Great Moments in TV Music History: Wednesday Week on Arsenio Hall Show

Those of a certain age remember back when television options were limited; it was always a treat to see live music pouring out of the TV. At first, there were lots of lip-sync shows such as Where the Action Is, and Shindig and Hullabaloo! seemed like a mixture of live and lip-synced performances.

By 1967-1968, there were more opportunities for real live music from artists who were changing the face of music, such as The Smothers Brothers Show and The Dick Cavett Show as well as the various late-night programs.

Special performances are the ones that grabbed you by the lapels and wouldn’t let you go; they are burned forever into the brain.

One of my top ten TV performances came in June of 1987. The Arsenio Hall Show always had hip guests and great music. On this particular night, the musical guests were a quartet named Wednesday Week, with Kristi Callan, vocals and rhythm guitar; David Nolte, lead guitar; Kelly Callan, drums; and Heidi Rodewald, bass, vocals, piano, and organ. After several name changes, they settled on Wednesday Week, after the song of the same name by The Undertones.

The L.A.-based band formed in 1983. They released two singles in 1986: “Why” and “Missionary.” Both were included on the band’s excellent first album, What We Had, which was issued in 1987 on Enigma. Rodewald would leave the band later in the year, and they broke up in 1990 after releasing a cassette-only album, Not Going Back. What We Had was issued on Noble Rot in 2007. There have been occasional reunions, including a show in February of this year.

For The Arsenio Hall Show, they played both singles, and they were absolutely superb. Kelly Callan on drums was a treat, the vocals with Kristi Callan and Rodewald were tight, and they rocked out. “Why” is an airier tune, bouncy, almost power pop from a new wave perspective. “Missionary” was totally badass, Rodewald killing on both bass and vocals, and Nolte tore it up on guitar.

Repeated searches for that particular program have not been fruitful… so far. The three official videos here are accompanied by a live take on “Why” from The Troubadour 01.14.14 for the Earle Mankey Appreciation Night.

And this is a rehearsal video from 02.28.20 from the Wild Honey Lovin’ Spoonful Tribute.

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