Episode 15 is a conversation with Boston area DJ Angie C Shaw. Angie is a close friend of mine so of course it was a natural conversation. Her lifelong love of music and the enthsasm to talk about the stuff she loves made her an obvious choice for the podcast. We cover a lot of ground from her early days in radio through the current state of cellestial radio. Angie is a great story teller and there are some good ones here, including some cool behind the scenes stories with some big name musicians. Angie was on WFNX in the early 90’s right as Nirvana broke and into the early 2000’s, she now can be heard on the classic rock station WZLX 100.7 FM. Enjoy!
Episode 14 is a talk with Keith Bennett. Keith is a veteran of the Boston hardcore and metal scene and has played in multiple bands, most notably Wrecking Crew in the 80’s and currently PanzarBastard. Keith talks in length about getting into music as a kid, his stories are intense and hilarious. Keith speaks from his heart and gets into some pretty heavy subject matter at times, and yes there is some salty language on this one. All said, this 90 minute episode is packed with a ton of great stories and I definitely hope I can get him back on for another one.
Episode 13 is a conversation with my friend Mark McKay, founding member of Slapshot. Mark and I talk about all different types of music from The Clash to Kiss and Dead Can Dance, how Slapshot came to be and their role in hardcore history. We share similar stories of meeting a grumpy Henry Rollins, his love of reading and he talks about some amazng writing endeavors he’s involved in right now. This was a great chat, Mark has some great stories and any fan of 80’s hardcore will enjoy this episode.
Episode Twelve is a conversation with Kevin Cafferty. We talk about the film he made called It’s a Bash about RI band Neutral Nation, growing up in Rhode Island, his radio show he had for a long time as well as his work in television. Kevin is an interesting and funny guy and I learned quite a lot from him.
Episode 10 is a conversation with Boston area musician Kevin Patey. Kevin played in the rockabilly band Raging Teens, and now performs under the name Jittery Jack performing rockabilly/50’s inspired rock and roll. He talks about growing up in England and discovering music on the radio, moving to the United States as well as a comprehensive story about how the Raging Teens formed around the rockabilly scene in Boston in the 90’s. Kevin is yet another hilarious guest and his stories are filled with anecdotes and details that make him a great guest I hope to have on again.
The first time I heard the song Flower by Soundgarden I shit my pants. I lost interest in hardcore and punk rock after I graduated high school. Nobody was doing anything new that interested me anyway (I’ve since gone back and discovered a lot of good stuff I missed in the 90’s but that’s words for another time) I had taken a break from “classic rock” and traditional metal like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc while spending a good chunk of my teenage years immersed in the hardcore scene. The first thing I thought of when I heard Flower was the intro to the song sounded like Led Zeppelin with Morrissey moaning along for a couple measures. And then it kicked in and it was all Led Zeppelin, or something. I couldn’t put my finger on what it sounded like. It was new and fresh and that was the moment I discovered this whole other world of music that started happening. Soundgarden were at the very top of this world, no question.
I can’t think of another band I have seen in so many different size venues in Boston and beyond, from The Rat, The Paradise (with VoiVod and Faith No More!), Avalon, Axis (with COC and Danzig!), Worcester Centrum with Guns n’ Roses, Hollywood Palladium with Monster Magnet, Great Woods in Mansfield, MA at Lollapalooza and probably a couple more I’m forgetting. They seemed to always be on tour in the 90’s, I never missed them. That first show at The Rat after Ultramega OK came out, Kim Thayil stood out to my brother and I. We thought he resembled Tommy Chong, and of course they then ended the show with a cover of Earache My Eye. As amazing as Cornell’s voice was, it didn’t hit me right away. The music and riffs were what I really dug. That changed when Louder Than Love was released and at the next show I saw, at Axis. They opened with Beyond the Wheel and Cornell’s voice was out of this world. That song is made for him. It’s one of those songs nobody should ever attempt to cover. If he was away from the microphone or when it went out his voice would still carry throughout the venue. And this band was fucking loud. They closed that night with one of my top three songs by them, the “doomy” I Awake. I shit my pants again. Every time I saw them after this show my eyes never wandered further away from Cornell. That voice, and even as a heterosexual male, let’s admit it, the guy was obviously pretty easy on the eyes. I never got to see Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden fast became my Led Zeppelin. A larger than life rock band that was loud, sexy, perfect in every sense.
