Story by Dan Armonaitis
Last Modified: Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 3:13 a.m.
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Speaking as part of a panel discussion last Tuesday at The Showroom, legendary Spartanburg rocker Joe Bennett offered the startling revelation that the first concert he attended was Mother's Finest, the Atlanta-based funk/rock outfit that formed in the early 1970s.
The response was strange given that Bennett had played hundreds of shows more than a decade earlier, when his band the Sparkletones had a major 1957 hit with "Black Slacks."
"You were playing all the time, Joe," replied fellow panelist Paul Riddle, a founding member of the Marshall Tucker Band.
Riddle then turned to the audience and added, "Joe was looking the other way out (from the stage)."
Such unscripted exchanges are the lifeblood of "Lingua Musica," a new multimedia show produced by WNCW FM midday host Joe Kendrick. The hour-long program streams online at www.linguamusicalive.com and features a discussion between Kendrick and a rotating cast of musicians and industry professionals.
Internet users are encouraged to participate in the conversation by sending in their own questions as the show unfolds.
Last week's installment, produced at The Showroom, also featured veteran Shelby, N.C.-based music impresario David Lee and Jason Perlmutter, a collector of obscure soul and funk 45s who founded the website CarolinaSoul.org.
For the record, Riddle's first concert was James Brown at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium while Lee and Perlmutter cited Clyde McPhatter and R.E.M., respectively, as their initial concert experiences.
" ‘Lingua Musica' seems like a great way to converse about music," Perlmutter said. "I had never met Joe Bennett or Paul Riddle before, so that was really quite an honor. I think it's a really cool show for the area."
Between segments, Spartanburg-based band The Antibodies performed along with a quartet of 1960s-style go-go dancers billed as The Pulse.
"You can watch a lot of stuff online, but, to my knowledge, there aren't any other shows like ours," Kendrick said.
"We're going to a live venue, having a conversation with a panel and allowing people to be in the room, virtually, from anywhere in the world."
During Tuesday's panel discussion, Lee talked about his work with soul legend Ann Sexton while Perlmutter shed light on such lost 1960s and '70s Spartanburg soul and funk bands as the Yakety Yaks and Mongoose.
Riddle, meanwhile, told of the Marshall Tucker Band's first demo recording, which it did at Mark V Studios in Greenville, a seminal recording space best known for producing gospel albums.
Other discussion topics included analog vs. digital recording, out-of-print vinyl records and favorite instruments.
"It means a lot to have (panels like) this where people can remember the old songs," Bennett said. "I feel like I learned a lot just being here."
Kendrick plans to do future "Lingua Musica" shows at The Showroom.
"Everybody involved is doing this for the love of music, and it's beautiful to watch the effort come together," Kendrick said.