Above you see “Plan 9 Shirt,” the newest episode of the Radio Free Charleston video show.
The 2020 video edition of Radio Free Charleston features music by Tautologic (recorded in July, 2019 in Chicago), The Swivel Rockers (recorded February, 2020 in Charleston) and Go Van Gogh (recorded in 1990 in Charleston). Plus we have animation from Frank Panucci and our trademark mind-hurting weirdness.
Our title shirt this time is Mitch O’Connell’s recreation of the poster for Plan 9 From Outer Space, which you can find for sale at his webstore.
As with most folks in 2020, our plans for the year wound up totally trashed. Originally I had planned to ramp up production of our video show slightly, and produce three or four episodes of our video extravaganza. One of those shows was to be an extra-long episode devoted to The Swivel Rockers, who have recently reunited after 30 years apart, and we did record the band in February. You’ll see part of that night in this episode.
Since the pandemic hit, and nothing happened as planned, all of our video work got put on the back burner. Last week, right before Christmas, I decided to cobble together a show so we could drop in near the end of the year, thus continuing our streak of at least one video episode of RFC every year since 2006.
I spent about four sleepless nights after Christmas editing video, and we decided to shoot the host segments in our living room (“we” being me and Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch) because I am immuno-suppressed and didn’t want to go maskless out in the wilderness of Charleston.
So it’s not an exotic location, but I hope it’s at least interesting.
Our animation is basically table scraps from my brother, Frank Panucci, re-edited by yours truly. About “Dancin’ Rudy,” the less said, the better.
Our first music act is Tautologic, who are not local, Charleston-based musicians, nor did we record them locally. But they’re damned good, and I hadn’t done anything with this footage that I shot in July, 2019, so we included their medley of “High School Reunion” and “The Choirboy” in this episode.
Tautologic is a Chciago-based progressive pop band who have put out two albums so far, and will be releasing a third in 2021. You can go buy the lead-off single HERE. We didn’t really get to know the band, basically just asking if it was okay to shoot video, and they’ve already posted their version of these songs (shot at the same time) on their YouTube page, so I hope they don’t mind their inclusion here.
Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Actually their lead singer did say, “Cool,” so I’ll consider that permission (please don’t sue, please don’t sue).
We recorded this on the hottest day of the year in Chicago in 2019. I’m not supposed to be out in the heat with Myasthenia Gravis, but I was already a fan of the band, and they were playing at one of our favorite hangout spots in Chicago, Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square, so we basically got off the train, checked into our hotel, and took the L to Lincoln Square, where I was able to shoot for about twenty minutes before throwing in the towel.
I was wiped out, but it was worth it.
Unfortunately, the band’s guitarist was hiding on the back of the tiny stage, and with only two cameras for this shoot, we did not come close to getting a decent shot of him during his blazing solos, so apologies for that. It always drives me nuts when a soloist is not on camera during a solo, but in this case it couldn’t be helped. The bass player is tucked away a bit, too.
The next night we went to see a new production of True West at Steppenwolf Theater, and got to hang out with one of the stars of that play, Francis Guinan, on the way back to our hotel on the Red Line. It was a fun trip, and I had planned to turn the Tautologic footage into an RFC MINI SHOW for this year, but instead included it here.
Next up is a preview of our full-length documentary episode of RFC devoted to The Swivel Rockers. I have a lot more to shoot before I can start putting this show together, and I’m hoping to do that in 2021. Right now the hold-up is waiting for some medical guidance on when I can get the vaccine for COVID-19. Being immuno-suppressed, but not a frontline worker or elderly, at the moment the CDC is saying “wait and see,” so I’m doing exactly that.
The Swivel Rockers were part of the Charleston Playhouse scene that birthed the original Radio Free Charleston broadcast radio show back in 1989. After almost 30 years apart, the core of Bobby Miller on vocals and Roger Rhodes on guitar (seen right) re-formed and started playing together again, and were going gangbusters before the local venues got shut down by the pandemic.
Their story is a wild and engrossing one, and with luck, I’ll be able to get together with them so that they can tell it sometime in 2021. I’d also like to shoot some additional footage of the band performing because, while we shot a whole set of their show back before the pandemic, we did not get any of their great original tunes. The Swivel Rockers have an EP with four orignals coming out in late January, so we’ll see what we can do around the release.
Seen here, with a very enthusiastic dancer, we have The Swivel Rockers paying tribute to one of their musical heroes, Hasil Adkins, with a mash-up of his songs, “She Said” and “Chicken Walk.”
Playing us out, I decided to go back deep in the archives to a Go Van Gogh show that I shot at The Levee (the bar, not the actual levee) back in 1990. Go Van Gogh is no more. Sadly we lost Johnny Rock a couple of years ago. Tim isn’t playing music much these days. But Stephen Beckner and Mark Beckner are both making new music. Mark just released a new album a few months ago.
Here we hear the band tearing through Larry Williams’ classic, “Slowdown,” augmened by Mark Mingrone on keys and Bain Ashworth on bongos. This was a favorite of Johnny’s.
And that is it for our slapped-together at the last-minute 2020 episode of Radio Free Charleston. For the last few years, the appearance of a new RFC video show signals the end of the year, and this has definitely been a year worth ending, so enjoy this one an we’ll all hope for a better 2021.