Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NEW LOGO UNVEILED!

Hello South Florida and everywhere else, it's the Birdcage and I just had to post our two new logos. I didn't do this work, a buddy who did our old logos did. I'd say he did a FANTASTIC job. Clark Rasmussen also runs one of the best Detroit RedWing sites around, visit it at DetroitHockey.net

Your thoughts?


----}- Bird

Monday, July 4, 2016

LOST INTERVIEW RESURRECTED - DJ BIRD INTERVIEWS IAN ASTBURY OF THE CULT




Hello NY, Pittsburgh, South Florida and everywhere else, I'm DJ Bird and you're in the Birdcage at Hockeybird.com

Way back in April, 1986 I had the great pleasure of interviewing Ian Astbury of The Cult. The tape was never produced, never broadcast anywhere and went missing. I always thought I had digitized it but over the years no matter where I looked, I just couldn't find the files. I know on the same cassette I had Ian do station ID's and I KNOW I played them at WLIR, NY and WXXP in Pittsburgh. That said, I couldn't locate the cassette, a reel to reel copy I dubbed at the WLIR studios in beautiful downtown Hempstead, NY 175 Fulton ave or any other version. This is something that ate at me for years.

WLIR air studios Maxx, Bird, Malibu Sue, Alain Jorgensen & Denis
I remember Denis McNamara asking me to do this interview. I recall doing the research and of course I remember the event and concert at Nassau Community College. I even recall beginning the process of producing it into a ready for broadcast show for WLIR. It just never got done. Perhaps going to Pittsburgh to take on the Music Director position at XX just got in the way. So, 30 years later I find an old CBS promo cassette labeled, Interview with Ian Astbury of the Cult at Nassau CC 4/2/1986. My guess is this is a copy of the original. I put it aside but sent out a message to Paul Cramer of WXXP fame. He runs the tribute website to the station and a internet radio station that plays WXXP music including old shows from some of the old jocks, including me. I promised him that he could publish it but I wanted to produce it. A year goes by. I stumbled on the tape during a cleaning session here at the house in Florida. At this point I no longer own a working cassette deck. By chance, we had purchased a used Santa Fe Hyundai as my oldest daughter was learning to drive and the Mrs. insisted on a large safe vehicle. It has a cassette deck with CD & AM-FM as the stock radio. My attempt at replacing it failed so I left it in. Thank God!

I popped it in and was blown away. After 30 years I found a copy!

Sadly, much of the interview isn't on this copy. But there was at least 25 minutes of audio and plenty to produce the thing. I found an old "Barbie" boom box purchased for the girls in 2003. I remember we used the CD function to play Mozart in the girls room while they slept. It's beat up but a few years ago I was able to listen to some old aircheck tapes that have since been sent to Paul Cramer for him to take and reproduce old XX shows for his station (outstanding job!) and some WLIR airchecks went to the producers of the upcoming documentary, Dare To Be Different. A film about how a little NY radio station changed the world!

This was a huge mistake. In my attempt to digitize the audio, Barbie began to eat the audio. Not the tape, just the data. I freaked out! It still played in the car so I cast aside Barbie and hung my head in shame. I was losing what remained of this lost treasure. I am a determined person so I dispatched to the local Walmart thinking they must have something no one else would buy......a cassette player with an AUX out so I could get the data into my computer. BINGO! I was able to save just over 13 minutes of this piece of history and began to work out what I could put together that would be fun to listen to and preserve what was once lost.

To give you some background, allow me to set this up.

In 1984 I heard Spirit Walker, a single on Beggars Banquet out of England. I'm quite sure I was dispatched by Larry The Duck to visit Camille at Dutch East Indy to pick up the latest imports for him. I loved the track and it was played by Bob Waugh on the famous import show, Sunday nights on WLIR "Off The Boat". It didn't make the LIR playlist. Not long after, Resurrection Joe suffered the same fate. But the Dreamtime LP caught my ear. something cool was happening and The Death Cult had become The Cult. When Beggars Banquet released She Sells Sanctuary, The Cult made the cut and after its "Off The Boat" debut was added to the WLIR rotation. I was still spinning at Paris NY and played the hell out of it. The Rain 12" followed and I dove in head first to the new release, LOVE. The whole album was fantastic!