Up to Louder than Love the lyrics on Soundgarden records didn’t connect with me that well, there was always a mix of humor and clever lines like Hands All Over’s environmental “you’re gonna kill your mother” line but nothing mind blowing. When Badmotorfinger came out that changed for me. The lyrics on that record connected to me, they were smart, sad, hopeful, funny, everything my 20 something Stussy hat sporting self needed. Mind Riot and Slaves and Bulldozers immediately come to mind as ones I wish I wrote.
I am at work and can’t really spend all morning writing about Chris Cornell and how big of a deal he was to me, but reading the number of posts from friends who also spent a good amount of their life loving this man’s music I felt like needed to get something out of myself. Every post and little tribute has been refreshing to see in a week of generally crappy things to read on the internet. It took me the entirety of their existence to figure out how and why I loved this man and his band so much. It was and still a long fruitful relationship that has aged well for me. All of their music (Okay, I never liked Spoonman, not to be that guy but) is still listenable, and the reissues they have been releasing have reawakened my interest in them. Thanks to a number of unreleased tracks on all of them you can see how Cornell put some of these songs together and why he was such a monster songwriter and top tier musician. Some of these bigger musicians dying the last few years (Bowie, Prince, etc) have been sad, but this one got my eyes watery this morning when I saw it on the TV in between stories about how sunny and warm it was going to be today and how surreal and sad the government is right now. Cornell was on a Lennon/Townsend/Jagger level for me. On a positive note I still have hours of timeless music to listen to escape to.
Woke up depressed
I left for work
You have a good day
It’s not your fault
I know it hurts
Remember, I love you, love you
Remember, I love you, love you
Woke up depressed
I left for work
You have a good day
It’s not my fault
I know it hurts
“So did we ever…you know?”
“Umm, no we never did that”
(Are we really having this conversation?)
“Well because you said you were good friends with your landlord and felt weird having sex in her building”
(I mean also because the first time you kissed me was three minutes after we finished a half-drunk game of Yahtzee. Well, you were half drunk. I was drinking Sprite. You had your hand in a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips that you had been snacking on throughout the night. If I know potato chips, they leave behind a lot of remnants in one’s mouth. So I still have vivid memories of that first kiss, where I was transferred some of the remnants of said sour cream and onion potato chips. The landlord thing was certainly part of why we never had sex, but I didn’t want to bring up the chips while you and your friend were coincidentally sharing a basket of tortilla chips)
“Oh okay, I wasn’t completely sure”
(How do you not remember who you’ve had sex with? Also, in retrospect, that’s kind of an insult! I can remember the women I’ve been with, fooled around with once, dated briefly or for years. A good chunk of those women, are connected to The Cure and my history with that band so it was no surprise a random girl I dated for a month almost a decade ago would pop back into my head the night of a Cure concert)
My friend Michelle sent me a message a few days before this show saying she may have an extra ticket and if so I can have it, and if I’ll drive. Deal. I tend to never get tickets when they go on sale at this point. There’s no real reason to, especially with all the buying options out there, and friends on social media going. If you can’t find a ticket to a concert the week of in 2016 you’re not trying. Also, I’m never dropping however much money people spend on beer and drinks at shows so I’m willing to pay a bit more for a ticket if I need to.
Michelle and I got to the venue early and grabbed dinner nearby. We’ve been friends for a few years online, met once in person while I was working the door at a bar six months ago but never hung out so it was nice to be able to drive and chat and sit down to dinner and chat instead of meeting up at a show and not having time to talk. She is similarly minded as me I think, and is hilarious in person as she is online. It’s good to have friends like this.
