Monthly Archives: March 2012


Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel To Release Solo Album and EP
By Hilary Saunders

Camper Van Beethoven co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel will release not only a full solo album, but also an instrumental EP on March 6 via Magnetic records.

The vocal LP, All Attractions, was mostly written in the Swedish countryside and features a number of guest musicians including CVB bandmate Victor Krummenacher on bass and guitar, Counting Crows’ David Immergluck on vocals and Built To Spill’s Brett Netson on the track “I Know You Know Me (Hey You),” just to name a few.

The bonus instrumental EP entitled Apricot Jam pays homage to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album (which we quite like) in the form of seven improvised jams between him and John Hanes (drums), Krummenacher (bass) and Graham Connah (Hammond organ).

Segel will perform solo and with CVB at the first annual Camp-In in Athens, Ga. March 1-3, but in the meantime, check out the album information and stream/download his first single, “(Ever and) Always” below.

ELECTRIC GHOST (UK monthly music e-journal) – Positive album review with artist photo

DAGGERZINE (online music magazine) – Positive album review

Including the instruments he plays on Apricot Jam, the bonus disc included with the All Attractions CD, Jonathan Segel, who’s known for his role in Camper Van Beethoven, contributes violin, guitar, synthesizer, theremin, keyboards, and vocals. Segel’s one of those quadruple-plus threats for whom ambitious bands tend to compete – a mini list of those who’ve won his attention includes Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith, Young Fresh Fellows, and Sparklehorse. Comparing All Attractions with David Lowery’s last, typically high-spirited solo effort makes it clear that CVB got some of its more outlandish genes from Segel. There’s nothing even close to “Take the Skinheads Bowling” on All Attractions or Apricot Jam, which feature more intricately musical, wide-ranging, and less Pop-orientated fodder. The lead AA track, “(Ever and) Always” may have a CVB-sorta title. But it’s a classic, acid-rocking jam for five of its eight-plus minutes; after which something more like a song springs from its roots. “Hey You (I Know You Know Me”), the folksy ballad that follows, is seeded with the sweet notes of mandolins, acoustic guitar, and vocals with that droopsy CVB lilt. The third tune could nestle nicely next to one from Poco or Wilco. That’s more or less how All Attractions goes, although Segel’s fondness for foot-stomping, distorted guitar jams is the spice making this party noteworthy (along with the streamers and water balloons thrown around by guests including David Immergluck, Chris Xefos, Brett Nelson, and Victor Krummenacher). If you’re stoked by All Attractions/Apricot Jam, check Segel’s Wiki, along with the fascinating website he started with Krummenacher — to date, in addition to CVB releases, he’s contributed to over 50 albums, including soundtracks. MARY LEARY

KYRS RADIO (Spokane, WA Community Radio) –  Hour-long feature interview with spins from new records on Bob Rice’s “Crossroads” show Sun March 25th.
Last Sundays Second Hour Program Follow Up!
It was a pleasure having Jonathan Segel as my second hour guest. Be sure to check out his “hot off the press” new record All Attractions. Complete information on Jonathan, his music and Camper Van Beethoven news can be found by simply clicking on photo … Thanks again Jonathan!

CULTURE BRATS (online music site) –  Feature interview

All Attractions: Our Interview With Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel
by Duffmano on Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jonathan Segel may be best known to some as the man who gets to play some of the most memorable violin parts in rock and roll, but he is an accomplished musician and composer in his own right with a catalog that extends far beyond his Camper Van Beethoven projects. Listening to his many and varied pursuits you’d be hard pressed to remember that only one man was responsible for them all.

On an unusually warm March afternoon, I sat on my front porch and talked to Camper Van Beethoven’s co-founder and violin virtuoso about his many talents and his new musical offering, All Attractions.

Hey Jonathan how are you today?

J.S.: Great, thank you. How are you?

Doing wonderful. I thought we could start out talking a little about the new album All Attractions. I listened to the songs quite a few times and I really like it.

J.S.: Oh good, nice. Thank you!

I noticed that it’s described as “guitar heavy” which while it’s totally true, struck me as funny because you are hard to pin down musically.

J.S.: Ha! Uh ha, true.

Did you feel like you needed to qualify to differentiate from the improvisational electronic music you’ve done?

J.S.: Well also from the violin because in Camper Van Beethoven I played violin most of the time and that’s mostly the reason for the differentiation. When people think of me as part of Camper Van Beethoven, they think of me as the violin player.

Weird, I always think of you as co-founder, although you do play a mean fiddle. Are you going to be touring to support the record?

J.S.: Probably just a few local shows. I can’t really afford to get musicians out on the road at this point.

I’m seeing quite a few acts taking it on the road solo these days. Solo acoustic or pared-down versions of the band. You are in California which sounds like us east coasters are going to be awfully sad missing out.

J.S.: Maybe not, but it probably won’t happen until next fall if you do see me!

I have a favorite song on All Attractions: “Listen,” with “She’s a Peach” and “Singularity” coming in a close second and third. Who else plays on these tracks?

J.S.: Let’s see, Chris Xefos is playing bass on that song and I think Victor Krummenacher is playing guitar. He’s the bass player from CVB, he played some of the guitar on the rhythm guitar track.

You are a multi-instrumentalist, you compose, you sing, and you still do an enormous amount of collaboration even thought you can seemingly do the whole thing solo. Do you think that’s in reaction to the temptation to do it all yourself because you can, or is it because the artists with which you play are so fantastic?

J.S.: Well it’s both of those things actually. One of the things is that no matter how much I can do by myself or want to do by myself, other people that are involved are going to come up with new ideas or things that I hadn’t thought about and that I love. When you start playing music with other people and they come up with stuff you wouldn’t have, it’s great.

The things you compose and the various artists you work with are wildly divergent. From pieces for dance troupes to electronic, I wasn’t aware that you were doing so much.

J.S.: That’s the thing. Even when Camper first started, I was doing electronic music. A lot of it of course was tape music back in the ’80s. Little bits and pieces of it sort of found their way into Camper Van Beethoven records you know. Eventually.

You have a masters degree in music composition and you’ve worked on countless film soundtracks. You work on many of these things simultaneously so do you ever have to take a break to get back into the swing of what you currently have going on or do you change gears as the mood hits you?

J.S.: Exactly. I sort of go back and forth but I do simultaneously work on multiple projects at once. For instance, it took several years to finish All Attractions and the funny part about that to me was that then it took one day to make Apricot Jam.

One day?

J.S.: Yeah, because basically we were in the studio recording the last basic tracks for All Attractions and we had a whole afternoon free so we were like, “Why don’t we just improvise?” So we just did that.

That’s a little stunning.

J.S.: But at the same time over the course of the years it took me writing All Attractions and recording bits and pieces of it, I sort of left it alone for periods of time, like eight, nine months at a time and did other things. On the BandCamp page there is a third little sort of group of songs called Turn Slowly For Maximum Vend and those are the sorts of outtakes that I was working on during the same period of time that I was working on All Attractions.

You aren’t hurting for lack of musical ideas, huh?

J.S.: Yeah, definitely not. I would write and record a lot more even but I’ve been working so much lately. That sort of takes it out of you.

You’re lucky in that you have a massive skill set to pull from when it’s time to go to work. Do you have any advice for young artists who are out there slogging it out and making a living?

J.S.: Well I don’t know about advice but definitely people need to play to their own strengths rather than trying to play to the strengths of some non-existent industry or what they think is going to be cool. Try to figure out what it is that you want to hear most of all. For the most part, I like a lot of different kinds of music. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and when I make music I’m trying to make something that I find would be fun and interesting to listen to.

Yeah, so much of your stuff is really innovative and some of it really surprised me, which is unusual.

J.S.: Nice, thanks! That’s great.

The state of the corporate music industry these days is something to behold. It’s almost like watching a giant historic building reduced to rubble.

J.S.: I know!

What do you think about the decline and the more positive shift towards the do-it-yourself philosophy where a lot of these artists are making it and taking it straight to the consumer?

J.S.: Right, as an idea or a sort of theory it’s a good thing but one of the things that was nice at the time when people actually had record labels was that record labels did put up a lot of the sort of venture capital to be able to pay for people to record. And I actually really did like the way that the recording industry developed. A lot of people, we do it at home now but you can hear the difference. And I’m not sure that most people care much anymore about the difference. People like me, and people who have been involved with music for a long time and like listening to music that is higher fidelity, like the sound of a really well-recorded record. I don’t think that a lot of people that are listening to mp3s or iTunes care too much about that sort of thing anymore. So I think that there is definitely a cultural shift not only in the industry but there’s a cultural shift in the listener.

That is so true. While I’m not a well-trained ear, I definitely appreciate a great-sounding record.

J.S.: It’s nice that artists that are established still have the availability to be able to spend the money and record records even if it’s not going to bring them the same sort of income as it used to. Artists that can afford to tour and I think touring is one of the difficulties right now because for a little while there people were saying, “Well, everybody’s got to go out on tour in order to make money because we can’t make money on selling CDs anymore.” But then everybody went out on tour and no one could fill up a venue for awhile because there were shows like every night. Not last fall but the fall before I remember there were bands that I wanted to see every single night at every venue. And I’m like, “Okay, I don’t know how this is going to work out.”

