BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN
If you are a music lover and you haven't been listening to BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN with Spins Nitely, then check it out!
NEW TIME! Every THURSDAY at 8 PM. Watch and listen live at http://wildfireradio.com/big-daddy-graham.
This week? THE TEN BEST SOUL SINGERS EVER! Plus a ton of discussion and extra goodies. (Of course it's a podcast so you can listen to any of the 16 previous shows at anytime).
Up now is THE TEN BEST SONGS ABOUT SCHOOL. BTW, you'll be able to call in to the podcast when you watch or listen live and I encourage you to do so. Don't miss!
Click here to hear Joe Conklin completely nailing Elvis Costello's "Allison" with Spins Nitely on guitar
and some harmony help from the boys of Wildfireradio.
Check out the hilarious Sudsy (as B52 Fred Schneider) take on the Stones "Happy" with Spins on guitar.
(LIKE THERE'S AN UNOFFICIAL)
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I am going to HAWAII! Why don't you come with me? We're gonna cruise the Hawaiian Islands with the Norwegian Cruise Line starting on Sept. 26th. Call YMT TRAVEL @ 800-622-7220.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 7/25
Here's the latest article of the Sea Isle Times
R.I.P. Rick Steffa
If you have been driving down Landis Avenue past 35th Street lately and you’ve noticed a slight sway in the road, don’t be alarmed. Don’t call the city. Rick Steffa died this Father’s Day of pancreatic cancer at the age of 59 and it’s thrown 35th Street off kilter.
You see, Rick Steffa was 35th St. He was as much a part of 35th St. as the tar. As the cement. As the telephone lines. Rick Steffa had been entrenched in Sea Isle his entire life. His entire life.
This Sea Isle tale begins with Rick’s Mom, the elegant and classy Patsy (she wouldn’t put out the stinkin’ trash without looking like a million bucks), who is still with us at 82 and sharp as a tack. Patsy began vacationing in Sea Isle in the early 40’s and vividly remembers Coast Guard Cutters in the ocean off our beach during World War II.
Patsy (maiden name Donohoe) meets Rick’s Dad, George Steffa, at a parish dance at St. Mike’s in North Philly and between them they began a history with Sea Isle that is still incredibly strong today. After they marry, they immediately start summer renting at 37th St.
Rick is born in ’55 and it’s a well-known fact he learns how to properly bait a hook before he learns how to walk. There has always been a boat in the Steffa family. In 1968, his Dad George builds a house on 35th St. and there you go. Forty-six years (and counting) of Steffa’s on 35th St.
Rick even met his beautiful wife Diane in Sea Isle. Their first kiss was on the beach and no one could have been more courageous or caring than Diane was through the entire year and a half ordeal while Rick was sick. Often, while we focus in on those who are ill, we take for granted the loved ones who struggle and battle every minute to keep spirits uplifted. Diane rocked.
What is it about the shore that makes it so easy to make close friends? I like to think I’m cordial to my neighbors where I live back in the states, but truth be told, I chat it up with three houses in a thirty five house development. In Sea Isle? On 35th St.? I consider myself tight with a minimum of twelve homes, maybe more. And that’s one street. I have close friends on this island all around me.
Why is that? I have many theories. Up home? Most of us end up dwelling where we do because we were born in that area. Or we move there because it’s convenient for work. Or our original neighborhoods went bad.
Down here? We end up at the shore because we can’t envision life between May and October anywhere else. And I’m not forgetting the folks who have made a real commitment and live here year round. Whatever lousy mood you were in on Friday morning back at home disappears as you drive over the bridge and see those cool Ocean Drive and Lobster Loft signs and that fantastic body of water. So we’re all in a great mood to begin with.
Throw in the fact that you’re not working when you’re down here and there you go. Back in the states, you occasionally see your neighbors before or after work. In Sea Isle? You see your neighbors all day. On the street. At the beach. On our decks. At the Happy Hours. And all the time in-between.
I only knew Rick Steffa for eleven years. That’s it. Most of my other best friends I have known since high school, so eleven years doesn’t seem like a lot. But he lived directly across the street and like myself he was down constantly. Three, four day weekends between May and October. He never missed one. Holidays and polar bear weekend also.
So truth be told I have spent more hours with Rick in those 11 years than I have with my other close friends in that same time period combined. And I bet you can say the same about a neighbor or two on your street down here.
Rick was born on St. Patrick’s Day, which on this island gives you a free pass to every watering hole on and off Landis. Throw in the fact that he was a North Catholic grad and half the town probably knew him. And he was so easy to get to know.
