Urban Folk

the zine on the acoustic scene

Issue 11 Spring 2007 A Hard Look at Soft Black The Wolfson Campaign Wakey!Wakey! Billy Syndrome Public Records More!

Plus: Lowry, Chris Maher, Brook Pridemore

Urban Folk Issue Eleven. Available May, 2007 (now)
Paul Alexander writes: Last issue I made a mistake. Certainly not the first I've ever made, and without a doubt, far from the last. The mistake in question has to do with misquoting the very apt and quotable Leo, who sent me the witty lyric "Now I met Zach back in 1899 / We were diggin' for diamonds in the songwriter's mine," which I egregiously corrected, thinking it was chronologically mistyped. I altered it to read "Now I met Zach back in 1998 / We were diggin' for diamonds in the songwriter's mine." It didn't occur to me that my revision clearly avoided the rhyme scheme. Some songwriter, huh? To once again paraphrase Leo's words: "Retractions, retractions, ga-ga-ga-ga-gotta write the retractions…" So, now that I've retracted my most recent faux-pas, I hope Leo, along with the rest of our Urban Folk readers, will forgive and forget any other missteps I've made along the way. Thanks for reading. www.myspace.com/palexandermusic Jonathan Berger writes: I hope you enjoy this issue. If you don’t: it’s not my fault; it’s yours. You could contribute. In fact, you should. This publication runs on dreams, and if you don’t supply the fuel, it ain’t going nowhere. Help us go somewhere. Write something. Advertise something. Show people that we’re something. Urban Folk needs you - just like you need Urban Folk. Want to get involved? See below for contact info...

IN THIS ISSUE
COVER WOLFSON DESIGNED BY A MISTER HERB SCHER TRUE STORY: BEN GODWIN WRITES ABOUT ERIC WOLFSON EMILY MOMENT ON CHRIS MAHER
THE GREY SCALE WITH

FOR

PRESIDENT

1 4 6 9 10 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34

"D ARK BUT LOVEABLE" COVER ART AFTER THE ELECTRIC MOON (3 OF 2) “IT WILL ALL COME BACK TO ME TOMORROW ” PUBLIC RECORDS 20 QUESTIONS UNSUPERVISED EXISTENCE WAKEY !WAKEY ! THE ROAD TO LONDON LOWRY EXEGESIS DEPARTMENT THE AMERICAN INTERZONE GET IN THE MINIVAN RECORD REVIEWS

SOFT BLACK 2006

BRIAN SPEAKER

ON SINGING COVER SONGS.

COMPLETES HIS WHIRLWIND ADVENTURES IN

DAN COSTELLO GOES DRINKING WITH A FERMATA AND IVAN SANDOMIRE PAUL ALEXANDER ON THE BEST LITTLE LABEL YOU 'VE NEVER HEARD OF MATT DIFF ASKS WEB DESIGNER JEFF SCHRAM ALL ABOUT HIS CHOSEN FIELD RAY BRAZEN
TELLS ALL ABOUT BILLY

SYNDROME'S FALL AND (HOPEFUL) RISE

TARA MC NALLY GETS HER GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS ON A MAN NAMED MIKE GARETH GREGOR Y TRIES TO PLAY LONDON ENGLAND. THAT'S IN THE UK PAUL ALEXANDER
TALKS TO THE TOURING MACHINE, ALEX L OWRY

ERIC WOLFSON EXPLAINS JUST WHY "SLEEPING IS A SUCKER 'S GAME" GREY REVELL TELLS SOME ABOUT THE FALL AND RISE OF NEW ORLEANS BROOK PRIDEMORE HATES OAKLAND. WHY ? R EAD
THE ARTICLE

THE NAME SAY S IT ALL

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Eric Wolfson
wolfson for president
Ben Godwin
Rewind approximately exactly one year from now (of course, by the time you read this, it’s then, but who’s counting?) and it’s 2.30am on a Monday (maybe we’re calling it Tuesday by now) and I’m sitting bleary drunk in a corner at the Sidewalk Café, watching this skinny kid from Boston play his first ‘Hoot (and my second) while Dan Costello runs the sound board. Sometimes you have no idea how things are going to turn out. Fast forward eight months, and I’m at Seaside Lounge Studios in Brooklyn, having a stellar time. I’m playing bass for the skinny Bostonian kid, who turns out to be Eric Wolfson, in the live room that has started to feel like a second home over the last few months – this is the third record I’ve made here this year. It keeps getting better, too. Dan is in the producer’s chair and we have a nice little Class of ’06 AntiFolk supergroup going on – Andrew Hoepfner on the Hammond, Dan on the piano, Vin on electric guitar, Eric’s cousin Marc Pinansky on the drums. And Eric, of course. Eric is stomping and hollering and getting one hundred percent lit up, on fire, into it. True story! Of course, that’s not how it starts. Rewind further, and it starts with Momma Wolfson getting rushed to the delivery room on Christmas day, exclaiming “If there is a God, He has a sense of humor.” Or, maybe it starts with Eric the miracle baby having his heart rewired. Or maybe it starts with Wolfson banging his head against the car seat in time with “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” Maybe it starts

photos by Herb Scher
with finding a guitar in the attic and learning Beatles songs, taking them apart and trying to make four chords and verse-chorus-bridge move mountains. Maybe, if you want it to be a bit more starry and don’t care so much about all the biographical stuff, it starts with Eric listening to the first Springsteen album every day for two months, then meeting His Bruceness and scoring his first Sidewalk show in the same week, and feeling like the angels of music had just tapped him for the big game. It’s hard to tell. Let’s just say, for the sake of making some sort of sense out of it, that it starts with Eric Wolfson arriving, like many others, lit up by the rusted monster dream that is New York and finding it much harder going than expected. “I tried to find all the places that they talk about in the Dylan books and they’re all gone – even Café Wha, which has all that ‘Dylan played here!’ signage, doesn’t do any folk music.” The West Village didn’t offer much of a welcome. Finally, a trip to the Lower East Side to see a friend’s band resulted in a chance meeting with Jaymay. “It was this line between folk and pop and I’d never heard anyone do that before. And the way she was stacking the rhymes made me think of early Springsteen. So I asked her ‘Where do you play? How do you get started?’ and she said ‘Go to Sidewalk, you’ll get a really bad number and go on really late and have to work your way up, but you’ll have to keep coming back.’” It took precisely two AntiHoots for Eric to work his way from number umpty-leven-teen to a precocious and fortuitous twelve. “I’ll never forget, it was one of the most powerful performing experiences of my life. I explained the song – ‘this is a song about a drug dealer who was also Buddy Hackett’s niece’ – and the way the song builds, when I got to the hook ‘life ain’t ease when you’re loving Buddy Hackett’s niece’ the whole room started applauding. In the middle of the song.” Lach offered him the show on the spot. I mention that I was present at both of the ‘Hoots in question, and Eric flips. “This is like that Kennedy film, from just before he was assassinated! If you’d told me at the time that Dan Costello would become one of my closest collaborators… and that you

were there…” We compare notes on the ‘Hoot newbie experience. “I sat there and watched for five hours… next day I thought ‘Who do I remember and why?’ It was the best people and the worst people. It was the Bowmans, and Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend singing about burning down Bleecker Street. Then there was that guy who had to go put on a penguin suit before he could perform. Clearly he knew there was some level of kitsch there, but he still had to go put on the suit. And then, ‘Who’s this lady with the blue hair?’ She must be some kind of random New York person. Then it’s ‘Woo! She must be some kind of star here.’” He pauses momentarily. “That was a 180.” He kept on coming back. “It’s an institution. It was the only real door I could find, and I remember I found it really intimidating – everyone seemed to know each other except me. But… you prove yourself and prove you want to be a part of it. And the track record is amazing. It’s like Sun Records. You’ve got the Bowmans, Erin Regan, Frank Hoier, Jaymay… people who are like the greatest songwriters in America today, and they all happen to be coming out of this scene. There’s something about the way it’s set up which is working. And it’s all-inclusive. You can sound like Pete Seeger or Joie and it’s all good. But if Joie went to the West Village he would get kicked out. I also feel real loyalty to what Lach is doing. I think I missed six ‘Hoots in a year.” In a year like that, it doesn’t take too long to end up playing a ton of shows as well as playing bass for pretty much everyone, and with that many favors to call in, a great record was inevitable. “It seemed like everyone was going in to the studio at the end of last year. I thought it would be a good thing to have out there.” It was an unashamedly retro process – “This might be one of the few chances I have to make a record I want to make on my own terms, so I thought ‘what do I like, what don’t I like?’ It’s the Basement Tapes, the early Motown stuff, this kinetic energy you get from having people in a room. And there’s that sense of experimentation and trying something for the first time. I was listening to live Dylan and the Band – the fullest sound I could think of. I thought, ‘Who’s going to be Rick? Who’s going to be Richard? Who’s going to be Garth?’ And it came from there.” The band session was augmented by a few solo cuts, and the resulting disc State Street Rambler is a glorious mash-up-swaggering rock’n’roll that sounds just like you immersed your head in a bucket of 1969; simple, evocative balladry; and loony truth-to-power talking blues. Eric Wolfson, as some of you may have gathered, is big on true stories. “Dylan would make up a new story at every turn: ‘Oh, I was a circus performer,’ or ‘I’m really from New Mexico’ and I’d try to do that and it never felt right. So I thought I’d go completely the other way. I just fell into this thing where I always want to tell the truth… no matter how abstract, I want it to be true, so if someone pulls out a line, I want to be able to point at something

Looking up to EW

and say ‘that’s what that was.’ But I take it apart and put it back together so it’s all truthful but to the casual ear it sounds like a complete random jumble.” It’s an unbridled wild horse of a record, with a fat streak of goofy humor and not a little social outrage. And of course, it’s got presidents in it. “I’ve always been into them. I don’t really know why. I was always drawing in front of the TV, but in 1988 I looked up at the TV and drew this picture of Michael Dukakis, who was running for president at the time. I drew Bush, and I drew Reagan and Nixon and before long I was reading president’s bios. I already knew a lot of the history at college because I knew what happened in each administration – like, everyone from Lincoln to Roosevelt sucked because it was the Gilded Age and it was business running the show.” In Eric’s universe, rock history works the same way. “Elvis is Washington and the Beatles are Lincoln. Then punk is president in the 70s, although Neil Sedaka was president in between. There’s revolutions, mini-revolutions every 20-40 years. Some people look at Reagan as the last great president. I don’t know if I go along with that. And it’s a long time since Nirvana, who were the last big rock band everyone could get behind. We need a shakeup in both music and presidents.” So, Eric, what’s your manifesto? “I figure as long as stuff is working, take one step at a time, and keep doing what works.” Vote Wolfson, running on the AF ticket, at three hundred thirty three revolutions per second. State Street Rambler drops May 5th. http://myspace.com/ericwolfson

“Dark but lovable.”
an interview with Vin
Emily Moment
It was Monday, nearing 8pm as a light rain worked on washing away the last night of Winter. I ducked into Cafe Pick Me Up, a cozy, well-lit coffee shop with little wooden tables and chairs and settled myself by the door with a large iced coffee. At 8:01 Mr. Vincent Cacchione arrived. Those who have only recently been introduced to the AntiFolk scene may know him as the curlyhaired, well-mannered front man of the band Soft Black. To those of us who have been around a little longer, he is simply Vin. His mini ringlets glistened with a little bit of water and he smiled, and gave me a warm hug. For the next hour he sipped a cappuccino and spoke candidly about his childhood, his outlook on life and music, and his upcoming album. Vin was born in Hawthorne, NJ, a town that sits in between one of the most impoverished cities in the state and the richest county in America. It was here that he and his sister were raised by his mother, an aging hippie teachers’ aide, and father, a stand-up comedian. Growing up, Vin felt like an outcast. He knew he wanted to make music but what he liked wasn’t cool in a place like Hawthorne. Vin most related to Nirvana, a band which he claims changed his life. “I would never have had the courage to start writing songs if I didn’t hear a band like that. Which is a shame about what younger kids are getting to hear today. I look at a lot of the bands that kids like, and I think there’s a lot of posturing, a lot of rockstarryness. And Nirvana weren’t rock stars, they were just three dorky dudes… they just rocked harder than anyone else did.” Vin fell in love with punk music. He found it to be the antithesis of what growing up in a town like Hawthorne was like. But it wasn’t just his taste in music that set him apart from his peers. Though now Vin’s hair may be considered a hip trademark, growing up in a town where just

photos by Herb Scher
about everyone slicked back their hair, he was taunted with nicknames like “Screech” and “Horshack.” “I have a love-hate relationship with where I’m from. When you are always coming to New York and then you come home every night to this really quiet, fucked up town where nobody understands you, and nobody is interested in making art or making music, and you’re just this big weirdo amongst all this squareness, you can’t help but resent where you’re from a little bit. Of course... it informs what I do. It informs the things I write about, the people I write about, and the way I think about the world. But you know New York City... New York City is the greatest place on earth.” At the age of 18, Vin quit his band in New Brunswick and moved to New York. He got an apartment in Brooklyn with his girlfirend and a job working full-time answering phones at the Gotham Comedy Club. Very much in love but doing very little with his life, at least he was in New York. He’d gotten out. That year something unexpected happened. Vin’s father, a bad drinker with a self-destructive lifestyle, suffered a heart-attack and died. Vin took that as a severe wake-up call to start getting serious about his life: to appreciate every day as though it were his last, and start making some music. Unfortunately, it was not long before his emotional resolve would be tested again. After the death of their father, Vin’s younger sister, almost college bound, took care of their mother, and not simply in a consolatory fashion. Vin’s mother lives with a malady called “progressive multiple sclerosis” which limits her mobility and necessitates personal assistance around the clock. To ensure that Mrs. Cacchione was well-taken care of, Vin’s sister would have had to do precisely what she didn’t want to do and attend Community

College in Jersey. Someone had to stay for the other one to go. So Vin did what he felt was right, and without being asked, moved back to the town he couldn’t wait to escape to live with his mother. . “I get up in the morning, help my mom get ready for work, take her to work come home then and I get ready and go to work. Then I go get my mom, bring her home, make dinner and to be honest it’s been sort of hard. I’m very caring and definitely sensitive but I’m not that nurturing a person. I’ve definitely had to work at being more helpful. It didn’t come naturally.” Resettling in New Jersey, Vin took a job at a vacuum repair shop. Working eight hours a day, seven days a week, he spent most of his time alone. Business was so slow, much of his time in the shop was put to good use writing. In the winter of 2005, it just so happened that one of Vin’s friends was kicking off a tour with a gig at the Sidewalk Café. The opening act was Frank Hoier. “When I watched Frank it just cut me straight into my fucking body. I just fell in love with Frank’s voice and his music right away. And as soon as he got off stage, I just had to talk to him. I asked him about himself and about what he was doing. He told me about the Monday nights and I just kept it in the back of my mind. And then the night after X-Mas, I went, got the last number and played it. Really, I was pretty nervous. But I remember seeing Debe [Dalton] and looking at Debe right before I played and getting just a good vibe from her, closing my eyes and just singing my heart out. Right when I was done, Lach said to me, I’ve been trying to remember his exact words, ‘This is why I continue to come out on a Monday night because every once in a while someone comes in and just gets it.’ He offered me a show right away. It was really a big thing for me. It just came along at the right time. I was really very depressed, I had just moved home maybe a month before, and I was feeling like I was never gonna do anything with my life and I was gonna get stuck in Hawthorne, live and die there. I had very few friends. Really all I did was come out on a Monday night, sing two new songs and basically spend the rest of the week writing.” It wasn’t long before he was a regular face at the Sidewalk, making friends, writing music, and being welcomed with open arms by the community. In between February of ’06 and June of ’06 Vin would write all but one of the 11 songs on his upcoming album. It was a time of frustration, adjustment, and ultimately, great inspiration.

