Friday, June 15, 2007

Ric Harman & the Wrong Band Remembered

Wrong Band with Ric HarmanBack in the early years of the exploding Nashville rock scene, one of the greatest things about the ongoing local music revolution was that, unlike Seattle, Austin, or even Athens, the Music City scene was truly diverse. From the blu-reggae of Afrikan Dreamland and the rockin-dub of the White Animals to the punk country of Jason & the Scorchers and pop bands like the Practical Stylists, there were a lot of different sounds for the music lover to check out around town.

One of the most underrated of the bands on the scene during the early-80s was the Wrong Band. Fronted by the photogenic Ric Harman on bass and vocals and including Craig Powers and Mike Rosa on guitars, Dwayne "Dr. X" Rice on keyboards and Andy Martin on drums (later replaced by Jeff Danley), the Wrong Band had a solid seven-year run in the region. The band's edgy new-wavish song "I Live In My Car" was in constant rotation on WRVU-FM and they played shows across the Southeast.

Ric Harman passed away from lymphoma on June 5th at the young age of 52, his short bout with cancer evidently doing nothing to diminish his creative spirit and zest for life. Ric had accomplished a lot after the various members of the Wrong Band went their separate ways, even if much of it was outside my sphere of awareness. A native Nashvillian and the son of noted session drummer Buddy Harman, who had played with Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline and others, Ric moved to New York City after the band broke up.

During the eleven years that he lived in NYC, Ric pursued his passions for performing and the visual arts, becoming a mime and stage magician, and he did some acting both on stage and on TV. Ric toured the country with his own cooking show sponsored by Proctor & Gamble during the early-90s, and he made a name for himself as a professional photographer and graphic artist. He returned to Nashville a year or so ago and worked for Nashville's gay and lesbian newspaper Out & About as a photographer and columnist. Ric, in the guise of his alter-ego "Cosmo Shitay," wrote a regular column for Out & About that may well prove to be his lasting legacy.

The Wrong Band's Andy Martin had told me that he was organizing a band reunion with all of the original members, which would have been great. Listen to "I Live In My Car" or "Wrong Song" (mp3s below, courtesy of Allen Sullivant's Nashville 80s Rock site). I think that you'll agree that although the production may be dated, the songs themselves have a timeless presence and rock just as much today as they did in 1983. Sadly, the band reunion won't take place without Ric Harman, a talented man of many interests that left a lasting impression on the local Nashville rock scene.

(Thanks to Andy Martin for the info on Ric's life and times....)

Wrong Band "I Live In My Car"

Wrong Band "Wrong Song"

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nashville Rocks LaLa & WOXY!!!

I'd read a little about LaLa, this service that allows you to trade in CDs that you don't want for discs that you might want, at a minimal cost of $1.00 or something like that. Since I have a few promo discs laying around that I've reviewed and just don't have room on the shelves for, I figured that I'd check LaLa out and see if I could trade 'em in on the couple of new releases that I want but can't currently afford to buy.

After listing a half-dozen discs on the service, and quickly trading five of them (which gets you points to use against future trades), I decided to look around for a while. I looked up the discs that I wanted to try and score copies of and, sadly, nobody had copies to trade right now. I went ahead and placed them on my "want list," hoping that somebody will come up with a copy of the new Patti Smith covers album, but while digging through the site, which – with the addition of a digital download store – seems to be trying to be all things to all people, I ran across the WOXY sessions page.

Best I can tell, WOXY-FM was a "Modern Rock" radio station launched back in the early-80s in Oxford, Ohio. The station broadcast an alternative format, with an emphasis on indie rock, which earned WOXY all kinds of kudos from the likes of Spin and Rolling Stone. In the late-90s they began simulcasting programming on the Internet. When the station's ownership sold the broadcast license and assets to a Texas company in 2004, the idea was to take the station online full-time, and a group retained the "intellectual" assets (i.e. call letters, web site) and music library with this in mind. Lack of funds caused them to close up shop, but investors cropped up the day after they closed the doors and, in July 2004, WOXY-FM became WOXY.COM, the first terrestrial radio station to reinvent itself online.

