Warm up for the XPN 5K with this playlist from Team Rave On founder Debbie Blum - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Team Rave On | photo courtesy of Debbie Blum

This fall, WXPN will hold our fifth annual 5K Run to raise awareness and funds for the Musicians On Call program.

Last year was a very special run in memory of XPN supporter Andy Katz, who passed away on October 14, 2016. His wife Debbie Blum, along with his sons Aaron (20) and Daniel (18), began Team Rave On with family and friends to celebrate Andy’s life. It was an amazing day for everyone, and after the run, Debbie’s mother, Gwen, became a MOC volunteer guide and is working at St. Christopher’s Hospital.

Team Rave On will be joining us again this October. I asked Debbie to put together a list of songs that celebrate Andy, an XPN member, lover of music and a believer in the healing power of music.

My Leicht Lunch today will be songs from Debbie’s list of suggestions. Enjoy today’s Leicht Lunch, get to know Andy Katz in Debby’s comments below, and go to our website to sign up for this year’s XPN 5K. I hope to see you Sunday morning October 7th at Penn Park.

From Debbie Blum

Andy didn’t just listen to music. He had a thirst for it. And he sated his thirst by diving into his enjoyment of the music, the artists, the sounds, the lyrics, the history, the live performances, the influences, the interpretations, the discussions, the culture, and the community. He was delighting in, collecting, talking about, and, significantly, sharing music from the time he was a kid. Making mixed tapes (then CDs, then flash drives) was an art form to him. He had a song mix/list/theory/musing/opinion for every occasion, and would curate a mix carefully customized for anyone who asked — and many who didn’t. He wanted music out in the world. To be shared, discussed, and, simply, enjoyed.

Distilling “music for Andy” down to just 10 to 12 songs, then, is a killer. Even cheating (as I do below) with 13, there are still a million songs, artists, reasons, stories, etc. I’ve overlooked. I left out the Beatles and Paul Simon and Cheap Trick and AC/DC and Conor Oberst and My Morning Jacket and Bonnie Raitt and the Decemberists and Tame Impala and Ray Charles and Mavis Staples and Peter Gabriel and Harry Chapin and Warren Zevon and Rockpile and Chuck Berry and Velvet Underground and the Allman Brothers and Prince and Bon Iver and the Kinks and Johnny Cash and Randy Newman and Wyclef Jean and the very last band he saw in concert, the Violent Femmes (at the Fillmore on the Saturday before the Tuesday he lost consciousness, then the Friday he died). And, even, the Hooters from his early fandom and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, from his most recent. And so, so, many, many more. And I passed on the songs that had so much meaning for us (i.e. our wedding song, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”) and my grieving (i.e. “Rivers & Roads,” The Head and the Heart, Ryan Adam’s “To Be Without You”). But here we are. In no particular order:

“Rave On” — M. Ward with Zoey Deschanel

The obvious pick to kick off Team Rave On, Year 2. As I explain on the team webpage, Rave On was one of Andy’s favorite songs, specifically the M.Ward version, though with Andy’s signature nod to music history and music rights, he’d always credit Buddy Holly as the hit-maker.

“Tangled Up in Blue” — Bob Dylan

Andy was a serious, studied ,and appreciative Bob Dylan fan, loving his music, storytelling, politics/philosophies, and influence on music and culture. If pressed, Andy would say this was his favorite Dylan song, but he would dive deep to mention plenty of others.

“Salt of the Earth” — The Rolling Stones

Felt like we had to go Beggars’ Banquet, the Stones return to rock and roll. Andy got a kick out of Dear Doctor, but this song’s “raising a glass to the hardworking people” fits him well.

“Truckin’” — Grateful Dead

Andy was as much of a Deadhead as any suburban-lawyer-dad type could be – and he had a good number of concerts under his belt. This was Aaron’s pick as the definitive Andy/Dead vibe.

“Heavy Metal Drummer” — Wilco

Tough choice because so, so many favored and meaningful Wilco songs (including In a Future Age, which the cantor quoted at Andy’s funeral: “Let’s turn our prayers into outrageous dares, and mark our page in a future age.”), but Andy had a particular affinity for Heavy Metal because of our drum-playing son Daniel and the song’s reference to Kiss, the first band Andy saw in concert!

“California Stars” — Billy Bragg with Wilco

Woody Guthrie. Would be ‘nuf said, but this was also, devastatingly so now, a special song for me and Andy. (“So I’d give this world just to dream a dream with you on our bed of California Stars.”)

“Freeker by the Speaker” — Keller Williams

New/innovative music with a nod to the jam bands he liked. And Andy could be a bit of a “freeker”.

“Love is Like a Bottle of Gin” — The Magnetic Fields

Andy was fascinated by this artist – his brilliance and his song’s imagery, wordplay, wit, and themes. Also, he had tickets for a special performance (50 new songs with 50 instruments for Merritt’s 50ths birthday) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but he passed away before the event.


“Superman’s Song” — Crash Test Dummies

The lullaby he sang for the boys (even though he was disappointed it was a bit harsh on Tarzan). And Daniel’s pick!

“Not Fade Away” — The Crickets

One of his faves in all iterations/versions, so why not the original?!

“Come Pick Me Up” — Ryan Adams

Tough to pick only one from RA, but Andy loved these vocals, the affecting lyrics, and that harmonica (which Andy himself dabbled in).

“Old Man” — Blitzen Trapper (covering Neil Young)

Had to have Neil Young, but with a nod to Andy’s love of finding the new and the live and the best covers, I picked this version. Also, Andy got to see Blitzen perform this song at one of his favorite concert venues, New York’s City Winery.

“Man on Fire” — Edward Sharpe &The Magnetic Zeros

Andy found and shared this one from his hospital bed. And the lyrics: — “Only one desire that’s left in me. I want the whole damn world to come dance with me” — perfect.

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