December 31, 2012


Life doesn't often offer us the opportunity to have 100% closure on the curve balls it throws out. People exit our lives without parting words. Mother Nature has one sided conversations with us. Tragedies typically unfold so quickly that we never have the chance to fully digest what has happened because we go into autopilot to cope and survive.

2012 was a year of healing and a lot of waiting for me. I don't know how long I thought it would take to recover from being struck by a car  but ultimately I will never be the same person I was before August 30th, 2011. The accident did potentially permanent things to my body but my emotional tectonic plates have also shifted in all sorts of strange directions. I take in life and feel it differently. I am more fragile in some ways yet stronger in others. My understanding of what is important is clearer than ever and my relationship with myself not to mention those around me has new meaning and potency.

I wasn't able to discuss a great deal of my 2012 openly because I had a lawsuit pending as a result of my accident. After a year and half of living my life under a microscope as various insurance companies and their lawyers surveyed me and my healing process, the case finally came to close this December. You don't understand what hell is until you feel truly destroyed as a human being physically and mentally and then on top of that, you have a group of strangers judging every inch of that healing process including the person you were leading up an accident you were a victim of.  The whole process was invasive, stressful, and made healing / moving on all the harder. The good news is that it is finally all over and unlike most terrible things that have happened to me, the legal aspect at least had a very clear ending.

I wrote about the worst aspect of my accident nearly a year ago but because of my legal issues, opted not to write more until now. The unfortunate reality is that my minor brain injury is still ongoing. All of the issues I mentioned back in February still exist. I am fortunate that I am able to work and hold down a full time job but there are still moments where my mind fails me. I have to keep very detailed notes relating to how I perform all the important tasks I do daily. I basically have life cheat sheets and while my memory and my cognitive powers seems to improve a little more every month. There are still glitches. I am easily mentally overwhelmed and in turn I had to make some major life changes this year. I had to decide what my body and mind could actually handle verse all of the things I wanted do.

It is because of my brain injury that I stopped doing my radio show Cause & Effect. What was once a pleasurable learning exercise became torturous. I could no longer remember all the things I wanted to do in order to go on air and offer what I felt was a proper show. My brain practically tried to shut itself down under the stress of being on air which as you can imagine is a worse case scenario for a music DJ. My issues with sensitivity to certain sounds and frequencies (also concussion related) just added to my woes. My solve was to retire and I am utterly thankful to the volunteers at WRIR who continue to keep the show alive for me.

I also don't DJ out in bars as often now. It has been heartbreaking because I still collect records. I still have music I want to share, but it is much harder for me physically carry all the gear / records. I don't have the stamina to stay out late no less be in an environment with a booming sound system or a noisy crowded room. Loud events or things that will potentially have strobe lights or flashing light shows are things I have to be extra careful about and try to avoid if possible. I don't leave the house without ear plugs and I also now have gun range ear protectors that I am going to try out as an ear plug alternative. That being said, if you see me at a show with giant headphones on, don't laugh, okay? I really need to protect myself and I would rather look stupid than not go out at all.

My band Positive No finally played our first show this December too. I am grateful that my fellow band members have been patient with me. While we didn't play out for several reasons right away, a key element has been the molasses speed my memory works at to do things like remember lyrics.  I needed to practice the songs so many times that they become muscle memory. It takes me FOREVER to remember a song by heart now and while I could use a lyric sheet when we play live,  I feel like it is distracting as an artist to work off of a piece of paper. I would rather be in the moment that wrapped up with reading. I was fearful that I couldn't be in a band again but thanks to great ear plugs and band members with a lot of patience, we have managed to start playing out and finally share our hard work with others. This is just one more thing I am incredibly thankful for this year. My return to making music in a band has brought me utter joy. Our next show is January 21st and then we will probably take a few months off while our bass player welcomes a new addition to his family.

I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I am still here. I have a tremendous life partner and together we purchased our first home plus play in a band together. I found full time work in a field relating to music after 3 years of instability. I still run my small record label Little Black Cloud Records and there is already a tremendous line up of releases in 2013. I have learned that I am not defined by the events that have taken place in my life or the activities I participate in but rather how I handle those things as a human being and the community I surround myself with. We are not alone. Our lives are connected to everyone else's and by acting with love, respect, and equality for all we not only become better people ourselves but enable those around us to be empowered too. That is the real stuff health and happiness is based upon.

It is important for me to stress that I am not looking for pity. Life is hard for all people. My story is not all that unusual and I want to share my experiences because I want anyone who is struggling in life to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There will always be a new day. Hardship and pain can feel like a never ending endurance test but it will eventually pass. You can't expect tidy closure on everything so ultimately peace of mind can only come from one place and it is within. If only I was wise enough to figure that out a whole lot sooner. The good news is I understand that now and that is the best closure of all.

Happy New Year.

December 30, 2012

2012 Youth Brigade reunion @ the Black Cat in DC

Government Issue and Scream were good but Youth Brigade were my favorite part of the night.

