Tag Archives: Music

A Sneak Peak at 2016’s Hottest New Broadway Shows

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Anthropophobia

This is guaranteed to be the show that none of your friends will be able to get tickets for—because nobody is allowed to see it. With music, lyrics, and book by a crotchety old hermit known only as Greasy Steve, Anthropophobia is the hottest recluse since Bobby Fischer. Best of all, since no one knows what it is about, Anthropophobia is age appropriate for the whole family. Just try not to get too close to the theater, or Steve will pelt you with glass shards.

 

Tubthumping

A unique twist on the popular jukebox musical format, Tubthumping celebrates the inspired sound of Chumbawamba by performing their one hit over and over again. You’ll hear the title song so many times: sped up, slowed down, and even a reggae version!

And did we mention that the musical is for some reason set during The Great Depression?

 

Harrison

Taking a cue from critical and commercial smash Hamilton, this musical tells the story of U.S. President William Henry Harrison. Its revolutionary shortened format reflects the life of Old Tippecanoe, a poorly remembered leader who died after barely a month in office. According to early reviews, Harrison is so fantastic, that few will even mind shelling out hundreds of dollars to see show that lasts for sixteen minutes.

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Steve Miller Writes a Cover Letter

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http://splitsider.com/2015/12/steve-miller-writes-a-cover-letter-by-dan-fitzpatrick/

More funny stuff from me on another website! Splitsider was kind enough to publish a strange little thing I wrote called “Steve Miller Writes a Cover Letter,” in which the aforementioned rocker applies for a job using some of his most famous lyrics.

“I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover, and I understand the necessity of synergy in today’s commercial climate.”

Check it out!

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Rock Conspiracy: Was Ringo Starr in The Beatles?

As the biggest band in the world, The Beatles have certainly seen their fair share of myths. Most notable is the “Paul Is Dead” theory, which draws upon a series of clues from songs and album covers to claim that Paul McCartney died in a motor accident in 1966 and was secretly replaced with a double by the name of Billy Shears. It’s a fun legend, albeit one that’s rather ludicrous.

But recent evidence, probably never meant to be revealed to the masses, suggests that there may be a Beatles conspiracy that nobody could have predicted. All the signs point that Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends narrator Ringo Starr may have fact been…a member of The Beatles.

RingoStarr Thomas

Wait, don’t close the tab! The clues are all there, you just have to let me explain.

1. The album covers

Take, for instance, the cover of The Beatles’ 1969 magnum opus Abbey Road.

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Fans have long discussed how the simple photograph of a street crossing resembles a funeral procession. John, leading the way in all white, is the minister; Paul, barefoot and holding a cigarette, is the corpse about to be buried; George, bringing up the rear in denim workclothes, is the gravedigger. But wait, who’s that mysterious figure between John and Paul!?

It could be coincidental, but the man in question, with his gnome beard and pirate jewelry, bears a strong resemblance to Ringo Starr. But what would the host of a 1980s children show be doing on the cover of a rock album from almost two decades earlier?

Interestingly, Starr also makes an appearance, twice in fact, on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s no big deal–The Beatles included cutouts of dozens of authors, actors, and musicians they admired on the cover.

sgt pepper

But hold on a second, how would Starr make it on the cover in 1967 when his hit show Thomas and Friends wouldn’t air until many years later? And why is he appearing on multiple album covers? Could it be that Ringo played a larger role in The Beatles’ creative process. Let’s take a closer look.

2. The music

Most people think The Beatles’ dynamic is pretty straightforward. All lead vocals and songwriting alternate between Lennon and McCartney, with the occasional smattering of Harrison, right?

Let’s take a look at “Don’t Pass Me By,” a deep cut from the groups tumultuous self-titled 1968 album. As soon as the disjointed rhythm and clunky vocals reach your ears, you can tell that this track is not your typical Beatles number. It almost sounds as if the principal author is more comfortable talking about anthropomorphized trains that recording pop music.

Could it be Starr in disguise? It’s no secret that he has had a fairly successful solo music career. You may remember hits such as “You’re Sixteen,” a throwback rocker about a hot teenage girl that, in hindsight, was probably not appropriate for a guy in his thirties to sing.

Still, many other actors and entertainers have dabbled in the music world, so in that regard, Starr is nothing special. To truly prove that he was a Beatle, we would have to see that he was actively participating with Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison during their prime.

