Monthly Archives: March 2010

Win FELA! Broadway Tickets at Blurt


Our latest contest
will put you in the seats for one of the most acclaimed musicals currently
playing on Broadway.


By Blurt Staff


BLURT is pleased to announce our latest contest: a pair of
tickets to the FELA! musical,
currently playing on Broadway to rave reviews.


Based on
the life of groundbreaking African composer and performer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, FELA! is the critically acclaimed
Broadway musical that uses Afrobeat music (a blend of jazz,
funk and African rhythm and harmonies) to explore Fela Kuti’s life as artist,
political activist and revolutionary musician. 



Directed and choreographed by Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones, with arrangements by Aaron Johnson and Antibalas, FELA! is a provocative hybrid of concert, dance and musical theatre.  It’s presented by
Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. USA
called it “one of this decade’s most exhilarating Broadway musicals,”
while the New York Times said “There
has never been anything like this on Broadway.” You can view the promotional
video for it, below.


The musical is playing
at NYC’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 w.49th St.)
and full details can be viewed at
You can also check out a special discount offer for orchestra and mezzanine
tickets for certain days by following this link.


So like we said, we want
to put YOU and a friend in seats at FELA! – all you have to do is go to our contest page here and fill out the form.
Second prize will be a FELA! DVD/CD
combo, with third prize a FELA! tote



Starting last fall,
there’s been quite a surge in interest in the Afro-beat pioneer, with the
Knitting Factory label releasing The Best
of the Black President
CD/DVD and launching an extensive reissue campaign
of Fela’s huge back catalog – read the details, along with Fela’s story, here -and of course the FELA! play itself,
which opened last November. As the Knitting Factory’s Ian Wheeler told BLURT, “A
lot of folks just seem to be finding Fela moreso than in the past. It’s odd and
feels almost spiritual in light of the musical especially. It feels like some
external force is drawing everyone towards Fela at once.”




Louie Armstrong Death Metal Mashup!


What a wonderful
rotting, fetid, corpse-strewn world this could be… because some YouTube clips
just deserve to be seen…


By Blurt Staff


First, there was the Rickroll video clip – now comes the
Louieroll, er, the Armstrongroll, er, the Armroll… aw, forget it. Just watch
the damn thing. See the clip, below. The part about 2:01 will give you chills.


There are other Louie Armstrong memes out there, like this
fairly lame one
featuring Radiohead, and a halfway decent one incorporating
Jay-Z. But this one’s a hands-down winner – all hail The
Markness (for vocals), and  Andy Rehfeldt
(arrangement, instruments and recording) – just because it throws all the usual
rules out the window and synchs the new music perfectly to the video clip.





Fela Reissues Are a Hit!

Knitting Factory label spearheads massive project in the wake of
Broadway musical
FELA! success.


By Dan Weiss


45 albums. Afrobeat pioneer, provocative bandleader and all-around African
music legend Fela Kuti died at 58 but Bob Dylan’s still catching up to that
total at 68. Paul McCartney’s not even close. Needless to say, that’s a
legendary amount of tape.


Knitting Factory Records has taken up the heavy task of reissuing every damn thing in the late Black President’s catalogue-all of which expected
to see the light of day in North American record stores by 2011. It comes
following the recent success of loosely biographical Broadway musical FELA!


Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones is the
director and choreographer of the musical, based on the life and music of the
legend. The critically acclaimed musical opened 
at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New
York on November 23. Sold-out crowds were left
dancing in the aisles during its premiere last summer at Off-Broadway 37 Arts,
as the world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat
community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, performed Fela’s music live


“The musical has increased demand quite a bit, as would be expected,
but really even before the musical hit the press it seems like there’s been
this sort of organic magnetism towards Fela,” says Knitting Factory’s Ian


We got the first taste of these-many of which seeing North American release
on vinyl for the first time ever-last October with the self-explanatory Best of the Black President, a
2xCD-plus-DVD treasure chest that collects some of the best (and funkiest)
music ever made.


