Tag Archives: Little Steven’s Underground Garage

Power Popalicious!

Horrible title, great idea.

Yet another veteran powerpop icon steps up to help propel the resurgence of his favorite music. Paul Collins, veteran of two classic bands of the genre (The Nerves, The Beat) recently formed The Beat Army to take music back to the streets where it belongs.

The concept isn’t new; the early days of Poptopia spawned the International Pop Overthrow, which David Bash has continued to expand into a global showcase. Localized events like Sparklefest and The Dewey Beach Music Fest are just two of dozens of annual regional events that have sprung up over the years, and there are countless DIY efforts and house concerts that have prospered thanks to coordinated blasts via Facebook and Twitter. Scores of radio shows have flooded the web; while most know of the impact and support of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, there were guys like Alan Haber hosting dedicated pop shows a decade earlier.

And just like the community building efforts of Steven and groups like Rock and Roll Tribe, Collins is encouraging like-minded fans and musicians to join forces, share information and give each other a hand. Having toured incessantly off the grid himself over the years, he met and shared stages with dozens of enthusiastic bands sadly trapped by an apathetic industry. This inaugural Power Popalicious Festival is meant to bring some of those groups together and shine a light on the movement in what one can only hope is the first of many such occasions.

Tickets for the fest will be $15 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday, and will be available to purchase online through TicketWeb. Scheduled bands as of today:

SATURDAY, APRIL 30TH
BAM BAMS (Baltimore)
PEACES (Brooklyn)
NEUTRON DRIVERS (NJ)
BAXX SISI’S (Brooklyn)
LANDLORD (Bloomington, ID)
FUTURE VIRGINS (Chattanooga)
DIRTY SHAMES (NYC)
AMOEBAS (Grand Rapids)
MOTHER’S CHILDREN (Ottawa)
HALF RATS (Indianapolis)

SUNDAY, MAY 1ST
BFs (Gloucester)
KURT BAKER (Portland, ME)
THE ABOVE (Brooklyn)
THE SPECTACLES (Maryland)
ELECTRIC MESS (NYC)
GLORY FIRES (Birmingham)
THE WALNUT KIDS (Montreal)
THE SIGHTS ( Detroit)
PAUL COLLINS (NYC)

“All over the world, all over the world…tonight…”

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Under The Radar: The Prisoners

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Meaning I may not hear your album right away, but if it’s good, someday I’ll eventually get tipped to it. I stumbled backwards into The Prisoners after being knocked out by Graham Day and the Gaolers and retracing the steps. Always a fan of the Mod sound and the garage-pop-punk from the Medway scene, I’m a bit surprised that I missed this the first time around. But better late than never – I’ve scooped up all their stuff over the past couple of years.

The band formed around 1980 and drew heavily from the usual pop psych influences like The Small Faces and The Pretty Things, although having The (Thee) Milkshakes as virtual neighbors didn’t hurt either. The Jam might have become far more popular, but if you think Paul Weller was the shit, you should listen to A Taste Of Pink immediately. If the opener “Better In Black” doesn’t grab you in three seconds flat, call the doctor.

The Prisoners boast a tight punchy sound shaped primarily by Day’s ringing guitars and the great organ playing of James Taylor, who channeled a synth through a loudspeaker to create unique Casio/Farfisa sounds as well as pumping out classic Hammond riffs. Allan Crockford on bass and Johnny Symons on drums held down the bottom with manic energy.

Video: “Hide and Seek

As with all good things, it didn’t last – four albums later, the band was done by 1986. But in its wake, among other projects, The Solarflares (with Day and Crockford) carried the torch and now Graham Day is back with more. Fans of The White Stripes and the Underground Garage playlist as well as devotees of the original influences will find much to like here; their 80s music is as exciting as anything being released today.

The Prisoners at MySpace

The Prisoners discography at Ace Records

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Fuzztopia!

fuzztopia

I just got an email from Scott Hueston of Wicked Cool Records and Little Steven’s Underground Garage announcing their new project Fuzztopia. Looks like they are trying to create a shared portal where rock fans and musicians can create a directory of cool clubs, record stores, bars and bands – a reference tool created with input from people who actually live in these places. A list like this would be a great help for me just to find great pubs and record stores when travelling; I imagine the club info would be invaluable for bands looking to fill dates.

Of course there are dozens of smaller sites that do this now, and there have been networking mailing lists set up for this purpose for years. But perhaps with Steven’s involvement, a site like this could get a higher profile and truly massive participation. Assuming he keeps it free for registrants, this could be a great service.

