Rose of Kraak & Smaak- for the Grateful Web

Holland's breakthrough act KRAAK & SMAAK is getting ready to rock North America as a full band in support of their latest album PLASTIC PEOPLE out now on ULTRA Records.  On November 6 at Eighteenth Street Lounge in Washington D.C., they'll kick off their 14-show date tour that will take them through many major markets throughout the U.S. and into Canada in support of the album.

Although KRAAK & SMAAK originally started out as a studio project for the founding members Oscar De Jong, Mark Kneppers & Wim Plug, it quickly became one of the hottest live properties in electronic music. The additional live band members of Ro Krom (drummer, vocalist), Rose (vocalist) and Marc (bass) - coupled with the keyboards, FX and percussion played by the band themselves - are a formidable slice of funk on the dance floor.

Released September 9 in North America as the band's sophomore record, Plastic People captures the K&S brand of future funk and features the first single "Squeeze Me."   The song is currently gaining great exposure through Rhapsody's national TV ad campaign which can be viewed here.

In addition to the banjo twang, disco suave synths, hints of a string orchestra, gypsy-tinged clarinet melody and the soulful broken beat that threads its way through the music, the album also has stand-out collaborations, including "That's My Word" which features one of their heroes, rapper Dudley Perkins.   Wrote Bruce Tatum of Time Out New York (September 11-17), "From the boogie-time bounce of album opener 'Bobby & Whitney' to the dreamy disco of 'Thinking Back' through to the vaguely Eastern, synth-led exoticism of closer 'To Everyone Who Has,' Plastic People has a breadth and depth that puts most club-oriented albums to shame."

Since releasing their debut album Boogie Angst in 2006, they have played over 200 live band gigs, have been hailed as a "Must See Live Band," supported the stadium-rocking Faithless on their European tour and played some of the most prestigious gigs in the U.S. last year including SXSW and shows at the Winter Music Conference.

KRAAK & SMAAK will appear in North America this November:


DATE                        CITY                              VENUE                     

Thu      11/6               Washington, DC                    Eighteenth Street Lounge

Fri      11/7               Baltimore, MD                     Bedrock

Sat      11/8               New York, NY                      Mercury Lounge

Tue      11/11              Austin, TX                        The Parish Room

Thu      11/13              Madison, WI                       Majestic Theatre

Fri      11/14              Chicago, IL                       Subterranean

Sat      11/15              Lawrence, KS                      Granada Theatre Kundilini Rising 2

Tue      11/18              Denver, CO                        Bluebird Theatre

Thu      11/20              San Diego, CA                     The Loft

Fri      11/21              Los Angeles, CA                   Music Box @ Henry Fonda Theatre

Sat      11/22              San Francisco, CA                 The Independent

Mon      11/24              Whistler, BC                      Garibaldi Lift Company

Tue      11/25              Vancouver, BC                     Richard's on Richards

Wed      11/26              Seattle, WA                       Nectar Lounge

The Rumble Strips Tour North America

The Rumble Strips- for the Grateful Web

In 'Girls and Weather', The Rumble Strips have recorded a truly classic debut album.  With their somewhat eccentric origins in Devon, the four young men from Tavistock have fashioned a set of songs steeped with huge, life-affirming choruses all awash with the optimism of youth. This is a  band whose sound and look is entirely their own: thundering drums and  piano, brass to stir the soul and singer Charlie Waller's voice – a  thing of rare beauty and power suggesting the arrival of a genuine new  star.

Among the band's most passionate fans is producer du jour, Mark Ronson. Having heard Rumble Strips' spine tingling reworking of Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black', Ronson fell in love with the band. He promptly invited Charlie to sing lead vocals at his acclaimed BBC Electric Proms performance at the London Roundhouse last year, with Charlie's performance widely declared the highlight of the evening. Further guest appearances have followed as Ronson and Charlie's relationship has blossomed, with the most recent show seeing Charlie being flown out to Coachella to sing with Mark.          

