Camper Van Beethoven is not dead

Isn't that gear at Big Louie's Pawn Shop?

How's this for fan loyalty? A week after the release of its first album in 15 years, Camper Van Beethoven was greeted last October at its Montreal gig by some conniving crooks who figured the band's gear would look better in a pawn shop than on a stage. Great -- thanks a lot. Are you trying to scare the guys back into Splitsville or something? After all, theirs wasn't the most amicable breakup, even though it spawned popular post-CVB splinter groups like Cracker and Hieronymus Firebrain. So maybe a little "welcome back" support from the fans is in order.

As staples of the '80s college radio scene, CVB created some pretty big shoes for itself to fill with its all-embracing trek through any musical style it saw fit. Naturally, this presented a challenge for CVB as it approached recording a reunion album. The band's answer? A rock-opera formula. With its latest release, New Roman Times, CVB gets into the prog-rock swing of things with the story of a young Texan who signs up with Uncle Sam to fight in the Middle East. However, by the time he returns home, the once-proud American has been drained of all patriotic fervor. His final recourse is to join a militia, where "at least the chicks are hot." (Who says armed insurgents can't get a little nookie?)

You may be wondering why a band like CVB would play at the metal-centric Culture Room instead of that new hipster club in Miami where they hold Revolver. C'mon! After the Montreal incident, do you think they'd play at a place called the Pawn Shop?

Camper Van Beethoven performs Wednesday, January 26, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. The show starts at 8 p.m. with openers the Hackensaw Boys (see music section). Tickets cost $15. Call 954-564-1074.

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