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February 2006
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Sneak Peek Update: DOUG POWELL!

Okay, here's a quick and exciting update to my previous post on upcoming new music...and it ties into the New Cars group... Not only was power pop guru Doug Powell slated to replace Ric Ocasek before his friend Rundgren got the gig, but Doug had demo'd 5 songs for the New Cars and they're REALLY good! These are great recordings and incredibly hooky songs. He's going to be releasing them on a new album with other unreleased tracks and rarities called Four Seasons. You can listen to the songs and get more information about this upcoming May release on Doug's recently updated website here: www.dougpowell.com


Sneak Peek

Newcars Wouldn’t it be great if The Cars would get back together? Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen. The closest we’re going to get is the New Cars. A new band formed by original Cars members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes with Todd Rundgren replacing Ric Ocasek on lead vocals. Yes, if you haven’t heard, there’s a “New Cars” and Todd Rundgren is a member. Wacky! Insiders say Rundgren’s friend and underrated power-pop guru Doug Powell was slated to be the new front man but got bumped out by Todd in an odd twist. I like Todd, but Powell would have been a perfect replacement for Ocasek. I have a feeling they went with Rundgren because of name recognition and sales potential even though Doug may have been a better fit. Former Rundgren sideman Kasim Sulton will be replacing the late Benjamin Orr on bass and replacing David Robinson on drums will be Prairie Prince of The Tubes. There’s a lot of potential in this line up but these types of sequel bands usually aren’t that great. The first single is called Not Tonight and it sounds like the Cars with Todd Rundgren singing...go figure! The song is available now on iTunes and it’s Interesting, but I’ll reserve judgment until I get the full release. Rumor has it the album is going to have new live recordings of the Cars hits with a few new studio tracks thrown in, if so, that’s a bummer. These are talented people that should still have a full album of new music left in them. In the meantime you can get tour dates and more info here: www.thenewcars.com

Starflyer 59 has a new release coming out this summer and there’s a demo of one of the songs on their MySpace page here: www.myspace.com/starflyer59  -- It’s really good and has a definite Daniel Amos influence! I can’t wait to hear the final version and the full album! Their last release Talking Voice vs Singing Voice was their best yet. Special thanks and cheese to our musical safari guide Professor Andre Salles for the tip! Check out Andre’s fantabulous weekly music column here: www.tm3am.com

Also just around the corner is the new Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs project called Under the Covers Vol. 1. While an album of all covers from the 60’s isn’t exactly as exciting as a brand new Matthew Sweet album, Hoffs is a true talent and what I’ve heard of this one is good. For more information and audio samples Click Here!  You can also check out their MySpace site here: www.myspace.com/sidnsusie

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The Roast

About a year ago, my wife got this bright idea to have a Roast for my 40th birthday. Not a roast where you cook meat, but a roast where your "friends" mock and ridicule you. Perhaps you've seen the comedy roasts on TV...most of them are over the top, but quite funny. Well, since most of my friends are comedians in their own right, she thought this would be fun. The hilarity ensued Friday, March 3rd, the actual day of my 40th birthday. We rented out The Basement, a cool club in Nashville, TN that happens to be underneath a record store. Not just any record store, but Grimey's, one of the coolest indie stores in the country. Over 50 people showed up. Musicologist and long-time friend Jim Worthen came the farthest, flying in from Seattle. A couple of people (Danglis and MacIntosh) flew in from NY. I'm not going to pretend that kind of commitment and attention doesn't feel good. The roasting didn't get too out of hand...I didn't break down in tears or anything, but we all laughed hard. No one got too rude or crude, well, except Rick Altizer, who did have one of the best roasts of the night.

John Davis (Superdrag) played a 40 minute set with a full band. Everyone loved him. He's an amazing writer, singer and musician.

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It was dark in there, but Dave Danglis managed to snap a few shots and I’ve posted them with comments here: http://obvious.typepad.com/photos/birthday_roast/

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Unfortunately, Tim Casey who is one of my long time friends couldn't be there because he now works for the US Embassy in South Korea. He's a very talented writer and performer as well, and he wrote a Toast/Roast that I just have to share with all of you...it's a very Gonzo piece that made me laugh out loud....

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The Dr. Shore Roast Toast by Tim Casey:

I want to thank all of you for being here to honor Tony Shore, my friend of many years. If you’re here, then you know this man, maybe even have affection for him. Take a hard look at him. Think of when you met him, what were the circumstances, and how much of you did he take when he left?

