Yes, this is our Sunday Evening Video this week. It’s a new episode of Radio Free Charleston that almost didn’t happen.

I’ve been producing video episodes of RFC since 2006, and even though the show basically went to once-a-year status after I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in 2016, we’ve still managed to squeak out one full show (or MINI SHOW) each year.  This year I got waylaid by various outside gigs, brief ailments and mishaps of the calendar and almost didn’t get this show done.

Over the course of the year I had more than half a dozen scheduled video shoots get scuttled due to various reasons,and until Friday night, the only new music footage that I shot was The Velvet Brothers’ Cinco de Mayo show at The Red Carpet Lounge. By the time December showed up on my doorstep, after a month of deadline hell writing The 2023 PopCult Gift Guide and a major 2024 Preview article for Non Sport Update,  I pretty much surrendered to the idea of mining the archives for songs from previous years, with one great new recording of The Velvets.

But with a week-long visit to Chicago planned early in the month, I didn’t have too much time to do even that.

Then opportunity landed in my lap. I knew Brian Diller was planning to come to Charleston to do an acoustic show, hopefully in December, and when he was able to schedule a gig at The ROQ on December 29, I figured Mel and I could hit that, record a few songs, and then shoot host segments the next day at The Charleston Town Center, which is big, indoors, and mostly quiet these days.

What I didn’t count on was Mel getting sick the day of Brian’s show. We still made it out and recorded over an hour of the show, but Mel was fading fast (it’s not COVID, so we’re still batting a thousand in terms of remaining unafflicted by the pandemic). Saturday was spent trying to get Mel comfortable. Instead of going out to shoot host segments, we just did them in the living room Saturday evening.

The end result actually came out pretty good. I keep forgetting that, when I was cranking out this show on an almost weekly basis, that most of the shows were slapped together on the fly.

So what’s in the show, you ask?

The title is “The Beatles Story Shirt,” named after one of my Christmas presents from Mel. It’s a button-up shirt with the cover of the 1978 Marvel Comic’s history of The Beatles printed on it, front and back. It never hurts to have a shirt that was pencilled by George Perez and painted by Tom Palmer.

First up in the show we have the trailer for Jake Fertig‘s micro-budget horror movie, Rabidts.  Mel and I got to see this fun low-budget thriller a couple of weeks ago at the Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema  at Taylor Books, and we had a blast. Filled with 80s horror-movie tropes, it follows four extremely unlikable characters who go camping together for no particular reason, and accidentally open up a portal to another dimension that allows alien killer bunny rabbits through to kill people in amusing and creative ways. There is no sexual content, and the gore is slapstick enough to induce laughter more than disgust. Like I said, it’s a lot of fun, and you can buy your own copy on DVD HERE.

Our first song sees the return of The Velvet Brothers to RFC. Back in May your humble blogger did his first video shoot of a band in Charleston in over four years. it was Cinco de Mayo and The Velvet Brothers were playing the outdoor pavillion at The Red Carpet. To give you a little added perspective, it was the first time I’d set foot in The Red Carpet since 1989.

Mel and I went and captured the first twenty minutes or so of the Velvet’s set before the smoking on the Pavillion drove us away. I would’ve loved to have stayed for the whole show, but even wearing my trusty mask, I knew I had to limit my exposure. The boys were in fine form.  Whitney Velvet was sitting in for Dave Velvet, which meant they had a sax instead of a trumpet, and that gave the Brothers V a slightly different flavor for the evening.  From that night, we present The Velvet Brothers performing the Harry Belafonte classic, “Jump in The Line (Shake).”

Following the Brothers, we have animation from my brother, Frank, as he presents Plank Patrol.

Next up we mine the archives for a never-before-edited gem from Trielement. Kenny Booth, Joey Lafferty and Dave Roberts were the trio behind this mostly-instrumental prog-metal band, and while they’re no longer making music together, all three are still active in the local scene. We had the band on the show a few times, but every time they appeared on RFC and The RFC MINI SHOW, they’d always been recorded at The Blue Parrot. Imagine my surprise when I went through my archives and found this great tune, “Noodle Soup,” recorded at the World Famous Empty Glass, way back in May, 2013.

Speaking of our archives…over the course of more than two hundred video episodes of RFC, we’ve had four episodes that have become “lost,” mainly due to hard drive failures. On one of those episodes we ran a very important short film, and now…almost fifteen years later we are proud to once again present, Young Bradley Speaks. 

Then we come to our headliner. Brian Diller is a Charleston music legend. Back in the days of the original Radio Free Charleston broadcast show, his band, Brian Diller & The Ride ruled this town. Brian left for Nashville and other points in 1990, but he’s continued writing music and recenty released his first full-album, covering music he’s created over the last 45 years, and you can read my interview with him about that album, with links to how you can buy it HERE.

On Friday, December 29th, thirty-four years after The Last Ride at the Charleston Playhouse & Tavern, Brian returned to Charleston to perform for the first time in over eleven years.

We took our cameras to The Roq, below the old Quarrier Diner, and captured Brian, with his wife Eliska on percussion, and here, less than two days later, is Brian Diller with “Home,” and “Heartbeat.”

On our way out this time we are sending our best wishes to Kai Haynes, who is in critical condition, battling a serious medical issue. Kai is a legend in Charleston. He’s played with many of the top bands in the area. He was one of the partners in LiveMix Studios, who were our production partners for the first four years of the RFC video show. He’s also a hell of a nice guy, a great friend, and we are all pulling for him. Playing us out, we have Kai, with his LiveMix partners Brian Young and Greg Wegmann, as the band “Elektro Biscuit,” performing “A Latin Tune” at LiveMix Studio, in 2009. Just listen to Kai nail that killer bass solo.

That is the story of Radio Free Charleston (Volume Two) #220. You will hear more of Brian’s show at The ROQ on next week’s episode of Radio Free Charleston, the radio show. I swear, next year I’m going to try to record more bands so I dont have to rush to finish a show between Christmas and New Year’s.

I think I swear that every year.