I don’t pimp products or sell advertising on this page, but I do believe Steven’s heart is in the right place, having spoken extensively with him about the history of rock’n’roll and the difficulty in keeping the beast alive. He’s a tremendously successful person who could bask in the glory of his recording and acting legacy and just hob-nob with the elite, but he continues to take steps to bring real rock’n’roll to the masses in an era when the industrial machine is doing everything in its power to unplug the patient from the lifeline. Besides having the coolest radio show on the planet, he works tirelessly behind the scenes to help out up and coming bands with his passion, his expertise and his connections.

There are some great prizes that will be drawn at random for those logging in and completing a profile. As for content, I’m probably most excited about Fuzz TV. When I interviewed him in 2007, Steven told me that the footage from the first Underground Garage Festival on Randall’s Island was eventually going to be released on Internet television.  Here’s an excerpt from that feature in Pop Culture Press:

Unfortunately, the likelihood of a DVD release is slim. Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Home Alone) was set to direct the multi-camera event, but a freak accident involving his daughter caused him to head back to Chicago. “She ended up okay, but he wasn’t there to physically direct the movie, and the funding went away. We never really recovered.” A few screenings were set to try and raise a couple of million dollars to continue the original plan to craft something really unique instead of a formula concert film. “First of all, it would have been the first 3-D concert ever done. I’m telling you, when Iggy Pop jumps up on one of the 3-D cameras, it’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen in your life. It’s like Iggy is jumping into your mind!” Not getting the film out was a disappointment (“it’s probably one of the top twenty tragedies of my life”) but just another in a series of setbacks that he will overcome. “We probably will start using pieces of it our Internet TV show in a couple of months”.

Well, it’s been a couple of years, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. All I know is that if we’re talking about The Dictators, Iggy, Boss Martians, The Pretty Things, Chesterfield Kings and all those other garage greats, there’s some incredible footage in the hopper!

So here’s the gist of the email from Scott – check it out for yourself.

 LSUG logo

Friends of The Underground Garage,

Stevie Van Zandt is excited to announce the Beta release of Fuzztopia – “all things Rock and Roll.” We need your help adding content, and we’ll be rewarding a few of the best profiles.

As a “one-stop” for FANS and bands, Fuzztopia will ultimately include:

–a place for you to purchase songs and albums from bands, including content exclusively available on Fuzztopia.
–advice and tools, from “city secrets” and “cool stuff” to “techville,” “video games,” and “da biz,” among other things. We’ll be gathering content from our favorite sites, but we’ll also have recommendations and feedback from musicians, bands, and people like Little Steven that just haven’t been available anywhere else. Think of “city secrets” as all the places in your hometown (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.) that you would recommend to visiting friends. Likewise, if you have “city secrets” from other parts of the world you’ve visited, Fuzztopia is a fantastic place for that insight.
–tons of streaming video content. At “The Drive-In,” fans of B-movies will soon be able to watch and chat in real time. Meanwhile “Fuzz TV” will have live concert footage, original programming, and music videos.

Here’s where we need your SUPPORT & EXPERTISE:

–sign up as a fan, and create a profile
–add TWO of your favorite videos
–provide 5-10 “City Secrets,” plus ANY PHOTOS.
–ADD comments about “secrets” AREADY posted by others. Remember, people will be looking for your input! We know you have the inside scoop, and we want you to share it.
–create a playlist from the bands that have already uploaded their music.
–the beta version of Fuzztopia isn’t just about building – we want your feedback. Are there things you don’t like? Areas that need improving? A feature missing? Is anything confusing? Should we add something else? What do you like best? This is the time to tell us.

We will REWARD the best profiles with a couple of great prizes:

GRAND PRIZE (one winner)
* A pair of tickets to ANY one of the remaining Summer/Fall tour dates with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band! PLUS you and your guest will receive exclusive laminates to meet Stevie Van Zandt backstage before the show!
1st PRIZE (one winner)
* Fender Stratocaster Squire Classic 50’s guitar signed by Stevie Van Zandt!
2nd PRIZE
*FIFTEEN 2nd prize WINNERS will be selected RANDOMLY among the COMPLETED PROFILES, so everyone creating a thorough profile has a chance to win:
*A script for an Underground Garage radio show PERSONALLY signed by Stevie Van Zandt. PLUS a double CD copy of the applicable show. The scripts are always written by hand, and include a bunch of commentary. This is a highly collectible, immensely cool look at the creative process for the show

CLICK HERE for the sign-up page:

Thanks for your help making Fuzztopia the best place for “all things rock and roll.”  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at my personal email address: scott@wickedcoolrecords.com If you do not receive your confirmation E-Mail within 5 minutes of registering please check your Spam/Junk box – if you still have not received it please contact us.

***

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