The episode where Pete Larson flies in from Kenya to announce his rebirth as a Mississippi bluesman, we trade a Suzanne Somers “three way” poncho for eight bottles of cheap wine, and one of my guests tells me that she’s posed nude for Playboy… The Saturday Six Pack #13

I’ve complained recently that we haven’t been getting a lot of calls during the show. Well, apparently all of that complaining has paid off. The phone didn’t stop ringing this episode. The first call came in before Jim Cherewick had even finished singing the opening theme. It was Matt Jones, calling from his basement, where he’s spent the past several months obsessively trying to document the existence of every single musician creating original work in Michigan today. It would seem that he’d arranged to record a track by my old bandmate Pete Larson just before he was scheduled to stop by the AM 1700 studio and have his interview with me. And Matt must have called just as Pete was leaving. I asked him why he didn’t call later in the show, when Pete was actually going to be in the studio, and he said that he didn’t want to be “gushing like a stalker” in front of him. I wouldn’t have thought that, after documenting over 70 musicians, he could still get that excited, but Matt was absolutely giddy… which, I think, speaks to the power of Dr. Pete Larson.

It was cool way to begin the show. Not only was I happy that my old friend had managed to impress Matt, but it made me feel like something significant was actually happening here in Ypsi. I mean, how cool is it that someone could fly in from Kenya, roll into Ypsi, and, within a few hours, record with Matt Jones for his historic compilation, stop by Chris Stranad’s studio to sit for a photo as part of the Saturday Six Pack Portrait Project, and then do a radio interview with me? Granted, it’s probably an illusion, but I like that Pete got the sense, as he said to me after the show, that interesting things were actually happening here in Ypsilanti. I love the fact that we’re creating a kind of interrelated ecosystem of interesting, overlapping and supportive creative projects that are both feeding off of, and supporting one another… Speaking of the portrait of Pete that was taken by Chris, here it is. One hopes that soon you might be able to see the photo in person during a First Friday’s event somewhere. [Stay tuned for details.]

Peter Larson

[If you would like to listen to the episode in its entirety, you can find it on both iTunes and Soundcloud. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded.]

We started the show by opening a few Miller High Life tallboys with Yen Azzaro, co-owner of Ypsilanti’s Chin-Azzaro studio. Our conversation, which touched on everything from the willingness of local folks to pay for art, to the threat of gentrification that looms over Ypsilanti, took an odd and unexpected turn a few minutes in, when Yen, responding to a question about how she met her husband, mentioned that, as a University of Michigan undergrad, she’d posed for a Playboy “Girls of the Big 10” edition. As you might expect, it was difficult to steer things back once that cat was out of the bag, but we somehow managed to right the ship and keep moving forward.

stancoverDuring our discussion, accomplished fashion photographer Stan Malinowski called in. Stan, a friend of Yen’s, called in from Chicago to say that he was enjoying the show, and relate a few of his own experiences at Playboy, where he’d shot for a good portion of his career. [Stan currently has a show up at the Chin-Azzaro gallery space.] While he denied any knowledge of the intricate tunnel network used to smuggle “playmates” and celebrities to and from the Playboy mansion, he did tell us what a challenge it was to get good photos of people on Hefner’s large, round, rotating bed. As his call caught me a bit off-guard, I wasn’t prepared to go into any level of depth with him, but he did offer to stop in if he’s ever in Michigan, so maybe we’ll have an opportunity sometime soon to talk with him about the devolution of erotic photography, which, over the past several decades, has become significantly less artistic and more clinical in nature… Oh, and we can also ask him about shooting the cover for the Ohio Players record Fire. [right: A 1963 Playboy cover of Nancy Perry shot by Stan Malinowski]

At this point, Jim Cherewick sang a lovely song called Better Days, and then he and our mutual friend Chris Sandon shared stories from their recent tour down south, where, according to them, they played music for very few people. In Columbus, they told us, they played a show for one woman at a yoga studio that doubled as an art space. [They offered her a free CD after the show, and she refused it.] We also talked about Jim’s snoring problem, and how, at one point during the tour, it got so bad that they had to tape him to a Red Roof Inn luggage rack to keep him from rolling over in bed, in hopes that it might help. They also shared a minute of audio from the set of a comedian who preceded them at one of their poorly attended gigs. I was thinking that it would be terrible, but it wasn’t. [It was kind of a PSA for condom use set in the Star Wars universe.]

The man who we refer to as The Who Guy, because he calls in every week and hijacks the show by playing tapes of the Who over the phone, called in and tried something new. This time, he and a friend sang a Who song acapella. And the response in the studio was surprisingly positive… We apparently like trolls who don’t rest of their laurels, but keep pushing forward, breaking new ground.