3. In person

At the height of Beatlemania in the mid 1960s, all eyes were on the group. Every media outlet and young music fan went gaga over the Fab Four, which everyone agreed was a really funny name for the band since there were only three guys in it.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 9: The Beatles perform during their first appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, February 9, 1964. From left: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

But according to remastered footage of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, that may not be the whole story. Sullivan announced the names of each Beatle to the youth of America. “John. Paul. George.” And then Sullivan mumbled something else, which most critics heard as “bingo,” as if he were meant, “Bingo! It’s the greatest band in the world, and I discovered them!”

This interpretation makes perfect sense, except for the fact that there was actually a fourth musician onstage.

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While not immediately noticeable from all angles, he is definitely there, hiding behind a drumkit in the back. That’s where the whole theory gets really weird. Pick out any number of Beatles songs, and you’ll notice that just about all of them contain drumming.

Sure, that doesn’t prove that Starr was the mystery drummer. The Beatles could have hired many different session musicians throughout their time together to fill out the rhythm section. Unless, that is, you look closely at Starr’s 2015 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Starr received the honor with an induction speech by none other than Paul McCartney. Curiously enough, Sir Paul appeared very close to Ringo, played a couple Beatles songs with him, and even mentioned a time when they were “in The Beatles together.”

I get shivers down my spine just thinking about what that could mean.

4. A real conspiracy?

The proof is rather convincing. However, at the end of the day, it still seems quite unlikely that the wacky Ringo Starr was actually in The Beatles, which most critics herald as the best and most influential band of all time.

What’s more likely is that Ringo was simply a close friend of the group. He was a member of The Beatles in the same way that we all are. Their music is so special and timeless that each and every one of us can claim to be a part of it, whether it’s your grandmother or the president. Mankind itself is the fourth Beatle, and guess what? That even includes you, dear Ringo.

john paul george

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Ah Crap(pella)!

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Since graduating from college a few months ago, there are many things about the lifestyle that I’m already missing. There was the booze, the parties, that time John Belushi and I totally pranked our uptight dean. But there is one cruel, inhumane, despicable facet of college life that I am incredibly thankful to leave in the dust.

A cappella.

What’s so bad about a group singing without instrumental accompaniment? Here’s the official mission statement of every a cappella group: “Hey, remember that song you like? Great, because we’re about to ruin it for you.” That’s a direct quote, by the way.

Interestingly enough, most a cappella members are good singers. But together they end up making life worse for everyone, just like the new Fantastic Four movie. They do that weird swaying thing where they swing their shoulders in rhythm with the song. All the while, their feet are glued solidly to the floor, as if Satan himself pinned them there until they carried out his dark musical bidding. There’s so many singers too, and inevitably every single one of them gets a solo. You’d be surprised how quickly the two and a half hour shows don’t fly by. I’d prefer that the dozen of them decided to beat me up instead. At least that would be over in five minutes.

Granted, a cappella groups do far more than sing. Song breaks are peppered with wacky antics, adding an extra dimension to their cardboard cutout of a good time. Then, of course, they get back to more singing. Catchy pop riffs twist into weird mouth noises. Monochrome outfits hop back and forth. At the song’s emotional climax, a soloist clutches her heart, or at least roughly where her heart would be if she hadn’t sold it to the devil. The only person in the group I actually enjoy is the guy in the back going “Dumb dumb dumb dumb,” because he’s the only one brave enough to tell it like like it is.

To be clear, it’s not that I actively seek out a cappella shows so I have an excuse to stew in my own misery for an evening. More often that not, you don’t find a cappella. It finds you. Whether you’re at an awards ceremony or sitting in the dining hall, a rogue a cappella group can burst in at any time and wreck everything, like the John Rambo of unwanted performances.

You know what the Viet-Cong weren't prepared for? Rolling in the Deep.

You know what the Viet-Cong weren’t prepared for?
Rolling in the Deep.

Maybe a cappella groups themselves aren’t the worst thing in the world, but do they have to act like they’re the pinnacle of human achievement? Take away the ridiculous alumni funding and friends pressured into buying tickets, and it’s all just another extracurricular that college kids dabble in before going into consulting. At the end of the day, a cappella is artistic in the same way as painting with feces–impressive at first glance, but deep down, just a bunch of shit.