Now, A year later Vin is awaiting the release of Blue Gold (co-produced with Dan Costello), the first album with his current band, Soft Black. The band’s name, a title ripped from one of the tracks on his album, was donned to allow for his band to feel more like his equals than his backup artists. When asked what Soft Black means to him he didn’t really seem to know. “It doesn’t mean anything and it means a lot of things. I like it because I thought it didn’t have any specific meaning which meant that I could make it whatever I wanted... right now I think it just means dark but loveable.” Now, I have to say, Vin is loveable. He is also genuinely kind. Easy to sing the praises of anyone he likes, he waxes so affectionately about his band, that to hear him speak of them, it’s clear why Soft Black works. “Tate Bushell, my drummer is a rambler, a free spirt, and beautiful person. Nick Coleman, my guitar player is a brilliant composer, musician, and film scorer. Clancy my violinist is an amazing human being, she’s 18 years old and just finished her first novel. She also happens to be in one of my favorite bands, Blue Hippopotamus. My best friend in the whole world Mike Curry is the bass player. He is a wonderful photographer and visual artist and a great friend of mine... I grew up with him. And then there’s Dan. Apart from playing really beautiful parts on the record, (he plays all the piano and organ) Dan did a wonderful job produc-

ing. If you knew what a mess it was prior to Dan’s inAt 23 years old, Vin appears very at peace with himvolvement you’d go run and give Dan a huge kiss. He self. Zen-like. One would never sense the tragedy, really helped bring this album to completion. I can’t say struggle, and loneliness that he has endured. When asked enough good things about Dan Costello. about how he maintains It’s a very artistic landscape and such a sweet disposition he everyone’s got their own thing outside of says, “I’ve been very dethis but we come together on this. I tell pressed in my life. I have had ‘em the chords and every one goes… real some really bad times. But organic.” now is not one of those Though many of the themes times. Really, now I’m doing behind Vin’s music are very dark, he alright. And in a lot of ways I manages to present them in a way that really owe that to this comwarms you. This is an accomplishment munity I’m in, the Sidewalk, on his part, albeit an inadvertent one. and I owe it to myself for not Avoiding the ever-easy trap of furnishing allowing myself to feel angry, all sad lyrics with sad musical arrangeand trying to be positive. I’ve ments, many of Vin’s songs at least feel definitely been down in the uplifting and usually make me want to dumps and feeling shitty, search for the nearest tambourine. and I guess we’ve all been Some of Soft Black Though he says he’s not conscious of down that road. But ultimuch while writing, he believes as a general rule, black mately, it’s not good for you and you can’t live like that and white is never a good thing for an artist, it is better to forever, certainly not if you’re trying to make something function on more of a grey scale. “And maybe that’s my of yourself in this world. And I feel like being angry at the grey scale, and that is the balance on this album that way your life turned out is a shitty way to go through even though some of the themes may be dark, that the your life. Love what you have, be grateful for that, and music really is not, it’s up or… um, bouncy.” Though I move forward.” expect him to laugh after he refers to his music as www.myspace.com/vincentcacchione “bouncy,” he does not. He seems entirely content with this word choice and I can’t help but smile. Vin told several stories that made me laugh, but when I searched his face for some acknowledgment of irony, I found none. Vin speaks entirely without sarcasm and I’m not sure he’s always aware of his subtle sense of humor. “One thing I think about the songs that I write, is that they’re not static. I really hope that people have they’re own interaction with the material and I hope that they take from it something that’s entirely their own that they get to keep and do whatever the fuck they want with it. And it has nothing to do with me. And that’s my favorite thing about other songwriters. I like a songwriter that makes me have an experience with their experience. And then I just have my own trip that they didn’t even know they put me on... but I’m having it. “ Vin admits that he lacks the aggressive money-earning gene. Becoming rich is the lowest of the motivations for him to continue producing music. With a wave of his hand, a non-nonchalant tone, and a little smirk, he expresses a dream of living on a farm in upstate New York with “a cute wife who cooks and 30 children running around.” Aware of how difficult it can be to sustain a living off of art alone, Vin believes so firmly in music he insists he could be content continuing to stuff envelopes (his current profession) as long as he could write music for the rest of his life. He is very spiritual about the art form he feels has chosen him, and accepts that it is how he emotionally connects with others.

singing the words that we knew
If you’re a regular at any open mic anywhere in the world then you’ve probably heard a few singer/songwriters performing cover songs. For most of us, the process of learning how to play guitar and sing involves learning how to play the songs that inspire us. I mean, how would one be able to write an original song without first experimenting with a tune already written? That would be like putting Jon Berger behind the wheel of a tractor for the first time and expecting him NOT to try banging the farmer’s daughter. Well, sort of. Anyway, for most of us, the cover song is the first step of many in tooling ourselves to become proficient singer/songwriters. In speaking with AntiFolkers and the like, I found that most people cover songs by artists they listen to and are influenced by. Erin Regan covers the Elliott Smith song “The Biggest Lie,” saying, “There’s something about that song that breaks my heart. More than any other song.” She also refers to the deceased troubadour in her own song “Mom’s Car,” where she laments, “...like Elliott Smith’s ‘St. Ides Heaven.’” Cover songs are an easy way for new artists, still writing their first songs, to be able to play out and fill a half hour set. Mastering covers can be useful in other ways. Frank Hoier offered, “I only cover songs I would have written myself.” When Frank is learning some new guitar technique, he finds it handy to learn a few songs that use those specific techniques to hurry the process and see how other songwriter’s implement these styles. The first song I remember inspiring me was Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler.” I must have been 7 years old and my mom would play the radio while cleaning up around the house. I remember knowing every single word to that song and having a strange feeling of wonderment while singing along. Of course, then came Queen, Kiss, AC/ DC and Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero,” which saved me from a life of sappy country music – that, and my much cooler older brother (uh... no offense to you country folks out there). The point is that good songs stay with you. They teach you something and tell you stories that are directly relatable to your life. On a couple of nights in January, I came by the Sidewalk to see Debe Dalton and Frank Hoier play sets of mostly covers during their Sunday night residency. One song they played that night was “Strategery Blues” written by Eric Wolfson. Fortunately Eric was in the audience that particular Sunday and was sitting right next to me. In between his cries of “true story,” I asked him what he thought of Frank and Debe covering his song. “It’s an honor,” he said, “Frank is one of my favorite songwriters.

Cover Art
Brian Speaker
I take it as a compliment.” Another highlight of this particular evening was Debe Dalton’s introduction of the Richard Fariña song “Pack Up Your Sorrows.” After taking a moment, Debe, with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her face, relayed to the audience, “I once sang this song with Pete Seeger.” That experience created a special memory from which she draws for its performance. “We were at a songwriting circle and he came in from outside to join me for this one.” It has become Debe Dalton’s mission that everyone know this song. To help her with this conquest, here are the lyrics to the chorus so the next time she plays it, you can sing along: “If somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me / You would lose them, I know how to use them, give them all to me.” Debe definitely makes this song her own as the original version has a soft slow sentimentality that she has turned into an anthem with a more bright and optimistic view. In fact, most songwriter’s I spoke to think it is very important to bring something new and original to a cover song. Lach said, “Tony Bennett never wrote a single song he sang, but he made every song his own.” And that’s the beauty of performing a cover. The words and music are already familiar to your audience so your own personal perspective and emotional performance is what is on display. Lach came up with an idea for a night where AntiFolkers cover AntiFolkers. The concept is that you choose a song written by one of your fellow singer/songwriters to play at the Monday night AntiHoot. A stand out song he mentioned from one such night was Rachel Devlin’s cover of a Joie Blaney song. I personally love the principal behind this night. Sometimes I feel as songwriters, we get so caught up in our own lives and creations, but this gives us an opportunity to set it aside and enter the head space of some of our peers. I chose “Little Spies” by Amy Hills. Though the song speaks about being “...one woman, one body and one soul,” I myself related to this song. It was satisfying sitting back and being the narrator rather than the author. As an outsider I could offer my own unique peek into her story. It also made me appreciate Amy’s writing in a way that I may not have otherwise. All in all, there seems to be one underlying factor about performing a cover song. If you are able to simply use the song as a platform for your own experiences, emotions and talent – your “art,” then your cover song performance can sound and feel as original as you are. Unless you’re doing it as a joke, which is cool too.

After the Electric Moon
travelogue 2006 (part 3 of 2)
Chris Maher photos by Toby Price
On the morning of October 29th, 2006, after catching a while I got ready to play. midnight train from Hannover, Germany to Paris, France, This was the largest audience on this tour and, arguPhoebe Kreutz and I pulled into Gare du Nord, surpris- ably the highest profile bill I’d ever been on. With a set ingly well rested. Our brief ‘Fall into Europe’ tour was list written on a scrap of paper and my Martin 00-15 slung coming to a close. Soon, Phoebe would be back in New over my back, I hopped on stage, harp-holder and A harYork and I would be on tour with Jack Lewis and the monica in hand. I played an eight or nine song set and Cutoffs, soldiering on for another two weeks through with each subsequent song, the audience response grew France and England. But that night, I was opening a show louder and more enthusiastic. Almost too soon, I played for M. Ward at Le Point Éphémère to a near-capacity “Heather” and reluctantly left behind the most enthusias300-plus crowd. tic crowd I’ve ever had the pleasure to play for. Phoebe and I decided to split up for the afternoon. As Matt Ward played an excellent set. That guy knows Phoebe explored the City of Light, I sat alone in a his way around a guitar. I spent most of his set backlaundromat, using a Sharpie to label 25 copies of a make- stage, using a pair of scissors to cut up the newly photoshift tour EP, Some Songs! copied covers of Some Songs! When Ward finished, I Up to this point, the Some Songs! EP had been nothin’ set up a small merch table by the side of the stage and but trouble. I assembled it back in New York with such sold all but four copies of Some Songs! I also sold the haste that it wasn’t pressed until after my European tour last copies of both the Morningsides 7" and What Was with Phoebe had started. The resulting 100 silk-screened Magnetic. Everyone who came up to the table had somecopies were to be shipped to Berlin, where I was to pick thing nice to say. One guy even made the outlandish them up. Unfortunately, due to a series of mishaps, they claim that my set was better than M. Ward’s. didn’t arrive before I’d left Germany. I was nearly sold-out As I collected the few remaining items from the table, a out of Morningsides singles and my 2005 chapbook, What tall blonde woman came up and introduced herself as Was Magnetic, so the night before leaving Berlin for Barbara Carlotti. What a surprise! Carlotti is one of my Hannover, I scrambled to burn stand-in copies of Some favorite contemporary French songwriters and I had traded Songs! using Heiko Gabriel’s PC. I felt I needed some- notes with her via MySpace months earlier after having thing to peddle until the ‘real’ copies reached me. trouble finding her recent record in New York. She told In the early evening, I made my way to Le Point me she had come to the show, only to recognize me Éphémère, unloaded my bags in the dressing room, put from our previous correspondence. on freshly washed clothing, and began sound check on We didn’t get to see our New York friends the Baby the generously large stage. As I wrapped up, M. Ward Skins and Turner Cody. They were in Paris that week, and his tour manager Fitz arrived. Ward introduced him- preparing for a tour with Herman Düne. We hoped to cross self as ‘Matt’ and commenced his own sound check. I paths with them at some point but didn’t know how best spent the next hour with Phoebe, back from her museum to get in touch. Instead of aimlessly searching, we deexpedition, and quickly sketched a stand-in cover for cided to hang around with Jimmy and Capucine at the Some Songs! A s I nearby hotel where M. worked, my friends Ward and Fitz were from Bordeaux, staying. It was by no Jimmy Kinast and means a luxury hotel Capucine Frey, arbut it was quite a plearived. Jimmy was resure to take a shower sponsible for getting and sleep in a bed. me on that night’s bill The next morning, and I was nothing but Phoebe and I headed off grateful. When I had to Lyon to play a show finished the cover, with Jane Kidder and Phoebe & Capucine Mary Me. The venue offered to run out and was in the basement of members of the Cutoffs, many of whom are Jack Lewis (tobyprice 2006) make photocopies a small restaurant

called Johnny’s Kitchen. When we arrived, a table of teenage girls started giggling and whispering to each other. Apparently, they were big fans of Phoebe from MySpace and came to the show to see her play. How totally cool! Phoebe didn’t disappoint, treating the crowd to some of her best tunes like “The Ballad of Throat Culture” and “All Summer Long.” Afterwards, everyone went out to a bar housed in a riverboat docked on the Saône River (or was it the Rhône?). We had the following day off so we accompanied Jane and her friend Romain to the Lyon Zoo. I was having trouble enjoying it: I was worried about a dog bite I’d received in Hamburg, Germany. On our way to the show with our friend Sibsi I was bitten, quite randomly, by a small, mangy dog. It wasn’t a vicious attack but it stung, and if you’ve been to the Reeperbahn, you know how unnerving it was to get bitten by a dog in that neighborhood. At first, I could find no sign that the dog had broken skin. A day or two later, I noticed a tiny scab that indicated the mutt had, in fact, torn through my jeans into my heel. It was in Lyon that I received word that my doctor thought I should go through with the vaccination. The following day was Halloween, an uncelebrated ‘holiday’ in France. Phoebe was due in Bordeaux for a show at a club I’d played in April called El Inca. Instead of accompanying her, I chose to stay in Lyon and start the rabies vaccination process. Phoebe left early in the morning and I didn’t see her again until I was back in the USA. As I found out later, Phoebe had to cancel the show: After taking a train from Lyon to Paris, all the connecting trains to Bordeaux were sold out. C’est dommage! Although the French don’t celebrate Halloween, I found out the hard way that they do observe All Saints Day (11/ 1). Eerything in Lyon was closed, including health clinics. Jane and I tried to go to an emergency room to start the rabies shots but they claimed it was ‘too late’ and turned us away. I spent the day contacting French friends, hoping they might know a doctor who would see me. At long last, Lisa Li-Lund and David Herman Düne’s doctor friend Ome tipped us off to a list of rabies treatment centers and we scheduled an appointment in Lyon. It was quite a relief when I got the first two (of five) shots. My arms sore, I gathered my bags and guitar, said my goodbyes and rushed off to the train station. The first of fifteen shows I was scheduled to play with Jack Lewis and the Cutoffs (Simon Beins of the WoWz on guitar and trumpet, Raphi Gottesman on drums and guitar and myself on guitar and drums) was that very night in Tours. A friend of mine named Odran Trümmel had set up the show. I was scheduled to open with a ‘solo’ set but missed my slot. I also missed Odran but made it

to the venue about midway through the Cutoffs set. To my surprise, Jack had me jump on stage with them and finish the show. To speed things along, I borrowed Odran’s guitar. I was excited to join these guys, especially with my diminishing rabies fear. The next two days were a whirlwind. Instead of sleeping, we drove to Paris with our new friend, François, the proud owner of a new Rav 4 - and a new baby. He agreed to be our driver for the French leg of the tour. We crashed at his flat, woke up early the next morning and tried to find coffee with a film crew in tow. A French television journalist named Aurore Victoire had asked to film us throughout the day for a French/German television program called Tracks. Aurora and her three-person film crew followed us, watched us practice, travel to the venue, and filmed the first of our two scheduled shows. At various points throughout the day, she conducted brief interviews with us on all things AntiFolk. Our first show of the night was with Lapin Machin at Café Montmartre. The show wasn’t one of our best. Unfortunately, our second show at Le Kitch’Up, a venue I had played in April with Prewar Yardsale, may have been worse. Whereas the first show was a rough-and-tumble stumble through our most rehearsed material like “The Day Neil Young Died” and “Shadow Party,” the second show was a quieter affair spent battling a disagreeable sound system. Despite our best efforts, we left the sizeable audience scratching their heads. The next day, we drove to Bordeaux, where we played at Saint-Ex. Capucine Frey had set up the show only to learn a week or two earlier that the club had stopped hosting live bands. Capucine begged to let our booking stand and the club agreed on the condition that we play a “quiet” show. We did our best. My first ‘solo’ set of the Cutoffs tour featured the others joining me for some songs, including two that we’d been playing during the Cutoffs set: “Heather” and “Pretty Smile.” We crashed at Jimmy’s place and spent the following day relaxing, working through new material. After an overwhelming 24 hours in Paris, it was a necessary break. The next morning, minutes before we had to leave for the next town, the ‘real’ copies of Some Songs! finally arrived from Berlin. Thrilled, I jumped in the car with the rest of the Cutoffs and we set off for Toulouse, where we were playing with Herman Düne, Turner Cody and the Baby Skins at a giant venue called Le Ramier. It was our only show with Herman Düne, who’d started their own tour in support of their just released new album, Giant. It was a wonderful celebration when we arrived. The show was one of my favorites. We opened the night to a crowd of several hundred, playing a raucous set that focused on Jack’s louder material, peppered with my and Simon’s songs. To surprise Turner, we played a version of his

