Mike Dow

Mike Dow

edge staff writer

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has announced its 2022 class, representing what the organization’s president and CEO says is one of the most diverse groups of inductees they’ve ever seen.

The Hall’s Class of 2022 is represented by 11 artists and producers and three non-performing industry professionals who will each be ushered into the hall during ceremonies scheduled for this fall in Los Angeles.

You may have seen comedian Steven Rogers on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” or as a frequent opening comic for Brian Regan. His debut comedy album “Before He Was Super” just arrived on streaming services, representing (as the title implies) his best material to date. The entire special, filmed live at the National Comedy Center, is streaming free on YouTube.

Rogers’ comedy is clean but unless you’re specifically listening for F-bombs, you might be laughing too hard to notice. During an interview with The Maine Edge, Rogers says he fell in love with comedy while watching stand-up comics on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and he’s spent the last decade forging his self-deprecating comedy style which comes from a very real and, for many in his audience, a very relatable place.

Rogers deals with anxiety and panic attacks, conditions that could be potentially debilitating, but he beats it by making fun of it.

On “Before He Was Super,” Rogers shares stories about dating strong women, growing up in a slightly unusual household with cool parents, lying about being a smoker to avoid socializing at parties and how his male friends become most unhelpful during a panic attack.

I have a vivid memory of the first time I heard a song by rockabilly missionaries The Stray Cats. It was early on during my first semester at college, an impressionable time when new students often have strangely conflicted feelings of freedom and uncertainty. Music was an anchor then as it is today and my dorm neighbor, Elliot, who lived directly across the hall, was my conduit to the newest sounds coming down the pike.

With a few notable exceptions, it seemed that most of the new songs that made it to commercial radio in 1982 were either slickly produced dance tracks or cloying treacly ballads. The bulk of my modest record collection didn’t fit those confines which made me appreciate it all the more.

One morning before my first class of the day, Elliot was holding court with an open door and a stack of 45s. “Come check this out,” he said, “It’s gonna be big.”

Elliot dropped the stylus on “Rock This Town” by The Stray Cats, and I was smitten by its swinging energy and authority. Compared to its contemporary charting brethren, “Rock This Town” offered 204 seconds of unrelenting authenticity and I had to know more.

Seeing The Stray Cats on MTV sealed the deal. They were elegant gangsters with pompadours, a nod to their original ‘50s and ‘60s heroes, but it wasn’t merely a gimmick or a throwback. These guys seemed to be serious period-correct students of the rockabilly era on a mission to bring the art form forward at a time when many artists and bands, even some classic rockers, looked and sounded like they’d dropped out of a dystopian novel.

I recently had the good fortune to connect with Stray Cats drummer “Slim Jim” Phantom to talk about his band’s fledgling pre-fame days for my radio show on BIG 104 FM.

“Slim Jim” Phantom is one of rock’s great storytellers, and man, does he have stories. The first two seasons of his “Rockabilly Confidential” Spotify podcast feature vividly recalled true tales drawn from four decades of adventures with The Stray Cats, from the earliest shows up to the band’s recent triumphant 40th anniversary tour.

Phantom’s “Rockabilly Rave-up,” where he tells the stories behind the songs, airs each Sunday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on SiriusXM Ch. 21, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

The Stray Cats formed in 1979 and paid their dues playing long nights in corner bars for about a year before pulling a Jimi Hendrix move and heading to England with the hope of getting noticed. There, “Slim Jim” Phantom, along with guitarist Brian Setzer and stand-up bassist Lee Rocker, caught the attention of some London heavyweights who took it upon themselves to spread the word about these homeless American rockabilly cats that put on the wildest show imaginable. I’ll let Jim tell you about it.

There’s a scene from the new documentary film ‘Sheryl,’ from filmmaker Amy Harris, about the life and music of nine-time Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow where the artist expresses a profound truth that applies to each of us.

“It’s always hard to look back and talk about who you were because it’s only who you think you were,” she says.

As we become further removed from moments in time, those memories become distorted as changes and challenges keep hurling us into a new reality. That notion is one of the reasons why Crow says she reconsidered her initial reaction of a proposed documentary.

“I (first) said ‘Absolutely not,’” Crow says of her response to her manager when approached with the idea of a film early on during the pandemic quarantine. “I was so not interested and it took a while for me to come around to it,” she says.

In reflection, Crow says she thought of the many documentaries that had left an indelible mark on her.

This is one of those weeks when I wish for twice the available space to tell you about the literal profusion of great new LPs that have recently materialized.

This edition of Sound Bites focuses on the latest from four artists you may know including three veteran music-makers offering their first new sounds in years.

It’s only a matter of time before the Maine-based music-making siblings known as the Oshima Brothers find the outside world knocking on their door. The duo’s astonishing new album “Dark Nights Golden Days” provides further testament that the self-contained two-headed creativity factory of Sean and Jamie Oshima is bound for glory.

“Dark Nights Golden Days” is the second full-length release from the Oshimas, who wrote, recorded, produced and arranged the music, and played nearly every instrument.

The brothers take an equitable approach to creating their songs, as well as the visuals that accompany them. Saying that most of their songs originate from a place of inspiration, Sean starts writing while Jamie begins building the music.

“As things go along, we start intertwining those things,” Sean Oshima says. “By the end, we’ve invested an equal share.”

