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John Doe talks new record and returning to McCabe's in Santa Monica for two nights

January 14, 2011 | 12:37 pm


 “Living legend” can mean different things to the musicians that define the term. To John Doe of the seminal L.A. punk bands X and the Knitters, it means being accessible beyond the stage and the isolated confines of social media. Forget tweets. He’d rather just talk to you.

“One of the reasons I don’t use Facebook and Twitter is because I’m around. I play a lot of shows, I tour all the time. If you wanna meet me, if you wanna ask me something or tell me your gripe, or what I did wrong, or what I did right, you can come in, find me.”

Starting on Friday, one of those places is McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, where Doe is slated to perform for two nights, Friday and Saturday. Having used McCabe’s as a recurring hometown venue off and on since 1987, it’s become a stomping ground for the punk rock statesman. During his 21-year solo career, Doe’s palette of sobering, acoustic Americana takes the foreground over distorted rage. However, X’s recent West Coast tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of its debut album, “Los Angeles,” proves that the sweaty, screaming bassist within remains intact.

Since the release of 2009’s “Country Club” with Canadian country band the Sadies, Doe’s been fashioning a new record -- one he admits has taken him a while to turn out.

“The reason it’s taken about three years to put together a solo record is because I’ve been pretty happy. And in the past I’ve written songs from a very unhappy place.”

Taking aim at a fuzzy, 1970s rock vibe a la the Band and the Rolling Stones, songs on Doe’s forthcoming album, “Keeper,” are backed by friends and collaborators like drummer Stuart Johnson and vocalists Patty Griffin and Cindy Wasserman, among others. Aside from catering to classic rock sounds, Doe’s new material — which he’ll be teasing at McCabe’s — has been a different kind of process. “It’s taken a while to readjust to find out what it means to write a love song where the person is actually being loved and is happy about it.”

Among a healthy swath of local fans, McCabe’s serves as an encouraging warm-up to Does’ performance in New York for the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series on Jan. 28. Those who miss the L.A. performances this weekend will get a chance to see Doe yet again at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa on Sunday.

-- Nate Jackson

John Doe at McCabe's Guitar Shop, Friday and Saturday (sold out). 3101 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica. (310) 828-4497, www.mccabes.com. 8 p.m. $20.

Photo: John Doe  Credit: Autumn De Wilde