There was a woman sitting to my right alone who at one point ordered two drinks. At one point I look up and approaching the table is a girl I recognize immediately as the sour cream and potato chip girl. I have no idea what her name is at this point. I struggle with the guilt of this lapse in memory later as I judge her for forgetting if she had sex with a particular person. When I realize forgetting someone you played Yahtzee with isn’t that big of a deal I move on. Emotionally. We exchange pleasantries, she even says her name for some reason, probably sensing my lapse. I introduce her to Michelle
“This is my FRIEND Michelle”
When it’s time to leave Michelle is well ahead of me and pretty much outside when she stops me and asks
“So did we ever…you know?”
We get to the venue and of course run into Yahtzee woman and her friend again who are sitting in THE SAME SECTION AS US. That’s the last interaction we have with them.
Just as that is happening the band is suddenly on the stage and you can hear some sort of noodling around on stage for a few minutes. I think it’s maybe some sort of pre-recorded thing playing and then realize they are opening with “Open” from 1992’s Wish. I posted about them hopefully opening with this on Facebook earlier in the day so that was exciting. I mean not really but it was a tiny personal victory I celebrated inside my head alone in a venue surrounded by thousands of people.
They followed Open with five songs from what may be my favorite Cure album, The Head on the Door. It was the first record I heard by them, it’s short and has catchy pop songs and just enough darkness to at least place it in the top five essential albums in their catalog. When I first heard the record I was heavily immersed in the hardcore scene, especially what was happening there with all of the new more metal sounding bands like Corrosion of Conformity and D.R.I. The Cure was a quirky thing for me at the time. I wasn’t married to hardcore and metal, I grew up loving The Beatles and later on Squeeze and Joe Jackson and The Clash so the Cure was kind of natural for me. I think this era of the Cure is right before they would get the badge of being that band you put on a mix tape for the girl at the book store, or the band you were a sad sap for listening to. That wouldn’t start happening until the next record, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
This was also around the time I was dating my high school girlfriend I was with for about two years. After getting burned by my first girlfriend in junior high I was a slightly paranoid boyfriend. I was one of those dudes. It was early in life and I’m not even remotely like that at this point, but yeah I could get jealous.
My brother got tickets to see them at the Orpheum in October of 1985. October 25th to be exact. My girlfriend mentioned a party her and her friend were going to the same night as the show. The party they were going to was being hosted by a boy her and her friends thought was cute. I can still remember him. He was that weird quiet misfit kid. Like the one in that movie American Beauty who films the grocery bag. I was bummed she would be going to this party so I tried getting out of going to the show but couldn’t. And of course nothing happened aside from me being able to be that obnoxious guy that says things like “Oh, cool, yeah I saw them in 1985” Hanging out with that high school girlfriend years later she did admit that her and the weird quiet misfit kid had sex after she and I broke up which was a horrible thing to tell a person.
Back here in 2016 they follow the dark and brooding Sinking with three songs in a row from Disintegration (Pictures of You, Closedown [like on the album] and Fascination Street) and then on to Hot Hot Hot !!! from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (God I’m sick of typing that out over and over. Wish they played more from Wish, or Faith) was a soundtrack of a whole crush I had on a girl who turned out to be my cousin. I swear I can explain. She was a cousin as her aunt married my mother’s cousin. This would have been around a year after Pretty in Pink came out (February, 1986) The Cure album with too many words in it came out in May of 1987. Me and, I’ll call her Elizabeth became friends when my uncle introduced me to her at a family event. When I found out she wasn’t related by blood it was over. She became Molly Ringwald. Had red hair, wore those hats, may have even had “The Rave-Ups” written on her book cover (doubtful) for all I know. We spent many nights driving around Swampscott and Nahant, Ma parking and listening to that album. I was a scared baby with this kind of thing so I never made any kind of move at all. Neither did she and we just remained friends.
