John Kelly's Washington
Friday, January 15, 2010; 12:00 PM
Post Metro columnist John Kelly was online Friday, Jan. 15, at Noon ET to chat about the people and stories that don't make the front pages, plus his latest columns.
Today: John's guest is Eliot Brown, a music fan who has dedicated himself to finding and resurrecting the work of Barry Richards, a DJ who hosted a succession of live rock music shows in Washington.
John Kelly: Happy Friday to you all. It's the start of a three-day weekend. I'd know that even if I didn't have a calendar. How? My drive down 16th Street this morning was smooth sailing. Fewer commuters, fewer cars, fewer delays, quicker arrival.
And quicker arrival means quicker departure. If I can just get through this chat and knock out another column, I'll be outta here, perhaps stopping at
on my way home. How are you spending your Friday afternoon?
I was heartened by my response to
, in which I confessed that for someone who makes his living slinging words around, there sure seem to be a lot of them I don't know the meanings of. Sanguine? Rebarbative? Anodyne? Those were a few of mine. Many readers offered their own. Are there words you hate encountering in books or in the newspaper (please don't say, "Yeah: 'By John Kelly'"). Are there little tricks you use to remember what certain words mean?
Longtime Washingtonians may remember Barry Richards, aka "the boss with the hot sauce" and "your heavy head leader." Barry was a DJ around town who also threw concerts and hosted some crazy TV shows. Those TV shows--even the names conjure up the '60s: "Groove In," "Turn On"--were the subject of
. Eliot Brown is the music buff and filmmaker who is getting ready to release those shows on DVD. (
to whet your appetite.)
And Eliot is my guest today. Please share your reminiscences about Barry and the local music scene. Or anything else on your mind: Gilbert Arenas, Metro, Haiti...
And now, let's turn in, groove out and chat on....
John Kelly: Here's a link to a Web site with everything you ever wanted to know about Barry Richards.
John Kelly: Eliot: You're not from Washington and anyway you're too young to have been around for Barry's early career and the music that he promoted. How did you come to find out about him and why were you so devoted to tracking him down?
Eliot Brown: I first found out about Barry in 1996.I had been working on my opus on early obscure rock bands for about five years when a black and white VHS tape showed up at my friend's house featuring a band called the Illusion playing on his show. There were no credits and all I knew is that the show was called the Barry Richards show. In 1996, there was no way for me to find someone in DC named Barry Richards. The show was really great, and had that free-wheeling '70's vibe that just oozes cool. In about 2005 I was interviewing Ron Oberman about his publicity work with Blue Cheer, and asked if he had any idea about TV shows they were booked on. He really didn't but when he ran down a list of shows that were around at the time, he mentioned Barry Richards and a little light-bulb turned on in my head. I asked if he knew Barry and he replied he was one of his closest friends and that he'd be having dinner with him that evening! I spoke with Barry the next day and when he told me he had bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Boomerang and Black Sabbath on his show I knew I'd found a new purpose in life :) Then he blew me off for about two years but I wouldn't go away, so he finally relented....
AMC Movie Ads are back!: Remember our discussion last year about AMC pulling their movie ads because the Post's circulation was down but the ad rates weren't (at least according to the fellow at AMC that I spoke to)?
If you look at the movie listings now, AMC is now advertising again! Don't know if it's all of their theaters but it includes the ones I'm interested in so I think this is a big improvement.
Don't know who blinked, though, the Post or AMC.
John Kelly: It was The Post what blinked. The paper agreed to "reinstate" the ads. It's an interesting tilt in the power dynamic. Twenty years ago The Post was pretty much the only game in town. Theaters had to advertise. Over time, customers could get the info elsewhere, including the theaters' own Web sites. Then people like AMC said, wait a minute, the information is more valuable to you as a way to lure readers than us as a way lure customers.
(West) Springfield, Va.: Hello way out there! A question for Eliot concerning the videotape format if you please. Were you dealing with two-inch quad and or 3/4 inch? Mucho thanks and adios!
Eliot Brown: Almost all of the tapes were 2" Quad Hi-Band. There were a few 3/4" tapes from the mid-seventies.
