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Well here ya go. So many songs. So many great tunes for you to note and then go purchase, and perhaps, if these bands are still around, go and see perform live and in concert, like I did last Saturday, at The Chapel, seeing Roky Erickson.
Oh Roky, you’re wonderful, but it might be time to hang it up. Yes, we are going to miss you, but that was rough. The sound was great! The band was great, but it’s hard seeing a musical hero, who has already had his boughts with some serious mental health issues, sit up there forgetting not only the words, but also the melody of some of his most-cherished songs. We love you, Roky, and we’re thrilled you found a pathway to health over the past 20 years.
Tune in tonight, 8-10PM for more new music and music that’s new to you.
Hell’s Kitchen Radio with John Hell Mondays 8-10PM Radio Valencia in SF
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How old were you when you fell in love with music? Do you remember your first love? Who was it? The Beatles? Sinatra? Led Zeppelin? Patsy Cline? Who spoke to you? What did they say? Why did it resonate so deeply?
When I was eight years old in 1978, my aunt bought me four KISS LPs: Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, Alive 2, and Double Platinum. I was hooked from the first grunt. I couldn’t get enough of the imagery and the riffs. And yes, I fantasized that I was Peter Criss singing “Beth” to my imaginary girlfriend. I joined the KISS Army, dressed as either Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley for consecutive Halloween’s, and overjoyed when I found a discarded copy of Destroyer laying on the street, still in playable condition (playable for a ten year old, anyway). I had posters that covered my walls, and like all of my friends, strongly anticipated the broadcast of “KISS Meets the Phantom Of The Park“.
They are the first band that I wanted to know everything about. Where they were from? What they did before they were a band (Gene Simmons was a school teacher!!!)? Why they chose KISS as a band name? Why they didn’t stick with Wicked Lester? Of course everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of them out of makeup. But I could not hide my disappointment when they decided to ditch the makeup altogether in 1983. What the hell was that all about? Even before the unmasking, the band had moved so far away from their riff-centric rock, full of stories about partying down and getting the girl, and I had discovered another band that would hold my attention, and continues to do so.
When I was 8 or 9, around 1978 or 1979, I was introduced to The Beatles. I was floored. I jumped ship a year or two later from KISS to the Fab Four, and honestly I felt like I was breaking up with someone. I didn’t know at that tender age that I was allowed to have more than one favorite band. Shortly thereafter I added Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead to my ever-growing list of faves. After that the flood gates were open. I started buying my own records when I was 13, and my collection grew by leaps and bounds.
Though much of my record library consisted of what would be “classic rock” by today’s standards, I was really proud of what I had amassed in just a few short years. It wasn’t just quantity in my mind, it was quality too. I joined KFJC in late 1988 and tired very quickly of what was sitting, collecting dust, in my own library. I hungered for more. More genres, more obscure artists, more “classics” waiting to be discovered. In 2010 I purged about 5000 LPs that were taking up too much space in my home and my psyche. Most of this music could be heard on any commercial radio station anyway, so why would I hold onto it all? What I kept (about 1000 LPs) and what I continue to purchase is inspired by my time in non-commercial radio and local artists.
There are too many musical gems waiting to be encountered by the masses. I continue to be involved in radio to share my discoveries with you. Take a look at the playlist below, and all of my playlists. Much of what you see, you have never heard before. Give it a listen. If I play it that means I like it enough to want to share it with you. Hopefully you will like it enough to support that artist. Buy their music. See them live.
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Is he or isn’t he? Apparently he is. Dang. I saw Tom Petty three times in the late 80s and early 90s, including the very first Bridge School benefit in 1986, which is the only one I attended. I also was able to see him with Lenny Kravitz opening (the Let Love Rule tour). Petty always put on such a great show. I gave up going to shows in large venues many years ago, but I always felt that I seeing Petty again would be fun, regardless of the size of the venue.
There are few artists I would see in a large venue today. I would see Neil Young in a large venue if Crazy Horse was backing him. Other than that I prefer a venue ranging from a size 50-1500 people. The more intimate the better.
Speaking of an intimate setting, my bride took me to see Oh Sees (no more “Thee”) last week at the Great American Music Hall. Not only was it a brilliant show, it was without a doubt, the loudest show I have ever been to. Even guitarist/lead singer John Dwyer was heard to ask if that show wasn’t louder than the previous night’s? I’m seeing them again in December at The Chapel. Get your tickets before they sell out.
best venue in SF:
Last night I was lucky enough to catch what has been marked as the “Last Polka” of the great SF punk-polka band, Polkacide, at Bottom of the Hill. After 30+ years they’re hanging up their lederhosen. I spent a good 30 minutes in the polkapit. and boy did I feel it. The four original members are grandparent age now, and I’m guessing that having 10 people in the band makes it difficult to make the scene too often. I’m hoping for an annual reunion at the very least.
On a completely unrelated note, my bride Catherine gave birth to our little boy, Bodhi Miles Hell this past Thursday! We couldn’t be more excited about this fella coming into our lives. I’ll be taking a few weeks off from my show so I can be home with the little fella, fitting him with black t-shirts and guitar picks, and singing to him my favorite Melvis and Grateful Dead tunes. I can’t wait to have him and Little Lauson Hell both in the studio with me in the years to come.
Check out the playlist below. There’s a live Tom Petty tribute, new music from Ty Segall and Oh Sees, as well as Boris. Lots of great live treats in there as well.
Plastic Plant: Thee Oh Sees (September 28, 2017 Great American Music Hall, SF, CA)
Jack the Ripper: Link Wray
Young, Gifted and Black: Aretha Franklin
Radebe: Johnny Dyani
Dead Flowers: Townes Van Zandt
Rise Up With Fists: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
American Girl: Tom Petty (April 23, 1977 The Record Plant, Sausalito, CA)
Even the Losers/The Waiting/So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Bob Dylan (June 26, 1986 HHH Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN)
Something in the Air: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Keys to the Castle: Thee Oh Sees
Dystopia-Vanishing Point: Boris
Ride Into the Sun: The Velvet Underground
My Favorite Things: John Coltrane (October 26, 1963 Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen)
I Loved Another Woman: Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (June 9, 1968, Carousel Ballroom, SF, CA)
When Prince died I shared this video everywhere. Now that Petty has left us I think it bares reposting.