The Montgomerys: First World Blues

first world blues 1The Montgomerys, 2020

Produced by: Barry Marshall

Website: Peter Montgomery Music

Notable Quote: “And I don’t know why I loved you like I did but there’s no room in my sandbox for another screwed up kid and we’ve grown too old and I really don’t want to play, just go away!” — Peter Montgomery, “Elf on a Shelf”

My quick 2 cents: Cheeky lyrics expressing mature themes, crisp instrumentation backing punchy Elliot Easton solos, and pop-rock sensibilities balanced with whimsical ballads … this album is an audible joyride. Buy it!

The full scoop: I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it is about this album that is so addictive. It’s kind of like spending a day with a rascally 12-year-old boy who keeps you on your toes and makes you burst out laughing when you’re trying to be stern, but who is also somehow an old soul with an understanding of life that goes much deeper than you anticipated. You almost can’t take him seriously, and you wouldn’t, if it weren’t for the way he taps into your inner feelings.

First World Blues (FWB) is the third album by The Montgomerys, a Boston-based band made up of founder Peter Montgomery on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Tony Savarino, Mark Nigro on bass, and drummer Mike Levesque. This record features Barry Marshall in the producer’s chair, as well as special guest Elliot Easton of The Cars sitting in on the lion’s share of lead guitar duties.

Born and raised in Scituate, Massachusetts, it took Peter some time to find his niche in the music world. Peter openly admits that he was – and is – a bit of a handful. Dyslexia, struggles with ADD, and a general lack of maturity dictated his early years, but his irreverent sense of humor kept him afloat. As a teen, Peter found songwriting to be an outlet, a way to process his emotional highs and lows. Though he feels like his inceptive efforts lacked an understanding of the importance of words, he would eventually steer his talent into a style of expression that combined the best of his personality with cathartic output. In other words, smart-ass songs that gave him a better handle on life.

And the funny thing is, having had the privilege of speaking extensively with Peter, I recognize that these songs on FWB are exactly him: boyishly charming, off-the-cuff funny, and laced with relentless transparency and intuition.

His 15-year run with his popular Boston band The Irresponsibles brought him within a stone’s throw of hitting the big time: in 1996 they won Musician Magazine’s Best Unsigned Band contest and landed a recording contract with the legendary frontman of King Crimson, Adrian Belew. They even toured the country opening for Belew in 1999 but they could never quite bust through to the next level.

Peter let go of that band and took a brief hiatus, and then formed The Montgomerys around 2004. With time and experience his writing has taken a subtle turn. It is still dressed with his signature self-deprecating humor and cheeky honesty, but now there is a sharper intelligence behind his lyrics, a greater sense of purpose born from taking some hard knocks.

Clocking in at only 33 minutes, this 12-song album wastes no time on drawn out noodling; it throws its songs out like candy at a parade. Peter jumps into every track with boyish energy and vocal enthusiasm. First World Blues bursts off the line with “Back for More,” a bright, danceable rock tune about the hopeless (and helpless) pursuit of love. It easily hooks you with its jaunty chorus and some badass Elliot Easton guitar work.

In fact, let me just say right now that every track that Elliot Easton plays on* is rippled with stylish guitar riffs and flourishes, and the tasty solos we always anticipate from this legendary Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer.

peter barry elliot cropped 2
Peter Montgomery, Barry Marshall, and Elliot Easton in the studio, 2019. Photo courtesy of Barry Marshall; shared with permission.

“Drink That Wine” follows, an oddly inspirational anthem with sixties-ish backing vocals, subtle organ accompaniment, and perfectly incendiary guitar work. By the time you’ve listened to these first two tracks you are sold on the whole trip.

The thing is, throughout the album there’s this delicious juxtaposition of sunny music and gritty lyrics. Peter writes with the honest stream of consciousness of an adolescent, but without the shortsightedness of teenage angst. His themes are definitely relatable to adults: a little heartbreaking, sometimes poignant, with a hint of darkness. But it’s not an emotional drag. His turn of phrase is delightfully surprising, and even when he’s singing about painful things, there’s always this little edge to his voice that assures you he can laugh it off at the end of the day.