I, unfortunately, have my own tale to tell, even though I can’t be with you tonight, of course. I say “of course” because I am currently residing in East Asia. I can’t tell you exactly where. I’ve told family and friends that it is South Korea, but that’s really all I’m allowed to mention. But in my new position I am privy to information, documents and facts that few Americans would guess in their wildest dreams. It’s like I was saying to Elvis the other night … oh man, that was supposed to be on the down low.


Anyway – yes, it is my dark and grim task to tell you a story about my old (OLD!) friend, and now brother-in-law. It’s not a pretty story, and certainly not one you would want to repeat. In fact, this information is classified Top Secret. By attending this event and hearing this story, you are making an implicit promise not to repeat it. Doing so will have grave circumstances. Think Abu Ghraib, spark plugs and baby oil.


We could take a few moments for those who want to leave quietly and with dignity to go ahead and do that.


First, some introductions: my name is Tim Casey and I’ve known the guest of honor since 1987. This time will be referred to later in this story as the “Dark Years” – a period of great transition for myself and for Tony.


Minneapolis in the late 80s was truly a revolutionary period. Prince was still performing songs you wanted to hear. The Twins were on their way to a World Series victory. The Mall of America was still just a cruel plan yet to be hatched. Jesse Ventura was still a wrestler. And two very good-looking young men could walk door to door in an upscale neighborhood begging for money to support a crazy concept like universal health care without fear of retribution from armed Rush Limbaugh fans.

Before I relive the past, though, let’s revisit the much, much more distant past. Forty long years ago. That’s when Tony Shore was born in a tiny sod farmhouse near Worthington, Minnesota. Farm life is hard on the windswept, open prairie. Unforgiving weather and back-breaking labor forge a man like fire to steel. He attended local schools and was an active member of a local church.

After high school he started pursuing his lifelong dream. A dream rooted in the land, the fields, family, and the love of God and country. That dream? Promoting and listening to really crappy music – and trying to convince the masses that it isn’t half bad and they should buy it too.

Not an easy task, by any stretch of the imagination. Most people would run screaming from such a professional choice. But not Tony. And eventually, amazingly, he was indeed successful in this pursuit.


But before he became a self-proclaimed “Hotdog” in the Christian music industry – ah yes, these were the Dark Years. This was when Tony entered my life and has haunted my dreams ever since. All was innocent at first, but powerful forces were at work that I couldn’t have hoped to comprehend.

The Dark Years, a drifting period where the fame that Tony so lusted after was an elusive mistress. Our paths met, worlds collided, in the offices of Minnesota Co-Act, a neo-Marxist group who went door-to-door begging and stealing whatever dollars we could wrangle. A good gig by all accounts. Many nights we would return to home base with hundreds of thousands of dollars. All money would go into a big pot. A quick hand of liar’s poker determined who was buying dinner on the crazy streets of Minneapolis – and who would be spending the night under a blanket over a heating vent on 5th and Hennepin. Invariably, the poker game ended in bloodshed.


Tony and I were of a kindred spirit. He appreciated my past military training, the ability to kill with a toothpick and well placed belch. And of course I appreciated the fact that Tony was always, always heavily armed.


But storm clouds were gathering. If only I had read the signs, understood the depth of treachery that was afoot, I might have been able to prevent the madness.


The Minnesota Co-Act job dried up. Congress passed National Health Care, and the president immediately signed the legislation. Our job was done. So we moved on. It was time for me to start my college career at the University of Minnesota. A workable Cold Fusion Generator wasn’t going to invent itself! And Tony also moved on, trying his hand at being a roadie for several Christian bands – the most notable being Gwar.


We kept in touch over this dark period. He eventually settled in LA and it was there, in the city of Angels, that everything went desperately wrong. He had achieved the fame he sought, but at what price?


Just look at him sitting there, ladies and gentlemen, guys and gals. Mr. Tony Shore. Yes, some have taken to calling him Dr. Shore, but I’ve never found any evidence of any degree or experience that would justify this title. (OK, OK, experience in an actual hospital. There was the time he took out my appendix in a muddy Iowa ditch, but that’s another story.)


No, there’s no “Dr. Shore” for me. He’s Tony, and he’s a ghost of the man I once knew. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a big man. But it’s just a sad shell. You see, he’s a family man now – a 40-year-old family man. A beautiful wife, kids, house in suburban Stillwater.


What happened to keepin’ it REAL, dog? What happened to livin’ for the MUSIC?

Oh … you still work with music? You keep in touch with your music posse? Got a music blog? Well, um, hmmm. Then I guess that’s all I have. Happy 40th, Tony! Love ya, man!

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Awe, thanks Tim!