Safe at Home Radio, May 2, 2020

Today’s edition of my new radio show “Safe at Home” is now up for streaming on demand, anytime … after DJ Soul Sister is over on WWOZ tonight, or before or after Jazzfesting in Place on ‘OZ tomorrow. 😄

I continue to have the temerity to do a live radio show while WWOZ is Jazzfesting in Place, and not only that … programming my own Jazzfest material! Oh well, I promised to do a show today, and that I did. (Grateful for online archive!) Featuring music from Dave Bartholomew, Snooks Eaglin, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Rhiannon Giddens, Bruce Springsteen and more. Enjoy!

Hi! Still out there? Wanna listen to my new radio show?

*tap*tap*tap* … is this thing on?

Does anyone still have an RSS reader? Will this get noticed anymore? Who knows?

So, hi y’all. Here we are, sheltering in place in the time of COVID-19, trying to maintain our sanity, stuff our monsters into the anxiety closet and nail the door down, and probably drinking more than we should. Coping is something we need to do.

A week or so after I got sent home from work I started thinking of what I could do that might bring me joy, and I decided to start up my old radio show (similar mix, more or less, as I had done at KCRW and KCSN for 20 years) via Internet streaming, and that that might bring some other folks joy too.

You're not stuck at home, you're safe at home.

The new show is called “Safe at Home,” referring both to our mayor and governor’s “Safer at Home” sheltering order, plus a tribute to my old mentor/colleague/friend Deirdre O’Donoghue from KCRW, and the series of premium audiocassettes she put together for a few years of live performances from her legendary “avant-pop” show “S*N*A*P,” that were offered to subscribers to the station at the time — they were called “It’s Only Safe at Home” and “Safe at Home in the ’90s?”

It’s been pretty successful in making me feel better so far, and I have a few dozen dedicated friends who tune in every week, but I’d like to expand my listenership. Who knows, I might get a whopping one more listener from here!

The show is live on Saturdays at 1pm Pacific Time, 4pm Eastern Time, 2100 GMT, and can be streamed from this referrer URL:

After the show goes off the air I edit the recording to tighten it up a bit, then it gets uploaded to my new Mixcloud page for streaming on demand, whenever you want! That link is

I’ve got five shows up so far, over 11 hours of music, and fortunately I solved my crappy mic placement issues after the second week. (I got spoiled at the radio station by having engineers and tech people around me, and now I’m basically doing this with what I have on hand — a digitized music collection of ~80,000 songs, iTunes, Audio Hijack, a Blue Yeti USB mic, and a streaming server rented from a company in Second Life for the princely sum of $8.80 a month).

Please tune in, enjoy, and spread the word!

February 18, 2004: Fáilte go Baile Átha Clíath! [Repost]

We’re here. The concert is tonight. In just a few hours. It’s getting dark already. Holy feckin’ crap.

It had been 11 years since I’d been to Dublin, and even when I was there before I’d only spent a couple of days there total. I’d forgotten what a big city it is, and hadn’t taken into consideration how much bigger it had gotten since I was there last. We spent a lot of time farting around in Kilbeggan, and when leaving I foolishly said to Wesly, “The timing is perfect. It’s about 4 now, so we should be hitting Dublin between 5 and 5:30.”

Yep, perfect. Just in time to hit rush-hour Dublin traffic. And to put us in a traffic jam the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen even in Los Angeles.

It was unbelievable. Un-feckin’-believable. It slowed to the consistency of chilled molasses when we were approaching the city from the N4, but once we hit Dublin city limits, it just stopped. Complete feckin’ gridlock. What might have made it worse is that we found ourselves on a road I didn’t think we should have been on, and I didn’t quite know how we ended up there. Somewhere in Chapelizod I missed a sign, and when I had been hoping to be on the Chapelizod Road just south of Phoenix Park, I ended up on a series of roads (St. Laurence, Sarsfield, Con Colbert, St. John’s West) that were just jammed. I might have taken a picture for you, just to document how bad it was, but I was too busy shrieking “FUCK!” (no, Mrs. Doyle, not feck, the actual F-word), pounding on the steering wheel and perspiring. It was so bad, and we were so far behind the schedule I’d hoped we’d be on, that for a while there I thought it might actually be possible that, after all this expense and travelling, I’d miss the show (at least the beginning).