“Hostile Waters” illustrates this perfectly. You’ve got this cheerful ukulele melody on top of a plucky bass line, and that sweet child’s voice at the beginning (which belongs to Peter’s younger son, by the way). So cute, right? And yet, the song is really a moving admonition to adults not to jettison their children in the midst of a messy break up.

“Hole in My Roof” is like that, too. I immediately loved the whimsical lullaby melody, but it about broke my heart when I realized he was lamenting the tale of someone who sacrificed a loving relationship in pursuit of his own personal interests.

My favorite song is “Elf on a Shelf.” The theme of a friendship turned dysfunctional is so relatable. Peter works through the situation with humorous frustration and audacious lyrics.  The snappy pop melody invites you to sing along, and somehow you find the outlet for your own heightened emotions by belting out the lyrics. At least, I do!

There’s a charming immaturity to the whole album. The more I listen to it, the more I love it. You’ve just got to check it out! You can purchase the album digitally through Amazon and iTunes, or shoot producer Barry Marshall a note through Messenger or send him an email ( to buy a physical CD. Also, find Peter Montgomery on Facebook to learn more about his musical projects.

Full album playlist:

* Elliot Easton plays on all of the tracks except “Drink That Wine” and “Hole in My Roof”


Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars

turbocharge movie image final.jpg

Written by David Juskow, Directed by Memo Salazar

Format: Digital file


Notable Quote: Maxanne: “Why is Benjamin still just standing around? I told you, he should be playing like an instrument or something.” Ric: “He says he doesn’t want to… in case he gets the motivation to dance.”

My quick 2 cents: This frisky parody rockumentary is full of playful humor and witty references that will hit home with Cars fans and lovers of 80s culture. Watch it!

The full scoop: Rock biopics definitely follow a predictable formula: play it fast and loose with the timeline, pit the downtrodden but uber-talented star against an antagonist saying, ‘there is NO way you’re going to be a success,’ and then finish with a top-of-the-charts victory proving everyone wrong and taking the airwaves by storm. And that’s the way the genre goes, right?

Wrong. At least, not when it comes to Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars.

Created more as an act of rebellion, New York comedian, writer, and filmmaker David Juskow was fed up with the stereotypical rock biopic. One night in 2005, after nearly gagging on the cheesy dialog and overbearing drama in Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, he had had enough. It was the final push he needed to pursue his own project.

“I made Turbocharge out of spite, let’s just say that. It is completely spoofing the genre of any biopic that’s been made of a music band. That is exactly what it is,” Juskow says with finality.

Inducted into the 2018 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Cars broke into the fairly stagnant music scene of 1978, pulling listeners up short with their captivating combination of punchy guitar solos, innovative synthesizers, and sardonic lyric writing. Over the next ten years they were forerunners of the evolving ‘new wave’ craze while maintaining their foothold in rock and roll. As a whole, they were a low key and private band, holding the media at arms’ length and creating an air of mystery about their deeper identity. Did they have a story to tell? Juskow believed they did.

Exaggerated personalities, terrible wigs, and an unorthodox plot make this hilarious film the breath of fresh air the genre needs. Narrated by a snowman a la Rankin/Bass, the story revolves around The Cars reputation for being robotic and boring during live shows, and their supposed determination to correct that perception with the fans. Running alongside that thread is the assertion that bassist Ben Orr was secretly plotting to wrest the control of the group from co-founder and songwriter Ric Ocasek. In an unexpected twist, Phil Collins is delightfully in the middle of it all.

The idea for Turbocharge actually materialized in the mid-80s during Juskow’s college days when the band’s fourth album, Heartbeat City, took his ears by storm and he became obsessed with everything they did. Lightning hit in the summer of 1985, when The Cars performance on the Live Aid broadcast was hijacked by Phil Collins’ arrival. Juskow recalls, “Being a huge fan of The Cars at that time I was so angry that they got shafted that it turned to comedy in my mind. I was like, ‘Someday I’m going to depict that!’”

