It was the 60's. Maybe you read about it; it was in all the papers.
In the 60's, things were different; for one thing, there was music on AM radio!
And in every major metropolitan area, AM radio was still king. In New York,
WABC-AM radio ruled the airwaves with a line-up of DJ's that spoke to you, and
at the top of the heap (in my mind, anyway) was Cousin Bruce Morrow, and in
1967, Bruce sponsored a contest called The Big Break.
A Jug Band on WABC?
Although the 60's were a time of rebellion in the streets, and freedom of choice in terms of
what DJ's played on the air, (this was before radio consultants and play lists) I'm not sure
that New York radio was really ready for a jug band on WABC, the 50,000 watt mega-station that
was heard in many of the states in the eastern part of the country. On a clear night, kids
from South Carolina and Rhode Island could hear The 4 Seasons sing the intro
to Cousin Brucie's show everynight. But you don't need a clear night...just
So anyway, with that as a bit of a backdrop, one night in the Fall of 1967, Brucie made an
announcement that he was running a contest called The Big Break.
All area bands comprised of full-time students were eligible. Although 30 years clouds some
of the details, the process went something like this...there was an entry process that
consisted of a live audition and recording session in New York City. (How this first selection
process was structured, I'm afraid I don't remember...anyone out there remember?) Anyway, we
went over to New York and made a recording for Cousin Brucie and his staff. Even in those days,
we were pretty good, and pretty professional. I remember the looks of skepticism in the room
(although not from Bruce; he's as friendly and genuine in person as he is on the air) as we
entered with our motley collection of assorted instruments and hardware, and the looks of
surprise and what I think was respect as we came out of the studio after recording our tune.
When we got back into the car, I remember a feeling of confidence...maybe this deal wasn't as
far-fetched as it sounded.
From the original entrants, somehow (I don't remember how) the list was whittled down to 50
bands. We were one of those bands. We were still in the running. Every night at 9pm, Bruce
would play one of the recordings. The night The Birdies' recording was to air, I was at my
fraternity house for a party. As 9pm approached, the room got quiet as we tuned in WABC to
listen. To hear yourself on the radio is a special moment, and this was right up there with
other special moments. Duncan and Brady was the song we had recorded for airplay (it's
on our CD, and you can hear a clip of it
here) and it never
Cheers from the members of Psi Chi followed, and me and Candace, my then- girlfriend and
now-wife, celebrated by drinking an entire bottle of scotch. The next thing I
remember was waking up on the couch as the other guys were sweeping up the remains of the party
the next morning...yes, a very memorable moment indeed!
Now the "public" took over. According to the rules, the ten bands who received the most votes
in the form of postcards, would get spots at the final competition. I can remember us buying
a huge pile of postcards and walking around the campus of Montclair State College, where we
were all students, and getting people to sign the postcards. The school paper ran some promo
stuff for us which also resulted in votes. Anyway, after a few weeks, I got the first telegram
of my life...(remember this was 30 years ago...a telegram was kind of a snailmail/e-mail/Fedex.
It was quicker than regular mail [a person delivered it], but slower than a phone) Anyway, here
Yes...finally! After almost a year in production,
Guano Records and
The DIRDY BIRDIES Jug Band
are proud to announce the release of
For ordering information, a run-down of what's included on the newest
offering from The Jug Band for The Millennium,
Of course, since our first CD, Endangered Species, was a million seller (I gotta million in my cellar),
we stall have a bunch left. If you're one of the few laggards left in the world
look here for ordering info...