Sports and rock unite! Wynn brings ‘Baseball Project’ to town

The Baseball Project (left to right): Peter  Buck, Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon, Scott McCoungegy.

"The Baseball Project" (left to right): Peter Buck, Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon and Scott McCaughey.

As a general rule I don’t blog about music in this space, because even though entertainment and sports have somewhat cross-pollinated for decades — from Marilyn Monroe meets Joe DiMaggio, to Madonna meets A-Rod, to, well, Kate Hudson meets A-Rod — I figure I’d start getting emails like, “Schultz! What does this have to do with the Auburn game! And by the way, your picks stink!”

But hang with me here — particularly you baseball fans.

I went to high school with a fellow named Steve Wynn, whom you may have heard of. Steve and I were both sports writers for the almost-Pulitzer Prize-winning University High “Warrior” in Los Angeles. At some point, he determined he had a better future in music than newspapers. When he performed on the David Letterman Show last year (see video below), I think that confirmed he had made the right decision.

Steve started a ground-breaking band called the “Dream Syndicate” back in the 1980s, had a successful solo career and last year launched, “The Baseball Project,” with Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M., Minus 5), Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3, Zu Zu’s Petals). Their CD, “Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails,” is a collection of songs about baseball, but not in the “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” or “Talking  Baseball” sense (mercifully).

TheBaseballProject_FrozenRopesAndDyingQuailsThey’re great songs, rock and ballads, with rich lyrics that tell stories about Jackie Robinson (”Jackie’s Lament”),  Harvey Haddix (song of the same name for the man who threw a 12-inning perfect game but isn’t credited with it), Satchel Paige (”Satchel Paige Said”) and Curt Flood (”Gratitude,” a great gritty tribute for the man who paved the way for free agency). The CD is well worth the buy. The man is still producing great music, and the only thing that upsets me is that, after all this time, he has kept not only his voice but his hairline, which puts him ahead of me.

When “The Baseball Project” first came together, I wrote a piece for the AJC that you can find linked here. Steve laughed at the irony of  gaining so much recognition for writing songs about baseball saying, “It’s pretty funny. I’ve been making records for 25 years. But it took me going back to sports writing to get on the Letterman Show.”

There’s a longer piece on Steve and our high school days that I wrote for Stomp and Stammer magazine, which is linked here. Hope you enjoy it. One of my favorites comments was about the apparent large number of baseball fans in the rock music scene. “When this [Baseball Project] record came out, I realized how many of us were out there,” Steve said. “The indie rock scene and baseball especially seem to go together. I was trying to think why that is. I guess because it’s more of the cerebral sport, the geek sport. Baseball fans are like record collectors. They know every batting average for the Detroit Tigers in 1971, just like they know all of the B-sides.”

The only thing better than this CD is hearing Wynn live. But you don’t have to take my word for it. His 30-city tour comes to town this weekend. The Baseball Project will be playing Sunday night at The Earl in Atlanta and Monday night at 40 Watt in Athens. I plan on hitting both shows. I believe David O’Brien, our Braves writer and resident music geek, also will be at the Athens show. Come find me and say hello.

Until then, enjoy listening to, “Past Time,” performed last summer on Letterman.

32 comments Add your comment

Boo Boo

September 25th, 2009
11:54 pm

I’m sorry. I thought I was in the Sports section. Which way to the failed predictions page?

bass stringerfish

September 26th, 2009
12:05 am

ok fine…thank you. will the real Jeff come home?

william cranman

September 26th, 2009
12:08 am

Good stuff Jeff. I really enjoy your columns and will look for “The Baseball Project” if they make it down to Tampa. As always Jeff, keep up the good work.

athensdawg

September 26th, 2009
12:15 am

dang. i thought this was about the “other” steve wynn….you know, the guy who just about single handedly built las vegas…….oh well.

JSS

September 26th, 2009
12:24 am

At least one of you had some talent… Tell Pete everyone back home in Macon says “Hi!” Bring the project to Bragg Jam next year….

JSS

September 26th, 2009
12:33 am

How apt that you went to “Uni,” man Brentwood is now known for something more infamous then O.J.!

scottbravesfan

September 26th, 2009
12:41 am

Jeff you went to school with Steve Wynn? That’s awesome! The Baseball Project record is awesome and highly recommended for fans of Steve Wynn’s other work or REM.

