BAND OF THE MONTH – The Action

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of power pop. Allegedly, the term was coined by the Who’s Pete Townshend to describe the music that the band was playing in the pre-Tommy years. He said: “Power pop is what we play—what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ which I preferred.”  The genre was carried forward by bands such as Cleveland’s own Raspberries, Apple Records recording artists Badfinger and Big Star from Memphis to name a few. Power pop waxed and waned during the early to mid 1970’s but by the end of the decade and into the early 80’s, there were many active bands who fit that bill. Fortunately for us, one of the best was a trio out of the Akron suburb of Stow, Ohio called the Action.

The Action was charged by the songwriting of guitarist/vocalist Michael Purkhiser who along with bassist/vocalist Brett Warren and drummer Brian Shearer (replaced later by Cliff Bryant) cut their teeth playing 60’s style, Beatles influenced rock with a new wave edge in clubs around NE Ohio.  The band released three singles between 1978 and 1982 on their own Radiogram Records.  All three singles are incredibly rare but fondly remembered today not only in the Cleveland, Akron and Kent metro area but by connoisseurs of power pop throughout the world.  Like a number of bands from NE Ohio at that time, the Action ventured to New York City for gigs at Harrah’s and CBGB but even though approached by the suits, nothing developed for them.  While the Action retained a strong fan base at home, by the mid 1980’s the band had run its course.

Michael Purkhiser moved on to play in rockabilly legends, the Walking Clampetts from 1985 to 1990.  In late 1997, he teamed up with our favorite Rock ‘N Roll Mercenary, Marky Ray and formed 3D, another vehicle for Purkhiser’s tight and introspective songwriting.  3D released one EP, Universal Conquest in 1998 and left enough material for at least one additional album when that band broke up, some of which I will feature on a podcast with Marky Ray in the not so distant future.  Michael Purkhiser currently lives on the West Coast.

Go here to listen to all three singles from the Action.

Go here to see a video from 1981 of the Action performing the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action” at the Rathskeller in Kent.

Ladies and Gentlemen…… The Adults

NOTE: Album titles below link to my YouTube page where you can listen to the music discussed in this article. Great music deserves to be heard.

It started with a challenge to Cleveland rock legend, Raven Slaughter. Aspiring guitarist, Paul Michael recounted to Deanna Adams:

“I saw Raven Slaughter at this annual outdoor summer music festival in Lodi. I remember thinking as I watched them, ‘Man, they need another guitar player’ because there was just three of them at the time. I went up to Raven after the show and told him as much. He asked me if I had anyone in mind and I said, ‘I play guitar.’ He asked, ‘Well, how good are you?’ I said, ‘I’m better than you’ which of course was crazy. But I ended up in the band.” (1)

Michael stayed with Raven Slaughter for about a year and then left in late 1979 to form his own band, eventually settling on his former Raven Slaughter band mate, Robb Harpy on drums, Michael’s girlfriend, Crystal Gray on bass and Marianne Schiebli on saxophone and they christened themselves The Adults. The band’s originals were a mix of tight knit, funky rock, jazz and pop sounds, not quite punk, not quite new wave but totally unique and accessible.

The Adults played with several classic 1980’s classic Northeast Ohio bands including the Generators, the Pony Boys, Lucky Pierre, Wild Giraffes, the Action and Hammer Damage to name a few as well as played gigs outside of their home area. Trips to Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Erie and Buffalo were necessary for an all-original band to financially survive. By 1983 the band was ready to record and through the generosity of a fan who financed it, the Adults recorded Ladies and Gentlemen…the Adults. Released in 1984, one track “Junk Funk” featured the guitar work of Adrian Belew, guitarist with the Bears and King Crimson after Belew and his friend, record producer Gary Platt, caught an Adults show at the Jockey Club in Covington, Kentucky while the band ws recording the album across the Ohio River at the Fifth Floor in Cincinnati.

