The Standells Haven't Strayed Far from the Sunset Strip

The Standells typify one of the many cool things about The Ponderosa Stomp, which takes place this weekend. Yes, there's the yearly thrill of discovery that comes with hearing someone kill that you didn't know existed, and yes, there's the drama that comes with seeing people who've been on the margins of the music business for decades get a great moment with a good band and an enthusiastic audience.

Andy Kaufman vs. Everybody

Fight Night: Last week, Drag City released Andy and His Grandmother, an album of conversations comedian Andy Kaufman recorded with a micro-cassette recorder in the late 1970s. First response: Jeez, Andy Kaufman must have been tough to live with. His level of commitment to his comedy is likely unrivaled, but for the family and friends who didn't choose that path, being forced to be a part of his audio verité had to be exhausting.

Spend a Night with Yo La Tengo

Part of Yo La Tengo's appeal is that through the band, much of the audience can see itself onstage. Members Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew are music fans like us who ended up on the right side of the monitors, and they seem to do things their way, just as we like to think we'd do. Their songs also don't sound hard to play, at least until a Kaplan guitar freak out, but there's an art to sounding artless, and that adds to the appeal because rock 'n' roll that isn't showy is so unusual.

Dayna Kurtz in the Moment

During her set this year at Jazz Fest, Dayna Kurtz had a moment. It was the subtle difference between a band simply playing songs well and a band completely in the moment, but it was there. Writer John Swenson heard it in Kurtz's cover of Eddie Bo's "So Glad." I heard it about three songs in when John Gros joined the band on the Hammond B-3. One perfectly timed sweep across the keyboard fed the moment perfectly to Kurtz and she seized it.

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