I made a pest of myself as I felt the WLIR playlist was leaning too much on the electronic dance music and missing out on harder, more guitar oriented stuff. The Cult was a prayer answered. They were a dance club hit AND they sounded like a Rock & Roll band. In 1985 supporting LOVE, The Cult toured in support of this LP and when they came to NY I had to be there. The Ritz in NYC (the original place became Webster's Hall) was a place I loved seeing bands play, I DJed there many times and hosted a slew of shows for WLIR. That show by The Cult was recorded for a WLIR Radio Concert and filmed. It can be found on YouTube and I've only recently found and watched it. The show had a huge impact on me and I was now a big fan! It's around this time when we get a call at WLIR from Sire Records owner, Seymour Stein. Seymour and Denis were friends and I was introduced to him at Studio 54 when WLIR was doing the "New Music Wars" featuring up and coming local bands and combined that with some great headliners. Mr. Stein had signed many of his artists after Denis recommended them.  As a big LIR listener, Seymour heard the Cult and wanted our opinion. If I remember this correctly, Denis handed me the phone. I told Mr. Stein that I believed The Cult to be on the verge of stardom and recommended he sign them. I can't be sure he wouldn't have anyway but I'm very proud to be a small part of The Cult's first American record deal. LOVE was released and another U.S. Tour was under way. Now it's 1986 and on March 29th, The Cult plays the Beacon Theater in NYC. This is a fantastic venue and the band blew the roof off the joint! JJ Jackson, the MTV video jock sat behind me and we discussed how this band would succeed and JJ also revealed that MTV listened to us at WLIR and relied on US to hear new music.

Denis&Bird 2015
Several days later, April 4th 1986 The Cult had a show at Nassau Community College, a Monday night. Days before, Denis asked if I wanted to interview Ian. I had once spent time with Billy Duffy, the Cult's amazing guitarist before a live interview on Denis' show. We cut station ID's including the famous one where he referred to Larry as "Larry the Dick". It was so funny that Larry played it during his morning show. Billy and I discussed many topics and I used that and anything else I could get my hands on to prepare. Arriving at NCC I was walked into the dressing room and sound check was taking place. The drum tech was pounding away trying to tweak the sound so it was loud, but good quality. Ian came in and we just chatted a bit. He had asked an intern to bring him a football. When the kid brought a soccer ball, Ian ripped him a bit. He had spent a lot of his youth in Canada and wanted a FOOTBALL! Ian then disappeared for a bit, I'm told he was throwing the ball around with the NCC Lions Football team. Pretty cool!

Ian returned and we sat down for our interview. I remember before we started he asked for a light as we both smoked cigarettes. He then commented that he was very pleased that WLIR had been playing the band and was impressed that I knew his story beginning with Southern Death Cult. He sighed with relief that, in his words "you're not going to ask me stupid questions" and said he was much more comfortable doing this interview than most others. I was on cloud nine!

The interview began and we just kind of eased our way through the bands history, Ian's views on The Cult, music in general and a lot about life. Much of what we discussed has been lost but the following is what I was able to salvage and its more than enough to give you a feel for that time period and who Ian is. The running time is just over 57 minutes and our discussion is surrounded by the great music from Love and opens with Resurrection Joe from the Dreamtime LP. I'm posting it in several different formats. Small files, large files, what ever suits you. Please remember that not only is the audio a little rough, we had sound check background noise, people coming in and out and of course, loss of data over the 30 years this tape sat around.

Bird 2015
I'd also ask you to forgive my horrible diction and tone. Denis had not yet given me voice lessons and I did not yet develop my shows at WLIR or WXXP. By the time my voice got better I had moved on to other adventures but thanks to Denis, the voice got much better. In addition I need to add that I tried my best to emulate Denis' interview style. He has a way of very comfortably turning an interview into a brilliant discussion that one feels like you are there just listening to two friends talk. Since this was my first one, I had no practice and it sounds like it to me. Still, I'm quite proud of this and I think it stands the test of time.

