November 27, 2007

Who am I, where am I, and no more Polish women

1) I’m finally back but I am sick. Dang airplane recycled air.

2) California was excellent. In addition to all the wonderful Thanksgiving-related things, I adopted the spirit of appreciating what CA offers that CO doesn’t; I got some really cute chocolate-brown corduroys at H&M in San Jose that I am wearing today, and I found a wrap dress that I want to wear every day. Plus, Trader Joe sent me on my merry way with cocoa almonds and some two buck Chuck. I could be in love with that strapping Trader man.

3) My high school reunion was the weirdest thing I think I’ve done yet. To see all those faces in one room – walking into that was strange. And great.

Since I can’t even get my head clear enough to attack the hundreds of emails waiting for me, here are some random odds and ends that jumped out at me today, for you, since I miss you all:

Ûž The new Nine Inch Nails remix album is out: Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D (took me a while but hey look that spells out “Year Zero Remixed,” which is what I think I’ll call it in polite conversation). After getting out of his relationship with Interscope and going all free-agent, sounds like Trent has some new innovative ideas; he’s posted tons of master tracks from his songs at and invites his fans to play with them and share their results. If I had any idea how to do that, I would, but for now I will settle for listening to The Faint (whose song “Posed To Death” is on my very favorite running playlist) remix “Meet Your Master” –

STREAM – “Meet Your Master” (Faint Remix)

I think it sounds pretty good. If you think you could do better, try your hand at it over on

Ûž Black Crowes announced details today on their new album Warpaint, due March 4th. It’s their first new studio record in seven years, since Lions was released on V2 in ’01. Since V2 is no more, this album will be out on the band’s own newly formed Silver Arrow Records, and the new lineup includes Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars on guitar.

You can read the full tracklisting here.

Ûž I stumbled across a raw demo version of The National‘s “Slow Show” over on Sixeyes. Now, you know how I feel about The National; My friend described this song perfectly when he wrote to me, “the national writes songs to drive through the darkness listening to, they are the best late night/early morning band i’ve ever heard, 20 years from now when they remake almost famous they are going to be playing fake empire or slow show in the bus scene instead of tiny dancer.” I thought that was lovely. So go see what you think.

Ûž Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
are heading back into the (Mexican) studios in January with the creative mission to write, compose, and record an album in 8 days . . .

According to their MySpace blog, Roger, P.H., Steve, Nick, Jason Boots with his video camera, and the talented Clif Norrell (producer of Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy and No More Beautiful World) will be relocating for the week to a house in Rocky Point, Mexico, and I am excited to hear what is to come. Roger told me a near-mystical story once about how the song idea for “Leaky Little Boat,” (one of my favorites) sprung unexpectedly from the fertile beaches of communal Mexico living, so let’s hope that same inspiration is present come January. Read Roger’s latest story of white-knuckled traffic travails and the details on the album here.

Ûž New tour dates announced in 2008 for Ryan Adams (and then while you’re at it go over to the MySpace try and figure out WTF is going on with the Axl Rose-channeling on the streaming new Ry song “Sexual Fantasy”)

Ûž New tour dates announced in 2008 for the Foo Fighters (and they’ve got that new video for Long Road to Ruin that reminds me of the adolescent days when I used to follow General Hospital – a dark secret)

Ûž The Fader Magazine has a really interesting article on New York rock in “the years to be hated” (early 2000s) and includes some cool silent black and white video footage of The Strokes shot in the style of Andy Warhol’s Factory screen tests.The article talks about the Strokes in their genesis days (lower-case g), and also bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, !!!, the Rapture and DFA. The article has several punch-fantastic photographs in it, but this absolutely gorgeous photo instantly became one of my all-time favorites – that saturated hue, the skyline, that perfect time of night, all lovely and blue.

October 13, 2007

The Alternate Routes: “Aftermath” (live in Colorado Springs last night)

So I’ve verified it, The Alternate Routes are good and reckless and true, and last night in concert at the Black Sheep their catalog of expansive, soaring melodies really took flight, as the crowd sang along and yelled requests.

They are currently touring with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (who, as always, put on a sweaty tequila-soaked show of exceedingly enthusiastic proportions) which is a good pairing; I would love for them to also come back through on a solo tour in 2008 — or maybe I’ll just convince some promo folks to send me on the Rock Cruise. I’ll work on that.

I think Aftermath is probably my favorite song on that album. Just fantastic.

With this next video, the sound and shooting skill is a bit worse (sorry), but definitely worth watching to get a feel for their new material — and to see how very very cool this amplified toolbox sound effect is! As frontman Tim Warren lifts and drops it to the beat, hear that huge earthy whooomp. It kinda made my stomach jump, and I loved it. This is a new song (with sexy-dramatic Latin flamenco vibe) called “The Future Is Nothing New.” It’s allegedly about a fortune teller, and the intro reminds me of Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita.” Oh, I’ll admit it.

(live 10/12/07)

I know, I stopped recording too soon. Then there’s also one other video here (I believe this is the other new song they performed for the first time last night, a scorching rocker called “Toe The Line”), and some still shots from the concerts can be seen here.

They’ve got about a dozen more tour dates listed for this year; they are an excellent, affable, talented group of musicians – and if you go see them, make sure to stop by the merch table to get one of their free EPs with 4 tracks from their debut album (Good and Reckless and True, Vanguard Records).

Now the only question that remains is whether I should head up to Boulder for tonight’s sequel.


