Single Series #38: Ronee Blakley
Ronee Blakley swept graciously into beautiful Brooklyn Recording. She brought Bobby Neuwirth along with her and they told some stories with David Mansfield about their time in the Rolling Thunder Review. And she recorded two new songs with the All Stars. She lost an earring that day, which means she’ll have to come back.
Brand New Start
(Ronee Blakley); recorded live with Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield (steel guitar); Andy Burton (piano); Dave Schramm (gut-string guitar); JC Hopkins (bass); copyright control Ronee Blakley/Sawtooth Music. From Number Six
, recorded May 6, 2010 by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording.
Single Series #37: Don Piper In Don Piper’s first appearance on Radio Free Song Club he brought two beautiful songs and we never looked back. Here’s one of them, recorded as the snow fell and fell.
Turn It On
(Don Piper); recorded live with Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield (dobro); Doug Wieselman (bass clarinet); Konrad Meissner (drums); Jeremy Chatzky (bass); Rob Burger (piano); Dave Schramm (Fender guitar); Glen Hansard (backing vocal). Situational Sounds / Almo Music Corp (ASCAP). From Lucky Thirteen
, recorded January 25, 2011 by Gary Arnold at Gary’s Chop Shop in NYC.
Single Series #36: Freedy Johnston Freedy got off a plane, tuned his guitar and launched into this tune with the All-Stars following right behind. Something “only my neighbors and all the people in my head have heard”.
Trapped Down in the Well
(Freedy Johnston); Freedy Johnston (vocal and acoustic guitar); David Mansfield (mandolin); Paul Moschella (drums); JD Foster (bass); Doug Wieselman (clarinet); Andy Burton (piano); Dave Schramm (telecaster); Trouble Tree Music (BMI) From Sweet Sixteen Tons
, recorded May 24, 2011 by Jimi Zhivago, Steve Ha, and Milton Ruiz at The Living Room in NYC.
Single Series #35: Joe McGinty Joe McGinty was both special guest and bandmate for Radio Free 21 Club, and brought his newly minted tune D Train Rider along. Maybe he could sing, dream, make her smile. If only. A hopeful lament, marvelously melodic.
D Train Rider
(Joe McGinty); Joe McGinty (vocal and piano); David Mansfield (mandolin); Clem Waldmann (drums); Jeremy Chatzky (bass); Mike McGinnis (sax and clarinet); Dave Schramm (telecaster); Tralfaz Music (ASCAP) From Radio Free 21 Club
, recorded January 25, 2012 by Jimi Zhivago, Steve Ha, Milton Ruiz, and Gaines Legerve at The Living Room in NYC.
Single Series #34: Dave Schramm Rick Moody penned the lyrics for this one, standing Happy Jack on it’s head. David Mansfield pegged it as “George Harrison meets Nino Rota”. Sure, why not? David’s mandolin, Andy Burton’s piano, Moe on drums and backing vocal, Byron’s perfect bass. A powerful, dark, joyful moment.
Honest To a Fault
(Rick Moody/Dave Schramm); Dave Schramm (vocal and guitar); David Mansfield (mandolin); Paul Moschella (drums and vocal); Byron Isaacs (bass); Andy Burton (piano); Hot Stove Music (BMI From Number 24
, recorded June 21, 2012 by Jimi Zhivago at The Living Room in NYC.
Single Series #33: Nicholas Hill and The Radio Free All-Stars Levon Helm died April 19, 2012. The public was notified a day or two prior to his death, which created a beautiful, worldwide outpouring of love for the man, and a celebration of his life, while he was still with us. We should all be so lucky as to go that way. We celebrated Levon, by covering a song that was released by Levon & The Hawks as an ATCO 45 b-side in 1965, months before the group started touring with Dylan. Richard Manuel sang the original, and J.R. Robertson is credited as writer. The All Stars ran it through half a time, then the show began. Host Nicholas Hill sings lead, and backing vocals are Don Piper and Matt Horn. Guest writer Franklin Bruno played Garth’s role on Hammond organ. Radio Free All-Stars Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, JD Foster, Konrad Meissner and Ted Reichman rocked it accordingly.
He Don’t Love You (And He’ll Break Your Heart
(J.R.Robertson); Nicholas Hill (vocal); David Mansfield (mandolin); Konrad Meissner (drums); JD Foster (bass); Ted Reichman (piano); Don Piper (backing vocal); Matt Horn (backing vocal); Franklin Bruno (Hammond organ); Dave Schramm (Fender guitar). Pub. Hollis (BMI) From Catch 23
, recorded May 8, 2012 by Gary Arnold at Gary’s Chop Shop in NYC.
Single Series #32: Dave Weckerman “Somebody stole the mission bell. Somebody’s going down to hell, where they’ll play it all night long.” A brand new Yung Wu song from Dave Weckerman. “That’s better than the way I intended it to be,” says Dave.