Then, we attempted our first ever Ypsilanti on-air swap meet. Kurt Anschuetz came by the studio with two items… a Suzanne Somers “three way” poncho, and a twenty-some year old edition of the local Monopoly rip-off Ypsiopoly. And, surprisingly, both were successfully traded away to callers. The mint-condition Ypsi-centric board game went to a woman from Ann Arbor who offered “eight bottles of cheap wine” in trade. And the poncho went to a local Ypsi man after a few tense minutes outside the studio… The caller had offered a free pass to Deja Vu and a box of cookies in exchange for the poncho. When he arrived, though, instead of cookies, he had a single beer. Station manager Brian Robb began frantically yelling “no deal” and “bait and switch” through the AM 1700 window, but Kurt went ahead and took the deal, not wanting to break the young man’s heart. [below: The three-way poncho]

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Thankfully, the woman in Ann Arbor who wanted Ypsiopoly, drove out and made the exchange in person, so we didn’t have to figure out how to make the exchange at a later date. By the time she got to the studio, though, the eight bottles of wine that she’d promised had somehow become seven. Kurt took the deal anyway, though, and then proceeded to open a bottle or two for us, as the beer was pretty much gone by that point. [below: Folks hanging around, making trades, and drinking wine in the studio]

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I can’t remember the exact order of things, but I seem to recall that our friend Cre Fuller called in from a bachelor party in New Orleans to piss us off by telling us about all of the great food he was eating. [Cre said he’d come in sometime soon to share his vacation photos over the air.] And our friend Brigid Mooney walked down from the Wurst Bar to tell us about the paradise on earth that is Kellys Island, and introduce us to her friend Malcolm, who she asked us not to give any more beer to. He and I talked restaurant jobs and motorcycle helmets. And, at some point, Patrick Elkins came in and proceeded to call us from inside the studio to discuss Totally Awesome Fest, which begins this coming Friday in Ypsilanti.

And then it was time to introduce the legendary co-founder of Bulb Records Pete Larson, who talked at length not only about the early ’90s music scene in Ann Arbor, but his current life as a PhD in Kenya, studying the transmission of viruses between domesticated animals by day, and singing at an African blues club by night. We also talked about his formative years in Mississippi, how he’d stolen his uncle’s bass to start his first band at 14, and why it was, at 19, he decided to convince his friends to move with him to Ann Arbor. [He got them to come with him by promising that $5-an-hour dishwashing jobs could be found here.]

We played a two old songs from our band Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink, and Pete performed a few new songs live… songs which regular listeners of The Saturday Six Pack will recognize as ones he’s sent in from Kenya to have us play on previous Saturday nights. [Pete wakes up every Saturday morning that he’s in Africa, and writes and records a song, which he then sends in to have us play on that day’s show. If I’m not mistaken, he’s now submitted 11 such songs.]

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[above: Pete Larson playing a song while Jim Cherewick texts his friends, “OMG… Pete Larson”]

As we probably talked for about an hour, a lot of stuff was covered. So, if you’re interested, you should just listen. Among other things, we debated the merits Beatles, and Pete confessed to pressing the first Bulb records using temporary emergency grants awarded by the University of Michigan to students in need. [Typically, students would use these $300 loans to pay heating bills and the like, but Pete built an empire on them, pressing 500 singles every time he could secure one.]

For what it’s worth, my favorite part of the interview began at the 1:45 mark, where we began talking about Pete’s newfound appreciation of Mississippi hill country blues, and how it is that, now in his mid-40s, he feels as though he’s finally finding his authentic voice as a recording artist. Having known Pete for more than half my life, it made me happy to hear.

NOW, LISTEN FOR YOURSELF

Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, and to Brian Robb for running the board.

[If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.]

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16 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    At the rate show length is growing, you’ll be on 24 hours a day within two year’s time.

  2. Mr. X
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    They don’t show it on the box, but the 4th way to wear the poncho is as an adult diaper, and the 5th way is as a body bag.

  3. Anonymatt
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Now I’m curious as to what happened to Shel Silverstein in the nudist camp.

  4. UP
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    After eating “five way” chilli at Skyline, you’ll need that “fourth way” for the poncho.

    http://www.skylinechili.com/ways.php

  5. Mr. X
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Is that another Playboy rumor, Matt, like the tunnels?

  6. Eel
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I would pay for photos of…

    Jim Cherewick sleeping strapped into a Red Roof Inn luggage rack.

    What did you think I was going to say?

  7. Dustin Krcatovich
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    FYI, I JUST POSTED THE FOLLOWING TO FACEBOOK, ALONG WITH A LINK TO THE INTERVIEW:

    n 2000(?), I saw one of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen, with the best, wildest frontman I could imagine. They were called 25 Suaves. Shortly thereafter, I found out that this was the same guy who had been putting out records by a ton of incredible freaks on his Bulb Records label: Wolf Eyes, Andrew W.K., Quintron, Demolition Doll Rods, and a bazillion others. Peter Larson has moved on to other things, but to me, he will always be one of the essential mover/shaker dudes in underground music.

