Gin Blossoms still eat and play well


February 20. 2013 4:13AM
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Four Grammy-nominated musicians set out on 100-city concert tour across the U.S. As bandmates, they share more than 20 years of history in the industry, but each brings his own unique take on the craft and side ventures to the table.


Sometimes what unites them is an unexpected common denominator. And for influential talents the Gin Blossoms, one shared diversion takes place in the kitchen rather than the studio.


??I love cooking and I cook a lot ?? actually the whole band does. We all enjoy cooking, and we talk about it quite a bit,? said Jesse Valenzuela, the co-founder of the band who helped pen 1990s radio hits ??I??ll Follow You Down,? ??Until I Fall Away,? and ??Found Out About You.?


And some East Coast favorites might be enough to lure them out of the kitchen.


??Traveling in the Northeast like this is joyful because the food is just fantastic,? Venezuela said. ??You can promise snow and good Italian food.?


He said lead vocalist and guitarist Robin Wilson is all about the pizza.


But look out, Old Forge.


??Robin is lucky enough to live in the Northeast ?? he lives in Long Island. He??s been living in Long Island for maybe 10 years now. He has become a real pizza snob. And if it doesn??t look right to him, he just won??t even bend.?


??I think that the best food is Italian. I grew up with my Mexican mother, and it breaks her heart that I say that.?


Valenzuela, the band??s only native of Tempe, Ariz., where they originated in 1987, said its members are making the most of intimate venues on their current tour, such as the Sherman Theater in East Stroudsburg.


??It??s a pleasure because we get to play longer shows than we probably would in the summertime. We??re playing a couple songs we haven??t played in years.?


He wouldn??t divulge so much as one note.


But fans can hope their personal favorite deep tracks appear in the set list at the Feb. 2 show alongside an impressive number of radio hits that still receive plenty of play today, including ??Miss Disarray? from their latest offering, 2010??s ??No Chocolate Cake.?


After all, the band??s 1992 sophomore effort ??New Miserable Experience,? a quadruple platinum album, held its own on the charts for almost three years with singles ??Hey Jealousy,? ??Allison Road,? ??Found Out About You,? and ??Mrs. Rita,? among others.


Some audience members will await the single written in 1995 which earned the Gin Blossoms platinum status as a cut on the soundtrack for the film ??Empire Records:? ??Til I Hear It From You.?


Others might hold out for ??Follow You Down? or Grammy- nominated ??As Long As It Matters? from the 1996 album ??Congratulations I??m Sorry.?


After the show, listeners might begin to wonder if the Gin Blossoms?? sound has infiltrated their everyday lives.


And they wouldn??t be wrong. Valenzuela, who contributes vocals and guitar to the band as well as songwriting, regularly has his work featured in TV shows, films, and commercials.


??Friday I just got a call that they??re using an old song of mine for the closing credits for a movie? I don??t even know what movie it is.?


He described ??Cowboy Hold on Tight? as a ??spoofy little tune I wrote a long time ago with my friend Brian. It??s been in several TV shows, a couple of movies, and even a commercial.?


The humble songwriter takes no glory.


??You just stay active, and I have really good agents. They??re trying to plug my songs into as many positions as they can.?


He has collaborated with everyone from Eagles hitmaker JD Souther to Stevie Nicks. And Valenzuela can??t get enough of country.


??I??m going to head to Nashville in March,? he said, ??There are so many great songwriters. I spoke with Rodney Crowell last week, he??s a county singer/songwriter, and we had breakfast about six months ago and we kind of hit it off. I??d like to write with him when we can.?


2013 will bring the band to more than 100 U.S. cities, including The Mark McGrath and Friends cruise featuring Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Cracker, Spin Doctors, Vertical Horizon, The Verve Pipe, Marcy Playground, and acoustic performances by Ed Roland of Collective Soul and Ed Kowalczyk of Live.


Until then, he is content to share the stage and kitchen with his Gin Blossom bandmates. Joined Feb. 2 by Wilson, Scott Johnson on guitar, and Bill Leen on bass, Valenzuela said there??s only one thing he can ask from NEPA fans to make the Gin Blossoms feel at home:


??I want Pennsylvania to bring us out some meatballs. I defy your readers to dine us.?




Gin Blossoms: Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Sherman Theater (524 Main St., Stroudsburg). $35-45.





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