Sunday, December 20, 2009

12/20/09 Blog/Playlist: last show-guest Lance Hoppen

For a moment I thought I might not have a last show. I looked at the WRFN online program guide on Saturday and saw that the 8 a.m. time slot was filled with automated programming. I didn't want to not do this show because I had Lance Hoppen of Orleans booked as a guest and we tried three times to make this happen due to previous conflicts. But I checked with the powers that be and learned it was just all set up ahead of time for the next week due to the holidays. Whew.

The show went out on a high note because Lance Hoppen of the group Orleans was my guest this morning. First I started things off with a short set of songs from some of my favorite collections and anthologies I've played on my show over the past year and a half that have served me well. Here's one from a compilation series I've enjoyed playing cuts from on the show, called Hard To Find 45s On CD.

Nathaniel Mayer – Village Of Love
Gene Pitney – Town Without Pity
Los Bravos – Black Is Black
Grass Roots – Where Were You When I Needed You
Tyrone Davis – Can I Change My Mind

Guest - Lance Hoppen
Well, the third time's the charm. I've tried to have Lance Hoppen on earlier this year and something came up on two other occasions (one of those being the technical improvements that came with the station). Lance is the bass player with the group Orleans who had some of the most memorable hits of our generation such as "Still The One" and "Dance With Me". Lance and the band are still active. I saw Lance recently on two occasions, once with Orleans at the recent "Rock The Power" show and at the Tunesmithing writer's night where he performed as a duo with his brother Larry Hoppen, the lead vocalist of Orleans.

Orleans is about to celebrate its 38th anniversary. The band got its start as a trio in Woodstock, NY. with Larry Hoppen, John Hall and Wells Kelly. Lance joined after high school graduation. The rest of the story is well detailed on the band's website bio. The band also just released a very comprehensive DVD of the band's history with some rare archival footage.

Lance described Orleans as a band that's had a tendency to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. From initial success to being dropped by their label and scoring another hit, a difficult decade in the 80s and personnel changes (sudden departure of John Hall and passing of Wells Kelly), the band nonetheless found itself bouncing back from circumstances and continuing to keep on.

Rock and Pop Masters is another band started by Larry Hoppen a decade ago. Lance and most of the present Orleans band is part of this, including about 30 well known singers from other groups and hits (Survivor, Pablo Cruise, Deep Purple, Rascals) rotating gigs at various times. The group just released a fundraiser song "The Real Meaning Of Christmas", a song originally done by the Winans, which benefits Feeding America (

At one point, Lance referred to this group as RPM. Hmmm...about 30 singers, RPM. That opened the door wide for me to insert a cheap pun. "Well, Lance, if you have that many singers, if you get up to about 33, then you would have 33 RPM!"

Lance very generously brought along a bit of music to play on the show.

Song list:
Orleans - Dancing In the Moonlight (the band has a strong connection with this song...Larry and Wells were in a band with Wells' brother Sherman, the writer of the song.) We played a very nice Orleans version of this song.

Rock and Pop Masters - The Real Meaning of Christmas

Lance Hoppen - Start From Where You Are. A demo recorded by Lance which appears on the Orleans Obscurities CD (isn't that a great title?), and presently nominated for a Positive Music Association award.

Orleans - New Star Shining. From the Still The One Live CD, A Christmas song written by John and Johanna Hall, which I recognized as done by the Gaither Vocal Band on their "Still The Greatest Story Ever Told" album. It was also covered by Ricky Skaggs and other artists.


Frequency To The Heart

I have one more Frequency To The Heart, (and I will bring this feature with me to TJ and Company by the way). But this is for all of you who are going through tough times right now, financial, personal, or whatever. I think I've said this before here but it's worth repeating. While you're waiting for the job to come or for the crisis to pass, find the time regularly to do something you love. It may not be for money but it's for the spirit and that's very important too. It gives you some hope to face each day. I know of which I speak...that's what I've been doing here and that's what I'm going to continue doing.