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Help Wanted: Classic Rock DJs

classic rock

Hey there, music fans! 97.3 FM WDIK—The Dick!—wants you! We’re on the lookout for new rock-and-roller soldiers to fill out our lineup of party-hardy deejays, after our old staff accidentally locked themselves in our promotional van on a hot summer day. Are you ready to serve up the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s, and more? Do you have the heavy mettle to continue the legacy of greats such as Butch Delvecchio, Dirty Donna Henderson, and The Cheese? Heck yeah! In that case, let’s see if you’ve got what it takes to get on The Dick:

Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Playing the greatest rock tunes nonstop, over a reasonable 30 hour shift.
  • Offering up treasured family heirlooms as prizes for call-in movie trivia contests.
  • Inserting wacky sound effects into on-air interviews and crank calls. Dead air is bad air, so don’t be stingy with that fart button.
  • Slipping in a song from the 1990s every once in a while, just to make people feel old.
  • Knocking back beers all day long without the wife around—Gotcha! See, we’re already having fun.
  • Not touching the intern’s boobs. Please. All the callers on our request line are lawyers, and they’re no longer accepting Styx tickets as compensatory damages.

Qualifications

  • A goatee to provide some much-needed chin definition.
  • The ability to announce an upcoming Bob Seger song with semi-realistic enthusiasm.
  • A PhD in Art History, along with at least five publications in accredited academic journals; or just a high school diploma.
  • A passion for sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that is surpassed only by your love of sitting in a small, dark room.
  • The denial that your best days are behind you.

Materials to include in your application:

  • Your résumé/CV (this is a fun space, so please be sure to use the Jokerman font).
  • A recording of yourself reciting all the names of Rolling Stone magazine’s top 100 guitarists of all time, without taking a breath.
  • A 2015 calendar, in which all the weekdays are covered with frowny faces but all the weekend boxes read, “Oh yeah!”
  • A bottle of Jim Beam.

If interested, please submit your resume and application materials to radiodicks973@aol.com.

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Bad Album Breakdown: Radio Disney Kidjams

Radio Disney

An album of cool songs just for kidz? Groovy!

This is the attitude of the masterpiece collection Radio Disney Kidjams. It brings back memories of the 1990s Disney and Nickelodeon era where we were informed that “kids ruled and adults drooled.” It amazes me that this blatant ageism managed to exist in my childhood, but at least some folks found a way to make prejudice fun. And while I realize their kid-centric message was more or less a marketing scheme, I genuinely believe there was at least one low-level Disney employee who believed in that mantra.

Perhaps he is still around somewhere, hiding under his cubicle desk and whispering, “Yes, we must bring power to the children. Only the blood of the innocent is fit to rule.” Then he shoves an egg salad sandwich down his pants.

Anyway, as far as I can remember, this is the first CD I ever owned, receiving it as a gift when I was about seven. I must have listened to it often, since most of the songs I can still recall pretty well off the top of my head. But has it stood up to the test of time? Let’s dive into this rich collection of pop crap, kiddie tunes, and some real headscratchers, each meticulously graded below:

1. Get Ready for This by 2 Unlimited

Before the actual song starts, we are treated with some brats rapping a Radio Disney jingle, just to remind you that the next hour of your life will be a living hell. Aside from that, it almost sounds like a real radio station! As any elementary schooler would recognize, the intro’ blurring of reality and imagination serves as a dual homage to the title track of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the radio motif of The Who Sell Out, but unfortunately manifests itself in the form of an audial turd.

Then we get to the actual song. Did you pick up on the fact that Disney wants you to get ready for a good time? It’s subtle, but the message is there. The synthesized loops are almost engrossing enough to make you feel like you’re warming up for an NBA game, and not sitting in a sweaty minivan on the way to the beach. C-

2. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) by The Backstreet Boys

During the boyband wars of the 90s, if you weren’t on Team Backstreet, you weren’t nobody. What’s really touching is how these five guys, rescued from a life of violence and crime on the back streets (how else would they have gotten the name?) are able to show such emotional vulnerability. B

3. Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic

A bit of a throwback from 1989, this track shines with lyrics that are at once both aggressive and unintelligible. At least there’s something there for the kids, since “booty” is always hilarious. D+

4. River by Hanson

While 90s posers only know Hanson through their smash hit MMMBop, the Disney purists did us a solid and picked a deep cut by everyone’s favorite trio of effeminate blond brothers. Still, it’s not completely unenjoyable–imagine a blend of Gospel music and The Monkees, safely pasteurized for family-friendly consumption. C+

5. Whoomp! There It Went by Tag Team

It’s morbidly fascinating to see one-hit-wonder Tag Team try to keep the artificial magic going by inserting the voices of Disney characters into their only song. I don’t know much about the hip-hop scene, but it seems hard to maintain street cred with a song about your “main man Donald.” D-

6. Macarena by Los del Rio

Yes, we all know the Macarena dance–the poor man’s Cha Cha Slide. Unless anyone’s a chaperone at a middle school dance, I think we’ll pass on this one. D