(Dave Weckerman); recorded live with Radio Free All Stars Dave Schramm, telecaster; David Mansfield, mandolin; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Paul Moschella, drums; and Rob Burger, organ; Copyright Control Dave Weckerman. Recorded by Dan McLoughlin at The Vault in Hoboken, NJ for Twenty Radios
Single Series #31: Victoria Williams Existentialism in a moth-eaten sweater, and the view from the floor. Vic and her piano explore.
Dog’s Eye View
(Victoria Williams); recorded and performed by Victoria. Mumbletypeg Music (BMI). From the show Fifth Number
, recorded way back in April of 2010.
Single Series #30: Kate Jacobs When your oncologist is the woman your husband left you for — but it all works out in the end! Vengeance is had. And what an ooh la la band of the day!
When Your Worst Fear Comes True
(Kate Jacobs); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars at The Living Room, NYC for Sweet Sixteen Tons
. David Mansfield (violin); Doug Wieselman (bass clarinet); Paul Moschella (drums); JD Foster (bass); Andy Burton (piano); Dave Schramm (acoustic guitar). Small Pond Music (BMI) Engineered by Jimi Zhivago, Steve Ha and Milton Ruiz, May 24, 2011.
Single Series #29: Glen Hansard The night this song was recorded it snowed two feet in Manhattan. We emerged from the studio at 3 a.m. into high glittering drifts of pure powder and a line of snow plows backed up on Hudson Street. One of our guests was Glen Hansard. After recording two new songs with the All Stars, he pulled out another he’d written while the band was warming up and they recorded that too. Here it is: Alice. Check out the show to hear the song in context, and Glen calling out chords just before counting off. You can’t hear the snow but it was falling hard, all the time.
(Glen Hansard); recorded live with Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield (violin); Doug Wieselman (bass clarinet); Konrad Meissner (drums); Jeremy Chatzky (bass); Rob Burger (piano); Don Piper (Gretsch guitar); Dave Schramm (Fender guitar). Warner Chappell Music From Lucky Thirteen
, recorded January 25, 2011 by Gary Arnold at Gary’s Chop Shop in NYC.
Single Series #28: Peter Holsapple
“When Uncle Lonnie stays at our house, we’re quiet as a mouse. We don’t want to wake him . . .” From Episode Eight
, a family story from Peter Holsapple.
Peter HolsappleDon’t Mention the War
(Peter Holsapple); Performed and recorded by Peter in the basement before the sheetrock went up. Hospital Music(BMI) Administered by Bug/BMG/Chrysalis.
Single Series #27: A song from the unassailably most romantic Radio Free Song Club writer, Mr. Jody Harris
Jody HarrisThis Is My New York Romance
(Jody Harris); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars for show #16, Sweet Sixteen Tons
: Jody Harris, vocals and guitar; Doug Wieselman, bass clarinet, JD Foster, bass; David Mansfield, mandolin; Dave Schramm, telecaster; Paul Moschella, drums; Andy Burton, piano; Recorded by Jimi Zhivago at The Living Room, NYC on May 24, 2011. Copyright Control Jody Harris.
Single Series #26: Martha Wainwright pulled out this brand new song at the end of an evening and shared it with us and with the All-Stars. A conversation with her mother; a fledgling version of a song which would become a cornerstone of her latest album.
Martha Wainwright All Your Clothes
(Martha Wainwright); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars for show #19, 19th Nervous Hoedown
: Martha Wainwright, vocals and guitar; Doug Wieselman, bass clarinet, JD Foster, bass; David Mansfield, violin; Dave Schramm, gut-string guitar; Recorded by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording on October 19, 2011. Copyright Control Martha Wainwright (SOCAN).
Single Series #25: Hey did you hear the one about the guy who put twenty radios on the front porch and played them all at the same time tuned to different stations?
Freedy JohnstonTwenty Radios
(Freedy Johnston); Performed and recorded by Freedy, with live overdubs by the Radio Free All Stars: Jeremy Chatzky, bass; David Mansfield, mandolin; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; Rob Burger, Hammond organ; Paul Moschella, drums; Trouble Tree Music (BMI). All-Stars recorded by Dan McLoughlin at The Vault, Hoboken NJ; assisted by Brian Knox for show number 20, Twenty Radios
, on December 13, 2011.
Single Series #24: Amy Allison is having a happy holiday. Saint Nick is behind the bar and he knows what she likes. Recently recorded in the midst of show Number 26: Boxing Day Edition.
Amy AllisonDrinking Through Christmas
(Amy Allison); recorded live at the Maid’s Room, NYC with the Radio Free All Stars: Amy Allison, vocals and guitar; JD Foster, bass; David Mansfield, mandolin; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; Timothy Hill, piano; Paul Moschella, drums; Shop Girl Songs (BMI) Administered by Bug Music.
