Carl William Thiel: Words & Music
Listening to music and talking about it
A show essentially about the history of rock and roll, the influential songs and artists that have become legendary. An exploration of the music we listen to and discovering its roots.
1/11/17 Inserting yourself, showing off, finding your key, what is hip, and England’s answer to James Brown
George Scott, leader of the George Scott Big Band and president of the Historic Colored Musicians Club, talks about the songs that influenced his musical awareness. He explains switching from guitar to the saxophone, the mechanics of arranging for and running a big band, Buffalo versus Philly, and how the roots of blues and jazz came from gospel. George explains why bebop grew out of swing and how horns feature in rock & roll. He shares anecdotes about Charlie Parker, Al Tinney, John Coltrane, C.Q. Price, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, James Brown, Tom Jones (!), and Isaac Hayes. George’s musical selections include Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Buffalo’s own Grover Washington, Jr., James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Tower of Power, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd.
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12/21/16 Harmony as a superpower, finding your voice, and songwriting as denial
Mari McNeil, jazz singer, speaks eloquently about how singing has always been present in her life, her father who sang, her adolescent anger, the night she found her voice, how walking into a coffeehouse on Grand Island saved her life, her years as a born-again Pentacostal, on songwriting, and her eventual move to singing the American Songbook. Mari’s significant song selections are by America, James Taylor, Supertramp, Elton John, Keith Green, New Wine (a Buffalo-area band), Fleetwood Mac, and Bruce Cockburn.
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11/15/16  The magic of triplets, lessons in concentration, a lovely, universal two-fer expression, and the mystery of the hippy with a backbeat
Jim Palys, jazz and rock drummer, talks about growing up in Buffalo, remembering Kubera’s music store, how Peggy Lee set something in motion, being organically grown into a musician, and preparing himself for the primal scream. We also hear about the aural importance of the Leslie speaker in generating excitement, stress and release, the drama brought about through music, and learning how rock and roll is done by watching The Who. And we learn the three basic tenets of pop music: love, love lost, and let’s dance! Jim’s memorable selections are by Peggy Lee, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Gene Pitney, the Dovells, Little Stevie Wonder, the Dave Clark Five, The Who, the Beatles, and Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.
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10/25/16 Throwaway music, introducing the cowbell, counting to eleven, and a gateway to jazz
Mark Humphrey, playwright, percussionist and respiratory therapist, talks about growing up in Buffalo during the sixties, his drummer father, “driving while black,” discovering the timbale, and the hopefulness engendered by music. His seven selections traverse soul music to rock to jazz fusion with a smidge of classical added, too. Mark’s evocative choices are by Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions, Deep Purple, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, the Last Poets, Gustav Holst, and Weather Report.
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10/23/16 Seeing for miles, carpet crawling, psycho killers, and expanding horizons
Susan Westling, Esq., visits from Albany to talk about the music that made an impression on her growing up in a small town in Western New York. In presenting her song choices, Susan reflects on discovering passion, infidelity, deciphering lyrics, first concerts, political awareness, questioning religion, and the virtues of getting back to the roots of rock. Her selections are by: The Animals, the Who, Yes, David Bowie, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Elvis Costello
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10/19/16 Triple threats, diaphragmatic breathing, cockeyed optimism, and embracing change
Melissa Kate, big band singer, actor and teaching artist, enumerates the diverse influences on her musical education: principally theatre and jazz, but also R&B, popular and classical music. Throughout, Melissa discusses barbershop harmony, PORGY & BESS, auditions, defying categories, body image, the proper way to breathe, the influence of Irish music, history lessons by way of Monty Python, and not being able to sit through Johnny Depp’s SWEENEY TODD. Melissa’s song choices include the following tracks: “Lida Rose - Will I Ever Tell You” (from THE MUSIC MAN) – Shirley Jones & the Buffalo Bills; “Summertime” - Loulie Jean Norman; “Something’s Coming” (from WEST SIDE STORY) – Jim Bryant; “Nothing” (from A CHORUS LINE) – Priscilla Lopez; “Someone to Watch Over Me” - Linda Ronstadt; “Na Laetha Geal M'oige” – Enya; “Oliver Cromwell” - Monty Python, “Every Day I Have the Blues” - Count Basie with Big Joe Williams; “Beau Soir” - Barbra Streisand; and “I Mean to Shine” - Barbra Streisand.
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10/11/16 Magic in the air, huge ears, music that scares us, and owning a song
Frank Carey, librarian and guitar player, shares his extensive knowledge of music as he recounts his list of significant songs with stories of growing up without a phonograph at home, paying ten cents to experience Beatlemania firsthand in Niagara Falls, meeting Bernard Purdie, how the Animals showed him a different life, the expressive power of the electric guitar, finding Freud, and getting to Gershwin through rock & roll. Frank’s song choices include tracks by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Animals, the Doors, the Mothers of Invention, the Beach Boys, Cream, Janis Joplin, and Chicago.
