Power-pop purveyor Marshall Crenshaw never planned on having his own retro-minded radio show. But a funny thing happened when he was chatting with his old chum Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba a couple of years ago.
As the Dictators frontman raved about his DJ gig on Little Steven’s Sirius Satellite station Underground Garage, Crenshaw surprisingly found himself feeling envious.
“So I knew somebody who owned a radio station,” he says. “I just called him up and asked if I could go on the air, and he said I could.”
Crenshaw’s popular weekly program “The Bottomless Pit” now runs at 10 p.m. Saturdays on New York’s WFUV.
To allow time for a tour that hits The City on Friday, he ransacked his sizable oldies collection to record the next several shows in advance — including tapings devoted to Dave Alvin and Dan Bern, the Hammond B-3 organ, Bill Frisell and Paul Weller, and Phil Spector — to coincide with an HBO biopic of Spector starring Al Pacino.
But Crenshaw’s fascination with broadcasting didn’t begin recently.
“Quite a few years ago, I went on the Steve Earle show — one of those things where you play some records that you like, then talk about them,” says the Rhinebeck, N.Y., native. “And I really enjoyed it. Then I realized that — over the years, whenever anybody had asked me to do that — I’d always really loved doing it. Not long after that, I ran into Manitoba when I was playing the Bowery Ballroom.”
Simultaneously, Crenshaw, 59, was experiencing an existential crisis.
In 30 years, he had recorded for five labels, including two definitive Warner Bros. releases, 1981’s self-titled debut and “Field Day” in 1982. But he was sick of constricting contracts after 2009’s “Jaggedland” for 429 Records.
“So I just said, ‘I quit. I’m not going to do this ever again. But then the question was, ‘OK, what now?’ And I went about answering it.”
His solution was to launch a subscription service (first through Kickstarter, now via his website) for a series of six 10-inch, 45-rpm vinyl EPs, three tracks each, starting with “I Don’t See You Laughing Now” backed with a cover of the Move’s “No Time” and his classic “There She Goes Again,” live with The Bottle Rockets.
A second disc, “Stranger and Stranger,” is slated for an April 28 release.
For the DIY mailings, Crenshaw formed an envelope-stuffing assembly line with his wife and kids. “The post office thanked me, they honestly did,” he says. “They were really happy that I went in there and spent about a thousand bucks.”
Marshall Crenshaw: Co-headlining with Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones
- Where: Great America Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
- When: 8 p.m. Friday
- Tickets: $22
- Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com