Single Series #23: “I was sittin’ in the dark, as the band played on Listening to the words of an old Southern song . . .” A great moment captured at Gary’s Chop Shop last spring — Laura and the All Stars gently laying down this meditative, lonely song.
Laura CantrellNo Way There From Here
(Laura Cantrell/Franklin Bruno); recorded live with Radio Free All Stars Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, JD Foster, Konrad Meisner and Ted Reichman with Franklin Bruno on piano; Thrift Shop Songs (BMI) admin. Bug Music/Stopgap Measures (BMI) admin. Pacific Electric Music. Recorded by Gary Arnold at Gary’s Chop Shop for Catch 23
on May 8, 2012.
Single Series #22: Peter Blegvad is overwhelmed.
Single Series #21: Don wrote, “Hello Radio Free Song Club from Chengdu, China. I’m happy to present my latest offering to you while traveling around China. It’s my first song written on a ukulele. I was able to find a recording studio in Chengdu and throw it down. The engineer was an ex-pat named Jovian. He’s now the proud owner of an RFSC t-shirt. Represent.”
(Don Piper); recorded in Chengdu, China by Jovian with live overdubs at The Living Room in New York City by Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield, a Chinese reed instrument; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Paul Moschella, drums; Mark Spencer, piano; Dave Schramm, telecaster. For show number 18, Eighteen with a Bullet
. Situational Sounds (ASCAP)
Single Series #20: Ed Askew came down to The Living Room last September and sang his warm and elevating songs (with tipple accompaniment) to a full house from a full stage. “I knew a boy who wore an old hat. He worked at the paper. He drove an old Chrysler. He liked to sing. A song in the morning, and after work he’d sing. A song before supper, for the world.”
Ed AskewFor the World
(Ed Askew); recorded live at The Living Room in New York City with Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield, violin; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Paul Moschella, drums; Mark Spencer, piano; Dave Schramm, telecaster; and with Tyler Evans on the tipple. For show number 18, Eighteen with a Bullet
. Copyright Control Ed Askew 2011
Single Series #19: About a year ago Katell was in from Cardiff and joined us to record this song with Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, JD Foster, Andy Burton, and Konrad Meissner. The band and the song and the tiny Maid’s Room studio and the sultry New York night coalesced as such elements sometimes do and a wonderful record was made. It’s in Welsh. Katell told us that it’s about going back to the beginning. And sitting on your hands. And climbing stairs.
Katell KeinegPlatfform 0
(Katell Keineg); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars: David Mansfield, mandolin; JD Foster, bass; Andy Burton, Hammond organ and vocals; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; Konrad Meissner, drums; for show number 15, Un Deg Pump
. Copyright Control, Katell Keineg
Single Series #18: A new song from Amy Allison — so simple, elegant, and true. A clever phrase honed down to something more elemental. Classic. And that inimitable, grown-up vocal style — perfectly suited to this new suite Amy’s been bringing to the Club. Recorded live at The Living Room with Radio Free All Stars David Mansfield, Jeremy Chatzky, Dave Schramm, Mark Spencer, and Paul Moschella.
Amy AllisonNo Stars in New York City
(Amy Allison); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars: David Mansfield, violin; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Mark Spencer, piano; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; Paul Moschella, drums; for show number 18 With a Bullet
. Shop Girl Songs (BMI) admin Bug Music
Single Series #17: Bob Neuwirth, Four Famous French Photographs. The mercurial Mr. Bob Neuwirth showed up at the studio one night last year. With Ronee Blakley and David Mansfield on board as well, somehow we managed to avoid Revue nostalgia and moved on to the matter of new songs. He entertained us in the kitchen, singing a song about the lighter side of suicide, but once the tape was rolling he smiled and sang this one, in his wise and mischievous voice. Georges Brassai meets Poncho and Lefty? Engineered and mixed by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording, with David Mansfield, Dave Schramm, Andy Burton, and JC Hopkins playing along. Rolling thunder indeed.
Single Series #16: Jennie Lowe Stearns, Mighty Diamonds. A song about seeing a band in the afternoon, and life’s fullness. Mournful, joyful, dark and bright all at once. A gorgeous live recording from a club show with Radio Free All Stars Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, JD Foster, Paul Moschella, Andy Burton and Doug Wieselman, with Victoria Williams and Kate Jacobs on backing vocals. Thank you, Jennie.
Jennie Lowe StearnsMighty Diamonds
(Jennie Lowe Stearns); performed live with the Radio Free All Stars. Recorded by Jimi Zhivago at The Living Room, May 24, 2011 for show #16, Sweet Sixteen Tons
; Porchbone Music (BMI)
Dave Schramm, Man of Few Words. A shimmering, romantic song. A movie song. A sad, romantic movie from the ’60s song. A walking in the rain sort of song.
