Various Artists | radio free: live instudio performances from radio free brattleboro

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radio free: live instudio performances from radio free brattleboro

by Various Artists

live and in-studio performances recorded at an independent radio station in southern vermont currently embattled with the fcc, which refuses to license stations broadcasting under 100 watts like ours.
Genre: Folk: Folk Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. smiley bob project : radio free
5:03 album only
2. paul barrère & fred tackett of little feat : down on the farm
5:11 album only
3. greg brown : bucket
4:55 album only
4. louise taylor : call my name
3:40 album only
5. darryl purpose : a crooked line
4:45 album only
6. bethanie w/phil bloch : water run deep and wide
2:39 album only
7. adrian crowley : a northern country
3:22 album only
8. derrik jordan : invitation to ecstasy
4:00 album only
9. john hughes : bamba bojang
4:03 album only
10. california guitar trio : circulation
3:15 album only
11. euphony groove : bemoan
3:08 album only
12. ill wind ensemble : broken chord
4:36 album only
13. elevator tribe : static between the stations
2:32 album only
14. mountain of venus : the bridge
4:54 album only
15. relative strangers : same undone
3:24 album only
16. gordon stone & michael daves w/phil bloch : sunday driver
4:32 album only
17. dexter grove : 3 am
3:03 album only
18. reed foehl & putnam murdock : come september
5:54 album only
19. the mammals : quite early morning
6:13 album only


Album Notes
UPDATE: March 12, 2004--The FCC v. radio free brattleboro case will be heard in federal court in Brattleboro, VT on Monday, March 15, 2004. The FCC is asking the judge to provide the legal authority (as a mere regulatory body, the FCC must secure external enforcement authority) to force rfb to cease and desist broadcasting; the judge could also authorize the seizure of rfb's broadcasting equipment. It is not clear if the judge will also hear rfb's complaint for injunction, which outlines rfb's case. See rfb's website ( ) for more details. YOUR PURCHASE OF THIS DISC AT THIS TIME WILL DIRECTLY AID THE CAUSE OF FREE RADIO! THANK YOU. Bill

To finance its struggle with the FCC, radio free brattleboro releases radio free--a compilation of 19 live and in-studio performances

"It shouldn't be a federal case
If we want to improve the place
A ten-watt signal around town"
--Smiley Bob Project, "Radio Free"

A couple of performers with guitar, mandolin, or fiddle, microphones plugged into a recorder, a dj, a few friends in the studio, a transmitter, and a listening audience--these are the simple ingredients of a live in-studio performance. radio free brattleboro (rfb) has hosted several dozen such sessions featuring international, national, and regional artists.

rfb broadcasts at 10 watts, a signal strength once commonplace in communities throughout the United States. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) no longer issues licenses for broadcasting under 100 watts, effectively silencing such community radio stations nationwide. Conversely, corporate radio has grown virtually unchecked while the FCC continues to neglect its original mandate to make available the public airwaves to all.

On June 24, 2003, two FCC agents visited the station, demanding to see its license or authority to broadcast. rfb then embarked upon a campaign to document its "authority to broadcast." Thousands of people have signed a petition in Brattleboro, a town of 12,000, that granted rfb that authority.

The 19 performances on radio free, which were all recorded and broadcast live and in-studio on rfb, exemplify radio free: they are not slick and polished, but rather spontaneous and freewheeling. Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrère laughs at the end of "Down on the Farm" while Fred Tackett howls; Greg Brown plays "Bucket," a song he hasn't even recorded yet; the California Guitar Trio invents a song on the spot.

"It was a pleasure and a privilege to host so many great in-studio performances," said Bill Baue, rfb's former music director who produced the disc. "Not only is the music fresh and exciting, but the cause of community radio is more important to support than ever: why in the world does the FCC refuse to license 10-watt stations such as ours while at the same time selling out to corporate media outlets with homogenous, ratings-driven programming?"

"It's usually so commercial and tight on the radio," said Reed Foehl, founder of Acoustic Junction, at his first rfb in studio performance. "Here it's so nice and casual--like playing in a living room."

"radio free brattleboro--so does that mean Brattleboro doesn't have any radio?" said Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (who with his band the Mammals plays a song by his grandfather, Pete Seeger) in a bit of word-play during his interview with rfb. If you want independent, non-commercial, community radio, please support projects like radio free.