"Girls and Weather" opens with Charlie hollering as if his life depended on it, "I ain't got no soul". What follows is 12 songs bristling with energy, frantic rhythms, wide-eyed yearning and certainly no little soul.

Indeed, the Young Soul Rebel spirit of the singles 'Alarm Clock' and 'Motorcycle' is evident on the album, but the record also takes in a range of less expected (but no less profound) influences: the gorgeous harmonies are born out of the band's love of 1950s doo-wop, whilst the epic nature of Charlie's song writing recalls the oddball genius of both Adam Ant and Queen (as imagined by the Stax house band).

Elsewhere, the brass on 'Oh Creole' is like a rousing, doom laden Van Morrison classic, whilst the E Street holler of 'Hate Me (You Do)' owes its anthemic quality to Tom Gorbutt's inspired saxophone opening. Clocking in under two minutes, August single 'Girls and Boy in Love' is all hand clap rhythms, Motown piano and gorgeous, bitter sweet melodies - a festival anthem for certain.

Recalling the achingly close, three part harmonies of Rubber Soul era Beatles, 'Don't Dumb Down' is a scathing tale of faking to impress.  Key lyrics:  "You don't come from London do you? / But, sometimes you sound like you do / What the hell is that all about?"

The album closes with arguably it's strongest moment.  Built around a huge, Talking Heads-esque piano rhythm, 'Hands' is an extraordinary piece of song writing. Charlie's almost spoken word delivery is like an anglicized Springsteen, as he talks of finding himself, "on the hard shoulder of the motorway / to my feet I tried to complain / but I don't think they were listening", as the song build to almighty crescendo.

The Rumble Strips are a truly special group:  Pure, sad and romantic. Theirs are songs that strike a chord with the masses, whilst remaining enigmatic and standing alone from the crowd.  

2008 US Fall Tour

10/2/2008     Princeton, NJ        Terrace Club      

10/4/2008     Philadelphia, PA     Johnny Brenda's

10/5/2008     Washington, D.C.     Black Cat

10/6/2008     Carrboro, NC         Cat's Cradle

10/7/2008     Atlanta, GA          The Earl

10/8/2008     Orlando, Fl          The Social

10/9/2008     Tallahassee, FL      Club Downunder    

10/10/2008    New Orleans, LA      House of Blues

10/11/2008    Austin, TX           The Parish Room

10/14/2008    San Diego, CA        Casbah

10/15/2008    Los Angeles, CA      Spaceland

10/16/2008    San Francisco, CA    Pop Scene      

10/18/2008    Portland, OR         Doug Fir Lounge

10/19/2008    Seattle, WA          Chop Suey

10/20/2008    Vancouver, BC        Media Club

10/23/2008    Minneapolis, MN      7th St. Entry

10/24/2008    Chicago, IL          Abbey Pub

10/25/2008    Madison, WI          Der Rathskellar    

10/27/2008    Newport, KY          Southgate House

10/28/2008    Detroit, MI          Magic Stick         

10/29/2008    Toronto, ON          El Mocambo        

10/30/2008    Montreal, QC         Zoo Bizarre       

10/31/2008    Cambridge, MA        TT the Bears

11/1/2008     New York, NY         Bowery Ballroom

Denver Selected as 2008 Solar America City

Denver, Colorado- for the Grateful Web

Gov. Bill Ritter today congratulated Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and the city for receiving a $200,000 U.S. Department of Energy "Solar America Cities" award. Denver will receive technical and funding assistance for developing solar electric projects.


"I applaud Mayor Hickenlooper and Colorado's capital city for being selected as a 2008 Solar America City," Gov. Ritter said. "This national award recognizes Denver's greening efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and incorporate clean, renewable sources of power. The Solar America grant will further stimulate our renewable energy industry, protect our natural environment, increase our energy security and advance Colorado's New Energy Economy."