song “Suzannah”, which he played again during his set, accompanied by David and Neman Herman Düne. The Baby Skins played after us and lulled the large audience into raptured silence. During the funfilled Herman Düne set, Jack jumped up on stage to sing along and play percussion. The next day we reluctantly said goodbye to our friends and hit the road for Clermont-Ferrand for our last scheduled show in France. The drive was long, the town small, but the show was another highlight. We ended up playing two sets, both well executed and well received. We were booked to play the Windmill in Brixton, just outside of London. With a long commute ahead of us, we decided to drive directly to the airport where Jack, Simon and Raphi were taking a RyanAir flight to London. I still had my Eurail train pass and decided to take the Eurostar instead of joining the other three Cutoffs on their flight. After the long drive to the airport, François and I drove back to Paris. When I reached the train station, I learned that there was a train strike and I couldn’t get booked on a train until the evening. I was almost guaranteed to miss that night’s show. By the time I got to the Windmill, Dufus had finished. For the second time in just under a week, I arrived in the middle of the Cutoffs’ set and jumped on stage for the last few songs. We closed with “Picked a Winner,” a new song of Jack’s that was quickly becoming a highlight of the show. Our friends Chris Irish and Emily Wasp were in attendance. It was nice to see them, if only for a moment. After the show, we went back to the Wave Pictures’ flat and crashed on their floor. For the UK leg of the tour, we failed to secure a driver, so Jack decided we’d travel by commuter bus. It wasn’t the easiest way to travel but it was flexible and cost ef-

fective. Before leaving London, I visited the Royal Free Travel Health Clinic and received a third vaccination shot. That night, we played a show at an Oxford bar/bookstore called QI. We suffered again from a malfunctioning sound system. It didn’t boost our morale when we realized Dufus was playing to a near-capacity crowd nearby. There was momentary talk of an impromptu set at the Dufus show but when we arrived, we were told it was too late for another band to play. Instead of sticking around, Cat, who had helped set up a show that Phoebe and I had played in Oxford several weeks earlier, offered to let us stay in her living room. We gladly accepted. The next day, we caught two connecting buses that left us in Brighton, where we were to play the Hope, the venue at which Phoebe and I kicked off the ‘Fall into Europe’ Tour. Unlike that first show back in October, this one was packed. We had the pleasure of playing with the Wave Pictures, who I had only seen once before, years earlier, in Dashan Coram’s bedroom. I was glad to again stretch out into a full ‘solo’ set and after the discouraging night in Oxford, the Cutoffs played a great show – perhaps the best of our tour. Two nights later, we played a pub called The Bowling Green in a pretty desolate part of Manchester. Although the show was fairly well attended, the crowd seemed sedate. To our surprise, we sold a lot of CDs and people had very nice things to say. Folks from Manchester are just a strange bunch: This was, after all, the town where someone yelled ‘Judas’ during Bob Dylan’s 1966 concert with the Hawks. Our next stop was Sheffield, where we were playing The Cricketer’s Arms. After nearly a month of similar sets, I was feeling frustrated with my songs. Instead of using my acoustic, I decided to play the majority of my set with Simon’s Fender Telecaster. I opened with Dave Deporis’ “I C U Thru Lightning,” a song I tend to play

whenever I don’t feel like playing at all. It usually diffuses all tension; this night was no exception. I followed it with a number of songs I hadn’t yet played on this tour. The last date I played with Jack, Simon and Raphi was at a place called Bunker’s Hill in Nottingham. It was on the second floor of a two-story restaurant/venue. The promoter had some difficulty securing a PA, so things started late. I played a short solo set that, because of the muddied sound of the PA, didn’t go over terribly well with the hundred or-so people there. The Cutoffs fared better, starting with our loudest numbers and ending with a few unamplified songs in the middle of the room. We closed with our only performance of Jack’s “Another Girl.” It was a nice way to end the show. Unfortunately, as we were settling up, there was some dispute over money and we left discouraged and not very well compensated. The Cutoffs were booked for a final show at the Birdcage in Norwich. Exhausted, I opted out of the show and went back to Greenwich to sleep at Chris and Emily’s loft. Next morning, I took a commuter train to the Tube, got my fourth rabies vaccination shot, took the Tube back to the train station, boarded another train to Heathrow and eventually made it onto my New York-bound Virgin-Atlantic flight. I fell asleep almost as soon as I sat down. A week later, I agreed to play a twosong set at a show curated by Yoko Kikuchi, in celebration of Cake Shop’s newly approved liquor license. I was totally burnt out from tour and had no desire to play any of my own compositions. I considered avoiding music altogether and reading a few poems from What Was Magnetic, but ended up borrowing a guitar and playing “I C U Thru Lightning” and a venomous version of Turner Cody’s “Suzannah.” It was my last performance of 2006 and an unfortunate way to end an otherwise extraordinary year. After the show, I realized I needed a break and – more than anything else –needed to finish my first record, Epigram on the Death of a Feeling. Touring the world had been a revelation but it was only part of the puzzle. As I

traveled around, it became clear that to continue doing what I enjoyed doing most – playing shows – I needed to create something tangible, a document of my songs. It would be my primary goal for 2007. Over a year has passed since I stood in front of that Woody Guthrie statue in Okemah, Oklahoma and promised myself that I’d tour more. I kept that promise and intend to keep a promise I’ve since made: Complete Epigram. When it’s done, I can get back on the road and resume traveling from town to town, country to country, sharing my songs and helping friends share theirs. What else can I do? Now that I’ve spied it, I’ll always be after that electric moon. myspace.com/chrismaher

“It Will All Come Back to Me Tomorrow”
drinking with a fermata and ivan sandomire
Dan Costello
Sometimes Michael David Campbell writes about cockroaches and sometimes Ivan Sandomire sings about butterflies. They are both wonderful guitar players and have great falsettos. They both record their songs in their apartments, on their computers. I’ve drank my share of whiskey with both of them. Time to combine our music with our penchant for Jameson, and now we will have a social and musical night at my house for Urban Folk with a bottle of Irish Whiskey. Which we’ll finish. No problem. Ivan’s late and Mike’s hungry. So am I. I made a chicken pot pie that day because it’s something that I can easily make a lot of, to get me through most of the week. Mike and I dig in while we wait for Ivan to get there. The only sure thing about tonight is we’re drinking a bottle of whiskey. Somewhere along the way we’ll discuss Mike and Ivan’s music. There’s something similar about these two, what is it? Ivan arrives with cigarettes. Michael brought cigarettes too. Good, we’ll need them. Ivan sits down, not hungry yet. We crack the bottle and pour. Neat. A Fermata usually includes two or three people, but sometimes Mike plays solo under that name. Musically speaking, A Fermata conjures the best parts each of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, with some Ziggy Stardust balladeering sprinkled on top. Mike spent time in Boston going to Berklee and running a homeless shelter. He moved to New York after childhood friend Andrew Hoepfner sang a song called “The Birds Are Whistlin’” to him over the phone. A little while later, he bought a drum kit to play in Creaky Boards. As balladeering as Mikey can be, he isn’t afraid to let it rip. I remember an A Fermata show at Sidewalk where one minute, Mike sweetly harmonizes “lift up our heart” with Elizabeth Devlin in the number ”From Mountain High,” and then in the next song, he is doing a dance break, complete with umbrella, and sings about someone who “leaps from his body and becomes the sky.” And then Tyson Sleete comes up, sings and plays guitar on one of their original A Fermata songs while Mike beats the shit outta the drums (really, really loud, really, really well). His best recording is “Rain of Peace.” It’s got so much John-Lennon-the-world-can-be-beautiful optimism in it! Mike once said something about “This moment is more beautiful than you or I or all of us will ever be.” He was drunk, and he was shouting to a punk passerby who didn’t stop to think about what he was saying, but I did. Ivan’s been back from San Francisco almost a year now. He used to have a band called Echolalia, and his new band is Ivan and the Terribles. He has this soft tenor, and his theater training is apparent - his singing is smooth and consistent. It works really well with acoustic instruments and synth strings, as shown on “Bury It” on Ivan’s new album, If You Say So (Crafty Records). Towards the end he does this pseudo-arabic vocal thing over a pedal tone. It’s showy in deserving ways, how he puts together these gorgeous tones. It seems like he actually finds where they live inside him and pours them out. A lot of artists I know aren’t that generous. Like with Shilpa Ray or Ben Godwin, when Ivan plays I sometimes think, “I can’t believe that sound is really being created right there. It sounds too big for one person!” One time this girl at Sidewalk had her head in her hands, staring dreamily at Ivan. She waited on his next word, then his next note, like her body used his songs for fuel. Then she looked pleadingly to her female companions as if to say, “could this get any more (pause) amazing?” A shy but emphatic talker, Ivan is also tremendously modest. It’s as if he doesn’t like attention or something. Brook Pridemore once told me a story about punk kids he met on tour, kids who aren’t usually driven to something as warm and personal as Ivan’s music. They listened intently to a show in someone’s living room, and were noticeably complimentary to him afterwards.

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And once Eric Wolfson leaned over to me and whispered, “Y’know, I think Mikey is the most amazing musical mind I know.” And here I am with Ivan and Michael and a bottle of whiskey, chatting up the most inconsequential philosophical debate. A confusing dribble of insight, and every time we pause to think, we sip. Before what seems like about an hour goes by, we realize how fast we’re drinking. Little Richard’s on the stereo. We decide to play some of our songs. Mike and I play two songs, “From Mountain High” and “The Censored Song” and Ivan and I play a song together that I always forget the name of. I play “On A Plane.” We smoke the occasional cigarette, jam a bit, finish the bottle. Ivan mentions the open mic at Bar Matchless is going on tonight. Yes sirree, let’s get some air and a change of venue. It’s a beautiful night for walking, and I can’t tell you what we’re talking about, but it’s certainly interesting and I’m certainly drunk. I didn’t feel great when we left the house, but after the twenty minute walk to Matchless, I’m feeling like I have a new lease on the night. How is Matchless? It’s (pause) amazing. (I don’t like it when people run the word ‘amazing’ into the ground. Like it’s the default word for something that you don’t wanna work too hard to aptly praise. It was, uuhh, amazing. It even STARTS with “umm”, it should be spelled Ummmazing. I wonder if anyone else feels like

answer d) all of the above…which obviously excludes the following clients: whisper doll, frank hoier, the undisputed heavyweights, matt singer, robin aigner, toby goodshank, double deuce, langhorne slim, the babyskins, grey revell, beau johnson, ben godwin, jamie rae, the kin, case shea, amy hills, jon berger, the voyces, jack lewis, citizen cope, ben kweller ,casey holford, david l.k. murphy, mike tyler, schwervon!, scotts roger, dream bitches, miki huber, chris maher, joie dead blonde girlfriend, jeff lewis, dibs, phoebe kreutz, dan fishback, lou rose, jenn lindsay, kansas state flower, urban barnyard, elastic no-no band, the bloodsugars, akron/family, dan costello, lowry, skrit steak and the english mufkins, dawn landes, dan torres, the bowmans, timothy dark, jessie murphy.

this but me. I would call Mike and Ivan’s music amazing, but that would be so wrong, man. Really, like I was too lazy to write about them in appropriate detail. Man, who is gonna write this article? I don’t remember a goddam thing that happened.) Matchless is all right, I love the bar and Tanya and the Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Like most every open mic there are great, average and poor performers. Mike comments on how good Austin Donahue’s voice is (Or did Ivan say that? God, I can’t remember). We sing, trying not to give mind to whether we’re great or poor that night. Toward the end of our time together we get very concerned that we not forget the essential things we each said. And I remember that we still need to talk about harmonies, because both Mike and Ivan write tight harmonies and I think harmonies are important. Mikey is particularly emphatic that we all remember a Peter Nevins quote about harmonies as a metaphor for the world. (I have since forgotten the quote. Mike retells it, ‘Harmonies are selfless and cooperative. Countries could perform that way.’) We never say goodbyes, I think some of us come back to my house to get stoned, and the next day I don’t think any of us had an easy morning. And then it took a couple days to get back up to speed. We all remember that. And Ivan remembers snow, too. Mike Campbell myspace.com/thosekidsmusic Ivan Sandomire myspace.com/ivansandomire

Public Records
giving it all away
Paul Alexander
Tom Drake’s story is a familiar one. Uprooting himself page for the label. But with stuff like the Creek and the from his Detroit home, he moved to New York City a year Cave comp out, word will get out.” Certain that Public and a half ago, and quickly immersed himself in the city’s Records is doing important work, Maguire will release urban folk scene, honing his craft and expanding expo- his next album independently, but will once again ask Drake to distribute it. sure. Initially playing the Sidewalk As Tom Drake puts it, “Parts Café’s AntiHoot in the hopes of land[of the record company], like ing a gig at the club – a hope since having music available for free, fulfilled – Tom made great use of his are new, but the idea for Public time with the artists who flock to Records has been around for the many open mics across the city, six to seven years.” From the establishing the grassroots artiststart, Tom was looking for a centered label, Public Records. creative way to market music, Why would an aspiring artist start and thought that in addition to a record company? The answer may establishing a record company, seem obvious, but as Drake beoffering audiences a place to came more entrenched in the comdownload music for free was the munity, he “really just wanted to be best way to get music out withinvolved in music, more than makout bankrupting himself. Aware ing it myself – just to be involved in other people’s music. To put out Public Records ’ founder, CEO, engineer, graphic that typical publicity is so exstuff I believe in when I get frustrated designer, talent scout and producer Tom Drake pensive, Tom’s idea of giving product away is aimed at buildwith other shit I see.” In Detroit, Drake, a teacher, had trouble figuring out a ing a community in the hopes of increasing audience financial way to put out an album. However, Tom insists that really cares about the music. “Recording with that with new CD burning capabilities and other tech- Octavio, one of the early songs we recorded, “Charlotte nologies, the concept of creating an album has become Klein,” was included on the Lonesome Call of the Whprwhil a much more obtainable aspiration. Before arriving in New comp.” Yet another example of the community building York City, Tom had established Public Records, but had and collective sharing Public Records encourages. Undeniably low-fidelity, the worldwide offices of Public not generated any product. That changed last September when Mr. Drake released his own solo CD, Love Un- Records are his 300 square foot Manhattan apartment. wound. More recently, he produced the open mic compi- Armed with ProTools LE, guitars, an Audio Research lation Crowin’ at the Creek and the Cave, featuring local Technology Tube preamp/compressor, a drum machine, artists like Ben Patton, Jason Merriman, Greg Smith, a small collection of mics, and a Hammond Chord Organ Agro Disco, and many others. Soon, Public Records is Tom found at a flee market for $25, Drake has been able scheduled to make available Octavio Lafuentes’ new disc to capture captivating performances from the artists he this summer, and will tentatively record and release an has worked with. Crediting his always increasing underalbum from the exciting new artist Best Blanket. Tho- standing of limited resources and the persistent patience mas Patrick Maguire has allowed Public Records to dis- of his wife, Tom Drake has produced high quality albums tribute his last two albums, Pissing Streams and – great records of exciting artists in their prime. Woodside Lanes, making them available for free downDrake is always interested in working with new artists load online. According to Mr. Maguire, “Public Records is taking to expand Public Records’ catalogue. “When I see people baby steps right now, but it’s exciting to see where it’s I believe in, I want to be involved. Who I work with is a going with Tom Drake’s CD out right now and Octavio’s combination – I’ve never really worked with someone who highly anticipated CD its future. More people should know wasn’t a friend, but I also like to work with artists who about the label, but because of Drake’s modesty it doesn’t just something about them strikes you. The artists I have get enough attention. He doesn’t even have a myspace worked with most recently are very different. Thomas

THE PUBLIC RECORDS TRINITY: Octavio Lafuentes, Best Blanket & Thomas Patrick Maguire