Dave SchrammMan of Few Words
(Dave Schramm); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars: Dave Schramm, vocals and tres; Doug Wieselman, bass clarinet; Al Greller, bass; Andy Burton, piano; David Mansfield, mandolin; Paul Moschella, drums; Recorded by Gary Arnold at Gary’s Chop Shop, February 24, 2011 for show #14, Seven and Seven Is
; Hot Stove Music (BMI)
Don Piper’s, We Are You. Turn it up. With show #19 poised to post next week, we fast forward to a preview of show #20!
Don PiperWe Are You
(Don Piper); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars: Don Piper, vocals and guitar; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Rob Burger, space organ; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; David Mansfield, mandolin; Paul Moschella, drums; Situational Sounds (ASCAP)
Happy New Year! We have two New Year’s songs for you from our archive. Birds at the Feeder by Kate Jacobs is a story of a family, a house, a marriage, a cold sunny new year’s day — with an exceptionally lovely arrangement by Dave Schramm and the Radio Free All Stars. New Year’s Here by Jay Sherman-Godfrey is a chiming, existential meditation on the nature of marking time.
Kate Jacobs Birds at the Feeder
(Kate Jacobs, arrangement by Dave Schramm); recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars: Dave Schramm, guitar; David Mansfield, violin; Doug Wieselman, clarinet; Konrad Meissner, drums; Jeremy Chatzky, bass; Rob Burger, piano; Small Pond Music (BMI) Jay Sherman-Godfrey New Year’s Here
(Jay Sherman-Godfrey) performed and recorded by Jay with Cheri Leone, backing vocals, and Diego Voglino, drums; Kalamakeepsie Music (BMI) administered by Bug Music
Victoria Williams’ achingly sad and lovely cover of Townes van Zandt’sBuckskin Stallion Blues was recorded live at The Living Room in New York with the Radio Free All Stars. Vic learned this song from Amy Annelle. Arrived from her ranch in Joshua Tree, CA — where her own beloved buckskin stallion had just died — Vic’s take on the song is acutely personal, affectionate, and respectful of the greatness that is a good horse.
Victoria WilliamsBuckskin Stallion Blues
(Townes van Zandt) recorded live at The Living Room in NYC with Dave Schramm, guitar; David Mansfield, violin; JD Foster, bass; Paul Moschella, drums; Andy Burton, piano.
Here’s a brand new Peter Holsapple song for you Radio Free Song Clubbers. Peter sent this track for a live show. It was fascinating to listen to it coming in through the p.a. in a full club. We all gazed at the speakers and listened and laughed, and listened more carefully, and more carefully, as this American family opera unfolded.
Peter HolsappleAll Hail
(Peter Holsapple) recorded by Peter and Webb Holsapple (complete recording notes below); Peter H. and Tray and Kathleen Batson, vocals; Webb Holsapple, violin; Hospital Music (BMI) admin Bug Music Peter writes
: All Hail
has been clanging around inside my head like the proverbial bb shot-in-a-pie-pan for about three months. I’d hoped to have it ready for January’s RFSC but it became obvious that something more elaborate was formulating. So here it is, May 2011, and I got it finished just under the wire for the live show that I can’t attend. This song is something of a folk-rockin’ political broadside cum
operetta with four characters. The first singer (that would be me) is the deluded neo-con politico, drowning in his own Kool-aid. Next comes his distressed and depressed wife, then his teenage daughter (roles sung by Kathleen Batson
). Finally, the moneyed politico bigwig weighs in (role played by Tray Batson — Tray and Kathleen are my bandmates in the exceptional kids’ rock band Baron von Rumblebuss
). I played my new Squier Jaguar bass, my Fender ‘Esquire’, my NORD electro and my Guild D40 acoustic, as well as the drums. My son, Webb Holsapple, played the violin parts and engineered my drum tracks; suffice to say, I’m thrilled he enjoyed his studio experience and hope it’s the first of many collaborations with him. And big thanks to Tray and Kathleen for being such good neighbors and talented individuals. Click HERE
for the libretto!
Here is a confluence of three beautiful things. Jody Harris with a brand new song, a fortunate iteration of the Radio Free All Stars, including Dave Hofstra on bass and Doug Wieselman on clarinet, and the unseen presence of…? It’s Mister Nobody. James Bond in Portugal? Someone is being hunted. Song noir. Have you heard Jody Harris?
Jody HarrisMister Nobody
(J. Harris) Jody (guitar and vocal), David Mansfield (mandolin), Ted Reichman (piano), Doug Wieselman (clarinet), Dave Hofstra (bass), Dave Schramm (gut-string guitar). Copyright Control, Jody Harris
Single Series #7. Santa Cruz, sent to us by Todd Snider, is a worn and warm gravelly warble of a tribute to a West Coast disc jockey.
Todd SniderSanta Cruz
(T. Snider) Performed and recorded by Todd.
It was St. Patrick’s Day in New York, a beautiful spring evening. Sam Amidon
and Beth Orton
joined us in the studio for our Fourth Time Around
. Sam sang You Better Mind
, an old gospel song arranged for his wonderfully light, dry, utterly American voice. Warm and severe at the same time. Beth sang along with him, soothing and scolding us and traveling back in time.