(With Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers)
Oct 13 – Boulder Theater – Boulder, CO

(With Will Hoge)
Oct 17 – The Pub – Harrisonburg, VA
Oct 19 – Visulite Theatre – Charlotte, NC

(With Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers)
Nov 7 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS
Nov 8 – Blueberry Hill – St. Louis, MO
Nov 9 – The Music Mill – Indianapolis, IN
Nov 10 – The Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, MI
Nov 11 – Cambridge Room House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
Nov 23 – Tupelo Music Hall – Londonderry, NH
Nov 29 – Birchmere – Alexandria, VA
Nov 30 – High Fidelity – Rochester, NY
Dec 1 – Iron Horse Music Hall – Northampton, MA
Dec 21 – Ridgefield Playhouse – Ridgefield, CT
Jan 19-24, 2008 – The Rock Boat – Miami, FL

August 24, 2007

Both are good and reckless and true: The Alternate Routes to tour with Roger Clyne

This news just made my day – The Alternate Routes have just announced a fall tour with another Fuel/Friends favorite, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers! This is most excellent news.

I have been waiting to spring on an Alternate Routes tour since I first learned about them a few months ago, and have been listening to their Good and Reckless and True album non-stop ever since. I’m sold on their expansive, golden, rootsy-rock sound and smart lyricism.

And I think you know how I feel about Roger Clyne; together with his band The Peacemakers, they definitely put on one of the best, heartfelt, sweat-drenched, rocking shows I’ve seen. Ticket prices range from like $8 to $20 — an absolute steal for this much heart. I guarantee you will enjoy the show.

Aftermath – The Alternate Routes
I Don’t Need Another Thrill – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Banditos (live) – A Roger Clyne song from his previous band, The Refreshments

Fall Tour Dates
with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

Sep 25 – Tasty World, Athens, GA
Sep 27 – 8 x 10 Club, Baltimore, MD
Sep 28 – The Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
Sep 29 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
Oct 2 РHard Rock Caf̩, Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 4 – The Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI
Oct 5 – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Oct 6 – Joe’s Bar, Chicago, IL
Oct 7 – The Annex, Madison, WI
Oct 10 РFine Line Music Caf̩, Minneapolis, MN
Oct 11- Knuckleheads Saloon, Kansas City, MO
Oct 12 – The Black Sheep, Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 13 – Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO

With Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Nov 7- The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS
Nov 8 – Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
Nov 9 – The Music Mill, Indianapolis, IN
Nov 10 – The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI
Nov 11 – Cambridge Room/House of Blues, Cleveland, OH

March 12, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

While not as insanely hilarious as, this site fills that same voyeuristic niche of eavesdropping into the (unintentionally funny) things people say with no regard for who is listening. solicits contributions from New Yorkers with good ears, and the result is a site that I regularly lose track of time on:

Hobo: Go shorty, it’s your birthday…
Drunk black woman, joining in: Yeah! Go, go!
Hobo: Shorty, it’s your shorty…
Drunk black woman: You singing it wrong. It’s, ‘We gonna party like it’s your birthday.’
Passerby gives hobo two dollars.
Drunk black woman: You need to give me half of that, I helped you out with the words.

–Overheard on E train

14-year-old girl: I had like eight shots of vodka, and I didn’t get drunk or anything. I just couldn’t feel my face.

–Overheard in Forest Hills

Tight jeans #1:
It’s like the only way to be a punk these days is to be a Republican.
Tight jeans #2: I know.

–Overheard on 2nd Ave, between 7th & 8th St

Dude, I’m so punk rock. Finally. Here’s some handpicked freshness for the new week:

Feel Like Taking You Home Now
Brendan Benson
A new tune off Brendan’s MySpace, this one definitely has a darker, more driving edge than some of his past sunny alternative pop. Perhaps all that time with Jack White is taking its toll. I do like this song, especially once the drum builds and it turns into a gloomy rocker. It’s from his untitled forthcoming solo album, and in the meantime Brendan’s also on the new Stooges record singing back up on a song called “Free and Freaky.” For some other new song samples from Brendan, thanks to So Much Silence for pointing me here.

Weapon of Choice
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s third album Howl was a catchy, loose, bluesy-Americana treat in 2005. This sonic sample from their new album Baby 81 (due May 1) is definitely fuzzier and anthemic, although it also still has the tambourine that I love. It’s a trend I’m noticing more lately, a gravitation away from the young and bluesy sloppiness and into the more produced, larger sound. It will be interesting to see what the album as a whole is like. There’s one more sample song, 666 Conducer, streaming on their site and BRMC recently announced a tour with The Killers.

The Now
Mouthful of Bees
Having a mouthful of bees is pretty much my worst nightmare. Maybe an earful of bees. Whereas I can handle spiders completely without cringing, and once fearlessly killed a scorpion in El Salvador (okay, I had, because he was in my hostel room and no way we were sleeping together), something about bees literally gives me the cold shivers and a primal panic in my gut.

All that to say that I like this song despite the band name — kind of a David Byrne fronting a surf-music-trio vibe. Extremely fresh. Mouthful of Bees is from Minneapolis, and this song is from their 2007 album The End, out now on Afternoon Records.

Maybe We Should Fall In Love
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Here’s the first official mp3 released from the Roger Clyne camp for his new album No More Beautiful World, due out March 20. This one has an acoustic Mexican-seashore feel that’s a little more relaxed, similar to the reworkings of songs on the Four Unlike Before EP last year. It’s fun; it doesn’t grab me as unyieldingly as some of the cuts off Americano! but I still like it. Clyne is, of course, relentlessly touring as usual — starting in the homelands of AZ and CO, then up and down the West Coast in April, and from there . . . everywhere. An excellent show.

Arctic Monkeys
And finally we have a (non-radio-rip) mp3 of the new tune from Arctic Monkeys off their forthcoming album Favourite Worst Nightmare. It appears to be about someone named Brian who gets top marks for not trying and is apparently both smooth and wet, but other than that I can’t translate much. It is, however, relentless from the opening notes and catchy as all get out. I’d expect nothing less from these fresh-faced NME wunderkinds. The much ballyhooed followup to their 2006 album Whatever People Say I Am . . . is due out April 24th on Domino Records, and they just announced a North American tour which, unfortunately, skips the Rocky Mountains completely. Boo to that, but yay to this song. If it doesn’t make you dance a bit this Monday morning, then you clearly need some more coffee.