That sounds like a pretty cool dilemma. Although with some of the ticket prices these days, you’d be bankrupt within two weeks.

J.S.: Again, for awhile that was the big source of income.

I’m a big believer in using my allowance to pay for concert tickets.

You’ve had a pretty eventful and interesting life, have you ever considered writing a book?

J.S.: I have! I don’t know when, because that type of thing would take a lot of time but I have definitely thought about it. I actually write fairly well and I’ve actually had periods of time where I’ve had to write for a living like writing for Electronic Musician magazine and stuff like that and I have considered writing a book before but I haven’t actually delved into the reality of that.

Okay, let’s get to The CB3. Purple Rain or Thriller?
J.S.: Oh boy, that’s tough. I’m going with Purple Rain.

If you were in charge of a music festival what artists living or dead would you choose for the roster and what would be their final jam?

J.S.: Oh my god. Well, the final jam would be Jimi Hendrix with Pink Floyd from about 1970. Actually, who else would be on there? Um, how many can I list? I’d definitely like to put on Radiohead and PJ Harvey, I love seeing their shows so much, really incredible stuff. Then I guess we’ll get Camper Van Beethoven to open it.

In school were you an athlete, the basket case, the princess, the brain or the criminal?
J.S.: Boy, that’s tough again. I’d say the criminal.

I won’t ask any further questions since I don’t want to implicate you, but thanks for talking with us and again, the album is great.

J.S.: Thank you and have a good one!

BARN OWL BLUES (Belgium online music site) –  Positive album review in Dutch with album art
Jonathan Segel – All Attractions / Apricot Jam

Multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel is a busy guy. As member and founder of Camper Van Beethoven he knew how to surprise us with gems, but alone he still is busy. Together with his CVB mate Victor Krummenacher and some friends he just released the album “All Attractions”. And at the same time with this ten song long album he released a bonus CD “Apricot Jam” with seven original instrumentals.
Most songs are written on the Swedish countryside, where he and his Swedish wife take their yearly holiday. And the peace and quiet of the country is audible on the album. Most song are reminiscent of the folky rock from the sicties and seventies.
Nice examples of this are the acoustic version of “Hey You (I Know You Know Me)”, which is repeated electrically at the end of the album, and the beautiful storytelling “Listen”. The album consists of ten strong and wellbuilt songs. And every time you listen to them you will hear new things.
The second album “Apricot Jam” is in fact a seven song long jam. And it shows that it can be done less lovely and ‘folky’ as on the first album. The approach is more in the direction of the long jamsessions as we know from the likes of Grateful Dead and others. Really well done, but a whole different style. But it is very nice to be able to listen to both styles.

ALT COUNTRY FORUM (Belgium online music site) –  Positive album review in Dutch with album art and video.

ROOTSTIME (Belgium online music site) –  Positive album review in Dutch
Loose translation:
Maybe you’ve never heard of Jonathan Segel, but if you are more focused on the music business and your interest in the and Americana genre is, you will certainly have this man as a violinist at work heard in his fixed group Camper Van Beethoven “or in the 90s as an opportunity guitarist ‘Sparklehorse’.

Born in the French Marseille but grew up in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California came Jonathan Segel soon in contact with the music scene in Santa Cruz and was in 1983 he co-founded the alternative rock group Camper Van Beethoven, the musical project which also subsequent ‘cracker frontman David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher and Frank Funaro cooperating.

Jonathan Segel has his whole life dedicated to playing various instruments, musical jamming and improvising, his second life and occasionally did he sometimes an instrumental soundtrack for movies. In addition, there was still some time to solo work to take and spend. Thus in 2008 there appeared a strong solo rock album with “Honey” in which the guitar sounds clearly committed to get the upper hand.

Now he does both in one fell swoop with the release of his new solo album “All Attractions” plus a second instrumental album “Apricot Jam” was added as a bonus CD. The latter CD contains 7 tracks where jam sessions to hear that Jonathan Segel on guitar with “Camper’ colleague Victor Krummenacher on bass, John Hanes on drums and Graham Connah on Hammond Organ in ‘Decibelle’ studio in San Francisco response.

“All Attractions” is the real new album by Jonathan Segel and consists of 10 songs composed by him when he sings, but again let his guitar tones dominate the rock songs. With the nearly 9 minute song “(And Ever) Always” is theatrical and epic began with an impressive guitar solo, then the song develops into something more than halfway into a singing and swinging rock track.

Number 2 is just under 8 minute ballad “Hey You (I Know You Know Me)” which he first shows us that he also has a beautiful singing voice. In the song “Listen” has the vocal aspect got the upper hand on the accompanying music, although the song towards the end also becomes an epic guitar rocker.

“Singularity” is a “Camper Van Beethoven’-worthy rock song and the funky” What Goes Around “will receive the least interesting of the label along track on this album. “The Good One” is his title is entirely true and also according to “the best one” to “All Attractions”. In the instrumental, classical-sounding music atmosphere “Winter” Jonathan Segel plays on his violin, while the Swedish-American Espvall Helena (the formation of ‘Espers’) on cello playing along.

At the very end in the jamsessievirtuoos Jonathan Segel again strongly upward in the more than 13-minute track “I Know You Know Me (Hey You)”. Note the funny song title woordmix in this respect the 2nd song on this CD.

Still quick to mention that we have heard that the original lineup of “Camper Van Beethoven” eight years after their reunion album “Times New Roman” in 2004 on a new album in the works later this year on the market will come. Until that will happen, you can certainly enjoy the musical offerings on the CD “All Attractions” of their co-founder Jonathan Segel.

ADOBE AND TEARDROPS (online music blog) –  Positive album review
Jonathan Segel — All Attractions
Back in 1985, David Barbe of Mercyland sang,

A three-man band is bound by natural limitations.
How bound must we be?
Is there a rule that says we bank on imitation
And limit songs to only three
Minutes and parts, that is?

Jonathan Segel has an answer to that question.

I am completely unfamiliar with Segel’s work in Camper Van Beethoven. All I know about that band is that David Lowery is in it, and, frankly, he seems like kind of a douche. So kudos to Segel to putting up with him, I guess. In the interest of transparency, this album ended up in my inbox for “editorial consideration,” and I’m really glad it did.

Only one song in this album clocks in at 3 minutes, and that’s the shortest one of the lot. I don’t know what kind of music he plays with his other projects, but here Segel states rather emphatically that rock songs — even catchy ones — don’t have to be short to be sweet.

I’ve never been one for jam bands, but I’ve felt that rock and roll doesn’t always need to be so curt in order to pack a punch. Segel manages to find the balance between self-indulgent noodling and legitimate musical exploration. The songs float across genres, and the theme that unites them — searching for that one person who understands you — is eloquently expressed without sounding hackneyed or corny. For this, Segel deserves a huge round of applause for risking — and attaining — what many rock’n’rollers shy away from: an emotionally honest, deeply adventurous, and profoudnly satisfying album. And since the digital download is only $5, that’s definitely money well-spent.

(Ever And) Always
Hey You (I Know You Know Me)

EXAMINER (online A&E site) –  News feature with album art and related links.
Camper Van Beethoven Co-Founder Jonathan Siegel releases new solo album
Chris Cordani
Multi-instrumentalist and Camper Van Beethoven co-founder Jonathan Segel today releases his latest solo album, All Attractions. It is Segel’s 13th post-Camper collection, and first since 2007’s Honey.

Segal wrote the music for All Attractions while staying with his wife’s family on the Swedish countryside. The tracks are inspired by a combination of 70s guitar rock and today’s modern alt-rock sounds. Segal’s former Camper Van Beethoven band mate Victor Krummenacher plays bass and guitar throughout the new album which also features an all-star lineup that includes former King Missile bassist Chris Xefos and longtime standout drummer John Hanes. Among the other guests on Segal’s new creation are David Immergluck (backing vocals), Helena Espvall (vocals/cello) and Brett Netson (guitar lead on “I Know You Know Me (Hey You)”

Segal also released a seven-track all-instrumental EP titled Apricot Jam, which is essentially a superstar jam session between him, Hanes, Krummenacher and Graham Connah. According to a press release, the album title is a reference to George Harrison’s third LP in his All Things Must Pass set.

Both albums are available as CDs and as downloads.

WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY (online music blog) – Positive album review
REVIEW: Jonathan Segel – All Attractions
All Attractions is an old-school California rock album with some terrific guitar work from the multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel, part of what was always great about Camper Van Beethoven.

The record was started by Jonathan working with fellow Camper Van Beethoven bandmate Victor Krummenacher on bass and guitar, and their SF Bay Area cohorts former King Missile/Moth Wranglers’ Chris Xefos playing some bass and doing the recording and mixing, and John Hanes on drums. The lead guitar on the track “I Know You Know Me (Hey You),” you’ll say “this sounds familiar” and you’d be right. It’s Brett Netson from Built to Spill. This record carries a lot in common with BTS records – long songs, impeccable chops and good melodies.

