INTERVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ star Anneke Wills at L.I. Who

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The lovely Anneke Wills. [Photo by Dan Hall from annekewills.com]

Traveling with the Doctor on Doctor Who can take his companions on wild and wonderful adventures – but perhaps no other companion has lived such a varied life in real life than Anneke Wills.

Playing Polly Wright from 1966-67, Anneke was there for the first-ever regeneration of the Doctor from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton in the classic stories “The Tenth Planet” and “The Power of the Daleks.”  Appearing alongside Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) and, later, Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), Polly very much was a Swinging ’60s gal from London, complete with a Carnaby Street fashion sense.

After giving up acting in 1970, Anneke traveled from the English countryside to religious quests in India, Vancouver and California. She tells her life story in two volumes of autobiography: Self-Portrait (covering up to 1970) and Naked (1970 and after). I’m most of the way through volume 2 now and it’s fascinating stuff. Her life has been filled with so much love, tragedy and transcendence.

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Ben (Michael Craze), Polly (Anneke Wills) and the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) encounter a Dalek in “The Power of the Daleks” (the non-animated version, obviously). [BBC photo]

I was thrilled to get a chance to interview Anneke for a few minutes at last November’s L.I. Who convention. We discussed her time on the show, the recent animated release of “Power of the Daleks”, reviving the role of Polly for Big Finish audio adventures, and why she keeps copies of her autobiographies hidden under her bed.

I’m sure I could have spent hours covering all the cool stuff she saw and did during the 1960s in London (which would be my destination if I had a time machine). Maybe someday.

Hopefully more of the missing episodes from her tenure on the show will be animated in the future. Personally, I’d love to see “The Highlanders” (which introduced Jamie to the show) but I’m not sure that’d be as big as seller as “Power.” A guy can dream, though.

INTERVIEW: Nicholas Briggs of Big Finish Productions at L.I. Who

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Nicholas Briggs discusses Doctor Who and Big Finish Productions at L.I. Who. [Photo by Adrienne Wise]

I’ve been a fan of actor/writer/producer Nicholas Briggs for a long time now, ever since I first heard the fan-made Audio Visuals from the 1980s that imagined Nick starring in Doctor Who. Many of the stories were better than what was on TV at the time.

Since the return of Doctor Who in 2005, Nick has been the voice of the sinister Daleks as well as many of the other monsters on the show – and since 2006, he has served as executive producer at Big Finish Productions, which produces not only new audio adventures for Doctor Who but also The Prisoner, The Avengers, Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes and others.

Full disclosure: Big Finish is one of my addictions, and a sizable piece of my income goes right into their coffers. Even so, I can’t keep up with everything that the company puts out. Some of that is cost, but a lot of it is simply time: I listen in the car, and my commute to work is only 15 minutes each way. I do relish a good road trip when I can really dig into a story or two, but those happen too rarely.

So it was a thrill to get to talk one on one with Nick for a few minutes at last November’s L.I. Who convention. We discussed what makes a good monster voice, as well as his role as Big Finish’s creative mastermind and as the star of the Sherlock Holmes series. Given last night’s sad news about John Hurt, our brief mention of him seems especially poignant.

[I’ll post other interviews from L.I. Who in coming days.]

LIVE SESSION: Brian Wolff in studio

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Brian Wolff rocks out at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas. [Photo provided]

Since I started hosting The Signal in the fall of 2011, I’ve had numerous guests join me on the air – but I believe Brian Wolff has been on the show the most number of times.

He built a good music career in the Binghamton area and then decided to take the leap to Austin, Texas – a mecca for all kinds of cool acts from blues and country to rock and folk. His blues-rock band Fair City Fire put out a debut album last year called The Simple Truth, with a bunch of great original tunes.

Several of the interviews that Brian and I have done for the show over the past few years have been by phone, so it was great to get him back in the studio with guitar in hand. We had a fun chat covering not only Fair City Fire but his inspirations in Binghamton and what it’s really like being part of the Austin scene.