Here are the files for your listening pleasure in various formats:


Regular MP3 format: 26.3 MB

 High Quality MP3 format: 131 MB
 
AC3 format: 79.1 MB

FLAC format: 172 MB
 


NOTE: The Cult remain active and you can purchase music and other stuff here


DISCLAIMER: Hockeybird.com 1997-2016 all rights reserved. All images and music belong to their respective owners and are borrowed for this interview. We stopped being a commercial site back in 2007. No funds are generated any longer. If you own something borrowed here, send me email at scott@hockeybird.com and we can talk. I hereby give you the right to play, download or otherwise use this recording as long as it's not SOLD. If you wish to do that, contact me, I'm sure we can make a deal :-) Share it with your fiends and enjoy it with the same love and passion I have for it and that Ian & Billy has for their music.

Special Thanks: I wish to thank the following for their support and the rights to publish.
WLIR
WXXP
(all my co-workers at both stations)
Paul Cramer at wxxp.com
Denis McNamara
Elton Spitzer (may he rest in peace)
Seymour Stein and all at Sire Records
Nassau Community College
Billy Duffy
Ian Astbury
The Cult and all it's fans worldwide
Dare to be Different, The Movie!

EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS:

All you listeners of WLIR & WXXP, the reason why we do this. Thanks for still Daring To Be Different!

Hockeybird.com 2016 all rights reserved


----}- Bird

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

COMING SOON........

Hello South Florida and every where else, I'm Bird and this is the all new Hockeybird.com
My Daughter Alex and I attended the unveiling of the new logo and uniforms and I'll give you a full accounting as well as our interview with Steve "Goldie" Goldstein as soon as I can.
Stay tuned......

----}- Bird

Monday, April 25, 2016

THANK YOU NYR BUT I'M DONE

Hello New York and everywhere else, I'm Bird and this is the beginning of the new Hockeybird.com.

I was around four years old and living in Levittown, Long Island NY when I fell in love with the great game of hockey. There were six teams in the NHL and like my Dad I became a NY Rangers fan. Who knew back then what the league and my fandom would grow into? Both expanded beyond expectations. The Sixties were a strange time to grow up with only Saturday night games on WWOR  but by the early '70s the NHL expansion had added teams in places like Philly and elsewhere. The NY Islanders entered the league and Cablevision invaded our televisions. We now had a sports channel that played all the Islander games and the NY Mets games. In 1975, my Dad decided that he could no longer support the "Fat Cat" Rangers (his words) and with a playoff win for the Isles he decided that he would become an Islander fan. I thought he was nuts and a traitor. The five trips to the finals in consecutive seasons with four straight Cups rewarded his decision. As a club DJ I spent many nights playing to an audience that included Islander players. I was even on the air on WLIR the night Pat LaFontaine scored that famous overtime goals vs the Caps at 2am. I was reprimanded for breaking in to announce that.    


Although I became friendly with many of the players from that great team I remained steadfast in my support for the Rangers. I even had Wayne Merrick at my house for dinner DURING a Ranger vs Islander game that went to OT. (Adam Graves scored the OT winner!) My wife has worn each of the four Cup winning rings. Merrick, Tonnelli, Nystrom and Gillies each allowed her to try on a ring from each different Cup win. Still I remained a BlueShirt fan. When I returned to the ice in '95 I got the chance to play with NHL players and even spent some time as a practice keeper for the Isles. Yet still I was a die hard cut me I Bleed Blue Ranger fan. I opened Hockeybird and it became one of THE PLACES on the interwebs to read about the BlueShirts. From '97 to '07 Hockeybird (and it's off-shoots) dominated the online hockey arena. It was a blast and I'll never forget the support from all of you.

I have to make sure and point out that the NHL and the way it conducts its business is also a reason for my departure from NY. The '94 lockout didn't hurt me so much because we had just won the Cup. I was annoyed by the delay but dismissed the business part in my giddiness. The following labor disputes had a huge impact on me. The last lockout of 2004 came on the heels of some real hope and passion for the NHL. I had just retired as a player, moved to Florida and witnessed the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup in front of my eyes. I had attended several games during their playoff run. It was a dream of mine to attend a Cup final and for it to have been a game seven and to see that hunk of metal is something I'll never forget. At the same time, Glen Sather held a fire sale and things for my NY Rangers were about to change in a good way. A return to the playoffs and a real team build from within. The lockout stopped the fun. The NHL had no regard for us the fans and they made that clear. Not only did I feel that way as a fan, I also had the perspective as a player. The greed and stupidity of league officials made me resent the NHL and I stopped paying them my hard earned cash. No more tickets and no more Center Ice. The Hockeyrodent felt so disenfranchised by the NHL's most recent lockout that he no longer writes his regular commentary (which was stuff you could't get anywhere else) it was a tradition which began when Mattias Norstrom was still a Ranger. His forum remains open and he contributes there as a nod to the community of hockey loving friends he's accumulated over the course of his nineteen years of Interweb presence.