Somebody had already posted the all-star finale to their set that included Alec Mackaye from Faith, Huner Bennett from Dot Dash, Tom Bernard and John Stabb from Government Issue, all joining Youth Brigade to play "Stepping Stone".

The highlight of the night for me was seeing my old friend Bert play bass again live; I never thought  that I would have that opportunity! (Youth Brigade). You can't tell from my crummy cell phone photo but he was playing his old bass with the sticker across it that said "UNTOUCHABLES" Classic.

December 29, 2012

Vintage New Order Poster

Hey New Order fans, help me figure out what the story is with this amazing 1989 tour poster I have owned since high school!

In short my mom was a desk top publisher and worked with someone who worked on this poster. Sadly my memory is terrible and my mom passed away years ago so I have hit a wall in regards to figuring out if this was a promotional poster or something the band sold as their shows.

My educated guess leads to me to believe this poster was created for the 1989 tour with The Sugarcubes and PIL however those bands are not mentioned on this poster at all.

Also it is an interesting design choice that June is written in Spanish, not English. The two dates listed are the same days New Order played in Irvine, CA in 1989 so it makes sense that this poster was created for the shows but it is interesting to me that there doesn't seem to be any other pictures of this poster anywhere on line. Was it sold on tour? Was it placed around the city as a promotion thing? Perhaps someone out there on the planet knows the answer? Please leave a comment if you know anything!

November 14, 2012

Roland S Howard for $300

Well, sort of.

Obviously the talent and skill of Howard's iconic guitar playing comes from the man himself first and his gear second BUT for $300 you can buy a pedal to help recreate his sonic cathedrals.

 Don't know who this legendary guitar player is? Shame on you. Watch this.

November 12, 2012

Thine : If Nico Was a Boy Band Duo.

ThineJoel R.L. Phelps (Silkworm/Downer Trio, Quartet) and G. Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch/Sunn O)))/Asva).

November 7, 2012

Swan Song : Positive No

I won't be too dramatic about this but the reality is aging is a bitch. It is hard to imagine that I will be in bands for a whole lot longer so I am treating Positive No like it is my last band. I turn 41 in a couple of weeks and I have to be honest, there are just some things that are harder for me to do. Some because of my accident last year, others because the cranky adult in me doesn't have the stamina and patience for what comes with being in a busy band.

The last time I was in an active band was the early 2000s. After Dahlia Seed broke up in 1996 I dabbled in a few NY/NJ based projects like Scissorettes and Souvenir. I ended my decade in bands with Down with the Ship, a math-metal band that also included the incredibly talented drummer Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Burnt By the Sun, Melt-Banana, Discordance Axis). We played maybe one or two shows but then I moved to Richmond, VA and oddly enough, Dave ended up here shortly after me.

Photo by James Damion at Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J.

I spent the next decade working behind the scenes in the music industry, recorded my solo album under the name of Ringfinger, but never returned back to the band world. I am not really sure why. I was working a serious full time job but I think part of it has to do with getting older. Part of it was nobody here in RVA really knew I played music or if they did, didn't care enough to ask me if I wanted to join their band.

It wasn't until Kenny and started dating that the idea of being in a band again seemed possible once more. Kenny was the first person in a decade who seemed serious about wanting playing music with me. (Thank you for that by the way!) We began working and recording demos last Christmas and our home recording project snowballed from there. Willis joined us on drums; a free agent after he parted ways with Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. Matt joined us on bass rather recently and we met through my current job at Hohner. We are Positive No.

It didn't strike me until our third proper practice how much I really missed this experience. I love the creative energy of playing with a group of people. I had been singing quietly alone in my apartment for so long that I forgot about my old voice. The big voice that can make grown men flinch. No more tippy toeing around neighbors who I feared would be bothered by my creative process. There is an immense freedom, a feeling of utter joy that comes with making a little noise with friends. I am happy to be in this place again and happy to revive this old part of me I thought was long gone.

Positive No will be playing live on WRIR this coming Saturday afternoon. It is our first public performance ever.

We will then be playing our first live show in front of people at the end of December at Strange Matter here in RVA.

October 23, 2012


This press release just rolled in!  

"To celebrate the production of the documentary film “Salad Days: The Birth of Punk in the Nations Capital,” a who’s who of DC punk bands from the 1980s will convene at the Black Cat on December 28 and 29, 2012. The lineup includes KingfaceBlack Market BabyDag Nasty (December 28th)ScreamGovernment Issue and Youth Brigade (December 29).

Dag Nasty will be performing together for the first time in over 27 years and playing songs from their classic album “Can I Say” with original vocalist Shawn Brown.  Government Issue will be playing a collection of songs from their early catalog and will feature Brian Baker on guitar and Tom Lyle on bass as well as vocalist John Stabband Dag Nasty’s Colin Sears on drums. Youth Brigade were one of the first bands on Dischord in 1981 with their “Possible” 7” EP. This will mark the first time they’ve played together in over 30 years. Minor Threat’s Steve Hansgen will be playing guitar and joining original drummer Danny Ingram, bassist Bert Queiroz, and vocalist Nathan Strejcek.

