Tommy Keene was a gifted songwriter and guitarist who unexpectedly passed away in November of 2017 at the age of 59. His melodic, hook-filled songs, made him a staple of college radio during the 1980’s, and influenced many musicians that came after.
Keene was a guest on the Icon Fetch podcast on five separate occasions. These interviews reveal a musician who was dedicated to his art, but was also a passionate music fan himself (with a great sense of humor).
We’ve culled the best moments of these interviews, where Keene talks about the many twists and turns of his career, plus he reflects on many of his influences.
We’ve also recorded new tributes to Tommy from R.E.M’s Peter Buck, Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, Ted Niceley (who played in Tommy’s early band), and Dwight Twilley. Plus, we talked with Josh Grier, who signed Tommy to Dolphin Records in the early days, and Stephen Judge, where Tommy put out a string of fantastic albums during the last years of his life.
Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a concert tribute to Big Star’s swan song
For an album that was deemed unreleasable at the time of recording and has never had a proper running order, Big Star’s Third has certainly gotten its due. It’s now considered one of the greatest albums of all time. After the sudden passing of Big Star frontman Alex Chilton in 2010, an all-star group of musicians got together to pay tribute, including Mike Mills of REM, Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, Chris Stamey of the dB’s and members of the Posies. They found that the magic they created was worth continuing.
After playing live shows all over the world, they decided to document things with Thank You Friends – Big Star’s Third Live…and More, a DVD/CD combo just released by Concord Bicycle Music. To talk about it, we welcome in the musical director of the project, Chris Stamey. He also talks about playing in a post-Big Star band with Chilton and what led to him releasing Chris Bell’s single “I Am the Cosmos” on his own label in 1978.
Legendary melodic songwriter Peter Holsapple is back with a new vinyl 45, his first new solo project in 20 years.
Peter was a touring musician for both R.E.M. and Hootie & the Blowfish
If you trace the roots of Power Pop, in the Seventies you had the Raspberries, Badfinger & Big Star. Later in the Nineties you had artists like Matthew Sweet, the Gin Blossoms & Weezer that were able to have commercial success. But, during the decade in the middle there – the Eighties, it was all about funny hair and keyboards, and it was hard going for the power pop guys. There were bands like North Carolina’s the dB’s, who released a string of hook-laden albums that gained only a cult following, but are now considered classics.
Singer/guitarist Peter Holsapple not only led the dB’s, he’s also been a member of the alternative supergroup the Continental Drifters, and was a touring member of R.E.M. and Hootie & the Blowfish during their peak years. Holsapple has just issued a vinyl 45, his first new solo outing in 20 years called “Don’t Mention the War.”
We talk radiofreesongclub.com, the project that helped spur on this recent burst of creativity, plus the excellent music video that accompanies the song.
With the recent passing of Reg Presley of the Troggs, Icon Fetch has put together an hour-long tribute to the band and their influential lead singer. We’ll hear the story of “Wild Thing” from the man who wrote the legendary song, Chip Taylor. From Larry Page, the band’s manager & producer, who wouldn’t give up on the song, even though everyone hated it, Mike Mills of R.E.M., who played with the band on a collaboration called Athens Andover, and Graeme Clark of Wet Wet Wet, who took the Troggs’ “Love is All Around” back to the top of the charts in the Nineties. Also contributing are Richard Barone, Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones, Tommy Keene, producer Mitch Easter, Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, pianist David Lanz, Jon Weiss of the Vipers, Peter Holsapple of the dB’s, and filmmaker Grant Wakefield, who talked with Presley about his obsession with crop circles.
Kevn Kinney formed Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ in 1985 in Atlanta, scoring several college radio hits including “Honeysuckle Blue,” and “Power House.” Then came their breakthrough album, Fly Me Courageous in 1991 – the album scored three rock radio hits including the searing title track. Kinney has also led a solo career, recording the excellent Macdougal Blues in 1990. Drivin’ N’ Cryin’’s last studio effort was The Great American Bubble Factory. Now the band is readying a series of EP’s, exploring different aspects of their long career.
The first one, out now, is called Songs From the Laundromat. Kinney tells a funny story of how his wife helped influence his decision to release EP’s instead of full albums, how the laundromat holds a special place in his heart, and how the success of “Fly Me Courageous” negatively affected his life.
The dB’s released four critically-acclaimed albums throughout the Eighties, jam packed with melodic hooks. But for some strange reason, the band never achieved the commercial success they deserved, breaking up near the end of the decade. Then, a funny thing happened – word began to spread about how good those albums really were, and they started fetching high bids on Ebay. To meet the demand, Collector’s Choice music reissued the band’s first two albums in 2002.
Now, the band is back with a brand new record, their first with the original lineup in some 30 years, called Falling Off the Sky . Icon Fetch talks with singer/guitarist Peter Holsapple about what brought the band back together in the first place, why the recording process took so long, and how the band is joined by several young musicians from the North Carolina scene for the new record.