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The Baseball Project swings for the musical fences

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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When Scott McCaughey and Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn put together The Baseball Project in 2007, they “didn’t know it was going to be an actual band,” McCaughey says. But the fun they had making and touring in support of “Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails” made this year’s “Volume 2: High and Inside” seem like an inevitability.

“Once we got in the studio and recorded that first batch of songs ... I said it should be ‘Volume 1’ because we have to keep doing this and let people know that,” recalls McCaughey, who also leads the bands Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5 and is part of R.E.M.’s touring lineup. “I also thought it would be sort of a challenge to us to keep doing it.

“I think we all felt we hadn’t exhausted the subject by any means, and we were having so much fun with it that we wanted to keep it going.”

The Baseball Project maintains a deep bench, including R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and drummer Linda Pitmon as regular members, though Buck is not part of the current tour (R.E.M. bandmate Mike Mills is stepping in). Guests on “Volume 2” include Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan. All, according to McCaughey, belong to at least one fantasy baseball league.

And “Volume 2” includes the opening track “1976,” which pays tribute to the heroics of Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych.

“I think (Wynn) saw the picture of the Bird when he died, and it really made him sort of nostalgic for that time, that year when Fidrych was the biggest thing in baseball,” McCaughey says. “It just made him look back on that year and his youth, how you change the whole idea of nostalgia itself.

“Like most Baseball Project songs, it’s one little instant that triggers a bigger feeling within you.”

The Baseball Project performs Wednesday, June 8, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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