The first song, the 8:30 “Ever and Always”, starts off with about a 5:00 instrumental introduction, reminiscent of maybe “Interstellar Overdrive”… and the album takes off from there. It’s heavy on the psychedelic guitars, well-played and Segel’s understated vocals grow on you. But the guitars grab you from the start. That’s what you’ll come back for.

As a bonus, there’s a 7-song EP called Apricot Jam which is included if you buy a physical CD. From Jonathan’s website: “After the last basic tracks were recorded for the accompanying CD All Attractions, John Hanes (drums), Victor Krummenacher (bass), Graham Connah (organ) and Jonathan Segel (guitar) jammed for several hours. These were 6 tracks, which started there, taken home and made into composition out of the improvisation, (which is always super fun.)”

Read more about what Segel’s been up to, and sample more of his music, at the Magnetic Records website, or check out downloads at Bandcamp:

If there’s anybody out there who still likes extended-length guitar rock songs, this record is good news. Out today, and recommended.

REVENGE OF THE 80S RADIO (online music blog) – News feature with album art and related links

MAGNET MAGAZINE (national bi-monthly music magazine) – “(Ever And) Always” mp3 featured in Magnet’s “New Music Tuesday”

MAGNET MAGAZINE (national bi-monthly music magazine) –All Attractions featuring in their weekly poll “What Record Are You Most Looking Forward To Next Week?”

ATHENS EXAMINER (Athens online A&E site) – CampIn preview with mention of All Attractions.
In other CVB news, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel will play a free show on Saturday at the Flicker Theatre & Bar in Athens ( He has a new album, “All Attractions,” coming out on March 6. It includes a seven-song improvised jam EP, “Apricot Jam.” On the record he’s joined by fellow CVB bandmate Victor Krummenacher, Chris Xefos (King Missle), David Immergluck (ex-CVB, Counting Crows) and Brett Netson (Built To Spill).

JAMBANDS (online music magazine / sister site to RELIX) – News feature (with “(Ever and )Always” mp3, album art and related links.

Members of Counting Crows, Built to Spill and More Join Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel On New Album
Camper Van Beethoven co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel will release a full-length solo effort, All Attractions, on March 6. Most of the album’s songs were written in the Swedish countryside where Segal and his wife—who is Swedish—vacation every summer.

According to Segal’s camp, “Although one would expect a pastoral tone, the music ends up as some rocking electric guitar-based tunes, evoking the big ’70s rock bands of the past, along with some more contemporary features thrown in.”

The album features a number of guests, including Camper Van Beethoven’s Victor Krummenacher on bass and guitar, King Missile/Moth Wranglers’ Chris Xefos on bass, John Hanes on drums and Built To Spill’s Brett Netson on guitar. A number of musicians also supply backing vocals, including Counting Crows’ David Immergluck, Baby Flamehead’s Eden Daniels and Espers’ Helena Espvall (who also contributed some cello).

At the end of the recording process, Segel used Kickstarter to fund the mixing, mastering and manufacturing of the CDs. As part of this project Segel will not only release the full-length All Attractions studio album, but also the seven-track bonus instrumental EP Apricot Jam, an organic collection of improvised jamming alongside Hanes (drums), Krummenacher and Graham Connah (Hammond organ). The title is an obvious nod to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album.

Segel will perform material from All Attractions as part of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker’s Camp-In Music Festival at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA on March 1-3 2012.

QRO MAGAZINE (online music magazine) – Positive 7.9 album review.  album art and related links.
Jonathan Segel
All Attractions
By Ted Chase
The Bay Area’s Jonathan Segel is best known for his work in the genre-crossing/defying alt-rock outfit Camper Van Beethoven, but the multi-instrumentalist has performed in numerous other groups (such as Sparklehorse in the nineties) and done his own solo material.  With All Attractions, the northern Californian definitely leans on the jam, but for an album that is both epic and touching.

In Camper and his work in other groups, Segel is primarily a violinist, but he focuses on the guitar on All Attractions – there are a lot more rock guitarists than rock violinists out there, so it’s only natural that he’s more sought-out elsewhere for his violin, and thus his solo record would be where he gets to most play his axe.  Segel does extend his guitar work into jam-lengths – openers “(Ever and) Always” & “Hey You (I Know You Know Me)” average at eight minutes, while closer “I Know You Know Me (Hey You)” nearly reaches thirteen, with an average of about six minutes per track on the record.  Thankfully, Segel knows more than enough about melody to eschew both jam-guitar wankery and rock guitar shred solos, instead using his instrument to carry the listener.

Extended pieces like the openers & closer are large and encompassing, but also can touch in a more intimate fashion.  “I Know You Know Me (Hey You)” manages to bring everything together in a superb fashion, both grand instrumentals and moving intimacy.  Indeed, the longer pieces like those three and the ‘lost Americana’ “The Dark Torch” outshine the (relative) shorter ones, such as the more psyched “Listen”, grind “Singularity”, and a bit funkier “What Goes Around”, though the shortest song on Attractions, “The Good One”, might be the Good-est one.

And for lovers of the jam, there’s also a bonus disc of seven improvised instrumentals, Apricot Jams, that goes with All Attractions.

Camper Van Beethoven are gearing up for a new album, their first since 2004’s reunion record New Roman Times.  But before that, pick up Jonathan Segel’s All Attractions for big & small journey.

LARGEHEARTED BOY (online music blog) – “(Ever and )Always”  mp3 featured in their “Daily Downloads” feature

ELECTROBLOGS (online music blog) – News feature with artist photo
Posted by Christopher Levine
Quirky, different, eclectic, hard to categorize…the music of Camper Van Beethoven had no boudaries. I mean, who else at the time were releasing singles with titles like “Take the Skinheads Bowling?” From this band emerged the band Cracker later, and CVB’s cover of “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was a total Modern Rock & College staple. The violin on “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was played by long-time member Jonathan Segal.

Segal is going to be releasing a collection of his own work in March entitled “All Attractions,” and the the sound is really gratifying. Recorded in Sweden- hey, why not, right?- it has a varied feel as to be expected, but isn’t afraid to rock. Word has it there will be a pretty cool guest list of musicians and contributors, so stay tuned. Oh, and by the way…Jonathan Segel will be performing material from “All Attractions” as part of Camper Van Beethoven & Cracker’s CAMP-IN Music Festival at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA on March 1-3 2012.

RADIO ALTERNO (Spanish radio & music site ) – News feature posted on their site (in Spanish)

MUCK RACK / CHICAGO SUN TIMES– News feature (from Paste feature) with “(Ever and )Always” mp3, album art and related links posted by Sun Times music critic Thomas Connor.

95 ROCK RADIO (Augusta, GA Rock Radio ) – News feature posted on their site (from AntiMusic post)

WNEW RADIO– News feature posted with video and related links.
Camper Van Beethoven‘s Jonathan Segel will his newest solo album, All Attractions, on March 6th

According to a press release, most of the songs were written in the Swedish countryside where he and his wife regularly spend the summer with her family. Though one would expect the set to be pastoral in its approach, record reportedly “ends up as some rocking electric guitar-based tunes, evoking the big ’70s rock bands of the past, along with some more contemporary features thrown in.”

Word on the record began in San Francisco with Segel joining fellow Camper Victor Krummenacher on bass, John Hanes on drums and guitar and former King Missile/Moth Wranglers’ Chris Xefos doing the recording and mixing (along with adding a bit of bass himself).

Counting Crows‘ David Immergluck, Baby Flamehead’s Eden Daniels and Espers‘ Helena Espvall has notably contributed vox and Built To Spill’s Brett Netson adds lead guitar lead on “I Know You Know Me (Hey You).”

Here’s a look back at a live Segel solo cut from 2007.

T.O.SNOBS MUSIC (Toronto-based online music blog) – “(Ever and )Always” mp3 featured with brief news
Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel ready with solo album
Camper Van Beethoven multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel will be releasing his new solo album shortly.  The record, All Attractions, comes out on March 6th, with a companion EP, Apricot Jam, of improvised jams.

The album was recorded with help from his CVB bandmate Victor Krummenacher, as well as members of King Missile, Counting Crows, Built To Spill and more.

STARS ARE SHINING BRIGHT (online music blog) – “(Ever and )Always” mp3 featured with brief news
Jonathan Segal – (Ever and) Always
From Camper Van Beethoven co-founder, Jonathan Segel, here is the first extract from his next solo album, All Attractions. The beginning of the track reminded me of the beginning of In Chains from Depeche Mode’s last album.

DANE 101 (Madison daily) – Feature interview with album news and CVB preview
Soundcheck: Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven
Camper Van Beethoven are one of the weirdest bands to emerge from Southern California. During their heyday in the mid-80s they blended a kitchen sink mix of rock, ska, folk and country in a sound that foreran the alternative music explosion of the early 90s. Founding member Jonathan Segel (violin) left the band in 1988 and started a record label with fellow CvB alum Victor Krummacher. He also taught music composition at Ohlone College and worked as a listener advocate for Pandora. Segel has roots in Madison as his parents met here as grad students in the late 50s. He raised money to fund his latest record All Attractions via Kickstarter where fans can donate money directly to an artist to help defray the cost of recording and production. Camper Van Beethoven got back together at the turn of the century and picked up right where they left off, releasing New Roman Times in 2003 to excellent reviews. Dane101 talked to Segel in late December.

