the sounds of long ago

Some of my readers will find this a rather strange post from me.  So I found out today The English Beat and General Public vocalist Roger Charlery…also known as  Ranking Roger has passed away.

I graduated from high school in 1981.  My freshman year in college I discovered many new sounds in music including Ska.  Madness and English Beat were played everywhere.  When English Beat broke up we danced and listened to General Public….and still danced and listened to English Beat.

The sounds of my being a teenager.  I still listen to both English Beat and General Public from time to time.  Lots of happy and fun memories attached to the music.

R.I.P. Ranking Roger from one of your U.S. fans.

Here is the obituary from The Guardian in the U.K.:
Ranking Roger obituary
Singer and frontman for the ska revival band the Beat

By Peter Mason  Wed 27 Mar 2019 07.07 EDT 

Ranking Roger, who has died aged 56 after suffering from cancer, was a singer and frontman for the Beat, one of the four big British ska revival bands – along with the Specials, Madness and the Selecter – to emerge after punk in the late 1970s. The Beat’s flowering was a brief one, but Roger was at the heart of the group’s successes in the early 80s, when they had five Top 10 singles and two Top 5 albums in the UK before splitting in 1984. He had songwriting credits on many of their most popular compositions, and alongside duties as joint vocalist with Dave Wakeling was also the band’s “toaster”, talking in stylised fashion over various song sections in a mode popularised by reggae deejays of the late 60s and early 70s.

Later he pursued solo projects and collaborations with various well-known bands and artists, including Big Audio Dynamite and Sting, before touring and recording with a reincarnation of the Beat, with whom he worked until his death….Born Roger Charlery in Birmingham to Jean-Baptiste, a toolsetter, and his wife, Anne Marie, both of whom had emigrated to Britain from the Caribbean, he grew up in the Small Heath area of the city, next to Birmingham City football ground. ….Drawing heavily on Jamaican musical themes from the 60s but with a distinctly British feel and punk sensibility, the Beat, along with Madness, the Specials and the Selecter, swiftly became part of the 2-Tone movement, which took its name from the independent label to which each of the bands initially signed. Four of the Beat’s first five singles made it into the Top 10, including their third release, Mirror in the Bathroom, which peaked at No 4, and Too Nice to Talk To, at No 7. Their debut LP, I Just Can’t Stop It, was released in 1980 on their own Go Feet label and featured their most talked-about composition, Stand Down Margaret, which was banned by the BBC and had Roger’s toasting to the fore as it called for the resignation of the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. The album reached No 3 in the charts, as did its follow up, Wha’ppen? in 1981…..

Early this year, Roger announced that following a stroke and the discovery of two brain tumours he had also been diagnosed with lung cancer.

 Ranking Roger (Roger Charlery), musician, born 21 February 1963; died 26 March 2019

I also like this article from the Edinburgh Reporter:

Can’t get used to losing Ranking Roger
By Mike Smith – March 27, 2019

Those who know me know my love for ska music. The news that Ranking Roger, lead singer of legendary ska band The Beat, has died after a period of illness was like a dagger to my heart.

I loved The Beat. I’m proud to say I’ve seen them many times over the years. Their sublime musical talent, their ceaseless energy, their gift of being able to lift one’s spirits when they are at their lowest will be with me forever. Songs such as Mirror In The Bathroom, Hands Off She’s Mine, Too Nice To Talk To, Doors Of Your Heart – became classic numbers. They also did superb cover versions of Can’t Get Used To Losing You and Tears Of A Clown.

Ranking Roger – real name Roger Charlery – was a ska icon, bouncing across the stage with boundless energy. …..It was what The Beat did best. Their music invoked a feelgood factor and I have never been to one of their gigs which I didn’t enjoy or feel so much better afterwards.

Roger was just 56 years old – a year younger than I am which underlines that none of us are immune from tragedy….

music makes the world go round

The Keswick Theatre kicked off their 90th Anniversary in Glenside with a concert by In The Pocket.

David Uosikkinen of The Hooters is the founder, genius and heart behind this musical project which captures the sounds of Philadelphia….and a lot of the amazing bands we grew up with.

