Episode 035 - Syd Sustain: The Voltz / Trammell Sessions by Mark

While a handful of college bands go on to fame and fortune, most of them fade away over time. It’s difficult to keep things rolling when people move away for their own careers and families.  This was the fate of Syd Sustain.

In 1989, Ray and John got together and put out an album of “synthesized rock” called the “Voltz/Trammell Sessions”.  Some of the songs were updated versions of classic Syd, while others were brand new compositions.  I’m including “Motorin”, “If You Want Me”, “Take a Look at Yourself”, and “Interstellar Love Song”.

To the best of my knowledge, this was the final work for Syd Sustain. What I know for a fact is that this is the final episode of Decawatt Playhouse.  I’ve run out of material, so unless I unearth something new, that wraps it up.

Please take a moment to check out the other SFPPN podcasts—thanks for listening.

Episode 034 - Syd Sustain: Syd Died Today Live! by Mark

Any college band worth its salt had to be able to perform in front of a live audience, and Syd Sustain was no exception.

Here’s a selection from the “Syd Died Today" concert at the college arts center, with a very receptive and active audience.  The songs include “Scam Wham Bam”, “Too Much at Once”, and “What It’s Like for You”.  Ray and John have quite the patter between songs. Apologies for the audio quality, but that comes with the territory of a live show.

One more episode to go, and a familiar concept in college bands—solo (in this case duo) efforts.

Episode 033 - Syd Sustain: The T.R. Ashe Collection by Mark

Moving on with Syd Sustain, and a more esoteric album.

GCC had it’s own poet laureate in the mid-80’s named T. R. Ashe. Rarely seen in public, Ashe published a series of compositions and became a type of muse for Syd Sustain.

Many of Ashe’s writings had a “you had to be there” quality to them, especially his epic “Sligo”. The second movement of “Sligo” has a real 80’s video game vibe as well. I had the good fortune to create a Sligo music video, although it did NOT feature Syd members due to a time crunch before a concert.

Clear your mind and receive the acquired taste of T.R. Ashe.

Episode 032 - Syd Sustain: Paranoid About the Fuzzies on My Sweater / Syd Drove West by Mark

Moving on with Syd Sustain, and two more of their albums: “Paranoid About the Fuzzies on My Sweater”, and “Syd Drove West”.

“Paranoid…" includes more catchy tunes in the electronica vein such as "Ground to Ground” (possibly influenced by Ray’s time with the National Guard) , “Cruisin’”, and "Syd Takes a Dive” (both referring to road trips).

"Syd Drove West” is much more experimental, and is an indicator of Ray and John’s move to do multi-track work in a studio setting.  Songs include "Radio Sine” and the aforementioned "Paranoid About the Fuzzies on My Sweater” (there is also a version on the same named album, but I prefer this one).

More to come, as Syd gets a little silly.

Episode 030 - Syd Sustain: Volume One by Mark

When you go to college, you’re gonna have college bands.  Electronica was big in the 80's, and anyone with a DX-7 gave it a shot at some point.  Four "townies" (locals who attended the school) had put together various music since high school, and continued at GCC as "Syd Sustain".  Ray Voltz (keyboard), John Trammell (keyboard), Chaz Owens (bass), and P.D. Gregg (drums) put out several albums (mostly distributed via dubbed cassettes) and had various gigs in and around the college and the Pittsburgh area.

My connection to this group?  I did some audio-video stuff for one of their concerts at GCC and shot material for videos that never saw the light of day.

They do have a Facebook page you can find here.

Ray was generous enough to allow me to post some of their material in what will most likely be the final batch of episodes for this series.

Let’s start off with their “Volume One” EP album and four songs: "See You", "Rocket Man", "One Love", and "Running for Cover". 

Episode 029 - Classic Radio Theatre - War of the Worlds by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” saved the best for last. WSAJ’s version of Orson Welles Larry Bowald couldn’t resist mounting the classic “War of the Worlds” with a western PA twist.

This was an extra length production, with Larry leading the cast of Chris Fisher, Darla Vornberger, Cheryl Sheely, Mark Harrison, Bill Koch, Art Wilson, and Donna Kozik.  We even get a promo for the program!

Somehow, this cassette fared much better over the years, and the audio quality is not bad.

We will get into the “college bands” portion of the series next time (you got a taste of it in this production—nice touch, Larry).



Episode 028 - Classic Radio Theatre - Splash of Water by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues, with the parable “Splash of Water". 

Craig Munch stars, with Dave Miller, Cat Fithian, Lisa Harris, Bill Koch, Michelle Petrucci, Mark Harrison, and Jack Wenches rounding out the cast.  Craig pulls double duty as director, and took advantage of library stock music throughout.

As usual, the audio quality isn’t great, but what can you expect from 30 year old cassettes?



Episode 027 - Classic Radio Theatre - Sorry, Wrong Number by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues, with the triller “Sorry, Wrong Number”.

Cat Fithian stars, with Paul McGill, Ron Carter, Betsy Diedrich, Cheryl Sheely, Dave Miller, Michelle Petrucci, Keith Parrish, and yours truly rounding out the cast.  I was fortunate enough to act alongside Cat on several occasions, and she really belts it out of the park on this one.

As usual, the audio quality isn’t great, but it’s the best it’s going to be.



Episode 026 - Classic Radio Theatre - The Signal Man by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues.  It’s back to gothic horror in “The Signal Man”.