Watch BLURT for an announcement about a special Fela contest in which you can win tickets to the FELA! musical as well as a CD/DVD package.



Blurt’s Video Game Guide #2


Announcing the latest installment
in our “Play For Today” series of video game reviews. This time out we take on Final
Fantasy XIII, MLB 10: The Show and Endless
Ocean 2: Blue World. Watch
out for those screen shots and trailers.


By Aaron Burgess


Game of the Minute: Final
Fantasy XIII

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Developer / Publisher: Square

ESRB Rating: T



What’s your Fantasy? Since its modest 1987 debut
in Japan,
the Final Fantasy series has grown
into the biggest role-playing game on the planet. So, when news broke that Final Fantasy XIII would detour from the
franchise’s core element-the nonlinear, open-ended RPG-fans (including this
one) understandably cocked an eyebrow. The good news is that, while Final Fantasy XIII strips down the
gameplay to a linear, battle-driven style, the storytelling, sound and visual
design that’ve been Final Fantasy hallmarks remain as captivating as ever. The bad news is-well, if you stopped
at the word “detour,” you already know.


Final Fantasy XIII opens in a universe divided into two equally dazzling, if diametrically
opposed, worlds: the cloud city Cocoon, where harmony reigns supreme (at least
on the surface), and the larger terrestrial region Pulse, where-well, let’s
just say it’s not the sort of place you’d want to spend a lot of time.
Unfortunately, due to some twisted machinations among Cocoon’s leadership,
that’s just where the game ultimately takes you-although you don’t arrive in
Pulse on your own. Part of a six-character Cocoon-ite party that’s been wrongly
stigmatized as enemies of the people, you must fight your way through both
worlds to prove your valor.







While it assigns a lead role to the stealthy, pink-haired
Lightning, Final Fantasy XIII gradually puts you in control of all six characters, each of whom develops
roles and capabilities as the story progresses. (And, truth be told, it takes
several hours of play for the real action to start.) You enter battles in
control of one character at a time, but your party members’ roles prove
invaluable to your success in moving through the game. You can assign your
party up to six different combinations of three roles each (a.k.a. Paradigms)
before entering battle, and because no two enemies’ capabilities are the same,
you need to shift Paradigms to get the advantage. It’s a nice addition of
strategy into an otherwise straightforward, turn-based battle system, and it’ll
have you thinking twice before approaching a new foe.


The scaled-back gameplay gives the impression that Final Fantasy XIII is a quick play-and
for those used to the freedom of an open-ended, nonlinear world complete with
challenging mini-games, it may well be, relatively speaking. After a lengthy
warm-up period during which the story takes shape, you’ll spend a good weekend
mastering the battle and skill systems, as well as getting to know the heroes
and villains. Luckily, Final Fantasy XIII‘s
characters and story offer enough complexity that it’s easy to get lost in
their world, even with the borders the game’s developers have put around it.


Rating: 8/10





MLB 10: The Show

Platform: PlayStation 3

Developer /
Sony Computer

ESRB Rating: E



The greatest player of them all. Sports gamers can be real
sticklers for detail, and as its long-running MLB: The Show franchise proves, Sony continues to stay
hyper-focused on the challenge this presents for game developers to step things
up. This year’s installment is loaded with details (did that fan just clamor
for a foul ball?) and camera work so true to life, casual viewers could easily
be fooled into thinking they’re watching a real MLB matchup.






Graphic realism, of course, isn’t the only advancement MLB 10: The Show brings to the game.
Gameplay and AI are remarkably nuanced, with neither being reinvented so much
as they’ve been dialed closer to the real thing. If you’re playing a season,
Franchise mode lets you equip, handicap and even pay players according to their
real-life counterparts in the big leagues. Want to call the game as the
catcher? You can do it in the new Catcher mode. And of course there’s the Road
to the Show mode, back again in version 4.0 with a set of interactive training
games that help you sharpen your player’s fielding and pitching skills as you
move him from the minors to the Show.