February 2, 2007

New album from Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers: No More Beautiful World

No More Beautiful World, the new album from Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, hits stores March 20, 2007. This will be RCPM’s 4th studio album, and it’s being produced, mixed, and engineered by Clif Norrell (who did the same jobs with Roger Clyne on previous band The Refreshments’ epic Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy).

To stream three of the 17 new songs on the album, dig the e-card.

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October 7, 2006

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers: New album update & NEW acoustic show

Fuel readers may remember that my first interview in this forum was a lovely conversation with the articulate and musically passionate Roger Clyne (of The Peacemakers and The Refreshments fame). I wanted to pass along an update email from Clyne with news of a new album and their wonderful bi-annual (or is it semi-annual? two times a year) Mexico show coming up next weekend. I think you can still get tickets (anyone up for a spontaneous Mexico trip?). He’s also touring (as always) in the coming months, including another stop through these Colorado parts on November 11th. Again, he always puts on an enthusiastic rock ‘n’ roll show, really pouring everything he’s got into it. See him if you can.

I also am pleased to present two new songs and some beloved favorites performed acoustically three days ago on Arizona’s Mix 96.9. Those can be found at the end of the post.

Dear Happy and Important Person,

I write you on a stormy full moon eve just a few hours before RCPM [Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers] ventures again into the recording studio to begin work on our next album. For reasons I’m apprehensive to admit, this year has streaked and sneaked by more quickly than any other I can almost remember. Here are some things I can recall. I know your time is precious, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

The first two-thirds of Roger Clyne’s year in review:
- RCPM toured when it was cold.
- I finally read “Life of Pi” and now understand why everyone kept badgering me about it.
- I can’t remember much more about the early part of the year until P.H. broke his collarbone.
- I got to outfit the whole band and crew in pirate garb and write it off!
- In May we again played our concert in Rocky Point, Mexico (in aforementioned pirate garb) where the audience (and band) consumed the most beer and spirits ever assembled in the state of Sonora in a mere 3 hours! The Sunset Cantina says it will not be caught off guard again in October. Sure, sure…
- I sailed across the Sea of Cortez. On the way back, the wind was howling and the waves were huge and there were sharks prowling around the boat. I want to go again.
- Steve and I got into a couple of big, loud fights together. I feel closer to him now.
- I climbed halfway up Mt. Rainier with Ed Viesturs and Peter Whittaker and hurt myself. Had to come down… shit. I want to go again.
- I got to tour with Cracker.
- I visited Tequila, Mexico where I believe I had a great time…(more on that as the photos develop).
- My dog taught me to run him around the block.
- I kept writing songs.

Tomorrow we’ll break ground on RCPM’s 4th studio album. We’ve Shanghaied Clif Norrell to be our producer, mixer and engineer. (He wore all those same hats when The Refreshments recorded Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy. He also played the mariachi trumpet lines on “Mexico.” I’ve asked that he bring his horn, just in case…) His job is to keep the band locked in the studio until we’ve recorded all 17 of the new songs. The studio nestles up to a very good microbrewery. Good luck, Clif.

Mexico…I’m going to live out one of my semi-adult fantasies again and play in a rock and roll band in a big dirt lot across the street from a hotel on the beach at a cantina with taco stands and cerveza and tequila and fireworks and stars the moon and throngs of friendly singing women and men and girls and girls and bad hats and good smiles and high spirits and more good stuff than I care not to punctuate…

This October, by some small milagro, we’ve managed to grow Circus Mexicus by 100% in duration. The gates to the Sunset Cantina will open on FRIDAY night, October 13th where and when our friends Shurman, Tramps & Thieves and some other special desperados will rock the joint!

On Saturday the 14th, we’ve the distinct pleasure to have Todd Snider join us to kick off the show. RCPM will inherit the remainder of the night and early morning. We’ve fooled someone, somehow, this time and did it all without anyone noticing that we didn’t raise the ticket price. Get it while you can, amigo. See you there.

Stay unbound and unwound,
Roger Clyne



Roger Clyne (guitars and vocals) & PH Naffah (drums)
Mix 96.9 Radio, Phoenix. October 4, 2006
All songs are acoustic live in-studio
01 – Banditos
02 – Interview
03 – Mexico
04 – Interview
05 – Noisy Head (new!)
06 – Interview
07 – Americano!

And a recording of another new song, from a concert in Sept 2006:

Hello New Day” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

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May 19, 2006

Roger Clyne Interview: “It’s beautiful, and it’s life, and there’s no incongruity in my mind.”

If you’ve been with this blog since the beginning (all two of you), or else you’ve clicked through the archives, you might know that Roger Clyne was the first artist I wrote about on I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS (in a charmingly rambling & naive piece), because I had just gone to see him in concert the day before I started this blog. I’ve also followed up with another, more proper and biographical post about him here.

Why do I like Roger Clyne so much? I’ve only been listening to him for a year or so. The first time I heard two of his songs on a mix CD, I was drawn to his energy and his great rock sound. I vividly remember driving home along the California freeway, windows down, springtime air, thinking that Clyne was a perfect soundtrack to that moment.

That’s why I am pleased to present to y’all an interview with the man himself, my first artist interview for FUEL. This will probably be my longest post of the year (unless I, uh, get that interview with Vedder), but hang with me. Something is encapsulated within Roger — his passion for making some truly excellent music, the way he articulates everyday beauty in poetic ways, and his good, good heart — that compels me to encourage you to get turned on to him too. Whether or not you specifically like his work, I think that the things he has to say will appeal and speak to anyone who truly loves music.

Roger Clyne is one of the hardest working artists in rock ‘n’ roll, and he isn’t tired of it yet. The independent model for the operation of his current band Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (previously The Refreshments) is something that countless other independent artists are also living on a daily basis. It is relentless, involving long months of touring, being away from family and home, working to get your music out there and your voice heard. But Roger would rather do this than anything. You see, it’s his calling.

I believe that through this kind of passion and urgency – therein may lie the salvation of rock ‘n’ roll.