Patrick Maguire is proletariat pop, while Octavio has some of the most natural pop phrasing – he just comes up with something off-the-cuff and it catches you. A lot of stuff just comes, like meeting Steve – Best Blanket – at the Crowin’ at the Creek open mic. I asked him to come over and record, and he asked about the label. I am interested in putting something out for him, but won’t even start recording ‘til at least May. I would love to buy a few hard-drives and do more work, but I don’t have time for more work right now.” As a true entrepreneur and Public Records sole engineer, graphic designer, talent scout, artist rep, marketing mogul, founder, CEO, first signee and producer, Tom Drake’s job can be exhausting. Nonetheless, working directly with artists, Tom remains honest, helpful, yet hands off, encouraging artists to compose and create compositions that come across as they see themselves. “In mixing and recording I will give my real opinion, but I won’t tell someone who or what they should be. Unless it’s Berger and ‘Preteen Girls.’ I edited that a bit on a podcast. Octavio just came over to get some better ‘home recordings,’ and I helped him decide if songs were good or finished, but I let him put his own foot forward about what he wanted to say. With the Crowin’ at the Creek and the Cave album, I just took what I thought was best from each artist I recorded for the podcasts. I started with thirty tracks and then cut them to nineteen, with only Zach James making the album twice.” Acutely aware that sometimes putting together a compilation album on a close knit scene can become overtly political, Drake made sure to carefully select the tracks which made the final cut. “There were definitely people I wanted to include, but there were also people I knew attended the open mic a lot, so I added them. Debe Dalton, although often at the open mic, never made a podcast, so I recorded her to make sure she made it on.” Public Records was explicitly set-up under a non-commercial creative commons license, which means, Drake explains, “anyone is welcome to go download songs, trade them, and burn them, and will never be breaking any laws. At the same time, no one who passes on the music can ever make money off it.” In other words, many

people already openly share their favorite music, but Public Records does it right, with the idea that music is meant to be shared. Keeping costs low allows this progressive sharing to continue. As might be expected from a record company which prides itself on giving away its product, sales at Public Records have been minimal. Drake and his artists have not yet made much money, but “everyone involved has defiantly had more people show up to shows.” With the Creek and the Cave now stocking the comp recorded within its walls, Tom may finally turn a small profit, but for now, public praise is the only payment Tom receives. Though, as a songwriter, Tom Drake often gains more than recordings from the artists he works with. “I don’t think there’s a way to work with others and not have their work affect you. Specifically, with Octavio, watching him use a lot of samples and drum machines reminds me of a lot of the stuff I used to be interested in but fell away from – so he helped me reconnect with influences while influencing me. My work with Public Records probably has taken away from my own work. I’ve been meaning to record myself for the last four months and I haven’t, but I’ve learned a lot, and it’s fun. Working on Public Records may pull away time from songwriting, but it allows me other creative outlets as well, such as the graphic design I did for Crowin’ at the Creek and the Cave or working at mixing tracks, all of which helps keep songwriting from getting monotonous or repetitive.” With its CEO and sole employee moving to Rhode Island at the end of the summer, the future of Public Records in NYC may seem uncertain. Nonetheless, Drake insists his little label will carry on. “At this point it’s still a hobby, but being only three hours away, I am sure I’ll be back. With friends still here, I’ll keep up with what’s going on, and hopefully have people up to Rhode Island where I hope to have a full live drum kit, and a separate room for tracking songs.” Public Records was built to bring new music to the world, and Tom Drake is anxious to work with “everybody – most of the people I see around town. Plus, people I daydream about working with, Jim O’Rourke, Jeff Tweedy, Juana Molina, and thousands of others, but really just people who care about what they’re doing and want to do something interesting or different, and aren’t full of themselves or full of shit. I guess really, that’s more important than the big names.” www.publicrecordsaudio.com

20 Questions (or so)
with web designer jeff schram
Matt Diff
Jeff Schram has been designing websites in the New York City area for over 10 years. His clients include musicians such as Casey Shea, The Bowmans, The Undisputed Heavyweights, Wakey!Wakey!, and many more. He knows everything you need to know about getting started online. “How much?” How much money and how much Most designers will charge around $200-$400 to set up a myspace account with advanced features that an avertime will it take to build a website? It all depends. I’ve worked on projects that have taken as age computer user might not be able to install. It’s a much as four months and cost $4,000, and I’ve worked small price to pay for the benefits they could bring. If a on projects that have been done in one day and cost musician is able to afford a website, I would always rec$200. Cost and time really depend on what the client is ommend going that route. What can a website do that myspace can’t? looking for. An average site for a musician With myspace you’re pretty conwill cost around $1500 and can usually be stricted as far as creativity goes. A competed in four to six weeks. website allows complete freedom in Is there a standard rate that web-dedesign and function and gives you the signers charge or is every designer ability to create a visual expression different? that relates directly to your music. I The average rate is about $50 per hour. also think fans appreciate a website Some designers will charge more, some more than a myspace page. It gives will charge less, but you’ll find that you an artist credibility and is a much more get what you pay for. Good designers are professional way of presenting your more expensive for a reason. music to the online world. After discussing the project with a client, Most musician’s websites will include a good designer will be able to give a firm a page for: News, Biography, Media estimate on the amount of time and the amount of money the site will take to complete. The cli- (which can include your Music, Movies, Photos etc…) ent should expect the designer to be able to finish the Press, Tour, Links, Store, Blog, and Contact Information. project in a timely manner without any extra charges. It’s also pretty standard to have a music player or a “jukebox” as well as YouTube videos and an area for email Get it in writing in order to keep the designer on task. Why should I even bother paying for a website when sign-ups. There are some more advanced features that aren’t quite I can have a myspace page for free? A professional website gives you and your music the cred- as common. One example is a podcast. Sending out ibility that myspace can’t. Myspace is great if you’re just weekly episodes (either audio or video) is an effective starting out or if you can’t afford anything else. The way of staying fresh in your audience’s minds. myspace format greatly limits the artistic freedom that a I’m ready to have a website built. What if I have no ideas as far as design and functions are concerned? website can provide. Because myspace is free and easy to use everyone has A designer should be able to create a site that captures an account. There are thousands of bands out there and the music, message and vibe of the artist after spending if you’re looking to separate yourself from the crowd you some time with them. I’ve had clients that have come to me with nothing, and after spending some time talking need to have more than just a myspace account. What if I am just starting out and all I can afford is a with them and listening to their music we’ve been able to myspace page? How could I make something as create a design that fit them perfectly. I always encourage clients to look at other musician’s websites for inbasic as myspace stand out? There’s a lot you can do to customize a myspace page spiration. Usually by exploring other websites you can starting with the basics like background colors, font col- get a good idea of how you’d like your own to look. That ors, etc. You can add expanded music players, slide being said, don’t feel as though you should have everyshows, videos, links to your merchandise, custom art- thing set in stone before approaching a designer. A good work and more advanced features like email sign-ups designer will help you come up with a functional, creative website to help you get your music out there. and on-screen comment boxes.

What if I have great ideas, how can I communicate them and get the best results? I’d suggest making a sketch of your concepts for the designer to check out. Visual aids will help communicate your ideas to the designer and allow them a chance to give you feedback right from the start. It’s a good idea to make an outline of what you have in mind. Map out what you’d like your site to do, what kind of pages (biography, tour calendar...) you want and what those pages will contain. It’s also very helpful to give the designer examples of other sites you like. Even magazine clippings, images or album covers will help communicate your visual taste to the designer. What will I (the client) need to provide? In order to make a good website you need quality building blocks. A good bio, professional photos, quality mp3s, videos if you have them, press clippings and anything else you’d want displayed on your site. The more a designer has to work with the better the site will be. What about the back-end of it (updating pictures, shows, links)? Should I expect my designer to maintain the site for free? Some designers will charge their hourly fee to update a website. I think this is bogus. I prefer to create a password-protected admin which enables the user to control the “back-end” of their website. This will allow them to update items such as their bio, news, show dates, pho-

tos, mp3s, movies… whenever they choose to. It’s an artist-friendly way of keeping the site fresh and up-todate without the added expense of having a designer do it for you. Should I expect to pay any money up front? It’s standard to pay half up front and half upon completion, although this can vary from designer to designer. I wouldn’t recommend paying for the entire site up front. If you have any issues with the payment procedure it’s best to discuss them before the designing begins. A good designer will give his clients a fair estimate at the onset of the project and be able to complete the work in a timely manner without any additional charges. Where should I look for a web designer? I’d always suggest going with a designer that has worked for people you know. Choose one that has a good reputation and will be able to get the job done on budget and on time. Ask to see examples of their work and talk to people who’ve they’ve worked for. The best advice I can give is to find a designer that you’ll enjoy working with. A website is an investment in your art. It’s a great way of getting your music out there and can be a huge advantage in separating yourself from the rest of the crowd. Find someone who is as excited about your site as you are and is willing to go the extra mile in order to make sure it comes off looking great. schramdesign.com

Billy Syndrome
unsupervised existence
August, 2005. Billy Syndrome cajoled me into escaping Florida for a couple of weeks. I got to see the founder of Slutfish Records play at Bar Matchless with his hardcore-psychedelic rock band Brian Wilson Shock Treatment, and then at Otto’s Shrunken Head to see his other band, JFK Jr. Royal Airforce, play swirling spacerock as his longtime partner-in-crime Evil Jim smashed a computer keyboard. Along the way we talked for what seemed like hours, and his performance as the Shock Treatment’s frontman made a strong case in favor of his winning the title role in “The Sky Saxon Story” should Hollywood ever decide to produce it. Of course, nothing seemed amiss at the time. But the following week, just after my return to Florida, Billy Syndrome’s world suddenly turned upside-down. He tells it best, though he tells it in the third person: “On August 24, 2005, Billy Syndrome woke up early to catch the morning waves at Rockaway Beach. Returned home around noon, drank some beers and listened to his 45 record collection. He suffered a surprise brain aneurysm/hemorrhage while staring for hours at a frozen orange juice can marked ‘concentrate.’ He fell down, hit his head and lasped into a coma. He was found unconscious on the floor of his apartment by Evil Jim Friendly, who called 911 after the Yankee game ended, and awoke two weeks later in Bellevue hospital paralyzed on his left side. His long affliction of the rock’n’roll disease caused him to immediately start writing his next album. Turns out the brain hemorrhage was the easy part.” Syndrome’s creative and philosophical vision, which crosses the boundaries of AntiFolk to embrace his own unique hybrid of the best aspects of both sixties acid and seventies punk cultures, has inspired all who have been witness to it. Perhaps now it is even more inspiring to see him retain this vision in light of what’s happened to him. Syndrome will tell you himself that this vision is now even harder-won than ever. He has been cruelly forced by circumstances beyond his control to give up the “unsupervised existence” he has championed throughout (he loves you but) his career, and he’s fighting hard to get it back. Most of his recovery thus far has been spent inside Park Terrace Care Center in Flushing, just across from Shea Stadium. It is here, he says, that he learned a dark secret. “Don’t vote for Rudolph Giuliani in 2008! If you remember, he’s the cowboy who cleaned up NYC. He blamed everything on homeless people and targeted the mentally ill. People who have since disappeared. Well, I

Ray Brazen
found out where they went. They were transferred to fake mental hospitals where they can only get out if adopted by the people who abandoned them in the first place – family, wives, parents. So I’m stuck in a brain trauma unit full of goons who don’t know if they’re coming or going. I want a second opinion. I’M NOT BRAIN DAMAGED. I remember everything! Our crazy government spends two trillion a year on a stupid war for gasoline and without me having any insurance, $8,000 a week to keep me locked up in a rehabilitation nursing home.” The cruel irony of Syndrome’s incarceration inside what he calls “The Park Terrace Don’t Care Center” is that he was taken from a world which would sneer at him for not being normal and thrown into a world in which he’s frowned upon for being perhaps the most normal one there. “It seems if I agree to be a mental patient they’ll let me out of here but my priorities are too high. I want to be a rock star and they don’t want that. They want me to have ‘assisted living.’ I want unsupervised existence. I’m supposed to play obscure punk rock records to a nurse all day? You don’t miss your freedom until it’s gone. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea to force you indoors for a period of adjustment so you don’t hurt yourself and relearn to look both ways before you cross the road. (But) it’s a cripple finishing school and when I’m finished they’ll let me out. Maybe. There are people who have been here for eight years or more. I need therapy but I also need a beer! They’re just wasting my life. I’ve got more things to do. This is endless summer school! I want out now!” Billy Syndrome was AntiFolk long before you were, and has taken its very definition to extremes you never will. He was there at the beginning of the Fort and subsequently appeared on both of 109 Records’ AntiFolk compilations (reviewed in issue #9 of this very zine) in the late eighties; 109 also issued his own vinyl debut Vicious Burger around that time, filled with many of his early hits like “(I Love You But) My Career,” “Kill For Jesus” and “Since You Sold your Body To Science.” In 1993, shortly after moving from Fort Greene to pre-yuppiefied Williamsburg, Syndrome put himself on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and put every spare cent he had into the creation of Slutfish Worldwide Recordings. He’s produced an impressively large catalog of releases since then, many of them credited to his full band as The Billy Syndrome, with the occasional disc by friends peppering the roster. He’s had a ball over the years releasing anything he damn well pleases on his own dime, from early home recordings of his and Evil Jim’s pre-AntiFolk

band Porcelain God to discs of his own sound collages, and says he’s not going to let partial paralysis stop him from making new records. “I’m busy recording a series of ‘environmental’ albums for Slutfish. More prank cassette recordings of the nuts in my nuthouse so you will all be able to put on a CD and hear what a brain trauma unit sounds like. I’m taking it home and sharing it with everyone. With some luck it should be available for Christmas 2007. I’m writing notebooks full of songs. No writer’s block here. It’s like JOE’S IMAGINARY GUITAR SOLOS PLAYING IN MY HEAD. I’ve started to record some of them. My next album is called The Garden of Mental Illness about, guess what?” Allowed occasional supervised excursions back to the outside world since his aneurysm, Syndrome has managed the occasional live appearance, returning to the stage for the first time last summer with the Shock Treatment, and reuniting the Royal Airforce on New Year’s Eve. With his entire left side currently dysfunctional, making music has become a struggle, but he’s working hard to get back up to speed. “Peripheral nerve damage has left me a cripple. I can’t walk, I have no wrist action. I’ve finally figured out how I can still play space guitar; a combination of backwards chords and picking with my right hand and blind faith my nerves will grow back – and they are – and I will regain use of my left wrist. In the meantime I get by with a little help from my musician friends, the usual gang of idiots. Recuperation is gonna be hard and

a long time coming but maybe with luck I’ll be able to make a full comeback in five years or so.” Please keep Billy Syndrome in your hearts and minds in all you do. As his friend and fellow space rock comrade Vic Thrill says, “We need this man in our lives.” www.slutfishrecords.com A Poem By Billy Syndrome well some people have ears and other people are so so deaf if you don’t listen YOU CANT HEAR ANYTHING WHY do i continue to make music? because i guess i’m hearing things vinyl flying saucers rock’n’roll take THE BEATLES WHITE ALBUM. SOME PEOPLE HEAR revolution number nine and some people dont hear anything at all. they don’t understand it so they skip over it and only hear blackbird and mother nature’s son. maybe you weren’t meant to hear helter skelter. maybe they’re secret messages etched in wax for a secret audience like crop circles it wasn’t until Elvis and the Beatles that the industry started putting music on records anyway. before that anything was possible.

Waking Up with Mike Grubbs
“you couldn’t do better if you tried”
Tara McNally
There’s a faint, growing buzz throughout the lower east side about a tall, Williamsburg-skinny guy that can hush a room with a single note and plays with such fervidly that he breaks the bass strings of pianos. His name is Wakey!Wakey! and if you haven’t heard of him, you will very soon. A transplant from Richmond, VA, Wakey!Wakey! is the newest project from Mike Grubbs, who was raised by devout Christian parents and swaddled in music starting at a very early age. Growing up in a house that at one point had three baby grand pianos, his family sang at weekly church services, sirened hymns before breakfast each morning and, while driving to Florida on family vacations, would look at the license plate numbers of passing cars and sing those notes on the scale. “We learned how to speak music as a language,” says Grubbs. A language that he speaks fluently with pure, raw emotion. Growing up, Mike was fed a strict diet of Classical and Christian genres, but that all changed when his best friend Gabe snuck him a copy of 3rd Bass’ The Cactus Album. “I remember putting it into my tape player, riding on the way to middle school with my mom and having the volume all the way down so she couldn’t tell what I was listening to,” laughs Mike. When Gabe got his hands on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, another covert operation ensued. Mike went to his friend’s house under the guise of a church gathering, then immediately ran upstairs, hid under his friend’s bed and listened to the King of Pop. “I remember thinking, what is this music, it’s not like anything else.” At the age of six, Mike experimented with varying sounds on the piano trying to infuse feelings into the children’s songs he was learning at the time. “I never stopped to consider if I enjoyed it,” explains Mike. “It was my solace.” Solace from his parent’s failed attempts at enlisting him into playing sports and from the traditional educational path we all walk upon. “I was never really good at school, so my reward for doing homework was that I could play the piano for two hours.” What child thinks of music practice as a reward? With degrees in music and theater, he moved to New York in the late 90s and worked as an actor. Due to his strong vocal skills, Mike was quickly pigeonholed into doing musicals – a far stretch from the serious, honest art he wanted to pursue. So he quit acting and started his first project, a southern rock jam band called Satellite Kids. Although the Kids experienced moderate success in the local music scene, the band broke up and Mike stopped playing. Six months later, a friend physically pushed him on stage at an open mic and put a guitar in his hand - an instrument he learned when he was a high school senior giving birth to his next evolution, Dirty Virginia. A traditional, singer/songwriter gig, Dirty Virginia was a departure from Satellite Kids: a solo project with a different genre played only on guitar instead of piano. Mike’s projects tend to be birthed from the negative experiences of the last one. “I look at it and think what didn’t I like about it and try to avoid it.” Although Dirty Virginia had released an EP, the solo effort was not working out as hoped and Mike was experiencing a lot of turbulent shifts in his life. He had lost his job, ended a relationship and moved from Queens to the Lower East Side in the same time frame. “With all these new changes, I couldn’t bring Dirty Virginia.” It wasn’t him anymore and he was ready to move on. “I always wanted to be a political writer,” says Mike. Eventually his political perspectives found their way into his lyrical content in his song “War Sweater.”