Sony has long touted MLB: The Show as “the most realistic baseball
game ever,” and there’s no disputing that claim with this year’s model.
But MLB 10: The Show is also the most
playable baseball game ever-and when
you pair that with the game’s realism, well, you’ve got another homerun.


Rating: 9/10





Endless Ocean 2: Blue World

Platform: Wii

Developer: Arika
/ Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB Rating: E10+



I can hear the
ocean’s roar…
Sometimes you just want a break from the typical
challenge-based game-a need the first Endless
was happy to fill. Unfortunately for those who crave more a little
more zip with their zone-outs, the free-roaming title felt a bit too relaxed for its own good. Enter Endless Ocean 2: Blue World, which
couples the stress-reducing experience of its predecessor with simple
diversions and point-accumulating challenges.


After a brief setup to customize your character, you
literally dive into Endless Ocean 2, swimming through tranquil, wide-open
environments to find the source of a siren’s call. Of course, you can also skip
this story altogether, choosing instead to explore the sea floor while learning
about and helping the ocean fauna. You’ll find sunken treasures along the way,
too, which you can sell to pay for trinkets, and if you have a broadband
connection and a Wii Speak microphone, you can invite friends to dive with you.
(Assuming, of course, they also have the same setup.)





Simple as it may be, Endless Ocean 2: Blue
offers significant replay value-even if the graphics are limited to
the Wii’s 480p-tops capability to eclipse reality. But for those times when you
just need to get away from it all, it’s a heck of a lot more affordable than
taking a real dive.


Rating: 7/10





File Under “Extras”

Turtle Beach Ear Force PX21 Universal Gaming Headset

Compatible With: PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, PC




Beach’s latest gaming
headset won’t replace your 5.1 surround system, but if you’d like to give the
rest of the house some peace while you’re gaming into the wee hours, the Ear
Force PX21 is up to the task. The cushioned earpieces help to muffle external
noise, while the stereo-expander feature and variable bass boost let you hear
every footstep, reloading or pulled grenade pin in lifelike detail.


Independent volume controls let you balance in-game audio
with the sounds of your online chat, and the microphone features a flexible
boom that keeps ambient noise from leaking into your commands and curses. Plus,
thanks to a 16-foot cable, you can get up to take a drink without accidentally
waking up your roommates. Retail price is a hair under $80-gear up at Amazon.



Our game guru, Aaron
Burgess, lives digitally but dreams in analog down in Round Rock, Texas. Contact him at / AIM: First2Letters.






More Record Store Day Goodies Announced


It’s April 17, duh…
Flaming Lips, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Thermals, Cribs, Superchunk, Let’s Wrestle, Soundgarden… the list
keeps growing.


By Blurt Staff



Flaming Lips and Stardeath and the White Dwarfs will see the first physical release of their album covering Pink Floyd’s classic,
Dark Side Of The Moon on Record Store Day 2010, to be released by Warner Bros
on 12″ seafoam green vinyl.

The UK’s much-celebrated, David Bowie-championed Fanfarlo will release a
7″-single, “You Are One,” and original tune b/w Fleetwood Mac’s
fantastic,”What Makes You Think You’re The One,” which the band recorded
exclusively for the Record Store Day 7″ during a day off in Berlin,

Indie rock trailblazers, Pavement will release a special Record Store
Day version of their double album, Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, a
fully re-mastered 23-track compilation featuring tracks spanning their career
from 1989 to 1999. This limited  edition pressing features the track
listing submitted by a contest-winning fan, and chosen by the band.