So...that's it for Never Too Old. I want to thank everyone for listening to me this past year especially in this early time period, and thanks as well to program director Beau Hunter and our station managers here at RFN, Ginny Welsch and Greg Welsch, for letting me do my thing with this show here and for the blessing to move on and team up with my buddy and radio mate T.J. Kirby. Most of all, a very special thanks to all those guests who got up at what is an ungodly hour for musicians to come be with us and play and sound great. Remember to go out there and support the music of the baby boomers!

The blogs for the Never Too Old show will remain up and posted because there is a lot of good stuff up there about some of the guests I've had on the show, plus past Frequency To The Heart readings and show reflections that I think you'll enjoy. I will also have the My Space page and the Facebook Never Too Old show group up a little while longer as well. But I do encourage you to join the T.J. and Company group on Facebook and watch for a TJ and Company MySpace page and yes, a new blog! Those last two will all be up by January.

Things I will not miss: dealing with the board and the technical flubs. Not that it's all that difficult. It's just not my thing. T.J.'s doing that part on Saturday. I'll be the keeper of the logs and the blog, admin details and guest hospitality along with being the sidekick.

Update: I will be joining T.J. Kirby on "T.J. and Company" starting January 2.

Again, thanks for being part of this journey. I'll see you next year on T.J and Company, Saturday afternoons, 3-5 p.m. Central on Radio Free Nashville. Be there!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12/13/09 Blog/Playlist: Twist On Christmas 2009

Today's show was my second "twist on Christmas". Last year the archive of the show I did got lost so I just figured I'd do it over. I've got some songs that are a little bit different, kind of fun and clever. I did some of these last year so I thought I'd bring them back once again. Some are old and some are new and we'll mix them into this set. Let's start with a song from one of the great Christmas albums in the history of rock and roll, the Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector.

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra – Frosty the Blues Man
Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
Diona Devincenzi – Merry Christmas To Me
(This song has ministered to me personally, particularly last Christmas Eve when plans fell apart at the last minute!)

Record Box:
If you grew up in the 60s chances are your mom and had mostly likely had the album "Merry Christmas" by Johnny Mathis and if they were like my mom, played it over and over again until you just couldn't get it out of your head. So here's one of those songs.

Johnny Mathis – Sleigh Ride
Brenda Lee – Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
Claudine Clark – Party Lights
Darlene Love – Marshmallow World
Bobby Rydell - Forget Him
Friend and Lover – Reach Out In The Darkness

Also want to remind you that my guest next week for the last live show will be Lance Hoppen of Orleans. So do tune in for that!

Soul Stew
Impressions – Amen
Jerry Butler – Mr. Dream Merchant
Four Tops – Ask the Lonely
Stevie Wonder – Someday At Christmas

Stephen Hill and Woody Wright - Come and See What's Happening in the Barn
Eve Selis – Do You Know Me

Frequency to the Heart
Real quick one this week--it's a rough time financially for a lot of folks this year. Take a look around you, see who's struggling and see if you can do something special, needed and and delight somebody in need!

This season does a number on my sinuses and I'm hearing it on the mike the past couple of weeks. I wish they'd clear up.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have an announcement to make about "Never Too Old".

I will be "moving back to the old neighborhood" (no, not the Twin Cities!). I've been spending a lot of time lately in my original time period of 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon being an occasional sidekick with my dear friend T.J. Kirby at "T.J. and Company" and I even filled in for him last weekend. We've had a lot of fun and some nice feedback when we were on the air together. I've also been helping him out over the past few months with administrative details for the show. We've talked about teaming up for quite some time. I've finally decided to do that.

So, at the end of the month, I will bring "Never Too Old" to a close and I will be joining "T.J. and Company" on Saturday afternoons from 3-5 p.m as a regular sidekick and co-producer sometime in January. My last live broadcast in this Sunday 8 a.m. time slot will be next Sunday, December 20, when my guest will be Lance Hoppen of Orleans. There will be a show rebroadcast on the 27th (don't know which one at this point).

T.J. and I are very excited about the plans we have for the show...we think it's going to be very unique and entertaining and we're working on some great guest lineups. You'll hear a lot of the same music that you've heard on Never Too Old each week; we've always had that similarity going on so it's just another reason that it makes sense for us to combine our efforts. And yeah, I did start feeling a little burned out on getting up and rushing out the door early Sunday mornings!

I do hope you will join us on Saturday afternoons. And yes, there will be a new "T.J. and Company" show blog, so watch for that as well! This blog will remain up and archived after "Never Too Old" ends...there's still a lot of good stuff in it, after all!

I know I'll probably repeat this, but I do thank everyone who supported me and this show, and most especially all the guests who got up at an ungodly hour for them to join me.

A new era in radio is about to begin!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

12/6/09 Blog/Playlist: Complicated Love-The Sequel

I got a bit of a surprise this morning when I entered the studio. Two guys were in the studio doing a new show. Their names are Hal and Tyler and the show is called Wide Open. It's a mixed bag of music and thoughts. I didn't think anyone besides me would want to get up at those hours on Sunday morning, but these guys have taken on the 6-8 a.m. slot preceding me. Thanks for helping with a gracious transition and welcome to Sunday morning, fellows!

Segment 1: Complicated Love-The Sequel
I've been promising this theme for awhile and so, here it is this week...complicated love, the sequel! Back in March I did a show like this which looked at the complicated aspects of love and tried to tell some stories within the theme. I'll try that again this time out and as with last time, I'll have a question for you which I'll ask in the next set. But this first set is devoted to liars, cheaters, players, what they do to people. We've all known a few of those, right?

Bob Kuban and the InMen – The Cheater
Del Shannon – Little Town Flirt
Johnny Mathis – What Will My Mary Say
Beach Boys - Surfin Safari (It has been this kind of week for me here at RFN. I had the wrong disc in the wrong case. So let's say someone cheated on someone by taking somebody surfing!)
Brenda Lee – Fool #1
Lesley Gore – Maybe I Know
Knickerbockers – Lies

Segment 2: Record Box
OK, to start this set out is my question for this show: can you be in love with someone you don't like? First, the Beatles weigh in on the question.
Thanks to all for the responses on Facebook! Most folks said something to the effect of "yes, but..." in that you can love someone but not like what they do.

Beatles – You Really Got A Hold On Me
Petula Clark – I Couldn't Live Without Your Love
Patsy Cline – Sweet Dreams (Of You)
Gene Pitney – Half Heaven Half Heartache

Segment 3: Soul Stew

Well, Gene Pitney led us off with a look at heartache which will continue for a little bit in the soul stew portion. To continue that, great minds think alike.

Supremes – Nothing But Heartaches
Flirtations – Nothing But A Heartache

Segment 4: Non-oldie/Current/New
We didn't do a current/non-oldie segment last week due to the 70s show so we're going to make up for it a bit this week. Probably one of the things that makes love so complicated is communication, or lack thereof. I discovered this first song a while back which to me completely nails that problem between a man and a woman --so it was a no-brainer for me to use it in this show.

Greg Lamboy – War of Words
Beth Nielsen Chapman – Trying To Love You (Beth wrote the song, also recorded by Trisha Yearwood. I also had her version and wanted to use that but I had a time issue...Beth's was shorter).
Louise Mosrie – Maybe I'm Your Angel
Semisonic – She's Gone To The Movies

Frequency To The Heart
Encouraging Words – December 2009

Well, at least the players worked this time. But in my haste to try to fit that one last song in, I forgot to switch the mike over at the end so people probably heard only half of the encouraging words. I probably should have left that out.

I think I'm glad this weekend in radio is over. I want an engineer for Christmas.

My Experiment With Personality Radio: TJ and Company 12/5/09

My dear friend and "radio mate" T.J. Kirby and his wife Rene had a function to go to this week which was taking place at the same time of his show. I had this bright idea: why don't I sit in for him? After all, I've been a sidekick guest on the show a few times. Surely I've learned something from it all this time, right? Well, T.J. agreed to give me a shot.

It was indeed quite the learning experience. I learned just how much work goes into trying to do a decent two-hour "personality radio" type show. T.J.'s basic format is a throwback to "radio like it used to be" when the DJ was an integral part of the show. The format is two songs and talk segments across the two hours and making it all entertaining. I spent about four days trying to assemble bits to use and finding songs I could "hear" on his show, and making sure I wouldn't run short of material.

