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    Sonic Youth, J Mascis, Sebadoh gather for benefit

    Thursday, April 29, 2004
    By GEORGE LENKER
    [email protected]

    Sometimes it takes a village. Other times it takes a mom.

    According to guitarist Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, it took a mother to bring together tomorrow’s all-star line-up performing at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton.

    Indie rock icons Sonic Youth, J Mascis and Sebadoh will be joined by five local acts to raise funds for the Community Resources for People with Autism, an Easthampton-based agency that works with families of autistic children.

    The concert will begin at 6 p.m., with doors opening an hour earlier.

    Moore explained that Sonic Youth got involved via Louise Barlow – mother of Lou Barlow of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. fame – who works at Community Resources for People with Autism.

    "It was weird. I heard Lou Barlow’s mom was looking for me," Moore said with a chuckle. "She finally e-mailed me, and the show sounded like a good idea. The whole idea of Sonic Youth and J Mascis and Sebadoh playing together was something none of us would imagine happening. I guess if anyone could do it, though, it would have to be a mom."

    Moore said although most of his band lives in New York, he had no problem getting them to come up for such a notable show. Since he and wife-bandmate Kim Gordon now live in Northampton, and Barlow and Mascis are originally from the area, it was fitting to do a show here.

    "This is a community benefit, so it usually might be hard to get the other guys in the band to come up for a show like this. To them, Northampton is Anytown. But if something like this is going to happen, it might as well happen in Northampton – and for a good cause," he said.

    Although prototype indie rockers Sonic Youth will be the main attraction for many, seeing J Mascis and Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow, on the same ticket is a draw for fans for the now-defunct Dinosaur Jr., which Mascis and Barlow formed in the early 1980s. But after years of acrimony between the two, Mascis removed Barlow form that band in 1989 by telling him Dinosaur Jr. was breaking up, then reforming it without the bassist shortly thereafter.

    But anyone hoping for a fight to break out tomorrow will probably be sorely disappointed. Last year, the pair buried the hatchet when Barlow went to see Mascis perform with renowned bassist Mike Watt in England. Barlow then joined the band on stage for a song.

    Unlike many Dinosaur Jr. – and just about every other rock band in the world – Sonic Youth has been a study in longevity. The group will issue its 19th album in June (titled "Nurse") and four of its five members have been in the fold for 20 years. The only change since drummer Steve Shelley joined founders Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo in 1984 has been the addition of producer/multi-instrumentalist/general noisemaker Jim O’Rourke in 2000.

    "I guess we never thought we finished what we set out to do," Moore said. "In some ways, we’re just getting started. Since we’re experimental, there’s no formula or any real standard for what we do."

    Although Sonic Youth signed to the major label DGC-Geffen in the late 1980s, they have since formed their own label, SYR, therefore putting themselves in the unique position of being both a major label group and an indie rock band simultaneously.

    "We spent 10 years as an independent band, and some of the music we do know makes no sense to come out on a major label," he said. "Some of it doesn’t lend itself to a large audience and it’s fairly challenging music."

    Joining the show will be local heroes Lo Fine, The Lonesome Brothers, Steve Westfield, The Chemical Wedding and Claudia Mailbu. Tickets cost $18 in advance and are available at Night Owl Records in Easthampton, Turn It Up! in Northampton or at the Insound Web site http://www.insound.com

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