7. Hakuna Matata from The Lion King

If anyone has anything bad to say about Timon, Pumba, or Elton John, I will fight them. A+

8. Yoda by Weird Al Yankovic

In one of the few quality tracks in this collection, Al masterfully reworks this Kinks classic about a transvestite dancer into the ultimate Star Wars parody. I remember being particularly impressed by the lyric, “I know Darth Vader may have got you annoyed/ But remember if you kill him then you’ll be unemployed.” My first real understanding of supply and demand. A

9. U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer

Apparently grown-ups thought kids would like MC Hammer? This track heavily borrows from “Superfreak,” and while I am never a fan of sampling, I can understand why Disney chose not to expose children to the cocaine-and-sex casserole that is Rick James. At least Hammer’s well-documented bankruptcy struggles should teach the next generation something about financial responsibility. C-

10. I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan

Everyone remembers this one–“Let’s get down to business/ To defeat the Huns!” It’s catchy, original, and one of the most memorable tunes from the Disney renaissance. The only caveat is that the singing voice of fearsome Chinese warrior Shang Li is provided by Mormon dreamboat Donny Osmond. Cultural miscasting aside, Donny does a great job of pumping us all up for some singalongs and ethnic warfare. A-

11. Go, Speed Racer, Go! by Sponge

Oh look, a grunge cover of a theme song for a show that nobody watched! Much like George H.W. Bush, this one is a 90s relic most people won’t want to deal with for a second term. D+

12. Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.

I’ve always had a soft spot for this one. Aside from creating one of the funkiest riffs in all of popular music, Parker is also a genius for not trying to forcibly rhyme anything with the word “ghostbusters.” Bruno “grenade/throw my hand on a blade” Mars could learn something from that. A-

13. Wipeout by Steve Vai

Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai makes an unexpected appearance covering the surf rock classic. Unfortunately for us, most of Vai’s shredding serves as second banana to some guy’s Chipmunkesque rapping, making this version about as cool as boogie boarding in a speedo. C-

14. I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown

Now I feel bad for accusing Technotronic and MC Hammer of being outdated. Sure, James Brown is a timeless talent, but I don’t remember 1960s R&B as something us kids were really into. Then again, Brown does look and sound like a Pokemon, and “I Got You” could very well be the spiritual predecessor to “Gotta Catch Em All.” A

15. Let’s Get Together by MMC

Getting real tired of your shit, Disney. You might be trying to pass MMC off as a real band, but I know it’s really just the Mickey Mouse Club. Judging by their promo pictures, the MMC are a group of racially diverse children who appear to be pushing 30. Just take a look at this bunch and tell me they don’t reek of broken dreams and compromise. F

MMC

16. I Am Rubber by I-8 Paste (Just Plain Mark and Zippy)

You know what they say about rubber and glue? If not, this song will remind you–over and over and over again. This torturous kiddie ditty could have only emerged from the cells of Gitmo. It’s like waterboarding for your ears! Unconstitutional

17. I’ll Be There For You by Solid HarmoniE

Things are really going downhill. Reading the tracklist, I expected this to be the Friends theme song (not exactly a gem itself), but what I heard was even worse. Not only is Solid HarmoniE unable to grasp the basic rules of punctuation, but the band is also hopelessly derivative. Besides, what’s the point of being in a British girl group if none of you end up marrying David Beckham?

It’s the kind of kidjam that teaches us that nothing in life ends as well as we want it to. D

Final thoughts: My theory is that the anti-vaccination movement came into existence after someone’s mom listened to this album one too many times. If you love your child and yourself, please stay away. And remember: silence is golden.

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Tom Waits Orgy Tomorrow from 4am-8am on WHRB!

Tom Waits

How exactly does one sum up Tom Waits, one of the most eclectic and brilliant talents of American music? Well, he doesn’t sing so much as he growls. His songs include seedy blues numbers, hobo ballads, street corner jazz, old-timey vaudeville, and experimental rock, and honey, that’s just the tip of the ice berg. Join the Blues Hangover’s Danny Fitz for some musical mayhem that will either have you stomping your foot or laughing all the way to the madhouse.

If you’re into eccentric singer-songwriters, porkpie hats, and listening to the radio at unreasonably early hours of the morning, then this is the radio tribute for you. Tune in tomorrow, May 3rd, from 4am-8am on 95.3 FM (Greater Boston Area) or stream live at:

https://www.whrb.org/

Don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee and turn up the volume. See you then, folks.