The 1200 copies of Ladies and Gentlemen sold out. The Adults placed cuts on two Play Records compilations: 1985’s Exhibit A with “Stupid in Love” and 1988’s Exhibit C with “Yes I Do” (a new song that did not appear on their album) and the band continued to play their regular clubs and write new songs. But something was happening to the club scene at the end of the 1980’s. As Paul Michael related to Deanna Adams:

“There came a whole new generation with the mosh pits where they all get in a circle and basically hurt each other. And I had no interest in playing before an audience that expected me to spit water at them and such. That’s not why I write music. I want to see people dance and have fun so I decided to continue but on my own terms.” (2)

Marianne Schiebli left the band in 1985 and you can currently find her playing sax in the Rainy Day Saints. Robb Harpy drifted in and out until 1988 and Crystal Gray called in quits in 1995. Michael remained true to his vision, adding former Serious Nature drummer Tim Caskey, sax player/keyboardist David Guthrie and bassist Brian Dossa. This version of the Adults headed to Nashville in 1996 to record the band’s second album. Playing A Kids Game. Even with the push of a new album, albeit 12 years after their debut and a short return to the road, the Adults called it quits in 1997.

In 2002, Michael, Gray and Schiebli reunited with a fill-in drummer and second horn player for a short set during Edgarfest, the tribute to the late Wild Giraffes guitarist Edgar Reynolds. This marked, I believe, the final appearance of the Adults. The Adults were one of the bands I missed out on so I was fortunate that Jim Benson has a copy of Ladies and Gentlemen in his archives. I loved the songs so much, I went out and found a copy for myself and the first song I played on the very first Listen Project podcast was “Let’s Go,” the track that kicks off Ladies and Gentlemen (very appropriate I thought). The real legacy of the Adults is in their live performances and anyone I’ve ever talked to who saw the band live says the Adults gave it all and held nothing back. Fortunately, a 1981 live show at Kent State University capturing the band in its infancy is posted at YouTube and is well worth checking out.

I recently learned that there are tapes of several Adults live shows out there and I passed the information on to second line-up member Tim Caskey who has become the keeper of all things Adults. Hopefully, the material will see the light of day soon. Paul Michael has been suffering some health issues recently. Tim has told Paul about the Listen Project so in the chance that Paul sees this post, please leave him a message in the comments.

(1)(2) Adams, D. R. (2002). Rock n roll and the Cleveland connection. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press.

April 2020 Podcast – Seven Inch Special (S2, E5)

It’s April 7, 2020.  We’re still staying at home, sheltering in place and practicing social distancing but to keep your spirits up and to bring you entertainment, the Listen Project is here with another podcast featuring the music that made NE Ohio such a vibrant scene from 1975 to the early 21st century.  For this episode, we are returning to that classic music format, the 7” single.  All of the tracks today are either the ‘A’ side or ‘B’ side of an artist or band’s 7” release.  The earliest single you will hear is from 1977 with the cap year being 1986 which was an incredibly fertile time period.

“Mama Sez” – Love Affair (1980)

“Statutory Sue” – American Noise (1982)

“I Don’t Need It” – Crash Coffin & Cuyahoga Sludge (1980)

“Everything’s OK” – Fayrewether (1981)

“Shirley” – Mirrors (1977)

“Things Fall Apart” – The Generators (1980)

“Trouble” – Monitors (1981)

“Dreams Don’t Last” – Wild Giraffes (1977)

“Modern Dance” – Pere Ubu (1977)

“R U Talking To Me” – The Rubburheads (1982)

“Another Word For Love” – Separate Checks (1986)

“Sign Of The Time” – Strictly Physical (1983)

“Rock N Roll Planet” – Times (1979)

“Your Daddy’s Home” – Moonlight Drive (1982)

“Put-in-Bay” – Lipstick (1985)

“Too Much Traffic” – Don Kriss (1977)

“I Know Where I’m Comin’ From” – Raven Slaughter (1979)

“Get Back To Me” – The Action (1978)

“There’s No Surf In Cleveland” – Euclid Beach Band (1978)

 

March 2020 BONUS Podcast #2 (S2, E4)

I’m serving up yet another bonus podcast for all of you who are shut in and actively fighting the good fight against the spread of COVID-19.  I’m opening the vaults of the Jim Benson NE Ohio music collection as well as my own personal collection and focusing on the years 1988 to 1993 when I was personally involved in the Cleveland music scene as the guitarist & chief songwriter for North by Northwest.  Today’s selections feature some of my favorite bands and artists from that era. 

