List archive online at

TOUR DATES(* = new dates):

Sunday, July 7, 2002 – SUMMERFEST Milwaukee, Wisconsin

*Saturday, July 27, 2002 TBA, TBA
*Thursday Aug 15, 2002 HOUSE OF BLUES, Anaheim, CA
*Friday, August 16,2002 VENTURA THEATRE Ventura, CA
*Saturday, August 17, 2002 DEL MAR FAIRGROUNDS Del Mar, CA
*Sunday, August 18, 2002 GOOSE ISLAND FESTIVAL Chicago, IL

Who’s Going Where:
Jesse – jesse – Summerfest/Milwaukee

Well guys it’s Wednesday, June the 19th – do you know where your copy
of DELUXE is? If you’re answer is “Yes! in my CD player!” write in and
tell the rest of us what you think. In other news, there are FOUR new
tour dates in this issue. Sorry I don’t have any info on the 7/27 date
but here are the details on the others:

Thr Aug 15 ’02 (8:00PM)House of Blues – Anaheim CA
1530 DISNYLND DR $30.00 – $32.50
Charge by Phone: 714-740-2000

Fri Aug 16 ’02 (8:00PM) Ventura, CA Ventura Theatre
DRS@7PM Tickets $22.00 – $25.00 Info: 805-583-8700

Sat Aug 17 ’02 (7:30PM) Del Mar, CA
Del Mar Fairgrounds/Racetrack Microbrew Festival/Chili Cookoff/Concert
Information: 858-755-1161

Sun Aug 18 ’02 Chicago, IL Goose Island Brewery Festival
Tickets $10 Information: 312-915-0071

If anyone made it to the Palace Theater gig last week please send in a

New Tour Dates
re:Re-Issue & The Osbournes
re:Freak Magnet
Shepherd Express article

re: Re-Issue & The Osbournes
A few weeks ago, I had MTV on (a rare occasion!), and they were playing
some kind of Osbourne’s marathon thing. There was one episode where
they were having trouble with their neighbors, I wasn’t really paying
attention to it, but I SWEAR the opening song to this episode sounded
like All I Want from Freak Magnet, only about 8 notes worth. Do I need
to get my hearing tested, or did they really play that song?

Also -The owner of the record store I go to told me the special 2 cd reissue
of the first album will be on sale next Tuesday, June 18.


RE: Freak Magnet
I was reading a post that kind of made me think, it stated that Freak
Magnet was the worst album ever. i have to disagree with this. if you
truely are a femmes fan, and you’ve listened to all of the music they
have put out, including rare recordings and odd songs such as y2k, you
might understand that the femmes have traditionally played all types and
styles of music. i would have to say it wasnt my most prefered album,
but i found gordan gano had some really fantastic lyrics in this album,
they ranged from sadness to pure joy even to just plain weird. i
listened to the whole album the other day and found myself inspired to write
some songs by this album. Ive always been influenced by this band and
inspired by their inovative styles and everchanging sound, so i feel it
is the same as killing the band to claim any of their albums is
horrible. It takes so much work to write and compose music, and in freak
magnet, i think it was really cool that they kept this tradition. It actually helped me turn a lot of people on to the violent femmes with the song Sleep walking, which if you listen, it almost sounds like sheep fucking, and the rest of the words work for it to be that way. i guess all im asking is for everyone to be a little more understanding of what this
band puts into making an album.

ian kyle

Hello… hello again
Hey Mpdrum95 and Drumgalante – it’s nice to know you guys are still around.
Believe it or not I agree with you both. The music is definitely not going to suffer with Vic back. IMHO his presence supercharged the set in St Paul!
There is just a certain magic about having the original three back together.
If you have any doubt about that just take a listen to the re-issue. WOW!
So raw… so passionate … so timeless. All that being said though, I – like Marylee – wish the Femmes could have two drummers. I will miss Guy.

Also – I read this online today –
“As previously reported, Rhino is reissuing the Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut album next week (June 18) with all kinds of bonus tracks and even a complete live show. Now we’ve also got word that Rhino is compiling an even more extensive Femmes box set to commemorate the band’s 20th anniversary.”


