Monday, June 8, 2015

June 6th, 2015 - JS - Spotlight on The Banjo!

Rockin' Remnants

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Date:  6/6/15
Host:  John Simon
Feature:  Spotlight On The Banjo!

Coming up from 6-9....JS features Rock 'n' Roll Banjo tunes. Big hits, b-sides, songs you may have never picked apart before - a little bit o' twang goes a long, long way! 93.5 FM or streaming at Cheap date night on your radio!

Continuing with the occasional spotlight of a certain instrument or element of music from the Rockin' Remnants era (Saxophones! One-Hit Wonders! Follow-Up Flops!), we focus on the banjo this evening. It was really difficult to find R&B or Soul tunes with prominent banjo textures, but we've got Folk and Country and Classic Rock tunes that just may catch you by surprise - plus a whole slew of listener suggestions. Can you think of any we may have missed? Weigh in  -  and thanks for stopping by!


Birthday Calendar

May 31 - Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) - age 77

June 1 - Ron Wood (Faces, Rolling Stones - age 68

June 2 - Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones) - age 74

June 3 - Curtis Mayfield (Impressions) - born in 1942
            – Michael Clarke (Byrds, Firefall) - born in 1944

June 4 - Michelle Philips (Mamas & Papas) - age 71
            - Gordon Waller (Peter & Gordon) - born in 1945

June 6 - Levi Stubbs (Four Tops) - born in 1936
            - Gary "U.S." Bonds - age 78

Rock ‘n’ Roll Trivia

Two "Record Of The Year" Grammy Award winners prominently featured the banjo. One of them broke The Beatles' stranglehold on the #1 position (after 14 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard chart) in 1964. What record was it? Hint: the singer played the trumpet.

(scroll down to find the answer below the playlist)


[songs in bold are from the spotlight date of DATE; yellow song titles are YouTube links; songs with * were requests; all chart information comes from the Billboard Top 100 (for chart dates before/during July 1958) or Billboard Hot 100 (for chart dates during/after Aug 1958) unless otherwise noted]


OPENING THEME:  Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll – Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys, feat. Charlie Chin (1969, #29, produced by Jimi Hendrix)

Image result for cat mother and the all night newsboys old time rock and roll polydor 45Image result for cat mother and the all night newsboys old time rock and roll polydor 45

A Worried Man - Kingston Trio (9/59; #20 - the biggest name in the late-'50s "Folk revival" was Capitol Records' Kingston Trio. We open the banjo show with this bouncy ditty that opens with not one, but two banjos! Let the games begin....)

Buy For Me The Rain - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (4/67; #45 - this group will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year. This was one of their earliest recordings, featuring the banjo picking of John McEuen  -  who replaced Jackson Browne in the band!)

Sweet City Woman - Stampeders (8/71; #8 - this trio reached #1 in their native Canada. Banjo played by group leader Rich Dodson - check out his cool rig in this video.)

Image result for the stampeders - sweet city womanImage result for the stampeders - sweet city woman

Take It Easy - Eagles (6/72; #12 - their debut single was co-written by band member Glen Frey and Jackson Browne. The banjo part was played by band member Bernie Leadon.)

Dueling Banjos - Eric Weissberg (1/73; #2 for four weeks! - From the movie Deliverance, this featured Steve Mandell on guitar, but the banjo is the star of the show.)

Image result for dueling banjos eric weissberg 45Image result for dueling banjos eric weissberg 45

Don't Cross The River - America (1/73; #35 - the second single from their Homecoming LP featured Henry Diltz of the Modern Folk Quartet on banjo.)

* Bluebird - Buffalo Springfield (7/67; #58 - this is a driving rock tune for the first 4 minutes, but the final fifty seconds turns into a banjo fest. The banjo was played by Charlie Chin, of Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys.)

Image result for buffalo springfield - bluebirdImage result for buffalo springfield - bluebird

* Washington Square - Village Stompers (9/63; #2 - this one was suggested by two listeners  -  good call!)

* Stop Stop Stop - The Hollies (10/66; #7 - band member Tony Hicks traded in his guitar for a banjo run through an electronic processor.)

Say You Love Me - Fleetwood Mac (7/76; #11 - from their hugely successful eponymous LP, the single version featured multiple guitar overdubs  -  and banjo  -  played by Lindsey Buckingham.)