Tonight’s performance was amazing, and every time you see this amazing ensemble perform it’s a little different. There is a core group and others who cycle in and out depending upon their schedules.

Music is always good for what ails almost everyone and this evening I loved every magical moment.

Happy Birthday Keswick!

sometimes you just need a little bowie

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This amazing mural of the late rocker David Bowie is 180 feet tall and is in Jersey City, NJ. 
It is the work of  Eduardo Kobra and was completed in 2016.
It is part of the Jersey City Mural Arts Program.  You can read about it HERE and HERE.
You can find the mural at 837 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07310 

 

in the pocket visits east whiteland

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You have to give East Whiteland Township and Friends of Summer Stage credit. They do summer concerts  right!  Last evening’s concert  courtesy of them, Point Entertainment, and WXPN, was  David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket.

post 1Davis Uosikkinen is with the Hooters. This is his own individual project and he calls it “Essential Songs of Philadelphia”. And it so is. His band is a revolving and evolving cast of the men and woman who give Philadelphia it’s unique musical perspective and sound, and in many cases have for years and years.  The line up depends on the availability of the artist.post 2

Last evening the concert was moved from Valley Creek Park into the conference center at  Penn State Great Valley. The line-up was amazing –

David Uosikkinen – The Hooters, Kenny Aaronson – Bob Dylan / John Eddie,Richard Bush – The A’s,Steve Butler – Smash Palace,Tommy Conwell – The Young Rumblers, Jay Davidson – Steve Winwood / The Funk Brothers,Greg Davis – Beru Revue,Jeffrey Gaines,Jerry Getz – Beru Revue,Cliff Hillis ,Kenn Kweder,Charlie & Richie Ingui – Soul Survivors,Zou Zou Mansour,Wally Smith – Smash Palace / Crosstown Traffic.

I will also note that David’s son Samuel Uosikkinen played with In The Pocket as well last evening. He is a very talented musician in his own right!

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I loved every song. I will admit a Richard Bush /Kinks cover and Punkrock Girl were among my favorites but Zou Zou Mansour killed it with Be My Baby, and Ken Kweeder’s Me and Mrs. Jones was also terrific!

 

The set list was:

Change Reaction – Steve Butler / Cliff Hillis
I’m Not Like Everybody Else – ZouZou Mansour
Be My Baby – ZouZou Mansour
Open My Eyes – Jeffrey Gaines
I Saw The Light – Cliff Hillis
Turn On A Dime – Cliff Hillis
Good To Be The King – Greg Davis
Moon River – Greg Davis
Me and Mrs. Jones – Kenn Kweder
Like A Rolling Stone – Kenn Kweder
Count The Days – Steve Butler
Turn On Your Love Light – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Back Stabbers – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Expressway To Your Heart heart emoticon – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Punk Rock Girl – Richard Bush
You Really Got Me – Richard Bush
Sunny Afternoon – Richard Bush
Woman’s Got The Power – Richard Bush
Can’t Sit Down – Tommy Conwell
Everything They Say Is True – Tommy Conwell
If We Never Meet Again – Tommy Conwell
Workout – Tommy Conwell
I’m Not You’re Man – Tommy Conwell
Beat Up Guitar – Richard Bush w/ In The Pocket band (Everybody else)

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If I really want to date myself I can admit I have been listening to Eric Bazilian and the Hooters since they would perform at places like Harriton High School back in the day.  Music is definitely a thread of continuity in our lives and this concert reminded me of so many points in time. Like in the way back time machine to when summer housemates were Avalon Cabaret girls, so you never knew which members of the bands you would find at our place, often hiding our from the groupies that would hang outside the steps of the band quarters at the Avalon Cabaret.

 

post 7In recent years, I have gotten to know other sounds like Jim Boggia (who wasn’t playing with In the Pocket last evening, but does) and Jeffrey Gaines, who used to be the neighbor of myself and friends of mine. Now Jeffrey is also a very compassionate musician and in 2007 when friends of mine and I planned a fundraiser for a woman named Moira who had been struck with viral encephalitis and needed a lot of medical care, he was among the many talented musicians who donated their time completely to a fundraiser and concert.post 4

All of the musicians who played last night were amazing! I had not seen Tommy Conwell perform in so many years, and  he has not lost a note, step, or guitar lick.