Two decades later, the time had come. The 20th anniversary of Live Aid in 2005 unearthed Juskow’s earlier grudge over the Phil Collins fiasco, and that, coupled with his disgust over the Def Leppard movie, prompted him to approach his good friend, television industry veteran Memo Salazar. Memo was in, and Juskow spent the next several months researching The Cars’ history, confirming things he already knew and then going deeper.

And the further he dug, the funnier it became. The peculiarity of Ric and Ben’s early partnership, The Cars ‘trashing’ a hotel by leaving pictures askew, the perceived disaster of the Panorama album… it was the oddities in the band’s journey that propelled everything forward with the movie. Juskow does take an obvious amount of creative license, but there’s a difference: Juskow’s forays into embellishment are not designed to evoke emotion with the cookie-cutter ‘climb to fame’ struggles of the typical rockumentary… they’re just damn funny.

“Everybody takes liberties for drama purposes,” Juskow explains. “What would you have if you didn’t have a fun antagonist? C’mon, you need someone to get mad about Andy Warhol: ‘You hired this guy? Are you kidding me?’”

The cast is largely made up from Juskow’s comedy family and ‘friends of friends,’ including Kevin Kash, Rachel Feinstein, Jonathan Katz, H John Benjamin, John Samuel Jordan, David Engel, Tom Shillue, and Dave Attell. Juskow himself plays Ric Ocasek. The soundtrack includes music from Eric Barao, The Cautions, Frank Stallone, and a couple of Cars-flavored tunes written by Juskow himself.

The film originally opened in 2008 with a few private screenings in the New York area, but then sat on a shelf for ten years, until longtime Cars fan David Curry convinced Juskow to dust it off and reconsider releasing it to the rest of the world. Lucky for us! It is now available for a limited time on Amazon Prime: click HERE!

Steve Rodgers: Head Up High


Steve Rodgers, 2017

Produced by: Ken Nelson


Notable Quote: “So many times I wanted to run away, so many times I couldn’t even find my way.  But there’s a voice inside of my heart, says be brave, be brave and walk on.” — Steve Rodgers, “Walk On”

My quick 2 cents:  In our current musical landscape riddled with autotune and shallow lyrics, Steve Rodgers’ album is refreshing, meaningful, and bursting with genuine talent. Buy it!

The full scoop:  Earlier this spring I was scrolling Facebook and came across a post by David Spero for “Something About You” by Steve Rodgers (link below). Both the song and the artist were new to me, but that title had me curious, so I clicked on it. As soon as I heard the first few notes Steve sang I thought, “That voice… it sounds kind of familiar… last name Rodgers… wait a minute!”

Within seconds I confirmed that Steve is, indeed, the son of iconic rock vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), but don’t be misled; he is not a half-talent trying to ride the coattails of his famous father. Steve’s voice is unique, moving, and absolutely addictive, and with his 2017 debut album, Head Up High, he proves unequivocally that he can stand strong in the musical arena on his own two feet.

I ordered the CD immediately.Image result for head up high steve rodgers

Born in 1972, and having soaked up incredible amounts of artistic influence sitting on his daddy’s knee, Steve mastered both the piano and guitar at a young age. He started writing his own songs when he was 14 years old, and by 17 he was in his own band, making albums and touring with a solid measure of success. He eventually decided to pursue a solo career, sharing the stage with acts like Joe Perry, Joe Walsh, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and (of course) Bad Company.

Having high connections through Paul didn’t hurt, but Steve’s style and sound are nearly opposite of his dad’s classic rock leanings, and fans who expect to hear a carbon copy might be a bit surprised. There is that genetic similarity visually and vocally, but Steve soars off in his own direction. His songs have more of a contemporary pop flavor, laced with soul and performed with abundant passion.

And really, it’s his voice… that voice! It’s vibrant and magical, and he wields it perfectly without a bunch of unnecessary showboating; more of a minimalist auditory display that penetrates the heart without growing wearisome. I’m always left wanting to hear more.

Frankly, I think this album is brilliant. Every track is a stepping stone in what seems to be a very personal journey, and listening through from beginning to end sweeps me along with Steve as he makes his way. His songwriting is fantastic, with lyrics that speak of acceptance, bravery, and hope. The music is beautiful and perfectly suited as a backdrop for Steve’s powerful voice, like a rustic wooden fence for the ivy of Steve’s vocals to wend their way around, creating a colorful vision of peace, refreshment and solitude.

