The Posies Take Over The Vinyl District + BLOOD/CANDY Vinyl Giveaway

All this week, the Posies will be blogging at The Vinyl District, sharing records from their personal collections. Ken kicks it off today with the story of buying ‘The Hobbit’ soundtrack.

Also, The Vinyl District will be giving away 2 copies of ‘Blood/Candy’ on vinyl. Comment with your “Posies-related missive” to be chosen when the contest ends this Friday, 10/1.

Head over to The Vinyl District! update

Last night’s REM show in Mexico City was outstanding, and despite the fact that Mssrs. Buck and McOi were weathering some food blues, they soldiered on, bolstered by a wonderful audience of some 12,000-14,000 people. I saw something I had never seen an audience do before: during the song “Wanted to Be Wrong” which has a slow but steady beat, the crowd both clapped on the snare (a refreshing change when an audience can find 2 & 4 in a measure) and flicked their lighters on and off to the beat…creating a “thousand strobing fireflies” effect (previously an entree on a chinese menu, or a Magnetic Fields song)…beautiful. The roar that arose at the top of “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Rel.” was louder than the level onstage by a fair piece, I had to count in my head and hope I came out on the beat when the noise subsided. It made the corner of my eyes squirt little tears, to feel that big surge of love and joy from so many people. Our guide during our day at Teotihuan, Gorilla, was very visible in a bright red shirt in the 5th row…he brought us some very lovely things, crytals and a kind of champagne cider…he knows there are many routes to the mystic planes, and we love him for that. After the show we were whisked out in a string of CIA-looking SUVs, with a death defying police cruiser leading the way…a couple of merges looked like somebody was going to eat concrete but there was nary a scratch all told. We had a gathering in the Hotel Habita’s hipster oasis, rooftop style, I was speaking broken French and Spanish and being forgiven (rocker immunity). Finally returned from some noisy club or other at about 6 this morning–my gracious thanks to Eduardo and Laura for ferrying me around and preventing from paying for drinks!

I have the latest flight out, 9:30 tonight direct to CDG, so I am the last one at the hotel, thus when I went out in the (late) afternoon I dined at a taqueria solo, strolled thru the neighborhood a bit, doves pecking around, flower petals wilting in the gutter, forcing all that technicolor dusk to get in there, keep that memory…which is a sign I must be going on. I feel like I’ve been in town for a month, but it was a well-lived 4 days.

Cold World glory, be ye prepared.



Mexico City


And I hope to see you all there, since I can’t see you here…some people have written in to me about ticket availability, but I can assure you that all the shows have tickets available, and almost all the venues have tickets for sale online. I found most of them by doing a search for the venue’s name, and if that produced too many results, the venue name plus the city narrowed it down to an easily managed list.

The Posies northwest dates last week were fun and furious, perhaps the first night at Neumo’s was the most magical—the level of physical commitment required by a Posies show is very high, compared to what is required of me physically in an REM show. What a Posies show takes from me is probably similar to what Michael expends during REM’s show, he does the running, contorting, and just plain high-energy wiggling parts. And singing constantly for 2 hours is not to be underestimated as a workout. So, by the second night in Tacoma, we played well, but perhaps things were a hair more mellow. But, I really enjoyed being onstage with mssrs. Auer, Harris, and Minwalla, and working up the new songs we performed gave insight to the great promise the new album’s material has for live delivery. Jon, Matt & I also spent a day in the mastering lab assembling the Posies album, which is really where a record changes from a pile of recordings generated in the studio to something worth giving a title to. Information is still as valuable as its organization and presentation, and mastering is where those two items take shape in the audio world. Over the next few weeks the visual accompaniment will take shape…

This week REM wraps Leg 1 of their tour; we’ve been spending some days off in Mexico City—parties, pyramids, and prodigious amounts of foodstuffs. It’s one of those “I could live here” cities…and I think living at 7500 ft. above sea level makes you healthier. Dermatologists may disagree.

I really enjoyed seeing my fat butt in a paparazzi shot in one of the big Mexico City dailies, the photogs snagged us at the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

See you (the European yous) soon



Mexico, D.F.