 

LIVE SESSION: Devinne Meyers in studio

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Devinne Meyers [Photo by Stephen Schweitzer]

Devinne Meyers and I have been talking about her coming onto The Signal for a while now. Finally it worked out this week.

She played some tunes live, discussed her life and music, and even shared a few album tracks from East Coast Bigfoot (which she recently departed). A fun time. Check it out below – and keep an eye on her for 2017. She’s definitely going places.

Local fans honor music legends lost in 2016

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We can be heroes … for just one day. [Photo courtesy BBC]

Understatement of the year: 2016 was a rough one for music fans.

From David Bowie and Prince to Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen and George Michael, we lost a lot of iconic artists. Other losses were just as heartfelt: Dan Hicks, Guy Clark, Maurice White, Buckwheat Zydeco, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leon Russell, and on and on.

I re-assembled the A-Team of local music fans to remember them and play some tunes: Mary Donnelly (the Professor of Power Pop), Eric Coker, Kirk Madsen, Dan Davis (a.k.a. Doc Sonic) and Brian McKinley (who took over running the board, as always).

Lots of good discussion and music over five and a half hours (!) – check it out.

INTERVIEW: Driftwood on ‘City Lights’ and more

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Driftwood is, from left, Joe Kollar, Joey Arcuri, Claire Byrne and Dan Forsyth. [Photo provided]

One of the great things about covering the music / entertainment scene in Binghamton is watching performers grow over time.

I remember when Driftwood‘s first album, Rally Day, came out in 2009. Claire Byrne was still in college, so Joe Kollar and Dan Forsyth recorded it piece by piece when she was on break from school. Even when it came out, though, the project did not accurately reflect the growing energy that the band displayed onstage.

Three albums later, they are touring up and down the East Coast (and beyond) and are easily the biggest group to come out of Binghamton for the past 20 years. Have a listen to City Lights and realize why they deserve it. I’m proud of them.

Here’s the fun interview from this week’s edition of The Signal, with discussion about the new album and touring life. You can read my published piece from Go here.

 

 

 

 

 

ARCHIVE INTERVIEW: Olga Ruocco discusses her memories of The Kinks

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Olga Ruocco outside Konk Studios in North London, November 2013. [Photo by me]

My love for the music of The Kinks is well documented at this point, so there’s no reason to talk about me all over again.

Let’s talk for a minute about the fans – and there are many dedicated followers in the U.K., the U.S. and around the world. Like any diverse family, there are squabbles and rivalries, politics and fights. However, in the 20-plus years since I discovered the Kinks fandom online, one thing has remained constant: Everybody loves Olga.

Over the years, Olga Ruocco has proven to be nothing but welcoming and generous to fans old and new. Among her many activities over the years: She has helped people get CDs (both official and unofficial) and books, she has given tours of the Muswell Hill section of north London where Ray and Dave Davies grew up, and she is one of the co-organziers (along with Geoff Lewis and others) of Kinks nights at the Clissold Arms (across the street from the Davies brothers’ childhood home).

I first met her in person for one of those tours in 2000, and later that year she traveled to America. One of the things she did here was an interview with a radio host on the West Coast, which we helped to facilitate remotely. (Remember, this was before the miracle of Skype!)

So naturally, when I finally got my own radio show, I decided to do a birthday show for Ray Davies around June 21, and I got Olga to do an interview with me about her Kinks experiences. In this June 19, 2012, program, we discussed how she became a fan in the mid-1960s and how her love for the group has continued to this day. We also played tunes that Olga hand-picked, including a track from Ray’s 80 Days musical (which really should be revived somewhere).

In 2014 and 2015, Kirk Madsen – who served as Ray Davies’ guitar tech and road manager in the 1990s – has joined me for the birthday show, and he’ll do so again this Wednesday (June 22) at 7 p.m. EDT. We’ll be taking requests, and you can live-stream at whrwfm.org. The show also should be archived for later listening.

(If I have time this week, I will find Kirk’s previous shows and post those as well.)