The opening song, “I Will Grow,” is introspective and relatable. It grabs you right in the heart of your grown-up self and plants you firmly in an emotional mindset. But before you assume that the whole album is going to cause your heart to ache, Steve launches into the inspiring title track, “Head Up High,” an irresistible, upbeat pep talk that my 16-year-old daughter loves to belt out. And from there he uses a little blues, a little folk, and a lot of heart to share his story, track by track.

I could gush over every single song, but I’ll just mention a couple more of my favorites. “Something About You” rolls out a poignant ribbon of longing and confusion that still gets me every time I hear it. On the other end of the spectrum, “Your Eyes” is a whimsical love song featuring Steve playing a sunny ukulele melody accompanied by his jaunty vocals. “So High” is another happy ballad, hopeful and warm, while “Messed Up” brings a bit of a funky vibe to an uplifting perspective shift.

In spite of the ethereal feelings I have about his music, there is just something so efficient about Steve’s style. He has a message to deliver and he’s not interested in wasting any time – or words – in doing it. When he’s said what he wanted to say the song ends and you are changed,  left holding onto an emotional gem. I love that, since I’ve never been a big fan of dragging things out.

A terrific example of that is “Walk On.” Simple and straightforward, the lyrics encourage me in the middle of the dark, like Steve slipping his hand in mine and helping me move forward. Even though it clocks in at just under two and a half minutes, it’s enough. I feel strengthened somehow. Relatively short, and yet perfectly complete.

As of this writing, I believe Steve is wrapping up his summer tour by performing select shows in the US and UK, some as the headliner and some supporting Bad Company. If you have the opportunity to see him live, jump on it! In the meantime, do yourself a favor and snap up this album. It will restore your faith in today’s music scene.


Art Review: KatArt

Rock Portraiture by Kathy Sullivan, 2016-present45793306_10209957547135253_4095542030187364352_o

Format: colored pencil/marker on Strathmore paper


Notable Quote: “Music for me has always been a saving grace. It’s gotten me through a lot from childhood on. So to combine music and drawing was just a natural development. It’s definitely personal.” ~ Kathy Sullivan

My quick 2 cents: Kathy Sullivan brings light and life to the portraits of those we love most, creating vibrant images that will touch your heart.  Buy it!

The full scoop: I discovered Kathy’s amazing artwork when she posted a drawing she did of my all-time favorite singer and bass player, Benjamin Orr of The Cars. His image was, of course, immediately recognizable to me, but it wasn’t like it was just ‘close enough’ for me to tell it was Ben. It was the way she brought to life the expression in his heavy-lidded eyes and the corner of his mouth, and how she perfected the texture of his hair, the detail in the microphone. She managed to harness the essence of Ben so completely that he jumped off the page. It was just that good, that real.

And that’s why Kathy’s art impacts people. By capturing that vibrant spark of life in a person who affects us so deeply, and then releasing it onto her canvas, she proves herself to be a kindred spirit with the ability to give us a treasured image more personal than a photograph; something softer, more tangible somehow. Something that goes straight to the heart.

A born-and-raised New Englander, Kathy’s desire to draw would emerge every few years as she made her way through adulthood, but she didn’t pursue it seriously until 2016. Her initial intentions were to just take commissions from people and draw whatever they wanted her to draw. But all that changed with the death of Chris Cornell on May 18, 2017. His passing impacted her deeply and she dealt with the loss by putting on his music and drawing him from one of her favorite photos.

That black and white pencil drawing would turn out to be pivotal for Kathy’s career. Drummer Justin Pacy used it on his promotional materials for the highly successful tribute show, All Night Thing. He also invited Kathy to bring her drawings to sell at the event, and her exposure and audience received a huge boost.

The act of drawing Chris was a healing exercise for Kathy, and the finished portrait opened up a platform for her to expand her audience, but ultimately – and even more telling – it gave Kathy an inspired sense of direction. She said in our recent interview for Standing Room Only, “I realized how many musicians we’ve lost that I wanted to pay tribute to.  I’ve done many but there are still so many left to do! I think people really like to have a drawing of their favorite musicians that have passed, like having a small piece of them to hang onto.”

