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And What a Time It Was: Telling the WHFS Story on Film

by Ellyn Wexler August 17, 2016 –

Jay Schlossberg wants to take us back in time to an “era of cultural, social and political upheaval.” During those years from 1961 to 1983, he and countless other mostly teens and twenty-somethings were steadfast fans of the free-form progressive radio station that rocked the metropolitan area’s airwaves from the Triangle Towers apartment building in downtown Bethesda.

Bruce Cockburn & Jay Schlossberg - WHFS - City Winery
Bruce Cockburn & Jay Schlossberg – WHFS – photo by Jay at City Winery

“Feast Your Ears – The Story of WHFS 102.3 FM” is Schlossberg’s work-in-progress documentary about WHFS, where locally-legendary DJs—including Weasel, Cerphe, Damian, Josh, Adele and Thom—spun non-Top 40 tunes and chatted about the important issues of the day. “It was more than a local radio station,” Schlossberg said. “It was the voice of a generation.”

The substance was transmitted in more than one way. “Not only were we getting messages through the music of these national and local musicians,” said the Dufief resident who is the film’s director and executive producer, “but we also were getting local news (on topics like) when an anti-war protest would be held, where to buy records, health food, the nearest surf shop. The station served as a conduit for all the thriving retail businesses that sprung up around the culture.”

Most important, Schlossberg emphasized, was that WHFS promoted and supported local music. “We heard news about the live music venues—who was playing where and when.” After rattling off the names of some of the major places—The Psyche Delly, The Cellar Door, Redfox Inn, the Bayou, Lisner, the Warner, he observed, “’HFS was the center of it all.”’

Schlossberg’s allegiance to the station was cemented at age 17 when the Charles W. Woodward High School student was fortunate enough to have a summer job there. “I’d pay you to let me work here,” he remembers thinking in 1972. At Montgomery College the following year, Schlossberg was among 16 students who started the campus radio station. He served as WMCR’s program director and DJ, aspiring to be like Weasel and Cerphe, and honed his guitar skills by jamming in the student lounge when he was supposed to be in class.

The idea to tell the WHFS story came to Schlossberg some 30 years later after seeing a group photo on Facebook of the iconic station’s DJs, taken at the April 20, 2013 Record Day celebration at Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring. “I said out loud, ‘Oh my God, they’re all not dead yet. Someone needs to tell this story,’” he recalled. “Of course, I knew them all already, but seeing the photograph just crystallized it. A flashbulb went off.”

Schlossberg is president and owner of Media Central, the global crewing, production and post-production services broker-agent company he founded on Aug. 1, 1993 (Jerry Garcia’s birthday, he noted). His clients have included HBO, Lucasfilm, Discovery Channel, Paramount Pictures, Showtime and BBC Worldwide. His company Media Central Films has produced a web series, “AutoExotika Presents: Cars ‘N Coffee,” with episodes in Bethesda, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, Cincinnati, Palm Beach and Paris.

Despite his successful businesses and concomitant media industry contacts, Schlossberg had never done a documentary before. Thus, it was essential that he research and brainstorm the project by talking to people who had been there as well as industry professionals. About six months post-epiphany, he hosted what he called a “meeting-party” with the WHFS DJs in the building where they once broadcasted.

Maryanne Culpepper, former president of National Geographic Television, was enlisted as executive producer “to help with the front and back ends, to help me get the plane off the ground and into the air and with the landing,” he said. “She knows about film festivals.” Also on the team are consulting producer Jonathan Gilbert AKA Weasel; story consultant and former Washington Post writer Richard Harrington; and Bethesda native and writer of “Homicide” and “The Wire” David Simon, who helped with background and context.

Filming began in June 2014, and a Kickstarter fundraising effort in October and November 2015 raised $65,000 for the project. With two-thirds of the filming completed, Schlossberg expects the editing process to begin in September with a rough cut by the end of the year. Plans include local screenings—perhaps at AFI in Silver Spring and Landmark in Bethesda—and Netflix and Showtime and even director Morgan Spurlock have expressed interest and encouragement. Schlossberg is confident and optimistic about the film’s future. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the trailer,” he said. “And I think the film will have wide-ranging international appeal, too.”

Having acquired a taste for music documentaries, Schlossberg is also acting as executive producer of “The Humbler,” a film about legendary guitar player Danny Gatton.

Visit www.feastyourearsthefilm.com to see the trailer, donate to the film, buy merchandise and read other stories about the documentary.

Bruce is in the trailer and in the film.

Credit: http://towncourier.com/and-what-a-time-it-was-telling-the-whfs-story-on-film/.


Music Makers and Soul Shakers- Steve Dawson interviews Bruce Cockburn

Musician and producer Steve Dawson has a new podcast called “Music Makers and Soul Shakers” that Bruce was interviewed for. You can stream the episode here, or subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.