12/7 Paris, FRANCE–Le Reservoir (w/Cristina Dona)

12/8 London, UK–the Borderline

12/9 Glasgow, UK–King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

12/10 Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS–Paradiso

12/11 Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS–Rotown (w/Cristina Dona)

12/12 Stockholm, SWEDEN–Debaser (w/Cristina Dona)

12/13 Gothenburg, SWEDEN–Pusterviksbaren (w/Cristina Dona)

12/14 Oslo, NORWAY–Betong (w/Kenneth Ishak)

12/15 Bergen, NORWAY–Garage (w/Kenneth Ishak)

12/16 Köln, GERMANY–MTC (w/Cristina Dona)

12/17 Berlin, GERMANY–Bastard (w/Cristina Dona)

12/18 Frankfurt, GERMANY–Nachtleben (w/Cristina Dona)

12/19 Geneva, SWITZERLAND–Chat Noir

12/20 Brussels, BELGIUM–Botanique (w/Cristina Dona)

12/21 Helsinki, FINLAND–Tavastia

12.23 Milan, ITALY–La Casa 139 (w/Cristina Dona)

12/28 Valencia, SPAIN–Wah Wah

12/29 Barcelona, SPAIN–Sidecar

12/30 Madrid, SPAIN–Moby Dick (w/Scott McCaughey) update – IT’S GREAT TO BE HERE AGAIN

REM is in midswing thru Seattle, which I haven’t visited since my 10 hours of suitcase emptying in August. As usual, I am confused as restaurants and landmarks come and go, stuff gets torn down, built over, etc. Someday I will come to my address and find a monorail station has replaced my residence of the last 7 years…

I have about a week here in Seattle all told, during which every minute is spoken for, with REM, KS and Posies activity…the Posies are today mastering our upcoming album, with the formidable lab-coat-wearers Rick Fisher and Ed Brooks…tomorrow (23rd) will find the us presenting ourselves in the best possible lights at Neumo’s in Seattle and the following night in Tacoma.

REM played two nights at the McCaw Hall, the refurbished opera house, the first night being moody…the second more on the exuberant side. Hometown gigs (which is now true in a sense when REM plays Seattle, LA, New York, Atlanta or Paris!) are hard to master…it’s easier to reinvent yourself, which is what an artist does, to strangers than those who know you well enough to get weird if you appear with a handlebar moustache and a boa constrictor on your arm. Hence, Calgary was one of the best REM shows of recent memory, and Seattle was a push me pull me of moods, ultimately we rose to the occasion, but it wasn’t as effortless as usual. Vancouver was, continuing the evidence to support my theory, a piece of cake (in a wedding cake of a theatre, the Orpheum).

Universal Music is releasing the collaboration I did with Senegalese musicians WaFlash (in Dakar last year) tomorrow as part of their new download-only label experiment…should be available thru Itunes and the usual outlets–but no CDs will be pressed. Really, it’s all so new that I will have to wait til tomorrow to be able to tell you what to do–but, the curious can head to Itunes tomorrow and search for Ken Stringfellow and see what you get.

Looking ahead with resolute glee to tomorrow night’s rock show, even with a treacherous hometown crowd to navigate. Thankfully, the Posies have rarely had anything but high times with the King County CompatRiots…



Seattle WA


Short week this week. However, I am alert. I am on the look out. Let me say that I truly love Canada. I had some very large nights in Toronto and Montreal, with a number of helpful locals (thanks Patrick…!). In Montreal virtually every person I met was a DJ, musician, hot looking electropunk, and/or multitasking student. I’m moving! With my family, of course…On another, equally pleasant note I enjoyed an excellent dinner in Montreal last night and a short flight to Thunder Bay watching the northern lights…and here we are. I am the only person on the tour who has played in Thunder Bay more than once (Posies/Treble Charger at Crocks N’ Rolls, 1995)…rock on andmoreagain.