I think you are certainly one of the busiest and most active musicians that I have seen in terms of touring and releasing. I wonder is it more work, necessarily, being in an independent rock ‘n’ roll band, versus your time with the Refreshments?

Yeah, touring for a good part of the year is pretty typical — that’s both a necessity and a blessing in an independent band. We don’t operate with any parent company or tour support. Every dollar that we spend on a bus repair – hallelujah – or recording comes from our relationship to the art and to the audience. So it’s really organic, definitely often very very close to the bottom line, but I enjoy it. It’s a thrill. It’s a thrilling ride.

It’s the ultimate litmus test to see if art can really lead commerce, and quality can lead quantity. And so far so good. I’m . . . I’m proud.

You quoted Paul Westerberg once when he said that rock ‘n’ roll looks a lot easier than it is. You certainly make it look enjoyable, if not easy.

Oh, it’s absolutely enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. There’s another wonderful paradox: it’s an incredibly difficult sport, but once I’m up there, it’s effortless.

All the things that get you to the stage – all the planning and logistics, all the budgeting and spreadsheets and phone calls and Mapquest and reservations and contracts that have to fall into place to make a two-hour show happen – that stuff is far more difficult than when I finally get up there, and I get let out of the chute, and I get to take the stage. Then performance seems to me like . . . the closest thing I can conceptualize what Zen is. I think that the timelessness that the masters talk about in the state of Zen, that all-consumptive one-moment feeling, I think that I am coming close to that feeling sometimes when I am on that stage.

Sometimes I am interrupted by a technical difficulty or who knows what, but there are times when I’ll have a really really effortless show. I may be physically working hard, but it seems to me like nothing has happened between start and stop, two and a half hours have gone by in a state of just total rapture, I love it.

Sometimes in songwriting I’ve had that experience as well. I have an hourglass in my writing room, and typically I require that I turn it over four times when I arrange time for my writing so that I will be there for four hours. There have been times when I will turn the hourglass over and turn to my guitar to mess with the melody or poetry or cadence or whatever part of the song it will be that day, and I’ll look up and the hourglass is empty and I won’t know how long it’s been. And that’s also just a really great feeling.

You mentioned your writing room, and you’ve also got a lyric (in “Feeling“) about writing a song on a front porch… is there a specific place where you like to do your songwriting?

When I am at home, I have a small piece of my garage that was the former owner’s woodshop. Basically I just painted it a lot of bright colors and hung some stuff in it and put a small uncomfortable chair and my guitar in there for writing. Uncomfortable chair because if I get too far into my creative trance, I’ll go into my sleep mode! If I can get away, I can really write anywhere. I find that the best place and time for me to write is where there are no interruptions from routine things at home – like taking the kids to school, checking email, or answering the phone — I find those things very, very interruptive to my creative process. I used to be a nighttime creator, but now I find that I work better very early in the morning, like 4am, right out of a sleep. I think it’s the pre-clutter clarity.

I read that you wrote “Leaky Little Boat” after waking up from a sleep like that?

I did, it was after a show in Mexico and there were a whole bunch of people crashed at our pad down there. It was weird, I’ve had this happen a couple of times, but it was like you know the song by heart before you’ve even heard it. It was sort of playing out in my head. It was like seeing a picture or looking at a painting and not even seeing the process, I don’t know what the process of creation was, it was just – BOOM, the song was streaming from my head.

So I jumped over whoever was sleeping on the floor there and ran out on the patio and grabbed the guitar and hit ‘go’ on my little Radio Shack cassette recorder and started singing it – kind of whispering it – and playing it, best I could find the key, and made it a song. Somebody said, “Hey, what is that?” and I was like, “Sshh, I don’t know, I don’t know!” But I still have that tape.

That sounds amazing, being a conduit for this music that comes from somewhere, that wants to be heard.

I am still in wonder. There are some artists that create and they just don’t know what the source is, it just comes through them. For the longest time, and this is my ego in a way, but I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, I thought that some of them were making it up. Until I actually had the experience — if you allow yourself to be open to it long enough, it comes. And it didn’t come to me in a single flash, it came to me moment by moment. I love that part of the process when you look back on what you did for the day or for the hour, it’s hard to believe that you were part of that creative process – like, I don’t know where I came up with THAT idea. And the more surprising they are, I think the more fun it is.

I would wonder if it is like learning another language, that moment when you realize that you have slipped naturally into speaking it, and thinking in it, and you are no longer struggling over the mechanics of how to express yourself.

Yes, that’s a great, fantastic analogy — that sounds very, very close to the experience I had. You become fluent in whatever that creative language really is.

I was excited recently to unexpectedly find your new EP Four Unlike Before on iTunes, and I really am enjoying the summertime/ acoustic/beach versions of some of the older songs. Is the opening track Mexicosis a new song?

Mexicosis is a brand-new track, I wrote it this year. As soon as I get stuff written, I always want to share it. There’s a part of me that goes, “Well, you’ve got to record it right, and let it evolve, etc. etc,” and I always have to be reminded of that by my band and management. But this whole Four Unlike Before thing has basically been a way to placate my drive to keep sharing music, and yet at the same time not give the surprise away, so to speak – let the fruit ripen on the vine with the new album.

We put the music together – that’s just us in PH’s bedroom with a whatchamacallit . . . it’s like a computer thing? iTunes? Or, not iTunes, a Mac, or an Apple, no…I don’t know what it’s called, some high-tech digital thing that expedites recording.

I feel that our relationship with the audience is good enough that we don’t have to be perfect in our presentation. I think that if you listen to a lot of recordings today, now not all of them – they’re so homogenized and so perfected it takes some of the spirit away, it takes some of the danger out of it, it takes some of the latitude of the expression away. Cuz sometimes with the mistakes – now, this is old cliché – but sometimes the mistakes are part of the art.

I think your fans appreciate the excitement in seeing your music evolve and take risks – I’d rather see that any day than something that’s candy-coated perfection.