There’s no cast list in the recording, so I was surprised to hear my own voice as one of the co-stars. I have no recollection of this performance, essentially doing a Graham Chapman (Monty Python) impression.  I also recognize Larry Bowald, P.D. Gregg, and Keith Parrish’s voices.  I’m not sure of my co-star; perhaps Martin Christoffel? My apologies if I’m in error.

There was a LOT of cleanup for this one, mostly balancing the voice level—damn my baritone!



Episode 025 - Classic Radio Theatre - The Lady or the Tiger by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues.  We go back to the classics for “The Lady or the Tiger”.

Larry Bowald plays the king, with Lisa Hogle, Mark Harrison, Donna Day, Darla Vornberger, and Bill Koch rounding out the cast.

Whomever made the original recordings seems to be doing better as they went along—there was less cleanup on this one.



Episode 024 - Classic Radio Theatre - Krapp's Last Tape by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. This is a special episode, consisting of audio from one-man Samuel Beckett play “Krapp’s Last Tape”.

Keith Parrish, who we previously met on the Unnamed Comedy Show, as well as several CRT appearance, plays the sole character.  He performed this at the school’s one act festival in 1985—this is an audio recording of his performance, but I’m including it in the CRT set anyway.



Episode 023 - Classic Radio Theatre - The Invisible Man by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. Let’s listen to the classic “The Invisible Man”.

  The title character is played by the Orson Welles of CRT, Larry Bowald. Lisa Harris, Brenda Kirsch, Cheryl Sheely, Keith Parrish, Wes Hessel, Bill Koch, Dean Widdenstrom, and Mark Harrison round out the cast. 

As usual, the audio quality is not great and of very low volume —I did what I could to clean it up.



Episode 022 - Classic Radio Theatre - The Hitchhiker by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. Let’s listen to “The Hitchhiker”, which consists mostly of a monologue by Marc Stewart.

Karen Singley, Mark Wilson, Joel Rischl, P.D. Gregg, Jan Leuchtenberger, Lisa Quoresimo, and Sandra Kressley round out the cast. Pay particular attention to the sound effects, some of which are actual live “foley” work while others come from Ray Voltz’s synthesizer. 

Again, the audio quality is not great—I did what I could to clean it up.



Episode 021 - Classic Radio Theatre - Green Hat, Yellow Feather by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. Oh, Henry, you’re going to enjoy “Yellow Hat, Green Feather”. A gothic horror story with a shrew getting her comeuppance.

Lisa Quoresimo, Cathy Fithian, Craig Munch, Jan Leuchtenberger, Lisa Harris, and Bill Koch are cast in this melodrama.

Again, the audio quality is not great—I did what I could. I actually debated about using this material but said what the heck. No one’s listening to it anyway.



Episode 020 - Classic Radio Theatre - After Midnight by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. We’ve got another potboiler with “After Midnight".

Cheryl Sheely, Michelle Petrucci, Wendy Annett, Sandra Kressley, Janet White, Mike Johnston, and Craig Munch are cast in this Southern drawing room mystery.

I believe the original cassette recording was running at the wrong speed, resulting in a SLOOWW episode.  I’ve cleaned it up digitally as best I can, but—I’M A PODCASTER, NOT AN AUDIO ENGINEER, JIM!



Episode 019 - Classic Radio Theatre - Captain Paul by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. Come aboard for “Captain Paul”, a nautical yarn that gives you an idea of how the show became known as “Gothic Horror Theater”.
Andy Schrum, Lisa Harris, Jan Leuchtenberger, Craig Munch, and Bill Koch are cast in this spooky story.
Again, these are 30-year old cassette recordings, mostly from a microphone parked in front of a speaker. I’ve done what I can to clean them up.


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Episode 018 - Classic Radio Theatre - The Bob and Ray Show by Mark

WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air” continues. This time, we segue to comedy with “The Bob and Ray Show”. Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding had a long radio and TV career doing odd skits and wordplay, mostly satirizing media tropes. I’m a huge fan of their work. Elliott started a comedy dynasty, with son Chris (David Letterman) and granddaughter Abby (SNL).
WSAJ stalwarts Bill Koch and Keith Parrish stepped into the roles of Bob and Ray, with Deanna Czarnecky, Dave
Miller, Mark Harrison, P. D. Gregg, Mike Pfeiffer, Andy Schrum, and yours truly rounding out the cast.
The audio isn’t great—I bumped it up as far as I could. Just the result of taping off a radio speaker, I guess.


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Episode 017 - Classic Radio Theatre - Bathysphere by Mark

We continue through the run of WSAJ’s “Theatre of the Air”. Larry Bowald is behind the mike this time, along with my old co-host Kenn Fetterman.  This episode is more in “The Twilight Zone” than the last one.  It also has a “message coming in, sir” vibe.
If you’re not a fan of enclosed spaces and social monologues, you may want to move on.


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Episode 016 - Classic Radio Theatre - Tom Sawyer by Mark

You’ve already heard from Larry Bowald in this series. While he did various shows for WSAJ (some of which I’m skipping as they mostly involve copyrighted music), he may have been best known as the creator of “Classic Radio Theatre”. He produced a series of radio plays, which we will be covering over the next several episodes. He tended to veer into tales of mystery over time, to the point it was referred to as “Classic Gothic Horror Theatre” by the listeners.
Mark Twain's classic “Tom Sawyer” is our first entry. Notable among the cast is Bill Koch, half of the comedy team of Parrish and Koch.


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