My own style is pretty much laid back, like the FM progressive rock DJs of the 70s; basically I just like to share music, play longer sets and then tell you a little bit about what you heard. For me to be witty and charming on the air consistently and not be self-conscious about it is quite a stretch out of my comfort zone. Believe me, I have gained a new respect for folks like T.J. who make it all seem so effortless.

I did, however, come up with a couple of things we thought were cute and clever. I started with a bit where I walk into the studio at the start of the show expecting to find T.J., but he's not there. Instead there's a note from him reminding me that I am hosting, not guesting, "here's your music and material, it'll be easy, just remember everything I taught you". Then I kicked into the theme and my take on the opener. Another segment was one called "Cat Talk" which evolved from some joking between T.J. and started with Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" and gossip about the hilarous "cat betrayed his girlfriend" video out on You Tube, along with some cat facts.

I also had some great music which I don't get to play on my show, including some #1 songs on that date from the 60s to the 90s.

Alas, though, the technical glitches dogged me as usual. The players skipped on a couple of songs. Then, a strange weird thing during a comedy bit I played by Mark Lowry. In the middle, I started hearing the Emergency Broadcast System type tones. Oh no, I thought, what's going on? I immediately looked out the window--I hadn't heard of any storms on the way. Then a voice came on and said "I'm the rock" and then it stopped. What the hell was that? And why does this stuff always have to happen to me, anyway?? Then at the end, I thought for sure I put the mike switch on but it wasn't I checked it again and it came back. Unfortunately, I lost most of T.J.s poem I was reading. Grrrrr....

Prime time on-air personality? Probably not my destiny. Occasional sidekick to T.J.? We've done that and we have in fact gotten some feedback from listeners suggesting we ought to team up one day. Content producer? Now there's a good radio gig for me. Just so long as I don't have to engineer.

Anyhow as I said, I have gained a greater respect for what T.J. does and his talent. Someone needs to hire him. I'll be the producer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

11/29/09 Blog/Playlist: Nice Decade - The 70s

I waited a long time to get this "Have A Nice Decade" box set available from the had about 36 or so holds on it. So just as well I was able to push this show up a week as I'll have to return the box set soon!

Segment 1 and 2: Have a Nice Decade - The 70s

Today we're going to dig a bit deep into the 70s. The 70s were fascinating and interesting for pop culture enthusiasts. It was the era of disco, Watergate, many trends, catch phrases and just plain distinctive looks. Do you remember what you wore back then and do you groan when you think about it and see old pictures of yourself? And how about those old prom pictures? Still have any of those?

A lot of what I'm going to play today will come from a series called Have A Nice Decade: the 70s. For the most part, I stayed away from the overplayed, tried and true and dug out some you probably haven't heard in a long while. As I was looking through the collection, I notice there these were a lot of songs in this decade which were off the beaten path, funny, maybe even ridiculous. Probably a good reason why you don't hear many of these anymore! But let's have some decadent fun and recall some of those songs in this first set. As I mentioned, there were a lot of wild trends during the 70s, and this first song celebrates one...I forgot just how funny it was.

Ray Stevens – The Streak
Daddy Dewdrop – Chick- A Boom
Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods – Billy Don't Be A Hero
George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag
Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night
Johnny Wakelin and the Kinshasa Band – Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)

In the notes for the Have a Nice Decade package, the producer, David McLees, notes that the 70s was the one decade which caused people of all generations to laugh at how we looked. I'm not even going to mention some of the outfits I recall I had during my teen years which I thought were way cool at the time. Well, OK, I mentioned one--the white pantsuit with the large green flowery petals. Why didn't anyone tell us how ridiculous we looked back then!

This set started with a couple of songs good for a Sunday morning.

Godspell – Day by Day (that one jumped in the player a few times..but did so on pitch!)
Ocean – Put Your Hand In the Hand
Coven – One Tin Soldier
Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
First Class – Beach Baby

Segment 3: Soul Stew

If you remember the music of the 70s, you know that some of the best soul music ever came out of that decade. I got a few in as I had time for.