Rick just had this way of making everyone around him feel wanted and comfortable. His garage was legendary. On any given weekend evening you could find at least 20 immediate family members, countless cousins and in-laws, another two dozen friends and moochers like me, and three or four homeless people. If you had a good story to tell or could laugh at a good joke (particularly at your own expense), you would eventually end up in that garage. I would have paid a cover just to get in it was so much fun.
Singing? There was always music going on because Rick himself was one hell of a singer, with “soul” styling being his specialty. No one, not even David Ruffin, could sing the Temptations “I Wish It Would Rain” like Rick. In fact, Rick won the Johnny Moore Talent Show at the OD some years ago singing Motown. (Did you know Joe Conklin won it once also?)
I once dedicated an entire back page of this paper to Christmas in July and there was no bigger holiday party on this island then there was on 35th St. That was all due to Rick’s Dad, George, who started the tradition before he tragically died of a heart attack in 1977. Rick picked up the torch and would not only decorate the street to the max, but over the years bought a dance floor and a tent and then bartended all night.
Construction? Let’s be honest. There’s always construction going on in Sea Isle and Rick certainly did his share of it. I once watched him make his Mother’s second floor deck wider pretty much all by himself. Since I can barely screw in a light bulb this just fascinated the heck out of me. When I asked him who taught him how to do this, he looked at me and laughed. “Nobody, I’m making this up as I go along.” There was nothing he couldn’t build or fix and he never said no to anybody.
But what Rick really loved to do was fish. Rick has this special hot dog looking cart thing that held his fishing poles and bait and had a cooler built in to keep the various beverages cold. He would wheel it to the beach and park it and put his rod in the water. Fish a little, sit down and shoot the breeze a couple minutes, he’d never take his eye off that pole. Little kids, some he knew, some he didn’t, always got fishing tips off Rick. He had a boat that he just loved taking people out on and I will miss our magnificent sun setting trips down to the Deauville. When Rick was on hospice, his bed had been set up in the living room and there was a particularly bleak night where he hadn’t spoken for well over an hour. There was a roomful of family and friends where his son Chris was having a conversation about some tuna that had been caught the night before. Rick opened up one eyeball and whispered “where?” He couldn’t bear the thought of fish being reeled in without him being in on it. A fisherman to the very end!
So to say this has been a difficult summer on 35th St. would be putting it mildly. The window above my kitchen sink looks directly into his garage and I’m really struggling with the fact that he’s no longer in it.
Or is he? The weekend following Rick’s funeral the street was empty and lonely. I questioned just how the street was going to survive. Another week passes and now another weekend was upon us. I had just finished being a judge for “Sea Isle’s Got Talent” up at the Bandshell and was walking back home. I came off the Promenade and as I came down the ramp I saw it. A light. A light coming out of Rick’s garage.
I crossed Landis and I couldn’t believe it. It was an overflow of people from Rick’s garage. It was packed. It was, no kidding, like the final scene of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Rick’s daughter, Nicole, said to me “have you seen it?” And there on the wall of the garage was a giant blown-up photo of Rick looking down on everyone. And although this is going to sound like the biggest cliché in the word, we all realized that this is what he wanted. To see his family and friends in that garage having a good time. I believe if he looked down and saw that joint empty, it would have made him really sad.
Look, this is the hardest column I ever had to write and I can only hope I’m doing Rick justice. He was a real prince, man. Better than that, he was the King of 35th St. and he never even asked for the crown. It just fit him perfectly. And like all great kings, he’s leaving his domain in better condition then it was before he arrived. He set a tone that will survive for decades. The younghead who will keep that street alive have been schooled by the King on what it takes to party without making a fool of yourself. Yet, if you want to sing Katy Perry at the top of your lungs wearing a goofy hat, you go right ahead. It’s the Jersey shore. I can only pray that you have someone like Rick on your street looking out for you also.
So here’s to Patsy, Diane, his kids, Patrick, Olivia, Chris and Nicole. His brothers and sisters, Kevin, Joe, and Marianne and their spouses, who held it all together and threw one of the greatest funeral parties ever. I am leaving out so many important people in his life, it would take me an entire issue to cover them all.
I will not allow myself to cry when I look out my kitchen window. I will smile and be grateful for those amazing years he gave me and will continue to give me. Rick made me realize that Sea Isle is not about the beach or the ocean. Or the bars or the restaurants. It’s about the people who come here.
Long live the Jersey Shore. Long live Sea Isle. And long live Rick Steffa.
Don't miss this amazing night! Joe Conklin, Spins Nitely and I will be performing a big show at PARX in Bensalem on Wednesday night, September 10th at 8pm. What a show! Go to http://joeconklin.com for ticket info.
