Monthly Archives: May 2013

All Up In It: Notes on Mayor Brown’s self-promotional streak

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“Hey, how’s 2015 lookin’ for ya, sir?”

As Mayor of Jacksonville, Alvin Brown has gone a long way to get himself over as a Man Of the People. He’s so gracious, in fact, that he routinely gives ammunition to his political enemies, who would have very little to work with otherwise. Case in point: A front-page article in the Florida Times-Union’s May 31 edition, centered around concerns expressed by members of the City Council that Mayor Brown’s gone too far with his trademark self-promotional tactics. Specifically, they claim that he’s monopolizing the services of the official city photographer, and that his name features too prominently on the City of Jacksonville (COJ) website. Slow news day? Yep.

Spoiler alert: Our city council is ridiculous. Are they actual people, or cardboard cut-outs whose public utterances are generated by computer algorithms? Of course the mayor is a self-promoting freakazoid; he was trained by Bill Clinton. The real question, though, is why does the general public never see or hear anything from council members unless they’re trying to block something or shut something down? Brown goes a bit far in trying to generate buzz for the city, sure, but maybe that’s because he’s surrounded by bland, uncharismatic people exuding negativity, always looking for new ways to throw the city under the bus to service their political/business agendas. (Hemming Plaza, Metro Park, etc.)

The City Council has been the weak link in local politics since the Peyton years. They blatantly go into business for themselves, thinking up ridiculous, counter-productive legislation while assiduously blocking the important things. The weakness they showed with the whole Occupy thing (esp. the Dems) was an obvious example. So, in terms of the city’s public image, the choice is between one guy who does way too much and 19 people who do nothing at all. Now, I’m no Democrat, but these people actually made me into an Alvin Brown fan. How the hell?

Fact is, Brown isn’t doing anything that any councilperson, or any politician in general, couldn’t be doing right now. My city council campaign started fairly late and was vastly underfunded, but I was able to be pretty competitive in a tight, seven-person race while pushing an agenda that deviated significantly from the mainstream. That was only possible because of the web, social media specifically. Brown was on that track already, as a candidate, and he’s taken that to a whole new level as mayor. While the techniques may be fairly new, critics who claim that his self-promotional tendencies are somehow unusual are flatly disengaged not only from the history of this city, but from political science in general.

The future mayor as candidate, 2011. Whatever he was reaching for, he got it…

One needs not cite national examples of people like Michael Bloomberg, Ed Koch, Richard Daley, Willie Brown, Maynard Jackson or Adrian Fenty, all of whom used their personal brand to enhance that of their city (and vice-versa); local examples abound, including virtually every mayor Jacksonville has ever had. Are Brown’s critics seriously suggesting that he’s acting inconsistently from his predecessors? Imagine what Tommy Hazouri’s Twitter feed would’ve looked like, or Hans “let’s pose at the city limits with a beautiful actress to promote Consolidation” Tanzler’s Instagram. And one can easily visualize the front-page of the COJ website, had the Internet existed in the Jake Godbold era.

Former mayor Hans Tanzler, doing what politicians do, 1968

The website is centered on Brown because Brown is the only person making an effort to promote positive initiatives in the public sphere. Everyone complains about him putting his name on the jazz festival, but it’s not like the councilfolk were out there mingling with the voters. Why are they complaining about the city photographer when they all have camera-phones, not to mention skilled photographers in each of their districts who’d work for free, just to have COJ work on their resumes? This is simply about people wanting to weaken Brown before the next election, so they can pick one of these malleable stuffed-shirt councilmen to challenge him in 2015. If every local politician made a fraction of the effort to engage their constituents using the power of the web, this city would be cooking with gas.

At the same time, from a political standpoint Brown is doing the right thing. He came into office only because the power structure couldn’t get along with each other; he exploited those divisions to squeak through, then immediately alienated a lot of his base. He needed to take control of his public image before conservatives tarred him with the same brush they’ve used on Obama, and begin constructing a persona that could resonate with people outside the city–in part for politics, and also to help attract business. All this hype about his self-promotion just keeps the focus on him; it’s not like any of his opponents have any vision for the city’s future, or else they’d be talking about that instead of whining because Brown does his job better than they do theirs. There is plenty of room on the internet for anyone who wants to make an impact.