Check out rfb's website ( to listen to complete tracks not included on the disc, to learn more about rfb, and to sign its petition for authority to broadcast.

contact: call 802.258.9879; email; listen locally on 107.9 fm and globally on

Album Credits:
1. smiley bob project : radio free 5.01
11.22.2 @ new studio
smiley bob wrote this song for and about rfb. greg masterson: lead guitar. dave rountree: acoustic bass

2. paul barrère & fred tackett : down on the farm 5.11
12.9.2 @ 31 union st, northampton, ma
paul and fred smoked. paul told of his experience in an alaskan brothel that inspired this song. recorded to minidisc through a single room mic in my living room.

3. greg brown : bucket 4.55
11.15.2 @ dream authority music studio, guilford, vt
greg's inscrutable eyes fix on everything in sight except others' gaze. right around this time greg married iris dement, who this song may or may not be about. recorded by john stout.

4. louise taylor : call my name 3.40
5.9.3 @ new studio
the digital recording screwed up, leaving only the cassette backup, which is appropriate, as louise recorded her latest album on analog. to create what sounds like a thumb piano, she used the old bluesman's trick of sliding a piece of paper between her guitar strings.

5. darryl purpose : a crooked line 4.45
10.26.1 @ old studio
darryl was nursing a cold and sucking on a lozenge throughout this performance, though you can't tell until he lets out a cough as the song ends.

6. bethanie w/phil bloch : water run deep and wide 2.39
9.28.1 @ old studio
although it isn't quite as good a recording as bethanie's recent solo performance on rfb, this version got the nod to include phil's fiddling.

7. adrian crowley : a northern country 3.22
5.12.3 @ new studio
adrian flew all the way from ireland to play on cole odell's show, 'our little secret.' adrian crowley: vocals, electric guitar. kate ellis: cello. sarah fox : acoustic bass. recorded by bob everingham

8. derrik jordan : invitation to ecstasy 4.00
5.14.3 @ new studio
when derrik clicks a foot pedal, a loop program repeats what he's just played on electric violin, allowing him to layer different rhythms and melodies ad infinitum. dj homey, who hosted this performance on his 'keep it alive' show, considers this the best of the many improvs he's heard by derrik.

9. john hughes : bamba bojong 4.22
9.28.1 @ old studio
john plays a traditional song from the gambia on the kora, a harp-like instrument made with twenty-one fishing-line strings stretching from a calabash gourd up to a hardwood neck. he sings in mandinka, lamenting the departure of a shopkeeper: 'gone is the ginger beer, gone is the sweetened milk with honey, gone is the beyabob tree leaf sauce with oil."

10. california guitar trio : circulation 3.15
11.2.1 @ old studio
paul richards of utah, bert lams of belgium, and hideyo moriya of japan each played one note in turn, 'passing it on'--an exercise they learned at a robert fripp guitar workshop, where some thirty students would pass as many as four notes around a circle. engineered by greg masterson.

11. euphony groove : bemoan 3.08
9.?.2 @ the loft
euphony groove melds musical traditions from around the world: frederick stubbs plays the ney, a turkish flute; thomas brett plays the yang-qin, a chinese hammer dulcimer; todd roach plays a middle-eastern hand drum; and matthew burton plays didgeridoo, an australian natural horn. they all added some throat singing. in a guest appearance, molly melloan uses her voice to channel sound s from other galaxies.

12. ill wind ensemble : broken chord 4.34
8.10.1 @ old studio
the ill wind ensemble plays unusual and 'invented' instruments: eric boyer plays this big bass drum strung to a spaghetti pot (near the end of this song, you can hear this cord snap); kevin moreau bows a north indian sarangi; charlie schneeweis whistles in an empty beer bottle; and john levin plays a balinese suling. engineered by john singer.

13. elevator tribe : static between the stations 2.33
4.24.2 @ old studio
tribe drummer creed wanted to hear the show during their performance on his transistor, but his search for our frequency incited this free-for-all, with head elevator operator john stout on thumb piano and train whistle.

14. mountain of venus : the bridge 4.54
10.27.2 @ new studio
mountain of venus schlepped all their equipment upstairs for rfb's first and only electric instudio performance. dj lucas tomolinis recorded it into a single shure sm-58 on his 'art of groove' show.

15. relative strangers : same undone 5.50
5.17.2 @ the loft
steve west's song of defiance could serve as rfb's anthem in its struggle against the fcc. clayton sabine and rose gerber played some of the best lead fills i've heard from them at this rfb benefit show.