Sonic Youth
make it back again for
Record Store Day with vinyl reissues of their classic early albums, Confusion
Is Sex, (on 12″ white vinyl), EVOL (on 12″ pink vinyl), and an Interscope
release of Hits Are For Squares,  a double-LP featuring 15 tracks selected
by other artists with an exclusive new Sonic Youth track, “Slow

Fans can also expect Coconut Records to release a 7″, which includes the
“Bored To Death Theme Song”/”Nighttiming”, a split 7″ from Kill
Rock Stars
featuring “Separate” from The Thermals and “So Hot Now”
from The Cribs, If I Had A Hi-Fi, a new album from Nada Surf being
released on CD exclusively for Record Store Day about 4 weeks prior to general
release, and a vinyl reissue of TV On The Radio’s Dear Science with mp3
download and a bonus Hot Chip remix on 12″ vinyl, among many other
titles TBA.


Merge will also join in the celebration with the release of three exclusive 7-inch from Telekinesis,
Superchunk, and a split 7″ with The Love Language & Let’s

Superchunk – “Misfits and Mistakes” b/w “Misfits and Mistakes” (Meatwad
Originally released in 2007 in extremely limited quantity, “Misfits and
Mistakes” is the first and only picture disc we have ever produced. Recorded for
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, “Misfits and
Mistakes” is performed by Superchunk and covered on side B by Meatwad himself! 
Each 7-inch picture disc arrives in stores autographed by all four members of
Superchunk and is available at a special price exclusively for Record Store

Telekinesis – “Dirty Thing” b/w “Non-Toxic” & “The
This is the first new music from Telekinesis since their 2009 Merge debut,
Telekinesis!, which was described by NPR Monitor Mix’s Carrie Brownstein
as “perfectly crafted and utterly gleeful.” These three tracks will be available
on 7-inch vinyl only!

Let’s Wrestle / The Love Language – “I’m So Lazy” b/w “Brittany’s Back
(demo version)”
With this split 7-inch created exclusively for Record Store Day, we
introduce two exciting new Merge bands: Let’s Wrestle and The Love Language!
Featuring brand new songs from both bands, these tracks will be available on
7-inch vinyl only!

Last, but not least,  Sub Pop will
release a slew of great stuff for Record Store Day 2010, including the live
compilation Casual Nostalgia Fest recorded in 2008, during the label’s 20th anniversary celebratory festival SP20
in Seattle. The comp features choice cuts (19 tracks in all) from performances
at the festival, including tunes from Iron & Wine, Green
River, Low, Flight of the Conchords, the Vaselines, Wolf Parade,
and Blitzen Trapper.

For Record Store Day 2010, Sub Pop will also reissue Soundgarden’s 1987
debut single “Hunted Down” b/w “Nothing to Say”, on orange
translucent vinyl, as well as The Album Leaf’s There Is a Wind 12″
featuring two new songs with two alternate takes of tracks from the band’s last
album and CocoRosie’s “Lemonade” 7″, which includes one track
from the band’s forthcoming Sub Pop debut, as well as a cover of the Beach
Boys’ “Surfer Girl”.
Stay tuned for more exclusive Record Store Day 2010 releases in the coming

For more information:



Michael Jackson Fan Convention Announced

Yeah, but what WWMJD?
Some days we write the news, other days the news writes… you know…



Blurt Staff



first annual MJFanvention will take place August 26-29 at the Radisson Hotel
and Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville,
Indiana.   This is the
first tribute event endorsed by the Jackson
family and it is expected to attract thousands of people from around the world.


“We felt that Northwest Indiana was the
perfect place to host an event that will highlight Michael’s life and music. It
just makes sense because everything began here,” said Renae Brantley, CEO
of Fluid Entertainment, Inc. and Fluid Productions, LLC, promoters of the
gathering. “This is the only event that will be held so close to his Gary, Indiana
boyhood home and has been endorsed by his family.”

Members of the Jackson
family will be in attendance and participate in question and answer sessions,
sign autographs and take photos. In a special tribute to this musical family’s
ongoing legacy, Michael’s family members will perform throughout the weekend,
including his niece Genevieve Jackson and “The Triple Dose Band,” led
by Keith Jackson, a first cousin. Michael Jackson’s protégé, international
artist Omer Bhatti, will also perform.

