Soul and rhythm, heartbreak and boy trouble, big hair and sequined dresses. Deeper Roots goes on a romp through the early years of rock and soul sharing the very special talents that filled the AM airwaves of the fifties and sixties. It was almost impossible to select one song from each of these groups but we had to given the time constraints. There were the “Ettes”: The Chordettes, The Bobettes, The Marvelettes, The Ronettes, and The Ikettes; The Angels, The Murmaids, The Crystals, The Jelly Beans, and The Tammys. There were the Detroit sounds, the Wall of Sound, the Brill Building, and the Philly sounds. Perfectly delicious and light-hearted pop and soul from every corner. Tune into for a listen. Two hours of Deeper Roots this week.
Our show this week is brought to you by a song, a narrative like no other Bob Dylan has ever produced. Murder Most Foul was released earlier this year as the first single from his latest album Rough and Rowdy Ways. It is a 16 minute narration of cultural reflection that speaks to the passing of time in the context of what has been lost and what still might be lost yet still celebrating our gains. The Kennedy assassination is one of those times that we reflect on, remembering the day that it happened with as much clarity as time permits. What Dylan does is use pastel images of ‘what was then’ with who we are now as he speaks to cultural touchstones in his (and our) life. And he warns us, once again, that the times are indeed changin’ and that we should likely hear this song as a storm warning. Tune into for a listen. Two hours of Deeper Roots this week. You can also find out more about the Dylan song at https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/murder-most-foul-and-the-haunting-of-america.
We’ll be honoring the songwriting prowess of Harlan Howard this week on Deeper Roots. A country songwriter and performer whose career spanned six decades and wrote some of the classic songs of the Golden Age, turning formula into phrasing and stories of true life as he saw it. After a few minor successes, his song Pick Me Up on Your Way Down became a No. 2 hit for Charlie Walker in 1958 and Heartaches by the Number for Ray Price the following year,his name appeared at the forefront of songwriting talent of the time. His songs were performed by everyone from Merle Haggard to The Kingston Trio and Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. This week’s show will feature songs written by Harlan Howard and we’ll get to hear him perform many of his own. He coined the oft-quoted phrase “Three chords and the truth”. Tune in for the festivities.
It’s theme time once more. We’ve got songs about the broken hearts, tears, and childhood souvenirs…but mostly broken hearts. Lost love, faded love, and remembering old love letters from the book of broken hearts featuring country, soul, and rhythm, all from the past century. Join in for some classic country from Don Williams and Billy Walker, brassy vocals from Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday, late movie Elvis, and a couple of rockabilly legends named Sonny Burgess and Warren Smith. And don’t miss out on Mary Wells, Jimmy Ruffin, Tom Petty, and The Louvin Brothers this week. It’s all there…a common theme in songwriting for being relatable, illustrative, and purposeful in its singular stories of love and loss. Tune into KRJF 92.3 FM, Sonoma County Community Radio with your host Dave Stroud this Friday evening at 9 Pacific.
Six months later…’nuff said, right? Deeper Roots finally gets around to the theme of pandemic protection by staying at home until things stabilize. We were all put out when it looked like six weeks and here we are talking months, not weeks. Patience and commitment. Something we have to work on. But we’ve got music to comfort us. Our heritage is rich with an incredible catalog of works; from country classics to the raw country blues, soul from Motor City and the Eastern Seaboard, jazz from New Orleans and KC, and everything in between. Just look (or listen) back. This week’s Deeper Roots features songs about keeping safe in shelter with fresh sounds from the digital bins. Warren Zevon, Jim Reeves, Wynonie Harris, The Alphabetical Four, Kitty Wells, and Buddy Miller will be featured. No need to put on your helmets (or tin foil hats) or to duck and cover. But you might want to get out the vote!
Rhythm & Blues is the order of the day. Join Dave Stroud for an entertaining blast of fresh sounds from the well of the past century. What’s old is always new if you haven’t heard it, right? The playlist this morning features songs about the night time from Ray Charles, honeydripper rocking from Big Joe Turner, doo wop serenades from the The Jive Bombers, bluesy torch sounds from Erma Franklin, and so much more. We’ll stretch the boundaries of R&B with Elvis, Lonnie Johnson, and a few more as we take on some saucy serenades and unruly pleas from performers from the thirties to the early sixties. All without malice of forethought, I assure you. Tune into Sonoma County Community Radio every Friday morning at 9 Pacific.
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.