    As such: it’s a real pleasure to hear this long, meandering conversation between Mark Maynard and this dude who cracked open my young skull. Still one of the best performers I’ve ever seen.

  8. idea man
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Pete Larson: cracker of young skulls

  9. Anonymatt
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered exactly what kind of cracker Pete was.

  10. Dan Richardson
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    That show needed more Skink.

    It was fun to hear Pete play guitar and sing live. His rebirth as a bluesman will take the world, or maybe just Ypsi, by storm.

    I was very disappointed that Pete never answered what he thought of Mark when he first met him. His story got interrupted. I believe he was starting to go into the fact that the only reason he knew us is because I had a sweet Astro minivan and helped them cart some gear to or from that Mo Fackey show. Charlie spoke in an Australian accent for the entire van ride, so I wasn’t sure what his deal was, and Rikki was going on about trying to make his guitar sound like it was “going in circles”. Seeing Billy Squier sung through a guitar pickup was eye-opening and inspiring, though; it was almost as rad as Tubbs singing through his tracheotomy hole for Yeti Load. Almost.

  11. Posted April 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I finally got to listen, that was enjoyable.

    Dan, I think Thunder & Barney played the same party as Mo Fecky, that’s probably why you had the van there, but I think I remember you driving their stuff and coming back, or something.

    I have a vague memory of seeing Pete in overalls with no shirt once, but maybe it’s false. It would’ve been when he had that long goatee.

  12. Posted April 26, 2015 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Dan was kind enough to help us move our stuff to shows. Moe Fackey played at Phil Tepley’s house, I can’t remember who else played.

    I have never worn coveralls and I never go out without a shirt on, anywhere. I don’t know where Mark got that from. I did have a goatee.

  13. Posted April 26, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I am reallocating all of my resources to the search for the Club Heibelberg’s security camera footage.

  14. Posted April 27, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Dan started moving stuff for Thunder and Barney, but they broke up and Michael Burbo became the singer for Hwaseem, at least for a short while.

    I used to come along with Dan and carry stuff for Hwaseem shows, to be nice and also because I would get free admission.

    Dan had copies of the two Hwaseem demo tapes. I made digital copies.

  15. Posted April 28, 2015 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Yes, that is true. The connection was made through Michael Burbo.

    Dan was very kind to help.

    I do not have copies of that music.

  16. anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Pete Larson: cracker

10 Trackbacks

  1. […] but there was a lot to like about it. In addition to all of the stuff noted above, Pete Larson, who was just on the show last week, sent in what could possibly be his best song yet from Kenya. And, at some point, our favorite […]

  2. […] I couldn’t bait Claydon into talking about either Jack White or his thoughts on my recent interview with our mutual friend Pete Larson, the co-founder of Bulb Records, but we did exchange our share of jabs at one another. Speaking of […]

  3. […] I couldn’t bait Claydon into talking about either Jack White or his thoughts on my recent interview with our mutual friend Pete Larson, but we did exchange our share of jabs at one another. Speaking of which, if I had to do it again, […]

  4. […] I couldn’t bait Claydon into talking about either Jack White or his thoughts on my recent interview with our mutual friend Pete Larson, but we did exchange our share of entertaining little jabs at one another. Speaking of which, if I […]

  5. […] also be visited by two other folks this Saturday evening. One of them is someone who has been on the show before, our friend from Kenya, Dr. Peter Larson, who will be stopping by to tell us about mashed potato […]

  6. […] also be visited by two other folks this Saturday evening. One of them is someone who has been on the show before, our friend from Kenya, Dr. Peter Larson, who will be stopping by to tell us about mashed potato […]

  7. […] old friend the epidemiologist, Dr. Peter Larson, came in from Kenya to pick up where we left off the last time he dropped by for a visit. As promised, we talked quite a bit about mashed potato borne illnesses. We even called a young man […]

  8. […] old friend the epidemiologist, Dr. Peter Larson, came in from Kenya to pick up where we left off the last time he dropped by for a visit. As promised, we talked quite a bit about mashed potato borne illnesses. We even called a young man […]

  9. […] photo above was taken an hour or so ago by Pete Larson’s son Miles, who just happened to be at Old Town when the Governor came in. Apparently at least four […]

  10. […] outside his apartment in Nairobi. Well, several months ago, when Pete was visiting the states, he came on the show in person and we talked about the possibility of a new record based on his &#822…, and it looks now as though it’s actually going to happen. Pete just posted the following […]

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