Three questions for Wakey!Wakey! Favorite venue in New York City? I love playing Rockwood Music Hall. They care so much about their instrument and they keep it in such good shape. Ken is a great owner and he also takes really good care of the artists who play there. I also play at Sidewalk because it’s a communal place. It’s like our house. I love playing at Bar 4. There’s always a huge audience and they are really supportive. What band should people know, but don’t? The Fools. To me those guys are like Prozac. When I go to a Fools show, it’s like a wave comes over me and I can suddenly breath out and everything is okay. I absolutely love those guys. I tell them & I don’t think they believe me. Having self-professed falling in love 20 times a day, what is the best make-out song ever? It depends on the girl… it really does…okay, anything by Jimi Hendrix, Ray LaMontagne or Beat the Devil – they are so naughty.

“I wrote this one love song and then realized I (subconsciously) wrote the whole song about the government…when Bush was reelected,” explains Mike. “So I thought I should write all my songs and disguise them.” This is the inspirational impetus behind the name Wakey!Wakey!, as in, wake up to what’s happening around you. Twice. It’s been almost a year since Wakey!Wakey! made his debut to a packed room at Rockwood Music Hall, following two locally-established musicians who were also debuting new sets: Amy Hills was to play with her new band and Paula Valstein would present an exciting, neverbefore seen experience. Wakey!Wakey!, promising a full string section and all-new songs, fit in quite nicely. In general, the hype was a bit exaggerated. Paula Valstein’s new set culminated with her not stopping between songs and Amy Hills did introduce a full band, but only playing for one song. Regardless, the hype still shook Mike. Leading up to the show, he spent two sleepless days writing new material accompanied by strings arrangements, but due to a printing mishap at Kinko’s, he had no charts for the players. Mike rolled into Rockwood solo that evening, right as Hills was playing her final song (the one with the band in tow), a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” “She was jumping on the stage and the audience was waving their hands in the air and freaking out. I was like, ‘I am going to crash and burn. I have these quiet, little piano songs.” However, when Mike began his set the whole 20 feet of the bar fell silent. “It was amazing to feel that appreciated,” he said. From the reaction he got, he knew he was on to something. Recently Mike went to hear a guru speak who stressed the importance of having a mentor; someone who’s traversed a greater distance down a desired path. “I looked around at everyone in the scene and I always saw Wes as someone who was definitely one step further then I was,” says Grubbs. Wes Verhoeve, co-founder of Liberated Matter and guitarist for the Undisputed Heavyweights, met with Mike, discussing career objectives. On the fourth meeting,

Wes asked if he’d be interested in being a part of Family Records, Liberated Matter’s label division. As a result of this new partnership, Wakey!Wakey! will be releasing his first EP in May, a limited edition, live recording supported by a full band as well as the oftpromised 4-piece string section. Partial proceeds of the EP’s sales will support the American Diabetes Association, an organization that focuses on educating and finding a cure for a diabetes, a disease that took the life of Mike’s dad. Mike looks at these as the best days of his life and, while he has no regrets from the choices he’s made to follow this path, he considers, “what if I found out that I had cancer and I realized that I spent my whole life working towards this thing that never went anywhere. It’s so hard to keep moving forward at this stage, but then again this is the exciting part.” http://www.wakeywakeymusic.com/

…it seems so long at times…
If you took a car down the M1 motorway from Manchester you could get to the capital in less than three hours. But as a musician, a performer, I have found that England’s capital can be as elusive as Atlantis. I visited the grand metropolis that is London as a child of no more than ten – or, then again, did I? The memory seems so distant there is a good chance it didn’t happen. Now, there are people who play gigs in London. Whilst studying music at Salford University in Greater Manchester, I would listen, mouth agape, to guys who told tales of playing gigs in London, laying claim to visions of a promised land. But London seems to be the one place the World Wide Web will not reach. Endless emails go unanswered. You send out a demo CD, a letter, anything via mail and it gets posted off the edge of the world. You can’t just go to London; you have to wait for an invite. That’s the only way it can possibly work. I have been playing my solo acoustic blues/folk songs around the north of England for just a few months now, with great success and some praise from both sides of the Atlantic. I spend part of my day doing a dead-end job to make ends meet, wasting the rest of it playing guitar, arranging gigs, contacting people about shows and then playing out. You see, I love the gigs. I love the smell of them, the buzz of the room you’re about to perform in whether there are two people or 200. For me, the gig is the final outcome, after all the practice, the turmoil and joy of writing new material, it’s the chance to express yourself, the chance to hear people enjoying your songs. I have been trying, since starting out solo, to arrange some gigs in the big city, all with limited success. When I was playing in bands around Manchester and Liverpool, I was not interested in London: too big, too smoky, and too… big! Now, there is a big acoustic vibe going off in the UK, and I want to be a part of it. London is what I’ve been aiming for. London is the big game. London finally came calling in October, offering me a November gig in London at the highly acclaimed night called Electroacoustic Club, situated in the peculiarly named venue The Slaughtered Lamb. My research told me this night draws in all the top names on the UK acoustic circuit… I’m not saying I’m one of them, but it meant I had the chance to share a bill with one of them so it was time to start shitting bricks. And practicing. The Blue Cat Café in Stockport, Greater Manchester is a very versatile venue with no particular preference to what music is played. It’s dark everywhere but the stage, the owner is a guy who knows his stuff but is still waiting for the next Happy Mondays or The Smiths to walk in. I’m not it. Cold and wet, I turned up only to be told the

The Road to London
Gareth Gregory
headliner, US band Baby Strange, wasn’t coming. The place was empty apart from a guy called Joshua who once bought one of my CDs. I went on at 9.45pm and, it was looking bleak. Half way through, though, an appreciative crowd arrived, clapping. I took five and a cig, and then put on my trilby to play what I came to play. The reception was even warmer, after I played some lapslide. A few CD sales and appreciative handshakes later and I felt a whole lot better and kind of glad Baby Strange broke down in Nottinghamshire. Is that bad of me? There is a huge swing towards acoustic music in Manchester at the moment and from what I hear in London too, but I sometimes feel I would be closer to London if I were in New York. A few weeks later, and, after finely tuning a couple of new songs at many of Manchester’s acoustic open mics, I went to a very big gig in the city centre, supporting guitar virtuoso Mark Wilson at one of Manchester’s finest acoustic music nights: Acoustic Revolution. It is held weekly in a venue called Dry Bar. This bar upstairs plays drum ‘n bass, house, funk, anything but acoustic music. Downstairs has a very small yet cosy room which, in my opinion, offers the best sound in Manchester. It is in this small underground basement that around 100 people were delighted by Mark’s music. Wilson is an excellent musician, pushing the acoustic guitar to its limits – literally (he’s confessed that he occasionally snaps them in half with his percussive playing). Its impossible to describe, you would have to see it, but you would think he had six arms as he plays drum patterns, bass lines, lead guitar all at the same time. Mark was exceptional; the night was truly fantastic! Now don’t get me wrong, I would play to an empty room given the chance (and I have!), but this gig was electric. You could almost feel talent in the air. At times the applause was deafening. There were frenzies of people wanting to buy your CD when you got off stage. Not bad for a Tuesday night in a big city. Have you heard of Tony Wilson? He used to be the owner of the 1980s label Factory Records that signed The Happy Mondays and allegedly started the ‘Madchester’ scene in the 90s. Since then Wilson has been exploring various avenues of the music industry to do with the potential of Music, Information Technology, downloads, security and protection and also MP4 technology. Back in the late 90s he organised In the City, a chance for musicians, bands, managers and DJs to play gigs around the city. The main draw of the event is that all the A&R and big shots from record labels from all around the UK come to the event to hold Q&A sessions

with bands, host master classes for managers, and find the next big thing on the circuit. This year’s top features were a band called the Jackpot and Karima Francis. Francis came to Manchester as a drummer but looks to be leaving as the next up-and-coming singing sensation in the UK. Karima and I have shared a few bills around Manchester over the months, but in that time, she has escalated in talent and acclaim and is now receiving a lot of interest from major recording labels in the UK. Now the amazing thing about the festival this year was the amount of acoustic artists, acoustic stages and events (Electroacoustic club hired a theatre for the full festival for acoustic acts). It was an indication in itself of how huge the whole scene has become here in the UK. I was playing in the centre of Manchester with an electronica band called Shmoo. The night was fantastic though I don’t know what the electronica fans thought of a fingerstyle blues/slide player opening up the night but I still got some email addresses and gave out a few CDs. The In the City festival usually runs from a Friday to a Monday in October, I certainly recommend any artists looking into playing there in the future.

chairs were perfect for some lap sliding (first place I’ve ever played with appropriate seats for lapslide). Starting off the night at 8pm was Scott Pickey who had a really nice sound and made good use of a loop unit to build up some very well worked songs which had shades of Smashing Pumpkins. A lot of people were still upstairs whilst he was playing, but the small, appreciative audience gave him photo by David Logan rightly deserved applause. A good way to start the night. Second act on was a gentleman called Steve Smith. Steve started of with a lovely little number which used some really nice soft guitar work and cracking harmonica playing. All topped of with some very well delivered lyrics, a meter which was very Jack Johnson but also very Steve Smith too. With some small tuning breaks and inThree days later, and it was time for me to make my terchanges with the crowd, Steve had the ever way down the M1 motorway to Hertfordshire to a place increasing audiences’ attention throughout, and delivered called Royal Leamington Spa (says it all, doesn’t it?) to a sterling set. The third act, acoustic duo Creatures of play at a venue called the Copper Pot. Habit, seemed to know their audience well. The crowd Three hours, two toilet breaks and a cigarette later, I had grown substantially and were loving the boy-girl hararrived. The town was quaint with a lovely village square monies and well-worked soft pop tunes. and a tower clock and truly earned the title of Royal though The fourth act on was myself. I’m not going to bang on I was disappointed to find that the Copper Pot was inabout me, but I did enjoy the vibe when I was playing. deed a very loud and rowdy public house (pub). I couldn’t The audience was attentive and interactive. The sound hear anything and probably could have played the guitar on stage was good and the sound guy never went misswith my elbows and no one would have battered an eyeing, all making for a great place to gig. You did feel that lid. I learnt a lesson about accepting gigs off the internet everyone was there to watch and listen. That was great. and I suppose if I was to take any positive from the night, The final act and top of the bill was a Josh Geffen. He is it was that at least the pub had thought at some point really a very talented fella. Had real control over the dy“Let’s put on an acoustic night; everyone is doing it!” I namics within his songs and he had the perfect crowd for guess it was just a shame nobody told the punters. it too. At times, he played at a whisper. Accompanied The Leamington gig left me anxious, unprepared for occasionally by cello player Anna King, Josh stole the the big game. November 8. London. Electroacoustic night and I was glad I was there to see it. Overall, London Club at the Slaughtered Lamb. I returned to few famil- was worth the wait and I look forward to returning. iar acoustic nights and jams to get the spirits raised beIf you get time, please look up every act and locale that fore making the 200 mile journey to London. I had a car, has been mentioned. Have a listen to what is happening a guitar and some company (my girlfriend and her brother). in the UK for yourself. I haven’t touched on any folk muI guess everyone wanted to see the guy topping the bill! sicians because I can honestly say that (depending on On arriving at the venue at 7.30pm I was horrified to how you determine it) I didn’t come across any folk on see it was a bar/pub kind of place and thought it was all my travels. All I can say is that, like the British folk mugoing to happen again and that all the nasty things I had sic of the past (Richard Thompson, Burt Janscht, Martin ever said about London were true. I walked in and was Stevenson), the influences within their music all differed greeted by the guy who was running the night. He hur- and so their songs differed. I think that British folk music ried me downstairs for a quick sound check and on en- has always struggled to find an identity because of its tering the room, all the bad thoughts went away. lack of classification and genre and so, maybe with the The room was illuminated by subtle table lights and rising popularity of acoustic nights in the UK and the made up of old, groovy mix match furniture. There were diversity of influences within each performer’s music that little nooks to sit in and a great performance area in the maybe this is the new UK folk music. corner – again, nicely lit. Plus, the old wooden school http://www.myspace.com/garethgregory

Lowry
always moving
Paul Alexander
Born and bred in a small town in Kansas, Alexander Lowry was raised “as far away from anywhere as you can get… a farm without farm animals.” After listening to his Awful Joy and meeting the warm, humble, and strikingly genuine songwriter, it seems to me that Lowry is from somewhere else altogether. After spending time with this enigmatic songsmith, I learned more about the man, why traveling is such an important part of who he is, his take on music, and the path to making meaningful connections with others. Alex Lowry: I started playing in bands in high school and so I took that down into college. The whole time I was there, I played in punk bands at night and woke up the next day hung over and went to school and football practice. I got a degree in Biology. For some reason I thought I was going to become a doctor or something. Ended up working in radio – still playing. I started the first version of Lowry in Kansas City. The first two records were very non-focused. I was drinking a lot, and all this trite shit. When we first started we were heavily influenced by Phish and Medeski, Martin, and Wood. So, I went through that jam band phase. Urban Folk: I still hear some of those more free-form influences in your music. AL: I decided “I either have to separate myself from the movement, or I’m going to be part of it.” That’s when I moved here in May of 2003. Originally I came to Williamsburg, but I moved from there with my girlfriend out to Hoboken. That’s the girl that I wrote “Taken Away My Good Feelings” about. That fell apart. Moved back into the East Village when I started dating Claire (Bowman). Then Claire and I, Eric Feigenbaum and Sarah, we all came out here and found this place. We all moved in, and we used it as a practice space. Then, the whole Claire and I thing blew up and the Bowmans started doing their own thing. The core of the band was always myself, “Crash” (Bryan Winkert), Shawn (Setaro), and Nicholas (Webber), who played but didn’t tour with us until our third tour. Then, we added Heidi Sidelinker, from North Carolina, to do some of the back-up singing. UF: Is she the one singing on the new thing you just put out, Lowry Live in Atlanta: Unplugged? AL: That’s still the Bowmans, and that element is still there with her singing, except the sound has become less classical and is more rock. She brings a little more attitude to it. Sarah is a classically trained musician, and you can hear that when she sang behind us, which I think was good for the sound, but at the same time, we almost sounded too upright. I think in the end, the one thing that took the Bowmans away from Lowry wasn’t so much that we don’t see eyeto-eye, because towards the end we were really starting to jive musically, but they had a career to go pursue, and at the same time I had this vision of what I was trying to translate that was kind of clashing with what they were bringing. It’s cool now, but there were tumultuous times there. I mean we did 10,000 miles together – all of us in the one van. It was a hell of a fucking journey. We learned so much, and we found out so much about the music industry in general and about how things really are. UF: What kind of stuff? AL: Well, I mean essentially, what you really find out, when you’re on the road you see everybody that’s actually touring. You see their tour posters. You watch the papers. You go to all the major markets; you see everybody that’s out and about and doing gigs. I mean I was out, I’ve been touring for two years, and not one single instance did I ever see Sufjan Stevens out touring anywhere. I never heard his name. I’ve been to all the major scenes and I didn’t see shit, and then suddenly overnight here comes this guy – out of nowhere. And I was like “OK, where did this guy come from?” UF: And now he’s on NPR and he’s on satellite radio. AL: Precisely. What happens is, what you see, you have somebody in a high-powered position who says “OK, we have a record we can sell,” and the trigger gets pulled. Then suddenly they’re everywhere, and they have a history that was either created or embellished. UF: Sure, it’s myth building. Someone said that to me somewhere along the line.

