Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Production Notes: Episode 39, Nostalgia At The Empty Glass

Episode 39 of Radio Free Charleston, “Go Van Gogh Shirt” is online now, and it’s a nostalgia-soaked trip down memory lane.  And you can take the word “trip” any way you want.  The music is from an archival video that I found while rooting around in the “gem closet” here at Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor.  It’s from November 1990, recorded live at The Empty Glass.  We called that night “Shooting Fyssh In A Glass” because I was going to videotape the band, Strawfyssh.  They were opening for Three Bodies, and until I checked the tape I’d forgotten that I had also taped Three Bodies doing their sound-check that night.  So I had both bands on tape.

I hosted this show from the present-day Empty Glass, during Happy Hour last Thursday.  It was a bit loud, as the Glass tends to be, and there are parts of the show where the audio on the host segments is questionable, but the show is still packed with musical goodness.  In fact, we feature a surreal guest appearance by none other than Charleston’s Mayor, Danny Jones, in a segment that has to be seen to be believed.  There’s also an animated short by me, just so that the entire show doesn’t degenerate into ruminations on “the olden days.”

Three Bodies was Kris Cormandy, Brian Lucas, and Brian Young, and they were one of the top bands on the old radio version of Radio Free Charleston. They had an amazing sound, and put on one of the best shows in town.  Kris Cormandy was an amazing songwriter–I’d put him on par with Kurt Cobain–and even in this performance, on a night when they hadn’t played together in four months, their energy level was remarkable.  The song they perform here is “Gardens Of Hope,” which still sounds great, even after all these years.

This is not the first time you’ve seen Three Bodies on the internet incarnation of RFC.  Way back on our third episode we brought you the vintage music video for the band’s tune, “Shingles And Tar.”

Strawfyssh was sort of a “junior tier” band during the days of the radio version of RFC, but right after RFC was canceled, they came into their own, and became one of the premiere alternative bands in the region for most of the early 90s.  The first time I played Strawfyssh on my old radio show, Sean Richardson had not yet joined.  Susan Seabolt (the famed “Little Susan” of RFC lore) played guitar and was trying to work up the nerve to sing, but she dropped out, and Keith Walters, Todd Jackson and Scott Rader hooked up with Sean.  The band was just beginning to gel as the radio days of RFC ended, but you can see on this tape that they quickly became a powerhouse.  Within a couple of years, Todd Jackson and Scott Rader left the band, but on this night the classic line-up of the band really lit up The Empty Glass.

Of course, between his work as a filmmaker, solo artist, and member of The Sleeping Dons and Whistlepunk, Sean Richardson has become a fixture of the new video version of Radio Free Charleston.  I wonder if we could get these guys to do a one-off reunion, like we did with The Feast of Stephen?  Hmmm.

We also have another surreal moment with Melanie Larch.  This time our resident Diva and RFC Big Shot dug deep into her own video archive and came up with footage of the 1986 Kanawha Players production of “Lil’ Abner.”  Mel played Daisy Mae in this production, and you’ll see her hoofing it up with the right Honorable Mayor of Charleston, Danny Jones, as Lil’ Abner.   If you work at City Hall, this may be “Not Safe For Work,” but most of the rest of you should be able to watch it at work, if you can suppress your laughter.

You’ll also get a fleeting glimpse of Mel in her Nancy Spungeon garb from Halloween 1990 at the Empty Glass.

This episode of RFC is a bit of a valentine to The Empty Glass.  This Saturday there is a huge blowout concert party to commemorate the Glass being picked as one of the top 100 bars in the country by the editors of Nightclub and Bar Magazine.   It’s going to be a wild night as previous RFC Guests Comparsa, Blue Million and The Spurgie Hankins Band perform alongside future RFC guests The Carpenter Ants, Buckstone andDiablo Blue, and the evening winds up with a one-night-only reunion of the legendary Pistol Whippers! I’ll be on hand working on the crew for Eamon Hardiman, who’s shooting a documentary of the night.

We did the host segments from the Glass, and I have to apologize to Scott Rader, the drummer for Strawfyssh.  I had a bit of a “senior moment” during the shoot, and simply could not dig his name out of my memory.  This was a guy who was a regular caller on the old RFC radio show, and my leg is tired from kicking myself so much over this for the last week.  In the show, you get to see the script for this show, just to give you an idea of how easy it is to draw blanks during these host segments.

Of course, we also have animation in this episode of RFC.  A few weeks ago I had some spare time (a rarity these days) so I sat down at the computer and just started improvising some animation using Paint Shop Pro.  I came up with “Meadow.”  I wrote some music for it, dropped in some sound effects, and you see the end result.  Some people think that it’s some sort of anti-industrial metaphor, but it’s really just stream-of-consciousness imagery.  Make of it what you will.

That’s the dirt on episode 39.  Next week we take the show in a bold new direction as we hit our 40th installment.  Check in next Tuesday for the ALL-NEW RADIO FREE CHARLESTON!


  1. Steve Beckner

    This was great–it was nice to hear that my memory of how good these bands were wasn’t just nostalgia. It also reminded me how much all of us musicians from the era were influenced by the likes of R.E.M.–the chorus-soaked jangly guitars, all of us dreaming of owning a Roland JC-120 amp…
    Still, there were some great songs coming out of whatever amps we were using!
    And Scott Raider needs to get back on that drum set. We haven’t heard you in ages!

  2. Elvis Capone

    Regarding LL’s comment:
    >>I’m at the bar during “Scat.”

    Too much information.

  3. Xose the Destroyer

    StrawFyssh. #1

  4. Strident Wiener

    Wow, them old guys could rock back then.  It would’ve been nice to see more of the hot babe, instead of the damn mayor, though. 

  5. Bella Donna

    From blonde to white hair all in one episode! I thought RFC’s Resident Diva was a redhead. Quite the chameleon, isn’t she?

    Good show all around. Any chance of seeing the Whippers reunion on a future episode?

  6. Mountain Woman Phd.

    Everybody looks so young!  The sight of Danny Jones and his “Dignified Hoofing” left me laughing and deeply disturbed.

    Aside from that, the music was delightful, and the animation was really nice.  I’ll have to get back out to the Empty Glass again one of these days.

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