Each band will be playing abbreviated and short clips from the film will be shown. Guest DJs will also be performing on both nights.

"Salad Days: the Birth of Punk in the Nations Capital” is a documentary-in-progress that examines the fertile Washington, D.C. punk scene of the 1980s. D.C. based bands like Minor ThreatBad BrainsBlack Market Babythe Faiththe Slickee Boys,VoidGovernment IssueMarginal ManDag NastyGray Matter,BeefeaterScreamRites of SpringFugaziShudder to ThinkNation of UlyssesJawbox and others defined the DC aesthetic. "

Online tickets are already sold out but it looks like DC residents can still buy them from the box office 8pm to midnight - cash only $18 ! ! ! 

1. Combative Rock : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

* Disclaimer : I have had a few music blogs over the years and I have posted variations of some these stories before. While this version is 100% new, if you know me or my blogs, you might be hit with a wave of deja vu. You aren't crazy. This is re-worked material mixed into new stuff.*

My three dollar allowance as a ten year old didn't warrant me the fiscal opportunity to purchase records and tapes regularly. Instead I would sit for hours in front of one stereo speaker waiting for a favorite song came on the radio. When one finally graced the airwaves I placed a hand held tape recorder up to the speaker panel and hit record. The stereo in my bedroom didn’t have a built in cassette deck yet so if I wanted to hear my favorite song on command (and with a little rewinding or fast forwarding), this was my only option. 

My recording technique as a half pint was sloppy. I always missed the first few seconds of each song and then my arms would get tired from holding up the recorder. Eventually they would weaken, causing me to move my hands around impatiently for the second half of a song. You can actually hear the sound of my little arms failing me through the hits of the early ‘80s. I desperately wanted to own these songs and get to know them better so Presidential Fitness arm strength failure aside, I continued to record the songs I liked best using this ridiculous DIY style for years. 

These cassettes were my first real attempt at collecting and organizing music. I didn't know I was preparing myself to be a record collector nerd but this obsessive behavior certainly helped nudge me towards that path at a young age.  

The sound quality on my tapes may have been subpar but to my credit, I was a superstar at playing the name that tune game since I spent so much time with the radio on and my Panasonic recorder ready to be sprung into action. Note: you may want me on your '80s music trivia team.

My clumsy mixed-tapes of Billboard hits were not intended for public consumption. I typically hoarded them in my bedroom and then continued to play them over and over again in private. I memorized each of them from front to back. To this day I still expect the song “Gloria” to always be followed up by "Shadows with the Night" or Nena’s “99 Red Balloons" to have a shout out to the NYC radio station Z100 mixed into the opening verse when I hear them. 

I knew every melody. Every word. Every tempo shift and dynamic swell. I studied every breath and the space between notes. I was training my ears to pick apart the various layers in a song and understand how they work together without knowing I was doing it. This unique ritual of listening to music as if it was under an audio microscope is something I still carry with me to this day. 

My personal library of black case-less tapes were left at home in the Fall of 1982 when I was asked to sleep over a new friend’s house and bring music. This girl lived one town away which meant we didn't go to school together. We both played on a local girl’s soccer team and she had invited me to stay over house for the first time ever. This was uncharted territory for me. I wasn't 100% positive girls from other towns were like the girls from my town AND I had no clue what music to bring. I panicked. My parents trying their best to help without spending any money loaned me their Beatles collection (1967–1970 – The Blue Album) cassette. They were certain this would be more than adequate. The Beatles in my parents defense have proven to be timeless and enjoyed by many different kinds of people of all ages however at Jennifer’s house in 1982, it wasn't adequate.

For the first time in my young life a peer made me feel lesser about who I was because of the music I listened to. I showed her my Beatles cassette of which I knew every word to every song and she wrinkled up her face only to finish off her look of disgust with a snort. She passed me her Clash tape and told me this was the ONLY music worth listening to. 

The Clash? Is that a band? The horror! I had no idea what she was talking about. (“Rock the Casbah” wasn’t in constant rotation on the radio yet). I squinted at the pint sized cover art and tried to examine it as closely as possible. They looked a little like the Stray Cats according my inexperienced eye but what was this? One of the members wore rings on nearly every finger and had a funny looking cigarette tucked between them. Men could wear rings too? I had no idea and concepts of gender roles were beginning to crumble. At age 11 my innocent mind didn't know about pot no less what a joint might look like so the illegal and wild aspect of a band member holding and presumably smoking weed flew right over my head. I was more concerned that the band posed for their album photo on railroad tracks. We were taught as children to avoid playing on or near tracks so a rough and tumble looking group of lads stopping for a picture practically on top of them clearly proved to me that they were rebels living dangerously. I hadn't even heard a song by them yet and already my mind was blown.