AL: We were going out there and we were playing to big crowds that had no prior knowledge, no one from the record community saying, “Hey, you’ve got to see these guys.” We didn’t have our poster on the end of an aisle in a music store promoting our album. But is our art effective in bringing out emotions? We found out probably the hardest way you can– burning over 25,000 miles over two years. There are some people that don’t have to go through that, and I think, honestly, they lose the grit and the whole richness of the experience. I mean, you can make trips; you can even just take short trips, because those travels are related directly to your album. UF: Right; you’ve got to stay connected. AL: None of it’s glorious as it sounds on paper. I mean there’s nothing glorious about fourteen hours overnight from Denver to Denton, Texas, on our first tour to play to five people. But going from that to a North Carolina show that was sold out the next night is an emotional roller coaster. You need to feel it for yourself. It is the core of what always used to be about, when people did these grassroots tours. But I think I won’t tour again without the traditional tour support – it’s murderous. Even playing sold out shows, it’s murderous to have to change a tire in 105-degree heat on a van full of gear when you can’t get the jack to work. (laughing) UF: How do you go about getting such extensive tours set up without somebody backing you? It can’t be cheap. AL: It started with Claire and I, sitting in a bar, saying, “Can we do a three week tour? Can we book it?” Claire knew how to reach out to fifty people in one sending and get two people to respond back to a band that has no history and no clout. UF: What kind of stuff do you need to know? AL: You surf the internet, weeks straight all day long. You reach out to every single club that you can find – everyone. We chose to go into the heartland, which is really suicide, because it’s too much driving. But because I was from Kansas City, I was able to get a first gig on our tour, so we spent weeks trying to find shows between here and there. Our first tour was like twenty days, ramshackle, out to Chicago, down south, through Texas, and back across thorough the Carolinas. Along with Ian Thomas it was a triple bill, and keep in mind we did it without a local act to help us. UF: You were just rolling through with 3 no name acts. AL: That’s right, and the Bowmans didn’t have a full record yet; they both just had EPs. Lowry had just released Awful Joy, and we went out on this tour. UF: How’d you do that first tour, as far as people and how the clubs responded? AL: Well, we set ourselves up. When we called we said, “Look, we’re brand new.” Knowing that, they didn’t lose anything by having us, but they didn’t gain anything at a

lot of gigs on the first tour. We were able to play to them and show them we’re getting something special to happen. It took all the first tour just to get the gigs together for the second tour. We broke even with merch, but all the money we made off merch went back into the second tour. I also sold the truck and a bunch of pieces of gear to pay the band, and a publicist who already had a database set up. (Enter Lowry’s pianist, Nicholas Webber) UF: Before you went out on the road I know you spent some time at the Sidewalk Café. What was your experience like in the scene here in New York? AL: I didn’t visit the Sidewalk until April 2004. I was going until three in the morning for two or three months after that, and I came to appreciate the scene, because in my mind it is the most cohesive scene I’ve seen anywhere. Nicholas Webber: The thing I don’t like about it is it’s a scene. AL: (Laughing) What I found was that it was a scene that had a definite ceiling to it. There were people who had been playing there for years, and if that’s what you’re doing it for then that’s great – you should keep doing that, you should stay in the scene. What I was seeing was there was this cycle that people would get into where once you were playing that stage you would be seen as playing that stage all the time. We played in there with the band once and it just didn’t translate at all. But it has an important place – I met Nicholas there. NW: I don’t remember. AL: Yeah, I met him there and then he played on Awful Joy, and then decided he didn’t want to go tour. We had some friction between our piano players… NW: There’s no friction, he couldn’t go on the tour. It was a short tour, so I went on it. Then, I was sorta sold, and he was sorta out of a job. AL: Oh yeah, another thing that I wanted to talk about is what I think the music is. Here’s the thing, when we first went out they had to have something to talk about, so Eric, who produced Awful Joy, he wrote a short blurb which called the music AntiFolk psychedelic blah blah blah, and in my mind I didn’t see it as that. I knew it was big music, but didn’t see it as psychedelic whatever he was calling. To me it was just what we were doing, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what it was. I was actually doing, as opposed to laser beams and twangyness whatever. And in my mind, I thought it was spiritual… NW: Spiritual, spiritual – I like that. That’s good. AL: “Triple A Brand spiritual.” Spiritual for the atheists, agnostic, and altruistic. And I mean spiritualism without a deity, without a god. And if someone were to call me a spiritual singer for the rest of my life I’d be fine with that. www.lowrymusic.com

Exegesis Department
“Sleeping Is a Sucker’s Game”
Eric Wolfson
“To die, to sleep – To sleep, perchance to dream.” – Hamlet, Act III, Scene I “Sleeping is a sucker’s game.” – Anticomp Folkilation, Disc II, Song I In my younger and more vulnerable years, my sister knowing the light of hope. In other words, Virgil lived in gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my the blissful ignorance of a gray underworld not all that mind ever since. “Everything good happens to you,” she different from the tunnels of the (hel)L Train. told me, “after you should’ve already gone to sleep.” She Like Virgil, the hipster princesses who formed my colwas referring to my upcoming summer as a camp coun- lective muse never saw the light of day where I strutted selor but, eight years later, I found myself in New York around with the cool boys in the East Village. We were living those words. Night after night, I stayed out too late the ones wearing denim jackets, guitars in hand, raping at an open mic or a show; day after day, I sludged through and pillaging songs until they became our own; we were at retail job, running on iced chai and apathy. the ones reaping the fruit of the labor at a late-night gig, When you work retail and there’s no line at the regis- slouched in the back and singing the words that we knew. ter, your mind starts to wander, searching for something, There were four of us to be specific: Vin, the quintesanything, to stay fixated on, if only to fight your body’s sential folksinger-songwriter who would be soon only pernatural inclination to sleep. I have a very religious co- forming with an electric rock band; Somer, the mysteriworker who recites prayers to himself; myself, I sing songs ous newcomer about to become one of the central people – sometimes my own, sometimes someone else’s. One in the scene; Mike, one of the central people in the scene thing I sang a lot when I was first adjusting to the music to soon all but disappear; and me, fresh off-stage but still life in New York City was Star Star Quarterback’s “Sing- restless enough to have a beer with the usual crew as ing Is a Sucker’s Game.” I had always found the song odd and cloying, but now, as I spent my late nights watching a revolving door of five-minute acts play for people waiting for their own five minutes in the spotlight, something about the situation’s futility brought me back to the melancholy falsetto of the song’s refrain: “And singing is a sucker’s game / Such a shame / To put yourself out on a limb like this.” Maybe it was fate, maybe it was destiny, maybe it was that I, too, was beginning to feel like a sucker. I became obsessed with “Singing Is a Sucker’s Game” by Star Star Quarterback (a friend of mine who asked to be referred to as “one Mr. Brooks of Boston”) – it was as though everything that I wanted to say at that time was summed up in those five words. I began to play with the phrase, plugging in different words to try to make it my own. Them: “Hey, Eric, do you wanna go to the movies?” Me: “Man, going to the movies is a sucker’s game.” It sounded hip and cool, yet self-consciously so, the same way that once only the hippest kids I knew said “hot,” and then, suddenly, it’s coming out of Paris Hilton’s mouth. If used at just the right time, it could maybe even be picked up by all of those snobby hipster princesses who rode back and forth endlessly between Manhattan and Brooklyn train, too distracted by themselves to ever notice me. When Dante summoned his muse for the Divine Comedy, he found Virgil in the mildest level of the Inferno, his only sin being that he was born before Christ, his only punishment being that he lived eternally without

Sleeping Is a Sucker’s Game To all the hipster princesses raisin’ Cane They’re all goin’ downtown on a Brooklyn-bound train They’re all lookin’ fer love, but they look in vain And miss the cool boys in the East Village They’re all struttin’ past all the tough-guy bars With acoustic guitars hidden in cases so hard As if their denim jackets could make them a star With every song that they rape and pillage It was a Monday evening And the crowd was deceivingly Large for a small room that night And we sat on the side In the shadows that hide Yer face as yer waiting to play We are young, we are inspired We got guitar-shaped heart desires We got a long line of lovers who’ve never left us the same We got outer prospects that are slim Framed by a two-drink minimum Yeah, we go through life knowin’ that sleeping is a sucker’s game To all the day job sweethearts so bored at work With buttoned-up hearts under half-buttoned shirts Just cuttin’ off customers cold and curt 40 hours a week to get healthcare And all the retail romeos workin’ day after day Just starin’ off into space with nothing to say They all act like they’re stoned, or maybe they are anyway Put the book back where the shelf’s bare It was a Wednesday night And we were feeling alright Drinkin’ brew with the regular crew We sat slouched in the back We were listening to Lach And singing the words that we knew We are young, we are inspired We got guitar-shaped heart desires We got a long line of lovers who’ve never left us the same We got outer prospects that are slim Framed by a two-drink minimum Yeah, we go through life knowin’ that sleeping is a sucker’s game

we sang along with our mentor, Lach. There’s something about a sing-a-long – whether it’s political, like the one in Casablanca, or sentimental, like the one in Almost Famous – that holds a unique power, pulling together the meaning of a moment better than a thousand words of explanation could ever do. I went back to an eight-line stanza that I had written months before about all the hipster princesses and stole the chuggachugga rhythm of Jonathan Richman’s “Pablo Picasso” – a song about how women could not resist Picasso’s stare as he walked the streets of New York – which made my song’s words snap right into place (Richman had stolen the riff from the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray”; Picasso, of course, stole from everybody). Using the singa-long scene as a pre-chorus, I brought things full-circle by putting in my own chorus to be sung along with, something just catchy enough for the hipster princesses but tough enough for the cool boys in the East Village. “We are young!” sang Pat Benatar, in another great “…Is a…” song, “Love Is a Battlefield.” Right around when Ms. Benatar was singing those words in the early ’80s, my Mom was putting me down for my afternoon nap. I lay there, as I did every afternoon, sometimes even for as long as ten minutes, before I got up and silently played Legos in the dark once I knew she was out of earshot. Why sleep when you can stay up and play? It was all so clear to me then, even before I had the life experience to articulate it: Sleeping is a sucker’s game.

The American Interzone
new frontier living in the city of three centuries
Grey Revell
I’ve been back in New Orleans for a few months now, and I don’t think I’ll ever leave again. Even if mishap rears its angry red head, driving us out again, I’d come back. It’s reasonable to wonder why, I suppose. I imagine that in this, our grand decline, it would be preferable to hunker down in one of the wonderful, modern, shiny mega-cities. Efficient well armed police, vast resources of cash and goods, space age amenities galore, all in wonderful semi-gentrification yet just edgy enough for the collegiate 21st century urban bohemian. Who knows? In fifteen years, New Orleans might be like that – not now. William Burroughs said that real life, the good stuff, is found smack in the middle of the paradox. To be an artist in New Orleans today is to court serious chaos from all sides. I attended the memorial of an incredible filmmaker – a mother to boot – murdered by a crackhead in the early morning hours at her doorstep. Her animated films were homemade and unforgettable, and the energy of the artists gathered to commemorate her was palpable and intense. Robert Florence, an author and New Orleans historian, told me once that he saw a lot in common with the Berlin he had read about in school, a city of anarchy, reeling and moorless after the collapse of fascism. New Orleans felt like that to him in the first few weeks after Katrina. The same electricity in the air, a pervading sense of anything goes. To this day, there is still a very real atmosphere of otherness here, a feeling that we are somehow in the United States, but not of it. To add to the isolation, there’s an astounding lack of corporate presence in my city these days. City blocks and urban centers don’t look like every other city in America. Here, it seems, everything seems to spring out of someone’s weird dirty southern imagination. Clubs and club owners have become increasingly approachable. The severe drop in the population has meant that a large chunk of the cities native musical population has been displaced. While tragic in many ways, this has also meant that much of the city’s previous obsession with “New Orleans Music” has given way to a more eclectic attitude towards music and entertainment. Claiming to be a musician is no longer followed by the customary response of “Jazz or Blues?” Those genres are still here, and well represented - but the spaces have opened somewhat. The era of New Orleans as a “museum city,” with its culture under glass, has given way to a period of exploration, much more in keeping with the original spirit of this town. The radio jockeys play pretty much whatever they want. I’ve walked into two different stations and gotten on the air within minutes. I was never able to do that on WFMU or KCRW. Down here, it’s not as hard. WWOZ broadcasts out of the French Quarter, and coming down at 10pm for a last minute promotional actually has an element of hazard to it, probably because the beauty of the place belies the menace that percolates. At any rate, you do get on the air quite easy down here, and if you like stations that play Big Band versions of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” after the Animals’ “Sky Pilot,” then you’d like it here. The population of Orleans Parish is about 40% of what it was on August 27, 2005. The ones that have returned or chosen to stay have exhibited an almost delusional tenacity facing the adversities of postapocalyptic New Orleans life. Energy price gouging, crooked contractors, government apathy, spikes in crime, have all been met with classic American stoicism, sarcasm, and black humor. It puts rich and poor on common ground for a change. The guy in the columned mansion is struggling with no heat, bad plumbing and wild animals in his basement, just like the guy in the Gentilly shotgun shack. It’s the America we grew up watching on newsreels. The America of the Depression, the Dustbowl, Leadbelly, and Our Gang shorts. It’s still here. That’s the hook that grabs me. Here in the middle of the most disconcerting and discomforting places, far from the streamlined comfort of the digital, the fast fix, the instant and the safe, I see something else. Away from the red white and blue who wants to be a millionaire logo that my nation has become, I think I see its soul. It’s still here.

What we’ve got here is a 21 st Century social Petri dish. A city as fulcrum between what was, is and could be. This is a place existing in three centuries at once, and somewhere between the first and third worlds, too. We’re not just acknowledging these eras and realities – New York and L.A can do that – but truly existing in them all at once. The lamps, streets, shouts, smells, foods, drinks, colloquialisms, songs, rumors, dirty jokes and prayers, all span almost a half-millennia, and origins from Africa to Spain to Ireland to Cuba and then the Bayous. It’s still here. Hollower, angrier, sadder… more powerful than before. We’re still here. Studies have been made about the rise of the “Creative Class.” I have to wonder, what if a city could be colo-

nized by artists? What if a place, rejected by Corporate America, written off as a loss, a flood plain, was taken and claimed by the creative class, the anti, the true left? When I was a younger man, greenfresh from the San Gabriel Valley, running down Avenue A with a loincloth and a spear, I heard a lot of older types talking about the dangerous New York, the edgy nights of the mid-80s, when rents were cheap and your life was in your hands. They had a very large and cool neighborhood. Now I’m in a City, largely empty, left to its own fortune. There are truly no maps for these territories, as William Gibson said. The Lower East Side has great history, so my elders told me, but what if they’d claimed a whole town? I’ll never really know for sure, but that’s all right; here and now, on the perimeters, in the middle of the paradox, I’ve got enough to deal with.