Sam AmidonYou Better Mind
(trad., arranged by Sam Amidon) Performed live by Sam with Beth Orton, Dave Schramm and David Mansfield
Single Series #5: Dave Schramm’s Been There, Done That (New for You) hums along on a timeless melody. The Radio Free All Stars swing gently to this clear-eyed, unsentimental, tender waltz featuring Doug Wieselman on clarinet. Listen to the words — they don’t say what you might think.
Dave SchrammBeen There, Done That (New For You)
(D. Schramm) Dave (vocals and gut-string guitar), Doug Wieselman (clarinet), David Mansfield (mandolin), Dave Hofstra (bass), Ted Reichman (wurlitzer piano), Paul Moschella (drums). Hot Stove Music (BMI)
Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland is a stopover for troops on their way to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Flying Out of Shannon is Kate Jacobs’ song about the throngs of American soldiers she sees on her frequent travels through that airport. It’s a sort of breezy piano ballad, a kind of a show tune, a few stray thoughts on camouflage fashion, a war song, a mother’s song. She emailed a lonely vocal to Ted Reichman in Boston, and he overdubbed the beautiful piano interpretation and emailed it back. Doug Wieselman played bass clarinet live on the show.
Kate JacobsFlying Out of Shannon
(Kate Jacobs) Kate (vocal), Ted Reichman (piano), Doug Wieselman (Bass clarinet). piano arrangement by Ted Reichman; Small Pond Music (BMI)
of The Fugs was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery the day we went in to cut Episode Eight
. He lived around the corner from the studio and had been one of the first guests we thought of having on the show. He died before we got hold of him. In search of a way to honor Tuli, we gathered the lyric to “When the Mode of the Music Changes”, and without learning the song, or even really listening to it, each one of the Radio Free All Stars initiated in turn (clockwise), a completely different musical mode for each verse, led by Nicholas Hill’s dramatic interpretation. Musical telepathy at work, and the great spirit of Tuli Kupferberg.
The Radio Free All-StarsWhen the Mode of Music Changes
(Tuli Kupferberg) Nicholas Hill, Mary Lee Kortes, Laura Cantrell and Kate Jacobs (vocals), David Mansfield (mandolin), JD Foster (bass), Ted Reichman (piano), Paul Moschella (drums), Dave Schramm (electric guitar).
sent this song for our ninth show, If 9 Was 6
. He recorded a vocal and acoustic guitar and asked Dave Schramm to do a live electric guitar overdub on the show. So simple. It’s called Baby Baby Come Home and it sounds just like that. Plaintive as hell. With a typically beautiful melody.
Freedy JohnstonBaby Baby Come Home
(F. Johnston) Freedy (guitar and vocal), Dave Schramm (electric guitar). Trouble Tree Music, BMI
Last fall Susan Cowsill
was on tour with her band. They stopped in for a long fruitful evening at The Chop Shop. You can hear the whole show here: http://radiofreesongclub.com/archives/1630
. She brought a brand new song, and she sang on the song Peter Holsapple had sent — a loving tribute to The Continental Drifters — and she sang on a bunch of other songs, and then at the end of the night her wonderful band joined up with a Radio Free All Star and did a staggering rendition of Mississippi
, an old Continental Drifters favorite. Here it is, for you:
The Susan Cowsill BandMississippi
(Carlo Nuccio, Ray Ganucheau) Susan guitar, Mary Lasseigne vocals, bass, Alexis Marceau vocals, Jack Craft guitar, Sam Craft fiddle, Russ Broussard drums, Dave Schramm guitar. Johnny Oops Music/Bug Music/BMI, Valcour’s Oak Publishing/Bug Music/BMI
Two good things: The groundhog did not see his shadow and we have some new songs for you. Freedy sent us a high lonesome beautiful one — David Mansfield overdubbed it and Fred Tomaselli named it. Dave Schramm composed an eerie pop gem/dissonant dream that makes you feel like you’re at the movies. Jody’s was so tuneful and delicate Dave had to bring out the vibes for an overdub. Laura’s story of three women, three bars, and three letters is a melancholy tune with a ray of hope.
