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The Everlasting Battle 

Bay Area's Tumbleweed Wanderers hope for a postwar America

Though the second Iraq war has largely wound down, U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is now in its 12th year. Meaning: Three of the members of Tumbleweed Wanderers were 10 when that war started and the other two were barely in puberty. From their perspective "peacetime" largely exists in history books.

Such sensibility informs the lyrics. "Don't want to be the soldier, that's for sure," they sing. "What's it like to live without war? Well, I don't remember anymore."

The song is rich in the same kind of political laments that made Creedence Clearwater Revival famous.

Another line from the song's chorus represents "the man" telling us we better get used to this new world.

"You gotta roll with the times. You gotta stay in line. This ain't '69, you gotta change your mind."

But the boys in Tumbleweed Wanderers are definitely not down with that notion.

While that song paints a stark picture and has strong social commentary, much of the band's music is about focusing on immediate surroundings. Friends and family, good times and relationships are at the heart of the Tumbleweed Wanderers' messages. The band's live shows are filled with more hopeful smiles and fast-plucking banjo than pessimism. The band channels more Wilson Pickett than anything else. It seems that even with the static cultural nature of theplayers' early adulthood, their youth is still their greatest strength and asset. No way are these guys giving up on what they believe the world can be.

On "Freedom Town," the last track on their debut album, So Long, they communicate that hope.

"There's a train, yeah, I know where it's bound. I'll explain it, it's called Freedom Town. Don't need no ticket, to hop on board, [...] I know we'll get there someday, [...] too young to give up."

The song is the perfect final sentiment for the album and it's uplifting.

Tumbleweed Wanderers formed in 2011 when former high school classmates Zak Mandel-Romann and Jeremy Lyon decided to drop out of college and pursue music full- time. Since then the group has expanded to include additional artists, giving the band its robust soulful sound. And, in true classic rock fashion, the band recorded its first album to tape and released it on vinyl with a purposeful approach to creating separate side A and side B journeys. The album was recorded at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studio and mixed by studio owner John Vanderslice, a man with his own political songwriting history.

While Tumbleweed Wanderers come from a generation that knows war well, they also come from the social media generation as well. The fun-loving members of Tumbleweed Wanderers use Twitter as a comedy club, posting things like: "Even atheists make a bargain with God when the toilet threatens to overflow at a friend's house" and "Backspace Key: hiding feelings for decades."

Just further evidence that despite being able to see the worst in the world, they never lose sight of the best.

Tumbleweed Wanderers

2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14

Les Schwab Amphitheater

344 SW Shevlin Hixon Drive


About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
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