The Clash were totally new to me and I felt stupid as well as embarrassed for living in my parent’s shadow. I held Combat Rock in my hands for the first time that night and pondered the door this record had opened. I wasn't just listening to music unlike anything I had ever heard before; more importantly it was the ultimate lesson that the kind of music you listened to said something about the kind of person you are. It could also reflect how worldly, individual, and cutting edge you were. Defining yourself by the records you listen to, no less making or breaking friendships was a startling revelation. I didn't appreciate feeling vulnerable about my limited knowledge of music by a girl my own age but it further proved that there was a world of music for me to explore. We started off as equals  when I arrived at her front door 
(white middle class tomboys from Bergen County, N.J.) but by the following morning I was the loser and she was coolest girl on the planet.

The only redeeming aspect of that sleep over night (besides learning about The Clash) was that her mom's idea of a craft for us was to make a Holly Hobby type doll out of a wooden spoon. She may have been more advanced musically but building a spoon doll was way more pathetic than listening to The Beatles. I was never invited back to her house for another sleepover but shortly thereafter I began asking my mom to help me explore the world of music I didn't know. The goal was to obliterate my musical ignorance. The spell of top 40 radio was broken. 

I delivered this news back to my parents and my Mom was especially understanding. She was a retired Greenwich Village beatnik with an ex husband who was (still is) a Jazz drummer so she seemed to appreciate my yearning to investigate the world of counter culture. It as almost as if she was expecting that day to come. 

She then offered and began taping a weekly late night music video program for me called  Friday Night Videos. Since my town wasn't blessed with cable TV or in turn MTV, this major network show was my singular outlet to watch music videos. Although this show mostly played videos for the same songs I heard on the radio, occasionally something left of the dial would make an appearance. FNV wasn't ideal for discovering new music but it did allow me to see the artists I had only heard on the radio before no less get a visual sense of the style and attitude attached to each kind of music. A morsel of perspective was an improvement over none at all. Some kids grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, I watched Friday Night Videos.

My mom was an insomniac so this really was fate working in mysterious ways when she fell asleep recording one night. This meant that whatever was aired after Friday Night Videos accidently made its way onto the videotape as well. I couldn't help myself but watch every minute of that tape. It was the closest I could come to staying up late like a grown up. This was a window into the adult world of late night television and it was this one completely random and rare event that altered my life forever.

For a brief time period of time in the mid '80s after Friday Night Videos there was another music video show that featured mostly underground music and weirdo skits. I can't recall the name of this show for the life of me but this is where I discovered the Australian group Midnight Oil and their 1982 single called “Power and the Passion”. 

Fuck The Clash. This band not only sounded unlike anything my little girl ears had heard before, the singer was an alarming freak of nature. I mean this in the best way possible. He was bald, 7 feet tall and he danced like a stiff jointed zombie having an epileptic seizure. He sang about important political things in an artful manner. I was in awe. No, I was found. This band looked and sounded like the complicated oddity I felt I was. Sure every kid feels insecure about themselves at this tender age but I had found a band that empowered the fragile me. I wasn't alone. There were more misfits just like me. Now all I had to do is find them. It felt like an eternity but a few years later, I did.

October 15, 2012

An Introduction : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

In 1982 the town of Saddle River, N.J. didn't have cable television. It is hard to fathom how a town ranked with the second highest per-capita income in the state couldn't work out a way to bring this technology to our collective living rooms but regardless, we lived in a world without MTV and commercial free films. 

I was raised near the end of a  cul-de-sac on three acres of a retired apple orchard. Home was a five bedroom house that my father had designed himself with cedar shingle siding and it featured not one but two book libraries. They were divided up by his and hers collections and were contained at opposite ends of the house (looking at the picture - his far right, her's far, far left). 

People wonder why I won't combine my record collection with the men I love and live with but my parents happily kept their books quarantined. I always appreciated their carefully curated selections that highlighted their own interests and personal acquisitions living apart in two distinct spaces. They were separate but equal. This kind of segregation may sound unhealthy to some but to me it represented two individuals who maintained unique identities under one roof.  If there is one message to pull away from this paragraph, it is that collecting pieces of art (written, painted, or other) was a great source of pride in my family. Culture in our household was a core value and a collection of items reflecting that value was integral to our genetic making. Throw in a grandfather named Frank who post Depression Era could never bring himself to throw anything out and loved telling stories, and there you have it; collecting stuff was practically hard wired into my soul. It was only a matter a time before I started to write about it.

The second thing I should make as clear as possible is this. Your record collection will never commingle with mine.

Before I knew Northern Jersey had indie record stores or that magazine racks dotted with music publications could have possibly existed in the region, my exposure to music through the early '80s came from all the traditional sources. There were my parents, television/ film, radio, older siblings, and friends. But the problem was my grade school friends were as ignorant and naive as I was. My parents were, well my parents. Plus they liked music but they LOVED books. My big brother was the enemy and I barely grew up with the other siblings so that left me with film and cable-free television to show me what the world had to offer. It is hard for me to image life before the internet as I write this now but I promise you there was one and it was a dark, lonely, and confusing place.