Set List

“Tell Me Why” – Atomic Cafe
From a 1988 unreleased demo cassette

“Run Away” – Gypsy Moths
From the 1989 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD Another Listen Is In Order

“Lesstime” – The Waynes
From their 1990 self-released cassette EP East Coast Slo

“The Mission” – In Fear of Roses
From the 1989 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD Another Listen Is In Order

“Prisoner of Cheese” – Big Hunk O Cheese
From the 1992 Jack Records CD Big Hunk O Cheese

“Tripping Over Clouds” – Nick Riff
From the 1989 Delerium Records cassette EP From the Heart of Oblivion

“Anxiety” – Indian Rope Burn
From the 1992 GGE Records cassette EP Anxiety

“Kitchen Floor” – The 14th Floor
From the 1992 Synthetic Records CD Circus Saints & Sinners

“Like A Wrecking Ball” – The French Lenards
From the 1990 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD Clearing the Air

“The Apathist” – Jericho Turnpike
From their 1989 self-released cassette EP Spinning in Infinity

“Phil” – The Earl Rays
From the 1990 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD Clearing the Air

“Barbed Wire” – The Outcasts
From the 1992 Cleveland Music Group compilation CD CMG CDs 1 & 2

“Be Wanna Be” – Medicine Men
From their 1992 self-released cassette EP Grandma’s Medicine

“Tierra Say Mantra” – Rotary Ten
From their 1991 self-released cassette EP The Coffee Sessions

“Ed McMahon Says” – Terrible Parade
From the 1990 Presto Records 7 inch single b/w “Telephone Man”

“Fear and Tenderness” – The Chimes
From the 1988 Synthetic Records/Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD From the Eerie Shore

“If Our Two Worlds Collide” – Hot Tin Roof
From the 1991 Barbed Wire Recordings CD Junk & Desire

“Turnin’ Brown” – Max Crucial & The Krushers
From the 1990 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation CD The Killer Blow

“Strawberry Girl” – Beatnik Termites
From the 1990 St. Valentine Records EP Beatnik Termites

“Silences” – The Walk-Ins
From the 1990 Good Weather Records EP The Fifth Season

“If” – Owen Boogey Trio
From the 1990 Sound of the Sea Records compilation CD They Showered Us With Beads and Flowers

“Circular Road” – Odd Girl Out
From the 1990 Sound of the Sea Records compilation CD They Showered Us With Beads and Flowers

“Nine Reasons Why” – The Dandelion People
From their 1990 self-released cassette EP The Dandelion People

“Clean and Simple” – Jehova Waitresses
From the 1992 Sound of the Sea Records CD Shake Your Buddha

 

 

March 2020 BONUS Podcast (S2, E3)

My regular job is as a first responder, so during the COVID-19 pandemic, my life now consists of hours at work and then some time at home to eat, sleep and try to relax before the process repeats. I’m not complaining – I love my job and in these uncertain times, anything I can do to lessen the anxiety in the community, I embrace. One of the things I’ve found myself doing to relax during these strange days is listening to even more NE Ohio music so why not draft a few play lists and podcast a little more often than monthly? So to keep me focused and occasionally distracted, it’s bonus time for you!

No theme, I’m just offering some of my favorite tunes including new or fairly recent material from the Lowlies, the Outsiders, Signal 30, the Bounty and Skydragster. Oh, and a set featuring Columbus rockers who liked hanging out in Cleveland frequently and often. Oh, and if you haven’t already, you need to listen to Season 2, Episode 2 last week for my interview with Wild Giraffes drummer/Beat Farm and Herb Jackson Records co-owner, Alan McGinty. Sit back, put you earbuds on and “Listen.”