It was a truly magical musical event and if you have the chance to go see David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket perform – run. It is an amazing experience and just an evening of awesome sounds!

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great music

ccdI saw this special on PBS about the Nashville music of today and the “Americana”  or “American Roots” movement music. (I think that is what they called it – I heretofore thought of a lot of it as simply indie music.)

Anyway, they featured in the music this band Carolina Chocolate Drops. They are amazing. Have a listen:

hooters return to their ardmore roots

DSC_0207This is not a Chester County specific post.  So if that is what you are seeking, turn away from your computer now…I saw the Hooters in Ardmore once again last night. (Photos found HERE)

As I said to Hooters drummer David Uosikkinen last evening when he was talking to my friend Eric before the show, the last time I saw the Hooters live I think I was about 23 years old. I am a little older now….

DSC_0063If you were a child of the 1980s and grew up in the greater Philadelphia region you remember the Hooters. They were part of that amazing music scene in Philadelphia of the 1980s which also included Robert Hazard (RIP – he passed away in 2008 – saw him the last time at MilkBoy in Ardmore in 2007), Beru Revu, Tommy Conwell , Dennis Selfridge and more.

The music in Philadelphia at that time was amazing.  Original song writing, not cover bands.  A lot of the music had a ska and reggae influence, not just rock and roll or folk.  You can hear that in the Hooters.  I loved ska and still listen to English Beat and Madness on occasion although overall my music tastes have evolved somewhat to indie singer-songwriter people with a more lyrical and folk sound to them.

DSC_0240So “back in the day” we all heard bands like the Hooters at high schools all over the area (I remember seeing the Hooters in Harriton High School’s auditorium, for example), and then at the cabarets: Chestnut, Avalon, and Ardmore.

DSC_0252The Hooters were already popular on the Philadelphia music scene when they opened for Philadelphia’s portion of Live Aid in 1985. I am not going to restate their entire history, it exists online, but the Hooters are also known for Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman giving Cyndi Lauper one of her greatest hits, Time After Time.  Throughout the years, other artists like Joan Osborne for example, benefitted from the talent (remember her song “One of Us”?)

DSC_0061When you think of the Hooters as many of us do, you do think of them and the Ardmore Cabaret.  And last night was like old home night on the Main Line.  Including, amusingly enough, the groupies.  They were older and in some cases wider, but there they were pressed up against the stage….waiting.  Including the twins.

Now a brief homage to the venue.  It started out life as I knew it as the 23 East Cabaret. Then about 20 years ago my friend Joe Rufo purchased the building.  It morphed into Brownies 23 East and then 23 East.

I got to know Joe when Lower Merion Township tried to take a large chunk of the Main Street downtown business district via eminent domain for private gain.  Thankfully that ill-advised initiative failed miserably.

Joe is the guy who has opened his doors many, many times for fundraisers and is incredibly generous to the community…besides just being a nice guy.  Personal highlights for me include 2007 when he opened his doors to those of us having a fundraiser on St. Patrick’s Day for a woman named Moira Shaughnessy who was part of our community and had been struck down by viral encephalitis after surviving non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  On that night, the community came together and everything from the use of the building to the food to the bands was donated. St. Patricks Day 2007 artists like Deb Callahan, Jeffrey Gaines, Amanda Kaletsky, and Dennis Selfridge all donated their time.  Another memory of the building is more recent.  Earlier this year we did a fundraiser for my friend, the late Jim McCaffrey who was not only a friend but an amazing reporter. (Have a minute? Listen to what he had to say on that evening.)  Joe also hosted countless other fundraisers over the years.

DSC_0011A few years ago when the guys from Point Entertainment had lost their music home in Ardmore and were looking for a new place I remember saying to both Rich Kardon and Joe Rufo at the time that they should combine talents and “bring the Hooters back to Ardmore.” We laughed about that last night before the show, because it is just funny how life works out.  What the heck did I know? I just thought it was a great idea and they were people I liked.

