KKRN FM, is a volunteer-based, listener-supported radio station fostering positive social change and healthy communities by entertaining, informing and educating through diverse music, culture, news, and public affairs programming.

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era

      Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is a weekly two hour radio
      show featuring music from roughly the years 1964-70. The
      show is rooted in the music generated by self-contained
      American bands of the late 1960s (and their British
      inspirations), yet is constantly expanding beyond those
      roots to create an eclectic blend of music unlike anything
      else in modern radio.


      Much of the music is taken directly from vintage vinyl,
      scratches and all. The rest comes from Compact Disc
      compilations and re-issues of original albums, all taken
      from the Hermit’s personal collection.


      Invoking the original underground radio format of the
      late 1960s the style is clean and direct, with no jingles,
      stingers or pre-recorded promos to clutter up the mix.
      Commentary is centered on the music itself: artist
      histories, contextual information, anecdotes, personal
      memories and occasional forays into how the music of the
      psychedelic era relates to today’s world.

      The Era

      Every week, Finger Lakes Public
      Radio presents “Stuck in the Psychedelic Era,” a two-hour show about
      music; specifically the recorded music that came about as a result of
      the temporary democratization of the U.S. record industry in the mid to
      late 60s. This democratization was due to a convergence of several
      factors at exactly the right time.

      The first wave of rock ‘n’ roll in the mid 1950s, itself
      inspired by early 50s rhythm and blues, laid the groundwork for music as
      a voice of youthful rebellion. The older generation of the time was at
      first bemused and befuddled by this new music. As its popularity
      increased, however, the older generation’s reaction to it changed to
      fear and anger. Rock ‘n’ roll was seen in some circles as a threat to
      the American way of life. Ultimately, the first wave of rock ‘n’ roll
      was co-opted and compromised, becoming a multi-million dollar industry.
      Many of the early stars of rock ‘n’ roll found themselves outside of
      this industry, replaced by safer, made-to-order pop stars. Elvis
      Presley, the undisputed King of early rock ‘n’ roll, found himself
      drafted into military service, his career temporarily derailed at a
      crucial time. Other big stars, such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis,
      found themselves having legal difficulties. Still others, such as
      “Little Richard” Penniman, chose to leave rock ‘n’ roll altogether.

      Meanwhile, a new grass-roots folk music movement was sweeping
      the nation. Major folk music voices of the 1940s such as Pete Seeger and
      Woodie Guthrie, having been silenced by the McCarthyism of the early
      50s, began to make themselves heard once again by the end of the decade,
      soon to be joined by a cadre of new talent that included Joan Baez,
      Peter, Paul and Mary, and a young man calling himself Bob Dylan. At the
      same time, a new phenomena was developing across the nation: regional
      rock ‘n’ roll bands were springing up, playing local sock hops and
      occasionally getting limited airplay on local radio stations alongside
      the national hits. Although all of these new musical “scenes” were
      direct descendants of 50s rock ‘n’ roll, each had its own unique take on
      the music. Bands in the Chicago area had a solid blues influence, while
      those in Detroit were more R&B oriented. The New York metro area
      boasted several “Blue-Eyed Soul” bands and doo-wop, while bands in Texas
      incorporated traditional Mexican arrangements and instrumentation.

      The most successful regional music scenes, however, were up and
      down the affluent West Coast. The Pacific Northwest region was home to
      the loudest and brashest musical scene of all, producing, among others,
      the song “Louie Louie1” in 1963. From further
      down the coast, vocalists Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys were joined
      by instrumental groups such as the Ventures and Dick Dale and the
      Del-Tones to make Surf Music a national phenomenon in the early 60s.

      Against this backdrop of a grass-roots folk scene and the
      various regional rock ‘n’ roll scenes came the catalyst that would make
      the democratization of the American music industry not only possible,
      but inevitable: the British Invasion.

      In the early 60s, the heart of the pop music industry in
      America was New York City. Rock impresarios such as Don Kirschner, who
      controlled the songwriting factory known as the Brill Building, and top
      record producers such as Phil Specter with his “wall of sound,”
      dominated the industry. A typical hit song would start out as a
      composition by a Brill Building songwriter or team such as Neil Sedaka
      or Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The song would then be turned over to a
      producer like Specter, who would book studio time and line up
      professional (but uncredited2) studio
      musicians to record the instrumental tracks. Once those tracks were
      recorded, the featured vocalist(s) would come in to record vocal tracks,
      and then anonymous backup singers would be brought in to flesh out the
      final recording. The final step in the process of manufacturing a hit
      record would be to send the final take out to a record pressing plant3.
      From there it was simply a matter of promotion and distribution, most
      of which was ultimately controlled by the major record labels.