Set List

“Let’s Get the Show On the Road” – Michael Stanley
From the 1973 LP Friends and Legends

“She” – The Lowlies
From the 2019 album A Rough One

“Rushmore” – Robin Stone
From the 2003 album Rushmore

“Another Place” – Azure Blue
From the 1995 CMG compilation Rust Belt Eruptions

“You and Me” – The Outsiders
From the 2020 album In Time

“Then She Turns Away” – Rainy Days Saints
1990 7-inch single (A side)

“Everything’s Better” – Skydragster
From the 2019 album Skdragster and the Hit Song Writing Machine

“Over and Away She Goes” – Bill Fox
From the 1998 album Shelter From the Smoke

“The Big Drain” – Train Wreck Therapy
From the 1995 CMG compilation Rust Belt Eruptions

“Right Through Me” – Signal 30
From the 2017 album A Series of Disappointments

“Stetsons” – Lucky Pierre
1981 7-inch single (A Side)

“Nothing Sounds Good” – Son of Slam
From the 1996 album Son of Slam

“One Last Wish” – The Toll
From the 1991 album Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones

“Isabella” – King of Iowa
From the 1993 EP King of Iowa

“These Things Take Time” – The Bounty
From the 2019 album Everybody Loves A Second Chance

“Black Cloud” – The Epicureans
1992 7-inch single (A Side)

“White Light” – Ronald Koal Band
From the 1990 album White Light

“Res-Q Me” – Serious Nature
1987 7-inch single (A Side)

“Love Letters” – Tom Jares
Undated demo

“All I Can Do” – Cactus 12
From the 2005 album Stay

“Happy Hour” – Max Wheel & The Sheades
From the 1986 EP 1st EP

“Left Out” – Quazi Modo
From the 1996 album Ten to Midnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2020 Podcast – Sticking Their Necks Out For Rock Redux: The Alan McGinty Interview (S2, E2)

DROPPING THE PODCAST A FEW DAYS EARLY TO HELP YOU COPE WITH YOUR COVID-19 CONFINEMENT. BE SAFE AND BE WELL

Who would’ve ever guessed that one of my blog posts from last year would lead to bigger things? Certainly not me but much to my surprise, Wild Giraffes drummer, Alan McGinty emailed me at the end of last year to introduce himself, thank me for my efforts with the Listen Project and to let me know that he would be releasing new Wild Giraffes material in Spring 2020. Of course, being a local music opportunist archivist and general Wild Giraffes fan, I knew I wanted the exclusive on the new stuff for the podcast but the wheels in my mind, as rusty as they are, started turning. Not only was Alan a founding member of the Wild Giraffes, he co-founded the legendary Beat Farm recording studios located in Willoughby and Herb Jackson Records along with original WG’s bassist, Chris Burgess after Alan left the band circa 1983. A number of NE Ohio bands like the Mice, In Fear of Roses, Starvation Army, and Prisonshake recorded at the studio and/or released music on the label. I reached out to Alan to see if he was interested in participating in a phone interview and programming the music for the podcast. Happily for me, he was.

So this month, we journey through the career of the Wild Giraffes, one of the most well-beloved and well-remembered bands from the late 1970’s/early 1980’s Cleveland music scene with Alan McGinty. We also hear music recorded at the Beat Farm or released on Herb Jackson Records as chosen by Alan. Finally, we debut two new tracks from the forthcoming new Wild Giraffes LP Live at the Cleveland Agora. As the Wild Giraffes say, PLAY IT LOUD!