I’d heard rumor that Rutherford might challenge him, which would be an interesting contest. I’m always hearing about this-or-that councilperson who might jump into the race, but that would seem like a step backward. Audrey Moran is his biggest threat; the only reason she’s not mayor now is because local Republicans hate women more than they hate black people (LOL!), plus she has a personal issue with the way Brown dealt with a lot of Moran supporters at city (i.e., eliminating them so she’d have no internal support if she did decide to go after him). But if she ran again, she’d be in a similar position as Hillary Clinton would be if she runs in 2016–namely, of having to spend a year or more kissing the asses of people who already threw her under the bus in 2011. One could understand why she might be inclined to leave the city to its fate. So, unless she runs, Brown walks.

Now, there were a couple points raised in the story and subsequent discussion that do need to be addressed. The first involves the city photographers, whom councilmembers claim are prohibited from photographing anything that the mayor is not actually part of. I’ve not been able to confirm the veracity of that allegation, but it’s entirely possible. Mayor Brown is disproportionately featured on the COJ website, but it’s unclear if that content features so prominently to the exclusion of content generated by the rest of local government. Certainly, Brown superimposes himself in places where his presence may not be exactly logical or holistic, but no one knows if that is true political avarice, or just a misguided need to be seen “making a difference”. Should he do less of this, or should the council do more. This debate has only begun.

And then, there’s the jazz festival. His having added the phrase “Mayor Brown Presents” to the festival’s promotional materials is widely-cited as the most common example of Brown’s perceived tendency to self-promote to the detriment of the city at-large, and it’s hard to see it as anything other than piggybacking an initiative that was not only successful long before he hit the scene, but whose success has virtually nothing to do with him. Of course, the mayor plays a key role in the process: His budgets fund the Office of Special Events, which organizes the festival. But for Brown to append his own name rankles old-school observers who can recall the real and critical work done for the festival by “Big Jake” and, a generation later, John Peyton. They had more cause to append their names, but neither did; they didn’t have to, because their impact was so obvious, it would’ve been like saying “Shad Khan Presents the Jacksonville Jaguars”. Now, would they have done so if they’d known it was possible? Probably not. All previous mayors have happily taken credit, when offered, for the historical success of the festival, but Brown is the first to actively seek that credit, in a vacuum. It’s not what I would have done, but I can totally appreciate why he did. After all, 2015 is just around the corner…

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EAUF Presents Brotzmann/McPhee at the Karpeles, June 4

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Peter Brotzmann/Joe McPhee, presented by Experimental Arts Union of Florida Karpeles Manuscript Museum, 101 W. 1st St., Jacksonville Tuesday, June 4, 8pm Tickets: $20 (advance) $30 (at the door); brotzmannmcphee.eventbrite.com/ http://

Brotzmann/McPhee, at the Karpeles…

Free-jazz is a niche market within a niche market, so all of those involved in making, marketing and presenting such music are engaged in a labor of love—as are the fans, of course. Literally so, in the case of Jamison Williams: The saxophonist, who helped found the Experimental Arts Union of Florida (EAUF) late last year, took a financial leap to bring the pioneering saxophonist Peter Brotzmann to town for a duet concert with Joe McPhee on Tuesday, June 4. Williams spent much of the two months prior to the performance working random jobs to cover his ass in case the ticket-buying public flaked on him the way local media often does with such material. (Although my colleague Nick McGregor did write an excellent article and inteview with Brotzmann/McPhee previewing the show for Folio Weekly.) Thankfully, Williams is used to thankless work on behalf of the cause. This writer has heard him sing the praises of Brotzmann since we were both teenagers in the Clinton Years, building our out-jazz skill-sets via retailers like Stripmine Records, Coconuts, CD Warehouse, and public assets like the Jacksonville Public Library and the one at UNF, both of which maintain boss jazz collections; and one can’t forget the libraries in Gainesville and Orlando—studded with out-of-print titles like precious jewels in brass knuckles, glorious. Trade notes, trade fours, trade mix-tapes, building archives. Being a jazz fan is fun, first and foremost, but it’s also the hardest work in fandom, and Williams embodies that spirit. A former punk-rock drummer, Williams abruptly shifted into jazz over a decade ago, becoming largely self-taught on alto and soprano while founding his own Vantage Bulletin Publishing label to market the music being made within his circles. After years of performing in random bars, clubs and coffee-shops (often as part of the region’s burgeoning “noise” scene), Williams made the jump into opening his own place. +SoLo Gallery opened on Bay St. in 2012, right by Underbelly, and it was a hub for improvised music of all kinds prior to its premature demise that same year.