My expert reading of the Dublin city map left a lot to be desired, too — it’d been over a decade since I’d been there, I hadn’t spent that much time in the city to begin with, and I’d forgotten how the streets tended to be one-way when you didn’t expect, and how hard-to-read the street signage was. Once we got past the traffic and into Dublin 1, I ended up taking a half-dozen wrong turns on the way to the apartments. We ended up stopping at a petrol station at a frighteningly busy intersection way the hell up Drumcondra Road to ask for directions. Apparently the gentleman inside seemed to think Wes was quite mad, but he headed us back in the right direction, which was, of course, back the other way … and it was impossible to go that way from where we were. “Can’t get there from here, though!”

Somehow, we made it … 42 North Great Georges Street, the Mount Eccles Court Hostel and Apartments, checked into apartment #2, looked around (okay, it was nice; not quite as nice as the impression the photo gave, but perfectly nice enough), double-checked the showtime (8:30 instead of 8 … thank CHRIST!), threw our stuff inside, left immediately, got back into the car, and drove to the venue. It didn’t take long to get there at all … but parking the car was another matter. Did I mention that it’s a relative nightmare to have a car in Dublin? If you’re thinking about it, don’t. It’ll cost you more to park it than to hire it, the disc parking system can be diabolical (buy a parking disc-permit from a machine on the street for between €1.60 and €2 per hour, with a three-hour limit, there are evil clampers everywhere who’ll clamp your car if you’re so much as a minute overtime, there are only 9 multistorey carparks in all of Dublin, and only four of them are open 24 hours. Jesus.

Finally, after more wrong turns and U-turns there was the beautiful sight of the multistorey car park on Usher’s Quay, a mere 10 minute walk from the venue … and there we were, a whole 40 minutes early. There was a nice lady outside who handed me our tickets. The bar had just opened. We were there. Good Christ, do I need a pint.

Liam O’Flynn / Liam Óg Ó Floinn (1945-2018)

I’m absolutely gutted.

The great uilleann piper and founding member of Planxty Liam O’Flynn has died.


The first time I heard Liam O’Flynn play, I burst into tears within ten seconds.

I was 18, and caught a snippet of something wonderful on WWOZ‘s Irish/Scottish music show “Music in the Glen” (I must confess I don’t remember who was doing it in 1980). I heard the back announce it was a band whose name sounded like “Planks Tea” and had never heard of them. Very soon after I went to my favorite record store, the late lamented Leisure Landing on Magazine Street, and dug through their Irish music section. “Oh, it’s spelled Planxty!” I said as I came across their latest album, “After the Break.” Bought it and brought it home.

I can still remember putting on my gigantic Koss headphones, placing the needle into the groove, and listening to the first song, “The Good Ship Kangaroo.” That’s a wonderful singer, I thought, called Christy Moore. (Who sang at our wedding, in fact. Well, a recording of him did. Try as I might, I was unable to get the greatest living Irish musician to do a wedding in Pasadena on a Thursday during rush hour.) The interplay of strings — mandola and … Irish bouzouki?! What the hell?! — between Dónal Lunny and Andy Irvine. I’d never heard anything like it. Gooseflesh broke out. And then, after the second chorus, Liam burst in with the uilleann pipes.

And my head exploded. And as Andy himself sang years later, recounting the story of the first time he heard the Clare piper Willie Clancy, the tears welled in my eyes. I’d never heard anything so beautiful.

I wore that album out, then bought a second one and wore that one out. The LP copy I now have is the third one, and the CD I bought afterward I’ve managed not to wear out.

From those four musicians, the other bands they played in, or with, or produced, and all the othe rmusicians that they led to, and their bands and solo records, all branched out into not just a tree but a forest of Irish music that led to a wall of records, all from the seed of that one song.

I’ve been privileged to see Liam perform in person several times — the first at McCabe’s when he and Dónal performed as a duet, right after I got back from my first trip to Ireland. I got a front row seat, and made the both of them laugh and give me a strange look when they announced that they were about to play one of my very favorite tunes, and I kind of yelped. Everyone cracked up, and I sheepishly murmured, “It’s my favorite tune.” “Well,” Dónal said, “we’ll play it grand for ya!”

Then there was the Planxty reunion in 2004, the single greatest musical experience of my life. More on that later.

I’m still having a hard time dealing with this — his music meant so much to me. All the lads in Planxty are getting up there too — Andy turns 76 this year, Christy 73, Dónal 71. They all seem perennially youthful to me though, and their music to this moment surges with energy and life and vivaciousness. I’ll miss Liam terribly but fortunately he’s left a lot of great music behind. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Here’s a great remembrance by Leagues O’Toole, whose Planxty documentary in the early oughts led directly to the reformation of Planxty for their first reunion show in 23 years in Lisdoonvarna, and then their legendary 10-night stand in 2004.