“The MJFanvention (“fanvention” coined from the words
“fan” and “convention”) will give Michael Jackson fans an
opportunity to enjoy his music and meet and talk with performers and
professionals that worked with him on a variety of projects throughout his
illustrious career,” said Karen Williams, COO of Fluid Entertainment, Inc.
and Fluid Productions, LLC.

Artists including David Nordahl, who painted several commissioned portraits of
Michael, musicians including guitarist Jennifer Batten who played with Michael
on tour, and authors who wrote extensively about Michael’s life and career,
including Aphrodite Jones, will participate in discussion panels and question
and answer sessions to give Fanvention participants a true insider’s view of
one of the greatest artists the world has ever known.  A tradeshow exhibit
hall with Jackson
memorabilia will be in the Grand Met at the Radisson Hotel.

A highlight of the weekend includes a special tree planting ceremony at the Jackson family’s Gary,
Indiana home on Saturday, Aug. 28
at 2 p.m.  Mrs. Katherine E. Jackson and other family members will join
together to pay tribute to the strong commitment Michael held for the
environment and truly making the world a better place. Tours
to the Jackson family’s Gary home will be provided throughout the

“He used his music to convey his concerns,” said Don Thompson, event
director. “We want everyone to walk away from this event understanding his
passion for his music, humanity and his commitment to preserving the earth’s
natural resources.”

A VIP gala reception will follow Saturday’s tree planting ceremony at 6 p.m. on
Aug. 28. An exclusive concert “The Jacksons – The Next Generation”
will kick off at 8 p.m. that evening.  This once-in-a-lifetime concert
will feature performances by the next generation of Jackson family musicians, including Genevieve
Jackson and Triple Dose, along with other special guests to be announced at a
later date.  

The weekend will conclude with a Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration Sunday,
Aug. 29 from
3 – 5 p.m.  Gary School Corporation’s Westside Theatre Guild will perform
a Tribute Concert produced by Mark Spencer.

A portion of the proceeds from the MJFanvention2010 will be donated as a
charitable contribution, in the spirit of Michael’s commitment to humanity and

Tickets went onsale this week at – and the ticket packages
are quite reasonable, ranging from $1,013.32 for single rooms to $2,767.52 for
quad rooms .



– no Bonnaroo style camping?



Libertines Reunite for Summer Festival


The potential for
tabloid headlines is tremendous. Just tremendous, we tell you.


By Fred Mills


Whattaya do after you’ve toted heroin into court while
already on multiple probations? If you’re Pete Doherty, the path is obvious:
get your old band back together! And whattaya do if the band you formed after
that old band crashed and burned runs its course after only modest success? If
you’re Carl Barat, you also get your old band back together!


It’s fucking kismet!


Yes, indeed, the Libertines are getting back together, with
a not-too-shabby payday looming: £1.5million is the figure being
floated by the British press in reports that Doherty and Brat, plus drummer Gary
Powell and John Hassell, are reuniting in order to play this year’s Reading
& Leeds Festival, which takes place August 27-29. Also reportedly set to
appear are Arcade Fire, Guns N’ Roses and Blink-182. Well, one out of three ain’t


Anyhow, for Barat, it’s a win-win situation since his reputation’s
generally still intact, and for Doherty, it’s a maybe-win situation, depending
on (a) whether or not he can stay out of jail until August; and (b) if he can
navigate the temptations and excesses of a big-ass summer festival knowing that
there are undercover cops everywhere just itching to catch him with another



First Look: New Sweet Apple Album

Supergroup alert!
Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis and Cobra Verde’s John Petkovic have a stomping good
time with their first outing together, due next month on Tee Pee.