Bruce Cockburn

http://www.stevedawson.ca/podcast-2/episode19-bruce-cockburn

Some of you might recall that Steve produced the wonderful tribute album to the Mississippi Sheiks called “Comin’ My Way” and that Bruce did a cut for that album “Honey Babe Let The Deal Go Down“.

It’s a great album and worth picking up. Further I have a history with Steve as well. I released a few albums on True North for the great group Zubot & Dawson and in 2003 one of those albums “Chicken Scratch” won a Juno Award.

The podcast is really worth listening to especially if you’re a guitar player.

~Bernie Finlelstein


Bid Now for Best Seats at Jackson-Triggs Sold Out show

War Child  Jackson-Triggs

Bruce’s show in Niagara On The Lake is sold-out but here’s a chance to get tickets plus a special “meet & greet”. You also can support one of Bruce’s favorite causes War Child. Take a look and maybe you can get the last remaining tickets.

BID HERE NOW for the Best Seats in the House tickets and a Meet and Greet for Bruce Cockburn’s August 19th show at Jackson-Triggs.
Auction closes Sunday, August 7th! All proceeds support War Child.


The dam over Almonte’s troubled waters by Linda Manzer

Citizens of a picturesque town outside of Ottawa lament the expansion of a hydro dam they claim will ruin a pice of paradise

Picture a lovely, quiet town surrounded by old stone mills that have scarcely changed in a hundred years. The main street is full of charming shops selling local crafts and restaurants that attract interesting visitors — including recently Justin Trudeau and family.

Right through the heart of town runs a magical river with cascading waterfalls. It’s a special, loved place where people fish, kids swim and wildlife abounds. This is Almonte, a town of 5,000 people about 50 km southwest of Ottawa, recently voted one of the 10 most charming towns in Canada by Expedia travel site.

Linda Manzer - Almonte photo:Emma Jackson

Alongside turtles and herons, this section of the Mississippi River (no connection to the famous U.S. river) is also home to the endangered Rapid’s clubtail dragonfly. You can sense the river running through Almonte is magical, but the dragonfly’s presence here highlights how truly rare this setting is.

Yet right in the centre of this enchanted river, a company called Enerdu Power Systems wants to add a massive new powerhouse to a small existing generating station, blasting the riverbed to increase water flow and installing a dam over top of the cascades.

Although the town of Almonte has fought this dam tooth and nail for years, its construction is due to start this week.

Along with several dozen other Almonte residents, I protested this dam last week by wading into the river. We stretched across it in a line, holding hands, desperately hoping for publicity to attract the attention of someone with power to stop the company at the final hour. We started a petition to Catherine McKenna, federal minister of the environment, which includes signatures from singers Bruce Cockburn and Paul Simon, as well as cartoonist Gary Larson.

This is truly a David versus Goliath story. The town of Almonte has never wanted this project and has been fighting for more than four years to stop it. Despite the strong local opposition, including from Mayor Shaun McLaughlin, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has approved the project. Jeff Cavanagh, owner of Enerdu, is determined and has ample resources.

Yes, his dam will generate electricity. But, actually, no new energy will be added to the overall grid because the Appleton dam just upstream will lose whatever power it gains due to changing water levels, according to a report by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists.

Cavanagh also says his project will create jobs, which is true. But they’re just temporary jobs. Once the project is done, there will be, at most, a few employees.

Unlike another power plant downstream, which is owned and operated by the town, Cavanagh’s privately owned plant will add no new revenue to Almonte.

Something is wrong here.

There is an endangered dragonfly making its habitat at the exact location Cavanagh wants to dynamite to build his power plant.

The MNR is mandated to facilitate renewable energy but it is also tasked with implementing the Endangered Species Act. So where do the MNR’s priority lie? Given that there is another power plant upstream that can easily handle increased capacity, the answer should be clear.

The MNR insists the dragonfly does not make its habitat here, even though there have been documented sightings of the dragonfly in areas impacted by this project.

We believe the entire Environmental Assessment conducted by provincial authorities on this Enerdu project was based on insufficient and outdated facts.

The report by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist documents how the high­water levels caused by Enerdu water control devices already in place are drowning 600 hectares of protected wetlands.

Now Cavanagh wants to expand further down the river and add a dam that will control even more of the river’s flow. Does the government of Ontario serve the people of Ontario or Jeff Cavanagh?

There is so much wrong with this project, which will forever mar the beauty of Almonte with unsightly fences, safety notices, warning systems and restricting buoys. The part of the river where children now swim will be off­limits.

A river that was once teeming with life and the jewel of our town will be harnessed like a wild animal in a cage.

I stood beside the river last week with a native elder and asked him if this would have been a sacred place. “Most definitely,” he said.

Sometimes you do know what you’ve got before it’s gone.

Linda Manzer is a guitar maker living in Almonte.