(Harris) performed and recorded by Jody with overdubs by Dave Schramm, vibes and shaker; Copyright Control Jody Harris
Freedy JohnstonThe Only One
(Johnston) performed and recorded by Freedy with live violin overdub by David Mansfield; Trouble Tree Music (BMI)
Laura CantrellLetters She Sent
(Cantrell) performed and recorded by Laura on a back porch in Signal Mountain, TN; live overdubs from the Radio Free All Stars; Thrift Shop Songs (BMI) admin Bug Music
Dave SchrammBackground Music
(Schramm) Performed and recorded by Dave. Hot Stove Music, BMI
As we prepare these programs, life happens, deaths too. Generally the passing of an artist whose work touched us requires a response, and the Radio Free All Stars being there at the ready for anything is always inspiring. As this is a club of writers who have their own songs to present, I have taken the liberty of singing other songs that need to be sung for one reason or another. This month we saluted the Captain. When Don Van Vliet passed a few days prior to the recording of our twelfth show we had to attack a couple of his songs. Peter Blegvad was in town so he and I simultaneously recited “The Dust Blows Forward and The Dust Blows Back” into the telephone from down the street whilst the All Stars found something to hang their hats on and improvised a soundtrack. Peter and I never heard what they played. Nice. Later in the show, the chairs were arranged, and this song unfurled, most beautifully. I got to sing Beefhearts’ “Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles” with this month’s All-Stars. What a blast! – Nicholas.
The Radio Free All-StarsHer Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles
(Van Vliet) Nicholas Hill, vocal; Dave Schramm, electric guitar; Doug Weiselman, acoustic guitar; David Mansfield, mandolin; Ted Reichman, Wurlitzer piano and Vox Continental organ; Dave Hofstra, acoustic bass; Paul Moschella, drums.
It’s always gift-giving time with the Radio Free Song Club! Time for a few songs from the mixed-up files: The wonderful singer and writer Mary Lee Kortes was our guest in July, recording Family Tree live with the All Stars. It’s a song about photographs—the stories and depths they hold—and it also rocks. Kate Jacobs’ song on that show was The Battle Droid—written to a little beatbox in a little beach house and recorded live with instant All Star arrangement led by Ted Reichman. Real Tears from Peter Holsapple is short and deliciously full of wordplay and harmony (though his drums were still in storage at that point). Victoria Williams wrote Amma Mama in a moment of divine inspiration after a hug from Amma herself. A song to soothe and pacify. Joy and Peace to you all!
Mary Lee KortesFamily Tree
(Kortes) Live with the Radio Free All-Stars; (Copyright control by Mary Lee Kortes)
Kate JacobsThe Battle Droid
(Jacobs) Live with Kate and The Radio Free All-Stars; Small Pond Music (BMI)
Peter HolsappleReal Tears
(Holsapple) It’s very short. I used my travel guitar, mic’d and direct, and my Danelectro bass with flatwound string. Damn, I miss my drums. performed and recorded by Peter, Hospital Music (BMI) admin Bug Music
Victoria WilliamsAmma Mama
(Williams) Craig Eastman is the engineer/producer and pianist, and his wife Alison Moynihan doing background vocals; Mumbletypeg Music (BMI)
Dipping into the treasure trove of exclusive Radio Free Song Club songs, we are pleased to present a little more gorgeousness. Peter Blegvad sat down and wrote Golden Helmet (how does he do that, some of us wonder). Just two chords, a retired knight, and pure wonderment. Robin Holcomb sent us It is A Blessing, a delicate piano spiritual of light and dark, straight from Seattle. Lord have mercy if Nicholas Hill didn’t celebrate the life and mark the death of Tuli Kupferberg by recording a rip-snorting version of CIA Man, with the Radio Free All Stars and his brother Timothy Hill too. Is it us or is Dave Schramm writing really catchy songs these days? Long Story Short is long on melody and we are amazed monthly by the intricate productions emerging from that basement.
Peter BlegvadGolden Helmet
This is first version I recorded of three. I like the insecurity of it. I play all instruments, some of which are toys. As is my recording setup. It’s a loooooooonnnnng song, but radically short on chords (2) so you really feel the weight of time. Obvious models would be big favourites Dylan (“Highlands”) and the Velvet Underground.
Nicholas HillCIA Man
(Tuli Kupferberg) live with the Radio Free All-Stars, Mary Lee Kortes and Timothy Hill. David Mansfield (violin), Ted Reichman (piano), JD Foster (bass), Paul Moschella (drums), Dave Schramm (electric guitar)
Dave SchrammLong Story Short
Performed and recorded by Dave (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass and vibes). Live overdubs in the studio by David Mansfield (violin), Andy Burton (piano), Paul Moschella (drums) and Dave again (electric guitar); Hot Stove Music, BMI
While we wait for Episode 8, a few songs from our recent past. New members Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby stopped by and recorded Do You Remember That?— Amy’s song of the odd events that are romance. Freedy was in a bar watching the World Cup but we made him come down to the studio and he said he had half a song and recorded it in one take with the All Stars and it turned out to be way more than half. The Sign Points Both Ways is about his hometown of Kinsley, KS. Laura brought a recording of Do You Know What I Mean? to show #6 and the All Stars played along with her resounding moment of domestic melancholy.
Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby Do You Remember That?
(Amy Rigby) Performed live in the studio by Amy and Eric; Grantland Music admin. by Bug Music
Freedy Johnston The Sign Points Both Ways
(Freedy Johnston) Performed live in the studio by Freedy with Dave Schramm (electric guitar), David Mansfield (mandolin), Andy Burton (piano), Paul Moschella (drums) and JD Foster (bass); Trouble Tree Music BMI
Laura CantrellDo You Know What I Mean?