I’ll be doing a few reposts from my old, pre-Wordpress hand-coded weblog back in 2004 when Wesly and I went to Dublin to see Planxty, the show I’d waited more than half my life to see. (I have no idea if anyone’s still out there and will even notice this old, dead weblog, but here it is anyway.)


Twelve Mile Limit

There are those who would say that I’m dashing off this quick and dirty post quite literally at the 11th hour before the turn of the month from November to December, so that I will not be publicly castigated by my frien Cari Hah (who keeps me honest) for failing to live up to my pinky swear to post at least once per month.Those people would not be wrong. In fact, those people might point out that I am a great big cheating bastard for posting this on December 1, in the time zone in which I currently exist in New Orleans, squeaking it through the gate while it’s still November 30 in Los Angeles. Those people would not be wrong either. Ah well, one does what one must.

I will take this opportunity, though, in the 42 minutes in which I still have the post this before I truly have violated my pinky swear, to tell you about one of my new favorite bars back home in New Orleans — Twelve Mile Limit, on Telemachus and Baudin in Mid-City. This is been a major oversight in my appreciation of good drinking in New Orleans, as the bar has been open for four years and this is the first time I’ve been there. Spending six hours there last Saturday helps make up for lost time though, and I was having such a good time those six hours went by in a flash.

Just arriving to tend bar when I got there was owner T. Cole Newton, a most excellent bartender and host, who had previously bartended around the city at places like Commander’s Palace and Coquette. He’s managed to open a bar that is pretty much my ideal bar – it’s an unpresuming, unpretentious neighborhood joint, located right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, friendly, funky and comfortable, full of neighborhood people and regulars, with a fantastic jukebox, good food, fantastic collection of spirits behind the bar and a really interesting drink list. It’s also the kind of bar or you can just have a shot and a beer and play pool, if that’s what you feel like doing. If I were ever ambitious and completely insane enough to open a bar, this might just be the kind of bar I’d want to own.

It’s the kind of bar where you can go there by yourself and you’ll still have a great time for hours, because the people around you are so welcome and and friendly and interesting and fun. It’s the kind of bar that has regular events, such as (from what I’ve read) trivia nights centered around comic books and science fiction. If I lived in the neighborhood I would probably be attempting to organize Firefly board game nights. If I lived in the neighborhood my ass would be on a barstool there more than a few nights a week.

And on top of all of that, the drinks were terrific. In fact, Cole made me some of the weirdest fucking drinks I’ve had in a long time… and they were all really good. Jamaican rum, Fernet Branca, Catdaddy spiced moonshine and a bit of vermouth. That’s the first time I’ve had that particular flavor combination, and I really enjoyed it. White Louisiana rum, lime, orgeat … and Branca Menta. (I had a gigantic hot sausage po-boy earlier that day, so I needed Fernet-laden drinks.) I very nearly interjected on that one – “You know, I’m really not much of a Branca Menta fan,” I almost said (and which Wesly may well have said, because he really hates that stuff). But I didn’t. He’s been taking great care of you all night, you idiot – trust your bartender! Good thing I did, because it was a really enjoyable and interesting drink. I don’t know what the hell it was called, but I’m sure I could get him to make it for me again.

While there I heard a story that I loved. I had been chatting a couple of regulars and was enjoying talking to them; at one point one of them called out and said, “Hey Cole, tell Chuck how you happened to buy this bar.” He laughed and said, “It’s kind of a one-liner. I opened Google and typed, ‘available bars for sale.'” It had been kind of a scary place in its previous incarnation, but Cole was able to afford it and now four years later he’s got a bar that I wish I could come back to again and again. And I will, every single time I’m back home.

As the clock is ticking, I’ll cut it short for the time being and share one of my drinks from that evening. Cole was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it with y’all. (I forgot to ask, d’oh.) A beautifully balanced combination of blanco tequila, a light, citrusy bitter, lime and a dash of spice – this one is going right on our home menu.


by T. Cole Newton
Twelve Mile Limit, New Orleans

1-1/2 ounce blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 dash Bittermens Habanero Shrub

Combine ingredients with ice, shake, serve up with a lime wheel garnish.

 Hey, y’know, this bar is only a 25-minute walk from the Fat Pack house where we stay sometimes …

(And posted with three minutes to spare!)