documentary episode of RFC devoted to The Swivel Rockers. I have a lot more to shoot before I can start putting this show together, and I’m hoping to do that in 2021. Right now the hold-up is waiting for some medical guidance on when I can get the vaccine for COVID-19. Being immuno-suppressed, but not a frontline worker or elderly, at the moment the CDC is saying “wait and see,” so I’m doing exactly that.
The Swivel Rockers were part of the Charleston Playhouse scene that birthed the original Radio Free Charleston broadcast radio show back in 1989. After almost 30 years apart, the core of Bobby Miller on vocals and Roger Rhodes on guitar (seen right) re-formed and started playing together again, and were going gangbusters before the local venues got shut down by the pandemic.
Their story is a wild and engrossing one, and with luck, I’ll be able to get together with them so that they can tell it sometime in 2021. I’d also like to shoot some additional footage of the band performing because, while we shot a whole set of their show back before the pandemic, we did not get any of their great original tunes. The Swivel Rockers have an EP with four orignals coming out in late January, so we’ll see what we can do around the release.
Seen here, with a very enthusiastic dancer, we have The Swivel Rockers paying tribute to one of their musical heroes, Hasil Adkins, with a mash-up of his songs, “She Said” and “Chicken Walk.”
Go Van Gogh at The Levee, Charleston, 1990
Playing us out, I decided to go back deep in the archives to a Go Van Gogh show that I shot at The Levee (the bar, not the actual levee) back in 1990. Go Van Gogh is no more. Sadly we lost Johnny Rock a couple of years ago. Tim isn’t playing music much these days. But Stephen Beckner and Mark Beckner are both making new music. Mark just released a new album a few months ago.
Here we hear the band tearing through Larry Williams’ classic, “Slowdown,” augmened by Mark Mingrone on keys and Bain Ashworth on bongos. This was a favorite of Johnny’s.
And that is it for our slapped-together at the last-minute 2020 episode of Radio Free Charleston. For the last few years, the appearance of a new RFC video show signals the end of the year, and this has definitely been a year worth ending, so enjoy this one an we’ll all hope for a better 2021.
All day today on The AIR (listen at the website, or on the player in the right column), you can hear some of the best of this year’s episodes of Radio Free Charleston.
In other local music news, we have been graced with an incredible, brand-new music video from Lady D…
Lady D has new music available at Reverbnation, and she’s taken her art into a new, more political, direction that is striking and important.
Here’s a snippet of what she says in the YouTube notes on this song, “I missed the Civil Rights Movement because I was too young to really know what was going on, but I’m not missing this human rights movement happening right now. Now, being made painfully aware that the skin I’m in is still perceived as a threat by many, I understand that I don’t have to make myself over to please anyone but me. I’ve given myself permission to be angry and permission to not care if you don’t like it! The soundtrack of my black life’s third act will be music that says exactly what I feel…and what I feel is that “shit’s crazy!” My people walkin’ around with targets on their backs, being killed over toy guns, playing music too loud or just lookin’ suspicious. No love songs this time around! The last four years has made me tired of pretense. I just want to tell the truth and add to the chorus of voices being raised against wanna be dictators and undercover racists. They’re coming out of the closet and now they can be seen in the cold light of day. You can do dirt but just remember, Karma is a bitch…and she works for God! Oh yeah…and my BLACK LIFE MATTERS!”
You can hear “Karma Is A Bitch” and more new music by Lady D at her Reverbnation page. I will keep you all posted about when Lady D’s new album will be available for purchase.
Meanwhile, The Company Stores are using GoFundMe to finance the recording of their next album. The band explains…
Our plans for 2020 were to hit the road hard, raise funds, and save to record our third full length album. However, almost all of our lives shows have been cancelled due to the pandemic. We normally play 100+ shows in a year. This year we’ve played 5. We are scheduled to record in New Orleans, with producer Robert Mercurio, this winter. Robert’s portfolio is impressive to say the least. He has worked with The Revivalists, Trombone Shorty, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and of course his own band, Galactic. Together we have been spending countless quarantine hours writing and the rehearsal room, growing as songwriters and musicians, and are getting excited to present what we think will be our greatest record to date.
