The the 97’s have a three city, five-gig, West Coast mini-tour lined up for November. Do you have your tickets yet? And certainly you’ve picked up Alive & Wired by now? If not, here’s what you’re missing.

At a recent solo show, Rhett let slip that his upcoming solo-album is titled The Believer, and that it’s due for a February, 2006 release. Long-time fans of Rhett and Ranchero Brothers live shows will recognize one of the songs on Rhett’s new album as a long-time classic-in-waiting, called “Firefly.” On The Believer, you’ll hear sung it as a duet with Rachel Yamagata. Oddly enough, criminally unknown (at least in these parts) San Francisco Americana-meisters, Firecracker, also cover “Firefly” as a duet on their new album So Long Someday, and knock it out of the park; while Ken Bethea offered up a crunchy solo for “(I’m Sorry) Caroline,” which is the track off that CD which has thus far garnered the most airplay. Check it out.

Call me greedy, but I’m always ready for more old 97’s stuff, and this year alone we’ve had and Old 97’s DVD, the two disc live CD, the Starbucks comp, and now, yet another chance to get some 97’s on disc. This time it’s the folks over at the 97’s old home, Bloodshot Records, who are about to birth a 42 song, two-disc anniversary set called, For A Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records, to which the Old 97’s contribute a cover of Robbie Fulks’ “I’d Be Lonesome.” Some of you guys might have been able to pick of a limited-pressing of a Sons of Hermann Hall comp, last year, on which the Rancheros sang their version of the same. This time, it’s the whole band’s turn.

In addition, the folks down at ACL Fest have put together of the top-notch best-of that was rock & roll sauna of ACL Fest 2004, in a rollicking DVD, creatively titled, Austin City Limits Festival: Live 2004. Will it spoil the surprise if I say that the Old 97’s provided some of the highlights of the entire festival, and that their blazing take on “The New Kid” is one of the highlights of the DVD? And that festival organizers obviously agreed, which is why you can find the 97’s here among the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, Cake, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the aforementioned Rachel Yamagata.

And don’t forget that Rhett covers John Lennon’s “Girl” on the upcoming This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, due in stores on October 25. Even Pitchfork likes it, saying, “In a shocking turn of events, we are pleased to report yet another Beatles tribute album.”

Finally, it’s been kindly mentioned to me that some folks may not realize that we’ve always had a replacement for the old Hit By A Train/ guestbook. Just click on the Archive page, and leave your comments underneath the appropriate entry. We’d love to hear from you.