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Prepared for the September 13, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
All rights reserved.
You CAN Hear It on the Radio
Music You Can’t Hear On The Radio," New Jersey’s
oldest folk music radio program, begins its 27th year on the air this
month. Hosted by John Weingart, the show with the contradictory title
is broadcast live on WPRB every Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m. WPRB can
be heard at 103.3 FM throughout central New Jersey and throughout
the world at WPRB.com.
Generally, a free-form mixture of musical styles and topical themes,
Weingart keeps folk music lovers apprised of area concerts, often
featuring visiting artists’ recordings or inviting them into the
to play and talk about their music. He has also tailored two shows
especially for the season.
"Songs of New Jersey," on Sunday, September 17, features three
hours of songs about our much-maligned Garden State. Leading
play list for the show will be Dave Van Ronk’s "Jersey State
which he describes as a miracle of research and memory. Van Ronk plays
guitar and "sings or grunts" the names of about 100 New Jersey
"There is a periodic interest in New Jersey and in having a state
song, but it always leads to discussion about why New Jersey doesn’t
have one," says Weingart, who deems Mike Sinatra’s folk-country
"Jersey Bound," "as good as any song that’s been written
about a state."
The state’s latest contest took place in 1996, but there’s still no
state song. "There’s a self-consciousness about living in New
Jersey because people outside the state make fun of it," says
"So the expectation is that the song’s going to be funny —
whereas when you write a song about any other state, there is no such
John Gorka’s "I’m From New Jersey" is now one of the
songs, says Weingart. It suits, he says, because "it’s funny and
self-deprecating with a hint of pride in there." He’s also partial
to "The Long Branch Branch of The Red Bank Bank" by Dick
a dentist in Middletown, New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen’s "Atlantic
City," which he describes as "a wonderful portrait of a place
"In doing this show I stretch a little bit by including Paul
`America’ which has a line about looking out on the New Jersey
I’ll play the version he performed live in Central Park when the line
evokes a roar of applause from the crowd."
Although the state contest helped bring Weingart’s attention to some
little known songs, he’s skeptical that the state will ever settle
on one. "Red Mascara (still arguing his case at
www.newjerseystatesong.com) has been lobbying to have his song made
the state song since the 1960s,"
Weingart says. "The bill passed both houses and was vetoed by
Weingart’s election weekend show, Sunday, November 5, will devoted
to "Songs of Politics and Politicians." It will feature folk
songs, show tunes, and comedy routines written from "Washington
at Valley Forge" to "Hail, Hail, the Country’s Rising for
Henry Clay and Frelinghuysen" and "Al Gore Rhythm 2000."
There will also be music from a few musically-minded politicians,
including Senator Robert Byrd playing the fiddle and Congressman David
Obey on harmonica.
Born and raised in New York, Weingart has lived in New Jersey since
1973. Formerly assistant commissioner in the Department of
Protection, he became associate director of the Eagleton Institute
in February. He is completing a book about his experiences with
in trying to find a place for radioactive waste in New Jersey.
Over the years, Weingart has cultivated a loyal following. The
Daily Record judges it "the best folk music show on the radio"
and the East Coast Rocker writes that it is "special and
Weingart "makes sets of songs that are somehow related to one
another, drawing connections where none existed before," writes
the Princeton Alumni Weekly. And the undergraduate Nassau Weekly calls
the show "as much a weekend institution as the Sunday Times."
At U.S. 1 newspaper, the Sunday-night production crew counts on
presence as it shoe-horns stories into the last nooks and crannies.
And it’s true, you don’t get music like this on the radio very often.
Only "very seldom, very seldom," as the bluegrass song in
Weingart’s weekly opening proclaims and as his E-mail address
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This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.