I would too. You know, there’s something to be said for – when you get really good at something, it’s good to somehow keep growing within it. And every song offers that possibility, and so does every performance. If you allow it to become rote, it will be. You have the same relationship with anything for that long, whether it’s a person, or a place, or a performance – It can become mundane, but only if you let it.

Anyways, that’s a big tangent (laughs) – it was Mexicosis. I wanted to put it out and the guys, and Chris over at management, said alright let’s do that, let’s find a way. Releasing it through iTunes, we didn’t have to spend time doing a photo shoot and approving artwork and all sorts of liner notes and credits, etc etc. You’re allowed to get it out really quickly, without all of the physical limitations, I think it’s a cool format.

It must have also been interesting to revisit and rework some of your older songs as well for this EP, and to allow them to evolve in this new context.

Those things happen when sometimes we’ll mess around with songs before a show or rehearsal, warming up, and those are just ideas that stick. For example on “Sleep Like a Baby” if you listen to the rhythm guitar, it’s sort of done in a reggae beat, and the rest of the stuff is just the band’s creativity – we wanted to slow it down and see what the song would feel like with a reggae finish.

That La Playa version of “Counterclockwise” was one we did for a benefit that was actually laying around. I liked it a lot when we did it and it wasn’t widely released. It was for a now-defunct radio station in Phoenix called KZON, and only about 5000 copies were released, and we wanted to get it out there. It actually surprised us how fast it came out, and with little fanfare from us, though I had announced it in a letter. How fast it went through the iTunes channels was just excellent.

Technology is changing the way that many people learn about and listen to new music. You may have heard about the recent litigation against two Ryan Adams fans who are facing up to 11 years in prison for posting some of his songs on a fansite. How do you, as an artist, think that the growing technology of being able to share music online is helpful or harmful? Is it both? From your perspective, what’s it like?

It’s a dangerous genie, but I think ultimately it is going to be helpful. If art is going to have any value, it should be shared. If it’s going to be a conspirator in creating culture, if it’s gonna have any influence with the people then it needs to be shared, and not just from an economic or commercial point of view. The RIAA isn’t interested in culture creation or maintenance or improvement, they’re interested in commerce. Well, maybe that’s the culture they want to create. But it’s a very, very narrow culture, it’s not a humanistic culture.

I think that art needs to be shared. I think I’m involved in some way – I hope, I don’t want to sound self-important – in narrowing the gap, by removing middlemen from the process. I think it creates a healthier relationship between art and artist. I think the middleman in art and artistry is new, and by new I mean it’s only a few hundred years old that people have had to find a patron between art and artist. The way art came about is that it was good illumination, it was good guide, it was good expression, it was good fun. Sometimes the middleman in art can facilitate in a wonderful way, i.e. I think iTunes is a great thing, I think it creates an equitable relationship and you can go straight to an artist. I mean, you do have to pay a dollar, but I think a dollar is reasonable to find a song and learn about an artist.

But I don’t understand . . . it would be difficult for me to side with the RIAA on threatening to put someone in prison, taking 11 years away from a person’s life for posting a song that was meaningful to them on a fansite. It just seems so backwards and short-sighted. I mean, if they were caught bootlegging the entire Ryan Adams catalog and sending it to Taiwan, that’s clearly a different kind of violation. But come on, eleven years? Really, what kind of message are they sending about themselves? They are so involved in chasing down the dollar that they’re willing to say that we are personally going to imprison someone for celebrating what they thought was good about music, and I think that’s backwards.

It’s a tough knot to untie. There may always be a price tag associated with buying music, but not every piece all the time. If we look at the core relationship between art and audience and what that should be, money should play a very small role in the music being good and enduring and helpful in creating a culture whereby human beings begin to understand their relationship with music. The dollar bill is necessary in this society. . . we have to put gas in the bus, and studio time is not cheap. However, to prosecute fans is really a mistake and misguided.

Now, you had mentioned a new album and you’ve said would hopefully be released this year. Is that still on track?

Yes, it is still in the works. I have seventeen songs written for it, that the band and I are trying out and have have been doing them at soundchecks on these last two tours. Our big plan was to get a basic familiarity with them at soundchecks, working them through live, and then go into [guitarist] Steve [Larson]‘s little home studio and work up rough drafts so that we could all stand back and listen to what was going on, and simultaneously choose a producer, pick a budget, and a studio to record in.

Anyways, then [drummer] PH [Naffah] broke his collarbone (chuckles) and rehearsals for Mexico next weekend are actually taking precedence because it’s an immediate need. So we’re woodshedding again starting tomorrow morning. We are still planning for a release later this year — I don’t like to let too much time pass between studio releases. I know that Live at Billy Bob’s came out and we had to do a round of touring for that. But I like to keep the creative spark fanned and so, yeah, I really want to put out this album this year.

Speaking of [drummer/superb photographer] PH, how is he doing?

He’s doing well. I spoke with him this morning. He said he still feels like he got hit by a truck, but it goes away after a while. He’s like the kind of guy who won’t take painkillers. He is going to be able to play in Mexico, and what’s he’s going to do is he’s got a percussionist, kind of a supplemental drummer who will be his left-hand-man, so to speak. He is such a hard-working drummer – it’s pure concentration, yet somehow he’s still so spontaneous. When you see him play you say, “Wow – that’s what that guy was meant to do!”

I know you are a proud father of three kids, I’ve seen their painted handprints on your guitar in concert. Has the process of being a dad informed or changed your musicianship or songwriting at all?

Well, they are obviously such a huge part of my life, being a husband and a father and a provider (aside) – What? Wait, hold on – I’ve got one kid here with an arm full of stuffed animals asking me a question.

(In the background: “What? A bath? . . . Yeah, if you do it OUTSIDE. And don’t use the black tub. Be careful cuz the black tub will rub off and get them dirty. (child talking in the background) – Use a tin tub – Yes, you can, but dry them outside.”)

