Saturday, April 4, 2009
Welcome to Radio Everywhere!!!
Thanks for finding my old column, Radio Somewhere, on Asbury Radio. The column is now Radio Everywhere, which celebrates the column's new omnipotence via the Web.
Our first column deals with radio's role as a muse for the creation of music, which features our good friend Jim Murphy of Jim Murphy and The Pine Barons. Click here to read it. In case you're running an older version of Adobe I'm posting the column itself here.
Hope you enjoy it!
This week I plan to investigate the possibility of using a PodCast service, which would allow subscriptions and downloading the column as an mp3 file. I'd read the column into the file, in other words.
Please let me know what you think, if you'd be interested in subscribing to an mp3 or pdf version, and if anyone needs a hard copy sent to them.
How Radio Made Music
Radio has historically played another role, one probably few people would think to include in their list of the ways the medium has enriched our lives, as the engine that drove musicians to write hundreds of new songs.
I thought about this while watching Jim Murphy and the Pine Barons a few weekends ago during a visit to my cousin Cathy’s in Brick. Cathy’s a big fan of this New Jersey Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and for good reason. Murphy’s an entertainer not just a musician; and, he plays with a full complement of musicians just like him. They love what they do: Carl Bacon on banjo, Joe Fili on fiddle, Dusty Borden on mandolin, Rich Janis on bass and Murphy on guitar and vocals.
To say that the Barons play blue grass is like saying Americans eat apple pie, for the band really plays America at its roots. Murphy takes you on a fast train tour of the country and its history as he rolls out his tunes. So you don’t just recognize songs like “My Ole Kentucky Home”, you’re gently reminded that Stephen Foster, who Murphy calls “America’s first pop song writer”, wrote it – over 150 years ago.
And so on that recent Sunday we settled into the journey, as Murphy took us down into the lush valleys of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, back to the first radio station in the world, 8XK, which started in a garage in 1916 and was later renamed KDKA, Pittsburgh, in 1920. (For more see http://www.kdkaradio.com/pages/15486.php) Although it was the presidential race pitting Harding against Cox that drove the first radio report, on KDKA, it was music that fed the eager ears at the other end of those sets, putting so much demand on the station that it had to make a deal to publicize the local record store in return for a steady supply of platters.
Murphy tells us how soon after KDKA went live the public’s appetite for songs took off so fast that it set off a frenzy of music writing, which birthed a family of musicians in southwestern Virginia, who would come to define country music for generations – The Carters. That was Alvin Pleasant (A.P.) Carter, his wife Sara, and her cousin Maybelle and eventually June who married Johnny Cash. The Carters geared up for production on a major scale (pun intended) and the listeners of America reaped the rewards. They wrote hundreds of songs, like “In the Valley of the Shenandoah”, “Forsaken Love” and “Jim Blake’s Message”, songs that told stories of love and loss, of dangerous labor, and desperate longing, that knit up the human condition so we could all relate to each other’s pain and joy. Their spread, Murphy tells us, was called the Carter Fold, and was tucked into Poor Valley, at the foot of Clinch Mountain. From that place, through the generations, they spun out more than 300 songs.
What a wonderful thing it must have been for a creative gal or guy to sit down to make a song knowing there already was an eager buyer at the other end. What inspiration that must’ve been to the creative mind. That dynamic should be the norm again. We all need the chance to express our passions according to our unique talents, molding them into something true and meaningful -- with the certainty that the recipient will be there when the task is done. Yeah, that’d make a lot of souls feel much the way that audience did as they filed out of Murphy’s concert, grateful receivers of hard work, joy and passion.
©MNDuffy – April 4, 2009. If you’d like to subscribe to a weekly PodCast of Radio Everywhere, please send an email to AsburyRadio@aol.com.
Maureen Nevin Duffy created and hosted “Asbury Radio – The Radio Voice of Asbury Park”, a weekly public affairs talk show over WYGG, 88.1FM. It continues as a blog here on AsburyRadio.com. Please email with your comments and suggestions regarding ‘Radio Everywhere’ or mail them to 3 Deal Lake Ct., Asbury Park, NJ 07712