At the Beat Farm – the Outcasts finally drove Al insane! – Photo courtesy of Don Owens

“New Era” – Wild Giraffes (1978)
First 7″ Single – A side

“Right Now” – Wild Giraffes (1981)
From the album Right Now

“Knock Knock” – Wild Giraffes (1981)
Fourth and final 7″ Single – B Side

“Burnin’ Love” – Wild Giraffes (1981)
From the album Right Now & also featured on the re-released WMMS Buzzard Records Pride of Cleveland compilation

“Rosenberg Summer” – Death of Samantha (1989)
From the album Come All Ye Faithless on Homestead Records
Co-Produced by Alan McGinty

“Empty Places” – The Silence (1985)
From the 12″ self-titled EP
Produced by Alan McGinty and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR 4705

“I’m A Saint” – Starvation Army (1988)
From the 12″ EP Ticket to Oblivion
Recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm

“Fairfield Avenue Serenade” – Prisonshake (1987)
From the 7″ EP Fairfield Avenue Serenade
Recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR 4710

“I Don’t Know About You” & “We’ll Never Know” – Wild Giraffes (2020)
From the forthcoming album Live at the Cleveland Agora

“Downtown” The Mice (1985)
From the 12″ EP For Almost Ever
Recorded at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR-4707

Space Rock “85 – Venus Envy (1985)
From the 12″ EP Space Rock “85”
‘B’ Side recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR 4706

“Chain Reaction” – The Attitude (1985)
From the 12″ EP Time Stands Still
Produced & Recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR4708

“Bad Cattle” – New Salem Witch Hunters (1986)
From the self-titled album
Recorded at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR-4709

“Red Light Stop” – The Holy Cows (1988)
From the album We’ve Never Heard of You Either
Produced & Recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR4713

“Big Lightning” – In Fear of Roses (1988)
From the album Beat the Drum
Produced & Recorded by Alan McGinty at the Beat Farm and released on Herb Jackson Records HJR 4716

“Love Me” – Wild Giraffes (1978)
Second 7″ single titled Ensembles & Majorettes – A Side

“Good Times” – Wild Giraffes (1981)
From the album Right Now

“Move It On Over” Wild Giraffes (1981)
From the album Right Now

February 2020 Podcast – Live Without A Net (S2, E1)

This month, our focus is on music recorded live in front of an audience.  As a musician myself, while I love listening to music from an album, I love performing in front of a live audience and watching how a song connects with the collective.  I’ve chosen 21 live tracks, some never released for your listening enjoyment.

Set List
“Strike Up the Band” – Jonah Koslen & the Heroes
From the 2017 release 
Live at the Agora
Recorded on November 9, 1983 at the Cleveland Agora, Cleveland, OH (WMMS Coffee Break Concert) 

“Match” – Lucky Pierre
From the 2009 compilation Lucky Pierre
Recorded at the Cleveland Agora, Cleveland, OH

“Fishin’ In the Mountains” – The Twist-Offs
From the album 1994 Live in Ohio
Recorded on November 23-24, 1993 at Peabody’s Down Under, Cleveland, OH

“Ode to Susie and Joey” – Beatnik Termites
From the 1997 album Live at the Orifice

“The Rain Came Down” – The Walk-Ins
Unreleased live track from 1990
Recorded at the Empire Concert Club, Cleveland, OH (Cleveland Music Group benefit)

“Rebecca” – North by Northwest
From the 1992 limited release Live at Baldwin-Wallace College
Recorded on May 27, 1992 at the Student Activities Center, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, OH

“It’s as Close As It Gets” – The Fifth Wheel
From the album It’s As Live As It Gets
Recorded at Cavanaugh’s in October 1994

“Heart of Darkness” – Hot Tin Roof
From the 1990 EP Alive
Recorded at the Phantasy Nite Club

“Final Solution” – Rocket from the Tombs
From the 2002 album The Day the Earth Met Rocket from the Tombs
Recorded at the Piccadilly Inn, July 24, 1975 (Peter Laughner on vocals)

“We’re Glad We Are What We Are” – Les Black’s Amazing Pink Holes
From the 2000 album of the same name
Recorded at the Lakefront, December 31, 1983

“These Days” – The Generators
From the 2017 album Straight Outta (80’s) Cleveland:  The Best of the Generators
Unknown when or where recorded

“I Can Wait” – The Dark
From the 2006 album Scream Until We Die
Recorded at the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh on February 11, 1984

