The PopCulteer
July 5, 2013

A Low-key anniversary

I’m writing this edition of The PopCulteer on the fourth of July, which is the official anniversary date of Radio Free Charleston. Our first episode was unveiled on this day in 2006. It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long. The last seven years seem to be a bit of a blur. Time flies when you’re having fun.

A clean-shaven host from way back in episode 2.

And I am still having fun doing the show (I’m sure not in it for the money). We have a very special anniversary show coming up Monday, and I’ll tell you all about it then, but for now, just be content in the knowledge that it documents the first collaboration of two internationally-renowned musical virtuosos.

But it’s not a huge, labor-intensive spectacular. We’re saving that for episode 200, coming early next year.

Ann was kind enough to record a bit for our fiftieth episode.

However, I will take a few paragraphs here to look back at some of the highlights of our seven-year (and counting) run of web-based video shows. We have featured over four hundred musical acts, artists and filmmakers. While our primary focus will always be local artists, RFC has been lucky enough to have pointed our cameras at folks like actress Ann Magnuson, wrestlers Mad Man Pondo, Johnny Fairplay, Daffney, and Chris Hero (soon to debut in WWE as Kassius Ohno), NFL kicker Pat McAfee, and musicans Unknown Hinson, Frenchy and the Punk, Hellblinki, Crystal Bright and Karma To Burn.

Flare Baroshi, Melanie Larch, Kitty Killton and Brian Young on a perfectly normal day

We were lucky, in our early years, to have a home studio, LiveMix, without whom we probably would never have been able to launch Radio Free Charleston. Our eternal thanks go out to Radio Free Charleston Big Shot, Brian Young, and his partners, Greg Wegmann, Kai Haynes, and Spencer Elliott for collaborating with us. We lost LiveMix Studio when Monsignor Sadie finally got his hands on the Quarrier Building, and decided that he’d rather let it rot out of spite than allow it to be a haven for artists and musicians.

I didn’t mention him, but our early breakout mascot was Dancing Midget Spider-man.

At that point, Radio Free Charleston had become a bit of a gypsy production, recording in venues all over town, like The Empty Glass and The Blue Parrot, our two most-visited locations. Both are great places to record bands and the owners have been wonderful to us. We’ve also recorded at The Boulevard Tavern, The Sound Factory, Sam’s Uptown Cafe, Taylor Books, Capitol Roasters and Tomahawks, just to name a few. We’ve also recorded bands at Haddad Riverfront Park, Coonskin Park and St. Albans City Park, and on the streets of Charleston, South Charleston and Dunbar. RFC gets around.

I’m not even going to try and list the bands that we’ve featured on the show. We’ve had repeat guests, one-off collaborations and bands that no longer exist as bands. And with over 185 episodes in the can, we’re still uncovering new musicians that haven’t been on the show yet.

This stuff’s Frank’s

It’s not all music on RFC, though. One of the Radio Free Charleston Big Shots is Frank Panucci, whose animation and public domain compilations are another major attraction on the show. We’ve also featured short films by tons of local filmmakers like K D Lett, Flare Baroshi and Murfmeef, and trailers for local films by Eamon Hardiman, David Smith, Ian Nolte, Danny Boyd and others. We’ve also shined the RFC spotlight on a ton of local artists.

Lee Harrah has been part of the RFC family since episode 19

Over the years we’ve been lucky to have several folks pitch in on camera and behind-the-scenes production help. We have to mention Jerry Fugate, John Radcliffe, Lee Harrah, Roadblock, Steven Allen Adams, Kitty Killton, Greg Wegmann, Kai Haynes, Steve Siders, James Vernon Brown, Andrea Anderson, Thomas Crouch, Stephen Beckner, Flare Baroshi and Wood Boys Music.

My major partner in crime is also my partner in life, Melanie Larch, without whom I would never get the shows produced on time. Mel has been shooting host segments since episode four, and has only missed two or three since. Melanie is also “camera two” when we’re recording bands and is the voice behind our jingle and the singer of our most-watched standalone clip, her take on “Ave Maria.”

After seven years of producing my humble little video version of my old radio show, I just want to thank everyone who bothers to watch it, and everyone who has contributed to the show in any way over the years. Let’s do seven more years, okay?

Making The Heart Grow Fonder

My experiment of taking a year away from FestivAll is over, and I’d say it was a success. FestivAll did fine without me, and I got to take some much-needed time off. I only attended two FestivAll events. I didn’t take a camera to either, and I was relaxed and had a blast. I regret missing a couple of cool things, like the immersion art at Apartment Earth and Vive Le Vaudville, but over all, I did pretty okay too.

I can now confess my ulterior motive in skipping most of this year’s FestivAll events…I am not a fan of West Virginia history. The eighth-grade-mandated Golden Horseshoe stuff just permanently turned me off. I’m still happy to live in the Mountain State. I just don’t need to ever hear about how we came to be again. It’s the same with coal mining. It bores the crap out of me. There is so much more to this state than the life-sucking corporate beast that is Big Coal. I think that it’s time we quit romanticizing it and paying tribute to it.

So I was glad to give a miss to some of the SesquicentiALL stuff that got mixed into FestivAll this year. Next year is the tenth edition of FestivAll, and I’m planning to be there as the city again becomes a work of art, only without so much history mixed in like there was this year.

Due to the holiday and my sloppy typing, that’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Next week all our regular features will be here, plus we will open the week with the seventh anniversary edition of Radio Free Charleston. Check us out, please do.