The journey to find one’s self can often be a long and arduous task; the path to acknowledging who you are and what your contribution is can be even harder. Such has been the voyage for drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, collectively known as Double Trouble. Stevie Ray Vaughan once said he was just a member of a band, a band called Double Trouble…and with his death came a void in the act that had revived blues/rock for a whole new generation.

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As the 21-century unfolds; it’s becoming more and more obvious that we have moved into a ‘cyber’ world. After all, even the most socially awkward individuals among us can now reach out and touch millions of people from around the world with the same relative ease as when the pick up a telephone. In the world of radio, a Program Director now has the opportunity to put his station on the ‘net with the hopes that millions from around the world will discover their station. While few are lucky enough to hit the jackpot, Glen Gardner and the staff of WJJO Madison, WI. are one of the lucky ones who have struck pay dirt by successfully melding style, attitude and a touch of danger into a regional ‘terrestrial’ Rock station and turned it into a worldwide super-station. And the rest as they say, is cyber-history. Glen and his staff have elevated their station to #1 rated Rock station in their Arbitron market and a Top 25 ranking for time spent streaming. Not bad for a station less than 3 years old.

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Anyone who has interacted with Kevin Vargas, PD of KISS San Antonio, knows him to be a consummate professional in every way. He immediately earns the respect, not only because of his undying passion of Active Rock radio, but also for his dedication to building the station into the powerhouse it has become.

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His sound is unmistakable, his stance unforgettable. Notes stream from his guitar in metallic waves, occasionally softening into a feathery whisper. His voice is that of the six-string; as if being ripped from his throat, he screams tales of love, betrayal, hope, despair and all-night bacchanalia. It’s the blues at its most raw-nerved and ferocious–but look into the musician’s face as he gyrates and bends almost in half, doubling over to the floor. He breaks into a smile, eyes glistening with childlike joy.

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Webster’s defines a sound system as: sound (n), a particular auditory impression; the sensation perceived by the sense of hearing. And system (n), a regularly interacting or independent group of items forming a unified whole; a group of interacting bodies under the influence of a related force. Just like any great sound system, the eclectic Los Angeles-based rock band 311 is comprised of five perfectly matched–yet independently functioning–components, which when operating as a well-tuned unit creates an undeniable musical force.

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Here’s an anecdote straight out of suburban youth culture (yes, it’s a true story–we have all lived this scenario in some way shape or form!). Jake–who at 13 years of age believes he resembles nobody, much less a pre-pubescent Eddie Vedder–is being shuttled by one of his parents to a Thursday afternoon guitar lesson. This week, he’s decided to take something of a break; he’ll grapple with no items from The Beatles songbook, nor will he try to master any of the requisite Jimi Hendrix solos. Instead, he plans to exchange the 15 hard-earned dollars crammed into the left pocket of his baggy black shorts for instructions on covering The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” At the moment, though, he’s staring out the car window, listening to 311′s Soundsystem CD.

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311

Fusing elements of dub, trip-hop, roots-reggae, hard-core punk with some vicious guitar rock, 311 create one of the most distinctive sounds in music today. It is this unique sound combined with insightful lyrics, and delivered in a highly potent musical cocktail, that has propelled 311 to rock SRO crowds as well as achieving multi-platinum status. From Hawaii to Hong Kong, Los Angeles straight home to Omaha, 311 have toured the globe, and along the way built a worldwide legion of followers through unparalleled high-energy performances and an uncompromising flow of consciousness.

Back almost eight years ago, inspired by some of the greatest groups of the early punk-rock movement, (i.e. Sex Pistols, The Clash, Ramones and the Buzzcocks), 311 formed in the heart of middle America–Omaha, Nebraska. Through three self-produced indie albums and an exhaustive touring schedule that has helped them cultivate one of the most intense (and biggest) “grassroots” fan bases around, the band has managed to maintain their straight-up, melodic hard-core style. Flash to 1991. 311 trades in nearly two years of hard work and sweat to go with “the man.” Goin’ corporate, if you will. At the time, bandleader Nicholas Hexum says, “We’re going to do what we want to do, and we’re always going to be the people we’ve always been. So, in the long run, I don’t think it makes much difference either way.”

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We often talk about how most successful bands in the ’90s have largely set themselves up for the success they now enjoy. The Dave Matthews Band has perhaps become the best example. Through constant touring, releasing projects on their own label and by careful thought, they placed themselves into a position where major labels took notice.

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Dave Matthews attacks his acoustic guitar as if he were playing a drum kit. “Percussions are my obsession. In fact, sometimes I see myself as drummer trapped in a guitarist’s body,” states the South African native, who is rarely caught standing still when performing with the Dave Matthews Band.

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