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To Kelly, one of the joys of the current Samples lineup, which consists of him, veteran bassist Andy Sheldon, drummer Kenny James, keyboardist Alex Matson and rhythm guitarist Rob Somers, is the absence of addictive personalities. "Absolutely, with a capital A," he says. "That's been one of the biggest and most freeing things about this whole process, and it's one that I didn't expect to feel. I thought I'd feel unstable and insecure because I didn't know what was going to happen. But once all of the old energy was taken away, things have just blossomed." His enthusiasm is evident as he describes his new bandmates: "Alex is a nice, wonderful person who's very karmic. Rob is a guy I started the Last Straw, my first band, with fifteen years ago. He's one of my oldest friends--and there's something reassuring about being around someone who I've known for so long in a business where it's hard to trust anybody. And Kenny is a great guy, and he's so animated, such a showman. And everybody's getting along so well. It seems much more cohesive than it was, because everyone's working really hard to be the best that they can be."

So upbeat is Kelly that he doesn't even dismiss the possibility of hooking up with another major label at some point in the future. But for the moment, he's extremely pleased with W.A.R.? "We've sold over 600,000 albums on W.A.R.?, and they've done a very good job. When we were at 30,000 on MCA, I know W.A.R.? would have done twice that much. I think a lot of majors live in a vacuum, and it's too bad, because it's all supposed to be about something that's wonderful: music. But everything we've gone through has been part of a growing process for the band. This kind of stuff just makes us tougher and tougher."

KXPK-FM/96.5, the Peak, has spent the past several weeks promoting an innovative project--the Greenbucks Program, which rewards listeners who perform volunteer services in the community with free tickets to a concert. The effort culminates on Saturday, September 20, with the show itself, a Paramount Theatre date featuring Better Than Ezra, the Freddy Jones Band and Duncan Sheik. Call Metro Volunteers at 832-6060, extension 24, for more details.

There's a lot more to the 1997 Boulder Blues Festival than Son Seals (see page 72): Among the artists scheduled to appear as part of the bash, which runs through Sunday, September 21, are Corey Harris and Tiny Town, which features former members of the Subdudes. By dialing 637-8937, you'll be granted access to all the information you could ever need.

Attending the Thursday, September 18, taping of E-Town, the long-running National Public Radio program based in Boulder, may be a little difficult. That's because the show, which features Patty Larkin, the Persuasions and rock icon Ralph Nader takes place at the Birchmere Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Don't worry about this portending a permanent move, however: The show's home base will remain the Boulder Theater. As for checking out this week's edition, tune it in on radio--or check with your travel agent.

Following the heard. On Thursday, September 18, the Sleeping Brotherhood House Band wakes up Dressy Bessy at the 15th Street Tavern; James McMurtry warbles at the Bug Theater; and Phantom Freeway burns rubber at Patrick's. On Friday, September 19, Ween and Charlatans U.K. share the spotlight at the Ogden Theatre, and ex-Byrds leader Roger McGuinn visits the Rialto Theater Center in Loveland (to learn more, phone 970-669-7414). On Saturday, September 20, Ron Sexsmith croons at the Lion's Lair. And on Wednesday, September 24, you can find Chaos Theory at the Skyline Cafe.

Chaos Theory is also on the bill for the Westword Music Awards Showcase, taking place in LoDo on Sunday, September 21, as are about forty other bands. If you miss them, you may not regret it today, and you may not regret it tomorrow, but you'll regret it soon...and for the rest of your life.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com

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