Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 1:06 pm | Overcast 61º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: Game On! The Baseball Project to Play at Velvet Jones

Scott McCaughey talks about Sunday's show

This time of year, many people have baseball on the mind. (Spoiler alert: It's not gonna happen for the Chicago Cubs, but maybe next year!) However, even if you don't, you'll still enjoy the music of The Baseball Project, who will be performing their baseball-themed music at 7 p.m. Sunday at Velvet Jones.

Note that this show has been moved from the Lobero Theatre.

The Baseball Project brings together the talents of Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, R.E.M.), Linda Pitmon (Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3) and, often, Peter Buck and/or Mike Mills (R.E.M.). They put on a great concert at the Mercury Lounge three years ago, so don't miss them this time!

McCaughey talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show. The full interview is available by clicking here.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: I saw you guys when you came to Santa Barbara three years ago at the Mercury Lounge.

Scott McCaughey: Yeah, that was a really fun show. Crazy.

JM: What do you remember about that show?

SM: We all remember it very fondly, actually. The stage was big enough for, like, two of us, I think [laughs]. We had the bass amp on the floor in front of the front door, and I think Robert Lloyd was sitting in with us at that show, and may well do this time as well. He had his keyboard down on the floor in front of the stage. It was really tight and funky, but we had such a great time. The crowd was awesome, and it was packed. It was a less professional sound system than we normally would have, but we had an absolute blast. The people in the club were great, and we loved it.

JM: One might argue that baseball is not a particularly obvious topic for rock-and-roll songs. Why baseball? What was the draw of that?

SM: It's simply because we love baseball and we're kind of insane fans. We're baseball geeks, that's the reason. And, you know, obviously our biggest passion is playing music and writing songs, so Steve and I just thought we should try putting them together. That way we can maybe get into some games for free, and stuff like that [laughs]. It doesn't have anything to do with other sports or anything, it's just that we're super-passionate about baseball. But of course No. 1 is music, so it just seemed like a fun thing to put them together, and it's been great.

JM: Do you find that audience members who aren't baseball fans still go for the Baseball Project songs?

SM: Yeah, I don't think we've alienated any of our fans. I think whether they like baseball or not, they're really, really good songs.

Even if they don't necessarily understand the intricacies of what we're talking about or trying to say, I think they can just enjoy it for the music. And really, speaking for myself at least, even if you don't understand baseball you might understand the Baseball Project songs just as much as you understand my Minus 5 or Young Fresh Fellows songs [laughs]. It's not like they're absolutely obvious, necessarily. I think it works totally on a musical level.

For me, with lyrics, even if I don't know what somebody is singing about, if I don't understand necessarily, if I like the sound of the lyrics and the way the words roll together, then I'm happy. I don't have to absolutely know exactly what's going on in a song. But with Baseball Project songs, they are typically a little more story songs.

We approach it sort of like folk-singing journalists, in a way [laughs]. Try and tell stories about all the great players and strange things that have happened in baseball.

JM: Going way back in your career, the Young Fresh Fellows toured with The Replacements in the 1980s. What was that like?

SM: Well, you know, I can tell you that we did play in Santa Barbara with The Replacements. We did a Santa Barbara show. I can't remember the name of the venue [La Casa de la Raza], but it was a big all-ages hall.

We had a great time, as you can imagine, touring with them. There were lots of hijinks, and some amazingly great shows and some absolutely horrible shows [laughs]. Probably because of the way we sort of spurred each other on in the consumption of alcohol, and trying to be the biggest idiots basically [laughs]. We tried to out-idiot each other.

The worst show was one of the times we played in Portland, where it was just a travesty. Neither band could play at all. The Replacements came up during our set and just kicked us off and started playing. And they threw all our clothes into the audience. You know, we threw a couch out the window, we pulled a chandelier out of the ceiling. We had a great time, I guess, but it was actually kind of desperate. We were just all feeling horrible. It was really a rip-off for the fans, I will say that much [laughs]. It was absolutely horrible. And I think that's why they put "Sorry Portland" etched in the grooves on their next record.

But overall we had a great time. You know, some shows were better than others, certainly. A lot of fun was had.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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