A couple of years later we would go to a Cure show together, it was the Disintegration tour, well “The Prayer Tour” I had seen them a couple of more times and was going to both nights. She went with me one night and I went with another friend or maybe my brother another night. The night we went at one point in the show I was yawning and my eyes got all watery. I consciously thought that if she looks at me she’s going to think I’m crying. And low and behold the next day she told one of her friends about it and they told two friends, and so on and so on…I get told by a friend “Hey dude Elizabeth said you were crying at that Cure show”
I hope I didn’t reply “Boys don’t cry”
The band bounced around their immense catalog of music throughout the remainder of their thirty-one song set. Once you get rid of any kind of disappointment you may have if they don’t play a particular song, seeing The Cure is always an amazing treat live.
I was hesitant seeing them in a hockey arena as the last place I saw them was in a nice old theater in Los Angeles (performing their first three albums and a host of other rarities) and it was probably the best time I’ve ever seen them. I was by myself at that show, thousands of miles away from seeing anyone I know, far away from Molly Ringwald and Yahtzee girl. This show here in 2016 was just as important, and if it ends up being the last time I see them it at least has an amusing bookend to it running into that girl, and spending the time with a good friend, meeting a few new people and seeing other friends.
Also, because of how we were sitting (me on the inside, and Michelle on the seat closer to the aisle, with me facing the stage and her essentially behind me) she didn’t see me get a little misty in the eyes during Just Like Heaven.
In my last entry here I talked about how horrible and awkward dating in your 40’s can be. Then I remembered how I was as a teenager…and how I was in my 20’s…and how I was in my 30’s. I feel like I might over-dramatize that I am awkward with women. I’ve had a number of long term relationships, and with all of those relationships I have remained very good friends with all of them so I can’t be that weird and awkward with women. And then I remembered these stories. All true stories. I changed the names of the women even if I am still friendly with some of them.
My second girlfriend, who I was with for a good chunk of high school was two grades above me. I was good friends with one of her friends named Julie. Julie and I lived next door to each other as kids, I was friends with her brother and her. At one point she tells me that this girl Tina likes me. I get Tina’s phone number from her. At this point I’ve maybe spoken to Tina in person zero times, but probably closer to a negative amount of times. That night I call Tina’s house (I still remember the phone number) and her mother answers.
“Hi is Tina there?”
“Yeah one second. Who’s calling?”
“It’s Chris, from school”
“Hello?” it’s Tina’s voice (I guess?)
“Hi Tina, it’s Chris Campagna”
“Will you go out with me?”
“Okay, see you tomorrow at school” and I hang up
Tina and I are now boyfriend and girlfriend, and remain so for well over a year. Everything is great, we spend every day together walking around Swampscott and getting mosquito bites from hanging around in the cemetery sitting on the grass listening to music. I was one of those kids that carried a boombox around. I’m just remembering that this second as I type this. Ewww.
My first girlfriend, Olivia she lived right behind me. That relationship started at Fantasy Island in Salem, a staple for first dates for any teenager in Swampscott and ended near Captain Pizza over by the train station. What a horrible metaphor. At one point Olivia told me she wanted to see other people along with me though. Fourteen year-old me was okay with this for about three days. Until I watched them make out in front of me. That ended but we somehow remained friends and I would often stop by her house and hang out on the porch talking to her. This would also be the first time I create a web of lies in my head to get out of something that wasn’t necessarily that bad to begin with.
I stopped by Olivia’s house while dating Tina once and Olivia’s dog came to the door and bit me on the leg. I didn’t have a dog, nobody I hung around with had a dog. When I saw Tina later that night I would have to explain to her where I was that a dog bit me. Olivia had come to the door in a bathrobe so I already felt guilty being there. I came up with some story in my head that a neighbor’s dog chased me while I was on my skateboard.
The mark the dog left on my leg went away within three hours and Tina never found out I was bit by a dog that day.
