PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Radio Free Charleston Production Notes: Episode Five

Episode Five of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Kevin Duffer, The Appalachian Celtic Consort, Pentagram Flowerbox, and cut-ins by IWA East Coast, is online now. We had lots of adventures producing this show, which is a departure in many ways from our normal format. It’s our longest show so far, by five minutes, and we’re trying several new things. Without any further ado, let’s go behind the scenes.

The host segments were shot by Melanie Larch on Labor Day in South Charleston. Mel was just hired to sing the role of Mercedes in the upcoming production of the opera “Carmen” by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Yes, it’s Bizet in the hizz-ouse. What other internet video shows can say they have famous opera singers running camera? I don’t know if it shows, but I was not quite at 100% during production of the new RFC. I’ve been fighting a food-allergy problem for a couple of weeks, and I think it’s a bit obvious.

On top of that, my wardrobe for the show didn’t exactly work out like I thought it would. I was going for a semi-military revolutionary look. In reality, I seem to look more like some sort of demented Radar O’Reilly from “M.A.S.H.” The shoot itself went fairly smoothly, except for some unfortunate background noise from traffic and crickets. Usually, there aren’t many out-takes from the host segments–I’m a bit of a one-take guy– but for this show there were several times when I had to stop doing my introductions to curse the crickets, who seemed to be attempting to do backing vocals. Also of note for this show: GI Joe makes a cameo appearance! We shot in front of the South Charleston Community Center and on top of the famous Mound! If I seem to be a bit subdued for the show, there are reasons.

Another departure for this show is the inclusion of footage shot on location at the Empty Glass back in 1990. Normally, we don’t like to use location recordings on the show, but this is a special case. Kevin Duffer, who is featured in this archival recording, passed away in 2003. Kevin was one of the few musicians from the old Radio Free Charleston days that I kept in touch with while I was semi-reclusive, caring for my mother for much of the last decade. He was always positive and told me that, eventually I’d find some way to bring Radio Free Charleston back, and then he’d come on the show and perform. It was a bit of a bummer that Kevin didn’t live to see the show return.

At the right, you can see a photo I took of Kev the last time I saw him, about a week before he passed away. 2003 was a lousy year, on many levels, not the least of which was the loss of my good toy-hunting buddy. I always felt that Kevin didn’t get the exposure that his songwriting deserved. However, a few weeks ago I was digging through my archives and I found an old VHS tape labeled “Kevin and some Fysshes at the Glass”. It was footage I’d shot at a bachelor party at the Empty Glass in 1990. Kevin played, backed by Todd, Joe, and Keith from Strawfyssh. The video was painfully dark, and I didn’t think I would be able to use any of it on the show. Back in those days I had this humongous camcorder. It had a great light unit, but if you turned the light on, it would suck the battery dry in ten minutes. As I watched the tape, memories of the night I shot it came flooding back to me. I remembered that Kevin asked me to come out and record him because he had a new song that he was really proud of. It’s called “Harder Days” on the video tape box, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that title changed a few times over the years. This was the first time that he performed the song in front of an audience, and it was still a work in progress. When he started to play that song, I turned on the light. For the duration of that song, the video was good enough to use on the show. The audio and video are not quite up to our usual high standards for RFC, but this is the only chance I’ll have to play Kevin’s music on the show, and I thought that makes up for the technical shortcomings. It’s a little self-indulgent of me to put my friend on the show, but Kevin was important to the history of Radio Free Charleston, and his music deserved a wider audience. I hope you enjoy his song despite the dodgy video and audio.

On a less somber note, The Appalachian Celtic Consort also appears on the show. I ran into Pat Weigand by chance at the book signing for Pavanne Pettigrew’s “One More Breath” which I wrote about here. Being the nosy sort I am, I overheard Patrick talking about his band, and I quickly butted in and gave him one of the famous Radio Free Charleston business cards. A few emails later, and RFC had our first Celtic band all miked up and ready to go at the LiveMix Recording Studio. Microphone placement was an adventure, with six acoustic instruments plus voices to record. Pat, Mark, Dewey, Neil, Mark and Dave gave us three virtuoso performances, two of which we’re saving for future episodes of Radio Free Charleston. We feature the Consort as our Song Of The Week, so go down there and follow the links to their website so you can buy their CDs and catch their upcoming shows.

Episode Five also features a new installment of Pentagram Flowerbox. This time we see the dark lord of Hell having trouble keeping the cat prints off his Prius.

Another cool departure is our special guests, Kevin “Pimpdragon” Pauley and Frank Manhattan, the voices of IWA East Coast. They storm onto the show to bring us all the details about the upcoming wrestling tournament on September 16. In the afternoon, area grappling gourmands will be treated to the Zero G high-flyer tournament, featuring acrobatic aerial assaults. The evening show sees the Masters Of Pain hardcore tournament, featuring an international line-up of the toughest men on the planet, who will come together in a bloodbath of hard-hitting, bone-crushing action to determine who is the craziest, meanest, toughest S.O.B. around.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the way the show ends. Let’s just say that the people who have seen it keep tossing around David Lynch’s name. The end credit music is a collaboration between me and my brother Frank. I recorded some absolutely horrid guitar licks, and then Frank managed to edit them into something that sounds musical. It was quite a feat.

We’re going to take some extra time to recover before episode six, so you can look for it the week of September 25. Hope you enjoy the show. Meanwhile, go check out the newly-revised Radio Free Charleston Store, now with improved designs and lower prices!