(Laura Cantrell) guitar and vocal, Laura; live overdub: Dave Schramm, gut-string guitar; David Mansfield, mandolin; Andy Burton, organ; J.C. Hopkins, bass; Thrift Shop Songs (BMI) admin Bug Music
Four new songs from our exclusive and growing archive. Victoria Williams recorded Heaven’s Door with Jolie Holland, John Convertino and Joey Burns of Calexico, and Isobel Campbell (Belle and Sebastian). Jody Harris sent True Love, a love song and ballad of shining beauty. Kate Jacobs had some All Star overdubbing on Buy Gold, a suburban landscape with old age and money. Nicholas Hill celebrated the late Jeffrey Fredrick, recording his surreal Singing to the Dentist with the All Stars in their rowdier mode.
Victoria WilliamsHeaven’s Door
(Victoria Williams) performed by Victoria with Joey Burns, Isobel Campbell, Jolie Holland, John Convertino “it was in nyc and tucson. i recorded the track at jacks with jolie holland and then in tucson john convertino and joey burns recorded onto the track. sounds like they were there!”; Mumbletypeg Music (BMI)
Kate Jacobs Buy Gold
(Kate Jacobs) guitar and vocal, Kate; guitar and organ, Dave Schramm—recorded by Dan McLoughlin at The Vault in Hoboken; live overdub: Dave Schramm, Nashville guitar; David Mansfield, mandolin; Andy Burton, organ; Small Pond Music (BMI)
Jody Harris True Love
(Jody Harris) performed, recorded by Jody Harris; Copyright Control Jody Harris
Nicholas Hill Singing to the Dentist
(Jeffrey Fredrick) live with Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, Jessie Carrot, Sam Amidon and Gary Arnold. Beth Orton and Kate Jacobs harmonize. The late Jeffrey Frederick on the difference between rock & roll and country-western: “Country-western is six guys in a stationwagon, driving 300 miles to play for $200. Rock and roll is what you do when you get there.”
Here are three new songs for you, from our astonishing collection. Let’s Travel Light was recorded live with the Radio Free All Stars when Peter Blegvad was in town from London. He says it’s his favorite version of this song. In Your Father Said, Dave Schramm practices a little self-plagiarism with unexpected and complex results. Peter Holsapple sent Bicycle Song, a Pink Floydish narrative about a girl, a bike, and a train.
Peter Blegvad Let’s Travel Light
(Peter Blegvad) live with Dave Schramm, David Mansfield, Andy Burton, James MacMillan and Paul Moschella
Dave Schramm Your Father Said (Dave Schramm) performed and recorded by Dave; Hot Stove Music (BMI)
Peter Holsapple Bicycle Song
(Peter Holsapple) performed and recorded by Peter, Hospital Music (BMI) admin Bug Music
Here are three pastoral songs for you, here at the start of summer. A yearning, affectionate country love song from Laura Cantrell; an eerie, sweet patch of weeds from Robin Holcomb (our newest member!); and a bit of small town melancholy from the small town lad himself, Freedy Johnston.
Can’t Waitby Laura Cantrell and Amy Allison; vocal and guitar, Laura; dobro, David Mansfield; guitar, Dave Schramm; piano, Andy Burton; drums, Paul Moschella; bass, James MacMillan; Thrift Shop Songs/Shop Girl Songs (BMI) admin Bug Music
The Sweetest Thingby Robin Holcomb; piano and vocal, Robin; guitar, Dave Schramm; violin, David Mansfield; accordion, Andy Burton; St. Rose Music (ASCAP)
Here are some new songs in classic styles. Tell it to the Marines is a sly ’40s scold from Kate Jacobs that ties up a timely scenario including war, financial ruin and a broken heart. Peter Blegvad’s Cote D’Azur swings into the hearts of the soul-searching rich; and Peter Holsapple ramps it up on Don’t Call Me Pete.
Kate JacobsTell it to the Marineswritten and sung by Kate Jacobs; piano arrangement and performance by Andy Burton; recorded by Andy Burton, mixed by Gary Arnold Small Pond Music (BMI)
Peter BlegvadThe Cote D’Azurwritten, performed, recorded by Peter Blegvad; Copyright Control, Peter Blegvad
Peter HolsappleDon’t Call Me PeteWritten and performed by Peter Holsapple with Tray and Kathleen Batson on background vocals; Hospital Music (BMI, admin. by Bug Music)
Vic Chesnutt’s death was a sobering event for us all. We’d like to share this collection of songs from the first few shows that were an unplanned response to the sad news. Victoria Williams sent us Vic on Vic, Syd Straw brought You Had Your Chance to play live on the show, Nicholas Hill sings Vic’s song Lucinda Williams, and Peter Holsapple brings us home with Don’t Ever Leave.