Of course I came back when they returned. Heck, Hockeybird was breaking news on the lockout back then. The player in me pinned for the game despite the disrespect from the league. I had to stay just to watch this Ranger rebuild and it was the only thing I could watch that reminded me of playing, something I really missed.    

During my playing days I have a few games that stand out in my memory. One was at the Long Beach Arena which was once the practice home of the Rangers. I had met Pete Stemkowski there and had to fill in on his team when their keeper got hurt. A few weeks later I played in an "open hockey" with his son. But the game that stands out there was a playoff game. I was filling in for an adult league team who's keeper couldn't play because of his religion. After three periods it was all tied up and both ten minute overtimes went scoreless. We went to a shootout and I think it was the fourteenth shooter who finally ended it. A tough loss but I played out of my mind all the while thinking that I was defending the crease that Eddie Giacomin did and it was an honor to do the same.

From Eddie Giacomin to Henrik Lundqvist and all of 'em in between, I supported each and every player and did so with an unmatched passion. True, if you are and old Hockeybird reader you know I can criticize the team with the best of them. But at some point I began to realize that some measured their fandom on how loud and how crude their criticism was. The louder and cruder it was, the bigger (and better) you were as a fan. I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me. So it's fair to say that I started to see a divide and unfortunately it appeared I was on the outside looking in. My move to Florida in '04 was the beginning of the end even though I didn't realize it at the time. Hockeybird remained strong until about 2007. My personal issues prevented me from managing the website and financially I could no longer maintain a server to handle the thousands of readers. I felt a responsibility to the readers and it killed me to close the boards and give up the server in NY. Thankfully someone stepped up to relieve me.

When Pete Rocha opened Rangerland this gave the readers two places to go with the other being the Hockeyrodent site. My place was essentially closed although I keep the domain with the hope that someday I can turn it into a place I can write about things not available all over the place. I have thought about writing on politics and that's still possible. I'm not sure I will take this place and make it a Panther site or a Bolts site but those remain options as well. It's not like I write about the Rangers anymore anyway. The last few articles have been about music, one of my other passions.

Look, it's been a great run and I really appreciate what we did here and I enjoyed being a Ranger fan all these years. It's time to move on. This does not mean I'm burning my Ranger jerseys and memorabilia. I'll always look fondly at the Tomas Klouceks', Dan Blackburns' and Petr Pruchas' whom I supported. The '94 team will always bring a smile to my face. But that was decades ago. It's true, the fire sale that sent Brian Leetch away was a good thing. It returned the team to the playoffs and set up the recent runs for the holy grail. My memories of going to Long Beach to see Nick Fotiu and Ron Dugay are never going to be erased. I just can't justify spending my passion on a team that doesn't give a rats ass about me anymore. They don't need me and in turn, I don't need them.

I can't be specific as to exactly where we go from here. Both politics and a Panther or Bolts page remain possibilities. The only thing I'm sure about is that I am officially retired as a New York Ranger fan. This was a long time coming and NOT a rash decision. This is NOT about the ass kicking the Penguins just laid on the boys in blue. It's just time. This is something I have been thinking about for several years now.

In regards to the team itself, the New York Rangers have had a great run. I think the playoff runs took a lot out of me over the last few years. I really poured my heart into it, invested time, money and energy that with a job and family, was taxing to say the least. With this years early exit it's my opinion that the "Lundqvist Window" is closing. He gave us a chance to win that Cup and try as they did, the Rangers around him came up short each time. While Henke is still one of the best his skill set is beginning to erode. The supporting cast has too many issues to solve in one off season so now is the perfect time to move on for me. If I'm going to go through a rebuild it's time I do it somewhere else.