HEY! CHECK OUT MY TRIVIA AND QUIZZO TIMES!
TUESDAY ~ Tuesday Nights with the PHILS at PJ WHELIHAN’S in Maple Shade... every Tuesday night at 7 PM!
WEDNESDAY ~ Champps in KOP from 5 PM to 7:30.
EAGLES & NFL FOOTBALL
EVERY Birds game at PJ Whelihans in Blue Bell and for Sunday Night Football I will be at the Red Zone Sports Bar in Aston PA in Delco!
My daughter Ava is running a Quizzo nite every every Monday at 7:30pm at ROCCO'S in Wilmington! And now at CHICKIE & PETE'S in Drexel Hill every Tuesday at 7 PM! Plus every Wednesday night at 8PM at PJ WHELIHANS in Haddonfield. Don't forget Thursday night at 7pm at CHICKIE & PETE'S in South Philly!. That's a busy schedule!
HEY! I'M LOOKING FOR ALBUM COVERS. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE VINYL...
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 7/23
From the July issue of South Jersey Magazine...
I do a once a week music podcast titled “Big Daddy’s Classic Rock Throwdown” and if I say so myself it’s a fun show. Mullica Hill’s guitar playing comic Spins Nitely is my co-host and we usually have a third guest sitting in. It’s a podcast so you can listen to any of it’s episodes anytime you want, but it airs live every Thursday night at 9pm from Wildfire Studio’s in Collingswood.
Collingswood. What a classic South Jersey town. I dated a chick who lived on Franklin Street the summer after my Senior year and loved that town then and forgotten how cool and vibrant that town currently is. (The Pop Shop on Haddon rocks!)
The title of the show can cause problems. What qualifies as “classic rock?” Well, I decided that anything before the Beatles is an “oldie.” So Elvis Presley doesn’t qualify, yet “Suspicious Minds,” one of The King’s triumphant tunes ever, comes out the summer of ‘69, which is pretty much when The Beatles are breaking up. See the problem?
Then I decided that any song that is still popular after twenty years qualifies as “classic” doesn’t it? Rock bands like Nirvana, Green Day, and Pearl Jam should get their due. But boy did I discover that there are classic rock purists who want nothing to do with those bands. Blasphemy!
I want to thank Matt Cord of WMMR and Ray Koob of WMGK who I will email to see if their stations currently, or once did, play songs by a particular artist if I need to back up an argument.
With July here, one of my show topics this month will be “The Top Ten Classic Rock Summer Songs.” With apologies to Will Smith’s “Summertime,” which obviously does not fit the format, here come the Top Ten. Remember, these are songs that somewhere in the lyric mentions summer. Or it’s in the title. I realize there are many songs that make you think of a particular summer (like last years “Blurred Lines”), but that’s only because they might have been the hit of that particular summer.
They will be listed in IPod alphabetical order, so don't think I'm ranking one song over another. It was hard enough breaking it down to ten.
ALICE COOPER’S “SCHOOLS OUT” Alice Cooper once said that the two most exciting moments in a kids life are Christmas morning and the last day of school. “If I can capture that feeling in a three minute song, I’ll produce a classic.” He sure did. Released in May of 1972, it became Alice’s biggest hit ever and I still have the “school desk” album cover it came in.
THE BEACH BOYS “DO IT AGAIN” I easily could have made a list of the Top Ten Beach Boy Summer Songs since they are responsible for more awesome summer tunes than any other band in music history. “Do It Again” is the Boys at their rocking best. Sun, surf, girls, fun, this track has it all. I saw them on the Wildwood beach on July 4th some years ago and it doesn’t get any more perfect than that does it? Do you know I have an autographed portrait of Brian Wilson hanging in my Sea Isle house? How cool is that?
BOB SEGER’S “NIGHT MOVES” Who didn’t work on their “moves” in the summer? And I’m not talking moves on the basketball court or baseball diamond. I once waited till the night before we went back to school, the last night of freedom, to make my move on Rita DiMucci. But better late than never since it’s a night I’ll never forget. Not that I got past second base. But it was a start. “Working on our night moves in the sweet sweet summertime.” It’s Seger’s first national hit and the song was released at Christmas!
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S “4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY) First of all, can I complain about the stupid use of parentheses in many sing titles? Just call the song “Sandy” for Chrissakes already. Another artist who has many songs that make me think of summer. “Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain” from “Jungleland” comes to mind, but “Sandy” is the real deal. It’s got it all. Fireworks, the tilt-a-whirl, the boardwalk, and seashore bars. Even her name, Sandy, was a great choice.