Marmite revisited!: John,
I read your recent Marmite column with a broad smile on my face. You see, my sig other is from a Marmite-loving country (South Africa) and, when visiting, my in-laws are always asking me why I don't smear their beloved condiment all over everything. Well, we went to South Africa for the holidays, and I was determined to give Marmite one more try. I did. I can report that it is still just as smelly, rancid and foul tasting as ever. I did, however, avoid any Marmite questions -- I guess due to my single sampling of the stuff.
Now, what about Bovril?
Oh God. I think I just threw up a little in the back of my throat...
John Kelly: Ah, Marmite. I'm glad to see you fall on the proper side of the love it/hate it yeast extract question.
You know, I haven't tried
, though I understand it to be a popular British foodstuff. Apparently it's a beef extract. Why do the British insist on extracting things?
Marmite author Maggie said that Bovril is made in the same factory as Marmite, leading some vegetarians to wonder if there is any cross-contamination.
Glove Gallery: John, I am missing your glove gallery this winter.
John Kelly: Ah, my glove gallery, in which I invited readers to send in photos of gloves found on the streets and sidewalks. I got a lot of nice ones for my blog last year but only a few people then took that raw material and did anything with it. Apparently I overestimated peoples's desire to fiddle around with JPEGS of misplaced gloves and mittens. I guess I'd never make it as a performance artist.
John Kelly: Eliot: What was it that set Barry apart from other DJs at the time, especially when it came to the TV show? After all, people could watch "American Bandstand." How was "Turn On" different from rating records with Dick?
Eliot Brown: The main thing that was different about "Turn-On" is that everyone played live. In 1970, there were so few shows that featured live performances. The other thing is that instead of someone like Dick Clark, looking slick in a suit, you had Barry Richards, stoned out of his mind, with no format and no agenda other than promoting the next Brownsville Station gig at the Falls Church Community Center. He did promote the bands but as Richard Harrington told me, it didn't feel like promotion, it felt like mischief.
Also, Barry's choice of bands was really eclectic. It wasn't all hard rock, and it wasn't all singer-songwriter stuff, it was everything from Bob Seger to Captain Beefheart to Livingston Taylor.
It was really unique
Washington, D.C.: My band The Profiles was hired by Barry Richards in l963/64 to perform at the Bladensburg Fire Hall in Maryland on a number of occasions. I wonder if Barry might recall that. The band members were Phil Martin, drums; Geoff Humphrey, piano/vocals; Stu Sillery, bass; Jimmy Ostmann Guitar. Geoff and I had some "Beatle boots" and wigs we used during the Beatles' tunes.
John Kelly: Wow, how cool is that? I wonder if we'll see a resurgence of these old bands. Any chance of getting the Profiles back together? After all, the British Walkers reunited last year. And I understand that the Hangmen are considering a reunion.
John Kelly: Eliot: How much of Barry's total rock show output do you think you have? What else is out there?
Eliot Brown: The total output encompasses more than the rock show- Barry went disco in '75 (while still covering rock as well) The shows are: "Groove-In", "Turn-On", "Barry Richards Presents", "Barry Richards Rock Show", "Rock'n'Soul", "Video Disco", "Studio 78", "Video Trax", "Video Zoo", "Live At the Famous", and a few more.. Every few months he remembers another show-
I have about 35 hours from 2" tapes, but there are so many more out there-
Anyone who has ANYTHING, please contact me because the archive is constantly growing.
Alexandria, Va.: To keep current, I try to buy CDs issued last year. Did you like any CDs last year?
John Kelly: Hey, haven't you heard? You're supposed to download music! Illegally!
Let's see. I probably won't remember. I think we got the latest Arctic Monkeys. (Saw them at 930 a coupla months ago; great show.) I know my daughter gets all the Lady Gaga stuff. For my birthday I got the big complete set of recordings by a little combo you might have heard of: the Beatles. Anything else I can't remember without my iPod in front of me.
Eliot, what did YOU get last year?
Eliot Brown: A lot of obscure '60's and '70's bands! Music Machine, Stray, the Bob Seger System albums. I try to stay away from Rockit Scientist in the Village as much as possible because I always end up spending over $100 every time I walk in.