But before I get into the significance of  me at age 11, here is a little more back story. We will get back to 1980s, I promise.

My great grandfather Frederick Keats wrote and published poetry as well as music for the piano during mostly the 1920s. Growing up we had a handful of Frederick's sheet music framed and hung up neatly in a row along our foyer's wood paneling. They now lovingly reside in my home, still trapped under glass waiting for someone to free them who also happens to read sheet music and can play the piano. 

Frederick Keats is the closest my family tree has come to to fame in the world of music. My grandmother Irma (the daughter of Frederick) had a piano but by the time I was born she was no longer playing it. It stood like an enormous out of tune end table in the front room of their home, adorned with family photos and unopened mail. No one except for me as a bored grade schooler ever paid much attention to it. I should also add that this piano and I were acquaintances at best. Armed with some basic skills passed down to me by one very patient grandmother, I poked and prodded its keys seasonally. During extended holiday visits or summer vacations (and only after we had played every card game known to mankind), I would try to figure out how to play one handed versions of songs I had recently heard. While visiting the bubble world of people in their 70s that meant Nadia's Theme, the schmaltzy opening song from the soap opera Young and the Restless. This is not exactly the stuff music prodigies are made of but it was the first hint that I had a thing for music.

My parents were enthusiast of the arts but they were not record collectors.Their first date had taken place at a piano bar where adults throw back cocktails in the presence of a piano player. They took turns singing along to whatever was played or requested with the lubrication of copious amounts of alcohol. They weren't professional musicians or songwriters, they just adored a good sing along. Even more annoyingly, my mom and Dad sang to just about everything in respectable two part harmony as if cast members from the musical South Pacific for all of eternity. When they didn't know the words to something, it didn't matter. They mumbled random ones until a melody would prevail. I suffered through hundreds, maybe thousands of car rides, trapped in the backseat, as they sang Broadway musical versions by the Rolling Stones to The Beatles. Sinatra to Bette Midler.

As a young girl being raised a mere 30 minutes from NYC, my parents regularly dragged me to the theater, operas, and classical music performances but I can't say I deeply connected with any of it. The endless exposure to music and art was there but when parents force you to attend these things, they become a chore rather than an interest. I was a prisoner not a fan with free will. Sure I shamelessly belted all the songs from the musical Annie but by the late '70s, every little girl my age was obsessed with the orphan in the red dress with the adorable dog. A little part of me dies as an adult when I hear these songs now (correction, ALL show tunes) but at the time Annie represented the promise of a happy ending involving a classic rags to riches storyboard and a locket that saves the day. Little girls love that crap.

My mom and dad were 17 years apart in age and brought children from previous marriages with them to their blissful union in the late '60s. I had a total of 5 half brothers and sisters growing up but they were all so much older than me that I don’t recall too much about their taste in music other than the occasional record they accidentally left behind at our parent’s house. Pink Floyd’s “Careful with that Axe Eugene” (Ummagumma -1969) literally scared the hell out of me when I put it on the turntable for the first time, so I avoided most of their orphaned records after that traumatic listening experience. (At 3:09 to be exact)

The snippets I do remember is this:

My older half brother Robbie and his girlfriend once showed up to our parent's house with every item they were wearing on their body cut to pieces and put back together with safety pins. I was told by them that it was “punk” but I couldn't have guessed what that actually meant at the time, no less that it had ties to a youth based music movement. I knew visually this punk thing pissed my parents off (“You ruined perfectly good clothes why?) but they looked like pimply puzzles with stiff troll doll hair and one black eyeliner pencil between them. If there was music fueling their fashion, they never talked about and they certainly didn't share of those records with me. Then again I was under the age of 10 so I can't be sure I would have appreciated The Sex Pistols quite yet anyhow. Music sometimes works like a book. You can be exposed to a later chapter but unless you have made it through all the earlier ones first, reading the final chapter solo can come across like gibberish. Listeners to a new kind of music sometimes need the related stepping stone chapters to have the most recent one make sense. Context is key and at that young age, I had none.

I had another older half brother named Peter who basically was Bill Murray. He looked a lot like him. He was unbelievably funny and utterly brilliant in the curious ways he expressed himself. Everything out of his mouth was delivered in an upside down comedic kind of way. He was the oldest and in turn he seemed to me the bravest of all the siblings because he didn't live in fear of our parents. He openly cursed, smoked, drank, talked back, and yet did so with such glee. 

Pete and I didn't know each other well because he was literally 25+ years older than me but I have tiny slivers of memories of him. I recall his arrival back from serving in Vietnam and his interest in making pottery. He lived in a tent in the back yard during this time period and then seemed to just vanish until the holidays cycled back around. What I remember most is a few Christmases  we spent with Pete. He usually gave ridiculous gag gifts to us but one year I was blessed with a UX-S90 mixed tape. There was no artful cover. It came bare bones with the classic lined paper insert and a handwritten the tracklisting filled with band name misspellings.(Not to mention a few missing song titles) I was in awe of this mysterious collection of nothing but new to me music. It was my introduction to Nick Cave, B-52s, R.E.M., Human Sexual Response, and Blue Cheer among others. A seed (Nick Cave joke intended) had been planted. I was beginning to understand and appreciate that there was music outside of the Billboard top 100 realm just waiting to find its way to my hungry ears. And to be fair, I know some of these bands eventually entered the top 40 charts but in the mid '80s, this was not the case. 