Kathy’s extensive portfolio captures icons like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, BB King, Prince, Lemmy of Motorhead, Gregg Allman, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, Randy Rhoades, Amy Winehouse… the list goes on and on. She gets many requests for living artists as well, including James Hetfield, Steven Tyler, Brett Michael, Stevie Nicks and Deborah Harry.

In addition to following her own interests and emotions in choosing her subjects, Kathy also takes on commissions from people who request drawings of their loved ones, heroes and pets.

If you, too, are moved by the depth and honesty of Kathy’s art, visit her website:, or find her on under her shop named Sullika. You can order prints of drawings she’s already done or request a unique piece just for you!

BONUS: Take a minute to watch this cool time-lapse video of Kathy creating her stunning portrait of Barry Gibb!

Concert Review: Rick Springfield


Northern Quest Casino, Spokane, Washington

Date: March 19, 2019



Notable Quote: “Wow. That song brought up a lot of shit for me.” — Rick Springfield

My quick 2 cents: Rick proves 69 is the new 49. He rocks the house with an energy and enthusiasm perfectly in tune with a setlist packed with hits, and his voice sounds as strong as ever. Go see him!

The full scoop: For just about anyone over the age of 30, singing the chorus of “Jessie’s Girl” conjures up impressions of a good-looking soap opera actor making it big with his 1981 bubble gum pop single, and that might be about it. But a ‘one hit wonder’ Rick Springfield is NOT. Nor is he an aging teen idol making a cash grab in his twilight years. In reality he is an incredibly talented and transparent artist eager to make a connection with his adoring fans.

Rick hit the stage rocking, kicking things off with “Light This Party Up” before belting out nearly 20 songs from his extensive catalog of chart-toppers, including “I’ve Done Everything for You,” “I Get Excited,” “Souls,” “Love Somebody,” and “Affair of the Heart.” He changed things up from time to time by throwing in a couple of captivating selections from his newest release, The Snake King (2018), a more bluesy album with dark undertones.

Not only was his voice strong and confident, but his still-youthful good looks and rollicking stage presence made me question again and again, “This guy is nearly 70???” He played to the crowd like the seasoned performer that he is; he had the them on their feet from lights up to lights down.

Insulated in the 1200-seat pavilion at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane, Washington, Rick seemed to pull the packed house even closer to him as he interspersed personal comments and stories with the music, not shying away from his brutal history with depression or his inspiring love affair with his wife of over 30 years.

About midway through, Rick wowed us with his guitar chops while his band receded into the shadows for a bit. He played a medley of riffs and solos showing off his talent and versatility as a serious player, and took time to honor the late surf guitar legend Dick Dale, who had passed away just days before. The effect? He unequivocally debunked any mistaken belief that he was just a pretty face from the 80s.

The highlight of the show was when Rick sat down on the edge of the stage and introduced a song he said he had never performed live before. “World Start Turning” is a deep cut off of his 1988 album Rock of Life, and he told the crowd that he was in a pretty dark place when he wrote it, and that the ‘miracle’ in the lyrics refers to the birth of his first son. After pouring out an energetic and heartfelt performance, he stood back from the mic and wiped at his eyes. We thought he was just sweaty until he actually buried his face in his hands for several seconds, and then said huskily, “Wow. That song brought up a lot of shit for me,” and we all realized he was crying. He wiped his eyes again and took a drink from his wine glass as the audience roared its sympathy and approval.

Later he sent a microphone passing through the audience so fans could join him in singing “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” And then not too long afterward, he himself came down off the stage, walking on the chairs through the sea of people, shaking hands, signing things, and crooning “we all need the human touch, and I need it, too,” with this ecstatic group of fans he clearly considered his friends.

Of course he could not end the night without playing “Jessie’s Girl,” and we all knew it, and still the place erupted when he reappeared for his encore and launched right into it. The footage below shows how full of exuberance he was even after almost two hours of giving himself out. Consider, too, that he’s been singing this song for close to four decades and he still looks like he’s having a ball. Rick is the consummate rocker, even after all these years. What a show!