The only new album I bought last year was by a Swedish band called Graveyard. Anyone into early 70's hard rock will not believe how well they capture that feeling....
Arlington, Va.: Why is Fenwick Beer and Wine your new favorite store? I remember stopping in there a couple of times when I lived in SS about 6 or 7 years ago, and I remember thinking it was neat that it was in an old single family home, but I don't remember them having a selection that was better than any other MoCo beer and wine shop.
John Kelly: Do you have a time machine or something? That place just opened last month. It has an incredible selection of imported beers. Not my favorite from my time in Oxford yet, but he said he'd try. I thought it was a Chinese restaurant before, but maybe it was just a beer shop. Now it's a little more upmarket. I had a nice Welsh ale the other night, and some chewy stout the night before.
Washington, D.C.: Sadly, Goeff Humphrey and Stu Sillery died some years ago. Phil is still around, and I can still play most of Link Wray's hits, and a lot more "classic" stuff, so maybe we'll scare up a couple other players and give it a go!
Eliot Brown: And maybe Barry can book you into the Bladensburg firehouse!
Lee Jackson Day in Virginia: It's actually a FOUR-day weekend for some in Virginia. Today is Lee Jackson Day. What is THAT all about?
John Kelly: I believe it was a concession to people who didn't want a Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The legislature said, Okay, give us a day to honor a slain civil rights leader and we'll give you a day to honor two guys who fought against the Union. Deal?
Rockville, Md.: We used to dance on the Milt Grant show back in the early-mid 60s. Does Barry Richards have any videos of these dance shows ? If so will he sell them? We remember him when he was a DJ on WINX radio in Rockville. Our e-mail address is email@example.com. Thanks. P.S. nice article in the Wash Post.
Eliot Brown: Please email the website with any memories at all and your contact info. I'm looking for anything, even just ticket stubs or flyers from shows. It's amazing assembling all the various pieces of the puzzle from so many different people that were part of the experience of growing up in DC in the sixties. Even if you just taped something off the radio when you were a kid, it could end up on a CD to be shared with the world...
Baltimore, Md.: "Sanguine"? Why it means joyous, optimistic, healthy. It comes from the same outdated medical theories that give us "melancholic" and "phlegmatic."
Why are outdated medical theories no longer taught in schools?
John Kelly: I thought it meant "confident," but I guess those other words are in the ballpark.
And, yes, why not teach cupping and leeching? And trepanning. Don't forget
Bethesda, Md.: I am Max Carroll. I was Hugh Carroll when I worked for the Dillards. Barry Richards and I both got jobs with Don Dillard, but not from the same angle, I wasn't being chased by the cops. It was great fun to meet Barry at Don's wake. I wish you great success with the video production of Barry's tapes. I WILL buy a copy. Thanks for your work. Max Carroll
John Kelly: Barry told me he was being chased by the cops because he and a buddy were hitchhiking, which was illegal. Rather than just write a ticket or give a warning, MoCo cops would take you to the jail and have your parents come pick you up, which is why he was trying to evade them.
Of course, all stories involving anyone from the music biz must be taken with a chunk of salt. A fair amount of embellishing goes on. Several people e-mailed to say they remember Barry being older than 61 and that "Richards" wasn't his original name. On the other hand, the story of the body painting chicks does appear to check out. The other person wielding a brush that fateful day at Channel 20 was none other than Richard Harrington, former Post pop music critic.
John Kelly: Eliot: What's involved in getting the tapes ready for the public? I imagine these aren't things you can just throw in the nearest VCR hooked up to a computer. Also, the visuals are important, of course, but when I went to your screening at the AFI in October I was amazed at the SOUND. It really rocked. How did you get it to sound so good?