Photo by Anna Funk…

The EAUF emerged from those experiences, as Williams and his colleagues wanted to devise a more formalized mode of streamlining their collaborative efforts. It may well be that, the less structured the music is, the more necessary it is to organize the musicians, so as to make the most of what is ultimately a limited audience. Williams has shown infinitely more patience in that regard that most could muster, and it is for that reason only that Brotzmann, 72, is coming here from Germany for what may be his only performances in the state of Florida ever. There was no other alternative, no second choice. Williams has gone 180 degrees, and then 360, and then another 180, coming back around to the place he began with Brotzmann: as a fan. “I used to go to the Jacksonville library three times a week, checking out stacks of discs,” he says. “I wound up picking up an album with a great cover, simple, clean, and resonated with me, called ‘Machine Gun’ by Peter Brotzmann.” Recorded in May, 1968, “Machine Gun” is the seminal document of the European free-jazz scene, a commercial tipping-point in both the LP and (later) CD formats. Brotzmann’s sidemen include other heavyweights of that scene like saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Peter Kowald and ace drummer Han Bennink; the music burns with an intensity appropriate for what was, at that very moment, the height of disorder, discord and discontent in the post-war western world, and small wonder that resonated so quickly. Its re-release in 1971 helped put the Free Music Productions (FMP) label on the map, helping to spawn an explosion of this type of material in the 1970 and ‘80s through labels like ESP-Disk, Soul Note, Hat Hut, etc., running parallel to stuff like the AACM in Chicago. The album was first issued on CD in 1990, and ended up at the Jacksonville Public Library soon after; I listened to the same copy Williams did, but it not leave as profound an impression. Today, there is a global network of improvised musicians and labels and venues catering to that stuff, including hundreds of musicians and fans just here in Florida (for whom the EAUF was created), and Peter Brotzmann’s contributions are a very big reason why. “Black Flag is ultimately my rooted source of musical passion, [and] everything Brotzmann said just seemed like a perfect and natural communicated message for my ears. I could listen to ‘Machine Gun’ all day, and I did. ‘Machine Gun’ reminded me of Black Flag, only with horns, and much much bigger. I could understand it. I can appreciate that sound, brute power, acoustically; he makes a non-amplified instrument instantly electric. Listen to his tone, the power, his musical constitution; that is singularly the most powerful projection a horn has ever made; I mean, people talk about [Pharoah] Sanders’ sound, [Albert] Ayler’s and [Ornette] Coleman’s, [but] Brotzmann is a living sonic beast: he is hardcore punk gone jazz.” The Karpeles is a really interesting choice for hosting Brotzmann/McPhee. It’s got a very scenic exterior, sitting just a couple blocks back from downtown—well within walking distance of the jazz festival action. Imposing columns and high stairs lead into big wooden doors; the place was built as a church in 1921 and reborn as the Karpeles in 1992. The building is part of an organization comprising a dozen privately-owned museums working together to house and present key documents and manuscripts from history. With over a million items in the collection already, a steady stream of new materials are rotated freshly through the buildings; other nearby branches can be found in Charleston and Shreveport. The acoustics are great, as you’d expect from an old-school church; voices from the stage can be heard in the balcony, without amplification, and there’s an an in-house piano, which usually sits on the stage and may well come into play—or, shall we say, interplay. The Karpeles has hosted all kinds of events over the years; there was an exhibit of Alan Justiss memorabilia last year, and I helped judge an oratory contest there for the American Legion just a few weeks ago. For years, it was obvious that the Karpeles was an ideal spot in which to present chamber music or jazz, but as far as I know it’s not really happened before; it was the vision of Jamison Williams and the EAUF that finally put that notion into motion. Joining Brotzmann will be Joe McPhee:“He’s a powerhouse, a tentet contributor, and an American asset,” says Williams; “his direct involvement with outstanding historic free jazz figures since the 80’s is unsurpassed: Borah Bergman, Rashied Ali, Evan Parker, [Ken] Vandermark, and Brotzmann.” To call him an “instrumentalist” would be putting it lightly. Born in Miami in1939, McPhee trained on trumpet and flugelhorn, then self-taught himself on a variety of saxophones, as well as valve trombone; Williams cites Ornette Coleman as a rare example of someone proficient on brass and reeds, and I’d add UNF’s Bill Prince to that list. HatHut has released over 300 recordings since 1975—featuring artists like Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Sun Ra, Matthew Shipp, Lee Konitz, Max Roach, Mary Halvorson, Taylor Ho Bynum, Clusone 3, John Zorn and Braxton [whose “Eight (+1) Tristano Compositions 1989, for Warne Marsh” is my favorite; bought it at Stripmine Records]—and has now spun off into five distinct labels under a 15-year sponsorship deal with UBS (who’ve also helped underwrite Art Basel operations in Switzerland, Spain and Miami Beach) but the Swiss label was founded specifically to document the music of Joe McPhee. Brotzmann/McPhee are working nine cities in 13 days, from May 31-June 12: Austin; Chicago; Orlando; Jacksonville; Philadelphia; Peterborough NH (a stacked bill with Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley and saxophonist Paul Flaherty); Washington DC; Montreal; and Buffalo. In terms of the cities, and the organizations involved in booking all nine of those events, that’s really good company for Duval. It’s worth noting, also, that Florida and New York are the only states hosting Brotzmann/McPhee twice, and both shows were put together essentially by artist-run collectives. (The Civic Minded 5, in Orlando, is also hosting a free show by the Mary Halvorson Septet on Monday, July 1; more about that elsewhere.)

