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Message from Gary Lucas 8/3/97

Sorry about the long absence from the list but I've been busy writing a whole batch of great new songs, touring, composing for ABC News "Turning Point" and promoting the release of my new acoustic album "Evangeline." If you haven't heard it yet, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, amused, titilated and so forth. I'm singing more on it, for one, and I did it mainly with no overdubs straight to tape, so it shows my guitar playing off to best advantage without any visible strings attached of studio gimcrackery. I feel it's my best work to date, and in fact, it was the lead 'Pop' review in "Billboard" 3 weeks ago (with a star!) and is being played on over 300 radio stations in the U.S. as I write. I hope to get out there in the great American heartland this fall to bring it directly to ya. Kudos to my new label Paradigm Records for having the good taste to release "Evangeline" over here—just the beginning of a great new relationship.

Meanwhile, I'm off next week to Sicily for my 3rd tour, this time centering around 2 nights with Gods and Monsters (the great Jonathan Kane on drums and Fabio Lannino on bass) at a 10,000 seat open ampitheatre in beautiful Palermo. Can't wait to eat that pasta melanzone again, also arancini, gelato, granita and other Italian delicacies. Then it's off to Paris to work with the fabulous Fench singer Elli Medeiros (ex-Stinky Toys, the original French punk band) and then back to the States at the end of August.

What a strange busy year it's been for me. Extensive European touring, particularly in the East. I love playing in the Czech Republic, and this year spent almost a month there, doing shows in crystal chandeliered concert halls and in country and western roadhouses in Bohemia (my grandfather's ancestral home). Playing on national Czech tv 6 times before millions of sleepy morning viewers on the Czech equivalent of of the Today show. Prague is one of my favorite places to play, truly one of the most elegant cities in the world. I love East Germany as well, Berlin on into the smaller rural cities like Dresden, Leipzig, Halle and so forth. A wonderful change from the jaded attitudes of the West. Audiences there who came to see my solo show without any preconceptions or even notions of what they would hear (classical? jazz? folk rock? blues? all of the above) but intrigued by my posters to venture out—then staying for 2 hours and loving it (I'd do 3 hour shows without a break in Prague—the Roxy, a refurbished old Yiddish theater, one of the best venues I've worked—giving and giving all night to some of the warmest people who would spur me on to keep playing—I could have gone all night there). Big crowds too. My faithful driver/friend/minder Eric Don at the wheel of his Mercedes Benz van as we barrelled off into the night for yet another gig, yet another city, in Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Czech Republic—I even made it to Krakow Poland this year, what a truly transcendental journey back to my roots (German-Jewish, Czech and Polish).

Now it's time to zap the American synapses. And I'm feeling heavy sadness with the news of he tragic drowning of my friend and collaborator Jeff Buckley. Truly a titan among musicians and one of the nicest people to walk this planet. I sat in with him after a long hiatus at the Knitting Factory here in NYC last February and we did "Grace" again—it brought shivers to me and I looked forward to working with him again in the future. What a tragic loss for everyone! His death has firmed my resolve to keep going forward to spread a positive message and spirit to open hearts everywhere. Rise Up To Be!

Your friend,