[Back to interview] . . . Sorry, there is going to be a stuffed animal bath in our backyard. It sounds like fun! Anyway, that is so big that it is hard to answer. I guess I did have a realization at one point, I was on tour and I hung up the phone after saying goodnight to the kids and my wife, and I knew it was going to be a long tour. There was a moment when I kind of let out a sigh to myself and I thought, “Crap, I’d really rather be at home.” And then I thought – Shame on me for saying that. I have this incredible opportunity, this incredible vocation & calling that I mustn’t turn away from.

I actually have a very good balance in my life, although being a musician presents a challenge of how to balance your life and how to answer a call like that, and how to become what you think you should become on all fronts. Because there are a lot of fronts: fatherhood and husbandhood and citizenship and peacemaking and rock ‘n’ roll and then just . . . fun.

But I thought to myself after I let that sigh go, you know what? I’m not going to waste a moment out here in regret. And I am certainly not going to waste a moment out here singing ‘woe is me,’ when I am spending my most valuable currency – time away from my family – or letting that affect in any way my performance here tonight to this audience, who have carved time out of their life to come and see what this band has to say as artists. Wow, but that’s a big question . . . kind of like “How has gravity affected the way you locomote?”

Okay, well, here’s another broad, tough one! Looking back, what is the neatest or best thing that you have gotten to be a part of because of your music?

Well, it may sound corny, but honestly, it’s just become who I am. I couldn’t be who I am speaking to you now without that music, speaking to you now, with my kids outside washing their stuffed animals in an old keg tub from my college days, writing up the setlist for the Mexico shows, none of this great stuff would be here if I hadn’t chosen to follow music. It all started when I just said yes to that scary question: “Are you really gonna do it?”

There was a moment in my life I recall, I was free of college, I had two degrees, I had a stipend waiting at CSU Long Beach, a paid ride to study psychology, and my dad asked me, “Well, what are you gonna do?” I was going to travel in Southeast Asia, I had the backup plan at CSULB, but I said to him, “I think I’m gonna try to be in a band, I think I’m gonna try music.” I remember that he looked at me and said, “Well then you’ve already failed.” And I was shocked, and I said, “Well, what do you mean?”

He replied, “Because you said you’re gonna try. I don’t care what you do, and actually you won’t care what you do, but whatever you do you’d better be the best you can be at it.” He’d always said that my whole life, but it was this big Yoda moment. It almost made me cry, I had to think about it a long time and had to figure it out; all these weights, all these other voices.

So I let the stipend go and burned all those bridges, I re-formed a band AGAIN, straight out of college in my mid-twenties, at a time when a lot of people are starting to settle down and listen to societal calls. You know, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .and I chose the one less traveled by and it has made all the difference.” The imperative was that simple. For me it was just to answer that call.

My last question is a literary one. In “Green & Dumb” you have a beautiful lyric, “All the pretty horses come running to her.” That is also the title of a novel by one of my favorite authors, Cormac McCarthy, and I was wondering if by chance there was a connection there. I ask because his books are like the literary equivalent of a lot of your songs, that whole part of the borderlands country and some of the wild outlaw beauty . . .

Wow, that’s a huge compliment to me. Yeah, I have read the Border Trilogy, and I don’t know if I was reading All The Pretty Horses at the time I wrote that, but definitely, his book is on my shelf right now. I love the themes, so romantic and adventurous – on the run, and on the road, away from society. And yet with a real mission and purpose and beauty.

I remember in reading his book, my imagination was so wide open because of the figures he uses in his writing. I was hoping that someday I could create or evoke a sense of physical place the way that he did. I still try to work it like that. I hope I can.

Well, you should go and assess the stuffed animal damage.

I know! Isn’t it great? It’s so weird, you know, like – here I am making up a setlist for a rock show, and fishing stuffed animals out of a keg tub. It’s beautiful, and it’s life, and there’s no incongruity in my mind.


MUSIC: There are three tracks for download within the text of the interview, and you should check out their new EP Four Unlike Before, full of harmonica and handclaps. Their 2004 release Americano! is highly recommended ’round these parts as indispensable.

eMusic also has their 2000 disc Honky Tonk Union and their live disc from last year, both excellent.

And don’t forget the Live Music Archive – try the recent Cinco de Mayo acoustic show in San Francisco for some good starters. Nothing compares to a live Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show. Everything Roger talks about in this interview, brought to life, in vivid color.

June 2 – Cheyenne Saloon, Las Vegas, NV
June 3 – Fiesta del Sol (free show!) – Solana Beach, CA
June 8 – Launchpad, Albuquerque, NM
June 9 – Wormy Dog Saloon, Oklahoma City
June 10-11 – Wakarusa Festival, Lawrence, KS
June 13 – Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
June 14 – Jillian’s Lounge Life, Covington, KY
June 15 – Gatsby’s Café & Saloon, Johnson City, TN
June 16 – Freebird Café, Jacksonville Beach, FL
June 17 – Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Jupiter, FL
June 18 – The Social, Orlando, FL
June 20 – The Parish at House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
June 21 – Continental Club, Houston, TX
June 23 – Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas, TX
June 24 – Antone’s, Austin, TX
August 19 – Fort Tuthill County Park Amphitheatre, Flagstaff, AZ
October 14 – Circus Mexicus, Puerto Penasco, Mexico
October 28 – BB Kings, New York, NY
May 19, 2007 – Circus Mexicus, Puerto Penasco, Mexico

April 1, 2006

Splashing around in the Live Music Archive

Ahhh, it is so much fun (and so time-consuming!) to just browse around and see what kind of good stuff there is for the listening in the Live Music Archive. It really is a phenomenal resource for music lovers. Late one night recently I spent some time immersed in the archives and I wanted to share with you what I sauntered away with, happily. Oh, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s like the Smithsonian, which I once got lost in during the class trip to Washington D.C. in junior high. It’s easy to wander off.

