May 042020

It mattered, believe me. Just as it mattered when Kweder was at a show, or Michele Polizzi, another older generation guy who did overnight DJ shifts for college radio, rubbed elbows with international music-scene legends, and even had the materials to do a psychedelic light show. We hired Michele to do one for one of our record release shows. He had wild, tight curly hair and was French. Super nice guy, and his presence at a show held great weight.

If The Colonel was one of Philadelphia’s longtime music-scene legends, then Kenn Kweder, who’s thankfully still with us and still making music and mirth, is another. Kenn is one of those guys who, in the mid-1970s through early-1980s, was probably “on the verge” of getting signed and breaking out nationally. There must be an artist or two like this in all our local scenes, who have a wide draw and deep appeal in their hometown but never quite get to the next level of their aspirations. Willie “Loco” Alexander, from Boston, may be a better-known equivalent of an artist of Kweder’s unique standing. I imagine he had his own loyal version of The Colonel.

The Colonel was considered the Philly scene’s expert on all things Rolling Stones, just as another local musician and journalist who died a year or two ago, Peter Brown, was our scene’s resident expert on all things Dylan. I’m approaching – who am I kidding? – I HAVE LONG BEEN part of the older Philly scene. My generation has a resident expert on all things hardcore punk, a great guy named Chuck Meehan, one of our punk scene’s DIY promoters and my generation’s Punk Rock Mayor of Philadelphia. Generations younger than mine have their Tom Sheehy, their Kenn Kweder, their Michele Polizzi, their Peter Brown, their Chuck Meehan.

Who’s your scene’s local legend(s) – not artists and peripheral business/media contributors who actually broke through (the first person who mentions Bill Graham as the San Francisco scene’s “local legend,” for instance, will be put in the penalty box), but local legends who butted right up against your scene’s glass ceiling?

Let’s raise a toast to our scenes’ local legends!


  7 Responses to “Your Scene’s Local Legend(s)”

  1. I never met the Colonel in person but back the Dummytown listserv was up and running, I remember him being particularly against festivals and outdoor shows. “No roof, no rock” I’m not quite as dogmatic but I definitely understand that position.

  2. Oh no! Not the Colonel!

  3. diskojoe

    Willie “Loco” Alexander now lives in Gloucester, in the North Shore of MA, near where I live. I’ve seen him @ a local record store there several times. He was in a recent documentary about the 70s Boston scene where he was filmed in his apartment, which is filled with memorabilia of those times.

    I would have to put my friend Barrence Whitfield in this catagory. He’s been living in the North Shore himself for nearly 30 yrs. He has done a lot of things like appear on Jools Holland’s show & a rock and roll game show in Australia, but he still works in my hometown record store (or worked before this crap started) in between gigs, which seem mainly in Europe/ UK despite doing some gigs in the Eastern US.

    Another person that I was thinking of was a guy named Preacher Jack, who was this homeless guy w/long white hair & beard, who played a mean boogie woo give piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. He actually had a couple of albums out on Rounder Records in the early 80s. I haven’t seen him in a while, so I’m not sure that he’s still around.

  4. The Northampton MA version is a guy named Ray Mason. A local legend who has put out a twenty plus albums on his own, with The Ray Mason Band, and as a co-leader in a band called The Lonesome Brothers (who just celebrated their 35th anniversary). Ray has been playing out for over 50 years, starting in garage bands as a teenager. Has great stories to tell from way back when like seeing the Yardbirds play a gig in a high school auditorium.

    Plays a way cool battered old 1965 Silvertone guitar, has a true rock & roll heart, and is the nicest guy your could ever meet.

  5. Sad news for sure. In his later years, Tom went back to Univ of Penn and I think took a Masters in history. That always blows my mind; when someone has that strong an interest during their “golden” years and just immerses themselves into a brand new pursuit. He had levels. The chicken lady would end up talking to him about history more often than music as they were both friends with the same professor at Penn. He did p.r. work for the Rolling Hayseeds for that first record. Very nice guy, and super advocate for the Philly scene.

  6. I forgot you had overlap with him in the Rolling Hayseeds, chickenfrank. I’ve also just been learning about him going back and getting his Masters at an advanced age. Very cool!

    diskojoe and al, thanks for representing your local legends. Thanks to each of you, I have some familiarity with them. By the way, al, I’ve got that same model and color Silvertone sitting right beside me as I work from home these days!

    Here’s hoping to hear more about legends from other localities represented here.

  7. It’s no picnic being a local legend. I’ll walk into a crowded bar,and despite there being all these people who know me, NO ONE will ever talk to me. I guess it’s just too intimidating for them.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube