The WPRB radio signal stopped working early this afternoon so tonight’s show may be available only online at: http://wprb.com/.
I have invested heavily in tonight’s radio show – $1.29 so far – so I hope you can tune in. As you may have already heard elsewhere, today is Father’s Day so when the tune “Windy and Warm” floated into my head a few days ago, I thought it would be good to include a version tonight played by Doc Watson and son Merle. While I remember hearing them do it in concert, the several recorded versions I have turn out to all be by Doc solo. Fortunately, it seems that iTunes has a collection larger than mine, so now I have what I need (or at least want).
Tonight also is my final radio show until September so more than the usual dollop of obsessiveness may be expected. I hope you can listen with me and see if the investment pays off.
I will soon begin a summer recess from the radio as has been my wont since 1990 and leave the show in the capable hands of four people with overlapping but different tastes from mine. Here’s the schedule:
June 1 – Pete Labriola
June 8 – John Weingart
June 15 – John Weingart
June 22 – Pete Labriola with a trailer park-themed show growing from the Great American Trailer Park musical
June 29 – Andy Blue
July 6 – Frank Todd
July 13 – Frank Todd
July 20 – Bob Schremser
July 27 – Pete Labriola
August 3 – Pete Labriola
Aug 10 – Bob Schremser
August 17 – Frank Todd
August 24 – Pete Labriola’s 10th annual Hurricane Katrina-themed show
August 31 – Andy Blue’s annual Labor Day-themed show
September 7 – John Weingart’s annual return-flavored show
This Sunday’s show will feature live music and conversation with Bill Neely, Bill Bly and Liz Emmert in celebration of the new W.D. Neely album Ballads, Bromides and Broadsides and also include tunes from the new album by Peter Stampfel and The Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron, and no doubt other music too.
In weeks to follow, the show will take on different auras with Frank Todd hosting on May 25th, a DJ-to-be-named later on June 1st and me on June 8th and June 15th. After that, I will be away from the radio for the summer with a range of DJs including the aforementioned - both Frank Todd and DJ-to-be-named-later – from June 22-Labor Day. My plan is to return on Sunday September 7th.
NEW JERSEY FOLK FESTIVAL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Music You Can’t Hear On The Radio
April 26, 2014
The winner of the New Jersey Folk Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014 is John Weingart. This award is granted by the Festival annually to “people who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of folk music in New Jersey”.
We wish to recognize Weingart’s nearly forty years of producing the radio show “Music You Can’t Hear on The Radio,” heard on Sunday nights from 7:00 to 10:00 pm on both WPRB 103.3 FM and WPRB.com. The core of what makes John Weingart’s folk music radio show unique may be that his love for folk music and his love for radio evolved simultaneously. As a result, his goal every Sunday night is both to play music he thinks wonderful and to create great radio. That means forming surprising and fascinating groupings of songs and never leaving his sense of humor or his historical and civic consciousness too far beneath the surface.
Discovering folk music at summer camp (Killooleet in Hancock, Vermont) and later searching the FM dial for the occasional Pete Seeger segment as he was growing up in New York City in the early 1960s, he found WKCR and other college stations, WNYC and WBAI, and he knew he wanted to do what those DJs did. Particular heroes were Steve Post, Larry Josephson and Bob Fass on WBAI and Peter Wernick on WKCR. He had his own first show when he was in college at Brandeis University in Massachusetts from 1966-1970.
Coming to Princeton in 1973 for public affairs graduate school, once again he sought out the campus station. He was given a Monday morning slot from 6:00-9:00 am and then moved up to a two-hour Sunday night show until he completed his degree in 1975. John ended up working for the Department of Environmental Protection in Trenton. The following February, when he learned Paul Robeson had passed away, he contacted the station to ask if he could come in and do a tribute. That led to his being offered a regular Sunday night slot for that school year. That was almost 40 years ago and John is still there most Sunday nights from 7:00-10:00 pm.The show is a part of his life in subtle ways that only some listeners notice. Without explanation, he has devoted programs to his wife just before they were married, to his daughter when she was born, to his mother when she died and to his father on what would have been his 100th birthday. The night before he announced he was leaving the NJ Department of Environmental Protection after working there for 19 years, he closed his show with “Take This Job and Shove It.”
WPRB, like many college stations, had devoted part of its Sunday schedule to folk music for many years before he got there. As a result, with the Sunday night slot he inherited a name – The Folk Thing – he knew he wanted to change. The superficially contradictory name he chose came to him after a listener complained that he was wasting some of the precious time allotted for folk music by including things like comedy routines and songs by satirist Tom Lehrer and the rock group The Youngbloods.
Even though his soul has always been and remains deeply rooted in folk music, John realized that he wanted a name that did not limit what he could include in the show. Trying to define his interests, he concluded it was mostly music you couldn’t otherwise hear on the radio. Among his favorite comments about the show are, from a newspaper review, “Each show makes sets out of songs that are somehow related to one another, drawing connections where none existed before” and, from an internet listener in Colorado, is “the best radio show in the universe.”