McFadden and Whitehead –Ain't No Stoppin Us Now
Blue Magic – Sideshow
Honey Cone – Want Ads
Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool

Frequency To The Heart:

The 70s were the "have a nice day" decade, symbolized by that famous "happy face". Going into the holiday season, in that spirit, why not find some ways you can help someone have a nice day? Take somebody to lunch, do the unexpected, or just say something to brighten someone's day. Like perhaps say "have a nice day". (Couldn't resist!)

Next week: Complicated Love...the sequel! We'll play songs about liars, cheaters, players, and I'll have a question for you, too.

Also next Saturday December 5, I'll be sitting in for my buddy T.J. Kirby on T.J. and Company from 3-5 p.m. Central time. That puts me back in my old time slot for a week and I get a shot at a two hour show. I do a guest spot with him once a month but this week "steal the show" while he's away.

I didn't do a current music set this time because I just had so much in the 70s collection I wanted to get to. I apologize to those who missed that..I'll make it up next week and get one or two in on Saturday as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

11/22/09 Blog/Playlist: 1963 Revisited

Segment #1 – 1963 Revisited
Today is the 46th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963. If you lived through that time no matter how old or how young you were, you never forget it. (I'm rather surprised that there's been little media notice of the date this being one of the most shocking events in modern history). Last year I had a show on that same date and I played some music from 1963. I'm going to revisit that year again musically this time as well.

On last year's show I mentioned that there was an aircheck on the internet of a Dallas radio station, KLIF to be exact, from the afternoon of November 22, 1963 around the time when the assassination was happening. It starts out as if it were a normal day, and then once the first reports of the shooting came in, the music started to change and become more somber. Eventually it went to all news and stayed that way throughout the weekend. I have a couple of the songs that were played that afternoon on KLIF. I'll start the set with those, the first one being a song conveying the innocence of the times…all of which was about to change later that afternoon...

Chiffons - I Have A Boyfriend
Tommy Roe – Everybody
Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs – Sugar Shack
Dale and Grace – I'm Leaving It Up To You
Little Peggy March – I Will Follow Him
Kyu Sakamoto – Sukiyaki
Beach Boys – Surfin USA

Segment #2/3 – Picking Through the Record Box/Soul Stew
Last year I tried to play this song,If You Want To Be Happy by Jimmy Soul Clark, which I have on cassette, and it didn't work. If I recall, it would have helped to check to see if the power button was actually on, instead of assuming it was turned on, which it wasn't. Now that we have our cassette deck back in the studio, I tried it again. Not only didn't it work again, but the tape got stuck in the machine for a moment or two. Sheesh. Well, if something doesn't work you move on to the next thing. Just like you do in life.

Bobby Vee – The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Caravelles – You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
Bobby Vinton – Blue On Blue
Ricky Nelson – Fools Rush In
Four Seasons – Candy Girl
Brenda Lee - Losing You (Followed glitch #2 - meant to play Still by Bill Anderson but the wrong track came up--I think I might have had the wrong disc!)
Impressions – It's All Right
Brenda Lee - My Whole World Is Falling Down (Another unplanned track--so this set became an extended record box set with a little soul thrown in. At that point I wondered if my whole show was falling down! But it turned out to be a pretty good song. Can't do too wrong with Brenda Lee, after all...)
Barbara Lewis – Hello Stranger
Shirelles – Foolish Little Girl

Segment #4 – New/current/non-oldie

There's a new CD out by someone who would have hits a couple of years later. B.J. Thomas has a new Brazilian style CD out called "Once I Loved". I played a track from it. It is as its title says...So Nice.

B.J. Thomas – So Nice
Amy Holland – Miracle River

Frequency to the Heart:

This coming week is Thanksgiving. A lot of us are in hard times these days, but there's always something to be thankful for. How about the people in your life you are thankful for? Has it been a while since you've contacted them? Now would be an excellent time to encourage them and tell them how much they've meant to you. Tell them that you're thankful they are in your life.

Here's a link to a good list of songs that were hits in 1963:

When I play this show back, I'll see how well I vamped through the glitches...