The announcement comes on the heels of several other major New Energy Economy achievements in recent weeks, including:

The opening of Vestas Blades in Windsor;

The announcement that ConocoPhillips is opening an alternative-fuel research hub in Louisville;

The relocation of RES Americas from Texas to Broomfield;

Xcel Energy's decision to make Boulder the nation's first

Smart Grid City; and 


Last week's signing of a historic "homegrown energy" or net-metering bill into law by Gov. Ritter.

DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman made the announcement today that $2.4 million will be available to 12 cities across the country. These cities were chosen for their commitment and comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies and the development of sustainable solar infrastructures.  The Solar America Initiative (SAI) aims to make electricity from solar photovoltaics cost-competitive with conventional electricity by 2015. 


Photo By Markus Cuff- for the Grateful Web

Jake La Botz has stolen and lived in cars, learned to play blues from the last of the Delta greats (Robert Johnson protégé David "Honeyboy" Edwards), performed in a South Central L.A. church band, acted in indie films and even auditioned for the band Velvet Revolver. Author Jerry Stahl once said of the post-modern bluesman, "Not everybody will get [his music] because not everybody's ready for the truth."

And on September 15, La Botz will reprise his innovative "Tattoo Across America Tour," playing tattoo parlors in 21 cities. The tour starts in West Hollywood (Shamrock Social Club) on Saturday, September 15 and wends it way across 21 U.S. cities coast to coast until an October 15 closing date near Pueblo, Colorado. Among his destinations are Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver, Tampa, Phoenix and Orlando.

La Botz has engendered a loyal fan base of tattoo aficionados across the U.S., arising from last year's tour as well as from his acting role in Steve Buscemi's cult film Animal Factory. Although he has not ruled out playing traditional clubs, he says, "Musicians don't have to be tied down to the bar touring scenario any longer. There's another way to tour. I encourage artists to think about who their fans are, or will be, and find a new way to get to them."

"It's so much more interesting this way," he adds. "You can be who you really are and relate directly with your fans. At tattoo parlors, there are no dressing rooms, no backstage, nowhere to hide. You really get to know people. In a way, I developed this ethic playing in the streets and subways of [his native] Chicago. This approach to performing has a way of cutting through any sense of artistic hierarchy . . .keeps it real."

La Botz, who self-administered his first tattoo at age 14 ("street style . . . India ink with a sewing needle") and has since received dozens more through his friendships with tattoo artists over the years, has garnered a following in the body-art community. "I'd been getting emails from tattoo shops and tattooed fans for a while, which made me think, 'I should really pay attention to this connection'," he says. "I figured that me and the other tattoo people are somewhat on the fringe of the music and art worlds, so why not do a tour on the fringe?" A notice was fired over his MySpace site, and La Botz became flooded with emails.

In September 2006, he set out to play his first "Tattoo Across America Tour," and received ink in several cities, in more ways than one: "La Botz avoids the mainstream like a Dracula avoids the dawn," wrote the Macon Telegraph. The hometown Los Angeles Times added: "La Botz's music may be on the fringes, but that is only because the mainstream is so out of touch with art born from American roots. His tunes are plain and homespun, and often darkly humorous." The Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "La Botz is skilled at crafting talking-blues numbers that are pure poetry. His storytelling roots lie deep in the Delta and Piedmont, and his material is at once timeless and totally fresh." And, added the Nashville Scen e: "The songs pierce and scrape at the listener's skin like the needle of a tattoo gun, his harsh, grainy rasp — not unlike Tom Waits' — spewing forth blunt, morbid narratives about threadbare lives and the nearness of the grave."

In addition to his ever-mounting indie music following, La Botz is also known to indie film connoisseurs. Director/actor Steve Buscemi cast him in Animal Factory and his later film Lonesome Jim. More recently Jake starred in Joe D'Augustine's comedy, One Night With You, which is making the film festival circuit. He also appeared in the arthouse classic Ghost World (starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi) as a member of the blooze band from hell, Blues Hammer. And he just returned from 3 months in Thailand where he filmed John Rambo, fourth in the Rambo franchise, in which he plays a mercenary named Tombstone. After casting him in the role, director Sylvester Stallone heard Jake's CD Graveyard Jones and asked him to sing two original songs on camera. The Lions Gate film is slated for theatrical release in March 2008.