Eliot Brown: Thanks John- the most gratifying thing about that screening was that it sounded great... In the two years I was pleading with Barry to let me work with his tapes, I looked around CA for a place to transfer them. I found Quad One in Burbank, met with the owner Art Mairose and was impressed that he had worked in the Ampex factory and had owned his 2" machine since it was built in the seventies. He really knew what he was doing. The 2" tapes- which weigh about 25lbs. each, were transferred to digital betacam. I then transferred the audio into wav files for mastering. The audio part of the work was extremely detailed and problematic. At Channel 20, there was one guy who handled sets and audio. He was really great at designing sets and very artistic with the seventy-five-cent budget they had, but he had no audio training at all. The levels are all over the place from song to song, there were ticks and pops regularly and it mostly sounded pretty weak, but I could hear that everything was there. I spent hours and hours refining this material until I was satisfied, , re-doing things five or six times until it rocked as much as possible. It's still not really high-fidelity, but it is really enjoyable to listen to and you don't hear the flaws. If you saw the EQ curves I had to use to get there, you'd be pretty shocked..
The incredible sound system at the AFI theater was the other reason. I was pretty shocked when I first brought a tape down there for a test-drive.
The picture on the other hand looked really great thanks to the quality transfer and any time I tried to enhance it, it ended up looking worse, so I basically left that part alone. It really didn't need much.
Marmite Revisited: So, John, have you ever heard of or tried Chevril? Yes, horse extract. I've only read of it but have never actually seen or tried it.
John Kelly: I wonder what Advil is made from?
4 Corners: John Catoe (head of METRO) for whatever reason is stepping down from his $350,000.00 salary. Good Luck in finding a replacement for him.
Mike Shananhan, the new head coach of the REDSKINS will make $7 Mil per year.
I personally find it odd, that someone who only is seen working 17 Sundays (and an occasional Monday) is pulling down $7 Mil, and someone who is running the region's transportation system, dealing with all the government BS, is only making a measly $350,000.00.
Both Catoe & the REDSKINS former coach (Zorn) had pretty bad years, I guess that's why neither are employed in 2010.
John Kelly: It does seem a bit out of whack, doesn't it? Most people seem to agree that Catoe was a decent fellow who was truly saddened by the recent events and quite broken up about his resignation.
I wonder what Dan Tangherlini is doing these days?
Chambersburg, Pa.: John,
Glad to join the discussion. I remember Barry from when I worked at the Cellar Door. He was a pest who we'd feed bogus info to about upcoming acts just to get him away from us. Our favorite trick was to get him to announce on-air an act that had died years before. I remember Wes Montgomery was coming to the C.D. for a few weeks before Barry realized he had died a year before.
Eliot Brown: That's pretty funny. Not everyone was a fan, but when you look at his WHMC radio charts (which I'll be putting up on the website soon), he really managed to pick out some great stuff that was ahead of it's time, as well as introducing really cool music to the area when no one else in the country would touch it.
Fenwick and AMC: Saw them moving in the beer just the other day. For the other poster: the house was a real estate office in the past but never a beer/wine store.
AMC movies. I had read that the Post was giving them the ad space for free. Why just AMC? why not give away all the advertising for free? I'm sure Macy's will ask you to follow suit.
Basically, the Post is taking my subscription money and giving it to advertisers.
John Kelly: Oh you'd just blow it on hefeweizen.
The networks and cable outlets don't pay us to list their programs in our TV grid. Nor does congress pay us to list their hearings. I guess we figure that info is a public service, unlike a lady's undergarments sale. But the whole model is up for grabs. (I mean business model, not lingerie model.)
Pompano Beach, Fla.: Hey Eliot, how many years did you work at the famous Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Lady Studios? Thanks, Daniel
Eliot Brown: I worked there for about six years total in the latter half of the nineties. My big achievement there was helping restore the original murals in the bathrooms with original artist Daniel Blumenau. The decopage (did I spell that right) is a psychedelic masterpiece featured on a poster from Cactus second album.
John Kelly: Ah Cactus, featuring the hard-hitting Carmine Appice on drums.
Am I the only one....: who is wondering why Four Corners capitalized "REDSKINS"?
It's going to keep me up tonight.
John Kelly: I think it's related to the current case before the Supreme Court, involving copyright and antitrust. If you fail to capitalize REDSKINS, Dan Snyder gets a nickel.
Silver Spring, Md.: I think Fenwick Beer and Wine was, most recently, a real estate office, and/or a dentist.
