Serene Dominic presents… Thumpkin’s Whereabouts!

Jug band music abounded in the early Sixties as an offshoot of the then-booming folk scene and Ged Thumpkin’s Jugglickers might have been the best of them all. But all that changed in 1965 when Ged heard Dylan go electric at the Newport Folk Festival and knew that jugband music had to go alternate current as well.

This necessitated disbanding the Jugglickers, staunch jugband traditionalists who would never record with so much as an electric lamp on and replacing them with a bunch of sideburned hooligans handing around in the east village. He dubbed them Thumpkin’s Whereabouts since this project was top secret and Sing Out! Magazine kept running “Where is Thumpkin” articles. Highlight Magazine also ran several “Where is Thumbkin” articles as well but they turned out to be unrelated nonsense about a face drawn on a thumb and withheld from children behind someone’s back.
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Serene Dominic presents… Cole Summers!

When Glen Campbell rocketed to the top of the charts with a series of Jimmy Webb compositions about American cities, from “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” to “Wichita Lineman” to “Galveston,” it made sense for country singers looking to crossover to the pop field to find a city to wallow about in song. Cole Summers put pen to paper and in twenty minutes wrote about Scranton, Pennsylvania and the strange hold it had over his then-girlfriend. The business savvy Summers even coordinated a promotional marketing tie-in with Gordon’s Gin which Summers was contracted to drink at every personal appearance, cross-marketing that is commonplace with rappers today but was unheard of in 1969. It was an obligation the singer was only to happy to comply with.

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Serene Dominic presents… Jimmy Jay & The First Responders!

According to the legend, “Jimmy Jay was a Chicago fireman whose band consisted of fellow firefighters he met from other engine houses all responding to a 20-story blaze. After the fire, the men who worked so well together decided to form a firehouse band and raise temperatures with their hot brand of bubblegum music.” Of course, none of this is true, Jimmy Jay and the First Responders is actually the brainchild of jingle writer Morty Guildenstein looking to break into the world of pop music in 1968.

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Serene Dominic presents… Friends of Antarctica!

With the rash of charity records glutting the charts in 1985 from the likes of Band-Aid, Hearing Aid, USA for Africa, Northern Lights and Artists United Against Apartheid, artists not invited to participate on those awareness raising platters were left scrambling for whatever viable charities remained. Intercoursing difficult penguins to keep the population from being endangered wasn’t one of them, but that didn’t stop Friends of Antarctica from assembling.

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Serene Dominic presents… Analog Cabin!

Today we’d call it electroclash, modern music made on antiquated synthesizers. But in 1987, when it was state of the art, most people just called it garbage.

Heads nearly snapped off necks when Steven Oddyssey ditched the multi-platinum-dance pop of his Let’s Fight! album in order to make music with household appliances, like touchtone phones, oven timers, electric shavers, can openers and microwave settings.

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Serene Dominic presents… The Merseykillers!

God bless Blighty’s happiest export, The Merseykillers and their cheerful cover versions of some of the most violent, objectionable girl group recordings ever written. Songs like “Agony”, about a brutal boyfriend’s bruising charm achieving its desired effect on the ladies. Sandy Shelton, who only wrote the song to get out of a slave publishing contract, could only wonder aloud if this toothy sextet from Sheffield had even read the words to her tasteless song.

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Serene Dominic presents… Roscoe Des Moines!

Born Joseph DeSimone in Augusta, GA, he was later redubbed Roscoe Des Moines by his dyslexic manager Jack DesMoines, who merely thought he was doing a relative a favor. While some truly gifted gospel singers at some point in their career decide to take it to the next level and become ministers in order to devote all their time and talents in the service of the Lord, Roscoe Des Moines had something of a reverse epiphany.

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Serene Dominic presents… Maricopa Beef Exporters!

Before becoming a Country Music Hall of Famer, Cole Summers worked as a $75 a week songwriter at Grinn & Barrett Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee. There he wrote hits like “Kissing Your Walls Goodnight” for Farley Youngins, “Haul Off and Love Me” for rig rocker Hawk Redwood and this favorite from desert shit-kickers Maricopa Beef Exporters. Contrary to legend, the folks in Maricopa Beef Exporters were neither vicious San Quentin ex-cons nor disgruntled meat packers from Pinal County—just a bunch of frat rockers from New Jersey and their girlfriends jumping on the Bakersfield country music bandwagon. Originally written about two incarcerated men who hook up in the breakyard, Summer’s controversial lyrics were altered at the insistence of Weedwind Inc., Maricopa’s record label, which thought the song might have more hit potential if it was about, as the trade ads put it, “the groovy understanding between the brotherhood of man so popular with the kids in 1967.”

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Serene Dominic presents… The 4 Sublevels!

A regionally ignored Motor City knockoff of The Four Tops, this Auburn Hills quartet’s lead singer LaFonte Dupree credits his partial blindness for giving him the urgency in his voice that would later be known as “soul” but at the time he began singing was usually referred to as excessive pleading or its more polite form, favor asking.

“I was constantly needing people to drive me around, like, to the barber shop or to the candy store,” he remembers. “Pretty soon I became known around Detroit as a guy with a whole lot of soul.” Actually, he was more widely known as a guy who asked a whole lot of favors.

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Serene Dominic presents… Bed Intruderz!

A bunch of white guys playing reggae? They laughed in 1978 when The Police did it and they laughed even harder in 1994 when Sublime did it. They laughed hardest in 2011 when Bed Intruderz, three guys outta Alleghany County, Virginia, attempted to jumpstart yet another white boy reggae revival, this time changing the words to a 17 year-old independently released single (“W.B.M.”)  in an attempt to tie it in with an upcoming Mila Kunis movie. It’s still too early to know what the “initial” impact of “FWB” is, but one thing is for certain, the band’s  “Friends let friends with benefits”  bumper sticker is selling like hotcakes. Lead singer Livingston Humphries took a philosophical view of the critical jibes leveled at Bed Intruderz for being derivative, unoriginal and more desperate for a choreography intervention than any rock band since  Freddie and the Dreamers. “Well,” he said, “At least we’re not singing about chiba 24/7.  Screwing chicks? That’s way different.”

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