Record timing for Marshall Crenshaw 

click to enlarge After three decades of recording for various labels, Marshall Crenshaw is self-releasing old and new music on EPs via a subscription service. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • After three decades of recording for various labels, Marshall Crenshaw is self-releasing old and new music on EPs via a subscription service.

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

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Tom Lanham

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