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Virginia Dare

Brad Johnson and Mary O'Neil met when they were both in the Wannabe Texans. After that group's demise, they formed Virginia Dare, and released two 10-inch records on Nuff Sed records, which were later compiled into a CD on the Dutch label Brinkman. Then, just when it seemed like the band had disappeared, Absolutely Kosher released Baby Got Away in 1998.

Depending on how you like to define your music, this is punk-tinged country, or twang-tinged punk, or soulful folk. Whatever you call it, the music is resonant and beautiful. There is a peculiar urgency to these songs, which are propelled not by pounding drums but by O'Neil's rhythmic, melodic autoharp. The result is both familiar and alien: something about the twisting, whirling interplay between O'Neil's autoharp and Johnson's guitar keeps the melodies from being carefree and soothing.

This is trail-riding music for people whose trails involve clogged freeways, crowded sidewalks, and broken homes; anthems for urban subway wranglers whose dreams are mired in stagnancy and disillusion.