By Jennifer Kelly


Sweet Apple, the new project from J. Mascis and John
Petkovic, sounds a lot more like Cobra Verde (Petkovic’s band) than Dinosaur Jr.
 On debut album Love & Desperation here are occasional, inflammatory surges of
Mascis’ inimitable guitar, mostly on “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change),” and
in a sidewinding break in “Crawling Over Bodies”. Still for the most part,
Mascis stays in the background and seems mostly to be playing drums (as he does
in Witch). Petkovic has even brought along Tim Parnin, his guitarist from Cobra
Verde. Dave Sweetapple, who is also in Witch, plays bass, but you won’t hear a
lot of that band’s sprawling, sludgy metal here. Instead, the tunes are mostly
of the glam-leaning, power-chord studded, 1970s-referencing ilk of Cobra Verde.
Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, after an extended break and a rough
personal stretch, it looks like Petkovic has got his mojo back. If Love & Desperation were a Cobra
Verde album, it would be the best one since Easy
, far more consistent and hard-hitting than 2009’s Haven’t Slept All Year.


Maybe it’s not surprising that Sweet Apple sounds so Cobra
Verde-ish when you think about how the band came about. It’s quite a story. Petkovic’s
mother had just died after a long illness. He went for a long drive, starting
in Cleveland
and heading east. He got a phone call, out of the blue, from his friend Dave
Sweetapple, and decided, after a short conversation, to meet up in Brattleboro, Vermont,
where Sweetapple lived. J. Mascis, a couple of towns south in Amherst, came too. They decided to work
together and Petkovic wrote four songs on his way back to Cleveland.  Back home, he kept writing, and enlisted
Parnin to help him flesh out the songs.  The
album was recorded in Amherst and Cleveland, but up until a gig at SXSW a few
weeks ago, the band had never actually played together, in the same room, at
the same time. So Love & Desperation is a bit of a hybrid: part therapy, part old friends jamming, part one-off
super group. It sounds like the MC5 filtered through Badfinger with little bits
of Sweet poking through – and if you miss the large-gestured, hard-rocking
anthems of 1970s radio rock, this is exactly what you want.



Specifics?  “Do You
Remember” rides roughshod over the raunchiest and crunchiest guitar riff, Billy
Preston-ish piano rampaging in the background. “Flying Up the Mountain” stomps
out its bad-boy come ons  “I was drunk
when I was six/a Marxist at eight/I fucked at 13, but baby I was born too
late.” “Crawling Over Bodies” hazards a falsetto over a rain of California guitar
jangle. It’s almost all tremendous fun (I could do without the flaccid “Dead
Moon” but that’s the only skipper), nothing stunted or minimalist about it.
It’s like bedroom taping and lo-fi and dance punk and glo-wave never happened.
What a good thing.





When Alex Chilton Held Blurt’s Guitar


Wandering around in a New Orleans graveyard for
the “Cutting Edge” cameras.


By Fred Mills


Flashback time:


Sometime in 1985, not long after he had released the Feudalist Tarts EP, Alex Chilton was filmed
for a segment of MTV series I.R.S.
Records Presents The Cutting Edge
. The show, which aired once a month on Sunday
nights (and as a result is sometimes confused with another MTV show, 120 Minutes), ran from 1983 to 1987 and was hosted by Fleshtones frontman Peter


In the segment, Zaremba introduces Chilton, who then plays a
little guitar/harp blues (“Lost My Job”) while strolling around in a New
Orleans graveyard, talks a bit about himself and about living in New Orleans, and finishes
up doing a few refrains of the Box Tops hit “The Letter.”