(Thank you to Michelle Starry for sharing her concert clips on Youtube!)

Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

LetsGo.jpgWritten by Joe Milliken, 2018

Format: Book, 216 pages, 30+ photos

Published by Rowman & Littlefield


Notable Quote: “Believe me, Benny just had this incredible electricity about him. He would walk into a room and whether they knew him or not, people just felt there was something special about this guy…. I swear that in the mid-sixties, Benny was like the Elvis Presley of Cleveland.” — Wayne Weston, friend and former bandmate.

My quick 2 cents: Between the unique writing style, the candid memories of many important people, and the generous number of previously unpublished photos, Benjamin Orr’s inspiring story comes to life in these pages. Buy it!

The full scoop:  Any retrospective on the late 1970s and 1980s HAS to include some focus on the new wave rock legends, The Cars. A debut album that stayed on the charts for 139 consecutive weeks, winners of the first MTV “Video of the Year” award in 1984, creators of what would become the haunting signature song for Live Aid (“Drive”) — they are more than deserving of their 2018 induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

While all five guys generally resisted the limelight, bassist Benjamin Orr was arguably the most sought-after — and most private — of the band members. Blessed with versatile vocal chords, unwavering musicianship, and an irresistible magnetism, fans of Benjamin ‘the rock star’ fell hard and with no hope of recovery. But once the show was over and the lights went down, Benjamin flipped a switch. He was a normal guy; he avoided photographers, shunned interviews, and led a low-key lifestyle in the quiet, upscale town of Weston, Massachusetts. Of course, all of this added an air of mystery to his reputation. When he succumbed to cancer in October, 2000, at the age of 53, it seemed the curtain had closed on his legacy forever.

First-time author (and long-time rock journalist) Joe Milliken has spent the last eleven years researching Ben’s life in an attempt to pull back that curtain with his biography Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, due to be released on November 11, 2018. The book follows Benjamin through others’ eyes as he pursued his rock-and-roll dreams from his happy days as a teen star in Cleveland to the open-minded bars of Boston, to the comforting arms of Atlanta — not ruthlessly, but with a humility and steely determination that left those around him in awe.

As a devoted fan of Benjamin Orr, I’ve been researching and writing about him on my personal blog for about three years. When I discovered that this book was in the works, I felt protective of Ben’s privacy and I’ll admit… I was nervous. What if the author revealed information that was too personal? What if he told things that were not fair to tell, with Ben gone and not able to defend himself? Would the author’s sources be credible? And what if… what if I just… didn’t like the book?

My fears were unfounded on all fronts.

The first thing that impressed me was the writing style. The author uses a distinctive technique where he introduces a player in Ben’s life and then lets that person fill in the narrative with his or her quote. I thought it might be jarring to have the flow stop and another voice come in but it’s really so perfect. It’s truly like a camera cuts to the significant person and you hear them talking about Ben, like a documentary rather than a novel.

Having Benjamin’s loved ones tell about him in their own words is brilliant. I felt my heart and mind busily rearranging my personal ‘mosaic’ of Ben, having it grow in clarity and color, adding texture, as I read their stories. It is such a perfect format to document the life of a man who never enjoyed talking much about himself. The result is this masculine and tender, very respectful, very REAL painting of who Benjamin was.

And of course, by ‘rearranging my mosaic’ I mean that I learned a lot of new things about Ben, especially about his early years and what he was like behind-the-scenes. I also connected some dots, confirmed some things I had suspected from my research, and enjoyed some surprising stories.

While I won’t tell you exactly who is in the book, I was impressed with the long roster of interviewees, including Ben’s former bandmates, record executives, iconic photographers, media personnel, key women in his life, and friends who had known him intimately.