Article from the Shepherd Express (Milwaukee Alternative paper)
Adding Up the Legacy – by Dave Luhrssen
The Violent Femmes 20 years later
Twenty years ago this summer, the Violent Femmes recorded an LP that changed the world, even if its impact was neither loud nor dramatic. Early ’80s commentators and pundits, measuring trends with the yardstick of sales figures and People magazine covers, overlooked it entirely. Even here, in their hometown, the widening ripples of that recording were, at first, hard to gauge. The band’s effect wasn’t clear to me-their friend and the first writer to publish an article on them-until five years later. Passing through Sioux Falls, S.D., I saw a lonely teenager waiting for a plane with her carry-ons, softly singing the album’s opening song, “Blister in the Sun,” to herself. Suddenly the Femmes’ impact made sense.
The songs from that self-titled debut resonated deeply, and widely, among kids struggling through their teen years toward college and the uncertain world beyond. Although that first Femmes album never rivaled Whitney Houston for sales, nor challenged Huey Lewis on the charts, it sank more deeply into the imagination of its listeners than most any Top-40 hit. For younger fans, the lyrics of the Femmes’ vocalist and guitarist, Gordon Gano, reflected with painful fidelity the wounds and humiliations, the confusion, of adolescence. Gano’s lyrics mirrored a world more uncertain than the one depicted in Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles. They neither tried to smoothe over the jagged edges nor drown out the pain in the “I don’t care” decibels of heavy metal.
Hingepin Album
“CMJ considers that first album the hingepin, a key recording of the time,” says WMSE station manager Tom Crawford, referring to College Music Journal, the influential mouthpiece for America’s college radio stations, which helped elevate bands such as R.E.M. and the Violent Femmes from basements to amphitheaters by the end of the ’80s.
“No one knew what to make of that album,” Crawford continues. “It pierced so many boundaries with its streetwise simplicity and punk sincerity. Even when the music changed in 1977,” he says, alluding to the initial punk-rock explosion, “no one thought it could be taken to such simplicity. The Femmes could have been buskers, yet they were so melodic, singing about love and angst. At the time, so much music was processed, with a large sound-the big hairdo new wave bands, the dance music acts. The Femmes’ first album was refreshingly different yet thoroughly honest in talking about the things that bother us in everyday life.”
Enjoying steady sales and a word-of-mouth reputation, the Femmes’ debut is timeless as any artwork of enduring value. This month it is being reissued by Rhino Records, along with bonus tracks from the early years, in a two-CD set. As if re-energized by the prospect of its release, the original trio has begun playing together for the first time in nearly 10 years.
Apocalyptic ’80s
Nostalgia is an almost inescapable part of the human condition, especially when encouraged by a media-entertainment complex bent on repackaging old products in new shrink-wrap and encouraging desires for things that shouldn’t be desired. The early ’80s are a hard sell, but that won’t stop the industry from trying. As the decade began, even the spangly hedonism of disco had gone threadbare and the excitement of punk rock had settled into sullen dogma. America had lurched from inflation to recession, with humiliation tossed in. It was a time of minimum wages, rusted infrastructure, Ronald Reagan in the White House and the apocalyptic paranoia of nuclear winter.
In that environment, the Violent Femmes promised to be the world’s last rock ‘n’ roll band. They could play without the big lights and bigger amplifiers that had turned rock shows into logistical operations of D-Day proportion. They didn’t even need electricity! After the bombs fell and the fallout blew to sea, the Femmes could have resurfaced from their East Side basements, with their snare drum, mariachi bass and acoustic guitar, to play on the streets for the survivors.
For drummer Victor DeLorenzo, bassist Brian Ritchie and Gano, playing from the pavement was more a necessity than a tribute to the urban ideal of New York City, where musicians held forth from every corner. “We never thought we’d be legitimate enough to get a real gig anywhere,” DeLorenzo recalls. “Our music was so radically different from the accepted taste of the time that we never expected to play the local clubs. We wore that difference as our badge of honor. We were closer to our jazz heroes than anything going on in rock at the time-to people like Albert Ayler, who couldn’t get a gig.”
Entering Folklore
In 1981, after playing the streets for all of a month or two at a time when street musicians were as common in Milwaukee as Mongolian shamans in full regalia, the Violent Femmes were famously “discovered” by the Pretenders. The British band, setting up for a concert at the Oriental Theatre, stumbled across the three Milwaukeeans singing songs like “Waiting for the Bus” and “Girl Trouble” on the corner of Farwell and North, and invited them into the hall as an unscheduled opening act.
“It was ‘Boo! Boo!’ from the audience,” DeLorenzo remembers. But “by the end of our three-song set at the Oriental, I felt the tide was turning in our favor.”
The Femmes never heard from the Pretenders again, dashing their fragile hope of using the popular Brits as a way into the big, scary music industry (which was a benign oligarchy compared with today). But the encounter entered folklore and became an often-told story once the Femmes attracted national attention. To this day, Farwell and North remains a popular corner for buskers.
Make it Up