I can't stress how exotic and exciting these bands were to my green ears. Hearing them was like being given the keys to an invisible world that nobody else I knew had . A grown man who I really looked up to and only saw once every few years had confided in me this tremendous group of hand picked gems in a cassette form. I never listed to mainstream music the same way ever again. The secret was out. I didn't have to listen to what everyone else did. There were options. 

My half brother Chris was older than me by 6 years and was nicknamed "Psycho" in high school. He was a stereotypical artistic bad boy with a genius level IQ. During his teenage years he favored metal and punk but later in life he listened to truly every kind of music possible. He taught me that music used in movies was worth listening to on their own as a score or soundtrack. (Repo Man, The Shining, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure to name a few) This makes up for the year that he tortured the whole family by wearing a banjo around the house for a year, all day every day as he tried to learn how to play it. Try to image Tom Cruise's character from The Outsiders with a bluegrass instrument strapped around him but with no clue or talent to play it. It looked and sounded as terrible as you might imagine. 

Chris was the only sibling left in the house by the time I was born so most of my childhood featured him as the lone role of a traditional big brother. He rarely shared his music with me but at this point in my life I wasn't quite ready for any of it either. In fact when he played me The Ramones "Beat on the Brat", I was convinced it was written with a kid sister in mind AKA me. Call me sensitive but I received his passive aggressive message loud and clear. His music was his.

Chris once brought me back a white and blue quarter sleeve shirt from the Judas Priest "Screaming for Vengeance" tour but not because he was being kind or even that I requested it. Our mother made him buy me something when he went to see them perform at the Meadowlands Arena without his kid sister. His choice of this particular album art shirt was his little fuck you to me knowing I didn't like the band nor would I ever want to wear a metal eagle upon my undeveloped chest. It wasn't that the bands he liked were bad, but they were his bands. By Chris liking them first, he owned them in my mind. While some people grow embracing the music of their older siblings, I was repulsed by the very idea of being a copy cat. Now, I would kill to have that Maiden shirt.

Oddly I have almost no recollection of my half sister's musical taste at all. 

I remember Susan being disgusted with me because I didn't know who Robert Plant was when Big Log was charting on the radio. I apparently needed to show more respect for this ex Led Zeppelin vocalist but after hearing this particular single, could you blame my lack of interest? At age 40 I still find this song sleepy and disinteresting. Sorry Sue.

My sister Jennifer upon discovering I loved Prince during the Purple Rain time period (1984) gave me a long winded speech about the beauty and sexuality of Sade, an artist she considered more talented then my purple royalty. Needles to say this rambling was totally lost on me and I stopped paying attention to anything she had to say to me about anything from that point forward. She could keep her saxophone Jazz and sex talks. Ick.  

By the early '80s I began a personal journey to find a soundtrack of my very own. I had just requested my kiddie rainbow themed room be painted over to something a little more adult that reflected the new transitional me. Good bye childhood, hello awkward puberty steamrolling towards the teenage years.

Some families pass down from generation to generation recipes or silverware but I have the deep appreciation for music, words (printed, spoken, or in song), and almost 150 years of family history helping pump it through my veins. I am enormously proud to carry on the tradition in my own small way as a musician and writer but most of all as a person who has carried a life long obsession with music. My parents, grandparents, Chris and Peter are all gone now but their passion for the arts had been embedded in me from an early age and now it owns me. I don't have children of my own to pass along this history to so I am extremely grateful to the internet for giving me a place to share it so it won't be totally lost. 

October 12, 2012

Build Your Own Turntable

With the help of Kid Koala's new ablum 12-Bit Blues.

October 7, 2012

If You Missed My Final Cause & Effect... can download it here. And for the Lee Hazlewood themed set list, go here. Thanks again for tuning in all these years and JJ will continue with the show from here on our with guest DJs. YAY!

October 4, 2012

October 4th, 2012 : My Final Cause & Effect : Lee Hazlewood

Here are the three things you need to know.

1) This is my final Cause & Effect show. The WRIR show will go on without me thanks to JJ but I will stepping down after nearly 4 years of doing it - not to mention being its creator.

2) The theme of my final show is Lee Hazlewood. He is one of my favorite musicians / producers of all time and if you follow my blog or radio show, you know how important I believe he is to the history of American music.

3) It kills me that more people aren't aware of who this man is or all the genius (cotton candy fun to down right dark) he produced during his time on his planet.

Tune in tonight from 7PM to 9PM to hear the story of Lee Hazlewood via two hours of music he wrote, produced, played on, and or inspired.