Another element that I love about this book is that there is no ‘tell all’ mentality anywhere to be found. The author skillfully balances the heady experiences of a world-famous rock star with the reality of a deeply private, kind-hearted and loyal man. For example, I can see in places where he’s walked that fine line of honoring Ben and respecting his relationships while maintaining the honesty of his attraction to and of other women. Or the struggles Ben faced with the dissolution of The Cars and finding his way back to the stage. Milliken is gentle with the truth, letting the other voices tell their story and leaving it up to the reader to ‘read between the lines’ if they are so inclined.

When asked how he made decisions about what to leave in and what to take out, Milliken said, “Every time I came to a place where I had to walk the line of Ben’s privacy, I had his son in my head. I would ask myself, ‘What would young Ben think of this?'” It seems to have been the perfect measuring stick.

Equally as thrilling as the informative text is the abundance of photos! There are more than 30 black-and-white photographs woven through the chapters, the majority of them new to the public. Such a treat! The book also includes a timeline of bands, a selected index, and a list of everyone the author interviewed over the years.

If there is any drawback to the book, it is that all of my questions were not answered. But how could they be? My curiosity goes way beyond obsession (what IS the story with that one bracelet, anyway???). It’s an impossible task, short of putting Ben’s life under a microscope, which I believe he would have hated.

Others may feel like this book is not ‘sensationalistic’ enough. But the fans… the ones who truly love Benjamin… they will be so moved at the way the author has protected his memory and his legacy. His son, the women in his life, his dear friends, his former bandmates… any and all of the people in those categories… I believe they will finish the book and hug it to their chests and be SO happy at what’s been done for Ben.

Just like me.

Life On The V: The Story of V66



Written and directed by Eric Green, 2014

Format: DVD with bonus features



Notable Quote: “We had a 24-hour channel that said, ‘Don’t f*ck with us. We can do whatever we want. We’re New Englanders and this is US.'” — Ian O’Malley, former V66 VJ

My quick 2 cents: New England-area music fans and lovers of 80s music and pop culture history will dig this. Buy it!

The full scoop: Those of us who grew up in the thick of the 80s remember the jaw-dropping excitement and visual craziness of the ‘rise of the music video’ on television, changing the way people think about, access, and enjoy music (for better or worse). And of course, for many of us, the cable access channel MTV was the vehicle that came driving that crazy world right into our living rooms.

But over in Boston, Massachusetts, a brilliant businessman and consummate radio personality decided that he could give Beantown a better experience, and provide it to the viewers for free. Life on The V: The Story of V66 follows the short but powerful history of this risky undertaking.

Award-winning broadcaster and V66 founder John Garabedian narrates the story himself, interspersed with interviews from several of the channel’s former employees and VJs sharing their insights. V66 was only on the air for about a year and a half during 1985-86, but you won’t believe what they packed into that time. Garabedian details his vision to create a hip, edgy party place for Boston’s music video lovers that followed one very strict rule: anything goes!

But it wasn’t just about the music videos… Garabedian wanted the viewers to feel that this was THEIR channel, something personal, and to this end he included lots of opportunity for watchers to participate through things like phone-in gimmicks, video voting, and live broadcasts from local concerts and Boston hotspots like The Metro. He also threw in plenty of airtime for up-and-coming local bands, alongside Boston news, sports and weather.

The result was a television experience that not only influenced the national and worldwide video markets (guess who premiered A-ha’s “Take On Me” video before anyone else even heard of it?), but one that fans, musicians, and former staff STILL gush over more than 30 years later.

Being from the west coast, I had never even heard of this channel when I popped in the DVD; to be honest, I only bought it because Greg Hawkes of The Cars participated in the project. I was a bit blown away… it was so fun to watch, I viewed it twice!

There are handfuls of cultural factoids in here, and so many interesting sparks of music history that flew off out of that hot Boston station. And the bonus? This documentary is crazy-packed with current and vintage interviews, cameos, and footage from a ton of the hottest artists of the 80s, including members of The Cars, Aerosmith, The J Geils Band, New Edition, ‘Til Tuesday, Extreme, and The Del Fuegos.

The many ‘firsts’ and ‘exclusives’ really made V66 a unique, go-to source for cutting edge music culture, and everybody looked like they were having a blast. It’s a shame it ended the way it did, but no spoilers here. You’ll just have to watch it yourself to find out what went down. It’s very worth it!