Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Auld Lang Syne or Some Semblence on Traditions December 26

Aside from that title you may rest assured that Ron Olesko and Bill Hahn will not be doing the ubiquitous top 10 list when they share the microphone (the station is down to only affording 1---but surely you will pledge next year and we shall order another one).  What they will be doing is choosing 10 recordings of the past year that impressed and were meaningful to them.  Since everything is subjective they are definitely not the 10 best but, rather, their most meaningful 10.  Yours may well be different and your comments on that would be most appreciated for an early broadcast in 2011.

Sadly, as is the nature of life, we lost some wonderful people and they will surely be recalled on this year end broadcast.

Rather than giving away any surprises about the recordings that the lads have chosen this year and in keeping with TRADITIONS always staying current as well as Traditional here is an unrecorded piece by some of the program's favorite artists---Buskin & Batteau (with the truly talented tapper of tympanic tones--Marshal Rosenberg)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like.....Just Another Christmas Radio Show.

Ah, yes, it's that time of year again - a time to beat other people up over merchandise marked 35% off (of prices recently jacked up 40%), a time to run wild-eyed into a convenience store at 4am Christmas morning to find the PERFECT gift for your wife, a time for your loved ones to say "no gifts this year" only to buy you a new car when you decided to actually FOLLOW the "no gifts this year" rule!!

Wanna forget Christmas is happening this year? Well, my radio show won't help. But it will be a fun trip through the years to hear some really strange and rare Christmas records (in other words, none of that CRAP you're hearing on those stations that have devoted themselves to playing Christmas music since Dad finished carving the Thanksgiving turkey).

This year I've decided to play really odd stuff that you don't hear very often (or at all) on other stations. No "Jingle Bell Rock", no "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree", not even Chuck Berry's "Run, Rudolph, Run"! No, I'm playing things like "Santa Got A DWI" by Sherwin Linton, Art Carney's version of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas", Canned Heat's duet with The Chipmunks (pictured above), and, not one, but TWO Christmas records by Jim Backus! Ole Mr. Magoo (and Thurston Howell III) himself!! So tune in Sunday, December 19th at 1:00 EST to "On The Record" on 89.1 FM on your dial or on the web at http://wfdu.fdu.edu/home.html

Friday, December 10, 2010

We Are Not Going To Interrupt This Record!

....yes we are! Tune in to "On The Record"  with Richard Sibello this Sunday from 1:00 to 2:00 (we only have an hour this week, due to WFDU's coverage of the FDU basketball game) for a one-hour look at the career of Buchanan and Goodman, the two guys who created the first "break-in" record - "The Flying Saucer (Pt. 1 & 2) - in 1956. In the process, they not only created a hit record, but a slew of imitators, tons of lawsuits, and paved the way for the 90s phenomenon known as "sampling"! I will be playing the complete (well, near-complete - some of their B-sides aren't worth even ONE spin) works of Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman in the magical year and a half that they were partners, before going their separate ways. So tune in this Sunday at WFDU-FM, 89.1 on your dial, on hear us streaming on the web at www.wfdu.fm.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Greetings and salutations, all, and welcome to the first installment of my blog. Simply called "On The Record", it will be a weekly (or more frequent) review of records played on my radio show, coincidentally (ok, maybe not) entitled "On The Record". Warning - over the years, I've become a crusty old man (and I'm only 41!!) with even crustier opinions. So if you don't like what I write in this space, you are more than welcome to comment - you may even change my mind about some things! Not likely, but you never know....

Anyway, this blog starts off with one of the weirdest, wildest, wackiest records I've ever heard - "Shombalor" by Sheriff and The Ravels from December, 1958. This and the Chips' "Rubber Biscuit" will live forever side-by-side as the two wildest (and finest) examples of doo-wop nonsense. It is also a prime example of why the record industry will never be vital again until it is taken over by people who actually like MUSIC you can go CRAZY to.

Apparently, The Ravels were a Brooklyn streetcorner group, just another of many hundreds of similar singing lads, looking for a shot at the big time (or at least a spin on Dr. Jive's show on WWRL). One of their acquaintances, a man named Elmore Sheriff, had a song he had written back in 1955 that he called "Shombalor". After doing some research (including a good article by Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders - read it here), I found that this wacko tune was based on an old African work song. Anyway, Sheriff knew a guy named Aki Aleong, who was working as an actor and was heavy into the doo-wop scene (his 45 of "How Do I Stand With You?" on Mona-Lee Records is a VERY desirable slab of wax for group harmony freaks), and Aki had some contacts with some local recording studios. Result: The Ravels got their chance to cut a record. They immediately cut one of their original songs, "Lonely One" (written by one "W. Denson" - could this have been Wee Willie Denson, who later had the equally strange 45 "Fried Marbles"? Was he a member of The Ravels?) and for the flip side, ol' Sheriff let the group know that they were gonna cut his tune. The group got behind it, and made the record (this is why original copies on Vee Jay have "Sheriff and The Ravels" on one side and "The Ravels" on the other). Of course, not only did Aki Aleong take half the writers' credit for both sides, he got one of the EARLIEST production credits EVER for a rock and roll 45! Aki then shopped the tapes around to several labels, and Vee Jay Records in Chicago picked it up. Neither side was picked as a "plug side" (Vee Jay never printed "plug side" on their promotional 45s for some reason), but some DJs flipped over "Shombalor" - I have no evidence of this, but I am almost CERTAIN that someone like Mad Daddy in Cleveland or Dr. Jive in Harlem would have gleefully spun this on their shows.