The powerhouse vocalist that gave us classic rockers like “Barracuda,” “Magic Man,” and “Crazy on You” says she’s thrilled to announce the release of her first real solo album. Ann Wilson of Heart has readied “Fierce Bliss,” scheduled to drop April 29, containing seven new original songs and four covers that she chose specially for the occasion.

Wilson released the eclectic covers record “Hope & Glory” in 2007 and followed it with a second album of cover songs, “Immortal,” in 2018. “Fierce Bliss” represents the first time Wilson has stepped away from Heart for a full-length record mostly consisting of her own material.

I’m from the generation of kids that grew up captivated by the space program, especially by the exciting Apollo missions to the moon. We were glued to the black and white images beamed back from the lunar surface as we imagined what it might be like to follow in the footsteps of giants. Some kids grow up to find the courage to pursue a dream like that while the rest of us look on and wonder “How did they do it?”

The man that holds the record for the most cumulative days spent living and working in space says he falls into both categories. His new book is full of lessons he learned as a record-setting astronaut that he says anyone could apply to life on this planet.

Scott Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and retired astronaut that commanded the International Space Station on three missions. He spent a record 340 consecutive days orbiting Earth in zero gravity on the ISS in 2015 and 2016.

Kelly has followed up his 2017 memoir “Endurance” with a book geared toward young adults that keys in on 10 pivotal moments from his life and how the mistakes he made and the challenges he faced kept him reaching for the stars. “Ready for Launch: An Astronaut’s Lessons for Success on Earth” is a quick but captivating read that revisits some of the stories shared in his earlier book that Kelly uses to illustrate how setbacks and challenges can become the catalyst for greatness if we’re willing to learn from them.

It’s almost that time of year when intrepid music lovers everywhere line up outside their favorite indie music store to be among the first to gain access to some of the hundreds of specially prepared releases for Record Store Day. The 15th edition of the special event, which started in Maine and has spread to 1,400 independent music stores around the world, is set for Saturday, April 23. A second drop of goodies is scheduled for June 18.

The concept for Record Store Day originated with Chris Brown, CFO for Bull Moose Music’s eight Maine locations and three in New Hampshire.

Record Store Day was designed from the outset as a fan-focused event by offering a vast selection of limited-edition releases and allowing each store to build their own events around the day, including live in-store performances.

Ten-time Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt is scheduled to appear at a Q&A event at Bull Moose in Scarborough on Record Store Day, in advance of her sold-out concert that evening at Merrill Auditorium with special guests NRBQ. The event will be streamed live on Facebook.

Because in-person space will be limited for the Bonnie Raitt event, Bull Moose is using a lottery system. More information can be found on the Bull Moose website and social media pages.

In January, Record Store Day announced mega-selling artist Taylor Swift as the event’s first global ambassador. Swift has been a longtime supporter of independent music stores. She sent boxes of signed copies of her CD “Folklore” to indie stores around the country during the pandemic which were soon snapped up by fans as word spread.

“The places where we go to browse and explore and discover music new and old have always been sacred to me,” Swift said in a press release. “Record stores are so important because they help to perpetuate and foster music-loving as a passion.”

Coinciding with the 15th edition of RSD is the publication of “Record Store Day: The Most Improbable Comeback of the 21st Century,” a new book by Larry Jaffee containing the complete history of RSD with input from Chris Brown and other RSD figureheads and musicians, not to mention members of the record store community.

“The book gives you the story of Record Store Day, what I was thinking when I thought of it, how it grew and who the people are behind the scenes who made it happen,” Brown said.

A special 12x12 version of the book comes with a vinyl album (limited to 1,100 copies) containing songs recorded at record stores by Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Metallica and Imagine Dragons among others – including one recorded by Regina Spektor at Bull Moose in Scarborough in 2005.

Brown, the book’s author and a couple of other RSD bigwigs all signed the deluxe edition of the book.

In recent years Brown produced a number of very popular Record Store Day-themed videos called “Record Time with Chris,” where he would discuss various releases from the RSD list while also showing their cover art.

Brown is now putting that energy toward a new radio show for Portland station 102.9 WBLM that will premiere Saturday from 9-11 a.m. with a Record Store Day theme.

Brown’s first show will feature an interview with John Densmore, former drummer for The Doors. Densmore, a longtime supporter of Record Store Day, conducted an in-store autograph signing at Bull Moose in Scarborough during Record Store Day in 2013.

Highlights from a pair of super-secret Toronto club shows performed by The Rolling Stones in March 1977 are set for release next month and a renowned orthopedic surgeon with deep ties to Maine says he’ll be listening intently for the sound of his amplifier.

The Rolling Stones latest vault release, “El Macombo ’77,” will be issued as a 2-CD/4 LP set on May 13, containing 23 tracks recorded in front of a stunned audience that had arrived at the venue under the assumption they would be attending a show by the Canadian band April Wine.

When the Stones performed at Toronto’s 300-capacity El Macombo nightclub on March 4 and 5, 1977, it was with the intent of recording auxiliary material to be added to the band’s double “Love You Live” album released that September. The album included material captured during the band’s tours in 1975 and 1976, but legend has it the Stones weren’t entirely thrilled with those recordings.

To augment material recorded in arenas in Los Angeles and Toronto in 1975 and in London in 1976, the Stones chose the El Macombo club as a nod to their early days as a rough and rowdy rhythm and blues club band. They performed two consecutive shows of rarely played material at the intimate club.

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