“Funky Poodle” – Wild Horses
From the 1990 WMMS compilation The Pride of Cleveland
Recorded at the Cleveland Agora, Cleveland, OH (Coffee Break Concert)

“Farewell to Mr. S.” – Tye Dye Harvest
From the 2016 album Tye Dye Harvest (25th Anniversary Edition)
Recorded at Easy Street Café, Bowling Green, OH on March 13, 1993

“Never Existed” – Gypsy Moths
Unreleased live track from a 1989 live performance at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH & broadcast on WRUW

“Chances Are She Won’t Remember” – Max Crucial & The Krushers
Unreleased live track from a 1988 performance at the Phantasy Nite Club, Lakewood, OH

“Thank You for This Day” – Third Wish
From the 1998 live album Third Wish
Recorded October 11, 1997 at the Odeon Concert Club, Cleveland

“Laughing at Harpo” – Oroboros
From the 1994 album Psycha-Deli: Live at the Euclid Tavern
Recorded at the Euclid Tavern, Cleveland, OH

“Did You Rock ‘Em” – Joe Bell & The Swing Lizards
From the 2000 album Slither
Recorded at the Savannah

“Green Hand” – Odd Girl Out
From the 1993 album Live in Concert
Recorded October 1-2, 1993 at the Shore Cultural Center, Euclid, OH

“Last Man Out” – Easy Street Band
Recorded in September 1982 at the Cleveland Agora, Cleveland, OH (WMMS Coffee Break Concert) 

January 2020 Podcast (S1 E12)

Lots of great music to kick off a brand new year.  Enjoy!

Setlist

“Blue Venus Aflame” – Children’s Crusade
From the 7” Scorpio Moon (1985)

7_03_46_scan19137152

“For Eternity” – Beyond Blue
From the Cleveland Music Group compilation Northern Exposure (1993)

Northern Exposure

“Strangeland County” – Spike in Vain
From the They Pelted Us with Rocks and Garbage compilation (1985)

 

“3D” – Jericho Turnpike
From the album Big Red Dumpster (1995)

Jericho Turnpike Big Red Dumpster

“She Goes Down to the Lake at Night” – Three-Legged Poets
From the Another Listen is in Order compilation (1989)

Another Listen Is In Order

“541” – Jay Bentoff
From the Clearing the Air compilation (1991)

Clearing the Air

“Dance Music” – Times
From the EP Dance Music (1983)

Times 01

“Broken Glass” – The Akt
From the Exhibit C compilation (1988)

Exhibit C

“Truth” – Face Value
From the album Choices (1995)

The Reactions

 

“Open Book Song” – The Waynes
From the Sound of the Sea compilation They Showered Us with Beads & Flowers (1991)

They Showered Us With Beads and Flowers Front

 

“Looking Up” – The Epicureans
From the album Little Man (1994)

9_13_19_scan211138473

“Your Time Will Come” – The Sittin’ Ducks
From the album The Sittin’ Ducks (1998)

10_39_17_scan10241297

“You’re Brain’s Too Late” – The Fingers
From the 7” single “Circle X” b/w “You’re Brain’s Too Late” (1980)

6_53_36_scan185148207

“The Mess I’m In” – Jeff Varga Band
From the 7” single “Something’s Just Told Me” b/w “The Mess I’m In” (1987)

DocFile (3)

“DNA” – Rasch
From the Cleveland Music Group compilation Rust Belt Eruptions (1995)

DocFile (4)

 

What It’s Like – The Adults
From the album Playing a Kid’s Game (1986)

DocFile (1)

Off the Wagon (And Back in the Saddle) – The Cowslingers
From the album Off the Wagon (And Back in the Saddle) (1994)

R-3558696-1446306228-8963.jpeg

Parma Girls – Whipping Boys
From the WMMS compilation Northcoast Buzard Tracks, Vol. 1 (1991)

Northcoast Buzzard Tracks Vol 1

When the Night Falls – Boy Wonder
From the EP Boy Wonder (1982)

