Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

It’s Another Flash Back To A Vintage Radio Free Charleston With The Blind Blue Leper Society

Dave Thomas, someone who isn't Eric Thompson, and Joe Vallina, as they were on this radio show.

Dave Thomas, someone who isn’t Eric Thompson, and Joe Vallina, as they were on this radio show.

This week, the second hour (and a little more) of Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio is a distillation of an episode of the original Radio Free Charleston radio show that featured The Blind Blue Leper Society as the very first musical guests to perform live on the air.

Update: You can listen to this show now in the Voices of Appalachia archive HERE.

Joe Vallina, Eric Thompson and Dave Thomas were the band, and Joe has gone on to an impressive musical career with Feast of Stephen, Wiley Sonic and terrific solo albums. Dave Thomas sprouted an impressive beard/washboard combo and became a beloved fixture on the Charleston music scene as “Washboard Dave,” the guiding light of The Boulevard Tavern. I’m hoping that Dave or Joe will chime in on the comments and tell me what Eric has been up to.

NAR log 016aYou can listen to Radio Free Charleston’s  fun and exciting streaming radio incarnation at 10 AM and 10 PM on Tuesdays (and again at midnight Thursday) at New Appalachian Radio, part of Voices of Appalachia. If you miss it, check our the archives for previously-aired shows. You can also listen to Radio Free Charleston Saturday at Midnight. Saturday, RFC airs for six hours, starting at The Witching Hour!

This episode of the show also featured a visit from Stephen Beckner. You will hear a ton of local music circa 1989 and you’ll get an idea of the controlled anarchy that prevailed on the original RFC.

Brian Diller, circa 1989

Brian Diller, circa 1989

But first, we have an hour of the best local and regional music there is, and we’re kicking off the show with another gem that we dug out of the archives–Brian Diller, live and solo, performing in the commercial production room at WVNS/WCHS Radio. Brian came in to do his song, “Hey Mister Auctioneer” and we aired it about nine hours after it was recorded back in January, 1990. This recording has not been heard for over twenty-five years. We follow up Brian’s tune with some fresh music from the area’s finest new singer/songwriters.

Brian Diller “Hey Mister Auctioneer”
Jordan Searls “Any Kind of Wind”
Dina Hornbaker “Black Coffee”
Sheldon Vance “Birthright”

Our second set shows off more archive music, recorded by RFC legacy musicians between 1990 and 2006.

Hitchcock Circus “Dirty Girl”
Three Bodies “My Friend”
Blue Million “Don’t Leave”
The Bounty “Buffalos”

We go hard and heavy with our third set of tunes.

Science of the Mind “Son of Sam”
David Synn “Anesthesia”
Karm To Burn “Bobbi, Bobbi, Bobbi, I’m Not”
BobaFlex “Strangle You”

At this point we kick into our theme hour a wee bit early so that we can bring you the fun of the original Radio Free Charleston radio show.

We kick off with studio chatter with Blind Blue Leper Society

Blind Blue Leper Society “Fogtown”
The Swivels “Timeclock of Love”
Cathouse Thursday “Born Under A Bad Sign”
The Hepcats “Shut Up I Love You”
Blind Blue Leper Society “White Riot”

Blind Blue Leper Society “Gimme Danger”

At this point we relay the heart-breaking Godzilla story and hold our first contest.

Blind Blue Leper Society “Mister High Test Man”

The band sends shout outs to John Radcliff, Jerry Fugate, Jody King and Laurie Parker

Blind Blue Leper Society “Rockin’ In The Free World”

We have more studio chatter and goofing around and are joined by Stephen Beckner in the studio. We start our second contest: Feed the band, win a cassette

Blind Blue Leper Society “Mrs. Brown”
Go Van Gogh “Kiss Me Goodbye”
Three Bodies “Gardens of Hope”

Blind Blue Leper Society “Kick Me In The Spine With Your Love”

We then have even more studio chatter with the band, and then a plea to listeners to contact station management to keep Radio Free Charleston on the air. They got over 500 phone calls and decided that maybe people were listening after all. Then the show was killed a few months later due to ugly office politics.

All Quiet “Part Time Criminal”
All Quiet “Talking Islands In Africa”
Blind Blue Leper Society “Red House”

This wraps up yet another nostalgia-soaked episode of Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio. Next week we will linger once more in the past as our second-hour theme is the 1990 First Step Sampler album.


  1. Joe V

    Haha too funny Rudy. We were so young. That pic is on an airplane heading from Madrid—>Washington. Young’uns! Haven’t kept up with Eric, sadly.

  2. Steve

    That version of Kiss Me Goodbye was recorded by Eric Lily and Charlie Johnson (our long suffering sound men in those days) at Charlie’s house. It was cut live, no overdubs. I don’t know why I didn’t cue it up for you to miss the 2 false starts. Just lazy, I suppose.

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