Thunder Bay, ONT


I am in one London, not the one you’d expect, but a nice one…snow covered branches…free form art noise jams…all the good stuff. Last night we had a free night and we lived up to its promise, joining forces with the legendary NIHILISTIC SPASM BAND who play every Monday in a basement bar in downtown London (Ontario). All grabbed a grasp and a 3 1/2 string bass or what have you and let it wail.

Over the weekend, on a day off in Pittsburgh, I recorded two cover songs for use on the Japanese edition of Soft Commands, to be released next month by Rykodisc. They are surprises, but of course, you’ll know soon.

New York was lived to the fullest, and thus, I have been sleeping 12 hours a night…saw a lot of old favorites there, not that they’re looking older, but by the end of it, I was. I have heard that fish is brain food, I will try and eat some this week…





It’s just crossed over into November as I write. I am in my hotel room in Washington DC, Dominique is asleep with a book on her chest. I just finished doing some late night business with my intrepid manager Barbara Mitchell-going over travel arrangements for the upcoming KS European tour, scheduling interviews, studio time etc (all of which must be surgically inserted into free time on the REM tour). I had the day off in the nation’s capital today, Dom & I strolled in and out of various shops and museums, past assorted monuments and the functionaire sweatshops that loom here and there, many of which (Justice Dept. et al) would not look out of place as DeMille or Fritz Lang set pieces. Oct. 31 was an eerily gorgeous day-I say that, not because it’s Halloween, but because it has become reasonable to expect the sky to crack at any moment in these times. Sept. 11, 2001 dawned almost everywhere in this country one of the sunniest, laziest days imaginable-until your phone started ringing with people telling you to turn on the TV, unable to convey what was being shown.

Today in Washington, I walked out of the Nat’l Air and Space museum, affected most deeply not by the glories of Yeager, Glenn etc. but by the cold, symmetric simplicity of the V2, and the shredded humanity it created. The sun was igniting the backdrop to the Washington Monument with gold and pink, bouncing off the Capitol dome. Leaves were glorious, ridiculous: food-coloring- red and manila-envelope-yellow, and disintegrating under boots, smelling wonderful. We saw an albino squirrel, and a woman in a sari photographing it with a disposable camera. Bats (on cue for the E’en) managed to zip through solely in one’s peripheral vision. At 6pm it was about 75 degrees.

There was no orchestral upswelling scoring my thoughts in those moments. The amber wave stuff seems finished for now. I have been experiencing fear for the future, while trying to maintain optimism.

Understand that if John Kerry wins on Tuesday (which is what I do hope will happen), all is not well. It’s merely a postponement of a confrontation, or series of confrontations, that still lay ahead—where we will look at ourselves as individuals, as neighbors, and as humans and not be able to shrug. Sept. 11 was horrible, but certainly an opportunity to introspect and macro-spect. One wonders what the next nudge will be (if that was a nudge, what does a push look like?)

I am rambling out of my element. But, I will say, the techniques I have seen employed by the right (even with all the safeguards in place to restrain them) to create meaningless media outlets for opinion-only based news, to give lazy people an easy target to cast their aggressions onto, to equate discourse with defeatism, to bark the victory growl as the explosive din gets louder-these give me pause to consider: the willingness of the people to believe in the most convenient truth. A nation feels victimized after a military defeat, and becomes the nation that builds the V2.

I can’t say that everything begins or ends on Nov. 2. I cast my vote, I hope you all cast yours, and that’s where I’ve left it. But I’m not pulling the protest songs off the in-progress Posies album yet, no matter what the outcome.

On a lighter note: thanks to Dominique, REM/Crew, Angela McCluskey and band, and the rock-steady people gathered in Atlantic City Saturday night for pummeling me with joy on my 36th birthday… even as I went over the top… of my keyboard… and accidentally derailed it from its moorings (I coulda lost it and my right foot). Michael sang Bonne Anniversaire, cake was mashed on my face, and I was absolutely embarrassed and wouldn’t have changed one thing. A thousand apologies to Bob Weber!!!! I’ll see you on the other side of the rest of history.