I wish it had been open back when I was drinking. It would have been very convenient.
John Kelly: Within staggering distance.
Alexandria, Va.: Ah, sorry, I was thinking of the beer and wine shop that was in a house down a little sidestreet across from City Place mall.
John Kelly: I hope the guy can succeed. He said he used to run a similar store in Burtonsville. Before that he worked in catering for Marriott. Now is probably not a great time to launch a business that features premium, imported beer. He also sells wine. And Starburst. Maybe he makes all his money on the Starburst.
McLean, Va.: John, had my car broken into the other day. I thought my complex was pretty safe but that sense has now been shattered. The thieves hit 9 cars. They stole airbags, GPS's and apparently someone's catalytic converter. However, these thieves aren't the brightest crayons in the box as my GPS was untouched in the glove compartment. All the targeted cars were Japanese and I had to call in for a day to stay home to get the glass replaced in my window. Really killed my week. Have you heard about this problem. I know someone else who had it happen a couple of weeks ago and also a few months ago.
John Kelly: My condolences. I just read somewhere the other day about catalytic converter thefts. Here's a story from 2008 on an increase, spurred by a rise in the cost of metals. When I was living in England the news was full of people stripping lead roofs off of old churches. I suppose this must be partially due to the economy. Too bad no one's alarm went off when all those cars were being assaulted.
Gaithersburg, Md.: I used to hang with Barry at the silver theater plus other places my name is Richard McClure I used to work at Peoples Drug as well as Silver Theater. Barry used to sit in there and announce it is the big Sandy Land time hand say what time it was. I haven't talked to Barry in a long time if he would like to talk look in the Maryland phone book under R.A. McClure in Gaithersburg.
Eliot Brown: Please email the site with your info-
That was one of the reasons I was so intent on having the screening at the Silver Theater. I thought it would be really cool for him to be returning as a senior delinquent to the place he used to hang out in as a juvenile delinquent!
4 Corners: Because I also capitalized METRO, so someone like you, could understand AND save $.05 from going into Mr. Snyder's pocket.
John Kelly: Metro could use the money. And it looks like they may get it, and more than a nickel from each of us.
Washington, D.C.: I was surprised to hear Barry said hitch-hiking was illegal back, when, the 1960s? Can't be, as I used to hitchhike home from Good Counsel High School to the Burnt Mills area where my home was. Never hassled about it by Montgomery. police. Other guys hitched too, so I am skeptical of that claim.
John Kelly: Well as I said, DJs have a tendency to exaggerate. Perhaps there was just something about Barry that rubbed law enforcement the wrong way. Or maybe the whole story is apocryphal. It reminded me of that scene in Faulkner, where a boy hides under his grandmother's skirt. I can't remember the details, or even which novel it was in. But I bet one of you can.
Alexandria, Va.: I'm not arguing that it isn't a staggering amount of money, but most NFL coaches work insane numbers of hours most of the year, not just the 3 hours you see them on the sideline on Sundays.
John Kelly: That's why I never really explored the possibility of becoming an NFL coach. It looked like too much work. Oh, and I also don't know anything about football. Not that that held Zorn back.
Just kidding, Jim!
John Kelly: Eliot: I understand that Barry had a few Beatles connections, including one involving his wife. Can you fill us in?
Eliot Brown: When the Beatles played their first American concert at the Washington Coliseum, all the local DJ's had tickets. Don Dillard didn't want to go so he gave his to Barry, who took his future wife with him. After the show, they went to the British Embassy for some sort of meet & greet. Barry's date wanted to leave, so she figured the only way to get Barry out was to get them thrown out. She took out a manicure scissor and clipped off a lock of Ringo's hair, which got them thrown out. For some reason, the press picked up on this and it made international news...
Then six months later when Barry was in Atlantic City and the Beatles came back, he conducted an interview with all four of them at the Lafayette Hotel. Barry had forgotten all about this until I went through all his 1/4" audio tapes (which were a big pile of spaghetti in a big plastic tub) and found the tape. It will be included as part of a bonus audio CD with the DVD
Stripping lead roofs off of old churches: Ostensibly shipped to China where it's used in the toy industry for export back to the rest of us.