September 20, 2012

Sept 20th, 2012 : Cause & Effect : WRIR Fund Drive

WRIR real talk. Our community, commercial free radio station that is run 100% by volunteers depends on listener donations to keep us going. It is simple as that. If you love, support, or respect what we do, donate.

We may be the DJs but this is really your station.

We have been bringing Richmond music and talk for more than 5 years now and I think for many of our listeners it is hard to remember what Richmond was like before we had an outstanding indie radio station. 

Don't take such a magnificent gift to our city for granted. This one of a kind, quality DIY programming doesn't exist in most cities in the United States and yet we have it around the clock, 365 days a year.

This is my last fund drive before I retire to a more behind the scenes roll at the station so please, make me proud. Help us make this the best fund drive Cause & Effect show to date and in return you will keep one of the best low power FM stations in the country going. 

Tune in from 7PM to 9PM tonight to hear JJ and I beg for your help and play some ridiculous music. If all goes well we might even do some real time donor choice, mini Cause & Effects live. 

Last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to those who have donated already not less mentioned us as one of your favorite WRIR shows. We heart you too. 

Lightning's Girl

September 15, 2012

John Peel's Record Box & The Rick Froberg Podcasts Are Up!

Greetings on a lovely Saturday afternoon. I have uploaded two of my most recent Cause & Effects for your downloading pleasure; John Peel's Record Box and Rick Froberg (Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, Obits).

Also since we ran a little short of time on Rick's show I have created a second download that features all the music we didn't get to. This set includes more music related to Obits.


PS: As it turns out, the Rickfork show also happens to be phenomenal to exercise to. It just might be the best work out mix of all time. Trust me, I am not much of a runner / gym person but if these songs don't drive you to push ahead, I don't know what will.

September 13, 2012

September 13th, 2012 : Cause & Effect : Rick Froberg

It is really a misconception to title this Cause & Effect as such because you can't really do a radio based on Rick Froberg without including his longtime creative partner in crime John Reis and all of their many off shoot bands too. Between these two guitar legends, the history of music is forever changed. Their joint bands were Pitchfork (and no, nothing to do with that damn music website), Drive like Jehu, and Hot Snakes.

In the early '90s there was a thing called emo (not the acoustic, whiny 3rd generation drivel also called emo) that in its first generation phase was based off of nearly exclusively Washington, DC's Rites of Spring but the musicians who were inspired by them helped to carve the way for whole new sub genres (post 1990). The writing style of Froberg and Reis (not wholly unlike the opposite coast band Fugazi) were offering new twists on energy / angst driven guitar Rock sometimes called post hardcore. Then the youngsters and regional bands influenced by these musicians went on to further build on this music by creating a whole host of even deeper, wildly popular sub genres like math metal and screamo.

These genres continue to develop and morph today into new things but at their core is energy. Anger. Emotion. Guitars. Occasional to non-stop screaming. Youthful lashing out. I think that last one is a key - youth. I believe the music of all of the bands listed above are still popular if not have even larger cult followings today because that anger, energy, and emotion is a part of roller coaster of growing up. It doesn't matter what decade the music comes from, that cloud of dust kicked up by Rick and John in guitar form is the audio version of pent of frustrations felt in our younger years. Then, for those of us who grew up worshiping these bands, their bands hold a permanent sentimental value to us. They didn't just give our youth a voice in the moment, they now represent a meaningful page from our past. For those deeply inspired by their music, they like me, joined bands and tried to create songs that would hopefully be as meaningful to others as theirs was to us. And so the cycle goes.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IMPORTANT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those of you who don't know. This will be the last month I will be doing my radio show. I have a total of three Cause & Effects left before I retire and I wanted to pick my last shows wisely (one is the fund drive show). I picked Rick Froberg because he has played in bands that have been a huge soundtrack to the past twenty years of my life not to mention many of my friends and past / present band members. I want to share with listeners a very important person to my musical DNA and someone I consider to have played a very important role in advancing DIY punk and hardcore.

Don't know who any of these bands and people I mentioned are? Then even more of a reason to tune in from 7PM to 9PM to learn all about a handful of key players in the American punk and hardcore timeline.  Tune into WRIR which is 97.3 on the FM dial for Richmond,VA locals or stream us live here.

PS: JJ will continue doing the show and I will occasionally step in for guest spots. This isn't the end of Cause & Effect, I promise! More importantly, if you are a local who might want to help JJ carry on the C&E tradition, please drop me a line at or drop us a line on our Facebook page.

September 9, 2012

No Richmond DJ Set

Here is a list of songs I played at Balliceaux last night : post punk, new wave, angular indie rock, power pop, blah blah blah. (And a guilty pleasure or two). I only play vinyl and mostly singles.

No Richmond is a monthly post punk (and the family tree of genres) dance party that takes place in Richmond, VA. There is rotating cast of DJs that step in each time and the first half of the night usually highlights lesser known music. The second half of the night usually contains the more obvious crowd pleasing hits. I have learned the hard way that people after a few drinks seem to really like ONLY hearing songs they know and can sing along to.  

