Everyone who went to the Kent Stage Friday night knew Loudon Wainwright‘s name. (Of course they did; they bought a ticket to see him.) They didn’t know the name Steve Popovich until Loudon mentioned him on stage toward the end of his set. Before the show Popovich surprised Loudon and they went out to dinner. Why is this significant? It was Steve Popovich, president of Polygram Records, who gave Loudon his first break almost 40 years ago.
Of all the songs Loudon would go on to write, Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road fascinated Popovich and he tested the song in Little Rock, Arkansas. He personally convinced programmers at various stations to play it, and made sure the album was in every record store. If the song did well in one market, felt Steve, then the rest of the country would follow suit. The song was a hit and Loudon had a career. Loudon told us: “I remind Rufus (his son) that I was #1 in Little Rock Arkansas for 5 weeks!”