So when the news broke this summer about their new partnership, I was definitely psyched.  23 East was reborn as Ardmore Music Hall. After all, living in Chester County, it is definitely easier all the way around to get to Ardmore versus West Philadelphia for WXPN Live.

Ardmore Music Hall is the same building, slightly reconfigured.  And it is still an awesome place to hear a band.  And last night just exceeded all expectations.

DSC_0014We got there in time for the doors to open to the VIP ticket holders and people were lined up around the block waiting for general admission like the old days. Inside, the Hooters milled about with guests, graciously posing for photos,autographs and chatting.

You know what the best part of the Hooters was? They still have it and more.  They haven’t turned into aging rockers who should stay off the stage. Their sound has matured and evolved and they are as engaging and awesome as ever.  It is no wonder that European audiences love them – they have a huge following there. The Hooters are a band who just love what they do and it shows.  They are accomplished musicians and singer songwriters and the magic hasn’t waned.

The Hooters played many of their old favorites and newer music. They did this absolutely astoundingly beautiful cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”. That is one of my favorite songs, and I have to say I think I like their version I heard last night better than the original version.set list sept 21

All of the photos are mine except the photo of the play list.  That comes courtesy of the Point Entertainment folks.  I was upstairs seated overlooking the balcony.

DSC_0299The place was packed to the rafters for this concert which made me happy.  I wasn’t jazzed at times by some of the people behind us, especially Mr. Pin Stripe Shirt.  He was all so perfectly pressed and pushy.  He reminded me of people I saw when I saw when Robert Randolph and the Family Band were doing a then WXPN festival on Penn’s Landing.  And I did get a beer dumped down my back by a tipsy girl and a camera whack in the side of my head by a zealous woman who decided to just stick her camera into my face to try to get a shot.  But overall it was an amazing experience.  The Hooters always did attract a good crowd.

DSC_0098Also as musicians and human beings, this band is as gracious as ever with their fans.  I always remembered that about them: very genuine bunch of guys who took time for everyone. If you are jaded you could have said last night they are just past masters at working a crowd now, but it wasn’t that, it was different.  They stop and spoke to people, looked at old photos of concert events passed.  It was a nice thing to see.

I hope the Hooters return again to Ardmore.  It was such a pleasure to hear them live again sounding better than ever.  And yes, Pierre Robert introduced them.  I have some concert snippets posted up on Chester County Rambling’s Facebook Page.

Check out Ardmore Music Hall for other upcoming shows including Soul Asylum, Fountains of Wayne, Marc Broussard, Uncle Kracker, and Michael Allman Band. Go early, Lower Merion Township doesn’t offer much parking in downtown Ardmore.

smooth and silky

r1I went to Shipley.  My class had some amazingly talented people.  One of those is my friend Rhonda Dorsey who now lives in Switzerland.

Rhonda is a fabulous songstress and her voice is as beautiful as she is.  She is a contemporary R & B singer, and she released a CD a few months ago and I am ashamed to admit it took me until now to hear it all the way through.

As I sat here today editing photos for a new photo book, I popped Rhonda’s “Chocolate Sound” in and listened.

Wow.  The melodiously beautiful voice I remember as a teen is all grown up and full of promise.

With a velvety R & B meets modern jazzy sound with the occasional dose of funk, Rhonda starts off her CD with “Sums of One”  and rolls through “It’s All  Good Day”, sliding into songs like “Giving” (which is probably my favorite), or the sultry “I’ll Be” which is just simply lovely.  A funky beat draws you into “Let it Be Me”, a cautionary tale comprises the lyrics of “Mr. Le Le” , smooth and sexy is “Sense Me”, finishing up with the beautiful “Far from You”.

Rhonda’s voice is rich and playful, and literally as smooth as chocolate.

For those who don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that R&B is not something I listen to every day, and it’s not.  But Rhonda takes it places with her own spin, where I could.

Rhonda has a website and a Facebook page and a sampling of her style on you tube. Check her out and you can buy her sound on iTunes and Amazon as well as her website.

Brava Rhonda, Brava