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Net Gains

In folk circles, the Internet can make complete unknowns into Rolling Stones.

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In some ways, folk musicians still shun technology, preferring acoustic guitars to electric instruments and choosing intimate venues instead of garishly lit stages. But when it comes to getting organized, the unplugged underground has abandoned time-tested organic methods such as paper-wasting mailing lists and time-consuming calling circles. For artists such as Beth Scalet, a three-decade veteran of Kansas City's coffee-house scene, the Internet has cleared barriers that years of touring and recording couldn't budge.

Scalet's latest album, Beth Loves Bob, contains twelve Dylan covers, on which she remains faithful to the phrasing but clears up the enunciation considerably. Available on such Web sites as cdbaby.com, Beth Loves Bob has attracted interest in Germany and radio play in Spain. "As far as I know, I've never had a single album overseas before," Scalet says. "The Internet frees up a whole new universe to people like me who are not in a position to quit our day jobs and go on the road."

Scalet has toured extensively in the past -- "I've been there, done that, and I have the debts to prove it," she says -- but now she's concentrating on bringing the country's musicians to her through e-mail connections. "It's time for me to start moving into a mentor role," she says, explaining that she'd like to start bringing folk artists to town on an irregular basis for small shows and house concerts. Appropriately, her first coup, Holly Figueroa's gig at the Cup and Saucer on Thursday, May 9 (Scalet opens), marks the first Kansas City visit for an artist known for bringing independent performers together through her site indiegrrl.com. Figueroa formed Indiegrrl in 1998, and it now boasts more than 1,300 members who work together to coordinate concerts and share common experiences.

"When I started Indiegrrl, it was purely to network with other female musicians," Figueroa says. "When it started getting big, many people said it would never work. If I had listened to them in the beginning, it wouldn't be as successful as it is today. Anyone who wants to produce and promote national and local acoustic music in their hometown can. Make good use of the Internet as a networking tool, talk to other musicians, find a good room, talk to the local press and bring in consistently good music. Do it. Don't talk about doing it, and don't think about it too hard. Overanalyzing something like this will bring in a million reasons why it shouldn't work."

Following Figueroa's advice, Scalet has made impressive progress on her pet project, though her adherence to the head Indiegrrl's "don't talk about doing it" rule prevents her from revealing specific details about upcoming events. "I don't want to let too much out of the bag, but there's a tour that's going to be announced within the next five to six weeks that's on a huge scale," Scalet teases. "It's going to cover the whole country and then some." And while she has her hands full now as one of the organizers of this mysterious behemoth event, Scalet says she can envision Kansas City eventually hosting a showcase event for DIY female musicians, like 2000's Rockrgrl Conference in Seattle, at which she performed. "Anything is possible when people begin to see that they can do these things, and when they recognize the amount of music that's available to them right where they live," Scalet says.


Last but Not Least
Now that Drew Barrymore's beauty-and-the-least romance with annoyance Tom Green has ended, the noted Freddy Got Fingered thespian probably won't be reprising his role as ultra-geek the Chad in Charlie's Angels 2. With his usual disdain for subtlety and human emotion, Green played this disposable character as a self-obsessed schmuck who's perpetually repeating his own name. Not much of a stretch, really, but if Green had looked outside himself for inspiration, he could've stumbled across Eugene Chadbourne, who twists his name into countless bastardized creations (Chadfest, Chadula) like a self-referential version of rubber-faced big-screen gimp Rob Schneider's copy guy character from Saturday Night Live. Despite his tangential ties to actors who push lowbrow down to mustache level, Chadbourne is a veritable avant-garde composer, a collaboration addict who's teamed with everyone from Holly Near to Corrosion of Conformity and a prolific inventor who gave the world the electric rake. For his latest Chadfest, Chadbourne partners with Malachy Papers, a group that gives some Kansas City jazz traditionalists the willies but that couldn't possibly frighten the artist responsible for such esoteric titles as Wombat on the Way and Biker Music of SE Cambodia. The groups perform at the Replay Lounge on Thursday, May 9, and at the Cup and Saucer on Friday, May 10, before welcoming Mr. Marco's V7 into the Chad, Chad world on Saturday, May 11, for a gig at Davey's. On Sunday, May 12, Chadbourne clears the stage for a rare solo gig at YJ's, which will likely contain protest-song-skewering material from his recent satirical work The New War. (To his credit, he never cashed in on 2000's big news story by releasing a disc called Hanging Chad.)

With an immense catalog from which to draw and a backing band that's likely to embark on lengthy improvisational explorations, Chadbourne's Friday night show could go on for quite some time. However, even if the set drags into the wee hours of the morning, a nightcap awaits insomniac fans. Disc-spinner Frankie Bones, a true trailblazer who added gristle and muscle to the East Coast sound, makes his first visit to Kansas City in celebration of the DJ collective Atreides' one-year anniversary. The shindig starts at 9 p.m., with Dan Deliverance, L*STR, Offtrack and area stalwart Pat Nice helping Bones rock the party until 6 in da mornin'. Like all late-night dance-music shows, Bones' performance will erroneously be labeled a rave by many attendees, but those in the know would be quick to point out that this show doesn't meet the original definition because it's a planned, legal event with a set location. The grooves go down at the Guinotte; for directions to this unorthodox venue, call 816-881-1120 or 785-749-7345. Later in the week, MTV's DJ Skribble headlines a spinners' showcase that rocks until the 3 a.m. closing time, if no later. Michael Anthony, Sen-Sei and David Coleman and DJ Booth put the bodies in motion from 9 p.m. until Skribble's set at Club Chemical, 1111 Grand Avenue, on Wednesday, May 15.

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