First up, apologies for some confusion regarding the April Largo dates for the Ken Bethea and Rhett Miller. Turns out that both Ken and Rhett are each playing the Largo, just not at the same time. Still, each show promises to be a great excuse to be late for work the next day. Speaking of Ken and the Scrap Hotel, Ken notes that their website should be up soon, and that Scrap Hotel t-shirts are available at shows now, and by way of Ken’s account on (A bargain at $16, which includes your S&H, so get one!) Finally, it took a note from one of the concerned parties, the Old 97’s Rhett Miller, to sort out the scheduling confusion. Nonetheless, Rhett’s timing is excellent as he’s got a bunch of other news too. To whit:

…The reason I’m writing is that Flanaghan, the owner of Club Largo, is concerned (due to the sheer volume of calls) about the way Ken’s Largo date appears on the website. Ken will be opening for Jon Brion on April 5th as a solo artist. I won’t be performing with him, nor will any of the other 97’s. He must sink or swim on his own (heh heh). Could you please have whomever controls the particulars of the site make an obvious note of this? Thanks.

I’m in the studio (even as I write this), and it’s going splendidly. We’ve got 17 songs tracked, 13 of which are on the brink of completion. We’re recording more than the 11 or 12 we intend to include on the final product obviously. As far as the actual sound of the album, about half the tracks are going to be full-on rock & roll, while the other half explore the vast, weird terrain of pretty/sparse stuff that I’ve been writing for a while which necessitated this solo record to begin with. The idea is to prove two points: 1) that I’m not wussing out like one might expect a Cali-based singer/sogwriter to do; and 2) that I’ve got a bunch of songs that wouldn’t really work within the confines of the 97’s.

I’m doing the guitar and vox of course, Josh Freese (DEVO, Perfect Circle, etc ad infinitum) is doing most of the drums, and Jon Brion (the Mad Scientist cum Producer) is playing everything under the sun as is his wont. We even had my old friend David Garza come in one day to do some overdubs – he played flamenco guitar, electric guitar, piano, and a little bass. There’s some talk that we might be joined in the studio for a day by Benmont Tench (keyboardist and recent R&R Hall of Fame inductee with his band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The release is set for August of this year. I’m going to New York in a couple of weeks to shoot the album cover with Mark Seliger (head photog for Rolling Stone & a handful of other ritzy mags) who I befriended after discovering that he’s a big 97’s fan (obviously he has good taste).

My favorite songs so far (though all of them are blowing my mind) are “Our Love” (inspired by the love letters of Richard Wagner to his married lover Mathilde, and the (much less creepy) letters of Franz Kafka to his married and (mostly) unrequited love Milena), 4-Eyed Girl (the chorus goes “la la la I’m in love with a 4-eyed girl”), and “Lovebird”, the song I started on September 10th sitting in the courtyard at the base of the twin towers…

See you soon,