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Rockers will crank it up at two Pinellas libraries

A Detroit group will make two stops there on its national library tour.

By EILEEN SCHULTE, Times Staff Writer
Published August 1, 2007


Shhhhhh!

That's one sound you won't hear at two north Pinellas libraries in the coming week.

It will be more like, "Hey, crank it up!"

That's because the High Strung, a well-regarded indie rock trio from Detroit, will play free concerts Thursday night at the Palm Harbor Library and Monday afternoon at Clearwater's main library.

"This is the first time we've had a rock band at the library," said Jen Obermaier, Clearwater Main Library's youth services manager.

The events are traditionally held to mark, or some might say mourn, the end of summer and are geared toward teens.

Organizers are hoping for a crowd.

"We have fliers everywhere and the fliers have been going," Palm Harbor Library young adult coordinator Simone Daniek said. "I've had to replace them several times."

The band, which cites the Zombies, Brian Eno and the Ramones as influences, have been together since they were 11 years old. Josh Malerman handles the vocals, Derek Berk plays the drums, and Chad Stocker is on bass.

"I love it," said Daniek, whose musical tastes run from classical to Van Halen. "I thought they sounded very Beatle-esque."

Rolling Stone was likewise impressed, writing in 2003 that the High Strung has "a gift for nervy, agitated melodies that get under your skin as much as they make you hum along."

The band finished its third album, Get the Guests, and this is its second national rock 'n' roll tour of libraries.

The first was set up by an enterprising librarian in Michigan who wanted to rebrand the library as a place teens wanted to be. So what better way, he decided, than to bring in a rock band?

Just before their first tour, the band members said in an interview on National Public Radio's This American Life, they felt terrified, almost like "tamed beasts."

"It's like this weird, unknown thing, for a band to do, because we're not a novelty act," Malerman told This American Life.

About 25 libraries into the first tour, Malerman said, "you feel like you're like you're in a sociology experiment: Put the loudest thing known to man inside the conference room of a library with a bunch of 10-year-old kids and see what happens."

The High Strung's latest tour started last month and includes libraries in West Liberty, Iowa; St. Joseph, Mo.; Union, S.C.; Boise; Las Vegas; Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The idea it to make an extra effort to show teens that they are welcome at the library and that the library can be cool.

"It's a first for the library, and it's an experiment," Daniek said.

So put down your books, sign off your computer and enjoy the show. No tickets required.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at 727 445-4153 or schulte@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

If you go

What: Rock 'n' roll by the High Strung

Where: 7 p.m. Thursday at the Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave., and 2 p.m. Monday at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 N Osceola Ave.

Cost: Free.

On the Web: www.thehighstrung.com/index2.html.