However, since gigs are our main source of revenue, our goal of recording anytime soon is fading fast. At this point our only chance is to reach out to the fans, who have already done so much for us, and ask them to do a little more.
Check out more details in this video…
Again, you can check out this fundraiser right here.
Our final art piece of 2020 is a painting based on a photo, which I took out my office window on Christmas Eve and shared on social media. To bring it to physical form, I used a limited palette of blues, whites and blacks, and painted with very thick, old acrylic on airbrush paper. I had to photograph it, rather than scan it, because it doesn’t appear to be ready to dry anytime this year. I cropped it a bit to hide the sloppy edges, and here it is, a snowy night scene.
If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.
Meanwhile, Monday at 7 AM on The AIR, we bring you 24 hours with every episode of Herman Linte’s Prognosis from 2020. We have decided to slack off with the radio for this last week of the year, so you’ll be getting daily marathons of our “greatest hits,” then the plan is to start off 2020 with all-new shows a week from today. Tomorrow it’ll be Radio Free Charleston. Wednesday will bring the year in Curtain Call, and Thursday will combine NOISE BRIGADE in the morning with a MIRRORBALL countdown to New Year’s. At the stroke of Midnight, you can expect The Swing Shift for 24 hours, followed by Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on Saturday and Beatles Blast on Sunday.
You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.
Above you see the TCM “In Memorium” video, which they compile and release in December every year, revising it as the months proceeds and we lose more Hollywood legends. 2020 has been a brutal year, and it seems fitting to make our last Sunday Evening Videos of the year a bit of a somber one.
We can’t forget the 330,000-plus Americans that we have lost to COVID-19. I don’t mean to downplay those tragic deaths by turning my focus to more famous folks in this post.
We are also extremely sad to report that AEW wrestler, Brodie Lee–real name Jon Huber, and previously known as Luke Harper, a former champ in WWE over the course of seven years–passed away of “a non-COVID lung issue” at the age of 41. This is a pretty huge shock, as he had just been on TV up to a few monhs ago. Our condolences to his family and many, many friends in the wrestling industry.
Below we are bringing you ME TV’s 2020 “In Memorium” clip featuring some TV stars who didn’t show up in the TCM clip.
It’s been a pretty terrible year for notable deaths, from Movies and TV to Wrestling, Literature, Music and all creative arts. This year can’t end soon enough.
This week we go back to November, 2014, for The RFC MINI SHOW starring Ouralias. Rising from the ashes of In The Company of Wolves and Cry Havoc, the band reached new heights of creativity with elements of jam music, progressive rock and alternative rock in the mix. Then they split up, with some of them reforming their former band. I’m not sure what they’re up to now, since the local music scene is in cocooning mode due to the pandemic.
You will hear them perform their original songs “Can’t Fight Love” and “Wave,” recorded live at The Bowling Alley-Dunbar.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and whatever good tidings fill your bill from PopCult and the Larch-Panucci household.
2020 has been an interesting year, and this year I mean that precisely in the Chinese curse way. This is the year that we have a dumpster fire instead of yule log, and we have to look forward, because there’s a good chance that, if we look back, we’ll turn into a pillar of salt.
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…
Let’s go back to Chicago, a year ago, for one more…
For the third year in a row we bring you a collection of Christmas-themed short films that are, shall we say, “less traditional” than those you might normally watch to get into the holiday spirit. That makes this a new tradition! Some of these you may have seen before here in PopCult, while some are new to our readers. All of them, are pretty messed up, in their own ways. These are our olive branch to those of us who have more of a “Bah, Humbug” attitude toward the holiday on this Christmas season.
We kick things off with a new entry for this year. It’s a music video by The Dollyrots, conveniently called “Messed Up Christmas,” and it was written using contest entries from their fans that asked “What messed up thing do you want for Christmas?” This was just released a couple of weeks ago.