What a revoltin' development this is! -- Chester A. Riley, The Life of Riley
John Kelly: It's the modern circle of life!
Mt. Lebnanon, Pa.: You can't end the session w/o listing some of those Oxford beers and ales.
And do they still have old style pub food (Gordon Ramsay) or is at all burgers and ketchup and crap?
Juneau, Alaska -- microbrewery there makes a wonderful oatmeal stout. The only reason I miss living there.
Thanks much. HLB
- Too much rain, too often
John Kelly: Old Hooky, that was my favorite. Like mother's milk....
Pub food varied. There has been an explosion of so-called "gastropubs" but I never found one in Oxford. There was some pretty dire stuff, but as long as it was warm and filling it provided a good counterpart to the beer, which was almost universally drinkable.
One odd thing: When you get a cheese sandwich in England the cheese comes GRATED. That's right, a pile of grated cheese between two pieces of bread.
Richmond, Va.: Oh, please don't link to trepanning during the lunch hour (the drawing made me a bit green around the gills). On that note, can you please explain to me the posting of all the graphic photos (body parts, etc.) of Haiti on the Post site? I am all for getting the news out and demonstrating the utter destruction of the island, but really, a dusty gnarled arm peeking up from the rubble? Where is the news value in that? I get the idea from less graphic photos. And "everyone else is doing it" doesn't quite explain it. Thank you.
John Kelly: I'm far removed from those decisions, but I agree with them. The gallery on the Post web sites warns that the images are graphic but I assume you object to the ones that are on the home page. Yes, they are hard to take, but that seems to me necessary. If that is what Port au Prince looks like now, to show something else would be to ignore reality, distort it, even. The shots I've seen have been said, but I'm sure there are even more graphic images that you're not seeing. These images, many by our own Carol Guzy, have a poignancy. It might be a good idea not to look at news sites for the next few days.
Marmite Revisited: John Kelly: I wonder what Advil is made from?
Maybe aardvark extract? Or Adonis extract?
John Kelly: Adonis is apparently the extrace of a myrrh tree. (Who knew?) I like the idea of Advil, though.
John Kelly: Eliot: Doom metal? Blood Farmers? Explain.
Eliot Brown: Doom Metal is basically bands directly influenced by Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and that style of music. It's been considered a genre for about 20 years. It's always been really underground, slow depressing blues-based metal meant to bludgeon your brain into submission. It's not always as simple as all that. It's grown in popularity quite a bit in the last five years, to the point where bands can now actually afford to go on tour in America.
Blood Farmers is a band I helped form in 1989. We released an album on Germany's Hellhound label in 1995, right before they went bankrupt. Thanks to the internet, we've developed a cult following and re-issued our album and demos and connected with people all over the world. We even toured Japan in 2008!
"old-style" pub food?: Food of any kind in pubs is a pretty recent development. You used to be able to get a ploughman's (bread, cheese, and pickled onions or chutney) or maybe something like Scotch eggs but that was about all. The "pub food" this poster is talking about is an 80s phenomenon.
John Kelly: It takes a brave man to eat a Scotch egg, though last time I was in London I had a very nice one. It was at a gastropub. Forget what it was called. My team won the trivia contest.
Hyattsville, Md.: John,
Now that Catoe has quit how much do you think they will pay the guy who replaces him?
John Kelly: Good question. I hear Conan O'Brien is looking for a job.
John Kelly: Eliot, thanks so much for joining us for the chat--and for putting Barry's stuff in front of the public again. You're doing the Lord's work, the rock n roll Lord. Good luck with the project. And remember folks, you can get more info, and send in your reminiscences, by going to headline/words.
Eliot Brown: Thanks to you for writing that great article. It's been a real pleasure. The DVD will be out this spring. You'll be one of the first to have it!
John Kelly: Thanks everybody for spending a bit of your Friday with me. Answer Man will be roaring into the paper on Sunday. I'll be in my usual place on Monday. And we'll chat again next week. Enjoy the holiday weekend. And say a prayer for our hemisphere mates down in Haiti.
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