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Pussy Riot Played My Niece’s Wedding: A Yelp Review

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Donald P.

Buffalo, NY

Yelp-3-Stars

Sarah my niece had her wedding coming up in January, and I wanted to do something big for her and Brad, her beau-to-be. I’m not too hip to the musics of today (more of a Steely Dan man myself), but I figured it would be neat to get one of these new bands that all the young people are talking about. My Google account took me to the web page for that Russian group Pussy Riot, and wouldn’t you know it, they had an opening the day of the wedding!

A few weeks later, I was picking up those gals at the airport, and we were ready to boogie.

I’ll be the first to admit, things didn’t go so well through their first few numbers. Most of their stuff was a little too loud and fast. One member didn’t seem to play any instrument at all. The only thing she did was angrily curse and wave her fists at the sky. Some of the younger kids were a bit scared.

Luckily, Uncle Don came to the rescue and asked them to play some more familiar party tunes. Believe it or not, they launched into one of the rowdiest covers of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” I’ve ever heard! All the guests really enjoyed it, though I don’t remember the original version using the word “abortion” so many times.

The real highlight came during the cake cutting. As Brad and Sarah start digging into the first slice, the girls in the band–out of nowhere!–pull out this life-size effigy of Russian President Vladimir Putin! Then, they grab the forks from the newlyweds and repeatedly stabbed the figure in the crotch. You should have seen the stuffing pop out! We all had a good laugh.

I would recommend Pussy Riot, with a couple reservations. On top of being a bit pricey, they sucked up all the vodka at the open bar within about 90 minutes. I also thought their ski masks were a bit too casual for a wedding, but that’s probably just me being old-fashioned.

Still, they were a lot of fun. Those Soviets have really learned to let loose since the Berlin Wall came down. I’d definitely book ’em again if they were available. As a matter of fact, Sarah and Brad recently filed their divorce papers, so I just might be seeing those girls again in the next year or so!

Happy spring to all.

-Don

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What Your Favorite Radio Genre Says About You

Your fancy psychiatrists and parole officers will tell you otherwise, but you can find out all you need to know about yourself just by looking at your car radio presets. Read on to the bottom to discover who you really are, and don’t touch that dial!

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Alt Rock: You’re most likely wearing black to reflect your teenage angst and growing bangs to hide your teenage acne.

Blues: You must be up early on a weekend to listen to that honey-voiced DJ, Danny Fitz, from the Blues Hangover on WHRB.

Christian: You love Jesus, but hate yourself.

Classical: Appearing intellectual and sophisticated is important to you. Plus, you really like that one Beethoven song that goes “DUN DUN DUN DUN!”

Classic Rock: Whether you’re an out-of-touch dad or a young person desperate to not fit in, the Doobie Brothers are your Gospel.

Country: Friends have never considered you to a brilliant thinker, but you do understand the simple pleasure of listening to music about a pickup truck while driving a pickup truck.

Hip-Hop: Your radio’s got the bass turned all the way up, since you one day aspire to be both gangsta and legally deaf.

Jazz: You know how to appreciate the little things in life. Heck, if you look out the window and listen to jazz at the same time, you’re practically watching the Weather Channel!

Latin: Not only are you likely Hispanic, but you also enjoy listening to songs about gasolina, whatever that means.

News: Sorry, old timer, but no matter how badly you want it, you aren’t going to hear any more of FDR’s Fireside Chats.

Polka: You don’t care what the others think. You may not have many friends, but at least you have your accordion. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Sports: It’s Saturday night and you’re alone and drunk in your apartment. What do you do? Probably call in to the station to trash talk professional athletes while you eat cheese curls in your underwear.

Talk: You don’t have many opinions on the news of today, but you will once a respected stranger tells you what they should be.

Top 40: You have failed to grasp true art and creativity, much like Hitler, but without his political success.

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Chess Records Orgy Tomorrow Morning

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Attention music fans:

Tomorrow morning (Sunday the 11th) from 5-11am EST, I will be hosting a Chess Records orgy on WHRB. Yes, I said orgy–it’s radio talk for a marathon show centered on a certain musical theme. And this orgy is every bit as exciting as it sounds.

From the 1950s through the 70s, Chicago-based label Chess Records represented many of America’s premier blues, soul, R&B, and rock and roll artists. We’ll be playing the best cuts from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, Chuck Berry, and many more. If you’re around Boston, you can tune in at 95.3 FM, and otherwise you can stream the program live at whrb.org.

Catch you all tomorrow morning.

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