Dane101: Are you guys on tour right now?

Jonathan Segel: No, we’re starting up in about a week. We do the New Year’s Eve show in Chicago and then head to the show in Madison and then in St Louis I think? Then we’re doing some shows in California a month after that.

Dane101: And CvB has a new record coming out? I haven’t seen anything about it anywhere besides some pictures of you guys at work.

Jonathan Segel: Yeah, we spend a lot of time hanging out in the studio (laughs). The record is mostly recorded and we’re probably doing overdubs and such during the down time on the first part of the tour. Everyone in the band is riding a wave of creativity right now. David (Lowery) put a solo record out and I’ve got two records coming out in January and Victor (Krummacher) is working on a record as well.

Dane101: Tell me a bit about your new records and your band.

Jonathan Segel: All Attractions is a rock record. I didn’t think I was going to make any more rock records after Honey but here we are. Victor is on the record as well as the fabulous drummer John Hanes, who I’ve worked with for a long time. We do some shows in the Bay area, we opened for Built to Spill a few years back which was a lot of fun. The Apricot Jam record is really just a bonus disc where we took some stuff we worked out in the days off from recording and I took those recordings home and messed with them a bit.

Dane101: Your Bandcamp page is really impressive with the massive volume of stuff you’ve done over the last twenty years.

Jonathan Segel: Recently I’ve tried to put everything up that I’ve had a hand in, which is indeed a large amount of stuff and includes the soundtrack work I’ve done.

Dane101: What was the scene like when CvB started gigging?

Jonathan Segel: Our first shows in 1983 were strange because the SoCal music scene was very punk rock. There was this specific notion about what punk was supposed to be–if you didn’t sound like Black Flag, you weren’t punk rock. If you listen to the early CvB records we sort of sounded like punk but we would do these shows where we would say “Okay, we’re going to play this song but do a ska version of it” and that would mostly piss off the audience.

Dane101: How did the CvB reunion happen? You guys weren’t a band I figured would ever get back together.

Jonathan Segel: CvB wasn’t really a band in the 90’s. David was doing Cracker and the rest of us were doing our own different projects. David, Victor and I got together to work on Camper Van Beethoven is Dead in 2001, which was a sort of comp of older recordings that we overdubbed and remixed. Then we did the Tusk record as a sort of test to see if we could work together as a unit.

Dane101: Tusk is one of my favorite records. I really enjoyed hearing what you guys did.

Jonathan Segel: Well, it took a lot of convincing to get me to do it. I love that record too and was really obsessed with the phenomenon of Tusk. But we put that out and then over the next couple of years worked on what became New Roman Times.

Dane101: I was pleased to hear New Roman Times because it sounded like a CvB record. I had some fears that it was going to be a Cracker record with you guys on board.

Jonathan Segel: Part of the way the reunion happened is that Victor and I did some shows with Cracker. But yeah, it does sound like us with more elements mixed in. We all bring something to this band, David has lots of experience being the front man for Cracker and the rest of us have continued to make music in the interim. I think the sound has changed because of us being older and having more to bring to the table musically.

Dane101: What’s in store in 2012 for CvB?

Jonathan Segel: We’ll do the annual Campout out in California. Last year we did one in Virginia and this year we’re doing a Camp In in Athens. I’m not sure who all is going to be at that one but obviously CvB will headline a night and Cracker too, I’ll probably do a set as well. We mostly want to get the record finished and out the door!

Camper Van Beethoven play Wednesday January 4 at The High Noon Saloon with openers Scarecrow.

THE SPACELAB TV (online music site) –News feature (from press announcement) with “(Ever and )Always”  mp3, album art and related links.

ANTIMUSIC (online music site) – News feature posted (from press announcement)

INNOCENT WORDS (online music site) – News feature (from press announcement) with “(Ever and )Always”  mp3, artist photo, album art and related links.

TOP 40 CHARTS (online music site) – News feature (from press announcement) with “(Ever and )Always”  mp3, album art and related links..

LEICESTER BANGS (UK online music site) – News feature (from press announcement) with artist photo.

HELLHOUND MUSIC (online music site) – News feature (from press announcement) with “(Ever and )Always”  mp3, artist photo, album art and related links.

MUSIC INDUSTRY NEWS (online music industry site) – News feature (from press announcement), album art and related links. Also sent out as part of the weekly newsletter to thousands of music industry personel


Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires will be dropping by WZEW Radio in Mobile, AL at 5pm (central) on Sat. March 31st to perform a number of stripped-down songs from their forthcoming debut album “There Is A Bomb In Gilead.”

You can tune into the live audio stream here at 5pm (central) on Sat. March 31st:


(Photo by David A. Smith/DSmithImages)

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires to light up The Nick
By Carla Jean Whitley, Birmingham magazine

Lee Bains III is a familiar name to many Birmingham rock fans. For years, he played in Tuscaloosa-based band Dexateens and fronted Arkadelphia. But after Dexateens came to something of an end in 2010, Bains found himself without a project. He had just started playing with the band that became the Glory Fires and quickly recorded a demo. After the band further established its sound, they recorded at Mississippi’s Dial Back Sound (the same place where the Dead Fingers recorded their recently released self-titled album). “There is a Bomb in Gilead” will be released on Alive Records on May 15. But if that’s too far away, don’t worry: There are many opportunities to hear Bains and the band before then. They’re playing a sold-out tornado benefit show with Dexateens and Alabama Shakes in Tuscaloosa tomorrow night; they’ll be at The Nick Saturday night, along with Doc Dailey and Magnolia Devil, The Bohanons and Black Willis; and on April 21, they’ll perform at the Waverly Boogie.

Birmingham Box Set: One of the most striking things about the album is that you’re so clearly a band from Alabama, and in the best possible way. Place names show up a lot, but it’s also the sound.

Lee Bains: I tell you, a bunch of these songs actually came very quickly. Some of them I’ve had for—”Red, Red Dirt of Home,” I’ve had for several years. Arkadelphia played that in our last few months. Other than that, all these songs were written just within three months, three or four months. I’ve never had a burst of songs like I did with this album.

I think it was just because there was so much change going on in my life at that time. I love the Dexateens so much. They were my favorite band. When they asked me to play with them, that was one of the high points of my life. That was a really positive side of it. But when the band came to an end, I sort of realized in a painful way how much I had sort of invested myself emotionally and sort of identified myself with that band and with being in that band.

When it came to an end, in a way I sort of felt like, what am I? What am I left with? I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just sort of felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. At the same time, I was going to LA back and forth, which was weird and sort of making me sort of answer, in a very real way, all these questions that had sort of been hypothetical to me. Like what would you compromise creatively to get whatever rewards? Whether financial or whatever. It was making me really actually answer those questions and confront them.

At the same time, my friends were getting married. At that same time was right around when I moved to Atlanta to be with my girlfriend now of two years. That was a big change because I never anticipated really leaving Birmingham. I think that’s all part of why they came so quickly.

BBS: And those themes show up in the lyrics, don’t they?

LB: For sure. They’re supposed to, anyway. I try to be really truthful in my lyrics. I try to be genuine with them. So I hope that comes through.

BBS: And now y’all are setting out on this high-profile tour with the Alabama Shakes, who have been the talk of the nation for several months now. Some of the shows have sold out months in advance.

LB: It’s just so weird because you say that about the Shakes—I haven’t actually heard their record yet, so I’m excited to hear it. It’s so weird how this stuff works. I was telling somebody the other day that there are things that I’ve done over the past few years to really—I’ve worked to try and make playing music sustainable, whether financially or through my lifestyle. I’ve taken jobs that I didn’t like and I lived with my parents. I went out and played a bunch of shows and did all that stuff.

What’s crazy about this tour is that I guess the way it started is about a year or so ago, I just asked this band that I really liked if they’d want to open for us in Tuscaloosa. I never in a million years … We’d played with them one night at Egan’s, they were first of three. It was the night of the (2010) Iron Bowl, that’s part of why I’ll never forget it. (Bains is an Auburn fan, and his team went on to win the national championship that season.) I walked in and the Shakes were playing. They must’ve started right after the game was done. I think that was the first time I saw them. I was like, these guys are great. I guess they just weren’t playing that much because they didn’t have that much recorded. When we got asked to do this brews cruise, well that’s cool, I was like dude, we ought to get the Shakes to play that show. Just from that, that tiny little thing is now resulting in, hey, you want to go on this two-week East Coast tour with us and play all these venues? It’s wild.

I think part of the thing that’s really cool about their success in general is they’ve gotten it solely on the merits of their music, which is very rare … So often it has to do with business dealings. With them, I can look at them and be like, they deserve that many people listening to them.

AL.COM (Alabama online site) – Feature interview with band photos to preview Tuscaloosa show

Lee Bains & Glory Fires happy to rock for recovery at Tuscaloosa Get Up concert (Q&A)
By Ben Flanagan,

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Birmingham-based rockers Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires will tear it up on the Bama Theatre stage in the name of tornado recovery at Friday’s Tuscaloosa Get Up benefit concert, organized by

Sharing the bill with uber-popular state bands Alabama Shakes and The Dexateens, the sold out show will continue raise money for Tuscaloosa Habitat for Humanity, with all proceeds will go toward the goal of rebuilding a house for a family who lost theirs during the tornado.