* Gentle On My Mind - John Hartford (5/67; #60 C&W - Glen Campbell heard this record on the radio and decided to include it on his album. He enlisted John Hartford to play the banjo on his recording, and went on to adopt it as the theme music for his "Good-Time Comedy Hour." Here's a rare clip of the two of them in performance from 1968. Enjoy!)

Image result for gentle on my mind john hartford 45Image result for gentle on my mind john hartford 45

I Guess the Lord Must Be In New York City - Nilsson (11/69; #34 - several songs were submitted for consideration to be included in Midnight Cowboy  -  including Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay. This one was submitted too late for inclusion, and would later be re-released as a single attributed to "Joe Buck," Jon Voigt's character in the film.)

I Am a Pilgrim - The Byrds (10/68; dnc - Roger McGuinn traded in his 12-string for a Rickenbacher banjo on this b-side of their non-charting Pretty Boy Floyd single.)

Image result for i am a pilgrim byrds 45Image result for i am a pilgrim byrds 45

DW Washburn - The Monkees (6/68; #19 - Micky Dolenz sang lead and Henry Diltz played banjo on this old-timey novelty number that surprisingly cracked the Top 20.)


 Note: we'll take a short break from our banjo theme for the birthday calendar, but even here we have some banjo surprises for you!

Got a Feelin' - Mamas & Papas (4/66; Monday Monday b-side - featuring the lead vocals of Michelle Philips, whose vocal skills paled next to band mate Cass Elliot's. Mama Cass, though would've killed to look like Michelle. A bittersweet tale, that one.)

Street Fighting Man - Rolling Stones (9/68; #48 - their final single release with band member Brian Jones still in the line-up. This videoclip comes from the infamous Altamont concert a year later. RS500 #295.)

This Is My Country - Impressions (11/68; #25 Pop, #8 R&B - written by Curtis Mayfield, who sang lead and played guitar on this single released on his own Curtom Records label. He did it all....)

Image result for this is my country impressionsImage result for this is my country impressions

Mandolin Wind - Rod Stewart and The Faces (1971, from the Every Picture Tells a Story LP - Rod Stewart wrote this one and actually plays the banjo in this video, although it's not on the record. Happy birthday to Ron Wood.)

Lady Godiva - Peter & Gordon (10/66; #6 - back to the banjo on this uncharacteristic novelty hit. Songwriter Mike Leander was better known as the string arranger for The Beatles' She's Leaving Home.  Gordon Waller is the chap on the left, Peter Asher the bloke on the right)

Image result for lady godiva peter and gordonImage result for lady godiva peter and gordon

Puff (The Magic Dragon) - Peter, Paul & Mary (3/63; #2 - this song was written in the bucolic college town of Ithaca, NY where young Peter Yarrow was a student at Cornell University. Despite being banned in many markets as a song that glorified drug use, it nearly reached the top of the national charts.  He's the guy on the right)

Image result for puff the magic dragon peter paul and mary 45Image result for peter paul and mary

In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry (7/70; #3 - this worldwide smash featuring banjo man Paul King is sort of like cilantro: you either love it or hate it. This comment was posted on our Facebook page: " Thank you for mentioning the horrible sexist/classist lyrics in Mungo Jerry's 'In the Summertime.'"

Rainbow Connection - Kermit The Frog (9/79; #25 - written by Paul Williams and sung by puppeteer Jim Henson in "The Muppet Movie.")

Mare Take Me Home - Matthews Southern Comfort (7/71; #96 - one of three charting singles from their LP Later That Same Year, this one spent 2 weeks on the Pop chart. Keith Nelson on banjo.)

45 Corner: Mail Myself To You - Pete Seeger (1/64; Little Boxes b-side - ironically, Pete Seeger didn't play the banjo on his only charting single. The b-side, however, was nothing but Pete, his banjo, and a full Carnegie Hall.)

Image result for mail myself to you pete seegerImage result for pete seeger banjo

Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter - Herman's Hermits (5/65; #1 for three weeks - what sounds like a banjo on this particular tune is actually Keith Hopwood's Country Gentleman guitar, played banjo-style. Tonight we play the first-time stereo version for you!)

