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Goodbye to another local BBC show

James Addyman, presenter of Down in the Grooves writes:
I'm sad to be writing this because the radio programme has been part of my life for more than eight years: Down In The Grooves, the show I do for BBC Radio Leeds is to finish at the end of December, along with dozens of other shows across the BBC local radio network, as part of the DQF savings. DQF (Delivering Quality First) is a typical management confection that was basically cooked up as another phrase for cuts, once ex-Director General Mark Thompson had decided that he didn't want to stick up for the BBC and froze the licence fee for six years - a decision that has had consequences right across the BBC ever since.

For the uninitiated, Down In The Grooves played a mix of garage punk, psychedelia, R&B, soul, funk, ska/rocksteady, music library, soundtracks - taken mainly from the years 1955-75 but featuring modern acts echoing those eras and their music. When I started the programme in September 2004, I invited onto the show a wide variety of music professionals. Having DJs, producers and artists such as Ady Croasdell (Kent Records), John Schroeder, Gary Walker (Walker Bros), Preston Ritter (Electric Prunes), Andy Votel & Dom Thomas (Finders Keepers) share their tales on air helped to spread the word about the new show.

I got emails from all round the world saying how glad fans were to have found a show that played northern soul next to Hungarian psych next to 50s rockabilly next to German garage beat. These emails arrived from glamorous and not-so-glamorous locations, including a geologist working in the deserts of Yemen who was blasting my show out to some bewildered goats and their herdsmen!! Now, it's not uncommon for internet radio shows to have playlists as esoteric as mine but I think what people appreciated was that there was a BBC show willing to go beyond the bland playlist. That's what people told me anyway.

I guess I should have known the writing was on the wall when Mark Lamarr was considered persona non grata at Radio 2. The reasons I was given by my manager was money and apparently 6Music cover the same sort of territory (not the last time I looked).

All I can say is that it saddens me that in the current climate anything a bit unusual could go to the wall. The show enabled me to take music to places like Barcelona and Berlin, which were unforgettable nights, and I hope there are outlets for the weird and wonderful sounds of the 50s/60s/70s out there somewhere. But I'm just wondering who's gonna turn the next generation of kids onto the wonders of a Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich b-side...


SPIRIT's Ed Cassidy dies at 89

It is with sadness that Shindig! reports the death of Ed 'Cass' Cassidy, drummer with rock band, Spirit. Cassidy died on December 6, 2012 in San Jose, California. He was 89 years old.

Born in then rural Illinois on May 4, 1923, Cassidy later moved to Bakersfield, California where he began his musical career, playing in local beer halls and nightclubs. After the war, he played with many Mid-West Territorial Big Bands. In the '60s he began working with small jazz combos, jamming with jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Thelonius Monk, and others. In '65, Cassidy joined the rhythm section of The Rising Sons, a folk-blues band featuring Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal and Jesse Lee Kincaid.

However he is best known as the instantly recognisable man behind the drumkit of the grossly underrated and neglected Spirit. Between 1967 and '70 Spirit scarcely put a foot wrong as they fused elements of pop, rock, folk, jazz and psychedelia with a combination of reckless abandon and stunning, inventive musical precision.

The Rising Sons often played the legendary Ash Grove club in Hollywood. It was here that Cassidy met Bernice Pearl, a divorcee with four children, whom he later married. Cassidy developed a close and enduring musical relationship with Bernice's son, Randy Wolfe, an accomplished guitarist. Cassidy and Wolfe (who became known as 'California') went on to form The Red Roosters along with Randy's friends and future Spirit band mates Mark Andes and Jay Ferguson, and the late Mike Fondiler. In '67, joined by keyboardist John Locke, the band Spirits Rebellious, later simply Spirit, was formed.

A strong first album, Spirit, awoke the world to their innovative sound and stellar musicianship, especially that of Cassidy and California. This was followed by the exceptional and aptly titled The Family That Plays Together, birthed in the yellow house in Topganga Canyon where the band, wives, girlfriends, musical mentor Barry Hansen and others lived communally through the summer of love. But it was the '69 release, The Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus that is widely acclaimed as the band's masterpiece and zenith. Sadly, by the beginning of '71, the band had imploded.

Cassidy continued with the Spirit moniker, mostly with Randy California, until the latter drowned in Molokai in January '97.

Cassidy, possibly one of the industry's oldest rock drummers, essentially retired at 79 after playing and recording two albums with Merrell Fankhauser in The Fankhasuer-Cassidy Band.

Read Mick Sidmore's feature on Spirit, which was published in Shindig! No.12 here