"It's payback for all the times we've played at non-all-ages venues," Hobart explains. "Now we can really get all ages by sucking up some of those little kids with the ice cream." To lure in the big kids, Hobart relies on such poignant, slow-paced country gems as "Forever Always Ends," "I'll Forget Her or Die Crying," and "'Til My Teardrops Turn to Gold." With all of that talk of sobbing, we'd expect Hobart to have seen some waterworks over the years, whether at a local gig or a dive on the road, but the singer claims he's yet to see his words lead to tears in patrons' beers. He does, however, say he's "heard that from people. People have said they've gotten choked up. I don't really expect that at our shows, which are kind of a party atmosphere, but some of the songs can evoke that feeling."
Another common perception, spurred by such relentlessly downbeat tunes, is that Hobart must be either a tortured artist sort (think Morrissey) or a hard-luck guy who's suffered through plenty of tough times. But the amiable Hobart dismisses such assumptions, explaining that his lyrics deal more with retention than repetition. "I think everybody can relate to having lost somewhere along the way, be it a grade-school crush or whatever. I believe that you can carry that with you for a long time, that kind of craziness."
After spooning out empathetic songs and ice cream to the Recycled Sounds crowd (some of whom might in fact be reeling from one of those scarring grade-school breakups), Hobart and the Boys will take to the road on October 14 for a five-week stint; they'll return to Kansas City for a one-night stand at Davey's on November 4.
After more than four years together, Glamour Puss is starting to get some national, and even international, attention. The surf-rock quartet has contributed tracks to compilations released in St. Louis and New York and has been featured in the Belgian magazine Shakin' Fever. However, the group still isn't getting quite enough love close to home, a phenomenon that has guitarist Jim Keeley feeling a bit sour.
"There's not much support in Kansas City," he says. "I hate to harp on KC, but I've had so many friends who have moved out of Kansas City or Lawrence because there's nowhere to play. People around here are so conservative that they either think surf music is the Beach Boys or they think that it's gotta be some kind of psychobilly that's paired with punk. Nobody's knowledgable."
For the sake of education, Glamour Puss' brand of mostly instrumental music could be compared to "Miserlou," the surf-guitar standard that powered Pulp Fiction's opening credits, or The Ventures' "Walk, Don't Run." However, don't look for the band to cover either of these familiar compositions in concert. Glamour Puss' setlist is more than half composed of originals, and Keeley says the group's covers are mostly obscure works from defunct bands. Although all of its songs are flavored with a twangy, reverb-fueled vintage tone (which can be attributed to Keeley's Fender Jazzmaster and the rest of the group's use of classic no-frills instruments), elements of psychedelic rock, punk, swing, and rockabilly show up in the mix.
"A lot of times you go to bars and the bands are so loud that it turns everybody off and they leave," Keeley says. "I'm for the underdog. I'm for the people who really want to hear quality music and say, 'Wow, that guitar sounds cool,' or 'Those drums sound cool,' not just to show up and go, 'This is just total fucking noise, but I guess this is what I'm supposed to listen to.'"
As a special reward for such underdogs, Keeley mails Glamour Puss' CD out to those who e-mail him (firstname.lastname@example.org) professing their love for surf music. "It's for the people," he says. "There's really no money involved, so I'll send them a CD for free just because they're people who appreciate it."
And people who appreciate it are much more plentiful overseas, so Glamour Puss continues to shop for European labels. But local surf-rock connoisseurs can catch the band in action on Saturday night at Pauly's.
Although Keeley has his doubts about the current local music scene, he maintains that the area thrived five years ago, a belief Paw can verify. When grunge broke and the rock world's spotlight shone on Seattle, prognosticators hustled to predict the next hip locale, looking for cities whose bellies were bursting with young musicians. Area music fans might recall that Lawrence ranked among these would-be band-breeders. Paw, the A&M-signed quartet that received widespread acclaim for its debut, Dragline, fueled the high hopes. Unfortunately, grunge died, A&M became a nonentity after a massive merger, and the quality of Lawrence's scene remained a well-kept secret.
Now there's new reason for optimism. After a five-year layoff, Paw has returned with Home Is a Strange Place, a Koch Records release that should be swallowed immediately by the postgrunge crowd that eagerly devours product from such lesser acts as Godsmack and Creed. (Early findings indicate that Paw has made inroads with the new-metal community as well. Amazon.com links the Deftones and A Perfect Circle, along with Pearl Jam, as the favorite picks of Paw purchasers.) This stellar seven-song effort proves that singer/guitarist Grant Fitch and lead vocalist Mark Hennessy, now joined by bassist Jason Magierowski and drummer Jesse Larson, have returned at the top of their game, with the growling stop-and-start rant "One Handed in the Red Room," the dark, gritty instrumental "Into the Woods," and the alternately tender and gruff "Blow Wind" each equaling the quality of their previous recorded output. Hennessy possesses a great rock voice -- commanding but emotional, clear but passionate -- and Fitch's intricate guitar work shames his power-chord reliant peers. Also, the group avoids traditional soft-verse-into-loud-chorus dynamics with multilayered songs that move from heavy yet melodic to subtle acoustic segments, often pausing for a moment before whipping back into rock mode.
The songs on Home Is a Strange Place stray adventurously between their compelling hooks, with "Naiad" featuring the most intriguing tangential instrumentation, and such jams surely will expand when Paw brings Home back to Lawrence on Friday night at The Bottleneck. Slurry, another grunge-tinged group, opens the show.
Phishing for Listeners
Phish-heads who want to properly prepare for the Vermont quartet's Sunday night show have several options available Friday night. They could toss in their well-worn CDs (and the requisite bootleg cassettes), stay tuned to KRBZ 96.5, which has a Phish single in heavy rotation, or switch their dials to KKFI 90.1 at midnight to hear an hour's worth of carefully chosen rarities and obscurities. The Velvet Sea, the program that will provide this service, is named after a Phish song, but on normal, non-concert-preparation weekends it's not all Phish, all the time. "I wanted to start a show that crossed such boundaries as genre and popularity," explains disc jockey Mark Moppin. "I play all live recordings of musicians' performances, which adds to the dynamic of the music and usually offers an opportunity to delve into the song."
Though the program's playlist remains wide open, Moppin customizes it for upcoming events, highlighting artists from the Blues and Jazz Festival or such touring acts as Ween and Widespread Panic prior to the concerts. He says the Phish show will receive the deluxe treatment, with snippets from the band's notorious rendition of The Beatles' White Album making their way into the mix. Tune in, turn out, drop out.