We continue with a newish one, a short film from 2017 called “Sleigh,” starring Matt Berry and Nigel Planer…
Let’s go on Christmas Break at Crystal Lake, with The Renfields…
Next up we bring you a six-year-old parody of the 30th Anniversary of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by the comedy crew of 22 Minutes…
Finally we bring you Ken Russell’s heartwarming holiday classic, “A Kitten For Hitler”…
In the spirit of the holiday season, I say, “There, that oughtta hold the little buggers.”
Following a recommendatiom in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide, the kind folks at Zuru Toys sent along a couple of samples of new Rainbocorns, an elaborate blind-blox plush toy.
As a result, your PopCulteer and his wife, Mel Larch, decided to do an impromptu, unrehearsed unboxing video.
We’re new at this unboxing stuff so please excuse the bad lighting and jerky camera moves. Hopefully, in the new year, we’ll be able to ramp up the quality when we do unboxing videos.
These Rainbocorns are tremendous fun, and we want to thank Zuru Toys for sending them along. You can find these surprising critters at Amazon, Target, Walmart and other retailers. Read about Rainbocorns in our gift guide entry.
Think of this as our pre-Christmas bonus gift for you.
The AIR is in Holiday Mode all this week, and Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM you can listen to the all-new Radio Free Charleston 2020 Shut-in Show Christmas Special.
You can listen at The AIR website, or on the embedded radio player over in our right-hand column.
This is a three-hour show where your host, Rudy Panucci, and his wife, Mel Larch, talk about Christmas memories, how horrible 2020 has been, favorite Chrismas toys and other stuff, plus we play holiday music from Sierra Ferrell, The Dollyrots, Leslie Odom, Bob Dylan, and many more. There was no script, no rehearsal and we are accompanied by an extremely foul-mouthed talking plush. So be on alert that this show is definitely not safe for work.
It’s sort of like the Shut-in Shows that we did for a few weeks during the beginning of the pandemic, but without as much anger directed at our inept president.
You can see the playlist right here…
SpongeBob Squarepants “Don’t Be A Jerk, It’s Christmas”
Sierra Ferrell “Jingle Bell Rock”
Bob Dylan “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
The Members “Silent Night/Hallalujah”
Wynton Marselis “Go Tell It On The Mountain”
Malcolm McDowell “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
The Monkees “Merry Christmas Baby”
Royal Crown Revue “Don’t Be A Grinch This Year”
John Wetton “Happy Christmas”
Jaret and Kelly “Get This Christmas Right”
Geoff Downes “Linus and Lucy”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “Santa’s Got A Hot Rod”
The Dollyrots “Because I’m Santa” Leon Redbone & Dr. John “Frosty The Snowman”
Norah Jones “Peace”
Eurythmics “Winter Wonderland”
Louis Armstrong “Chrismtas In New Orleans”
The Puppini Sisters “Step Into Christmas”
Helix “Jingle Bells”
Jethro Tull “A Christmas Song”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Run Run Rudolph”
Sierra Ferrell “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
Rudolph and Hermie “We’re A Couple of Misfits”
Colin James and The Little Big Band “Cool Yule”
Unwritten Law “Please Come Home For Christmas”
Batfoot “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
December People “White Christmas”
Bad Religion “O Come All Ye Faithful”
The Dollyrots “Messed Up Xmas”
Leslie Odom and The Walls Group “Mele Kalikimaka”
Marty Thomas and Marissa Rosen “I Still Believe In Santa Claus”
Odyssey Productions “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”
You can hear The Radio Free Charleston 2020 Shut-in Show Christmas Special Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, Wednesday at 3 PM, Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM, Friday at Noon and 7 PM and several times Saturday and Sunday, as we turn our internet radio station over to celebrations of the holiday season all week long, until 3 PM, next Monday.
Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to schedule repeats through Christmas than it is to work all week.
We’ll still run our regularly-scheduled overnight marathons, though. Can’t upset our Swing Music and Showtunes fans.