Listen To The Music - Doobie Brothers (9/72; #11 - their first big radio hit was aided by a finger-picked banjo figure you may have never noticed  -  but it's an integral part of the song.)

Ballad of Jed Clampett - Flatt & Scruggs (12/62; #44 Pop, #1 C&W for 3 weeks - we got two requests for Foggy Mountain Breakdown from the film Bonnie & Clyde, but I couldn't get my hands on it. Instead we went with this one  -  Earl Scruggs on 5-string banjo, dontcha know?)

Image result for ballad of jed clampettImage result for ballad of jed clampett

Hear The Bells - The Tokens (8/63; #94 - Billboard Magazine had this to say about the Tokens' newest release: "The Tokens are back on their 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' kick, and a most exciting kick it is. This is their best record in a year and it could take off quickly. Aimed at the teen set." Unfortunately, it missed the target. The banjo was one of several African-originated instruments making up this song collage.)


Old Man - Neil Young (4/72; #31 - from his Harvest LP, this one featured James Taylor on a 6-string banjo tuned like a guitar, with vocal support from JT and Linda Ronstadt.)

Image result for old man neil young 45Image result for old man neil young 45

* Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton (6/59; #1 for six weeks! - awarded a Grammy for Song Of The Year, this one was requested by two different listeners. Nice banjo tune!)

Love Is a Rose - Linda Ronstadt (9/75; #63 - written by Neil Young and featuring Herb Pedersen on banjo. This was released as a single but was overshadowed by its b-side: Heat Wave reached #5. No banjo on that side!)

* Desert Pete - Kingston Trio (8/63; #33 - the trio's final Top 40 record had a high-harmony vocal and some 6-string banjo from session musician Glen Campbell.)

Image result for desert pete kingston trioImage result for kingston trio

Hello Dolly - Louis Armstrong (5/64; #1 - the first single by an American artist to reach #1 in fourteen weeks won Grammy Awards for Song of The Year and Male Vocal of The Year.)

Squeeze Box - The Who (11/75; #16 - featuring Pete Towshend on banjo.)

Image result for squeeze box the who 45Image result for squeeze box the who 45

Money - Lovin' Spoonful (1/68; #48 - I'd totally intended to play this one and then had two giveaways and suffered from temporary loss-of-mind. I'm making up for it with this video. So sue me!)

Gallow's Pole - Led Zeppelin (11/70 - from the Atlantic Records LP Led Zeppelin III, featuring Jimmy Page on banjo and other stringed instruments.)

45 Corner: Why Not Your Baby - Dillard & Clark (5/69; dnc - Gene Clark & Doug Dillard released several singles on the A&M label before disbanding. This one failed to chart, but it's a beautiful failure. Doug Dillard appeared several times with his brothers as the musical sons of Briscoe Darling on TV's Andy Griffith Show.)

Image result for why not your baby dillard and clark a&m 45Image result for why not your baby dillard and clark a&m 45

Okay folks, I've run out of Banjo tunes. Back to the Birthday Calendar with a couple from the early Eighties....

When She Was My Girl - Four Tops (8/81; #11 Pop, #1 R&B for two weeks - their lone charting release for Casablanca Records was no slouch, and featured the plaintive vocal stylings of lead singer Levi Stubbs.)

This Little Girl - Gary "U.S." Bonds (4/81; #11 - written and co-produced by Bruce Springsteen with band mate "Little Steven" Van Zandt, this was a great comeback record for Mr. Bonds.)

Image result for gary us bondsImage result for bruce springsteenImage result for steven van zandt

I Don't Want To Go Home - Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes (8/76; #105 - another record produced by "Little Steven." This one is partly true  -  I was having too much fun to want to call it a night!)


CLOSING THEME:  Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (1959, #1 for two weeks)

Trivia Answer


Congratulations to Zac from Ithaca, for correctly answering the question and winning a pair of tickets to Cinemapolis! His answer? "Hello Dolly" by Louis Armstrong, which spent one week at #1 (after The Beatles spent seven weeks with "I Want To Hold Your Hand," followed by two weeks with "She Loves You" and five weeks with "Can't Buy Me Love").

Host Next Week (6/13/15):  John Rudan with a spotlight on June 1972

Thanks for tuning in! You can listen to Rockin' Remnants every Saturday night from 6-9pm on WVBR (93.5 FM in Ithaca, NY) or at

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