Anyway, WOXY is hooked up in some sort of deal with LaLa, providing free mp3 podcast downloads of short-performances by a wealth of indie rock and Americana artists. Each session "in the lounge" runs 20-30 minutes in length and there are some pretty cool people who have dropped by the WOXY.COM studios to perform, including Frank Black, Gomez, Heartless Bastards and French Kicks.

Nashville's current rock scene is strongly represented, perhaps more so than any other city. Of the nearly 100 podcasts available on the site, eight or nine of them are by Nashville bands, some of 'em twice! If you want to get a good idea of what Nashville rock is all about these days, check out LaLa, click on the "discover" tab at the top of the page and scroll down to the bottom right corner where it says "Download free MP3s." Scrolling through the pages, you'll find sessions by the Features, the Hotpipes, De Novo Dahl, Forget Cassettes, the Carter Administration and Apollo Up! All of these are very cool Nashville bands and I've downloaded all of their sessions for frequent future listening. The Rev sez "check it out!"

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rock For Perry!

As many of you folks know, Perry Bags – Jason & the Scorchers' drummer and a mighty talented songwriter in his own right – is very sick. Perry has suffered from diabetes for years and has recently spent a heck of a lot of time in the hospital, undergoing dialysis and other not-so-much-fun stuff. Perry will need a kidney transplant, and that kind of surgical work doesn't come cheap. To this end, the Scorchers played a reunion show benefit last weekend to raise money to offset some of Perry's growing medical expenses.

From all accounts, the show rocked, and guests like former Scorchers Andy York and Ken Fox, Bruce Hilton from the band the Digbees, former Georgia Satellite Dan Baird and Dusters' axeman Ken McMahan all pitched in to help. Stace England, a great singer/songwriter from Illinois, came down to open for the Scorchers on Saturday night. On the previous night, Friday, Stacie Collins and her band, which included Scorchers six-string wizard Warner Hodges, kicked out the jams and rocked for Perry, along with Tommy Womack and the Bottle Rockets.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get back down to Nashville to catch either show, which was disappointing but financially unavoidable. I wanted to do something for Perry since I heard about his condition, but other than send a donation, I couldn't think of any other way to help – until I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM with what might be a brilliant idea!

My ROCK TALK book, which was published in 2004, includes interviews with Jason & Warner of the Scorchers, the band's manager Jack Emerson (shortly after he had launched E Squared Records with Steve Earle) and other musicians that might be of interest to Scorchers' fans, namely Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites, Webb Wilder, Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, the Cactus Brothers and Kevn Kinney of Drivin' N Cryin'. You'll find a full list in the ad to the right. Although it hasn't sold that many copies, I recently paid the fees associated with keeping this book in print, for some reason that was unknown at the time.

So here's the reason: all profits from the sale of copies of ROCK TALK through July 15th will be donated directly to Perry's medical support fund. If you buy the book directly from me for $11.00 (postage included) by using the PayPal link to your right, I'll autograph it for you and it will result in roughly a $5.00 donation to Perry's medical fund. If you'd rather buy a copy of the book through Amazon.com, you can click through on the cover picture above, but only around $2.00 will go to Perry after Amazon, the distributor and the printer take their cut. Either way, buy a copy of ROCK TALK and help Perry out!

Orders for the book must be placed by July 15th, and the next day I'll place the order with the printer; copies will be shipped out to everybody by the end of the month. Copies of ROCK TALK purchased through Amazon.com will be shipped by them on their schedule and will not be autographed.

I'm not going to take a dime off this project, and in the interest of transparency, I will post all of the financial information about the project on this site. I don't have much money to donate to Perry's cause, but I do have time that I can donate, so make me sign some books!

ROCK TALK is an 116-page paperback with black & white photos and 36 interviews.


Sample ROCK TALK interview: Webb Wilder [PDF]

Perry Baggs Medical Support Fund Info

Original Scorchers benefit show article on Associated Content

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