by Alan Haber of Pure Pop Radio
The date was August 10, 2000. The collective Spongetones were on their way up to New York City, where they were playing on a bill with, among other artists, the extraordinary Richard X. Heyman. Being the very cool folks that they are, they stopped off at the luxurious home of Fairfax Public Access in Fairfax, Virginia, the place where cable radio magic bloomed each and every Saturday on my live Pure Pop Radio show, broadcast on WEBR.
The idea was for the guys to be recorded being interviewed by me and play some songs live, at least semi-acoustically (my memory tells me that Steve Stoeckel had a small bass amp with him). In any case, the plan came off without a hitch, and I, the major league Spongetones fan, ate up each and every moment.
Jamie, Steve, Pat, Rob and I planted ourselves in the studio adjacent to the one housed by WEBR and rocked and rolled ’till dawn. Well, okay, for an hour. The boys were then promoting their album Odd Fellows, which had just been released two months earlier. So, in between chatting about their overall career and a whole lot of this and that, they performed their own musical magic, appropriate for the momentous occasion at hand.
Eleven songs were played, basically an album’s worth, each one delivered flawlessly and recorded by WEBR’s crack engineering representative—me. I was so nervous, I kept checking the levels and the recorder, hoping against hope that every note would be saved and I wouldn’t have to jump off the roof of the building if it wasn’t. Thankfully, the gods were on our side. The levels were good and the recording, and performances, nothing short of spectacular.
My listeners and I were graced with magical takes of five songs from Odd Fellows: “You’ll Come Runnin’ Back,” “Dark Brown Eyes,” “Too Much Talk,” “Home,” and “Boy Meets Girl.” But they didn’t stop rocking there. I threw out the notion of them playing a bunch of songs from their illustrious catalog, and they dove into each one of them with gusto. They played and sang “Not So,” “Cool Hearted Girl,” “Return the Boy,” “Try to Please,” “Where-Ever Land,” and “Here I Go Again.”
All in all, the band and I spent an hour together, talking and laughing and making beautiful music together. Rob might have made the most beautiful music of all, if not the most creative; not having his drum set in the studio, he improvised, using a guitar case and brushes, and a cardboard box full of old radio station cartridges for a bass drum. Thinking on one’s feet never sounded so good.
And then it was time to turn off the recorder and time for the boys to hit the road on their way up to New York City. Then, just as I hit the stop button, they launched into a fab Beatles song (for the life of me, I just don’t remember which one), lost forever to the mists of time. Which was just fine. I mean, look what had just happened!
It was a glorious day all around. One for the books, really. I will treasure the memory forever.