100 Watt Smile

New Hampshire, 1989. There was a bonfire in the snow, steamed mussels, fried chicken, a bunch of stir-crazy writers, and a football. Jonathan Richman singing through the trailer windows. Harry Belafonte. Mussel shells flew. Chicken bones flew. The football. A little dancing. Then, before the spring thaw, for one reason and another, four of the writers—three guys and a girl—taped together coffee cans, dusted off Dad's ukelele, Dad's guitar, resurrected a violin, and started a band. Time flew. The songs told stories: death, sex, food, love. A little dancing. More time flew. Four albums, eight national tours, in Fords and Oldsmobiles. Relocation to San Francisco. Cult followings and college radio from coast to coast. The fans liked fried chicken, too. New Hampshire, 1994. A back porch this time, closer to town. Another guy says to the girl, So what's next? It was time for what's next. Time had flown. I'll be the drummer, he said. Okay, yes. Back to San Francisco. Burritos, work, burritos, work, more work, a concept of a rock orchestra unfolding. The songs still tell stories, but there's electricity now, drums and amplifiers, harder edges and sharper hooks. A couple of demos... but the girl and the drummer still need the right players. Back in New Hampshire, a baker/bass player rides the pipeline to Seattle and drops through the back door to San Francisco: a perfect fit. One day, the drummer is building a kitchen in a post-house in downtown San Francisco. A guitar player fro...

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