Poster for Brotzmann/McPhee’s Orlando show…

These two masters of modern music will work duets that night, their highly individual sounds contrasting each other, unadorned by sidemen. Coming just days after the yet another successful Jacksonville Jazz Festival (where Williams led EAUF members in a tribute to Ayler at Burro Bar), this show further cements this city as a hub for free and improvised music, which is proving an increasingly lucrative market. Tickets start at $20 for advance tickets, with some prices at $30 on the day of the show. To say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime musical opportunity puts it mildly; most American jazz fans won’t have the chance to see this even once in their lives.

Jamison Williams at work. Photo by Anna Funk…

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“Last Splash” at 20: The Breeders Ride Again

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Original cover of “Last Splash”, 1993.

Full disclosure: From a personal and professional perspective, there is no way to overestimate the significance of the Breeders in my own life and career. If music is a drug, and there have been studies suggesting that the two affects part of the brain in similar ways, then the Breeders were my marijuana, my gateway drug—at least, to the circles in which they ran and rotated. As such, I was thrilled to hear that the original lineup—Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim McPherson—was reuniting this year to tour in support of the 20th anniversary of their most well-known album, 1993’s Last Splash (4AD/Elektra).

The "classic" lineup. Front: Jim McPherson and Josephine Wiggs. Back: Kelley and Kim Deal.

The “classic” lineup. Front: Jim McPherson and Josephine Wiggs. Back: Kelley and Kim Deal.

The album, which was a touchstone of the “alternative rock” scene of that era, has been re-released in stunning new form by 4AD’s Vaughan Oliver, who’s been established as a master of album cover design and packaging for a quarter-century. The new “LSXX” version contains 46 tracks, spread across three CDs for a very reasonable price of $23; the same material is also available on a sumptuous seven-LP box set for $90—worth every penny for a serious fan. Both versions of the box set contain not only the entire original Last Splash album, but other key documents from that time, including: the full 16-track Stockholm concert that was previously only available in truncated form through the Breeders Digest fan club; 14 tracks recorded in settings ranging from demos and BBC/Peel sessions to guest appearances on compilations like the epochal No Alternative; and all four of the four-song EPs that came immediately before and after the album—1992’s Safari and 1994’s Head To Toe, in addition to the singles for “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer”. There’s also a 24-page booklet.

Last Splash LSXX

LSXX, interior…

At this writing, the box-set is in pre-order; the CDs start shipping on May 14, but the vinyl doesn’t go out until June/July. For me, as a longtime fan who’s not gotten my copy yet—although “fan” seems imprecise; the old wrestling term “mark” seems more appropriate—just reading through the tracklist brings back fond memories of not only the music itself, but of the often extreme lengths I once went to in order to obtain this material in the good ol’ days before the Internet, before e-commerce, eBay, Amazon and automated shipping.