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9/18/16 Cactus needles, “Lush Life,” losing Strauss, searching for expression, and a great deal of weeping
Getting in the mood with Russell Link, former school teacher (who never grew up) and current host of ThinkTwiceRadio’s “Sunglasses at Midnight,” recounts his list of significant songs with stories of his long and varied life. Musical theater in the forties, practical re-use of milk bottles, dancing with Nancy, a knight of the Rose, material lessons, and ambivalence, not only in music, but in life. Russell’s song choices include selections by/from Glenn Miller, Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” Stan Kenton and June Christie, Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” Arnold Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night,” Johnnie Ray and the Four Lads, and Judy Garland. And we’re delighted to present a WORDS & MUSIC first: Russell SINGS from memory a very distingué rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life.”
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9/14/16 Thinking man's rock, mellotrons, signing apes, holiness, and nerd culture
Librarian and nerd rock musician Rand Bellavia provides cogent reasons for his song choices, including jazz and classical influences, the craft of songwriting, quoting Thoreau, spiritual redemption, lessons in heavy metal guitar techniques, and the under-appreciated contributions of Rick Wright. His personal selections include recordings by the Beatles, the Lovin' Spoonful, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Elvis Costello, Daniel Amos and Ookla the Mok. Oh, and by the way, “suprema lex” means something like “the highest law.”
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9/8/16 Garage bands, super sessions, the cosmic sounds of the Zodiac, and X-rated rock 'n' roll
Computer programmer and sometime musician Bob Enger introduces songs about amplified guitars, progressive rock, his experiences backstage with the Tubes, and playing the same song over and over (and over). His personal selections include records by the Beatles, the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, the Zodiac (a “concept” album), Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper, Neil Young, King Crimson, Humble Pie, Frank Zappa, and the Tubes.
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9/01/16 Whites sounding black, trusting snakes, and poundin' it down the highway
Photographer and serious record collector Steve Siegel talks about the songs that were instrumental in his development. He shares his memories of working in hotel management, meeting the Spinners, Aesop's fables and Republicans, Moms Mabley, falling in love with the daughter of a lion tamer, and the heady days of student protest in the late 1960s. His personal selections include songs by Dion, the Shades of Blue, Steely Dan, the Spinners, New Colony Six, Gene Pitney, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Easybeats, Al Wilson, and Jackson Browne.
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8/26/16 Burgeoning political awareness, landscaping soundtracks, and pining for the fjords
Audio engineer Michael j “geese” graphix calls from San Francisco to play the songs that were instrumental in his development. En route, he relates tales about working on the road with Nine Inch Nails, meeting the Clash in Buffalo, New York, and relating to anti-war sentiments in rock songs at the age of 13. His personal selections include material by Steppenwolf, the Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Bad Company, the Clash, and U2.
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7/19/16 Lust, dust, blood, spidery guitar, requisite scar tissue, and splendor in the grass
Local Buffalo painter Richard Christian talks about the songs that were important to his formative years. His personal selections are: “A Question of Lust” – Depeche Mode, “Stripped” – Depeche Mode, “The Killing Moon” – Echo and the Bunnymen, “How Soon is Now” – The Smiths, “Cities in Dust” - Siouxsie & The Banshees, “Blood and Roses” – The Smithereens, “Falling” – Angelo Badalamenti & Julee Cruise, “Into the Night” – Angelo Badalamenti & Julee Cruise, and “Save a Prayer” – Duran Duran.
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5/24/11 2120 South Michigan Avenue: Chess Records of Chicago
This episode looks at the essential role played by the Blues, especially that recorded by the Chess Record label of Chicago in the first years of rock 'n' roll. Featured artists include Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. Suggested reading: THE STORY OF CHESS RECORDS by John Collis (Bloomsbury, 1998). Suggested listening: BEST OF CHESS: ORIGINAL VERSIONS OF SONGS IN CADILLAC RECORDS (Chess Records, 2008).
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1/24/11 "It doesn’t matter where I hear the song, it just takes me there."
Nanker Phelge, doing the Hump, playing the Pit, strip joints, hearses, and “96 Tears”
An Interview with Don Vincent (Part One)

A two-part conversation with musician and record collector, Don Vincent. Don talks about the significant songs in his life and relates his diverse experiences with garage bands in the sixties. Among his audio selections are songs by Peter, Paul and Mary, the Everly Brothers, Phil Upchurch, the Dovells, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, ? & the Mysterians, Buffalo’s own The Cavemen.
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An Interview with Don Vincent (Part Two)
The conversation continues with Don’s recollections of songs by Rochester’s The Invictas, Three Dog Night, and the Pine Dogs.
(27:04)
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12/15/10 "The Words & Music 2010 Christmas Show" (Part One)
Our yuletide stroll takes us from Gene Autry to Charlie Brown and the Grinch to Lambert, Hendrix and Ross as we attempt to describe how the holidays bring out both the cynical and the sentimental. Check out the crazy lyrics of “Deck Us All with Boston Charlie.”
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12/15/10 "The Words & Music 2010 Christmas Show" (Part Two)
The holiday sojourn continues as we look at the cynical, the commercial and the true meaning of Christmas with the aid of Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and Linus Van Pelt.
