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Sebadoh Reunite For Spring Tour

Indie-rock pioneers Sebadoh are reuniting for a spring North American tour, appearing live in the States for the first time since 1998's The Sebadoh tour. Two of three original members — frontman Lou Barlow and bass player Jason Loewenstein — will be playing mostly acoustic sets during the tour, performing songs from the band's nine-album catalog. (A third founder, Eric Gaffney, quit the band in 1994 and will not be involved in the tour. Erstwhile drummers Russ Pollard and Bob Fay are also not participating.)

The reformed, acoustic Sebadoh toured Europe last fall, playing, according to Barlow's Web site, "at least one song from every (and I mean every) Seba-album, plus some obscure shit, 'Oven Is My Friend' that made us laugh like stoned post adolescents."

Fans can expect the same mix of old favorites and lesser-known songs. In a statement, Barlow explained that concerts will feature "Jake Loewenstein and me with some simple non-electronic percussion we recorded on my trusty Tascam Porta-One cassette four-track. I play acoustic guitars and Jake plays electric bass. We strip the songs down but I'd like to think it still 'rocks'."

One likely highlight of the spring tour will be a benefit concert at Smith College on April 30th, with fellow 1990s indie superstars Sonic Youth and former Dinosaur Jr. leader J. Mascis. Barlow, of course, was an original member of Dinosaur Jr., but left the band in order to take on more songwriting responsibilities with his new group, Sebadoh, in 1989. The concert will raise money for Community Resources for People with Autism, a Western Massachusetts-based charity providing assistance to families with autistic children. Barlow's mother works at the agency and has spearheaded the benefit to raise funds after state budgets were cut.

Formed in Western Massachusetts in the late 1980s, Sebadoh began as a collaborative home-recording project of Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney, adding Jason Loewenstein as drummer shortly after its founding. The band's first two albums — 1989's Freed Man and 1990's Weed Forestin — were collections of home-recorded demos that established the band's very lo-fi production ethic. They gained a critical following in 1991 with III, the first album to feature Loewenstein. The band moved from Homestead Records to SubPop with Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock, a collection of re-released songs from hard-to-find import EPs, then followed with Bubble and Scrape, the last album recorded with Eric Gaffney, who had counterbalanced Barlow's fine, indie-pop songwriting with experimental noise excursions throughout the band's early career.

In 1994, Bakesale brought Sebadoh a wider audience, with such songs as "Skull" and "Not Too Amused." Harmancy, appearing two years later, was the band's biggest commercial success, showcasing a slightly poppier sound than previous efforts in songs like "Ocean," "On Fire" and "Can't Give Up." The band's final release, The Sebadoh, was generally considered disappointing, and Barlow began to spend more time on his side project The Folk Implosion.

The band never formally dissolved, but remained inactive until last fall. In the meantime, Loewenstein recorded 2002's At Sixes and Sevens, his punky, highly regarded solo album, while Barlow continued to make Folk Implosion recordings. Gaffney now heads the lo-fi, psyche-folk Fields of Gaffney, based in San Francisco. — Jennifer Kelly [Saturday, February 28, 2004]

Sebadoh Tour Dates

April 19; St. Louis, Mo.; Duck Room
April 20; Chicago, Ill.; Abbey Pub
April 21; Detroit, Mich.; Magic Stick
April 22; Hamilton, Ontario; The Underground
April 23; Toronto, Ontario; Horseshoe Tavern
April 24; Montreal, Quebec; El Salon
April 25; Cambridge, Mass.; TT The Bears
April 27; Hoboken, N.J.; Maxwell's
April 28; Brooklyn, N.Y.; North Six
April 30; Northampton, Mass.; John M. Greene Hall (with Sonic Youth and J. Mascis)
May 2; Philadelphia, Pa.; Khyber
May 3; Baltimore, Md.; Ottobar
May 4; Carrboro, N.C.; Cat's Cradle
May 5; Athens, Ga.; 40 Watt
May 6; Atlanta, Ga.; Echo Lounge
May 7; Birmingham, Ala.; The Nick
May 8; Nashville, Tenn.; Exit-In

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