For me, a Breeders run usually meant a trip to historic Five Points in Jacksonville, the longtime hub of my city’s alternative/indie scene before the action began diversifying into downtown and Springfield while crossing over into other genres. Last Splash was a hit, so it wasn’t necessary to hit up spots like Now Hear This!, since it could be had at the mall, but I got it from there anyway; it was my first trip to that neighborhood, and I also bought the excellent Copacetic album by Velocity Girl that day, starting a relationship with the area (where I now live) that will always persist in some form or another.

Now, getting hold of the EPs was a chore involving phone calls, special orders and the kind of research I only put now into corrupt politicians or would-be business partners. In the ‘90s, my resource for this stuff was a place called the Theory Shop, on Park St. It was owned by the Faircloth sisters; they also owned the legendary Beaches club Einstein-A-Go-Go, where many of the era’s top alternative bands performed and where a whole generation of artists, musicians, writers, fans and entrepreneurs first met each other, slowly knitting a social fabric that now stretches across most of this country. (A lot of those shows were taped, but sadly I’ve never heard any of it; it probably comprises an indispensable auditory document, and hopefully it sees light someday.) They were geniuses for special orders; if they didn’t have it, they could get almost anything, and usually for far less than one was willing to pay. They had the music, and certain curios that are now almost impossible to find: autographed posters, signed Breeders tube socks, even promo copies of the album on green vinyl.

The 1990s were an especially explosive time in the cultural development of a nation that is always pushing hard toward the future, and a big part of that era was what was then called “alternative music”. The term has fallen out of favor now, even retrospectively, as that music’s pervasive impact ultimately overwhelmed whatever outsider pretentions once existed. But, at the time, it was the perfect description not only of the actual music itself, but also of the intent that drove the many artists, producers, record executives, journalists and fans who were involved in its production and proliferation, starting with the man who was, for a time, at the center of the entire music world: the late, great Kurt Cobain. Had he not existed, a significant portion of the last 20 years of music history would quite possibly have never happened, and that fact is of special relevance in regard to the subject at hand.

Last Splash was officially released on August 31, 1993, but audiences were already primed, myself included. I was 15 back then. I was mostly into jazz and rap music; my tastes in rock and roll at that time were strictly limited to AC/DC, Queen, Hendrix and Guns and Roses; I recall enjoying GNR’s Use Your Illusion double-album, which I bought on cassette, way more than any decent human being should, absurdly, decadently, obnoxiously hyperbolically brilliant as it was. (To this day, I’m still kinda sad that the Axl Rose/Bob Guccione, jr. fight never actually happened; if it ever does, someone please inform me.) The first CD I ever bought was the self-titled debut by Rage Against the Machine, and I enjoyed it, but I was in no way culturally-inclined toward the rock music of that time, not at that point. My favorite rock band then was Led Zeppelin and, as much as I love the Breeders, they remain a very close second.

Many of my peers, of course, came from backgrounds were they were able to experience the genesis of what would evolve into “alternative music” holistically, so the effect of its rise was perhaps not as game-changing as it would be for. At that time, I had no idea what had been percolating in the New York, or Boston, or Athens. Seattle? Other than it being the estranged home of Hendrix, I knew nothing about the rock scene there, or anywhere else, until Kurt Cobain got the big push and methodically began programming names into the collective database of pop-culture. Once he started wearing certain t-shirts, covering certain songs and hiring certain bands to open for his band or sit in with them, I, like most people, spent the rest of the decade playing catch-up to what he had already internalized and regurgitated as the music of Nirvana.

Cobain’s infamous description of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as his failed attempt to write a Pixies song was to the eternally-corrupt American music industry what then-president George Bush’s declaration of “a New World Order” was to geopolitics. It was, in both cases, the start of a new era in mass-consciousness, a new formulation of the context in which we all exist. To be a Nirvana fan meant you had to listen to all these bands you’d often never heard of, because you knew their work was crucial to the development of the stuff you like. It’s like how the British Invasion forced mainstream America to take a second look at the Blues, or how hip-hop helped spur a new appreciation of older black musicians ranging from Clyde Stubblefield to Roger Troutman—or, for that matter, how the “New World Order” concept became the global context in which we placed the many obscure, localized conflicts and atrocities that have happened in the subsequent years. While it is entirely coincidental that Bush made the relevant remarks to a special joint-session of Congress on September 11, 1991—which happened to be the day after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was released, it’s fitting.