All kinds of great KFOG in-studio sessions (Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, Cracker, Cowboy Junkies, etc)

Lots of KCRW stuff (Ben Lee, David Gray, My Morning Jacket)

A bunch of Amoeba Records in-stores (Rogue Wave, Michael Franti & Spearhead, etc.)

10/10/04, Moonshine Festival in Laguna Beach
See You On Rooftops
(and note that the cringe-inducing hissing at the beginning stops shortly after the song starts)
**He was also featured on the surf-movie soundtrack Sprout that I posted about a while back

(formerly of Soul Coughing)
June 22, 2002 at the Aladdin Theatre, Portland OR
Grey Ghost (partly because it is a good song, and also because it is written about Jeff Buckley)

Recently added: February 26, 2000, The Empty Bottle in Chicago

Bent > Anna Begins
(one of his great original songs segueing into -!!!- a Counting Crows cover. Really lovely.)
(From his 10/29/04 show at the 9:30 Club, Washington DC).

FM Broadcast (= great quality) of the show at The Palace Theater in Louisville on November 23, 2005.
Off The Record

My favorite show of theirs to listen to from the Live Music Archive is still the August 19 show at the Gothic Theatre last year: It was my birthday, and my first inauguration to the sweaty, rockin’ goodness that is a Roger Clyne show. Plus, Clyne kissed my hand after the show for a birthday present. The whole show is top notch, and I love how it captures all the audience participation as well.

Loving Cup (Rolling Stones cover)
From their New Year’s Eve 2005 show, Mountain House, Santa Barbara

A great show from last month: 2/2/06, La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
I Turn My Camera On

Recent show: February 15, 2006 at the Carling Academy in Glasgow
(excellent setlist & show quality!):
Dear Chicago, an absolutely heartwrenching version of Please Do Not Let Me Go, and Ryan’s banter about receiving text messages from his mom.

Some goodness from his January 18, 2006 show at the Belly-Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA:
Cold Beverage > Gold Digger (Cold Beverage is a guilty pleasure of mine. Hidden talent: I can rap ALL the lyrics, stemming from the same SPIN Magazine cassette sampler in 1994 that introduced me to Jeff Buckley, oddly enough)
The Times They Are A Changin’ (yes, a Bob Dylan cover, since Garrett knows how to play the harmonica)
– And, why not: a little Booty Call action

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (with a little Just What I Needed thrown in) From August 5, 2005, Dodge Theatre, Phoenix

Soon Forget (Pearl Jam ukulele song)
From June 11, 2005 at the Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, TN

Free (with Donovan Frankenreiter)
From May 10, 2005, Palladium, Cologne, Germany

Three Is A Magic Number/3 Rs (a little Schoolhouse Rock love)
From the August 10, 2005 show at the Santa Barbara County Bowl
(Tip: don’t make drunken concertgoers chant counting answers!
Jack: “And the eighteenth letter of the alphabet is . . . “
(no response – crickets from the crowd) -
“Well, that’s kind of a hard one, it’s actually hard…”)

Plus, they have the whole Jack Johnson show at Santa Clara University (my alma mater) from Feb 10, 2002. I thought that was pretty cool, an excellent sound-quality recording.

It’s in the .shn format (like a lot of the stuff on the Live Music Archive), but there are some free converters that you can use to change it into .wav, then mp3 (I use FreeRip).

That should keep you well-stocked for the weekend, muchachos, wherever it takes you! Be good.

February 10, 2006

Roger Clyne can make peace with me A-N-Y-time

Just dancing around to a little Roger Clyne and I thought to make a post. Clyne was one of the first artists I posted about, and he is still worth a listen for those listeners just tuning in at home. One reviewer says, “Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers is the best live band in America…It’s a band with no radio play, no marketing, and yet fans from all over the world flock to sweaty, unbridled and kinetic 120-minute-plus shows.” (My edit: my brother heard Roger Clyne on the radio in San Diego, so some radio play, somewhere!). But having seen Clyne twice now in the past 6 months (he is from neighboring Arizona, so he comes through these parts with some blessed regularity), I can offer a hearty “amen” to that sentiment.

Roger Clyne used to front The Refreshments, and you may be familiar with their guitar stylings from King of The Hill’s theme song. Clyne has been steadily churning out great independent rock and roll with his new band The Peacemakers since The Refreshments disbanded, and puts on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. From the Live Music Archive, here are some highlights from the November 19, 2005 show that I attended in Boulder, Colorado:

Counterclockwise” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

Banditos” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (Refreshments song)

Mexican Moonshine” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

Leaky Little Boat” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

European Swallow/Kiss Off” (Violent Femmes tag) – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (Refreshments song)

I Don’t Need Another Thrill” – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

Baba O’Reilly” (Who cover) – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (I went a bit nuts for this one, I think if I had sung along any louder I may have ruptured my spleen or something)

Their excellent 2004 album ¡Americano! is definitely worth adding to your collection. says the following about the CD, and I think it is the perfect description:

“¡Americano! is one fine album; it should be played at earsplitting volume in pool halls, bowling alleys and backyard bashes and on college radio stations. It should blare from the CD players of fast cars roaring down empty highways under the stars and just before dawn. Indeed, it should be savored and celebrated by those swaggering street denizens known as the rock & roll faithful as proof that the good stuff never disappears.”

And Thom Jurek says in Paste Magazine, “Rock ‘n’ roll is still out there…¡Americano! is proof that the crazy, reckless, restless, swaggering soul of American rock is still burning a hole in the night sky…guitars blaze, quake and quiver, drums slip, thud and thunder with killer melodies and hooks and the occasional reggae or mariachi rhythm laced through the middle to keep it all honest and interesting.”

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers are on tour now, please check them out if they come to your neck of the woods. And if they are not coming near you, consider attending the twice-yearly Mexico beach bash that they throw. I would love to go, as I need a vacation.