I’ll be back this Sunday with music new and old, and guests to describe this year’s NJ Folk Festival on the Eagleton Institute Lawn at Rutgers in New Brunswick on April 26th.
Hosting the show this month will be:
April 6 – Frank Todd
April 13 – Pete Labriola
April 20 – me
April 27 – me
With the question of whether New Jersey needs a state song back in the news (see today’s Star-Ledger Perspective Section, page 1, I am reprinting below my thoughts on the subject which have not changed in the 12 years since this appeared in the New Jersey Section of The New York Times:
Harmony for an Official State Song:
A Proposal for Rotation, Marketing and Term Limits
by John Weingart
The New York Times, New Jersey Section, Op Ed page
November 24, 2002
NEW JERSEY likes to talk about a state song but doesn’t seem to really want to choose one (“Oh, Say, Can We Get an Official State Song,” Nov. 17).
The deliberations over the last 40 years, dominated by Red Mascara’s crusade on behalf of his song “I’m From New Jersey,” represent a New Jersey problem that can be solved. Let’s create a process to select a state song but limit the designation to a specified term. Every five years, the New Jersey Council on the Arts could sponsor a competition and make a selection. The winner would receive publicity, honor and a stipend of, say, $10,000. The council could also choose a dozen additional entries and include them with the winner on a CD that could be sold around the state and distributed more widely through the internet.
There are already many good songs about the state, but the competition and resulting recording would encourage more writing while also helping to bring the better songs and musicians to the attention of wider audiences. The CD, of course, would also help promote New Jersey and perhaps even earn enough money to provide a small return to both the state and the songwriters.
Having the responsibility to choose enough songs for the CD would also enable the Arts Council to honor songs that, for example, portray one part of the state but may not seem an appropriate representation of the state as a whole. Candidates might include some great older songs like “The Long Branch Branch of the Red Bank Bank,” “I Found a Peach in OrangeNew Jersey in Apple Blossom Time” or “Paddling on the Rahway.”
It’s fun to talk about a state song, but who wants to risk being stuck for all time with a clunker? Moreover, what music fans can say their favorite song about any topic is never going to change? Maybe it would have been fitting for “Born to Run” to have been New Jersey’s anthem in the early 1980′s (when a bill to that end was introduced in the Legislature), but 20 years later it’s hard to remember why.
This year, my nominee would be “The Garden State Stomp,” a song whose only words are the names of 80 New Jersey towns, from Allamuchy and Piscataway to EggHarbor and Double Trouble. The words are amusing and arguably educational to hear, and a term as the New Jersey State Song would be a nice tribute to the song’s writer, Dave Van Ronk, the folk and blues musician, who died in February. The song might be appropriate for a five-year term but would be an unacceptable choice for the hundreds of towns not mentioned if we continue to try to agree on only one song to represent the entire state forever.
The trouble with our periodic bursts of interest in this subject now is that they fall under a cloud of failure. Selecting a term-limited state song would enable New Jersey to turn our past hesitancy into virtue. Twice a decade we could have a statewide, spirited, light-hearted discussion about the song candidates knowing that a winner would be chosen and that, no matter how disagreeable or even embarrassing some might consider the selection, the next one might be more to our liking.
This proposal should be considered by the Legislature early in the new year as members prepare to complete a record of accomplishment from which they can run for re-election in November. While a number of bills on the subject have already been introduced as they have been every year for decades, a new bill should be prepared that establishes that every five years the Arts Council will select a new New Jersey State Song.
I suggest that the bill stipulate that the first state song, for a term of three years, be “I’m From New Jersey” to reward Red Mascara at least for his persistence and his name if not for the song itself. The three-year designation would give Mr. Mascara at age 80 the recognition he has long sought while also giving the Arts Council ample time to design a good process for the subsequent competitions. The law should state that while a new song will be selected every five years, the previous winners gain emeritus status and are forever after considered “one of New Jersey’s official state songs.” The songwriters, including Mr. Mascara, will thus be protected and able to enjoy whatever limited career boost and immortality their creation engenders.
By taking action now, legislators will be able to claim credit for solving a minute but seemingly intractable problem. As an added benefit, those who believe that term limits for officeholders diminish the competence and capabilities of legislative bodies will be able to claim that they nevertheless do support such limits when they make sense.
I hope you can come to the concert Ginny Reilly & David Maloney will be giving at the Prallsville Mill on Saturday April 5th. For tickets, go to the Prallsville Mill Concert section of this website.
Reilly & Maloney have a vibrancy and warmth that envelopes folks hearing them for the first time as well as longtime fans. They have sung together for more than 40 years and their fine voices and magnificent harmonies remain stunning as does their choice of material. They mix a few well-known songs with great ones they have written along with others from mostly little-known songwriters. Their popularity has always been centered on their native west coast and this may be their final east coast tour. Like their previous shows at the Mill, this one should be magical and memorable.