John and Pam Nero lost their Alberta City home when the April 27, 2011 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, and they’ve now been approved to have it rebuilt by Habitat. Read the details at the WTC website.

Below, Bains talks to us about contributing to the Neros’ recovery, touring with Alabama Shakes and The Glory Fires’ debut album “There is a Bomb in Gilead, due May 17.

Ben Flanagan: How did the Glory Fires get involved with Tuscaloosa Get UP?

Lee Bains: Well, Elliott [McPherson, from The Dexateens] had started talking about doing a benefit almost as soon as the tornadoes hit. He wound up deciding to postpone it for a while, though, since we figured there would be no shortage of benefits and fundraisers in the immediate wake of the storms. Anyway, when Elliott first started talking about it, The Glory Fires were part and parcel. Bo [Hicks] had been formulating a similar plan, which he’d mentioned to me as well, and eventually Elliott’s and Bo’s ideas just converged into one event at the Bama Theatre. I’m pretty sure that’s how it worked.

BF: This show sold out pretty quickly. What does it mean to you when you see a community not only support its own recovery but do so by also shining a positive light on local artists?

LB: Man, I’m so glad that it sold out, that folks bought the VIP tickets, that individuals and businesses have contributed additional money. Habitat is a pretty remarkable organization, and I feel really fortunate to be able to contribute to its mission here in Alabama. I’m excited to meet the Neros, and I hope that this event can emphasize the fact that all these communities are still struggling to rebuild, to recover and heal. This will be a long process, and so we, as neighbors, need to put forth a sustained effort.

On a more selfish level, I’m really glad that so many people will be there to see three bands from the state of Alabama. I think a lot of times, folks look at “local music” as being the musical equivalent of a minor league baseball team. “Why follow the Barons or the Biscuits when I can follow the Braves and watch an overall higher quality of competition?” But I see local music, at its best, as being more like college football. “Why watch the Falcons, when I can watch Alabama/Auburn, and see a bunch of guys who play tough with all their hearts, who live and likely grew up right here nearby, and proudly participate in a long tradition we all share?” Or maybe like a locally owned grocery store. You know, you can go look for barbeque sauce at Walmart and find all the crappy national Kraft brands. Or you can go to one of the Westerns in Birmingham, and find Golden Rule and Dreamland and whatever else. At their best, local artists — musical or otherwise — can engage and describe the experience of their neighbors in a way that an artist from hundreds or thousands of miles away — no matter how gifted — never could.

Lee Bains III and the Glory FiresLee Bains III & The Glory Fires will release their debut album “There is a Bomb in Gilead” on May 17. (Photo by David A. Smith/DSmithImages)
BF: How is the new album shaking out? Are you pleased with what you have right now?

LB: We’re done! The record will be out on May 17th via Alive Records, although we’ll be selling copies at shows throughout April. Oz Music will have it in Tuscaloosa. We’re all proud of what we accomplished, and are really grateful to the folks at Alive and Bomp Records, as well as to Lynn Bridges who helped us produce and record the album, and Jim Diamond who mixed it. I am definitely excited for folks to hear it, and for us to get on the road.

BF: You’re touring with the Alabama Shakes. The national exposure for Alabama bands has to be pretty reassuring. Why are folks suddenly latching on to our state?

LB: I’ll tell you, it’s pretty amazing. I don’t really think that people are interested in Alabama, per se, but rather that Alabama has been sitting in a creative sweet spot. We are certainly a southern state with extraordinarily rich cultural traditions, but we’re also one that doesn’t have a concrete, potentially stifling “sound” like Memphis or New Orleans or Nashville. And we also have the benefit of a few good-sized cities and universities. I think it’s also really helpful that there is no established “scene” or “biz” here in Alabama. If you’re playing music here, it’s only because you want to play music. Nobody’s getting rich and very few are even breaking even playing music here. This isn’t Nashville or Atlanta. No A&R guys are going to show up to catch your set at The Nick or Egan’s or Bottletree or Alabama Music Box. Who is going to show up, though, is a bunch of kids like you who are hungry for real music and want to have a good time. That sort of environment draws the best, most genuine qualities out of a band. As soon as show-biz comes into the picture, s–t gets weird.

BF: What do you think about The Dexateens playing for the first time since last June? That’s going to quench a whole lot of people’s thirsts, isn’t it?

LB: I’m looking forward to it, man. To be honest, I’m most excited about hanging out with everybody again. We’ve all scattered, and, although we do keep up on the phone or whatever, it’s been hard to get everybody together. I get to see Matt [Patton] and Brian [Gosdin] relatively often, but I haven’t seen Elliott or Brad [Armstrong] in way too long.

BF: Who are some of your favorite Tuscaloosa bands? Why?

LB: Well, it’s funny, but bands in Tuscaloosa turn over fairly often — partly because of folks moving in and out of town for school, I reckon. So, right now, since I don’t get to spend as much free time down there as I used to, I don’t know as many of the newer bands. That said, Blaine Duncan is one of my favorite songwriters. There’s Necronomikids with Mike Gaut and Jon Ezell, both of whom are Alabama rock and roll royalty. Ronnie Lee Gipson is playing with them, and always has 40 solid bands going at any given point. Right now, I know he’s doing Black Willis, Original Shake Charmers, and Model Citizen. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Callooh! Callay!, Joshua Folmar and Piss Shivers but have never had the opportunity to see any of them live. Most of the nights I’m in town these days, we’re playing.

The Glory Fires include Justin “Catfish” Colburn (bass), Brian “Death Machine” Gosdin (drums), “Bad” Blake Williamson (drums) and Matt “L.R.” Wurtele (guitar).


Somebody recently asked a guy I know from Detroit why the girls in his hometown were so attractive. He replied, “It’s because everything else here is just so fucking ugly.” Detroit’s juxtaposition of sexiness and grime has long been a catalyst for raw, sleazy, stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll—from the Stooges and the MC5 through the White Stripes and beyond. Gardens carry on this tradition with their debut self-titled LP for Alive Records. “Ideas to Use” is driven by organ and female vocals, while “Maze Time” is a flat-out rager spitting attitude—Gardens proudly celebrate straightforward garage rock no matter what its flavor. Better yet, they do it with enough stomp, swagger, and soul to make Ron and Fred proud. – Luca Cimarusti
Big Colour and Soft Candy open. $5 suggested donation.
When: Sat., March 10, 9:30 p.m.
Crown Tap Room
2821 N. Milwaukee, Chicago Avondale IL


ATHENS EXAMINER (Athens online A&E site) – CampIn preview
Camp In with Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven
John Patrick Gatta
Normally, music festivals are outdoor events. Dealing with the elements becomes as much a part of the adventure as the bands you see and the people you meet. Alternative rock veterans Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven (CVB) have been there, done that.

Aiming for something different, the two bands that are interconnected thanks to leader David Lowry will host their inaugural Camp-In March 1 through 3 at the infamous 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia.

The opening night features Lowery and Johnny Hickman as the Cracker Duo headlining with support by Jonny Corndawg and Ponderosa.

Camper Van Beethoven performs on Friday with Matt Hudgins & His Sh*t Hot Country Band and T. Hardy Morris and the Outfit, which features Dead Confederate member Morris.

CVB mixed pop, punk, ska, folk, country and world music. All of its releases are worth checking out but its greatest contribution to the alternative world was the ultra-catchy “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”

Then, on Saturday Cracker celebrates the 20th anniversary of the group’s self-titled debut with a special performance of that album, which included the hit “Teen Angst.” Shonna Tucker from Drive-By Truckers and Clint Maul are the support acts this evening. Earlier that day Lowry will take part in a meet-and-greet at Ted’s Most Best.

Individual dates, three-day passes and hotel packages are available. For more information on the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-In, visit

In other CVB news, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel will play a free show on Saturday at the Flicker Theatre & Bar in Athens ( He has a new album, “All Attractions,” coming out on March 6. It includes a seven-song improvised jam EP, “Apricot Jam.” On the record he’s joined by fellow CVB bandmate Victor Krummenacher, Chris Xefos (King Missle), David Immergluck (ex-CVB, Counting Crows) and Brett Netson (Built To Spill).

ONLINE ATHENS (Athens A&E site) –Camp-In  feature.
Camp in with Lowery and friends
By Chris Starrs
n 2005, David Lowery, the founder and leader of alternative rock titans Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, got together with his musical associates to host a three-day musical “camp-out” in the desert enclave of Pioneertown, Calif., some two hours east of Los Angeles.

The original festival was established to commemorate the birthdays of Lowery and Cracker co-founder Johnny Hickman, and has since grown in both breadth and stature, as artists like Built to Spill, Neko Case and John Doe have all joined both of Lowery’s bands on the bill at one time or another.