16. gordon stone and michael daves w/phil bloch : sunday driver 4.31
11.8.2 @ new studio
phil joked that the slow middle section was like being caught behind a truck on an uphill, but they shifted into overdrive to pass it.

17. dexter grove : 3 am 3.02
5.15.2 @ 'the bunker'
rfb was off the air at the time, so john singer recorded this performance in his underground studio. co-host meghan of 'idle enjoyment' went to high school with charley and steve. thanks to duke johnson for the use of his vocal mic.

18. reed foehl & putnam murdock : come september 5.54
4.18.3 @ new studio
the year before, putnam waited until the last two songs to play slide; this year, a little coaxing got the slide out earlier in the set, with this beautiful version of 'come september' resulting. ross ackley, sarah hunter, and michael bowen filmed and photographed this performance, bob everingham recorded it.

19. the mammals : quite early morning 6.12
5.15.3 @ the loft
tao rodriguez-seeger joked that he prefers to play these lesser-known songs by his grandfather over the more famous ones because he 'isn't sick of them yet.' fellow mammals michael merenda and ruth ungar accompanied on banjo and harmony vocals, respectively, with ken maiuri on acoustic bass. rfb gratefully thanks pete seeger and sanga music for permission to use this song.

all songs written by the performers, except as noted
all recordings by bill baue on the show show, except as noted.
produced by bill baue
mastered by john stout
front and back cover art by ken boyle
front cover lettering by dede cummings
photos by michael bowen and bill baue
design by ron schneiderman

paul barrère & fred tackett appear courtesy of hot tomato records
greg brown appears courtesy of red house records
louise taylor appears courtesy of signature sounds recordings
california guitar trio appears courtesy of insideout music



to write a review

Lindsay Cobb, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

This recording, and the folks who spawned it, are the kind of glittering diamond
This recording, and the folks who spawned it, are the kind of glittering diamonds in the rough that you will never, EVER find on your top-40, same-five-songs-every-half-hour corporate-owned radio station. You will never find it at Cocoanuts or Strawberries, let alone Wal-"Resistance is Futile, Prepare to Be Assimilated"-Mart. Most likely you'll find it, as I did, on a folding table in the parking lot of the local food co-op, where most all important movements get started.

If you aren't familiar with radio free brattleboro's story (yes, all lower-case), you may know of a local radio station in your area with a similar plight. The full story, with up-to-the- minute developments, you can find by clicking on the link to their web page. Semi-briefly, radio free brattleboro is a 10-watt station that has been broadcasting for five years out of Brattleboro, Vermont. Its members, which number between 50 and 70, pay dues to keep the station afloat, and their programing is an eclectic mix of all kinds of music, from goth to big-band jazz, as well as live in-studio performances, poetry readings, interviews with local (and sometimes national) political, literary, or musical luminaries, and a free-wheeling range of way-left-of-center commentary. It's a radio station with its finger firmly on the pulse of the neighborhood - which is a good thing, because their signal doesn't reach beyond Main Street (although you can hear them anywhere in the world from the live stream on their web page).

The one rub is, they have never been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, which didn't seem to bother anyone until the summer of 2003, when the FCC received two complaints that rfb was interfering with the frequency of a National Public Radio station in Amherst, Massachusetts (many miles away). The FCC has threatened to shut down rfb; the station has countered that the FCC's regulations, which favor corporate controlled radio over small indie stations, are unconstitutional. In fact, when two FCC agents visited the station on June 24, 2003, with the intention of shutting off their transmitter, the deejay on-duty locked them out and broadcast the entire confrontation live on the air. On February 18, 2004, the FCC filed a civil suit against rfb; in turn, rfb took their cause to the March 2 town meeting ballot, where townspeople voted 1,519 to 780 in favor of a non-binding resolution that gives rfb authority to broadcast.

So radio free, the CD, was produced partly as a fund-raiser for the station, and mainly as a way to share with its listeners some of the excellent live music it has broadcast recently. And an eclectic mix it is, featuring an array of both local and national performers that is remarkable for such a small station. The cd starts with a stretch of singer-songwriters, as the Smiley Bob Project sets the populist tone with the eponymous song "Radio Free," a pointed and impassioned paean to the joys of homegrown radio: "Being tuned into your neighbors is what small-town living is all about."

