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It's a tough job, but Ben Kweller's gotta do it

September 21, 2006|Jeff Miller

Onstage at the Austin City Limits music festival last weekend, singer-songwriter Ben Kweller had a big problem -- one that required an unusual solution.

"Anyone got a tampon?" he asked, looking for a feminine hygiene product to block a nasty nosebleed that, later, forced him to stop his set short and sent him to the hospital. To his credit, Kweller soldiered on as long as he could -- despite the ridiculous photos he knew would circulate of him playing guitar onstage, a tampon shoved up his nose.

It's an out-there metaphor for Kweller's career, which has found him gaining a sizable cult audience while making poppy, adult records after spending his youth touring the world with Radish, a next-big-thing band that never quite hit. "It's much more important to do something you believe in than looking over your shoulder and trying to do something big and huge," he said in Austin the day after his incident, which was, thankfully, a minor problem caused by a burst capillary.

For now, what he believes in is big, broad rock music: His new, self-titled album is full of songs that explore classic rock terrain without sacrificing melody or personality. He played every instrument on the album, giving the songs warmth that is rare in today's rock.

"Songs are around longer than we are," he says. "As a songwriter, it's important to put something out there as authentic as possible. It'll be the only thing left that has to do with me after I'm gone."

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Ben Kweller, the Avalon, 1735 N. Vine St.,

Hollywood. 7 p.m. Friday. $23. (323) 467-4571; www.ticketmaster.com.

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