BRYAN ADAM’S “SUMMER OF ‘69” It bugs me that this is the youngest song on this list, being released in the summer of 1985. While today’s pop stars and rappers are still writing beach and summer songs, the current batch of rockers have apparently more important seasons and topics to write about. C’mon, get with the program.
DON HENLEY’S “BOYS OF SUMMER” Summer’s famous for losing your inhibitions and has there ever been a song that captures innocence lost better than this masterpiece? Well, maybe “Hotel California” another Henley lyric. It was a well that Henley drew from often and the fact that this song was released in October, after the summer of ’84 was over, was not by accident. One of the best video’s ever produced on top of it.
THE DOOR’S “SUMMERS ALMOST GONE” Why is it that every Doors song reminds me of summer? Yet only half of their albums were released that time of the year. The album this underappreciated gem comes off of, the amazing “Waiting For The Sun, ” was released in July and it sure sounds like it. It’s smoldering. If you’re not familiar with this cut, download it. “Where will we be after the summer’s gone.” So many friends made in the summer. Some last. Some don’t.
THE KINKS “SUNNY AFTERNOON Released in 1966, it’s the oldest song to make the list and it barely has anything to do with summer. Ray Davies, the brilliant songwriter behind the Kinks, uses the lyric to complain about taxes. Seriously, that’s what this song is about. But it has this incredibly catchy, hummable melody that fits with “Lazing on a sunny afternoon in the summertime” and almost fifty years later no one can resist singing it when they hear it.
THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL’S “SUMMER IN THE CITY” Released in July of ’66, this is not about summer at the shore. Or at a picnic. This is a city summer song that sounds as if it came rising like steam off the streets of Camden. No song recorded by anybody ever captured heat and grime and sweat and humidity like this baby. “Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.” Some of you may think the Lovin’ Spoonful are an “oldies” band and not “classic” rockers, but they’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and despite all their other terrific hits, it was this scorching song that put them in there.
THE WHO’S “SUMMERTIME BLUES” There’s nothing about the Who that reminds me about summer at all, but I love them and I just had to get this song on there. A big hit for them in the July of ’70.
OK, I know, your personal favorite classic rock summer song might not have made it. Send your arguments to firstname.lastname@example.org, but remember this. No song makes me think of summer more than Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” and I had to leave that off here because it’s not a “classic rocker.” When I was a kid I used to travel to Wildwood by bus with my Mother and the bus would stop at this diner in Collings Lakes. It was a scheduled stop and the owner of the joint would play “Hello Dolly” on the jukebox and accompany the song with a real trumpet. I never hear that song today without excitement brewing in the pit of my stomach with the realization that I may be on my way to the beach!
So bring your Beats to the beach, crank up that volume, and start singing. “It’s summertime and the living is easy.” Just don’t forget the sunscreen. And the beer.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 6/30
Here's the June article of the Sea Isle Times
June. For me that month will always signal one landmark moment. Getting out of school. But for women around the world, June is a month they dream about most of their lives. (And Dads dread) A June wedding.
A couple on my street in Sea Isle are getting hitched on June 28th and one windy afternoon hanging on the beach our crowd suddenly realized that five married couples on our street had met in Sea Isle. And that’s just five that we know of. There are some folks on the street that want nothing to do with us.
Everyone had different theories but in the end, one thing we all agreed upon was that the deciding factor had to be the ocean. It’s great for romance. At least that’s how the women put it. I’m not so sure its “romance” that guys are seeking when they enter a packed Ocean Drive on a Saturday night. But the ocean sounds as good as any other notion to me.
But I figured So I mentioned this on the air at 94WIP and he next thing you know my phone lines lit up with listeners calling in to tell their stories of (By the way, my wife and I met in Sea Isle, but I’ve already wrote about that)
Anthony and Megan Romano went to the same Northeast Philly grade school, Benjamin Rush. They went to the same high school, George Washington High. They graduated from both schools the same year. Twelve tears of the same schools together. And they never met. They were just never in the same class. They didn’t run with the same crowd.
Yet, as the 24 year olds stood across from each other as the tiny boat amusement ride circled around at Fun City twenty-two summers ago, they knew there was some connection. When Anthony, who was there with his brother and his son, approached Megan with the line, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”, she thought it was pretty lame. Her friend, whose son they were waving to on the boat, rolled her eyes. Yet Megan felt like she did know him from somewhere.
The mystery slowly unraveled as the two of them chatted and today they’ve been married eighteen years with a set of identical twin girls. And guess what? They discovered they were in the same kindergarten class together as well.
