Free form Friday this month. Lots of favorites to share with you as we reach out to our awesome first responders once more here in Sonoma County. August, our static month of warm weather, has turned on us this year (as has everything else) as climate change once more comes knocking on our front and back doors. We’ll try to work on two hours of musical distraction with NRBQ, Little Richard, O. C. Smith, Marlene Dietrich, and Merle Haggard…how’s that for a lineup? Songs about San Antonio, a little place called Hickory Holler, some Madeline Kahn, Tommy Dorsey, and Nina Simone covering Chuck Berry. Money is the root of all evil, and Julia Lee will remind you this Friday morning. Tune into Sonoma County Community Radio once more at 9 Pacific on 92.5 FM, streaming to the world at freespeechnobull.com/listen.
Today’s Deeper Roots show explores the Document label once more but, this time, we’ll be asking Gary and Gillian to tell us more. They’ll share some personal anecdotes about what brought them to their life’s work. So many of us from the baby boomer generation discovered early roots music through covers by bands from our early years that led us to recurring moments of musical revelation. And many of us found ourselves digging, rummaging, exploring, collecting, and listening for those mother lodes of musical treasures that surfaced like bits of gold on that river of time that runs from ‘then’ to the ‘now’. It’s the second part of our interview with this delightful couple from across the pond. Hear their stories of connecting with this music and how it informed their life’s work with Document Records.
It was the year 1920. One of the more important events in the annals of popular music in the United States occurred 100 years ago this month. Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds’ recording of Perry Bradford‘s tune “Crazy Blues” became an instant hit and was the first significant recording in the blues genre. And Mamie herself was also the first African American female popular singer to lead a commercial recording. This week on Deeper Roots we celebrate with the first installment of a show featuring two hours of music including two very special guests: Gillian and Gary Atkinson, proprietors of Document Records in the UK. I had a chance to interview the two about the label and about the dawn of blues and jazz recording including the early century social impact of black artists. A very special opportunity offered for a very special time. We’ll also hear about a recent video release called Searching for Secret Heroes, a resurrection of a long lost documentary made by Sam Charters, released by Document this past April.
Authoritarianism right in our own backyard. What are the signs that we should concern ourselves with? Much has been revealed over the centuries of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. While our so-called checks and balances lay down in fear in the face of fascism and the childish fear of being made fun of by the playground bully, the innocents are called terrorists and the terrorists, patriots. Up is down and down is up, right? Music’s been made of the human condition over time and there’s also been books and countless political speeches…and we’re going to take our time today to share the music and speak of the ballot box which is our only weapon, it seems, in a democracy. When cowards and sycophants led by the GOP and Fox News pretend patriotism, we know we’re in trouble and we know that the hard rain is falling. Federal troops are attacking mothers, veterans, and peaceful protesters with impunity and there are no checks. There is no balance. As songwriter R. B. Morris observes, that’s how every empire falls…and you can tune in for inspiration as the August march on Washington is just around the corner.