Highway Hi-Fi Podcast
Bands Birthed from Movies and TV Shows (Episode 56)

Bands Birthed from Movies and TV Shows (Episode 56)

August 18, 2019

For the past few episodes, we have been examining the thin line that separates authentic from fraud in rock n roll.

The fantastical world-building of Mingering Mike showed how one can create true inspiration and beautiful art even without ever actually making music or having an audience.

The deception and tomfoolery of the music industry to create whole phantom biographies and personas as a means to some sort of end: financial, creative, critical or otherwise.

Today, the last piece falls into place. Not individuals trying to become stars. Nor stars trying to gain back some individuality. No, we are looking at bands that accidentally became real. Bands that took on a new life from an existence that was entirely, by definition, staged. Today’s episode we look at musicians and bands that broke free from the binds of television and movie screens to become actual stars. 

To learn more about JemCon, read this Rolling Stone article which we used for some of the research.

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Sham Bands and Other Hoaxes (Episode 55)

Sham Bands and Other Hoaxes (Episode 55)

August 5, 2019

There truly is a fine line between what’s real in rock n roll and what’s just an act. Judging the authenticity of an art form that at its heart is about transformative performance can be difficult, or worse, can take away from the power of it all. Where does one put the line in the sand beyond which is a total fabrication of aesthetic rather than an honest expression of self as art and music? Further complicating the matter is pinning down a measuring stick to determine the value of the music....record sales, billboard charts, financial accumulation, critical accolades, influence on other musicians. Sure, pre-packaged acts like the countless beautifully faceless boy bands seem to be an imitation of actual pop music but can that still count as art or even become art? So are the Monkees counterfeit rock n roll? Are their songs worth less because they were created and enabled by television producers? What about the Sex Pistols? Assembled, manufactured, marketed. So is most of Motown, for that matter. Even the beloved mop tops were shaped and molded and given matching Boots. All this to say, authenticity in rock n roll is on a sliding scale. 

 

Today’s episode takes a look at the history of artists that played with the notion of what’s real in music. Artists, who after obtaining fame and success, switch their identity or persona as intentional deceit toward some end...freedom, art, homage, satire, money. Sometimes, they might just be bored. Or prone to the creative use of multiple personalities and dissociative identities. Or just wish they could re-write their autobiography. Sometimes, just for a big fuck you to someone special. Today is an examination of the history of hoax bands. 

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Mingering Mike’s Mysteriously Mercurial Mind Trip (Episode 54)

Mingering Mike’s Mysteriously Mercurial Mind Trip (Episode 54)

July 4, 2019

On January 21, 1977, Jimmy Carter pardoned the Vietnam War draft dodgers. This happened the day after Carter was sworn into office and it was this single act ended the career of Mingering Mike Stevens, who was a singer, producer, label owner, and movie director. For nearly a decade, Mike created a career of epic proportions with tenacity, dedication, and precision.

According to a website dedicated to him, here is a list of his credentials: “Between 1968 and 1977 Mingering Mike recorded over fifty albums, managed thirty-five of his own record labels, and produced, directed and starred in nine of his own motion pictures. In 1972 alone he released fifteen LPs and over twenty singles, and his traveling revue played for sold-out crowds the world over.”

So how is it that a prolific career can be so lost upon the world? His storied life remained completely unknown outside of his own family for nearly 30 years. Worse than being simply forgotten, it was as if Mingering Mike never existed at all. In this episode, we discuss the history behind the legend of Mingering Mike.

 

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The Shyvers Multiphone Jukebox (Episode 53)

The Shyvers Multiphone Jukebox (Episode 53)

June 20, 2019

Everywhere you look you are surrounded by dead technology. The car you’re driving, the television you’re watching, the phone or computer that’s playing this podcast. Next month it will be outpaced. Next year it will be outdated. And next decade it will likely be obsolete. Proponents of technology always hail the latest and greatest as the critical next step toward inventive actualization. However, you probably wouldn’t be collecting records or listening to this show if you didn’t have some notion of the elegance and importance of antiquated technology. Both as relics of times gone by and reflections of the shared needs that all humans share no matter the era.