Three summers ago Marie came to my Quizzo night at the Pour House the beginning of August. I was surprised to see her. Her husband Billy had died back in November. She had married Billy at nineteen and he was the only man she ever really knew. She had dated a couple other guys in high school but it never went further that that. Now here she was a widow at fifty-two with two grown kids out of the house already.
She was staying at her sister’s condo at 34th & Landis, but her sister had to run up to the city, so there she was standing in front of me. “What’s up” said I, giving her a hug. There was a time back in the day when I saw Marie a lot. She ran with the same girls my boys partied with in Southwest Philly. She was the first one in our crowd to get married.
I had seen her and Billy at various weddings and christenings over the years, but for the most part, she had drifted away. In fact, her husband’s viewing was the first time I had seen her in at least five years.
Marie went on to tell me that this night was the first night she had ventured out “alone” since Billy’s death. That it was actually a relief to go out without one of her sisters because they were always encouraging her to date again and she found it tiresome. She figured “what the hell.” She could walk to the Pour House and it wasn’t (because of me) that she wouldn’t know anybody there. My wife was present that night and the two of them, who never really knew each other that well, got along great.
Marie ended up coming out the remainder of August and would actually help me run the night, passing out Quizzo sheets and whatnot. She enjoyed herself immensely and then, on the last Monday before Labor Day, she met Frank Cooney.
Frank was divorced and out celebrating his 60th birthday with his two sons. One of his sons was a regular listener of mine and he asked me who Marie was. It turned out that Frank’s son was his “wingman” so to speak.
Frank bought Marie a drink and today Marie and Frank are happily married and living in Doylestown and I haven’t seen her since. I need a new Quizzo assistant!
Jody Koons, 22, of Collingswood New Jersey wasn’t feeling particularly well this August evening of 1986. “Feeling too well?” Let’s be a little more blunt. She was puking up everything she had eaten since her first Communion. She was sitting on the curb across the street from the Ocean Drive. She had gone to see Secret Service’s jam session and had gotten separated from her girlfriends.
“You alright there, babe?” said Joey Hughes, 23, of Fishtown. Joey was walking back to his rented house of 32nd St. with his buddies who kept walking as Joey halted. “C’mon, babe, get out of the street. Give me your hand.” Joey pulled her up. “C’mon. sit down. Your face is a mess.” Jimmy took off his “North Catholic” shirt and handed it to her.
“I can’t use that, it’s your shirt,” mumbled Jody. “Oh, go ahead, I can get another.” replied Joey. “It’s just a shirt. Now let’s get you up and walking.” Jodi wiped her face with the shirt and Joey tossed it in the trash. They walked over to Casino Pizza and Joey bought her a bottled water. They started talking as they walked towards her rental at 55th St. It turned out they had a mutual friend who worked for Merck. There was something about her that Joey liked but when they got to her place, for some reason he didn’t ask for her number.
He never saw her again that season and all winter long he kicked himself for not getting that damn number. He couldn’t stop thinking about her.
The following summer Joey bumped into her at, of course, Casino Pizza. “Well, you certainly look better than the last time I saw you.” laughed Joey and Marie smiled.
Today, they’ve been married 24 years with four kids (Sea Isle sure is a Catholic town). For their 10th anniversary Marie got Joey a retro North Catholic shirt to honor their first meeting.
So the next time she see some dude walking down Central with no shirt on rapping up some chick, remember, it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
LOUIE & MARY
It was Friday night and Louie, 23, got on the jitney at JFK Blvd. heading towards his Uncle Pat’s house on 78th St. Just before the doors, closed three chicks in their young twenties squeezed on. It was only 1030pm. A little early to be giving up on the bars, but Louie wasn’t in the mood. Louie was gonna chill and start watching the new season of “Orange Is The New Black.”
The girls were giggling and having a good time and the Ginger of the three was really pretty. Louie did his best not to out right stare at her, but he knew he got busted once. Or was she checking him out? The Ginger said to the other girls, “Let’s pull an all-nighter and watch every episode.’ Her friend replied back “Mary, that’s like thirteen hours!”
Louie jumped in. “Are you talking about “Orange Is The New Black? That show is awesome!” “It is!” said Mary.
“C’mon Mary, this is our stop.” said her friend at 60th St. The girls started exiting the jitney and right before she got off, Mary scurried back to Louie and whispered in his ear. “Like me on Facebook at Ginger Mary O and we’ll talk about “Orange.” And then she hustled off the jitney.
Well, Ginger Mary O never did pull that all-nighter, but as the deadline for this article has arrived, Louie and Marie did finish Season Two of “Orange” and they’re meeting at Kixx on July 4th.
Who knows where that will end up? But I know this for sure. Louie’s got the greatest “wingman” in the world. The ocean. Good luck!
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