Selected listening: “Christmas with the Beach Boys” and “Maybe This Christmas.”

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11/3/10 Rock Around the Clock: Bill Haley and the Country Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll
White rock ‘n’ roll burst onto the national consciousness in 1955 when the song “Rock Around the Clock” was featured over the opening credits of the motion picture Blackboard Jungle. The upbeat song also demonstrated the transformation of a northern hillbilly band into the proto-rock combo, Bill Haley and His Comets. In this episode, we look at the role that country music played in the creation of rock ‘n’ roll. In addition to Haley’s Comets, featured artists include the Delmore Brothers, Arthur Smith, Hardrock Gunter, Dickie Thompson, Hal Singer with Sam Theard, Big Joe Turner, the Esquire Boys, and Sonny Dae & His Knights.
Suggested reading: ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK: THE RECORD THAT STARTED THE ROCK REVOLUTION by Jim Dawson (Backbeat Books, 2005).
Suggested listening: ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK, Bill Haley & His Comets (Geffen Records, 2004).
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10/15/10 "The Words & Music 2010 Halloween Show"
We yield to the impulse to add our voices to the plethora of yearly Halloween shows, with a batch of weird songs that served to both frighten and inspire us. Our musical gambol takes us from Universal Pictures to zombies to Godzilla and late night TV, cracking wise amid Cold War angst with Theremins, electric guitars, and French horns. You'll shriek at Carl's scariest movie!
Gasp as Gary reveals the songs that spooked him during his impressionable years!! Marvel at our choice for absolute scariest song!!!
Featured artists include: Nerf Herder, Louis Armstrong, Ted Cassidy, Golden Earring, the Zombeatles, Warren Zevon, Black Sabbath, the Skyhooks, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, the Edgar Winter Group, the Flaming Lips, the Buoys, Jack Kittel, and Mike Oldfield.
Suggested reading: We failed to mention it on the show, but an awesome amount of monster trivia can be gleaned from THE MONSTER SHOW: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal (Faber & Faber, 2001).
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4/7/10 "Ain't That a Shame": Cover Records (Part Two)
We continue to delve into the industry practice of cover records that introduced rock 'n' roll to mainstream America in the mid-1950s. Featured artists include Otis Williams & the Charms, the Fontane Sisters, the Penguins, the Moonglows, the McGuire Sisters, LaVern Baker, Georgia Gibbs, Gene & Eunice, Perry Como, Fats Domino and Pat Boone. We also remark on the passing of author and radio host Charlie Gillett.
Suggested reading: THE SOUND OF THE CITY by Charlie Gillett (Da Capo Press 1996).
Suggested listening: THE ROCK 'N' ROLL ERA 1954-1955 (Time-Life 1988).
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3/16/10 "Ain’t That a Shame": Cover Records (Part One)
We take a peek under the lid of the cover record phenomenon. In the early and mid-fifties, rhythm and blues compositions generally received first national exposure only after being translated into the earliest embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll: the cover record. Featured artists include Darrell Glenn, the Orioles, Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, Johnnie Ray, the Spiders, the Crows, Patti Page, the Chords, the Crew-cuts, and Stan Freberg (and the Toads).
Suggested reading: THE ROCKIN’ 50s by Arnold Shaw (Hawthorn Books, 1974).
Suggested listening: YOUR HIT PARADE for the years 1953 and 1954 (Time-Life) and BLOWIN’ THE FUSE, 29 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1954 (Bear Family Records).
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12/29/09 "Mr. Pottymouth's House"
Carl and Gary indulge themselves with a case of aural atavism by reflecting on their nine-year-old attempt at producing a children's show named MR. POTTYMOUTH's HOUSE. The Cast of Characters include Mr. Postman, Juan Altovoce, Prudence Sweet (the girl next door), Gaseous Gerald and Bob (who we think was supposed to be a puppet). The program also featured segments on history and science, the poetry of Mr. Onion, and contained several original songs composed by Carl and co-creator Al 'Butch' Conrad III, who joins them in the Home of the Future to talk about the show. The project was never completed and has remained unheard until now. Featured songs include: "Mr. Pottymouth's Theme," "Pally," "Jole Frijole" (with rare falsetto vocals by Gary) "Lobotobop," "Bag Lady," "Moony Eyes," "Bob's Big Dance Number," and "Somebody Give Me the Words to This Song."
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10/28/09 "Blues for the Moondog"
We review the significant role played by disk jockey Alan Freed in popularizing and naming rock 'n' roll. We also talk about syncopation, backbeat and boogie woogie, so important in the development of the music. Featured artists include Dinah Shore, Ella Mae Morse, Freddie Slack, Roy Milton, Fats Domino, Louis 'Moondog' Hardin, Todd Rhodes, Wild Bill Moore, Faye Adams, and the one and only Doc Sausage.
Suggested reading: BIG BEAT HEAT: ALAN FREED AND THE EARLY YEARS OF ROCK 'N' ROLL by John A. Jackson (Schirmer Books, 1991).
Suggested listening: Moondog - THE VIKING OF SIXTH AVENUE (Honest Jons Records, 2005).
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