Roots Report: Cable Access, Graham Parker, Garry Tallent

Cable access shows

Okee dokee folks… When I first started this column, somewhere I wrote, “Love is fleeting but cable access is forever.” Once you record a show for cable access it seems to be in reruns indefinitely. I have recorded episodes that still pop up after ten or fifteen years.

The other day I was fortunate to be a guest on one of the longest running and most popular cable access programs in RI, An Hour With Bob. That show is always fun and, when you are the musical guest, you feel like Doc Severinsen on The Tonight Show.


Another show that I have been on a couple of times is called The Song, produced in Deerfield, Mass., by Mary Wheelan, the mother of the RI Songwriters Association having started it in 1993. Mary used to be a Pawtucket resident but escaped and moved to Western Massachusetts. Wheelan started The Song in April 2012 and the most recent episode, the 158th, features Rhode Islander and multiple Motif Award-winner Joanne Lurgio. The program has presented over 100 songwriters, and Rhode Islanders featured on the show include Kim Trusty, Mike Laureanno, Jim Palana, Matt Fraza, Ellyn Flemming and the late Billy Mitchell.

Wheelan said, “The show is about 20 minutes of performance and about 8-10 minutes of interview. The original version of The Song focuses on songwriting and the songwriter. There is now also a version called The Song: Voices of Dissent which focuses on the power of song and spoken word to help bring about positive social change. There have been two episodes of the new version, one featuring Gloria Matlock and the other featuring Tom Knight.”

“I’m not sure how long I will do [the show]. I was beginning to get tired of it but, with the new version, I have renewed enthusiasm and energy. I will still occasionally do the original version of the show for those artists who do not have material suitable for the new political version,” Wheelan said.

The Song airs on Frontier Community Access Television and can also be found on YouTube at


I had phone interviews with two performers coming to the area soon: Garry Tallent, of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who will be appearing at Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Thursday, May 4, and Graham Parker who will be at the Greenwich Odeum on Saturday, May 6. Full interviews will be on-line.

Graham Parker [see the full interview here]

Graham Parker and The Rumour emerged from the ashes of demised London pub rock bands in the mid 1970s and quickly garnered fans and critical acclaim. Songs such as “Local Girls,” “Temporary Beauty,” “Get Started, Start a Fire” and “I Want You Back” have cemented a loyal fan base and a solid reputation as an enduring talent.

Graham Parker and The Rumour were featured in Judd Apatow’s 2012 hit film This Is 40. Though Parker has retired The Rumour, he still records and is touring with Brinsley Schwarz, a remnant of The Rumour, and will be “squeezing out sparks” at the Greenwich Odeum on May 6.

Graham Parker rang me up from London. I asked, “You and Brinsley have been playing together now for forty-two years?” Parker replied, “We have been playing since the Rumour. and I made a couple of albums without him, or maybe just one, and then I brought him back in and we toured significantly and made albums with him on guitar… with Brinsley it seemed to be a no brainer to do a duo [tour] with him.”

I asked if it was two acoustic guitars with harmonies. “No, he plays electric, I play acoustic. So it’s basically a sort of soundscape from his delightful electric playing and it flows around my acoustic, and, yeah, he does some backing vocals…”

What could we expect at the Greenwich Odeum? “Well, I don’t want to give any set lists away yet because nothing is complete until we do some rehearsal… there’s plenty of ‘70s stuff because most of the fans – let’s face it, well, acts of my era, the stuff that hit them is when they were twenty years old and those songs hold up totally as if they were written yesterday… so there’s plenty of that… there’s one or two from the newer albums and some ‘80s stuff so, most people will be happy…”

A final comment: “Really looking forward to the show at the Odeum, and if you are curious what we do look it up on YouTube. I am sure you will find something badly recorded though there might be a few good things on there…”

For more, “Stupefaction” to

[see the full interview here]

Garry Tallent [Read the full Garry Tallent interview]

For forty-six years Garry Tallent has played alongside his “Boss” Bruce Springsteen and was happy to be in the background. Besides Springsteen, he is the only original member of the E Street Band. Now, at age 67, he is embarking on a solo tour to promote his first solo album.

Garry Tallent called me from his Nashville home. About his CD, Break Time, he told me, “It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for twenty years, but I got busy producing other people and got busy raising a family, and then I got busy on the road and, you know, finally I got a break and I had a chance to actually go through songs that I have written and co-written, and figured out which ones would make a good album in 1959 and then cut it as if it were 1959. That was the motivation behind it… really trying to recreate what made me fall in love with rock and roll in the first place.”

I asked him what and who will make up the the band that he will have at the Narrows? “Piano, which is Kevin McKendree, a local friend here, he also tours with Brian Setzer; Mark Winchester, who plays stand-up bass, also with Brian Setzer; Eddie Angel, of Los Straitjackets, on guitar; and Jimmy Lester, also from Los Straitjackets, he plays drums; and then Fats Kaplin and Kristi Rose… Fats Kaplin, he kind of plays everything – banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, steel guitar – he’s kind of our utility guy; and he’s married to Kristi Rhodes, who does a duet on the record with me… She’s with us doing vocals and actually she will be singing ‘Promise To My Heart’ because she sings it so great, and that way I get to do the Duane Eddy guitar part on it so that’s a win-win.”

What made him want to step out from the background? “Sometimes it’s good to force yourself out of your comfort zone, and I’ve done a lot of things to do that and this is one of the last ones really… this is really my last ‘glass ceiling’ to break, I guess, and really get out there and perform my own songs so I’m going for it… Part of the reason was raising kids. You know you tell them they gotta take chances – if you start something you gotta follow through and all these things – and once in a while they come back at you and say ‘Well, Dad, you started this thing, when are you going to finish it?’”

To see and hear the results of Tallent finishing this project, get to the Narrows on May 4. For more, “Ooh, La, La” to

[Read the full Garry Tallent interview]

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.