      Led by the Beatles, the British Invasion changed all this. In
      part necessitated by the economic realities of the British music
      industry, the British bands were much more self-contained; they wrote
      their own songs, played their own instruments and sang their own lead
      and backup vocals. The total production costs were far less than in the
      U.S. and were often paid for by the band members themselves. Perhaps
      more than any other factor, it was this economic model that led to the
      democratization of the U.S. music industry in the late 1960s.

      From a business standpoint, the essential reality of the
      British Invasion was that it was now possible to sell more copies of a
      relatively inexpensive British recording than a more expensive American
      recording. As it was virtually impossible to significantly lower
      production costs (due in part to existing union wage scales for studio
      musicians), industry leaders found themselves at a loss as to how to
      stay competitive.

      The answer to this dilemma would not come from the music
      industry itself. Instead, it was the members of the folk music movement
      and the various regional music scenes who found a way to beat the
      British at their own game.

      Folk music artists had always performed a repertoire that was a
      combination of traditional songs and original compositions. There were
      no professional writers of folk songs that were not themselves
      performers. Although many folk singers would perform each other’s songs,
      going outside the community for material was simply not part of the

      At the same time, the regional music scenes were populated
      mainly by selfcontained four or five member bands making a living by
      covering the most popular songs of the day. Although songwriting was not
      a priority for these “cover” bands, many of them came to realize that
      having one or two original “signature” songs was a way to make them
      stand out from the pack without alienating their core audience: the
      young baby boomers who would turn out at the local teen clubs and high
      school gymnasiums to dance to their favorite tunes.

      Sensing vulnerability at the traditional power centers of the
      music industry (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles), smaller regional labels
      and promoters began signing more and more local bands, creating more
      regional hits. The more ambitious local promoters, along with national
      record distributors sensing an opportunity, began to pick up these
      regional hits for national circulation.

      There were external factors playing a part in the
      democratization of American popular music as well. As the first wave of
      baby boomers graduated high school and entered college, they began to
      develop a new political and social awareness, becoming intertwined with
      the Civil Rights and Peace movements. The psychopharmacological
      experiments of Dr. Timothy Leary and others, combined with the natural
      rebelliousness of youth, resulted in an explosion in popularity of
      mind-expanding drugs. First folk music, then regional rock, became the
      voice of a new generation of young Americans. In 1965 Bob Dylan, to the
      chagrin of many of his early fans, began experimenting with rock
      instrumentation overlaid onto his own unique style of folk music. The
      result was a whole new musical hybrid, Folk-Rock, which took root in the
      L.A. club scene, giving birth to such bands as the Byrds, Buffalo
      Springfield, and Love, all of which boasted multiple songwriters.

      By early 1967, American pop music had reached its peak of
      democratization. The British Invasion was still going strong, with newer
      bands like the Who and Cream joining the Beatles, Rolling Stones and a
      rapidly maturing Kinks. Several bands from psychedelic epicenter San
      Francisco, including Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, were on
      the verge of becoming a national phenomenon, as was a young guitarist
      who had just relocated to England and formed a new band: The Jimi
      Hendrix Experience. Rhythm and Blues, which had given birth to rock ‘n’
      roll in the early 50s, had itself evolved into several regional sounds,
      including Detroit’s “Motown Sound” which overlaid the traditional
      R&B beat with a highly accessible form of melodic pop, and “Memphis
      Soul,” with its decidedly Southern gospel flavor. The Beach Boys, the
      top group of the surf era, were still going strong and had just released
      the most expensive single ever produced, the classic Good Vibrations,
      and were reportedly working on a new project called “Smile.” Frank
      Zappa’s Mothers of Invention had released their first album Freak Out,
      which incorporated an avant-garde element inspired by early 20th century
      composer Edgard Varese. There were even hits coming from groups like
      the Four Seasons, throwbacks to the pre-Beatle methods of producing
      songs. And of course there were all those regional bands hitting the
      national charts, if (in most cases) only for one song.

      Perhaps the most significant byproduct of the democratization
      of American Popular music was a sense of ownership shared by both artist
      and audience that has not been equaled since. This sense of shared
      ownership persisted into the early 70s for most people4, and still exists today among a fortunate few5.

      And that is what getting Stuck in the Psychedelic Era with the
      Hermit is really all about. I invite you to join me to share the music.

      1 Generally considered the greatest party song of all time.

      2 It has been estimated that bassist Carol Kaye, for example, has played on over 10,000 recordings, most of them uncredited.

      3 There
      were six companies that owned record manufacturing plants: RCA Victor,
      Decca and Columbia in New York, Mercury in Chicago, and Capitol and MGM
      in Los Angeles. Virtually all vinyl records manufactured in the U.S.
      came from those plants.

      4 Until the advent of Disco

      5 Deadheads being the best example, although there are others as well.


      Stuck in the Psychedelic Era