“We recorded our album ‘Kerosene Hat’ in Pioneertown, and it became Cracker’s spiritual home in Southern California,” said Lowery, who founded Camper Van Beethoven in 1983 and Cracker in 1990. “We came up with the idea of a festival because there was no place for us to play in Los Angeles, which has always been totally weird. We said, ‘Let’s celebrate our birthdays and invite the fans,’ and the Camp-Out became a friends, family and fan festival.”

The Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-Out West will celebrate its eighth anniversary this fall. Two years ago, Lowery established a similar event, the Camp-Out East, which is held in Crozet, Va., not far from the University of Virginia campus.

Now that Lowery — who in 2010 married Velena Vego, who manages both bands and is the talent booker for the 40 Watt — calls Athens home, he and Vego have created the Cracker Camper Van Beethoven Camp-In, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday at the 40 Watt.

“Athens has always been an important place to play — it’s always been like a hometown,” said Lowery, who also serves as an instructor in the University of Georgia’s music business program. “Since 1986, Athens has embraced my music.”

Although there’s an obvious difference from the Camp-Outs, this weekend’s soiree will be much like the events in Pioneertown and Crozet, with headlining sets from Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and performances by friends of the band.

Thursday’s kickoff show will feature the Cracker Duo of Lowery and Hickman, Jonny Corndawg and Ponderosa. On Friday, Camper Van Beethoven will headline with Matt Hudgins and His [filtered word]-Hot Country Band and Dead Confederate’s T. Hardy Morris and the Outfit, and Saturday night will showcase Cracker and Clint Maul and the return of Shonna Tucker, formerly of Drive-By Truckers (More on Tucker on Page B2).

Vego is particularly enthused about the meet-and-greet set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ted’s Most Best across the street from the 40 Watt. At 5 p.m., the action then moves across Washington Street to Flicker Theatre & Bar, which will host short sets from Lowery, his Camper Van Beethoven bandmate Jonathan Segel, and Chris Compton and the Ruby Brunettes.

“It really is a fan festival,” said Vego. “The Camp-Outs have become great social events, with people coming from all over the country and Europe to get together, hang out and hear their favorite bands. I wanted to do this to bring attention to our hometown. There will be a lot of out-of-towners here to see the bands and to see Athens, because we talk about Athens all the time.”

Now in the middle of mixing the first Camper Van Beethoven album since 2004’s “New Roman Times,” Lowery said he’s enjoying his second full semester as an instructor at Georgia. He said he teaches two classes — about 120 students — in “the Freakonomics of the music industry.”

“It’s nice,” he said, adding he’ll be teaching three classes next year. “I had this idea that I would be able to teach and write books, but you’ve got to prep about 10 hours before every lecture. It takes a lot of research. But I’m working with a bunch of students who are awesome. There’s some good critical thinking going on.”

When asked which musical incarnation he most looks forward being part of this weekend, Lowery said, “Playing with the Cracker Duo. I’ve been into this quieter thing lately, although I still like loud rock. The duo is not an acoustic set. It’s primitive, stripped-down versions of our songs. That’s the most interesting thing to me. It’s the most challenging, and I love that challenge.”

“Every night is something different,” added Vego. “I’m most excited for David’s students to see him rock. I think they’ll be surprised to see Professor Lowery perform onstage.”

FLAGPOLE (Athens weekly) –Camp-In  feature.
Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven
Inaugural Camp-In
Three-day festival explores songwriting of “egalitarian misanthrope” David Lowery.
By Kevin Craig

A brief history: Camper Van Beethoven formed in 1983, garnering some commercial success along the way. The band split in 1990, and soon thereafter vocalist/guitarist/songwriter David Lowery formed the band Cracker. Camper reunited in ‘99, and since then, Lowery’s two bands have sporadically played bills together.

According to Lowery, the upcoming three-day Camp-In is something of a “family reunion” for the bands and the fans. He also hopes the series of shows will serve as an in-depth exploration of the artists’ careers.

“We call our thing a ‘fanfest,’” says Lowery, “because we dive down into the Cracker and Camper oeuvre. We first show people how these bands are related—why Camper sounds like this and Cracker sounds like that—and sort of break it apart into its components and then put it all back together. I think every band has to be understood in its own environment.”

While Lowery insists that his songs don’t necessarily have “something to say,” he does point to a common lyrical theme shared by both bands.

“A lot of [the songwriting] revolves around this notion that most people are full of shit,” he says, “and that the conventional wisdom is wrong. This is sort of an egalitarian version of that…  I try to be sort of an egalitarian misanthrope.”

Many younger folks were likely introduced to Camper Van Beethoven through the documentary Bowling for Columbine, which featured the CVB song “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” The track comes across as humorously nonsensical. However, the song essentially makes a statement by saying nothing, satirizing the overly serious artistic climate of the early 1980s.

The song doesn’t mean anything other than ‘take the skinheads bowling,’” says Lowery. “It has absolutely no depth to it… Every time you thought it was going to mean something, the next line would follow and not really lead anywhere… We wrote that song in 1983, when all the other bands really seemed to have something to say.” In a sense, CVB fought bullshit with bullshit.

Lowery has often used his unique, tongue-in-cheek humor as a storytelling device, insisting that you don’t have to be serious to share a serious story. “You can use tools like irony, humor, absurdity,” he says. “People are often like, ‘Oh, this band is whacky’… but that’s not really the way our fans understand us.”

He points to writers like Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut as influences. Although “they are regarded as serious writers,” says Lowery, “they didn’t just write in this dreary, matter-of-fact prose.” Musically, both Cracker and Camper are wildly and proudly eclectic. “Camper and Cracker have always taken a little of this and a little of that and mixed it with rock music,” says Lowery. “The difference between the bands is that they’re choosing different thises and thats.”

But from where does this eclecticism come? Lowery provides a historical explanation: “Both the bands formed in this area of Southern California that was known as ‘The Inland Empire.’ People in L.A. talk about The Inland Empire in sort of the same way that people in New York talk about New Jersey. [The Inland Empire] is sort of the land of big hair, rednecks, immigrants—it’s not a very nice term. But what they’re getting at is also what influenced our music… it’s this weird melting pot—almost a melting pot of misfits and undesirables—that was its reputation. So, in a lot of ways, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker grew up with this polyglot of American culture all mixed together. And a lot of the bands that came from The Inland Empire reflected that in their music… That’s how I think we found that eclecticism that’s part of our milieu… It’s almost like we didn’t have home-grown culture, so we mixed all the stuff together.”

Last year, Lowery became a lecturer for UGA’s Music Business program. Since he seldom has the chance to speak about the nature of the business as a mere artist, Lowery is excited to “have the university under [his] name,” which enables him to emphasize the unpredictability and hypocrisy of the business.

“A lot of my success and a lot of my peers’ success always seemed to be driven by a lot of luck, weird flukes or random things that just happened,” he says. “Everybody in the music business talks as if they’re ‘highly skilled’—as if the things they do matter more than they actually do. Part of my mission is to point out that we’re all kind of full of shit.”

Can we get an amen?

FLAGPOLE (Athens weekly) – Brief Camp-In  preview.
Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-In Festival: Night 1
When: Thursday, March 1, 8 p.m.
Where: 40 Watt Club, Athens
CRACKER DUO Childhood friends and co-founders of the iconic alt-rock band Cracker, David Lowery and Johnny Hickman play a stripped down set of Cracker songs tonight.
JONNY CORNDAWG Off-kilter, country-flavored, tongue-in-cheek ballads.
PONDEROSA Quartet fronted by Kalen Nash (ex-Gabriel Young) blasts through fiery classic rock, working some pedal steel into the mix and drawing heavily from blues-influenced Texas rock.
Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-In Festival: Night 3
Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-In Festival: Night 3
When: Saturday, March 3, 8 p.m.
Where: 40 Watt Club, Athens
CRACKER Perhaps best known for their big radio hit, “Low,” these alt-rock icons are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album.
CLINT MAUL Local alt-country singer-songwriter with a set of accessible, engaging tunes.
SHONNA TUCKER Former bassist of the Drive-By Truckers makes her solo debut.
Jonathan Segel
When: Saturday, March 3, 6 p.m.
Where: Flicker Theatre & Bar, Athens
JONATHAN SEGEL Born in France and raised in California, this composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist plays swirling, avant garde rock that’s frequently accented by strings. You may also recognize him from his work with Camper Van Beethoven. Early show!

ABANDONED COUCHES (online music blog) – News story on Camp-In with Cracker photo
Camper/Cracker camp-in sets up; Futurebirds hit the slopes
* The 40 Watt has released the full schedule of the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Inaugural Camp-In, which is slated from March 1-3. Cracker/Camper leader David Lowery, who last year married his longtime girlfriend/band manager as well as 40 Watt band booker Velena Vego, decided to bring the festival to Athens to join his other fests which take place in California and Virginia. Nine acts in all will play over the three days, with David including a solo set on the final day during an afternoon meet and greet at a downtown restaurant.

Here’s how the schedule sets up: On March 1, it will be Cracker duo David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, joined by Jonny Corndawg and Ponderosa as openers. On the 2nd, Camper Van Beethoven takes the stage, with Matt Hudgins & His Shit-Hot Country Band and T. Hardy Morris and The Outfit, while the 3rd has Cracker with Shonna Tucker (from Drive-By Truckers) and Clint Maul. Three day passes at $50, but is well worth it.

