Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WFDU's Brand New Website!!

Get ready folks cause the new site is about to be unleashed!!!! Please stay tuned, you won't be disappointed!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thinking About Little Willie John....And A Few Nice Things

No less an authority than James Brown once said, "Little Willie John was a soul singer before anyone thought to call it that".  His original version of "Fever" inspired Peggy Lee to record it. He had 14 hits on the R&B charts between 1955 and 1961, and an equal number of hits on the pop charts. He appeared on "American Bandstand" and "Route 66". Unfortunately, he was also convicted of manslaughter in 1966 (even though it was never proven that he killed anyone) and died in prison at age 30 in 1968.

On Sunday, July 17th, WFDU-FM's "On The Record" with Richard Sibello will pay a 2-hour tribute to the singer who influenced many of the future stars of soul, including James Brown and Stevie Wonder. We'll be playing many of his hits, his forgotten masterpieces, and selections from his doomed 1966 session for Capitol Records (which stayed unreleased until 2008).

We will be interviewing author and journalist Susan Whitall, who has written a new book on the life of this incredible performer, entitled "Fever: Little Willie John - A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and The Birth Of Soul" (available now at

Not only that, but we will also feature an interview with Little Willie John's two sons, Kevin and Keith John, who will share their personal memories of their father and his music.

So be sure to tune in Sunday, July 17th, at 1:00 pm EST at 89.1 on your radio dial or at on the web. This promises to be something special!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


TRADITIONS-----Having been a Johnny Come Lately to some of Andrew Calhoun's music from his earlier days (He was a guest with a brilliant piece of work a few years back) I will be making up for that when I feature some his great material this Sunday.  The John Prine piece is totally autobiographical---he told me that.  Andrew will be by guest on 5/29.   Much more this Sunday in a topical vein---hey---you know the world is ending on 5/21 so we have to commemorate that and feel sad that Ron will not be around for the show on 5/22---or will we.

SUNDAY SIMCHA----A new voice tomorrow---and, as always, the old standards along with some requests.  Dennis Wolfberg is our unexpected stars by the requests that have come in===only fitting for you to hear him on this blog.  Brilliant comedian who died in 1994----I mourn him since I knew him personally.

Back to the John Prine comment. In addition to the Dennis Wolfberg piece there is a piece by Mr. Calhoun and to find out more you will have to either tune in or catch it on the archives.


Friday, April 15, 2011


So much on the Website regarding Roots Music and The Smithsonian that it is nice to realize that some of the material from that great organization has been a staple of both programs and that our personal relationship that permits us to present much of their work on this station---and what I call---"The Eclectic Weekend Sound of WFDU"---but, in reality, it is "eclectic" all week long.

So--for SUNDAY SIMCHA---an update---The Passover Holiday is upon us and we did a great commemoration---EXCLUSIVELY---in this area with a wonderful production of THE WITCHES OF LUBLIN and on April 17 we do some music and a brilliant comedy piece---which you will see below--by a comedian that you should know of but, sadly, passed away many years ago at a young age---a personal friend.

 TRADITIONS on April 17 the memory of PHIL OCHS will be musically recalled and, amongst all the other features, that segment will finish with a piece by an artist who has totally inhabited Phil Ochs' great compostion---CRUCIFIXION.

Now---take a peek at the brilliant comedy of DENNIS WOLFBERG---and, as far as Roots is concerned, as the saying goes---we got it all---but you all knew that anyway:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


We have some really interesting things coming up on the program during next month or so----

March 20----A focus on the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire with some music by Si Kahn who will be appearing in a commemoration of this tragic event at the Middle Collegiate Church on 3/26.  Check the website  for more information.

March 27----Adrienne Cooper joins us the day after her performing in the above mentioned event to talk of her newest recording (Enchanted) and her work with The Three Divas

April 3----.We have an extended Comedy Corner as we present 30 minutes of  THE CAPITOL STEPS in the exclusive NY NJ CT Metro presentation of their quarterly hi-jinks.

April 10---YALE STROM (Hot Pstrami) and Elizabeth Schwartz join us to talk of the very special program that will air next week with an all star cast.

April 17---A very special treat for the Passover Holiday.  The entire program will be turned over to a brilliant radio drama with an all star cast starring Tovah Feldshuh.  THE WITCHES OF LUBLIN. Basically---a holiday treat as in the Golden Days of Radio.


Friday, February 4, 2011


January 26, 2011 was a very bad day for good music. We lost two great, but vastly underrated singers - Gladys Horton and Charlie Louvin. Gladys, of course, was one of the two lead singers of the Marvelettes, along with Wanda Young, but Gladys was the lead on all the early hits, including Motown's first-ever #1 national hit, "Please Mr. Postman". Gladys' importance to the story of Motown Records can not be overstated, and yet, here in 2011, her passing is listed by the media as nothing more than a footnote.

Charlie Louvin wasn't even that lucky. If you ask ten out of ten people (outside of the south) who Charlie Louvin was, you'll be answered with a blank stare. That's a shame, because Charlie Louvin had an amazing career in the field of country music.

I was first introduced to Charlie Louvin by my father's collection of old reel-to-reel tapes. My favorite toy when I was a kid was my dad's JVC reel-to-reel tape player. I would play his old tapes and marvel at the unknown songs (Dad never listed anything on the tape boxes) that would come out of the speakers. Eventually, as my musical knowledge increased, I began to recognize a lot of the rock and roll songs my dad recorded off of friends' records and off of AM radio. But there was one tape which had about half an hour of C&W sides recorded off of radio station KXCN ("serving St. Louis and Festus") in 1966. Since my dad was doing his tour of duty in Vietnam that year, I couldn't figure out how he recorded this. One day I asked him, and he said his best friend Bobby recorded this when he himself was stationed in St. Louis during the war.