In my twenties I was again friends with two girls who were good friends. Renee and Cara. We would hang out together, talk on the phone and do shit teenagers probably do. Chew gum. Complain. Split pizzas. Order mozzarella sticks. Not know anything about anything whatsoever, etc. At one point I developed a crush on Renee. We would talk on the phone late at night about who knows what. At one point I was going to just tell her but wanted to do it in person. I made the mistake (well in retrospect not a mistake) of telling her I had something I wanted to tell her. We were going to hang out the next day anyway.
“So what did you have to tell me?” Renee asked a few hours into us driving around aimlessly
“Oh, ummm, yeah, nothing. Forget it” I chickened out
“Come on” she insisted
“Nah, it’s nothing”
“You can’t do that”
“Okay fine, I think I have a crush on Cara”
Cara and I date for a few years off and on. We had a great relationship. That was my first real “one that got away” thing when that ended. That relationship coincidentally ruined Let it Bleed for a few years for me as she was also a big Rolling Stones fan. The fact that it started falsely never really troubled me until I think about it.
In my 30’s at the beginning of the Internet (for me anyway) there was a Yahoo! Penpals thing. It wasn’t really a dating thing but maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t even called Yahoo! Penpals. Some bullshit chat thing on Yahoo! You look it up. I met a woman on there who was a jazz singer and teacher. She was the same age as me, maybe a year or two younger. We dated for a brief couple of months. It got to a point where I liked her enough that I lent her to CD’s a Coleman Hawkins CD called The Genius of Coleman Hawkins and Discs 3 and 4 from the Miles Davis Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel Box Set which is some of the best live jazz you can ever hear in your life. So you definitely want to always be in possession of all seven discs. At one point she took me to see Patch Adams (GOOD LORD WHAT A SHITSHOW), that was the second to last time we would hang out.
The last time we hung out she needed help moving a rug from one room to another in her apartment. On the way over there I decided to break up with her. I had lost interest and we didn’t have much in common besides jazz music. Music compatibility isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. As we pulled up to her apartment I asked
“Do you still want help with that rug?”
I don’t think I’ve seen a more mortified look on a person’s face since. Oh well. Who didn’t suck in their 30’s? Oh yeah, most mature people.
A year or so goes by and I decide one night I’d like to hear Disc 3 of The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 by Miles Davis box set. It’s not there. I need to get that disc back from Terry. There’s no possible way she wants to talk to me as a friend at this point. I devise a plan. Terry is a pretty accomplished singer and vocal teacher. I’ll call her and sign up for vocal lessons and at some point ask about the CD. According to her ad in the Phoenix she charges $30 an hour lesson. I’m a complete pussy for even doing this so it will end up costing me at least $150 to get those discs back from her.
I had recently started my band Presley and wanted to attempt to actually sing so I did want to learn how to sing, so this was some sort of weird, lame excuse to do that.
I called her out of the blue and she was fine, water under the bridge. She’d be glad to teach me and would be happy to see me she explains. The lessons take place in her apartment her at a piano and me standing there singing. It was interesting and fun. I even have tape recordings of me singing things like “My Funny Valentine”, “The Night We Called It a Day” that I really should just hold a giant magnet over if I have any nerve. At the second lesson I spotted the discs on her kitchen counter lined up among twenty or so more of hers.
“Hey I just remembered something…you don’t still have my Miles Davis discs do you?”
“Oh I don’t think so. I thought I gave those back already”
“Oh okay yeah maybe you did” and then I did that thing only a true asshole would do
“Oh wait, is that it right there?”
I got the discs back and had ten or so more lessons until I realized I wasn’t learning that much from the lessons. Perhaps a better appreciation of vocal jazz.
Last summer, while broke in Los Angeles and hungrier more than a few days a week I sold the Miles Davis Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 box set on eBay for around $100.
This is also my official announcement that I am starting a Kickstarter campaign to buy me another copy of the box set. Click the link below and donate what you can. I really need another copy of this box set. I’m kidding, there’s no link to click. You’re fine.