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Fear of an electric planet

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Does the sound of distortion and feedback send you screaming from the room? Do you haunt coffee shops in search of biscotti and non-dairy creamer? Do you actually have a back porch, complete with swing, to sit on and muse about your life while fireflies light up the night? Then we have the tour for you.


Actually, unless you're one of those jobless types who have the time and money — and the wherewithal to live in your smelly car for weeks at a time — to follow the bands you groove on Grateful Dead style, this is only for "left coast" fans of acoustic music.

It's called the "Various and Sundry" tour, and it includes a host of big-name singer-songwriters. Among the acts on the bill are Toad The Wet Sprocket alum Glen Phillips ( (formerly of Toad The Wet Sprocket), former Grant Lee Buffalo front man Grant-Lee Phillips (, Nickel Creek siblings Sean and Sara Watkins (photo above courtesy, performing as The Watkins Family (, and bluegrass singer and fiddle champ Luke Bulla.

The idea for the tour, which begins June 5, came to Glen Phillips after he invited musical co-conspirators to join him onstage in a performance at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

“It's a refreshing experience to get together with a bunch of people who respect each other and just play music for the pure joy of it,” says Phillips, whose most recent album, Mr. Lemons, doesn't deviate too much from the Toad The Wet Sprocket songbook. “We all started doing this because we loved hanging out with friends and making noise, and it's a good thing to get back to that purity.”

One of the main draws is Grant-Lee Phillips, whose new album, Strangelet, has received glowing reviews. Writer Dave Thompson reviews it in the June 8 print edition of Goldmine and online at Since the demise of alt.-rock statesmen Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips' solo career has sort of followed that of Neil Young. His gravelly voice and country-tinged songcraft gracing scores for film and television, and he's taken up acting as well, grabbing a recurring role as Town Troubadour on The Gilmore Girls.


Strangelet is his fifth solo album, and it's all Grant Lee (photo at right by Denise Siegel) all the time, with Phillips producing and playing nearly every instrument, including guitar, piano, bass and ukulele. You heard that right ... ukulele. Somewhere, Tiny Tim is smiling.

Talking about the tour, Phillips gushed, "It's rare to come across such a handful of songwriters and singers, each with their own unique take on things, who fall together so naturally. It's pretty incredible.”

Anybody out there a fan of either of the Phillips boys, or Nickel Creek, or Mr. Bulla? Let us know what you think of their work, especially Grant-Lee's Strangelet.

Tour dates are as follows:

6/5 - Santa Barbara, Calif. @ Soho
6/6 - Solana Beach, Calif. @ Belly UP Tavern
6/7 - Santa Ana, Calif. @ Galaxy Concert Theater
6/8 - West Hollywood, Calif. @ The Roxy
6/9 - San Francisco, Calif. @ Bimbo's 365 Club
6/10 - Sacramento, Calif. @ Crest Theater
6/12 - Petaluma, Calif. @ Mystic Theatre
6/13 - Tuolumne, Calif. @ Black Oak Casino
6/14 - Portland, Ore. @ Aladdin Theater
6/15 - Spokane, Wash. @ The Big Easy Concert
6/16 - Bellingham, Wash. @ The Nightlight
6/17 - Seattle, Wash. @ Nordstrom Hall