PASTE MAGAZINE (online music blog) – News story on Camp-In with CVB photo
Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven Announce Athens Camp-In
While we’ve previously reported on Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven’s yearly campouts, the groups will be launching their inaugural camp-in this year. Because it’s still way too cold in Georgia to sleep in a tent outside, both David Lowery-led bands will perform various shows at the beloved 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga. between March 1-3.

Over the course of the three-day festival, many guest musicians like Jonny Corndawg, Ponderosa and members from Dead Confederate and Drive-By Truckers will join Cracker and CVB for special sets. Additionally, Lowery will hold a meet-and-greet session on Saturday and perform a solo set.

Tickets for the weekend fest cost $50 and can be purchased here. Check out the full schedule over at CVB’s site.

INNOCENT WORDS (online music site) – News story on Camp-In.


EDMONTON JOURNAL (Edmonton daily) – Positive show preview with artist photo
Folk-rock legend Peter Case headlines Edmonton festival
Winter Roots & Blues Roundup heads into Year 3
By Roger Levesque
EDMONTON – At a critical time in social history, just how much can music matter?
For Peter Case, who was just hitting his teens in the mid-1960s, it mattered enough to set him on the never-ending path of the troubadour.
“It seemed like important things that were being said were also being said in music,” recalls the Los Angeles folk-rock veteran. “The amazing talents that certain people brought to music, that made life worth living for me. I was completely committed at 14.”
Case grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. with one ear drawn to the blues — pioneers like Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins — and another bent on exploring rock ‘n’ roll after the early examples of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. With the encouragement of his musical family, he was destined to traverse America, crossing a few boundaries in the fertile sonic landscape of the times. That creative spark is still with him today as a listen to his most recent songs will prove, even if music’s role in the world has changed.
Case offered a few musical insights as he packed his guitars to play Edmonton’s third annual Winter Roots & Blues Roundup this weekend.
Even as he started out playing in rock ‘n’ roll garage bands, Case was developing a knowledge and respect for other musical and literary traditions.
His parents were left-leaning democrats who instilled a social conscience and while he avoids getting too topical or preachy, social commentary is still part of his songs. Check The Case Files, his recent collection of outtakes and you’ll find a few numbers that play well to the current economic downturn and divisive politics.
“I don’t think I was ever naive enough to think that music alone was going to change the world, but back then, what was being done to change things was present in music. It was really exciting and important, and emotional and strong. There was almost a mystical knowledge in the music. People like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan were like superpowers.”
Case was just 19 when he made his way out to San Francisco in 1973, searching for his California dream in an era when the east and west coasts still offered more obvious contrasts musically and culturally.
“I loved California and I still love it. There was every kind of music out here.”
After starting out as a street busker, he moved to Los Angeles and co-founded an early new wave band, The Nerves, in 1975. The Plimsouls followed in 1980, finding some brief, minor success before a quick breakup. Case found his way back to a solo career, and made an self-titled album in 1986. He now sees his time in the two bands as a temporary diversion from the deeper things he wanted to accomplish.
“It was sort of a natural evolution really. It was a lot of fun but after doing the rock ‘n’ roll thing for a few years I had a real desire to get back to what I was doing before and to pull it all together. I quit playing with the bands right when I hit 30, in 1984. It was just standing up and wanting to do something that I continued to feel real strongly about. I had stories I wanted to tell and I wanted to write better, more complete songs.”
Some 30 years and 15 albums later, Case still feels the need to write about important issues, though he’s more doubtful about the music’s ability to reach an audience.
“Music is still important but it’s up against so much now. It’s been demoted and its impact with kids is watered down because there’s so much competition from other things. Big business have done their best to water it down too. In the wake of Nirvana, I felt like they had the heaviest feeding frenzy ever in the history of the music business. They signed all these bands and then destroyed them, doing a huge disservice to the music.”
Case is also a part-time musicologist whose tribute albums to Mississippi John Hurt and Sleepy John Estes have both garnered Grammy nominations.
On the health of roots music, Case holds some faith in the underground and independent music scene today and praises Canada for its eclectic folk festivals.
“People who don’t have a lot of money behind them can come out and get heard by large crowds of people and I think that’s fantastic.”
Case says he has to tour more nowadays just to get his music out there.
The Plimsouls have reunited a few times over the years and Case has planned another tour with his old Plimsouls collaborator Paul Collins this spring, after which he wants to record a “hybrid” that would bring together his competing interests. Some day soon, the poet and the rocker in Case may find their peace.

Peter Case
Part of: Winter Roots and Blues Roundup
Where: Royal Alberta Museum Theatre
When: Friday at 9 p.m.
Tickets: $20 from Tix On The Square (, 780-420-1757) or at the door

VUE WEEKLY (Edmonton weekly) – Positive show preview/feature
These old sounds
Folkways keeps the past alive with the Winter Roots and Blues Roundup
Paul Blinov
Thu, Feb 23 – Sun, Feb 26
Winter Roots and Blues Roundup

Moses Asch formed and lost two  companies before he found his place in the recording world.
They were Asch Records and the Disc Company of America, respectively; neither lasted particularly long, but the latter, while initially more promising than the first, collapsed rather spectacularly when a Nat King Cole Christmas album it was distributing failed to materialize on store shelves before the holiday season. Conflicting stories blame an early winter snowstorm or a truck driver’s strike but regardless of the reason, the loss of his second record company had a lasting effect on Asch’s intentions in recording.

“He lost his shirt,” explains Lorna Arndt, “and decided, according to his son, that he was no longer going to chase the big seller, that he was going to produce niche recordings for niche markets, and decided to record people who would not necessarily be given a voice anywhere else.”

The name he gave his new project, formed in 1948, was Folkways. Some of its earliest recordings were the likes of Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie. Folkways still wasn’t much of a financial hit, but it’s become the Asch project that’s lasted, shaping the man’s own place in history and, more importantly, becoming a vital life preserver for early regional musical culture.

“A lot of who we think about now as traditional folk musicians, who were telling a story or revealing an injustice of some kind, those people had a voice on Folkways,” Arndt explains. She works at the University of Alberta’s Folkways Alive! Project. Partnered with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, they together  vanguard the Folkways’ legacy and are cataloging and digitizing the entire oeuvre—some 2000 LPs, none of which have ever gone out of print (Arndt notes that, to Asch, “If it was worth recording it was worth keeping forever,” and that that stipulation was one of the reasons why the Smithsonian is now the primary source for the collection’s maintenance: an insitute of its ilk can uphold the demand.)

Arndt originally took a one-year leave of her job in the Registrar’s office to help set up the project. That was back in 2003, and she’s still here. Her time working with the small Folkways Alive! team has been as much about about ensuring that the traditions and sounds the label represents remain vital as it has been about archiving these old sounds. The U of A had a massive collection of Folkways recordings—all of them, actually; every one of the initial Folkways pressings—sitting mixed in with the rest of the university’s music collection. The Smithsonian owns the rights to the recordings, and thus a partnership was struck and, in addition to helping digitize the archive, Folkways Alive! has expanded awareness of it, bringing  connected artists into town to perform, record and talk about their past, influences and connections to Folkways. For the past few years, though, its biggest outreach event has been the Winter Roots And Blues Roundup, about to embark in its third year of dedication to celebrating artists that have a direct connection to Folkways, and those that carry a kindred banner or pull inspiration from its roster.

Mark DeFresne (of Roomful of Blues) and Roy Forbes will perform, among others, this year; Holger Petersen will run a Blues of Folkways workshop alongside other thematic musical events; Peter North has curated a film component of five full films (see sidebar). At the Yardbird Suite will be The Woman of Folkways concert—all of these events, Arndt notes, sharing a connection with Asch’s label.

“Bringing in a performer for a concert, we like them to have some kind of connection to Folkways, either in actual fact that they’re on the label, or that they have some sort of philisophical connection,” she notes. “There’s lots of traditional musicians who really feel an affinity for what Folkways was all about, so it makes sense to bring them.”

Over the phone from his home in California, Peter Case—this year’s festival headliner, plus a participant in the Folkways workshop—starts reading aloud an essay entitled “Concerning a Black Guy’s $45 Lottery and a Large Business Corporation Swindling The Public.”

“I wrote this when I was about 15 or 16,” he offers, before launching into its opening lines: “People talk about crime as if it’s the problem. I think crime is caused by ‘fear on the streets’ as much as the fear is caused by the crime: both are just part of the way that everything is messed up.'”
The essay goes on to compare street thievery to corporate thievery, discuss how the system of punishment lets the latter off easier, and consider the extent to which people are responsible for their actions—it could, as Case noted on his personal blog, have been written by someone in the Occupy Movement, not a decades-younger version of himself.

It’s indicative of Case’s early engagement with the bigger questions of the world around him. If anyone shared a kindred spirit with the outsider existence that Folkways sought to capture, it’d be him. He certainly seems to adhere to the same ideals: his songwriting seems to capture the world he sees around him in immaculate detail, in whatever forms it takes. His own music has spanned from New Wave to Folk, from work with his power-pop band the Pilmsouls to solo, singer-songwriter guitarcraft.