This episode is an examination of an odd pairing of two technologies that seem to be falling toward the wayside...telephones and jukeboxes. Devices that require human interaction as well as modern technology on both ends of the line. Today an examination of Shyvers Multiphone and the legacy of Dial-Up Music.

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Green Vinyl: Music Made for Plants (Episode 52)

Green Vinyl: Music Made for Plants (Episode 52)

June 6, 2019

A middle-aged lady with a beehive hairdo, cat-eyed glasses, and an orange church dress sits at a piano in the middle of cathedral-like Solarium in the Denver Botanical Gardens. She plays soft, chipper classical music surrounded by families of ferns: Maidenhair, Holly, Horsetail,  Cloverleaf, etc. She is being filmed for Leonard Nimoy´s In Search Of, a television documentary show dedicated to the world’s mysterious phenomena. Her undergraduate experiments with music and plants would inadvertently start a chain reaction resulting in a handful of highly specific records made exclusively for Flora.

In today’s episode, we discuss Green Vinyl: music made for and by plants.

 

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The Ye Ye Scenesters of Ye-steryear (Episode 51)

The Ye Ye Scenesters of Ye-steryear (Episode 51)

May 27, 2019

In 1959, a new radio show hit the Parisian airwaves called Salut les Copains, which translates to "Oh, Hi!" The show couldn’t have been more popular with teenagers. And on that program, there was a feature called “Sweetheart of the week” which featured one female pop singer. Because of the popularity of the show, those singers were all nearly instant hits, however fleetingly it was for most.

In 1963, Salut held a concert to celebrate the launch of its magazine. That concert drew nearly 200,000 people and caused lecherous drooling riots in the streets of Paris. Journalist Edgar Morin dubbed the singers and attendees the Ye Ye Generation immediately following the concert and the name stuck.

Most of the ‘sweethearts’ were lolita like figures, rarely over 20 years old and looking sweet and innocent. Most of the songs were French versions of American rock and roll hits, as long as the hits were trite and vacuous. The competition to become a ‘sweetheart’ was fierce and because most of these girls were stylized to look nearly identical, it ended up being those singers who had a niche, or a personality, that made a memorable mark. Among the masses of one-hit wonders, there were several stars that transcended the scene.

Much of the research for this episode was found here: Ready Steady Girls!

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Record Keeping (Episode 50)

Record Keeping (Episode 50)

May 8, 2019

For our mid-century episode, We are going to take a bit of departure from the usual. This podcast started as a way to teach ourselves more about music history and to keep on introducing each other to great songs and stories about those songs. Today is an exploration of why we are obsessed with vinyl and what it means to be a record collector. And for this show, we’ve asked some of you to help us narrate the show by telling us about your run-ins with record collecting.

We’re going to spend the next hour or so as if we were working at a record store, chatting about the sorts of things we used to spend too much time talking about but now need to make time for. The highlights and lowlights of our prized collection. Vinyl dreams and wax memories. And try to understand the gravitational pull to the black circles.

Special thanks to friends and listeners who contributed amazing stories to this Episode: Brian and Brian from the Volcano Vinyl Podcast, Maurice and Tim from the See Hear Podcast, Chris, Abi, Travis, Dennis, Lea, Mathew, Maria, Hannah, and Yetsko. And thanks to everyone who has spent any time listening to the podcast. We hope you’ve learned something new and have had as much fun as We’ve Had in making Highway Hifi. 

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Trivia Information, Part 2 (more clues and prize announcement included)

Trivia Information, Part 2 (more clues and prize announcement included)

April 25, 2019

To celebrate our impending 50th episode, we've created a trivia contest for you, our beloved listeners. 

For this quiz, we're playing 8 clips. From these 8 clips, we're looking for a phrase, specifically based on the artists, so you don't need to get the song names. 