03.10.06 & 03.11.06, Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
03.17.06, Aggie Theatre, Ft. Collins, CO
03.18.06, Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO
03.20.06, Skinner’s Pub, Brookings, SD
3.21.06, Knickerbockers, Lincoln, NE
03.22.06, The Reverb, Cedar Falls, IA
03.23.06, Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN
03.24.06 &03.25.06, Martyr’s, Chicago, IL
03.26.06, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
03.28.06, Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Ontario CANADA
03.29.06, Harper’s Ferry, Allston, MA
03.30.06, Grape Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA
03.31.06, The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
04.01.06, Rocks Off Boat Cruise, A cruise around NY Harbor and a headline RCPM concert!World Yacht Marina, New York, NY
04.02.06, State Theatre, Falls Church, VA
04.04.06, Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
04.05.06, Exit/In, Nashville, TN
05.06.06, The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA
05.20.06 (Saturday) RCPM Circus Mexicus
Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), MEXICO
WHERE: A concert space next to the Sunset Cantina in Rocky Point, Mexico. Doors 5pm, Mariachis 6-6:45pm, Openers David Lowery & Johnny Hickman of Cracker at 7pm, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers headline show at 8pm.
06.10.06 &06.11.06, Wakarusa. RCPM will play two days of this great music & camping festival featuring 70+ bands over four days. Lawrence, KS

Also, a little bit of news that I found amusing, and one more reason for me to consider attending one of Clyne’s twice-yearly Mexican beach bashes:

“Realizing a long-time dream, Roger Clyne introduces Mexican Moonshine, a 100% Blue Agave tequila created in limited supply with two Rocky Point cantina owners. Distilled in Tequila, Mexico, the full-bodied spirit is only available south of the border. Check out Mexican Moonshine here!”

Ha! Roger Clyne is The Man. He definitely loves his tequila, drinks it like a fish during his shows and share shots with the audience. My relationship with the stuff is a bit more contentious.

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November 20, 2005

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

So last night I got to see Roger Clyne and Peacemakers again with Kristy and Seth in Boulder. It was an awesome show, he is a fabulous performer live. I think he puts more into it than almost any other live artist I have seen. He has talent coming out his ears, plus, he has such a good heart & demeanor and that comes through in the music and in his interactions with the audience. It makes it fun to be involved with, after all my years as a teen-angst-grunge-rocker where all my idols could barely chin up to face the audience, some even playing with their back to us. Hey!

The opener band was too twangy for me, though the lead singer gal had a great Alison Krauss/Dolly Parton-type voice. The opener freaked Kristy out a bit because she thought I had roped in her into coming to a country concert (ha!). We checked out the merch table, I almost got the RCPM flask with their logo and the slogan “En Tequila Es Verdad,” which made me chuckle, but reconsidered. When would I really use a flask? The last time I had need for one it was during that loopy Fellini film in the Castro in SF this summer when Amanda and I snuck in a little something to make the art noveau of Fellini’s cinematic world seem more bearable and funny :P

It is hard to explain what kind of music RCPM plays to Kristy or anyone else that I would want to invite along for the first time to see them live. Their tagline is something like Cowboy Punk/Rio Grande Rock, but that isn’t really apt. Some songs are straight rock’n'roll (Thrill, Counterclockwise), ones that are just rad to sing along to at the top of your hoarse lungs (Mexico, Banditos), some have a calypso/mexicano twinge (Mexican Moonshine, Mekong), nice ballads too (Switchblade, Wanted)….just goes on and on. Just buy Americano! and his stuff with the Refreshments and your life will be better. I promise.

You can download some other cool live Roger Clyne tracks on the Live Music Archive site – apparently there is a Roger Clyne fan in Colorado who dutifully tapes all the shows and posts em up. Hopefully he will follow suit with last night’s show.

Dude, I nearly wet myself when they ended with a *screaming* cover of Baba O’Reilly. It reminded me of the days when Pearl Jam used to end their shows with that. It was in-sane.
Don’t cryyyy
Don’t brace your eyes
It’s only teeeeeenaaaage wasteland!!
Sally take my hand
We’ll travel south cross the land
Put out the fire and don’t look past my shoulder….
(hey, wait…what is this song about???)

They also threw in a snippet of Add it Up by the Violent Femmes. That just rocks and it was unexpected for me. We all sang along at the top of our lungs, “I take one, one, one cuz you left me and two, two, two for my family….” One of the greatest, um, overdose songs of all time. (Is there such thing as a great overdose song?) – That makes two Violent Femmes covers in live shows for me in as many months (OK Go covered Prove My Love). I saw the Violent Femmes live once at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, back in the day. That was also a very good show.

SIDE NOTE/REFLECTION: Johnny Cash/Walk The Line.
Man alive. That was a great movie. It makes me love the man even more, and understand a bit more of his struggles and how they informed his music. It made me think about the concept of music and performing, and getting what you think you want and finding out that it wasn’t what you wanted.

Cash thought he wanted to be a musician (and he did), but the process of becoming one splintered and shattered everything that he held dear, his first love/wife, his daughters, his health, his sanity at times. Listening to his duets with June Carter, watching the process of a new song coming together and taking life, the thought crossed my mind, wouldn’t that be awesome to do that? I would love to be a singer like that, I thought, express myself, entertain, create something beautiful. But then to watch the process of his entire life unraveling and the hell he created…which seems to be a recurrent theme among successful people during their ascent to the heights of stardom…it made me think about that whole process. Sometimes you think you want something, but when you look at who you really are, your inner motivations, listen to the way you tick and what is truly important to you, you realize that maybe that thing isn’t such a good idea after all.

Music link 1: There is an excellent bunch of mp3s you can download on (along the left toolbar):

Music link 2: Also a nice collection of mp3s from the You Ain’t No Picasso music blog of indie tracks the blogger loves and recommends.

OOoooh, and an excellent Cat Power cover (she is so smoky) on the Gorilla vs. Bear blog that I am totally digging. I have heard several very good tracks off her new album, The Greatest, coming out in January 2006. She is the master of covers in my book (well, one of the masters)…

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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