ANOTHER ARCHIVAL HILLBILLY AT HARVARD
Looking at the tapes from 1986, I noticed one with friend and colleague Frank Dudgeon. Turns out that on August 23rd, Old Sinc was on one of his annual treks to Saratoga for the races, so Frank kindly came in to help with announcing and engineering a live performance by a new band called The Last Roundup. They were in town for a show at TT the Bear’s, and to record an album for Rounder.
Some listeners will recall Frank from his days at WCAS in Cambridge, a well-remembered daytimer devoted to the folk community. He did a brief stint at WDLW, about the time it went country full-time (I was working there part-time, and actually hired Frank), then to WBOS (?), and to WUMB at UMass, which became the official folk station in the area. Frank spent time in Montpelier (VT), then off to the midwest and parts unknown (to me, at least).
We had never heard The Last Roundup. They were a pleasant surprise, a quirky sort of retro-country band, not a cowboy-western outfit as I imagined. They made one record for Rounder, called Twister, and by 1991 or so had evaporated as members moved to other ventures. Here’s a better description than I could contrive from a blogger called Traitor Vic, on one of his sites called ‘Tuna Melt’:
This record [Twister]came out somewhere between Cowpunk and alt.country. In 1987 there weren’t even Country bands who played music that sounded this much like, well, Country Music. And although there were bands who were tossed into the Cowpunk category who played softer sounds than the Punk designation would suggest, there were very few that played a sound as simple and retro as this one. NOBODY on Country Radio was playing anything that sounded anything like this by 1987, and neither have they since.
Last Roundup is made up of Angel Dean singing lead vocals, Amy McMahon Rigby playing guitar and harmonizing, her brother Michael McMahon playing Guitar, Lap Steel and Fiddle, and Garth Powell. The songs were written by the McMahon siblings and you may recognize Amy as she of “Diary of a Mod Housewife” fame a decade later. Angel Dean had a great alt.country band called Angel Dean & The Zephyrs who had a couple of songs on the Rig Rock Deluxe series by Diesel Only Records. She released a record with Sue Garner, who had preceded her as vocalist for Last Roundup, in 2004.
The Last Roundup got to the station late, but Peter Keane, who was then hosting ‘Country Roots’ after Hillbilly at Harvard, allowed us to run over a little. So I’ve had to cut out a couple of songs to fit into the three-hour time slot we have now. As usual, I’ve left in most of the Country Calendar announcements, because they give listeners a feel for the times. Just remember, the events were more than two decades ago!
Tune in at 9 AM tomorrow (Saturday, the 7th) and relive the whole show from August 23rd, 1986, with me, Frank, and The Last Roundup; you’ll need to stay through the last hour to hear them.