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Hey kids, we'd like to introduce you to a couple things: Booby Trap Brown and the new Wheelie Pop Records website.

Our eclectic indie pop record label, Wheelie Pop Records, will be putting out a new record by Booby Trap Brown. 

Booby Trap Brown is working on their debut release and we can't wait to introduce you this wild new music that sounds like a dinner party with Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Curtis Mayfield, Joe Strummer, and Paul McCartney.  Now that's a party.

And here's the new Wheelie Pop website:  Visit often!  I hear they may leak some early mixes of Booby Trap Brown....

The rumors are all true.  Yes, Paulie's in Bloomington, Illinois is closing.  Yes, the Spelunkers are going to do a reunion show at Paulie's before they close.  And yes, vonFrickle will be performing a very rare no-mask or costume show.  Eva Hunter is opening the show, starting at 9 pm.  It all happens Friday, September 26.  If you live in central Illinois, this is a show you can't miss.

Francis Dunnery, Tall Blonde Helicopter Last night we (wifey and friends) were lucky to be a part of another fabulous, intimate night of music and storytelling--a house concert featuring the multi-talented Francis Dunnery

Our creative friends Tommy and Breann Neal hosted a similar show a little over a year ago, so we HAD to come back again, because folks, this is one very unique experience. 

Some know Francis through his formative rock star years as the leader of It Bites or maybe you remember him on tour playing guitar with Robert Plant.  But I know Francis best by his mid-90s stellar acoustic-pop solo album, Tall Blonde Helicopter

This is a record Cathy and I have played and played and played--on long vacation drives, on the way to work, on the home stereo, at parties, and even nowadays on the iPod.  And then we hear that Francis is coming once again to Gridley, Illinois (of all places in the world) to do a show featuring Tall Blonde Helicopter, one of our all-time favorite albums???  Sign me up please, and one for my wife too, and Ed, and does Kurt know about it?  How about Steve?  Tony?  Rick?

Before I go any further, I just have to say that you HAVE to try to get him to your neighborhood, and here's how:  Fill out an invitation form

Francis has been doing these shows now for several years, typically for audiences of around 35 people.  He enters the room with only an acoustic guitar, weaving together these wonderful songs, hilarious stories, and provocative lessons about life.  He's an effortless storyteller and comedian, an amazing songwriter, a gifted guitarist, a well-read philosopher and astrologist, a warm and humble soul, and within seconds you are transported to another place. 

One of the great gifts of this particular show was hearing the detailed stories behind all of these songs we know so well.  Getting to hear them from a new perspective added a new depth to the music. 

Only New York Going On took us to an empty New York apartment that Francis moved into after leaving his wife.  The Way Things Are sent us to a Nashville hotel bathroom, peering into a mirror, terrorized at the sight of his newly shaved head, the loss of his long blonde hair--signaling a new, unknown life ahead of him.  Immaculate delivered us to an AA meeting in LA, exchanging mind-expanding books with recovering alcoholics, realizing the freedom of living in the present and the power of bringing about what we think about.  Heavy duty, yes, but isn't life heavy duty a good part of the time? 

And we pretty much laughed through the whole thing because he's so damn funny.  Plus he played our favorite songs, like Too Much Saturn, In My Dreams, and Sunshine. 

In the final stanzas of I Believe I Can Change My World, Francis does a bit of shout-sing mantra: I believe I can change my world!  I believe I can change my world!  I believe I can change my world!  And this is one of the great things I walked away with, and I'm carrying it around with me at this very moment.

Francis is, in fact, changing the world, one house at a time.  Francis, Erica, Tom, Breann, and everyone else that was there, thank you for an incredible evening.

left to right: Tim, Ed, & Matt from Backyard Tire FireLast weekend I had the opportunity to catch a fantastic pre-release show by our Bloomington Illinois friends, Tim Kramp, Ed Anderson, and Matt Anderson from Backyard Tire Fire.  It was an awesomely full day of music for me and the perfect way to cap-off a GREAT summer day.

This hard-working band is at the top of their game, both live and in the studio--with an excellent new record, The Places We Lived, just released last Tuesday on New York's Hyena Records

The sonically adventurous album, produced by Ed Anderson and Tony San Filippo, is full of road-tested performances of well-crafted songs.  You'll find hints of Tom Petty, Wilco, and even Pink Floyd, with songs about time, space, and place--longing for home, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, trudging through the daily grind, and knowing when to sign on the dotted line. 

There are plenty of rowdy guitars, big bottom bass, and rock-steady drums as you would expect on a Tire Fire record, but also fun studio experimentation, honky tonk pianos, swirly synths, sliding pedal steel, rich strings, and muted trumpet. I love the vibey orchestration (literally with vibraphone in spots), such as on the clever and catchy tongue-twister and maybe my favorite song out-the-gate, 'Shoulda Shut It.' 

Other standouts for me so far are the title track (featuring Brian Choban on trumpet), the hooky 'Time With You', the crowd-pleasing 'Welcome To The Factory', the playful 'Legal Crime', and the wonderfully wistful final track 'Home Today'. 

The guys are about to hit the road for a midwestern tour, starting with a kickoff show at the Metro in Chicago on September 5.  Other stops include Iowa City, Madison, Minneapolis, Columbia MO, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and more.  Check out their site for specific tour dates. Our friend Fish is joining the band on tour to help with guitars, keys, and backing vocals, and he's meshing perfect with the band, helping to reproduce all those great studio textures.

Go buy the record, be sure to stop and see BTF on this tour, and tell them we said hi!