At the head of this post you will find the one-hundred forty-third installment of Radio Free Charleston, “Naked Gumby Shirt.”  This episode departs from our usual formula by featuring three songs by the same band, Frenchy and the Punk.  We also have animation by Frank Panucci, and a short film by K.D. Lett.

Frenchy and the Punk, who used to go by the name, “The Gypsy Nomads,” returned to The Empty Glass a couple of weeks ago for their third visit (the first with the new name). We were on hand with our cameras, and the band was on fire, so we ended up recording over half an hour of their music. Since we had so much fresh music from the band I decided to devote the entire episode to them this time. This is something I’m thinking about doing more often, so why don’t you use the comments section below to let me know what you think of the idea?



Frenchy and the Punk are Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland, and they’re based in New York. We first had them on the show a little over a year ago, on RFC 101. They were in town opening for The Hellblinki Sextet, who we were recording for RFC 100, and I was so impressed by the then “Gypsy Nomads” that I grabbed their song, “Yes I’m French” on one camera and wound up using it on the show.  When I heard that they were making a return visit to The Empty Glass, I made it a point to gather a full crew to capture them for the show.

To learn more about these two, we’ll swipe a paragraph from their website, “French-born Brit. lead vocalist and percussionist, Samantha

The Punk

Stephenson and American-born punk veteran guitarist Scott Helland make up this spirited duo. Stephenson, whose vocals have been likened Siouxsie Sioux, was listed in Yahoo Music’s 25 Women to Watch in 2011. Helland has appeared on over 25 recordings and his first group Deep Wound with J Mascis and Lou Barlow is listed in the Encylopedia of Punk published by Sterling.”

We’re glad to have them on RFC, and you should check out their website and order their CDs, one of which has been firmly lodged in the Rudymobile’s CD player for over a week now.

Taping the band was a blast for me, but the rest of my crew, Lee Harrah and RFC’s Resident Diva Melanie Larch, had some obstacles to overcome.  Dancing obstacles to be specific.  Two obnoxious patrons decided to plant themselves in front of Lee, and near Mel, and engaged in some sort of very energetic stomp for most of the night.

Don’t get me wrong. When we’re shooting a band in a bar, and dancers get in the shot, it’s all part of the fun and it enhances the video.  But when the dancers just stand in one spot and stomp one foot as hard as they can, so that it shakes the entire bar, it can get a bit aggravating. You may notice that one of the cameras seems to pulsate to the beat. While I wish I could claim credit for a cool effect, it’s actually the result of the thunder-footed dancing girl stomping so hard that Mel’s camera was shaking like it was in an Earthquake. Combined with the low light, we got a wild-looking video thump that almost hits on the beat (the dancers were particularly rythymically-challenged, too).

Be advised that, in the future, Mel has been given clearance, when faced with a giant stomping clod of a dancer, to use the Monopod in a non-prescribed way to clear her shot. Likewise, Lee has been given the green light to vigourously elbow his way in front of people who deliberately block his shot. I don’t expect them to abuse this power, but the dancers that night looked like they’d been repeatedly hit on the head anyway.

In addition to Frenchy and the Punk, this episode of the show features a cool short film by K.D. Lett, featuring the Lippizzaner Stallions.  K.D. shot this with a digital SLR, then built the film out of a series of still images.  It’s quite striking.

RFC Big Shot Frank Panucci returns with an animated film starring, if you can believe such a thing, CGI DEVO Energy Domes.

Our host segments this week were shot in the parking lot of a shopping center in South Hills, shortly after all the stores had closed. If you’d like to know the significance of this location…it was “Plan C.”  Orginally we’d planned to shoot around the Peer to Pier art project, but then we realized that Downtown Charleston was paralyzed by yet another Boulevard-closing banana festival, or something.

Then we thought, that since we were headed to South Hills after the shoot, we’d record our host segments around the old Sunrise Museum, but sadly the gates were locked and there was nobody to let us in.  So we shot in an empty parking lot. The segments were all ad-libbed in one take, too, in case you’re wondering why I look like I’m making it up as I go along.

Our namesake shirt this tiime features Art Clokey’s lovable invention, Gumby. It was not until I put on the shirt that I discovered that below the drawing of Gumby, the shirt proclaimed “Buck Naked Since 1956.”  Unless you’re Pentacostal, that might make this shirt inappropriate for church.

That’s it for this week’s RFC. Check back in a couple of weeks for the next episode!