There was incredible stuff in that half-hour: Connie Smith's "The Hurtin's All Over", Porter Wagoner's version of "Ole Slew-Foot", "I Hear Little Rock Calling" by Ferlin Husky, "Send Me A Box Of Kleenex" by Lamar Morris - and "The Proof Is In The Kissing" by Charlie Louvin.

Since I knew NOTHING about country music at the time, and, as usual, nothing was listed on the tape box, it took me many, many years to track down those records (in fact, there's still one on that tape I haven't found, because I don't know the title or the artist to this day). But when I did, I developed a taste for 50s and 60s C&W that only gets stronger as the years go by (it also helps that I have a girlfriend who is a country music junkie).

Anyway, here's a little history: Charlie Louvin (real name: Charles Elzer Loudermilk) was born on July 7, 1927, in Rainesville, Alabama. He and his brother Ira grew up in nearby Henegar, AL. Ira played mandolin and Charlie played guitar, patterning themselves after such "brother" acts as The Blue Sky Boys and The Monroes. In 1943 the brothers (after a stint with the Foggy Mountain Boys) won an amateur contest in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the prize being their own morning radio show. Eventually their radio program would move to Knoxville, Tennessee's WNOX, where they became featured artists on the station's most popular program, "Midday Merry-Go-Round". All this exposure led to a contract with MGM Records in 1949, but their recording career came to a halt when Charlie got drafted and went to fight in Korea. After Charlie returned, their good friend Fred Rose (of Acuff-Rose publishing fame) convinced them to sign with Capitol, since MGM was putting all of its promotional energies toward Hank Williams.

The move to Capitol was a good one, and by 1955 the Louvin Brothers were major country stars, and in 1955-1956 they had five Top Ten country hits - "When I Stop Dreaming", "Hoping That You're Hoping", "You're Running Wild", "Cash On The Barrel Head", and their only #1 country hit "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby". They joined the Grand Ole Opry and soon became (strangely for the era) hot LP artists, releasing about 20 LPs between 1956 and 1962. Half of the LPs were of sacred songs, including the LP "Satan Is Real", which has become their most (in)famous LP because of the unintentionally hilarious cover. See it here.

Unfortunately for the Louvins, the word "production" began to creep into Nashville by the early 60s, and soon the pure backwoods sound of country was being "softened" for public consumption. Fiddles became violins, and Ira Louvin's mandolin was replaced by Chet Atkins' guitar. The pressures of "new Nashville" began to take its toll on the brothers, both professionally and personally (their relationship was always, to say the least, a bit shaky, especially since it was well-known that Ira could be a helluva mean drunk - and he was usually in the bag), and in 1963 they split up. Each brother started a solo career, and by mid-1964 Charlie had a Top Ten country hit with "I Don't Love You Anymore". Between 1964 and 1982, Charlie Louvin charted 29 times on the C&W charts (though he only had one other Top Ten hit, with "See The Big Man Cry" in 1965).

Ira didn't fare as well. Shortly after the brothers broke up, Ira was shot in an alcohol-soaked argument with his third wife, Faye. Shortly after his recovery (and a divorce from Faye), he married the girl singer in his show, Anne Young. On June 20, 1965, Ira and Anne were in the middle of a week-long series of concerts in Kansas City, Missouri when they were both killed in a car crash in nearby Williamsburg (though some sources list the location as Jefferson City, MO). It was only then that Ira had a country chart hit, with "Yodel, Sweet Molly".

Today's selection is one of Charlie's most rockin' sides. It was released as the B-side of Charlie's version of Roger Miller's "Less And Less" in November 1964. It's a really bluesy, "forget you, girl" number that has a strange (but cool) echoey riff on the bass and great drums. I hope you enjoy this and become inspired to hunt down other great Charlie/Louvin Bros. records.

Also, thanks, Dad, for letting me play with those reel-to-reels.

- Richard Sibello

Charlie Louvin - I Don't Want It (Capitol 5296) - 1964

Thursday, January 27, 2011


There are some stations that come to you so frequently for donations that it seems like it just one long commercial---these are, allegedly, non commercial stations.  WFDU does its necessary pleading just one time each year (in Feb.  ---for only 3 weeks) and makes do with the monies that our loyal listeners donate to keep the eclectic sound of the Right Place On The Left Side Of The Dial on the air.   Surely you have heard improvement in the sound quality with the new equipment purchased (including transmitter, mics, and a large megaphone) with your dollars.

Since I host one program and co-host another I would surely like a submission for a slogan for one of them since I already have one for SUNDAY SIMCHA--"KEEPING YIDDISHKEIT ON THE AIR---WFDU".   Perhaps we should get some bumper stickers to put on some of the old jalopies that still have bumpers and are owned by folks who still want to support a cause---you have seen them---they pride themselves on every place they ever visited and had an Honor Student and Our Lady of The Many Mitzvahs  Yeshiva.  Just being ecuminical here.

NOW---we need a slogan for TRADITIONS. Come up with one and if it is selected you will rcve. a CD---pledging is not necessary.  But, as that horrendous historical hellion once said---"Ve Take Names".

I could, of course, go on to espouse---you have to love the larger words here---the quality of both programs, the interesting guests, the meaningful moments, and mostly the comradeship they instill in all of us---both programs---and hope you feel that way and will support us come Feb.  After that you and I are on our own.

I guess since I have spoken for both programs then I suppose I should offer you a video sample of some of our guests from each one.

Metropolitan Klezmer from an appearance near Battery Park City in NYC