The station scores big with the presence of Greg Brown, Darryl Purpose, and Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat. But the high points of the opening segment are Louise Taylor's chunky rhythms on Call My Name; and local performer Bethanie, with Phil Bloch on fiddle, singing her jaunty words of wisdom on Water Run Deep and Wide.

From here, things go deep and wide indeed, on the experimental, spacy, whatever-you're- smokin-I-want-some-too portion of the recording. Derrik Jordan weaves a rich musical tapestry of melody and counterpoint with his cello and a loop program. John Hughes sings a winsome traditional song from Gambia, accompanying himself on a harp called the kora. The California Guitar Trio improvise a tender and meditative piece, the kind of baroque-sounding music that J.S. Bach might have composed had he recorded for Windham Hill. Euphony Groove gets intensely righteous with a far-ranging mix of world instruments. The set culminates with two local bands: the Ill Wind Ensemble, which gets a funky groove going with such instruments as a spaghetti colander, a north Indian sarangi, and an empty beer bottle; and Brattleboro's premier psychedelic troubadours, Elevator Tribe, which improvises on various percussion instruments while a radio-tuned to their program-plays in the background. Serious black-light-poster action here; and again, only from a progressive, independent station, owing nothing to the corporate monolith, could you hear music so spontaneous and adventuresome.

After this the mood swings back toward melodies and harmonies, with a last batch of bands and singer-songwriters. One standout is Gordon Stone and Michael Daves, playing some sly, jazzy bluegrass, accompanied by the ever-ready Phil Bloch on fiddle. And the crowning piece is the concluding number: The Mammals' gentle, soulful rendition of the Pete Seeger tune Quite Early Morning, sounding for all the world like the Weavers themselves (and, since Tao Rodriguez-Seeger is a grandson, they come by it honestly). The last lines of the song-"Through all this world of joy and sorrow / We still can have singing tomorrow"-as defiant as it is hopeful, could be the slogan for radio free brattleboro itself.

When you buy this fascinating, fun, and uplifting cd, you aren't just supporting a local radio station-you're supporting democracy, the Bill of Rights, and the dignity of the people.

Edited by: David N. Pyles (

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society.

Tom Plant

A great variety of artists and tunes.
I was intrigued because I heard about this on Little Feat's HoyHoy Digest. This is a wonderful mix of tunes from artists who have graced the studios of RFB. I didn't love them all, but I'm very happy to add this disc to my collection.

Valley Advocate

The disc is a positive sonic party. The astonishing breadth of styles and genre
Brattleboro Pirates:

Radio Free Brattleboro serves up a tasty compilation.

by James Heflin - December 25, 2003

Radio Free Brattleboro is the 10-watt "pirate" station that was intimidated off the airwaves last summer by the FCC, who demanded to see the station's license to operate after being alerted to its existence and its apparent overlap with WFCR's listening area by WFCR itself. The FCC doesn't issue licenses for stations under 100 watts. The RFB gang maintains that the airwaves are the property of the people, and so sought local support for their broadcasting. With a petition signed by 2,000 people, RFB returned to the airwaves in August. So, as they say, stay tuned.

This disc, with its self-explanatory title, radio free: live instudio performances from radio free brattleboro, offers a wealth of good listening from on-air performances. The lo-fi, mic-in-a-room style fits the pirate radio vibe perfectly, and the performances seem intimate and unaffected.

With 19 tracks, there really is something for everyone. If half-hearted Dylan imitation is your bag, you can give Darryl Purpose's remarkably predictable three-chord wander "A Crooked Line" a spin, and the über-folk vibe gets plenty more attention from Adrian Crowley and Bethanie with Phil Bloch, among others.

On the other hand, there's a whole stretch of this compilation that explores the unusual and the unusually sophisticated. Derrik Jordan plays his electric violin through a loop machine for a witty bit of improvisation, then John Hughes plucks the harp-like African instrument the kora for a strangely grooving little tune called "Bamba Bojang. Then, just when your ears are a bit uncertain of what's to come, the California Guitar Trio pulls off an extremely well-done improvisation in which melodies fly back and forth between the players in ever more vertiginous moves.

Brattleboro's Ill Wind Ensemble provides the high point. The band builds instruments out of anything and everything, and the whiny melody riding atop various knocks, thumps and pops conjures up a jam of positively Seussian wobbliness.

The disc is a positive sonic party. If you don't like a song, just keep moving. The astonishing breadth of styles and genres makes this compilation well worth having, whatever your taste.