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Episode 124 : Devon Powers on the Village Voice + Red Hot Chili Peppers + White Stripes audio

5 April 2022

In this episode we welcome the excellent Devon Powers — beamed in from Philadelphia — and ask her to talk about The Village Voice, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes… and music journalism since the turn of the century.

Devon begins by talking about the music she loved when growing up in her native Michigan — and her first awareness of "rock critics". We hear about her move to New York City in 1999, her early pieces for the PopMatters site, and the Anglophilia that led to umpteen pieces about the likes of Clinic, Starsailor, Badly Drawn Boy and, yes, even Ocean Colour Scene. Citing a great 2003 piece she wrote about Red Hot Chili Peppers, who released a new album the week of this recording, we ask Devon what those punk-funk Californicators meant to her in the '90s and noughties.

After a brief discussion of Devon's 2004 thinkpiece 'Is Music Journalism Dead?', we turn our attention to Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism, the 2013 book which came out of her doctoral dissertation at NYU. She talks about the vital New York weekly paper, and the "rock critics" who were such a key part of its arts coverage — particularly Richard Goldstein, several of whose '60s Voice pieces we have on RBP. We then pay tribute to another Voice contributor, John Swenson, lost to us a few days before this recording, as well as to Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins and Mighty Diamonds frontman "Tabby" Shaw.

Two clips from Ira Robbins' 2001 audio interview with the White Stripes prompt a general chinwag about Jack, Meg, blues etc., after which Mark zips through the most notable of the interviews & reviews he's just added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Kingston Trio, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Canned Heat and Teddy Pendergrass. Barney then rounds things off by flagging up pieces on Marc Bolan, the Prodigy, Tony Hatch, Jack Good and the Descendents.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Devon Powers; visit her website at devonpowers.com and find Writing the Record in all good bookshops.