Characteristically, the only Milwaukee club that encouraged the Femmes was the Jazz Gallery. Both DeLorenzo and Ritchie were fans of the avant-garde jazz that began in the ’50s with Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman. The jagged surprises heard on that first Femmes album, the sense of making it up within a coherent, flowing vision, came from jazz, not rock ‘n’ roll. “I always felt like an outsider to the Milwaukee scene,” DeLorenzo recalls.
That trio’s eponymous debut, recorded in Lake Geneva with a $10,000 loan from DeLorenzo’s dad, is the heart of Rhino Records’ Violent Femmes (Deluxe Edition). The rare U.K. single, the first demos (including some songs from their busking days that never made it to the LP) and the recordings from early shows at the Jazz Gallery and New York’s Folk City are illuminating, certainly worth owning for fans. But those 10 classic tracks from the first album are the real deal.
The album’s opening chords, from “Blister in the Sun,” are now considered classic. They’ve found their way into movie soundtracks as Morse Code for teenage life in the ’80s, but the song-its bewilderment carried by a deceptively sunny melody-is no less relevant today. It was a song that left Milwaukee’s music “moguls” of the early ’80s laughing derisively, when they heard the demo, but history has proven them wrong. The raw, vulnerable emotions of Gano’s lyrics cut like a razor on the suicidal “Kiss Off”; rock ‘n’ roll has heard few dark nights of the soul as bleak as “Confessions.”
But what is this music? At the time, here in Milwaukee, many didn’t think it was rock at all. Grasping for labels, the Femmes came up with “folk punk,” which was as inadequate as any other pigeonhole for containing their sound. True, their music had the aggressive thrust of punk. But it was folk only in the sense of being homespun, made by relative outsiders for the edification and entertainment of themselves and their own community.
Musically the Femmes’ debut was an organic synthesis of many elements. Heard were the stripped-to-the-bone simplicity of ’50s rocker Gene Vincent (who could have played curbsides if he’d wanted), the freedom from technology that enabled them to explore places where bands saddled with gear could never have gone, the unconventional cacophony of avant-garde jazz and the willingness to improvise within songs that has been jazz’s hallmark since Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. There were moments of psychedelic overdrive (Ritchie had played briefly with Milwaukee’s great psychedelic band Plasticland), echoes of the worldly eclecticism of the Trance & Dance Band (Ritchie and DeLorenzo had been members). There was the impact of Ritchie’s bass style, as melodic as Paul McCartney. And, of course, Gano’s much-discussed admiration for Lou Reed, who served more as inspiration than model.
One Album’s Legacy
“It’s hard to be a soundalike Violent Femmes band,” says Jeff Winkowski, the musician and online publisher who produced What Do WE Have to Do, a Violent Femmes tribute CD. Released at the end of last year, What Do WE Have to Do features 10 contemporary bands, all but one based in Milwaukee. Each performs one track from the Femmes’ debut. “You just can’t duplicate them,” he continues. “It’s a style based on personnel.”
The legacy of the Violent Femmes is best measured by the impact of that first album on tens of thousands of kids like Winkowski, who was 11 when he first heard it in the ’80s. “It was very articulate, very scary, very haunting,” Winkowski says, recalling his discovery of “Add it Up,” a harrowing account of violent self-loathing from that debut. “I felt myself becoming more than just my parents’ child, of coming into my own, of questioning whether I was screwed up as a person for feeling all the frustration and violence. Was there something positive I could take from all this?”
By articulating those emotions so starkly, Gano suggested that, yes, there was learning and growth to be had even in the worst days of life’s journey.
“That recording has always been loved and dismissed as a record full of teen angst anthems. What I wanted to do with What Do WE Have to Do was show that those songs also portray adult angst. Life doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older.”
Most tribute discs span an artist’s entire career. Even though the Femmes went on to record six more albums, Winkowski never considered paying homage to anything but the debut. “They had other good songs, but their first album was their moment. This was our way of saying thanks.”
As recording artists, the Femmes began to wobble with their second album, the adventurous Hallowed Ground, which didn’t sound enough like the first album to please their record label. In the ’60s, it was considered natural for groups like the Beatles and the Kinks to grow with each release. By the early ’80s, artistic development was tantamount to breach of contract for record execs and, sadly, many fans. Their third album, The Blind Leading the Naked, sold briskly, but turned off many listeners with a glossy, eager-for-radio production that denied the band’s distinctiveness. After that, it didn’t matter.
The Violent Femmes became a prototype for today’s musical nomads, wandering a largely indifferent popular landscape without a supportive label, sustained by oases of fandom. “Even though the later records didn’t sell hugely, we could still sell out halls and make money from door receipts and merchandising,” says DeLorenzo, who was replaced in the early ’90s by veteran Milwaukee drummer Guy Hoffman. Without DeLorenzo, the Femmes made a pair of forgotten discs and continued to tour until a couple of years ago, drawing 40-year-olds who remember them from the ’80s as well as teenagers who are still discovering that first, timeless album.

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Are we going to see who is going to be at Summerfest
somtime soon?


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