La Botz is also involved in the making of his own film about music and tattoos, which he and director Jeffry Gonzales will shoot during the 21-city "Tattoo Across America Tour," armed only with two guitars, camera equipment and a passenger car.


Sat Sept. 15   HOLLYWOOD, CA Shamrock Social Club

Sun Sept. 16    SAN DIEGO, CA Absolute Tattoo

Mon Sept. 17 PHOENIX, AZ Incision Tattoo 

Wed Sept. 19   LONGVIEW, TX Garage Art Studio

Thur Sept. 20 DALLAS, TX Fine Line Tattoo

Fri Sept. 21    AUSTIN, TX Austin Ink Fest 

Sun Sept. 23  BEAUMONT, TX  Tattoomania

Mon Sept. 24   JACKSON, MS The Ink Spot Gallery 

Tue Sept. 25 MACON, GA Beyond Taboo Tattoo

Wed Sept. 26 TAMPA, FL Las Vegas Tattoo Co. 

Fri Sept. 28  ORLANDO, FL Cast Iron Tattoo 

Sun Sept. 30 ANNAPOLIS, MD (CHURCHTON) American Tattoo 

Mon Oct. 1 PHILADELPHIA, PA (SKIPPACK) Liberty Tattoo 

Tue Oct. 2   LONG ISLAND, NY (HOLBROOK) Electric Tiki Tattoo 

Thur Oct. 4 BOSTON, MA (JAMAICA PLAIN) The Brendan Behan Pub 

Fri Oct. 5   BOSTON, MA (WATERTOWN) 21 Nickels

Sat Oct. 6   SYRACUSE, NY Freaks and Geeks Tattoo

Mon Oct. 8 CLEVELAND, OH 252 Tattoo

Tue Oct. 9 CINCINNATI, OH One Shot Tattoo

Thur Oct. 11    CHICAGO, IL (UPTOWN) The Tattoo Factory

Fri Oct. 12   CHICAGO, IL (CRESTWOOD) Body By Design

Sun Oct. 14 DENVER, CO   Kitchens' Ink 

Mon Oct. 15 PUEBLO, CO (WESTCLIFFE) Jacque's Body Art

Howard Dean for America (November 2003)

Democracy for America  is dedicated to supporting candidates for all levels of office and building a grassroots network.

Our goals are:

  1. To have strong, sustained grassroots involvement in the democratic process.
  2. To promote an America where candidates and office holders tell the truth about policy choices and stand up for what they believe. The era when politicians equivocate about matters as fundamental as war and peace must end.
  3. To fight against the influence and agenda of the two pillars of George W. Bush's Washington: the far right-wing and their radical, divisive policies, and the selfish special interests who for too long have dominated politics.
  4. To fight for progressive policies like health care for all; investment in children; equal rights under law; fiscal responsibility; and a national security policy that makes America stronger by advancing progressive values.

Over the next couple of months we will:

  1. Recruit and encourage progressive candidates to run for office at every level. We will help them find the resources to campaign successfully with small donations from grassroots supporters, to begin to break the stranglehold special interests have on the political process.
  2. Raise funds for Congressional candidates for whom financial support could be the key to winning, and whose election will be key to winning back a House of Representatives that has become the tool of the Republican right-wing.
  3. Develop strategic partnerships with other progressive organizations to maximize resources for candidate recruitment, training, and organization.
  4. Build relationships with other political initiatives to focus on the failed, destructive policies of the Bush administration.
  5. Harness the power of the Internet to enlarge and support our grassroots organization committed to taking back America from special interests that control the right wing leadership of our Congress and the White House.

Read Governor Dean's full announcement speech.