By the time Last Splash made its big splash, the Nirvana push was almost two years old, and the; Cobain would be dead within seven months of its release-date, but a significant portion of the time he had left was spent in various ways of giving the Breeders the rub. They were one of the opening acts on Nirvana’s last American tour, and they got perhaps the biggest exposure of their careers when they opened for Nirvana on MTV’s (pre-taped) New Year’s Eve special in 1993, playing the two lead singles from their album, “Cannonball” (released August 9) and “Divine Hammer” (released October 25).

“Cannonball” was released as a single 22 days before the album, which eventually went platinum based largely on that song. To this day, it remains their best-known song, and one of the more recognizable musical documents of that era. It’s been so ubiquitous, in fact, such a pure and perfect song, that it will always threaten to overshadow the depth, diversity and dynamism of their other stuff—a legacy that jumps genres and hews to no particular pre-defined aesthetic. For as the Deal sisters made their way through the business in those years, they did so as themselves; it’s not that their music conformed to people’s expectations, but that the expectations conformed to the music. That seems a trait they shared with Cobain, a trait he recognized, appreciated and did his very best to encourage, on- and off-stage. (Some seven months before Last Splash was released, Cobain praised Pod as one of his favorite albums ever in an interview with Melody Maker; “It’s an epic that will never let you forget ypur ex-girlfriend”, he said, and he was right.)

Cobain was neither the first nor last artist within those circles to meet a tragic, premature and, frankly, suspicious end, but because it was him, the overall effect was much, much worse. Culturally, Cobain’s death was later book-ended by the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, but many great talents fell in the interim. The summer of 1994 was a summer of death for the musicians who knew him most closely, many of whom took their own demons on the road, touring through grief and uncertainty. Among the casualties of that brutal year were the Breeders—that is, the version of the band that recorded Last Splash. After Kelley Deal was allegedly caught signing for a FedEx package of heroin, virtually all of the band’s forward momentum to that point was stopped cold as a corpse. She went to rehab, Wiggs and McPherson left to pursue their own projects, and Kim Deal simply remained Kim Deal—the one constant in all of this. Despite all of the great work they’ve done since then, separately and together, they would never again ascend to a commercial plateau anywhere near their peak, which sucks, but life moves fast, and the fickle tastes of the pop-music business move even faster.

The sisters Deal and their colleagues continued recording their own projects for the rest of the ‘90s and then, like a phoenix of sorts, the Breeders was reborn in May 2002. That Title TK happened at all was viewed by some as miraculous, and by others as a sign of the apocalypse, but not even their most hard-core fans (and I count myself among them, maybe even at the tippy-top of the list) would have expected the album to be as unbelievable epic as it was. It’s not just that it was a good album by the Breeders; it was an amazing album by a version of the Breeders that did not exist prior to that point. With its antecedents in the Deals’ solo work in those frustrating years between Breeders albums, the difference between Title TK and Last Splash, in terms of both form and content, was as dramatic as that between Last Splash and Pod. Aside from the vocals and a couple little musical tricks, the three albums might as well have been by three completely different bands, and to a certain extent they were.

It’s now been over a decade since the revamped Breeders lineup strolled into the new century, recording two full-length albums, releasing two albums and an EP in that time while touring the world and landing high-prestige gigs like Coachella and All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP). Despite this new era of success, some fans remain nostalgic for the “classic” version of the band, with Wiggs and McPherson. With the new lineup gelled and seasoned, it seemed unlikely that would ever happen, but as one has come to expect from the Breeders, anything can happen. As such, the Deal/Deal/Wiggs/McPherson version of the band will reunite and tour this year, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the record that made them. I’ve not seen them play in a decade, and I just realized I’ll have to miss their show in Atlanta on May 15; it irritates me beyond words, but that feeling is well-surpassed by the overall joy I feel, just knowing that the Deals are not only alive and well, but thriving. And as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their biggest commercial success, it’s really more like a celebration of a scene they helped create—a scene that now holds a dominant position across the scope American culture. As it turned out, with Last Splash, the Breeders were just dipping their toes into the water.

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