The name of the quiz is "Mixed-Up Confusion"

Clues:

  1. The answer is based on artists only
  2. Use the initials
  3. It's an anagram

When you think you have the answer, you can submit it to us in 3 ways:

  1. Email your answer to highwayhifipodcast@gmail.com
  2. Send us a direct message on Twitter with your answer. Our Twitter handle is @highwayhifipod
  3. Send us a message on Facebook

We will announce the winner during our 50th episode.

The winner will be the first person who submits the correct answer. That person will receive a five of a kind canvas record bag for all your vinyl shopping needs.

Another winner of the bag will be selected by randomly picking one of the other correct answers.

All entries will receive a copy of a mix made from our record collections as a thank you for listening and entering.

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The Rise & Fall of Zamrock (Episode 49)

The Rise & Fall of Zamrock (Episode 49)

April 22, 2019

Under British control for decades, in 1911, Zambia was merged in with other South African countries to form Northern Rhodesia. For most of the colonial period, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company. Zambia was rich with copper mines and there was an economic boom that carried into the 50s and 60s. This boom, combined with westerners moving into the country as missionaries and expatriates, allowed for Zambians to hear a lot of western music, including gospel, rock, and soul. There are 72 languages spoken in Zambia, so bands there would sing in English, which most people understood as it was the 'official' language

By the 60s, as rock music was reaching more and more people, Zambian rock bands were forming, playing mostly covers of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, the Rolling Stones, and others. A lot of the music seemed to be hitting the country all at once, like an injection of 15 years of rock and soul all at one time. These bands became so popular that all white establishments started allowing them to play.

Independence came in 1964 with Kenneth Kaunda becoming its first president. Kaunda eliminated all other political parties by the early 70s and when elections were held in 1973, and for at least the next decade, he was the only candidate. As far as authoritarians go, Kaunda was pretty good, for a while.

Zambia has one of the worst education systems of all the former British colonies. In 1964, they had fewer than 100 native-born college graduates. Kaunda setup a university in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital and instituted a policy of free notebooks, pens, and pencils for all students, regardless of how much money their parents made. Kaunda was also an outspoken critic of Apartheid, which raised ire on most of Zambia’s border’s, where white minorities were in control of countries like Angola and Zimbabwe. Hostilities at the borders added to an economic burden that was already out of control - these countries were Zambia’s main trading partners.

Kaunda instituted a nationalist ideology called Zambian Humanism, which combined loyalty to Africa, and Zambia in particular, a focus on African values, along with state control. Part of this policy, enacted in 1970, required that 95% of the music played on the radio had to be of Zambian origin. Because of that policy, Zambian rock bands had to change what they were doing. They had to start writing their own songs. That was the birth of Zamrock, and that’s what we’re talking about today.

A lot of the research for this episode came from the book "Welcome to Zamrock" which goes with two absolutely essential Zamrock compilations, which have the same name. Both the book and compilations were released on Now-Again Records which is an incredible label.

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Trivia Contest Information

Trivia Contest Information

April 11, 2019

To celebrate our impending 50th episode, we've created a trivia contest for you, our beloved listeners. 

For this quiz, we're playing 8 clips. From these 8 clips, we're looking for a word or phrase, specifically based on the artists, so you don't need to get the song names. 

The name of the quiz is "Mixed-Up Confusion"

When you think you have the answer, you can submit it to us in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Email your answer to highwayhifipodcast@gmail.com
  2. Send us a direct message on Twitter with your answer. Our Twitter handle is @highwayhifipod
  3. Send us a message on Facebook

Answers need to be in by April 25th and we will announce the winner during our 50th episode.

The winner will be the first person who submits the correct answer. That person will receive a very special prize we had made specifically for this episode.

Another winner will be selected by randomly picking one of the other correct answers.

All entries will receive a copy of a mix made from our record collections as a thank you for listening and entering.