By Nikki M. Mascali

After drifting down the California coast together in late December, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven are now meandering their way down the East Coast.  Both mini tours, the latter which stops as World Café Live in Philadelphia Saturday, Jan. 18 and New York’s Highline Ballroom Sunday, Jan. 19, have been an annual occurrence for the past 10 years — but the relationship between these two Golden State bands began more than three decades ago.

“It’s family for sure, a 30-year relationship is just family,” CVB bassist Victor Krummenacher told Highway 81 Revisited last month.  “There’s so much power involved in getting on stage together — we don’t exactly hang out, we’re in different corners of the world.  It’s much more a matter of we have this thing we’ve all worked very hard on, and they like doing it, and it’s what brings us together.”

Krummenacher confessed that “it’s not easy” maintaining the shared musical history and members of Cracker and CVB over the years.  David Lowery and Frank Funaro handle vocals/guitar and drums, respectively, in both bands, and Jonathan Segel, Greg Lisher and Michael Urbano round out CVB.

To help keep things straight, and maybe the members sane, the bands try to make it so only one is kind of at the forefront at a time.  With the release of “La Costa Perdida,” CVB’s first release in nine years, “2013 was a Camper year,” Krummenacher said, “and we’re going into a Cracker phase.”

That’s not to say that CVB will be idle, though, as the group is working on a follow up to “La Costa Perdida.”  While that album sang the praises of Northern California, the new one will have a SoCal theme, and, Krummenacher assured the sequel will not take nine years to appear.  “It’ll be out in 2014,” he said.

Additionally, Omnivore Recordings will release reissues of 1988’s “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart” and 1989’s “Key Lime Pie” on Feb. 4.  Krummenacher called the occasion “gratifying, as we had not the best relationship with Virgin Records.  The first generation of ‘Our Beloved Revolution’ sounded like crap,” he said frankly.  “I’ve heard the mixes with their intended depth, and it is really good.”

Founded in 1983, CVB cut its teeth in an era where “American Idol,” YouTube and the ability to record an album from different locations didn’t exist.  Despite the lack of cutting-edge technology back then, Krummenacher feels CVB had it better.

“I’m not a believer that everybody makes a record or every kid gets a trophy,” he began.  “I think people lost the affinity of what music can be in their lives.  It’s had a big role in my life.  I get together with my musician friends, and it’s timeless, I’m 18 again.

“Music is restorative, it’s a physical state and the music relationship is changing because our technology is changing.  I encourage people to unplug and make space for music in your lives and albums.”

Sounds like damn good advice to us.

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