By Jeff Maisey
The gift of music can be life-changing and memorable for those moved by sound.
With the holiday season approaching I sat down with WHRV-FM’s Paul Shugrue to ask him to share some stories from his teenage years as well as offer some suggestions for readers wishing to to find a unique stocking stuffer for friends and family.
Shugrue is the on-air host of “Out of the Box,” a gem of newly released albums played Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 PM and Saturday afternoons on 89.5 FM. His program is a throwback, of sorts, where the DJ is allowed to play the songs he choses, rather than a program director.
As a pre-teen and teenager were record albums something you received for Christmas?
Yeah, I used to get albums all the time. That’s how I first started getting into music.
I always thing of this job as being Christmas every day. Every day I get brand new releases sent to me. It’s like opening Christmas presents every day.
What were some of the first albums you received as a kid?
Probably Beatles albums because Beatles albums always came out right around the holidays. They were masters at promoting what they did. Just before Christmas there would always be a new Beatles album.
I remember specifically getting the “Abbey Road” album one time. I may still have that original album.
In the late ‘60s, early ‘70s I was still living at home getting music like that. Rod Stewart, “Every Picture Tells a Story,” that albums pops into my head too.
What other classic rock albums predating new wave were big favorites of yours growing up?
To me, I think 1971 was the biggest year for great albums: Led Zeppelin “IV” and “Who’s Next?” Seems like that was the year there was a real avalanche of great new music.
When punk rock, alternative rock became popular where you at a place in your life where that became the next musical phase?
I always loved stuff that was new and up-and-coming. I remember Elvis Costello’s first album. That is still one of my all-time favorites.
People were changing music. You don’t want to stay in the same ol’ thing over and over again. In my job I’m updating my musical tastes as we go along.
Once you had kids of your own, as “Santa Claus,” did you bestow the same gift of music to them?
Well, kids like their own music. I guess I gave them albums when I knew it was something they wanted to have. One of my kids really like The Pogues. I remember getting him a few Pogues records when he was young.
Nowadays they don’t really think about albums. It’s about finding it on the internet.
I’ve got this huge collection of CDs at home and would say, “Hey, let me play this one song for you.” I’d go to my collection and he (my son) would have it up on his laptop before I could pull out the album. It’s just the way things are now.
How many CDs are in your WHRV/WHRO studio library?
Somebody just recently tried to estimate it and put it at about 8,000.
It’s mainly albums that have come out since I’ve been doing the show. I’m coming up on my 15th anniversary on January 24.
My theme song on the show is by Lambchop and is a song called “Jan 24.” I’ve been using it for the whole 15 years and that was the first day I started doing the show.
If a listener want give the gift of music to someone that was current and outstanding, what album might you suggest?
Three of my favorite bands since I’ve been doing the show came out with albums this year: DeVotchKa, The Decemberists and Death Can for Cute. Those are three really good albums all the way through.
You play a lot of local music as well on your show. What are some of the best you’ve heard this year?
The first one that comes to mind is Ladada. They had a couple of really good singles. There are others. Wes Charlton put out a good album; he’s from the Northern Neck. The Last Bison has just released a new album. Super Doppler has been putting out singles leading up to an album.
When does the Out of the Box Series beginning at Sandler Center?
I think it’s going to be the second Thursday of January.
What is on your music wish list for Christmas 2019?
It’s a hard question for me to answer. I don’t get the boxsets that come out. I hear there’s a Bob Dylan “Blood on the Tracks” boxset. I guess that’d be on the top of the list for me.