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A wigged-out, subversive, traditional acoustic folk music act consisting of Peter Stampfel, a science fiction editor at Tor Books who plays violin and mandolin and sings in an insane, screechy tenor voice, and Steve Weber, an old hippie drug casualty who plays folk guitar and has no teeth, and various other members and permutations. Occasionally, Sam Shepard, the playwright, played drums for them. Weber and Stampfel were, for a short time, also members of the twisted, scatological, sorta rock band called the Fugs.

The group coalesced in 1963 as part of the NYC coffeehouse counterculture scene that included Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. Most of the other folkies were scared of them. Throughout the 60s and 70s, they made records that completely disregarded any high-minded concept of folk authenticity: they just played what they felt like playing, which included traditional songs like Flop Eared Mule and originals like Euphoria and the immortal Boobs a Lot. In the 90s, they reunited for a bunch of concerts and a new album.

No matter what you normally like to listen to, you should definitely check out the Holy Modal Rounders. Most of the current and former members are (or were) total speed freaks, and the band sounds like it: they always sound like they're having an outrageously great time -- a better one than you will likely experience in your entire time above ground. At least you can listen to them for a little of that contact high.

In 1999, they played a couple of concerts at Tonic with Eugene Chadbourne, which were extremely fun. If you are in New York City, or anywhere they might show up, and you have a chance to hear them live, it's worthwhile. Do it.

Discography

The Holy Modal Rounders 1963
The Holy Modal Rounders 2 1964
The Village Fugs 1965
Virgin Fugs: For Adult Minds Only 1967
Fugs Four, Rounders Score 1967
Indian War Whoop 1967
The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders 1968
Good Taste Is Timeless 1971
Alleged In Their Own Time 1975
Have Moicy! 1976
Last Round 1978
Going Nowhere Fast 1980
Aren't They Gone Yet? 1989
Too Much Fun 1999

Most of these, except Indian War Whoop and Too Much Fun, are out of print. In 1999, their first two albums were reissued on one CD called Holy Modal Rounders 1 & 2, which includes a bunch of unreleased tracks.

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