Get in the Minivan
broken head at mama buzz or how I learned to hate the bay
Being an independent musician who's more or less constantly traveling around playing songs without the benefit of a wealthy record company to foot the bill for distribution, promotion or booking, I've learned over the past few years to never, ever expect to be treated like some BIG IMPORTANT ROCK MUSICIAN FROM NEW YORK CITY. Any body nice enough to open their doors and ears to hear me and my little folk songs is a blessing. I feel very blessed to say that I've got friends in nearly every city I've been to, and every subsequent tour is a whirlwind of toobrief visits to surrogate family in surrogate hometowns. I've learned to give the benefit of the doubt to the kids that set up lackluster shows. Like, "Okay, maybe all the cool kids in Pensacola really ARE over in Tallahassee, watching that third-rate Beck cover band." There's nobody to blame but Kismet in situations like those, and I will almost always give any given town a second chance at redemption. There is one exception: Oakland, CA. I had been to San Francisco on one previous tour, spent three days in the City with Ivan Sandomire, and we were both immediately infatuated with the local culture: somehow leisurely and energetic at the same time. The sloping hills that gave us more than one scare when it came to parking the van. Amoeba Records. Ivan was so taken by the place that he moved out there not long after we got home. When I was going out to the West Coast with Guitar Bomb last Spring, it was a given that we'd go back to San Francisco. Taking the monstrous drive down the coast to Los Angeles, Mikey (Guitar Bomb without the sunglasses), who had a friend from high school in the Bay Area, had the idea to find a show in Oakland for the following day. Friday night, Mikey, Dan Treiber and I pulled into San Francisco for a return gig at Coffee to the People. We were reunited with Ivan, who was sharing the bill with us and seemed fresher and happier than I'd seen him in months (of course, I actually hadn't seen him in months). The show went well, and was exactly what I expected. We played with good local bands, were treated to coffee and food, and I unexpectedly ran into Peter Nevins in Amoeba Records. Some guy stood outside of Coffee to the People for the duration of the show, talking to no one we could see about his living conditions (the sidewalk in front of the coffeehouse). After being taken out to a local

Brook Pridemore

pub for a couple of pints, we stayed the night at our friend Nicole's apartment, which is spacious, considering the nightmarishly high rent people pay. Next morning, in high spirits, Dan and I met with Ivan in the park, where we had coffee and shot the shit before Ivan headed off to a wedding in Palo Alto. Having eaten more than my fair share of Mission-Style burritos in New York, I went over to the Haight for a Mission-Style burrito in its home city, and had my last ten dollars picked out of my pocket on the way. In need of food, and with hours to kill before leaving for the gig, I treated myself to my first ever busking experience, making seven dollars and change in a mere two hours! If San Francisco is the epitome of the utopian Cali lifestyle, Oakland is where all of the dirt and grime goes. In the afternoon, we loaded the van and headed back across the bay to Mama Buzz Café, a place we had been told was "The Hottest Club to Play in Oakland." It certainly was hot. Apparently, all of the nasty summer heat that doesn't hit San Francisco gets piped into Oakland. We set foot on Telegraph Avenue to white hot sunlight and windless air so wet with humidity that you could practically reach up and squeeze the water out. The stink of body odor, usually indicative of a cool punk who could introduce us to other cool punks, wafted over in a blinding fog from across the street where a hundred or so punks were rocking out to a local band. This was obviously the "good" show we weren't able to get on (Mikey had told us earlier that day that there was a local arts festival going on, making it hard for us to find any bands to play with). Mikey went over and tried to hand out homemade fliers for our show as kids filed out the door. One of the girls turned up her nose and said, "Oh, there's ALWAYS a free show going on over at Mama Buzz." Another kid crumpled up a flier and threw it at Mikey when he thought Mikey wasn't looking. Mikey told me later it was all he could do not to smack the kid. Back across the street, this older guy came up to me and Dan and tried to show us this homemade violin he'd put together. He talked to us (and then me, after Dan just walked away) about how he lived - and had scrounged all of the parts for his violin - out of the dumpster, and he'd taught himself to play it between working shifts down at the cannery and sleeping - again, in the dumpster. Looking back, all of this should have seemed laugh-

able. Like, there should be a funny story to be had, but it just made me angry as hell. And it gets worse. We ended up sitting around Mama Buzz for about three hours, waiting for the band we're sharing the bill with to show up. In the meantime, we made more handmade fliers that Dan demanded I go and try to pass out among the hostile punks next door. Two kids who call themselves Little Josie and Big Horn, our headliners, finally showed up around eight PM, and a respectable group of kids appeared with them. The whole crew of band and friends waited impatiently outside the club while Mikey and I played our sets. At one point, Dan Treiber went out and asked everyone to come in and watch the show, and he was met with blank stares from the locals. A few minutes later, I watched him go back out with our tip jar (actually a paper maché skull that came from God knows where), to pretty much the same success. With about thirty seconds remaining in my last song, this guy Gibson - I guess he was Big Horn - came into the room and bobbed his head to my last few chords, then patted me on the shoulder like he's Ed Sullivan: "You've got some real powerful messages in your songs, Brook." He hadn't heard me sing a word. Later, we came to realize that this was the point where we should have packed up the PA and cut our losses, flipped a big middle finger at the cool kids of Oakland and slunk back across the San Francisco Bay with our tails between our legs. Hindsight is always 20/20. My guitar barely even back in the bag, Gibson shouted "IS EVERYBODY READY FOR THE DISCOTHEQUE?" in a grating, faux German accent. They went on to play some sort of music, but what type it was I will never know-I beat it out of the club and stomped around the desolate streets for what felt like the right amount of time. Dan retired to the van so he didn't have to listen, and Mikey braved it, nursing a beer and staring at the floor. After all of this, we went back in to pack up our PA and get the hell out of town. Gibson, shit eating grin on his

face, said something stupid like, "Hey man, I hope this wasn't too painful for your first show in Oakland." He invited us to hang out with him and his friends, at which point my jaw kind of hit the floor, and I mumbled something about seeing what the other guys feel like doing. Driving back across the bridge, stuck in traffic, motorcycles sped between the lanes of cars to avoid gridlock. We got some small amusement out of flashing them with our high beams as they pass and railing against the shitheaded artsy kids of Oakland. We always extend an invitation to other bands we meet on tour: If you come through New York, you have a place to stay. We fantasized about convincing these kids that they should come to Brooklyn for a totally awesome show, and have them travel cross country to an empty room. And a towed car. And no fucking clue how to get around New York. One final indignity and I'm done. The heat and stress and all of the yelling and everything combined, I set foot back into Nicole's apartment in SF and ran straight to the bathroom, heaving for quite a few minutes. When I finally recovered, I saw blood in the toilet bowl. Sitting here now, I can't remember all of the people who have heard me tell this story. A good portion of those people have asked me what was so bad about the town that I would refuse to ever go back there. Here's the best I can come up with: The events that went down at Mama Buzz Café, taken individually, or even as a group, could be excused. To a certain extent, we should have been prepared to have a lackluster experience that Saturday, given the arts festival that had most of the kids in town preoccupied. Also, this was our first foray into the surrounding Bay Area towns, which predicates a certain level of shakiness. When I think about the main thing that makes independent touring successful, though, I see us going into new towns and seeking out the kids that are into experiencing alternatives. I see, in essence, people who are on our side - people who are open-minded about new music, welcoming, and generous (or at least one of those things). In the kids of Oakland, I found a closed-mindedness that ran deeper than the average bigoted redneck with a Dixie Horn in his pickup, and a total lack of warmth. At the end of the evening, we hadn't even scrounged enough change to pay the toll back across the bridge. Here was a group of people that, by all stretches of the imagination, should have been on our side. Instead, our experience in Oakland was a matter of Us versus Them, with them, in this case, being more of Us.

Record Reviews
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Butch Ross The Moonshiner’s Atlas Ross, one of the first fellows in Philadelphia AntiFolk, left his city and AF cred to move to Chattanooga and play mountain dulcimer with his wife, Christie Burns. Now he’s released his first folk album, The Moonshiner’s Atlas. You know it’s a folk album, because of the first track, “I Like Singing Folk Songs.” Though somewhat tongue in cheek (“Say I’ll never get rich? Shows how much you know / just yesterday I booked me a great show / 25 bucks for one night in Juneau”), the song admits to Ross’ recent romance with what he used to react against. He explains: “For a while now I’ve been of the impression that if I’m going to play ‘folk’ music, I oughta know what the fuck folk music is.” Only three songs on this album are written by Ross, the rest being covers. Well, covers and trad numbers. What’s the difference? “ 91 dollars,” Ross explained. Probably the best traditional number is the second track on the album, “Moonshiner,” which uses a riff I swear I know from Tom Nishioka’s old “Up and Under.” Did Trad steal from him? Probably not. It’s a killer sound, though. Also great is “Atlas” by Russell Wolff, featuring the chorus, “I got my road atlas / I feel like Charles Atlas / though I’m not new at this / neither are you.” Another original is “Lousy Boy,” whose lyrics suggest that it might be a transgendered tale, but probably is more about maturing, accepting inadequacy, and growing past it. It’s beautiful. It’s music that adults make. The songs selected all sound sweet, and, while sometimes there’s additional instrumentation, mostly it’s this guy Butch and his mountain dulcimer. “A guy discovers me playing in Cork, Ireland and says ‘If you record an alldulcimer album, I’ll produce it and put it out on my label.’ It is at once the path of least resistance and the opportunity to be the coolest kid at church camp,” he laughs, “I know, my point exactly.” Someone once called Ross the Bela Fleck of the mountain dulcimer. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m willing to say that he’s definitely the Debe Dalton. I don’t know if he should get this whole traditional thing out of his system, or if this is the best route for him to follow. But there’s a lot of good material here - even for the an Urbanite. (Jonathan Berger) butchross.com Chris Maher Some Songs! “Love is a rumor, and it’s one that will persist,” goes part of the endlessly changing and repeating chorus of “mE=mc2,” the opening track on Chris Maher’s teaser EP of songs from his long-in-theworks debut full-length. It’s the changing/repeating lines that provide most of the charm on these songs, and maybe part of that charm extends to the waiting for these songs to see the light of day. Multiple recording sessions on both coasts? The best things come to those who wait. In terms of sound, the first point of comparison to Some Songs! is I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, the ‘country’ album Bright Eyes made a couple of years ago. Then I think, “Wait: I really like Chris Maher. His songs don’t suck even a fraction of the ass that Bright Eyes do.” So maybe that’s not a fair comparison. A more accurate point would be to say that this stand up next to David Dondero’s South of the South, mostly in the slightly country instrumentation and the personal-but-not-too-much-information subject matter. Vocally, Maher sounds a lot like Dondero as well, singing in an emotional, seemingly just about to crack affect. “Soft Sewing Strings” has the feel of a downhome bluegrass jam, although the minor chord and Maher’s rough-edged singing makes one feel like the jam might really be a crazed mob, ready to carry unsuspecting bystanders off into oblivion. I think the strongest song on this EP is “The Happy Kind,” the closing track. A simple voice, guitar and harmonica song not unlike something off Paul Westerberg’s Stereo, the stripped-down performance captures the sadness of the lyric, and lets Maher’s voice really come out into the front. After listening a couple of times, I hope that the proper full-length album isn’t too far away from my grubby little hands. This is strong promising stuff. (Brook Pridemore) http://riylrecords.com/

Citizen Worm Tape From Caledonia On the back of this brit disc is a scan of a postcard that reads: “Citizen Worm, No Fixed Talent, No Fixed Abode, Caledonia – Being the flawed genius of Phil Ochs as refracted thru the jaundiced prism of Auld Scotia.” Now, I have to admit that I have no clue about who Citizen Worm is, and I have only a passing interest in Phil Ochs’ body of work. However, when I saw Tape From Caledonia, I thought, “Wow, a Phil Ochs tribute band? That would never play at B.B. King’s.” I thought it would be a good introduction to Phil Ochs music: a way to get in on the ground floor by going in the back door. Turns out I was mostly wrong. Having never heard most of these songs, I found myself instantly trying to make comparisons between Citizen Worm and other bands. “Phil Ochs,” the one non-Phil Ochs song here (actually adapted by Billy Bragg from an old folk song called “Joe Hill”), sounds like a lost Herman Düne song: all freaky horns and guitar lines, it’s a promising opening – as I thought this was going to be a collection of Phil Ochs songs done in a sort of cheeky way – rock versions of folk songs? Sounds great. However, with the exceptions of Citizen Worm’s renditions of “Cross My Heart” and “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” both of which are heavily amplified and transcend the folk-cover-of-folk-song stigma, most of these covers sound like pretty staid and conservative versions of the originals. Plenty of these songs consist of one lead male vocal and spare accompaniment by autoharp and/or pipe organ, what I’d expect from Ochs. The bottom line is: there are some seriously cool renditions of great folk songs on this disc that have fallen out of public memory. There is not enough new stuff here to make me interested in either Ochs’ catalog or Citizen Worm’s potential. (Brook Pridemore)

to pin down. Each song has a striking sense of immediacy, but remains unbranded by a specific period or style. Lilting melodies contrast sharply with haunting narration. Insomniac poems are punctuated with acoustic guitar, bells, and timpani. Smith does an about-face on wintertower, a slippery electronic hybrid of looped beats and manipulated sounds, where the territory between rap and spoken word becomes too tangled to navigate. This is a risky venture for someone perceived as a singer/songwriter. Smith embraces it and delivers an absorbing work. On love songs, most of the vocals were fragile and restrained while wintertower teems with rumbles, drones, and squalls. Each disc holds nine songs. I listen to track seven on wintertower, which shares the album’s name, a stormy collage of electric guitar and manufactured sounds. Then I skip back to love songs and listen to track seven, “in your night,” a dark lullaby punctuated with barely audible whispers. (Jessi Robertson) myspace.com/davidshanesmith Dibs Dibs Bleeds Books Dibson T. Hoffweiler has grown a lot as a musician over the last couple of years. As one quarter of Urban Barnyard, he’s cut his teeth on dance-y rock, and as one of the multitude of guitarists who come and go in Huggabroomstik, he’s proven that he can find rhythm and melody in even the greatest chaos. His solo CDs, though, have always seemed a little rushed-through. Like maybe a little more care could have been taken, that second take could have been used… a little extra guitar here and there, who knows? On Dibs Bleeds Books, that extra care was obviously taken, and the change is drastic. Drums and omnichords and harmonies abound, building up into a kind of acoustic psychedelia not unlike demo-era Adam Green or the first Neutral Milk Hotel EPs. On “Kite Strings” and “Caffeine Eyes” especially, this psychedelia makes me want to throw out all of my old Pink Floyd records and trip out to the sounds of multilayered vocals and angular, fingerpicked guitars. The music always kind of takes the lead here, mostly because Dibs’ singing isn’t something the listener latches onto easily. I’ve always thought of Dibs as sounding a lot like Transformer-era Lou Reed, where he realized he didn’t have the widest singing range, and concentrated more heavily on the arrangements. Further kudos to Dibs here:

David Shane Smith love songs wintertower I have two David Shane Smith albums. Both came in origami slipcovers made from old magazine pages. love songs is written in red pencil on the first disc. The second reads wintertower. If you asked me to pick one to keep and one to give up, I’d have a hard time choosing. Many musicians follow a slow evolution from one album to the next, but these two are different. love songs has a timeless quality that makes it difficult