Of course, the record never became a hit, but over the years it has consistently blown the minds of everyone who hears it. My girlfriend Jess absolutely HATES group harmony music, but can't get enough of this one. Even the doo-wop snobs I know love this record! And why not? It's got everything that make a record great - noise, atmosphere, simple melody you can sing along to (even if you can't decipher the lyrics, you can still join in with nonsense of your own), and - best of all - it ROCKS. I'd like to lock the heads of several record companies in a room with just a record player and this record - their heads would probably explode. And that would be a good thing. Who needs lame Disney-sponsored singers singing "keeping it positive" and "don't let anyone get you down, you are beautiful" lyrics over a horrid electric morass which is supposed to pass for melody, when you can turn this one ALL THE WAY UP and bug your square neighbors with some joyous, primal noise!!! On top of everything else, this record might (just might) have the first use of the F-bomb on a rock and roll record - listen carefully at about 25 seconds into it!

Sheriff and The Ravels - Shombalor (Vee Jay 306)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Years Is Coming---and So Are THE CAPITOL STEPS

SUNDAY SIMCHA is happy to be pre-empted with an hour long version of THE CAPITOL STEPS on Jan.1. WFDU and SUNDAY SIMCHA are delighted to be the exclusive purveyors in the NY NJ Metro area of the very Kosher Product known as THE CAPITOL STEPS every quarter.   This is the hilarious year end edition of Politics Takes A Holiday by this brilliant troupe of troubadors of mirth and insight.   

SO---Jan.1---10 AM on the right spot on the left side of your dial (if you still have a horizontal dial)--here is a sample of what you might hear:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunday Simcha Celebrates Hannukah

OK---spell it anyway you like but this Sunday (12/5) we celebrate the festival of lights---there is more to the legend and you can see more on my blog www.billhahnprogramnotes.blogspot.com  after Thursday evening.

We will be celebrating it on Sunday on SUNDAY SIMCHA right here on WFDU---and here is a sample of something you might hear ---well, not see, but hear then:

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Blues & the Beat" w/Dennis Gruenling (THU) playlists & website up now up!!

Be sure to check out the new "Blues & the Beat" website, with archives, historical information, and CD recommendations...

Here is the playlist for 11/25/10 show focusing on 1953

"Blues & the Beat" features blues & blues-related American music every Thursday from 1:00-3:45. Every week you are guaranteed to hear artists or songs you haven't heard, and learn a little history while you're digging the music.

Keepin' the blues alive!

- Dennis Gruenling

Friday, November 19, 2010


Lots to  be thankful for and not the least of which having some great talents that grace this program often---SUNDAY 11.28/10 is no exception when Si Kahn joins Bill Hahn for some great music and conversation.

Given that Si has over 16 CDs to his credit (one of which is THANKSGIVING), and his latest is #1 on the FolkDJ charts, he is the perfect guest for this holiday weekend.  We will be playing music from his CDs,  having an interesting conversation about his wide ranging activities---community organizing, book author, musical show writer, and anything else that comes into our minds---including some humor.

SO--a bit of a precursor of the program::

See you SUNDAY---November 28 for the Holiday Weekend---and on the web at www.wfdu.fm

"Blues & the Beat" playlists now online!

Playlists for the first 2 hours of my "Blues & the Beat" radio program are available now on the WFDU site (on the "Blues & the Beat" page - go figure!)...and on the new "Blues & the Beat" website homepage- http://bluesandthebeat.com

Each of the first 2 hours are themed, and this past program's themes were:
1:00 - Hubert Sumlin / Lloyd Glenn / Hank Ballard
2:00 - George "Harmonica" Smith / Papa Lighfoot

Keepin' the blues & roots alive!!

- Dennis Gruenling

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We welcome Si Kahn---world renowned singer, activist, author and playwright to the program on Nov. 21 at 10 AM (ET) and streaming on the web at www.wfdu.fm   

Conversation,.Music, and some great humor which will pre-clude Comedy Corner this week---who needs it when you have Si.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The WFDU Blog Launch!

Well, it's been a year since we first started talking about having a WFDU blog site. Many listeners have suggested we do this because they are very interested in what's happening with our DJs as well as the station. Please, have fun with this and thank you for being a loyal listener of WFDU!

P.S. Keep an ear open for our 40th Anniversary celebration highlights!

Best wishes,