Ted Striker

September 26th, 2009
1:56 am

Mucho cool article. Imbedded video was great and I will now check out the CD.

p.s. Folks who think this article doesn’t fit in this space can sodding bugger off. If Ted Striker says an article is cool, it’s not merely cool, it’s ice cold gold.

Ted Striker

September 26th, 2009
2:04 am

Just realized “The Baseball Project” will be at 40 Watt on Monday night.

I normally spend Monday evenings donating blood or reading to the blind but I might need to rearrange my schedule.

David

September 26th, 2009
4:42 am

Woah. Jeff gets MASSIVE cool points for going to school with Wynn. It’s sort of disgusting how many incredible rock musicians are out there who never get their due. This guy has released so many damn good recordings and we’re stuck with a station like The River with a 200 song playlist. Blah. Thanks for this writeup as well as your funny sports predictions. Oh, and War Eagle! : )

pj

September 26th, 2009
6:21 am

baseball’s ok to watch live; I’m a Peter Buck fan, though, and fortunate that all his side bands come to Athens. If you like baseball songs, check out Frozen Rope by another Athens treasure, Jack Logan, on “Little Private Angel.”

MIKE ON LAKE HARTWELL

September 26th, 2009
8:22 am

i really like that “HIGHER LOVE” song…

collegeballfan

September 26th, 2009
8:23 am

“And by the way, your picks stink!”

bali smith

September 26th, 2009
9:04 am

Enter your comments here namedropper

MightyQuinn

September 26th, 2009
9:25 am

Nice to hear some tunes about baseball that have, well, gonads. And I don’t care if your picks stink ’cause I don’t bet. My grandpa used to always say, “If you can’t afford to lose, you can’t afford to gamble.” Words to live by.

Bat Masterson

September 26th, 2009
9:45 am

Hey Jeff, have you read the new Satchel Paige biography?

DamYankee

September 26th, 2009
10:22 am

Outstanding column! Now I’ve got to get on iTunes & see if they carry this. Props to Ted Striker & MightyQuinn, I’m off to write some baseball blues tunes!

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles singer-songwriter Steve [...]

Art Vandelay

September 26th, 2009
10:44 am

Jeff Schultz meets Dave O’Brien. I like it.

Jeff Schultz

September 26th, 2009
11:00 am

Boo Boo: This way to the failed predictions page. http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/category/weekend-predictions/

ScottBravesFan: Thanks. Hope to see you at the shows.

Striker: Thanks. Loved the “T-Bone” t-shirt btw. … And yeah, it’s in the article: Wynn at The Earl on Sunday night and 40 Watt on Monday night.

David: Thanks. I have my cool moments.

Bat Masterson: Haven’t read it. Actually said to say I probably haven’t read enough on him. Is it a good book?

Art Vandelay: That should be David O’Brien meets me. Get it straight.

Nick

September 26th, 2009
11:36 am

I think you should stick to blaaaging about music.

Bat Masterson

September 26th, 2009
12:04 pm

Yes Jeff, it is. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Paige’s legend, as well as the history of the game. There is a funny story about the Cool Papa Bell legend, that he was so fast he could turn off the switch and be in bed covered up, before the light went out. One gets a good look at others as well, Bob Feller, Josh Gibson, the California leagues, ect.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 26th, 2009
1:11 pm

“If you can’t afford to lose, you can’t afford to gamble.”

Very wise advice. I’ve always found it interesting that people will put money up on something that they aren’t in any way capable of influencing the outcome (a ballgame for instance). I’d only bet on something, if I can do something to increase my chance of winning.

[...] Read the rest here: Sports and rock unite! Wynn brings 'Baseball Project' to town … [...]

a1agator

September 26th, 2009
7:25 pm

I still have my “Medicine Show” cassette. May have to dig it up!!!

[...] Baseball Project’ to municipality for shows in besieging and Athens. Read the example here: Sports and sway unite! Wynn brings 'Baseball Project' to municipality … Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized | Tags: island, peter, peter-buck, project, [...]

Mike Knobler, Uni alum, former sportswriter

September 27th, 2009
9:56 pm

JSS

September 28th, 2009
10:18 am

MK, note “infamous”not “celebrated” or “famous;” thus, Jeff Schultz, “infamous!”

lilikindsli

September 29th, 2009
9:50 pm

EAeTql I want to say – thank you for this!

lilikindsli

September 30th, 2009
1:51 pm

N8DWfG I want to say – thank you for this!

Globals

October 2nd, 2009
9:52 pm

all good things

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