Photo: Emma Jackson



Remembering Bill Hawkins: The poet who became a songwriter

July 6, 2016 – Poet, songwriter and erstwhile cab driver, Bill Hawkins died of cancer on July 4, 2016.

A poet is deeply conflicted and it’s in his work that he reconciles those deep conflicts.’
— Irving Layton

It’s traditional to begin these types of obituaries with an anecdote that best sums up the subject as a whole person.

Bill Hawkins - poet songwriter
Bill Hawkins – poet songwriter (photo – Wayne Hiebert/Postmedia)

But Bill Hawkins defies the one anecdote rule.

Bill Hawkins defied many of the rules, often to his personal and professional detriment.

And as with most people who communed with many, and lived the younger portion of life to excess, it’s occasionally difficult to determine where the truth ends and exaggeration begins.


Rob Wasserman, Masterful Upright Bassist, Dies After Brief Hospitalization

~from Bruce’s Facebook page, by Bernie Finkelstein:

Some sad news to report. Acclaimed bassist Rob Wasserman has passed away (June 29). Here’s what Jambase reported last night.

“Just hours after Bob Weir shared the news bassist Rob Wasserman was battling serious health issues, comes word Wasserman has died. RatDog guitarist Mark Karan first revealed Rob had passed on with Weir confirming the news shortly thereafter.

Rob Wasserman
Rob Wasserman

Rob Wasserman is best known for his long tenure alongside Weir as a founding member of RatDog as well as the pair’s Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman project. Wasserman was a member of RatDog from the group’s mid ’90s formation through 2002 and then again from 2010 to their most recent performances.”

Rob played on what many people consider to be one of Bruce’s finest albums “The Charity Of Night“, recorded in 1996. Before that Bruce and Rob had played together in the early 90’s at Sony studios in New York where they along with Lou Reed and Rosanne Cash performed together on one of Bruce’s “Christmas With Cockburn” radio shows.


The Long-Lost ’06 Bruce Cockburn “God Factor” Interview (with Audio)

by Cathleen Falsani
Updated on May 26, 2016. Original post published in March 2011.

In the spring of 2006, Farrar, Straus & Giroux published my first book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, which was a collection of 32 “spiritual profiles” of well-known people (I won’t say “celebrities” as that label applies awkwardly to many folks in the book) who I had spent time with face-to-face talking about their spiritual lives. I then set out, as you do, promoting the book at various literary festivals and other public appearances. As part of that tour, we decided I should conduct a few of these “God Factor” interviews live before an audience. We invited Bruce Cockburn, long a favorite of mine and one of the first “celebrity” interviews I ever conducted way back when I was writing for my college newspaper. Bruce agreed to join me onstage at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in May 2006. I figured he’d fly in with his manager, do my little dog-and-pony show and fly back to Ontario. Instead, incredibly gracious and generous soul that he is, Bruce drove his van down from his home in Kingston, Ontario alone and spent a couple of days hanging out with me in the rain in Ann Arbor. Our conversation onstage was only a small part of the amazing conversations we had those few days in Michigan, but the only one for which I have an audio recording. (Our dinner at this fabulous Indian restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor — I’ve never before or since had curried okra quite as good — not far from the theater where I’d interviewed him backstage 15 years earlier, will remain one of my favorite experiences of all time.)

As for our public “interview,” it too remains one of my favorite of all time. For years I’ve meant to take a couple of hours to transcribe it and post it so all of you could read (and hear) Bruce’s thoughtful responses to my questions about his faith. I’ve sat down many times to do so, never finishing until tonite. So with my apologies for taking many years to share it with you in its fullness, I give you the Bruce Cockburn “God Factor” interview in its entirety.

Transcript of my Bruce Cockburn “God Factor” interview at the Ann Arbor Book Festival, May 13, 2006


KALW’s 75th Anniversary Concert featuring Kronos Quartet and Bruce Cockburn

KALW's 75th Anniversary Concert

KALW.org is the oldest non-commercial station in California and west of the Mississippi. It’s highly unusual for a radio station to be around as long as we have. But thanks to listener support, KALW has hung on for 75 years. To celebrate, we’re hosting a special concert on August 4th at the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco. Headlining the concert will be Bruce Cockburn and the Kronos Quartet.

We have a limited number of VIP tickets [scroll down] to a post-concert reception with the musicians and the best seats in the house.
A single VIP ticket for a $150 contribution
A pair of VIP tickets for a $240 contribution

1 August 2016 – UPDATE:
$35 Tickets are available for this show!

30 June 2016 – UPDATE:
Regular admission tickets are now on sale.


WEFT – Radio Interview

May 11, 2016 – A two hour radio interview that took place in April 2016, has been uploaded to WEFT.org.

Niecey interviews well known and respected Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn.

Play TheMidwatch.Niecey.interview.w.Bruce.Cockburn_2016-04-27.mp3
 
 

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