Four Songs For Vic Chesnutt
Vic on Vic (Victoria Williams) Mumbletypeg Music, (BMI) Victoria Williams, piano & vocal with David Mansfield, violin You Had Your Chance (Syd Straw/Mark Boone, Jr.) Strawsongs (BMI) Admin. by Bug Music, Inc. Syd Straw & Mark Boone Jr, vocals, guitar; Dave Schramm, lap steel guitar; David Mansfield, violin Lucinda Williams (Vic Chesnutt) Ghetto Bells (BMI), Administered by Bug Music Inc. Nicholas Hill with Dave Schramm, guitar Don’t Ever Leave (Peter Holsapple) Hospital Music (BMI), Admin. by Bug Music, Inc. Peter Holsapple, vocal, organ and electric piano
Here are three new songs for you from our steadily growing archive of exclusive tracks: Something Went Wrong, Dave Schramm’s eerie, faltering lament from Third One Now. We Fell Through a Crack in the World, Peter Blegvad’s track from Second Number, is spoken, sung and howled. Mister Control, Jody Harris’s wonderfully cryptic song from Number One Issue sounds like a warning and an appreciation.
Beth Orton and Sam Amidon Thirteenwritten by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, performed by Beth and Sam with Dave Schramm and David Mansfield live on Radio Free Song Club: Fourth Time Around.As we gathered on St. Patrick’s Day to tape show number four, we learned of the death of Alex Chilton. Beth Orton and Sam Amidon were in the studio that night and worked out a version of Big Star’s “Thirteen”. Ted found the lyrics online, Sam picked out the chords and they sang it for the first time. Here it is.
photo by Ted Barron
Freedy Johnston A Little Bit of Something Wrongwritten by Freedy Johnston, performed by Freedy with Dave Schramm live on RFSC Second Number Trouble Tree Music (BMI)
Laura CantrellKitty Wells’ Dresseswritten by Laura with Amy Allison; performed by Laura and Mark Spencer; recorded by Mark Spencer Thrift Shop Songs/Shop Girl Songs (BMI) admin Bug Music
Peter HolsappleOh My (I Gotta Write a New Song)
written, performed, recorded by Peter (Hospital Music, BMI admin. by Bug Music)
I’ve never experienced writer’s block like the one I’ve just tried to ramrod through with this song, which is all about ramrodding through writer’s block. The wonderful opportunity afforded me last year by my friends at The New York Times online to write about songwriting made me consider what I had done somewhat automatically for thirty-five years prior. Describing how and why I did what I did to make a song appear seemed to demystify the process, made me self-conscious and wary, and demagnetized whatever internal music ions that had caromed around freely beforehand. I couldn’t start, much less finish, a song for about a year and change. When Kate approached me about joining this group of songwriters, my fear that I was done for nearly capsized me into thanking her and declining. Instead, some tiny spark said I’d better do it, and that I’d better write a song. So I wrote a very ‘of the moment’ batch of lyrics, even more so than “Here and Now” had been. This song is true confession time, expounding on my catatonic writing state, in an effort to dislodge the logjam and get going again. I think most every songwriter worries that his or her current song is the last one to come down the pipe. With any luck, this one of mine is merely the chemical agent that cleanses the system I’ve been fortunate enough to possess for years. And while it may not be the best song I’ve ever written, I can happily say it’s the most recent one.
Victoria Williams Fall Experience written and performed by Victoria (vocal and long neck banjo), Jeff Fiellder guitar, Isobel Campbell cello and background vocals, and Jim the engineer background vocals
FreakwaterMockingbirdwritten and performed by Catherine Irwin and Janet Beveridge Bean, Jim Elkington helped record the tune and played mandolaCatherine Irwin of Freakwater on Mockingbird:I have always been pretty crazy about mockingbirds. They are kind of scrappy. They are really territorial. They will sometimes chase cats out of their own backyards and they always have sort of an ”I will fuck you up” look on their faces. You can talk to them and they will make fun of you and they sing all night long.Last summer a mockingbird flew in through the back door of my house and landed on my bed. I was pretty freaked out, mostly because of the eye-gouging beak thing but also because of the daggery lizard-chicken claws and the generally crazy blood-thirsty behavior of franticly flapping trapped birds. Maybe it’s a rare thing for birds or bats to get tangled up in a person’s hair, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t ever going to happen.Oh, I forgot to say that the mockingbird pooped on my bed. That psychedelic purple mulberry poop.I am not one of those annoying people who are constantly searching for meaning and who are, consequently, constantly finding it, but this event did strike me as potentially revelatory. Through the rosy lens of my ego-mania it seems as if I have perhaps at last been chosen.
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Radio Free All-Stars Radio Free SongThe theme song for the Radio Free Song Club. Written and recorded by Dave Schramm. Performed by Peter Moser (drums), and Dave Schramm (guitars, bass, organ)