Stolen Brown Evergreen and friends cd release party
@ Goodbye Blue Monday - Thursday, May 31 at 9 pm featuring Watersports, Stolen Brown Evergreen, Kansas State Flower, Deborah T!!!
while Mick Ronson was the mastermind behind the sound of Transformer, Dibs played most of the instruments on Bleeds Books himself. That might be the greatest testament to home recording yet: forget huge recording budgets, esoteric movies about The Wall, and banging heroin with the producer just to get through the day. Dibs Bleeds Books is as good a testimony as any to the fact that cool psychedelic music can be made at home with a tape machine and (only) a little help from your friends. (Brook Pridemore) http://dibson.net/dibsbleedsbooks/ Huggabroomstik Ultimate Huggabroomstik Ultimate Huggabroomstik is a monster of an album. It features 26 tracks, which range in duration from just under two minutes to just over 14. It spans two CDs, and lasts a little over 120 minutes. It hops genres from acoustic singer-songwriter (sort of) to indie-rock (sort of) to electro-pop to experimental noise jams that border on free jazz… the list goes on and on. It’s tempting to call Ultimate Huggabroomstik a perfect album. It’s not, but it’s definitely a masterpiece. If Beck’s Stereopathetic Soul Manure knocked up The Beatles’ White Album, this is sort of what the offspring might be. The bleep-bloop lo-fi noisiness and schizophrenic randomness of the former album is gleefully mated to the double-album scope and, well... schizophrenic randomness of the latter album. For the uninitiated, the Huggabroomstik sound is sort of like an audio clusterfuck. The two main components of the group are Neil “MaSheenGun” Kelly and Dashan “Secret Salamander” Coram, but the handsomely homemade-looking booklet that accompanies the album lists the album’s contributors as numbering 18 folks. Sometimes these folks are playing conventional-type rock or pop “parts,” and sometimes they’re all just jamming out and making a ruckus. There’s a constant layering of noise on every track. Even in the more straightforward moments, you can expect the ZAP of a child’s laser toy, the tinkling of a xylophone, or the rumble and peal of a theremin. Ultimate Huggabroomstik’s two discs are loosely organized by theme. The first disc is titled “Time,” and kicks things off with the most accessible tunes in the set. For example, looking beyond the standard-issue fuzz, feedback, and wail of “The Sun Warms It’s Self” (AKA “In The Sun”), the song is essentially a pop hit with a sing-along chorus of “bah bah bah”s and a brass section. Things don’t start to get really strange until “Duck Hunt,” an epic, frequently mutating noise jam which, if it’s not the best song on the album, is certainly the boldest. Velvet Underground “Murder Mystery”-type voices deadpan different statements simultaneously into either of your ears, Cookie Monster and Elmo giggle, a duck call squeals out and makes a sound like a baby crying or an Ornette Coleman solo, the drum machine kicks in, a primal violin (which also recalls Ornette Coleman) stabs at the air. It’s trippy shit. The second disc is titled “Space,” and it is the slightly “farther out” of the two. It kicks off with a 13-minute slice of noisy quirk rock called “Automatron” that sounds like Pere Ubu if they were a late ‘60s psychedelic band, closing with the David Bowie-esque “Message From Space.” One of the main things that keeps two hours (plus!) of noisy noise-rock from being insufferable, even as the band indulges in a needlessly long nonsense track like “Tickle My Time Machine” (itself reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s needlessly long nonsense track “A Little Green Rosetta”), is an overall childlike attitude. In addition to their frequent use of toy soundscapes, Neil and Dashan always sing in an open-hearted, unforced style that is immediately disarming. “Throw Your Own Heart Away” kicks off with the ultra-memorable lines “I hate to be a heartbreaker, but I don’t know what else to do/So I won’t hesitate to cut your heart in two,” delivered by Neil in a deep-voiced croon so sincere-sounding that you can’t help but forgive the guy. The lack of self-conscious snark when singing “It was totally gay/In a cosmic way” during the chorus of “Lesbian Prom Night In Space” successfully undermines the 12-year-old-boy silliness of the line and allows the listener to appreciate how catchy it is. Ultimate Huggabroomstik is not for the weak of will, weak of heart, or weak of stomach. It’s bold and crazy. It’s hard to listen to. It’s brilliant. (Justin Remer) www.huggabroomstik.com Joe Cassady & The West End Sound What’s Your Sign? This is one well put-together album, and it should be. The copyright credits on the songs date some of this material back to 1999. All but one self-penned, Cassady’s debut album is one of those life-time best ofs that start out a recording career. The time he put into the disc was

worth it, though: the artist’s strengths have been emphasized by well designed soundscapes and a crackerjack band, and his weaknesses disguised by glorious backing vocal parts and restructuring of the material to best effect. Cassady’s voice is not a particularly limber one, but the choruses that rise through “I’d Rather Be You” and “If I Wake Up” make everything sound great. And the space-rock of the eponymous “What’s Your Sign?” prove the epic scope of whatever mythical tale Cassady describes in the lyrics. The lyrics are something else. I’ve heard this guy lots of times before, and I never realized the wealth within so many of his songs. The literary references and the lyrical ones both show that this Joe knows stories. “Sixteen Coaches” is a deep blues rewrite of “Mystery Train,” already a pretty bluesy little number itself. “Mad Woman,” the earliest written track here, seems to wittily evoke Jane Eyre, saying, “I’d be the mad woman in the attic / If I weren’t just this man in a one story house.” “Warren G. Harding” reminds us of the Teapot Dome Scandal, as

well as Passover. How does Cassady do it? He’s obviously well read, and makes me want to be a more educated man. There are religious references in “St. Jude,” as well as “What’s Your Sign?” There are mythological references and puns in “Prometheus Bound” (with Objectivism subtly name-checked, to boot), historic and political references in “Parrots & Napoleons,” pop culture references all over “Tonto’s Blues,” and “Can Opener” is just great. There’s a lot to recommend this. While not the hookiest songs in the world, they open, yielding further benefits with each subsequent listen. (Jonathan Berger) http://www.myspace.com/joecassady Misha Mermaid Magic Still Life If you’ve ever seen Misha at an open mic, you’d probably remember her. Amidst the six-string-strumming, Y-chromosome-having would-be balladeers, Misha stands out because... she’s a woman with a bass (and she’s not in a rock band, either). If you’ve ever heard Misha play more than a song or two, then you know her real instrument of interest isn’t that bass, it’s her voice. Strangely chameleonic, her voice changes from a sensual Eartha Kitt purr to a harrowing Diamanda Galas howl to a Stevie Nicks growl. Usually she sticks with one approach per ditty, but sometimes

Peter’s Pick Kelsey Bennett CD-Sampler Kelsey Bennett has a new album out, Follow the Swan, a raw, sharp follow-up 2005’s Pucker. Its single features “People Know” and “Maybe Someday.” On the CD is the link to Kelsey’s myspace page where, in addition to the beautiful graphics attached to her new album, I found a picture of her playing at Sidewalk and heard a soulful piano song, my favorite so far, called “About Bein’ Certain,” recorded live. The next myspace selection, which is on the CD single, is called “Maybe Someday.” In it she reminds us that the work required for two people to maintain a relationship can become a chore. The other song from the CD single is, “People Know.” Completing the sentence is the phrase, “what I’m talking about.” I liked the lyric that acknowledges winners placing first and last in a spelling bee. The song loops out on the question: “What am I talking about?” Answer: “Just what I’m talking about.” Rumor has it that Kelsey’s grandfather is the inspiring Tony Bennett. He’s a ubiquitous fellow, continuing to define (has it already been 80 years?) what it means to lead a full life. He paints, he sings. I have his 78s. He sang at my parents’ wedding. He recorded that great crooner ballad, “I Won’t Cry Anymore,” and the indelible “Because of You,” adapted with impressions by Sammy Davis Jr., as well as some great covers with Count Basie, and so much else since 1958 that I simply haven’t heard, revealing my limitations to make any astute comments about his monumental contribution to jazz singing. The Bennett family is following a music tradition, with the Bennett recording studios in Englewood and the Frank Sinatra High School of performing arts in Long Island City, a school which I know (from working with one of its students) is producing some singing stars of the future. Hopefully crooner training is in the curriculum because the only person I know currently devoted to that tradition is Adam Green. In fact, we all can take a hint from the illusion of soft singing; it can be singing at its most intense. Kelsey’s other myspace selection, “Nothing Grows,” from Pucker, actually sounds more middle-of-the-road “attitude” pop. The newer material suggests a rawer side, like she’s developing and regressing in leaps and bounds, which is what I would call very promising. I look forward to seeing her in a live performance. (Peter Dizozza) myspace.com/kbsongs

she tries out a juxtaposition of two. Whatever she does, she does it to wring the emotion out of every line of her songs (in fact, her niftiest trick is that when she occasionally sings a little off-key, you expect it’s from being overcome with emotion rather than technical inexactitude). On “My Song” from Mermaid Magic, Misha takes the somewhat laughable concept of an ode to oneself – “I love you, Misha,” she declares and later mentions, “No one’s writing any songs about me, so I’m writing this one about myself” – and instills it with so much truthful emotion that the solitude of the piece trumps the silliness. Similarly, the dirge-y “Lowly Bassplayer” takes a simple musician’s lament and drenches it in melodrama, making it memorable. Overall, Mermaid Magic has a homemade lo-fi sound, which is to its advantage. When Misha’s voice overmodulates or the bass crackles, it adds to the overwrought atmosphere. The earlier recording Still Life has a much smoother sound, which is in some ways disappointing, but has its own benefits. While Mermaid Magic’s strength lies in its focus – nine sharply written and performed songs, lasting under 40 minutes – Still Life is an excellent chunk of mood music, sprawling out to an hour. Apart from the bookend versions of the quite good ballad “Low,” and a few other scattered tracks, it’s hard to completely focus on Still Life. The howl and growl are gone; she mostly settles for an otherworldly croon, reminiscent of the atmospheric work Julee Cruise did with David Lynch. For this reason, Still Life is too ethereal to listen to actively. Still Life is better suited to “soaking in,” while you’re cooking pasta or reading Camus and drinking wine… or whatever the hell it is that you do. (Justin Remer) www.myspace.com/mishabass Tim Emmerick and Cold Front County North Tim Emmerick’s North is an album full of stories. That’s probably one of its key strengths. Emmerick packs enough evocative detail into his lyrics that he tells a story with every song, even if it’s not explicitly a story-song. The drawback is that, if you don’t read the lyrics sheet handily stuck in the packaging for the CD, it’s easy to lose the thread of the words. North kicks off (somewhat deceptively) with a rip-snortin’ bit of butt-rock called “Black River Bridge,” which delivers its tale of underage hot-rodding thrills with the help of a searing lead guitar that brings to mind the classic Southern-fried rock of Skynyrd or the more recent country-rock forays of Waylon’s boy, Shooter Jennings.

Even though Emmerick and his backing band Cold Front County turn the amps up now and again throughout the rest of the album, the majority of North is far less concerned with butt-rocking. Sticking to mid- or down-tempo introspective tunes, Emmerick plumbs much the same alt-country territory as Ryan Adams. Unfortunately, like Adams, Emmerick is sometimes in danger of losing his listeners because of his refusal to whip his songs into shape. While not exactly lacking structure, the songs on North seem hookless. Emmerick’s storytelling usually leaves no room for conventional pop-music choruses, and with the average tune clocking in at a little over four minutes, it is frankly hard for the casual listener to latch onto the narratives Emmerick tries to tell. I had to listen to the album three times before anything besides “Black River Bridge” took hold in my memory, and even then, I couldn’t sing you a line off the top of my head. That said, “Storm” is an effective piano ballad in the Ben Folds mold, and “Intentions Fade” hits the right note of clap-along barn-dance Americana, standing as two of the album’s highlights. Meanwhile, the album-closer “Mercy” strives for the scope of a “Tuesday’s Gone”-type ’70srock yearning epic, and almost pulls it off. (Justin Remer) www.timemmerick.com Various Artists Crowin’ at the Creek and the Cave Hot on the heels of February’s Anticomp Folkilation, Public Records has released its own acoustic comp, like the Lach’s AntiHoot album from ten years before, this latest album has a narrow focus. Crowin’ was recorded exclusively at the Tuesday night LIC open mic, featuring 19 tracks from open mic regulars, including past and present Urban Folk contributors Jon Berger, Paul Alexander, Brian Speaker and Debe Dalton. Dalton, in fact, reprises her track off of Anticomp, “Ed’s Song.” It is not just the only song Dalton has released, but the only one she’s released twice. The grim laughter she adds to certain lines separates this version from last month’s. Tom Drake, head honcho of Public Records, recorded multiple Tuesdays for podcast. He contributes his own “Everytime We Shake Hands.” The sound on that track, and several others, is inconsistent, unsurprising for a live album, but several tracks sound wonderful. Best Blanket on “The Way it Used To Be” and Zach James’ second number “I’m on Fire” are stellar, and the best recordings I’ve heard from them - and the only ones. Brian Mathias

The ARTIST WORKER ACTION LEAGUE & URBAN FOLK Wednesday, May 16 present
th

DIGITAL RADIO NEWS TRAINING SEMINAR Tuesday, May 8 th UNITEHERE! Metropolitan ANTI-MIKE Party Joint Board, Consortium Tell a joke, read a poem, for Worker Education and sing a song. MUSGY Records present Be America’s next WORKER ARTS and MEDIA FESTIVAL an editorial & production AntiFolk hero at the training workshop for new weekly open stage students, union activists and hosted by KIRK KELLY. aspiring watchdogs. Rapture Café & Books - Sign-up 7pm. CWE 275 Seventh Ave. 19th Floor 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. FREE Thursday, May 10th GETTING and KEEPING HEALTH INSURANCE Comprehensive lunch hour seminar on free and inexpensive health coverage options for artists, freelancers and self-employed. The ACTOR’s FUND 729 Seventh Avenue 10th Flr. NYC 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. FREE Tuesday, May 15th SUSTAINABLE SUBCULTURE Producers and distributors of alternative culture discuss survival strategies for today’s competitive marketplace. Rapture Café & Books 7:00 p.m. FREE

Tuesday, May 22nd WAM! FEST Super Tuesday Grand Finale Triple Header featuring WORKER WORD readings by Urban Folk Publisher Jon Berger and author of Townes Van Zandt biography To Live’s To Fly, John Kruth WORKERS FILM FEST – video shorts from Seth Aylmer and National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS) Video Project WAM! JAM Concert with,DEBE DALTON, KIRK KELLY & PADDY on the RAILWAY and BILLIONAIRES FOR BUSH

for latest WAM! FESTinfo visit www.mugsyrecords.homestead.com is in great voice. Perhaps the best benefit of this album over other scenist comps is that there is utter absence of celebrity. The most famous person on the disc is probably Debe Dalton – and she ain’t moving copies (though that’s not so important at Public Records, which offers its recording for free download at the website. You can pay for it, but you don’t have to). Crowin’ at the Creek and the Cave is mostly free of politics; it’s the best songs by the best artists, according to the tastes of the bossman at Public Records. Or so he told me; and I have to believe it. I’m the last act on the album. (Jonathan Berger) publicrecordsaudio.com (technically true; you can do the math). Most of the lineup has changed dramatically over the years, but new addition Jude Kastle (another LES stalwart) keeps the harmonies (always a vital element of Wurschum’s compositional style) elegant and exciting. Always at the forefront though, are Wurschum’s high vocals, pure pop instincts and a bubbling darkness. Think 70s California, flavored with some prog rock. A band that looks back for its influence, the Voyces sometimes reprise old material. Some of the cuts on Kissing Like it’s Love harken back to earlier ages for the group. Not that therre’s anything The Voyces wrong with that. “Hair up High” is Kissing Like it’s Love heart-breaking. “Call it Home” is Finally, all the world can learn of the majheartening. “Lovers in the Sky” is esty of the Voyces. Toiling in East Village heavy, more of an idea than a obscurity since their arrival in 1999, this song. “You’re in Charge of Driving group (previously the Voices; also known as the Narcotics Trolley, and You’re majority DOG, and, for a very short pre-New Doing an Excellent Job” is a hell of York period, Zelig) has signed on to the small a long title. but substantial Planting Seeds Records. It’s a good thing. The ten cuts are a fairly quick listen. You should do it, The group, led by mainstay songwriter/guitarist/vocalist preferably with headphones. It’s definitely best to hear Brian Wurschum, has produced some excellent sweet the Voyces in your head. (Jonathan Berger) pop that small crowds have enjoyed for two millennia thevoyces.net

Out Now!
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the bootleg series volume 1

The Undisputed Heavyweights Live From New York City
Money \ Lartigue \ Bitches Be Trippin' \ Roll Your Windows Down \ Back To You \ Just For Laughs \ A Girl Like You

The Undisputed Heavyweights Live From New York City (FR-001)
This first release in The Bootleg Series captures a scorching live performance. Limited edition, 20% of proceeds go to The Sowbackya Illam Children's Home in India and The National Breast Cancer Foundation. The Heavyweights have a residency at Joe’s Pub June/July/August. BetterThanElvis.com

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Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape
The Mixtape Vol. 1

Volume 1 (FR-002 / Digital Only)

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Features free, exclusive downloads from some of the most exciting past performers that were part of the weekly Cross-Pollination concert series at Pianos. Includes My Brightest Diamond, Jeffrey Lewis, Kevin Devine, The Undisputed Heavyweights, Matt Singer, Wakey!Wakey!, Jay Mankind, Cloud Cult and more. Download now for free at LiberatedMatter.com

Jeff Jacobson (FR-003)
The long-awaited solo debut of Jeff Jacobson of The Undisputed Heavyweights featuring 10 of his best songs. Partial proceeds will go to City Harvest. “Jeff Jacobson is clearly one of the best in the scene. Intricate rhythms, poignant lyrics, and a dynamite vocal delivery.” - Gabriel Levitt (Jezebel Music) JeffJacobson.net

Jeff Jacobson

Cross-Pollination : A weekly concert series featuring some of the most exciting talent New York has to offer. Two artists each play an individual 40 minute set, followed by a 3-song collaborative set, leading to unexpected and often spectacular musical results. Every Tuesday at Pianos (158 Ludlow St. by Stanton, 8-10pm, FREE! 136 weeks and running! For info on releases, music placement, concert promotion and more visit LiberatedMatter.com
(c) & (p) 2007 Liberated Matter. All rights reserved.

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