Good Ol’ B.L.F. Bash – July, 2008

Every lunch or dinner I’ve had with Bill “B.L.F. Bash” Freeman over the past thirty-plus years has been at a Mexican restaurant – and this was no exception.   

A new restaurant, Grande Rodeo, opened near me – and it was a momentous occasion.  Bay Village, Ohio is a small city with only a couple of restaurants within the city limits.   Until two years ago, the only spot holding a liquor license in town was the local bowling alley. 

Bash and I live only a few miles apart. The reason we don’t see each other more often is that Bash’s daytime is all-night and mine is the other way around.  I was having an early lunch while he had a late dinner.

Bash sends his “hellos” to one and all.  He’s still listening to the Stooges reunion album and just picked up a copy of the new album by My Morning Jacket.   He also finished Right of the Dial, a book by Alec Foege, which we highly recommend.  It tells the story of why you don’t like radio as much as you used to.

Early summer, 1972:  I was living in an apartment just off Harvard Square on the corner of Mt. Auburn Street and University Road in Cambridge, Mass.  It was the coolest apartment building in the city.  Most of the J. Geils Band lived there as well as an assortment of writers, poets, anarchists, and trustafarians.   It was a rent controlled – as long as you were sub-leasing from the original tenant.  

It was a Friday night and I was driving from Cambridge toward downtown Boston on Storrow Drive, which paralleled the Charles River.   The car had one of those mounted-under-the-dash FM converters.  I happened on a new station, WVBF.  An energetic jock with a grizzled voice who called himself “Benevolent Bill” and “B.L.F.” was playing current and recent album tracks in a format similar to the up-tempo, high-gloss version of album radio that Denny Sanders and I had pitched to every station in town but this one.

A few years later, that same high energy, grizzle-voiced air personality joined WMMS and overnights took on a new meaning in Cleveland.

More on B.L.F. Bash in Chapter 2 and 13 in The Buzzard

6 Responses to “Good Ol’ B.L.F. Bash – July, 2008”

  1. Nice pic of you and Bill at lunch, John. Sounds as though you guys had a good get-together.

    I have to admit to never being much of a late-night person so for me hearing B.L.F. Bash on the car radio meant I was driving home at an unusual hour. But it also made hearing him that much more special and cool. B.L.F.’s voice and on-air presence fit the 3rd shift perfectly.

    Since it was mentioned that Grande Rodeo is one of the few eating spots in Bay Village it provide a great segue for me to lay some useless Bay trivia on eveyone…

    The space Grande Rodeo now occupies was once that of the Peach Tree Restaurant. The Peach Tree was THE place for Bay Village’s movers and shakers to gather for lunch and trade stories. There was always a table set aside for them to hold court, so to speak. The Peach Tree stayed in business for many years, finally closing in the early to mid ’70s. A whole slew of restaurants have occupied that space since then and I hope Grande Rodeo can make a good go of it there.

    The Peach Tree was the only full service restaurant in Bay Village for many years. One could get a prepared meal at the old La-Vazio’s Pizza in Bay’s east end (the only pizza joint in town for many years and one burned in to many a Bay High alum’s memory), the lunch counters at either Grebe’s or Bay Delicatessen, or some ice cream at Hardman’s in the Bay Center then after that closed Baskin and Robbins at the Bay Center or Bay Dairy Queen (the later still open for business). Still, the Peach Tree was it for what one would think of as an all-out restaurant.

    While thinking about the lack of big-town amenities in Bay for many years I gotta mention Hap Laffin’s old Gulf service station in the middle of town. Bay did have a number of full service gas stations in the old days but Hap’s seemed to me to be the “official” gas station of Bay Village back when. Hap was a fixture in town. Lettering above the service doors said “STAY HAPPY WITH LAFFIN’S GAS”.

    If the above trivia indicates Bay Village felt a bit like Andy Griffith’s fictional town of Mayberry at one time that’s because I believe it in fact did.

    Just thought all of the above rambling would lend some additional context to John’s setting the scene of Bay Village.

  2. Usher: From a couple of like buzzards just dancin’ to a different beat…good to meet ya…

  3. tom pallotta Says:

    well, i have fond memories of listening to the “bash” every weekend late night camping out with my pals back in the 70’s and 80’s. it was just religion to have it on all night…god bless M M S…!

  4. Hey B! How are ya? Listening to the Dylan Time Out of Mind that u recommended bacK in the day. Also jammin the Iggy Pop and Evil woman that u suggested. Yeh I used ta call all the time in the middle of the night when u were on MMS. U know me the Deadhead who always requested dead songs. And u would play them for me on occasion. Well talk at cha later. Doug Cahal

  5. John Callahan Says:

    I was just wondering what happened to BLF Bash….Growing up in Cleveland, my friends and I would listen to the Bash on the weekends.

    Anyway, I think the true spirit of WMMS and independent radio continues to thrive on the left end of the dial.

    I am a member of 89.3, WCSB, Cleveland State Radio, and we proudly still let it loose without regard to the constraints of commercial pressure.

    I am proud to play the Stooges along side the likes of Sabbath, Deerhunter, High Dials, Awesome Color, The Damned, MC5, Hawkwind, Brian Jonestown, the Warlocks, Black Mountain, Dead Meadow, Asteroid #4, and Velvet Underground.

    Thanks to the Buzzard for exposing Cleveland to quality rock n roll during the 70’s – 80’s…

    We were there, too….for 35 years now, and still going….

    Check us out:

    John Callahan

  6. jasin hill Says:

    I listened to BLF Bash back in the late 80’s early 90’s. One night heard a great song and called MMS to find out who it was. BLF answered and said it was ‘Children of the Sun’, Billy Thorpe. I was 17 at the time, 40 now. Still remember WMMS and BLF Bash.

    I live in Russellville, Alabama now, but still check in on the Buzzard from time to time. Thanks to the internet.

    As an aside, I am able to listen to the ,’monster on the lake’ [WTAM] all the way down here in Alabama as clear as it was when i lived in Cleveland.

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