Boy Wonder 01

Love Tries – The Easy Street Band
From the EP The Easy Street Band (1982)

ESB 01

 

December 2019 Podcast – Co-Hosted by Jim Benson (S1 E11)

When it comes to the success of the Listen Project (and success is surly a subjective concept here), there is no way that I would have been able to put together and present all of the music from our shared past without Jim Benson.  For over 20 years, Jim WAS the Local Artists Show on WBWC 88.3, Baldwin Wallace College’s (now University’s) radio station starting back when one needed to park a car in the student union parking lot next to the station so you could hear a show.  He hosted hundreds of artists and bands and managed to capture the full richness of the NE Ohio music scene for two hours each week.  Certainly, my band would not have received airplay without Jim’s belief that we had a good record and his willingness to play it.  Jim also was a contributor and co-host for Inner Sanctum, the Sunday night local music show on the old WENZ 107.9 “The End” when that station played great music.  He served three terms as President of the old Cleveland Music Group, a non-profit organization created in the late 1980’s to promote the NE Ohio music scene at events such as the College Music Journal’s Music Marathon in NYC, the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas and the Undercurrents event held here in Cleveland for a number of years in the 1990’s. Jim also managed Youngstown, Ohio’s Ivet bringing that band to the verge of a major record deal before the usual rock and roll “influences” caused them to flame out.

Jim stepped away from the local music scene in the 2000’s but his love for NE Ohio music has never wavered.  I knew immediately when I started the Listen Project that I had to have Jim on-board.  His music archive is incredibly comprehensive and spans the period of time on which the Project focuses, and his encyclopedic mind has forgotten more about the local scene that probably any of us can really remember.  We’ve been in and out of contact over the years, but social media has allowed us to really stay in touch over the past decade which is surprising because the man doesn’t event have a cell phone and I’m pretty sure he hates the concept of digital music outside of the compact disc.

This month’s podcast is the podcast I really intended to do out of the gate.  It took some work to get Jim to agree to go back “on air” so to speak.  Originally, it was a solid, “No.  Too much work” so I decided to go outside of my normal comfort zone and press on.  I had a glimmer of hope when he accepted an invitation to help co-host a local music marathon on WBWC this past July 4th as part of the station’s annual summer marathon series.  Of course, I had to show up and see Jim back in those studios behind the mike where he belongs.  So I waited…in the weeds and asked him out of the blue in October to co-host my monthly podcast with me in December.  Jim picked the songs (including what would have been the first single on Ivet’s never released major label debut) and the playlist order. After a false start due to technical difficulties, we completed this podcast from the comfort of his kitchen.

My sincere hope is to get Jim to do three or four of these a year with me.  It really is fascinating to hear his take on the golden age of the NE Ohio scene.  I’d be nowhere without the access to his music collection that he’s given me.  I hope you enjoy what is the longest podcast the Listen Project has produced to date and if you want to hear Jim Benson more frequently, drop a comment below or at our Facebook page.

The Listen Project – December Podcast

“I’m A Rocker” – Raspberries (from Pop Art Live)
“Dance the Night Away” – Exotic Birds
“Just Got a New Guitar” – Ronald Koal & the Trillionaires
“Devil or Angel” – Nation of One
“Let’s Face the Music & Dance” – Pony Boys
“Metro Metro” – System 56
“Red Light” – Indian Rope Burn
“Wash Away” – The Jellybricks
“Winona” – Rotary Ten
“We’re One for the Show” – Anna Nausea
“Play the Game” – In Fear of Roses
“Supersonic” – Paranoid Lovesick
“My Backyard” – The Walk-Ins
“Pin Your Head to the Drywall” – Nation of Teflon Souls
“This Is Supposed to Be Fun” – Sosumi
“World on a String” – My Dad is Dead
“Big World” – Terrible Parade
“Sidewalk Paths” – Jehova Waitresses
“Bust Some Skulls” – Bluto’s Revenge
“Final Solution” – Pere Ubu
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – Euclid Beach Band
“Grindrod” – Ivet