Washington DC

PROGESS – update

Nothing truly newsworthy regarding KS this week, but the REM tour has been marvelous. We had a storming show at one of music’s holiest sites, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and in my 2 day visit to the town I was pleased to discover and meet dozens of KS and Posies fans. Unf. I couldn’t fit a TN date in on the Soft Commands tour, but there is a sense that a future visit by the Posies or KS would be a large time.

I’m in Chicago, always a great town for music, playing tomorrow and the next night (25th and 26th October) at the Auditorium Theatre. Indian summer seems to be in effect, and thus if anybody happens to read this…I need a tennis partner here in town–email me via this site’s contact page if you wish to volunteer…

I’m going to throw a couple of new pics on the photo page this week…



Chicago IL


Soft Commands has been released in Europe, Australia, and many other territories, on Rykodisc Int’l, with two fantastic bonus tracks. It appears that it will be released later in the year in Japan, on Rykodisc as well, perhaps with some alternate mixes? Keep posted.

The Vote For Change tour came to a successful conclusion in Washington DC, with an all star-ish lineup (my stepdad, age 79, preferred Jurassic 5!) on Oct. 11. Televised on the Sundance Channel, and streamed on Real Networks, I think we can say that, we did what we could with what we had access to (in other words, no thank you very much to the major networks—I mean, I am sure they could have given fair and balanced equal coverage to a pro-Bush concert… yeah right—two skinhead bands and a couple of country western dudes puttin’ boots in an Osama doll’s ass). With Vote for Change and its supporters, substantial risks were taken, and that earns my respect, at the very least. And I think it will have an impact on the upcoming election, we’ll see if it helps tip the egg over the roof. Cluck.

I would also like to add that Bruce Springsteen, his band and crew, were nothing less then people of the highest order, kindness and generosity. It was a blast and and an honor to get to know them and share the stage with the Boss and co.

REM’s headlining tour begins today, highlighted by the fact that BOB WEBER did something for me, personally, today.

Still getting those KS tour dates together… looking good tho’.



Greek Theatre, Los Angeles CA


I am writing from the dressing room, backstage at Cobo Hall in Detroit, tonight being the third night of the Vote For Change Tour, featuring Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, REM (with me on keyboards etc.), and Bright Eyes, plus special guest John Fogerty (of CCR and beyond). An extremely diverse group of musicians, whose origins lie in the 60s (JF), 70s (BS), 80s (REM), and the 21st Century (BE). The Bright E lineup for these dates includes M. Ward on guitar, you may have seen the W. Coast tour that he and I did (along with Freedy Johnston) in 2002. He’s a superb musician and songwriter in his own time, and the BE lineup I must admit is even more solid than that which supported the Posies at Reading and Leeds in 2001.

The tone of the evening has been uplifting, exuberant, hopeful and fun. Bruce and Michael each say a few words in support of John Kerry specifically and in support of a change in the administration in general in the next election, and urge everyone to register and vote (and yes, I support these views wholeheartedly—the deadline for registration differs from state to state but generally it’s this week). I generally do not speak about politics, but, I have a number of reasons to endorse Sen. Kerry. I believe the current administration’s policies are too often one-dimensional and inflexible. I believe the invasion of Iraq was done with some good intentions but carried off in such a way as to create deep divisions between our allies and ourselves, and certainly without acknowledging all the possible outcomes, many of the worst of which have come to pass. And the massive spending increase and tax cuts combo is, I believe, ultimately hazardous. And so on. It’s in the papers.

I certainly don’t expect my readers and listeners to think like me, act like me, etc. I wouldn’t dislike someone who shares a completely different opinion, like many of my friends and family. My music is for everyone. It’s meant to cross boundaries and communicate across the many existing demarcations that subdivide social groups and push and pull us in different directions and thru various shifts in our identities.

This week: REM’s Around the Sun album will be released by Warner Bros. I can be heard on several of the tracks, playing various keyboards. It’s a lovely and gentle collection songs of hopes, questions, and dreams, relevant to living in these times, and in this country especially.

See you all on the tour! Check the tour page for REM’s dates near you.



Detroit MI