They almost did it though. The homegrown guys the guys they drafted and brought through the system damn near got it done. Staal, Girardi, Stephan, McDonagh, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Prucha, Sauer, Korpikoski on and on. I was convinced that this would end with a Stanley Cup. Now I'm convinced unless traded (and I don't foresee that) Lundqvist will be the best keeper never to win a cup.

So, after nearly fifty years supporting the NY Rangers I am done. I will now choose between the two Florida franchises and it's the Panthers who really need the help. The Bolts won a Cup in '04 (I was there to see it) and that's helped them build a real fan base. The Cats had the Beezer take them to the '96 finals but really have accomplished nothing since. Their home games are fouled with opposing teams fans and if the Panthers are to survive they MUST build a fan base. That's a worthy challenge I just might want to take on.

I want to thank all the Hockeybird readers who supported me and the fantastic writers we had here. Ranger fans are passionate and I was honored to be among some of the most die hard hockey fans in the world. You guys will continue without me and not miss a beat. Good luck in the future. I'll always remember both the good and the bad, the ups and downs but the passion and devotion you have shown this place and your team IS AMAZING. I am not bitter and have no hatred for you or the team. You will always be a part of who I am and I'm forever grateful for that.

It's just time to move on.........

----}- Bird

Thursday, April 21, 2016

17 DAYS

Hello NY and everywhere else, I'm Bird and you're at Hockeybird.com

There is no way I can do justice in tribute to Prince. Hell, I never even sat down to write about the loss of David Bowie who has similar traits. However, I feel the need and here we are.

I've not kept secret that I began my career in music playing disco records. I credit the disco DJs of NY who taught me skills I then applied to what is now referred to as New Wave. (God I hate that phrase).  I think I picked up on Prince during his second record. 1999 and Pretty Little Red Corvette stayed in my rotation throughout my working days. I remember having conversations with a bar back at Paris NY (Huntington, Long Island Night Club) about Prince. We were both amazed at his talent and were into his lyrics. DJ Slave would go on to become an iconic DJ himself and at the time reinforced my thought that Prince, no matter how controversial should continue to get play at Paris.



Of course it seemed a match made in heaven when MTV came out and Prince released his own movie. Purple Rain stood on it's own as a movie. It was also tailor made for the MTV format. Each song was a video for your ears as well as your eyes. It's safe to say, I played every song on that album at Paris NY. Allow me to stray off topic here.....

I'm often asked what the top ten live shows I ever attended are as are many of you. Most are surprised when the Purple Rain tour appears in my top three. I was lucky enough to see that tour twice, once with the adorable Down Town Julie Brown. It was amazing in so many ways. At the Nassau Coliseum Sheila E opened the show. When she finished the lights came on and the curtain came down. About twenty minutes later some instruments could be heard. The lights never went down and the curtain never went up but we all clearly heard Prince saying, "we're just gonna jam a minute".

The band played 17 Days

17 Days was the B-side to When Doves Cry. I love B-sides, always listened to them all and played quite a few. This one was awesome. If I remember 117 beats per minute and an easy mix, in and out. Powerful bass and drums. Mesmerizing guitar. I played the hell out of it. To hear it live in a sort of live sound check was so cool. The curtain never came up. It ended and then twenty minutes later up comes the curtain and there's Prince doing his best Jimi Hendrix playing Let's Go Crazy! The Purple Rain tour was in fact one of the best live shows I've ever seen any where at any time.

Speaking of Let's Go Crazy, that song was one of the loudest songs ever played at Paris NY, was one of the only songs ever to be played more than once in a night and was the background music to our TV commercial. The place went nuts each night at that point where a song would fade and the organ would begin. Dearly Beloved........we are gathered here today to get to this thing called LIFE! Easily the high point of the night for many many weeks.

I was also lucky enough to see the Raspberry Beret Tour. Yes, I continued to play Prince even though his music didn't always fit the format and he no longer needed my exposure. I tended to avoid very popular artists but Prince, like David Bowie was different. I distinctly remember Slave telling me about the "Black Album" and finally getting to hear it. So, like many of you.......Prince and I are connected. His passing is quite sudden, unexpected and one hell of a shock. I hope this little remembrance gives you the same feeling as it does me. All he ever wanted was for us to feel a little love. I'm feeling it, are you?

----}- Bird