It’s a nice little clip, which you can view below (note that
it is mistakenly labeled “120 Minutes”) – it’s literally been 20 years or so
since I’ve seen it, but today a friend told me it was on YouTube. The reason I
mention the clip is that after Chilton passed away unexpectedly on March 17, I
wrote a brief obituary for him here at Blurt, and included this personal


One time I met him a few hours before he was to perform at a small club in Charlotte, NC,
he invited me to join him at the booth he was relaxing in and we chatted for a
little while about friends we had in common. One mutual friend in particular
was of interest to him: back in the mid ‘80s I had sold an acoustic Takamine
guitar to a friend who had moved to New Orleans,
where Chilton had relocated from Memphis
some time earlier. Turns out he had met her through the Tav Falco/Panther Burns
crowd, and not long after she bought the guitar from me he was approached by
MTV to appear on a segment of their “Cutting Edge” program. Not
having a decent acoustic guitar himself, Chilton asked her if he could borrow
hers – mine – for the taping. When I told Chilton I got a kick out of seeing
him play my guitar on national television, he shook his head and grinned.
“I remember that!” he said, laughing. “That was a damn good
guitar. I wanted to buy it from her.”


So there you have it. He was right – it was a damn good guitar. I should’ve hung on to it. But then, I wouldn’t be able to tell you this story now if I did hang on to it. I guess you
could say it had a good trajectory, too.



Podcast Gold: Radio Free Song Club


Innovative feature
launches this week with some pretty heavy hitters leading the attack.


By Blurt Staff


Turn your radio dial knob to (or
iTunes, if that’s your thing), a free new monthly podcast called, logically
enough, Radio Free Song Club. It officially launched this week and features
music from veteran songwriters Freedy
Johnston, Laura Cantrell, Peter Blegvad, Kate Jacobs, Victoria Williams, Dave
Schramm, Freakwater, Jody Harris, and Peter Holsapple
, and is hosted by
Nicholas Hill. Special guest artists on the first four shows included Beth
, David Mansfield, Syd Straw, Sam Amidon and


The premise of the song club is for each participating
songwriter to write, record, and submit a new song each month; the songs are
then highlighted in the one-hour radio show. Special guest artists on the first
four shows included Beth Orton, David Mansfield, Syd Straw, Sam Amidon and
others. You’ll be able to listen to full shows and individual tracks at the
RFSC official website.


Hill, a DJ at WFMU, teamed with singer-songwriter Jacobs to
develop Radio Free Song Club as a way to broadcast new music from their close
contemporaries “set within a loose, creatively stimulating atmosphere free of
commercial and career considerations.” As Jacobs puts it, “I envisioned a
collective of friends and acquaintances that would be nicely competitive and
fun, artistic and conversational, rather than self-promoting.”


Radio Free Song Club is recorded at Gary’s Chop Shop in SoHo (NYC). Hill
masterfully mixes tracks while engaging in-studio guest performers and
interviewees as well as taking phone calls from the club’s participating songwriters.


The monthly song submission deadline pushes artists to write
and complete songs, and release them to the world, even if each song isn’t
perfect. The format includes interviews, live performances, special guest
appearances, and newly recorded material – the bottom line being to provide known
singer-songwriters with an online platform to get new songs out to their fans
in a quick, spontaneous, and homespun way. Lyrics from the majority of the
featured compositions are also posted at the site. Some artists showcase new
material that will end up on an album, others test the waters with new ideas,
but everyone involved is surely having fun with the songwriting deadline.


Freedy Johnson notes, “Like many of us, I have the
hardest time finishing songs. But a monthly deadline forces you to look a song
in the eye and say ‘Hey, you. You done? Ok, then get the hell out of here.’
Otherwise they’ll sit around the house their whole life living off your
groceries. You know the story.” Laura Cantrell, who appears live on the
first program singing her song “Wave Those Tears Away,” comments,
“I’m in the midst of trying to make a record’s worth of songs… the idea
of joining such an esteemed group – I thought it would be a good place to air
out some of these songs.” In a telephone interview on the 4th program,
Peter Blegvad says, “I lost that muscle which creates the urge to pick up
the guitar and mumble and strum until a song emerges…by the generous impetus
of this initiative here, the Song Club, I have had that enthusiasm rekindled.”


[Drawings by Peter Blegvad]