Can't Keep Away - Sector 27   
Riding the Times - Thirst      
Never Say Never  - Romeo Void    
Strobe Light - The B-52's
Calculator - The Rogers Sisters
Ain't you - Kleenex  

Pogo Pogo - Plastic Bertrand  
Fashion- David Bowie    
Kick In The Eye - Bauhaus   
Shack Up - A Certain Ratio
House Of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture
Shoot You Down - APB     

Jukebox - The Flirts
Its Not Me Talking - A Flock of Seagulls
Do You Dream In Colour - Bill Nelson  

I Travel - Simple Minds  
Going Left Right - Department S   
Computer Games - Mi-Sex  
(Get A) Grip (On Yourself) - The Stranglers 
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Shake Appeal - Iggy And The Stooges    

Wolf Like Me - TV On The Radio    
Pretty In Pink - Psychedelic Furs    
Hanging On The Telephone - The Nerves  

Here are few of the songs to check out for an at home or in your work cubical private dance party.

August 30, 2012

The Peel Effect


If you give a rat's ass about independent music and are over the age of 25, you probably already know who John Peel is and if you aren't familiar with his name, shame on you! He is probably one of the most important music DJs in the history of rock and roll and his influence over the UK airwaves changed music history forever.

Tonight from 7PM to 9PM we will try our best to pay respects to a man who is a hero within the field of radio and underground music by not only sharing the details of his remarkable life but by focusing on one particular aspect of his life that has fans like me particularly obsessed with.

About a year after John's untimely death in 2004, a small wooden box was discovered among his massive record collection. The contents of this box was the beginnings of what Peel considered his favorite and most personally significant 45 RPMs in his record collection. Dubbed "John Peel's Record Box" his selection of a mere 142 singles was never intended to stop at that number however since he passed away before he could complete or update the box (as we all know a true record nerd never worships the same group of records forever), this specific collection leaves almost as many questions as there are answers.

What we are left to ponder for eternity is a wildly diverse group of records spanning from just about every possible genre of music. Not all of these records would be considered the best songs of all time however they were important to John for one reason or another. This evening it is out goal to highlight a large portion of the material found in his record box (our personal favorites!) while filling in the back story as to why that particular 7" made it into his special grouping.

Stream us live from 7PM to 9PM anywhere in the world and only at WRIR.

August 26, 2012

The Sundays on a Sunday

Enjoy this lovely '97 live footage of the Sundays.

August 22, 2012

"Is Nothing Sacred?" The Wes Anderson Soundtrack Show Wrap Up

You can view the set list of songs I played for the Wes Anderson show on the WRIR site and you can download the show and view / listen to other older Cause & Effect shows here. YAY!

August 21, 2012

Universe People Signs to Little Black Cloud Records

In case you missed reading this on my record label site - I signed a new band!

Once upon a time there was band from Seattle, WA called Welcome on Fatcat Records that I liked a lot. I mean A LOT. 

In fact I worshiped their album Sirs  so much that I named it my favorite record in 2007. I loved them for their strangely wonderful combination of raw '60s mod garage Rock with the cool Kim Deal side of the Pixies blended in. They delivered an unbelievably interesting combination of something old and new but they sadly  faded away. leaving fans like me hoping that someday an offshoot band would sprout up. 

Enter Universe People in 2012 and one very happy me.

Welcome's female bass/volcalist player Jo Claxton has a new band and I enjoyed their songs so much I pretty much begged to put them out. I worship their angular female fronted energy that has the power of UK Riot Grrrl bands like Huggy Bear with a post punk dose of The Fall added in. 
(Also for fans of Delta 5Country Teasers, Wire, Dolly Mixture, The Stranglers, and The Breeders off the top of my head)

So there it is. We have a new member of the Little Black Cloud Record's family : Universe People!

Their debut album will be released February 12th
, 2013 but in the meantime enjoy their band page and follow them on Facebook. A video is in the works right now for their first single so stay tuned for that in weeks to come! 

Read on for their official bio:

Once upon a time, Jo Claxton accidentally wandered from her hometown of Sydney, Australia and ended up in Seattle, WA. In 2010, several years and several bands later, she approached Kellie Payne to play bass and sing with her. The idea was to make simple, angular songs based around sweet but stark girl-vocal harmonies. Jo had recorded six demos in her basement in the winter of 2010 to get things rolling. Next, Jo needed some drums, so she contacted the ever-popular drummer about town named Dave Ramm. This was in a vanishingly small window of time when he was not actually in a band, in March 2011. Universe People were born and began playing out in Seattle. Early in 2012, they recorded 10 songs for a full length LP at the all analog Pool Recording Studio, in Portland OR.

Dave also plays drums in Wimps, and Kellie plays drums in Eyes and Teeth.

Don’t mistake Universe People for a Czech-Slovak UFO space cult. But they could melt your brain and take you to outer space if you let them. Let them!