Case seems to be a careful archivist of his own past. Not only did he just find his decades-old essay “in a pile of papers,” at home he’s spent the past few years skimming his own past: The Case Files, released in 2011, is his dig through the closet, unearthing sounds that span the length of his three-decade career. Everything from major hits to deeper cuts—spoken word pieces he never commercially released, songs with the Pilmsouls, his own solo releases—are represented across its 12 songs.

“I have quite an archive here, of stuff I hadn’t really been willing to take the time to approach. And then I started looking at it,” he says, pausing for a moment to gather his thoughts. “It was interesting, ’cause you forget certain periods of time, and you go back, and listen to it. It can be surprising. … I tried to make a record that mirrored the interests I have now, y’know. It felt like a good record for now, so that’s what it is.”

Digging through his past, Case notes,  helps reveal which ones have staying power for himself.
“It is fun, though, to have a big catalogue of songs and go on the road and be able to sing ’em all, y’know,” he continues. “There’s something about the songs … when I go out and play ’em for people, the ones that I’ve kept and really keep working at, you really keep finding new things in them, too. They keep revealing themselves. And that’s why they’re fun to sing. And that’s what you’re looking for.”

That seems to be another parallel to the Folkways spirit, there in Case’s words: archiving the past, not just holding it in memory but in a physical recording, means it can be revisited to reveal new, unexpected dimensions of itself. Or maybe it changes because we do—but if it goes unarchived, the chance for us to understand it in new ways all but vanishes, and we’re left with disintegrating memories. Asch’s success with creating Folkways was one of legacy: none of these sounds he pressed to wax have vanished. And the university’s reward for keeping the archive alive and engaging with an audience is the same: the preservation of a living, active history, to revisit and draw inspiration from, music or otherwise.

“The other thing that Moses said that gets bounced around a lot in relation to Folkways is that ‘anything that is sound is worth recording,'” Arndt recalls. “So not only is there folk music and blues and jazz and a lot of what we now think of as world music [in the collection], but there’s sound effects, or the sounds of the junkyard, or the office, or a lot of instructional things: how to play five-string banjo, for example, or mandolin. There are speeches—the “I have a dream speech,” for example—the Watergate hearings are on Folkways. It’s all about sound, not only music.

GIG CITY (Edmonton online music site) – Positive show review with photo
CONCERT REVIEW: Peter Case shows roots far deeper than punk
February 25, 2012
By Robin Schroffel

The only sign of Peter Case’s punk background was the fact that he wore a denim jacket underneath his pinstriped blazer. That, and some well-chosen anecdotes from back in the day.

No surprise, really: the veteran songwriter has four entire decades of material to draw from – which fans heard just a slice of when the Los Angeles-based musician performed at the Royal Alberta Museum Theatre Friday night as a part of the Winter Roots and Blues Roundup.

The blazer didn’t last long. After a song or two, Case folded it neatly over the monitor in front of him. The performance had a casual feel, like we were all just hanging out in someone’s living room; Case had his guitars spread out on the floor beside him and occasionally got up to bang out a tune on the grand piano.

Songs like his own Put Down the Gun, May This Be Love (Jimi Hendrix Experience) and Lead Belly’s Thirty Days in the Workhouse were interspersed with stories and remarks that had the crowd howling with laughter. His deadpan sense of humour scored with such one-liners as “the free download of that album went platinum” and “Rick Santorum – one of the great minds of the 13th Century.”

Even though no Nerves or Plimsouls songs made it into the set, that doesn’t mean the audience wasn’t treated to any early material. A tale about Case’s early years in Buffalo, NY, led into a song he wrote about Woodstock at age 14, with the lyrical sophistication to match. Later, Case talked about practicing piano at a Unitarian church, and performed a number written at 15 and only recorded recently.

At one point, Case read an excerpt from As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport, his memoir of leaving Buffalo for sunny California in the early ‘70s. He’s clearly a storyteller at heart, in his lyrics, his books and his onstage banter.

“Are there any questions?” he asked, referring back to a joke he’d made earlier in the night about growing up with schoolteacher parents. No questions, but a handful of requests resounded through the room. Case happily played them all: Poor Old Tom, love song Two Angels – “The greatest thing that can happen to a musician in 2011-2012 is to have their song featured in a popular vampire movie,” in this case, the TV show True Blood – and Icewater, based on a Lightnin’ Hopkins’ riff.

Case really hammed it up, too – while ending songs, between songs and even during songs. “This is how your rock out in a hotel room,” he said at one point. He brought the audience a solid two hours of music and stories, and while a sonic nod to the Nerves would have been welcome, the omission is forgivable – he’ll be playing that material for the next two months on the band’s reunion tour.

(Read a more detailed Peter Case road story here: Escape from the House of Pigs)

GIG CITY (Edmonton online music site) – Positive show preview with artist photo
TRUE TALES OF THE ROAD: Peter Case escapes house of pigs
February 22, 2012
By Mike Ross

When you’ve been on the road more or less continuously since 1973, as Peter Case has, you meet a lot of people – a lot of famous people, in this case, so to speak, and he doesn’t want to be a name-dropper. Case is one of these unusual figures in the music world who are famous for not being as famous as they should be for great work the equal of any superstar, but for some unexplained reason, never caught that big break. Case’s work has garnered respect from a who’s who of big names, even as it remains relatively obscure.
“I guarantee you were we trying to make millions of dollars,” Case says of his critically-acclaimed yet largely obscure bands the Nerves and the Plimsouls, and their poke at the big-time in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. “We were trying to get a hit song. We really got close, you know? Close is no cigar, is it?”
It’s not over yet, of course. Like many lifetime singer-songwriters for whom the term “singer-songwriter” is a genre unto itself that transcends all others, Case gives his works human attributes.
“You never know. A song can go anywhere. It goes out there and has a life of its own,” he says. “They’re like people. Some make millions of dollars, some have something to say and don’t make any money. But they’re all worthy of being songs.”
Still “trying to write that perfect song,” Case plays Friday at the Royal Alberta Museum Theatre as part of the third annual Winter Roots and Blues Roundup. If you’re wondering what a punk rock guy is doing headlining a folk music festival, he explains that “punk is just where I came up to the surface where people could see me.” His roots go far deeper than punk rock.
Under the radar is where the best road tales come from, of course. Case has written two books on the subject and is working on a third – about any road at all, metaphorically or not.
Of the many tales he’s collected, one stands out. It was at a gig at a little club near a beach in the “middle of nowhere” in Southwestern New Jersey, he recalls. Case and his teenage son had been robbed of all their clothes in New York City the night before and had purchased matching “stupid-ass seashell beach shirts.” His friend Bruce Springsteen – a big fan of Case’s solo albums – walked into the club and complimented Case on his production values.
The gig was weird enough, Case says, but what happened afterwards was like something out of a David Lynch movie.
He says, “The club owner’s putting us up at his house, so we get in his truck, take the main road, down a side road, down a dirt road, and then he pulled through this barbed wire fence on a track going through the forest and my son is like, ‘what if this guy is going to kill us?’ So we get to this big white farmhouse with all the lights out and the guy says, ‘go inside and make yourself comfortable.’ We open the door and the house is all dark and you can hear all this grunting in the house. It was kind of shocking. We hit the lights and the house was full of pigs.”
Case and his son are assured that there’s nothing to worry about, that pigs are cleaner than people and actually make great pets. The guy introduced a pig named Jerry Lee and asked if they wanted to see it play piano. How could they refuse?
“So the guy pulled out this little piano and the pig started playing piano – and it was good, too. For a pig. Then the guy went upstairs to get the rooms ready and we’re there with the pigs, and there was a like an electric pig, like it wasn’t grounded. Every time you touched it, it would hum. And on the wall of the room, there was a newspaper clipping of what looked a lot like the guy, saying he’d been acquitted of horrible crimes in the Midwest. So he puts my son in one room and me at the other end of the hall, these rooms with huge overstuffed dusty mattresses that hadn’t been used in 100 years. So I’m lying there, I’m trying to sleep, I’m kind of nervous, and all of the sudden the door opens up and it’s my son. ‘A pig tried to get in my room,’ he says. ‘I’m sleeping in here.’
“The guy was gone the next day. He left a note: ‘Great gig, guys. Help yourself to anything. There’s bacon on the stove.’”
There’s a song in there somewhere.
In addition to Friday’s concert and film presentation, Case will be participating in talks and workshops throughout the weekend. Click here for details.

EDMONTON EXAMINER (Edmonton online A&E site) – Positive show blurb in fest feature
Edmonton’s got the blues
Third annual Roots and Blues Roundup runs this week
Musical acts include three-time Grammy nominee Peter Case, who started out playing alt-rock and new wave and in the last 20 years transformed himself into an influential folk musician.

CBC RADIO (Canadian national radio) – In-studio session Fri. Feb. 24th at 12:30pm (to air in May on their Saturday Night Blues show)

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    • 10/23/24 PARLOR GREENS in Austin TX at Scoot Inn
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