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Polk, etc. 

A presidential slogan becomes a record label

Back in 1844, when slavery was a question and the acquisition of California still remained at the hands of Zach "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor, North Carolina native son and University of North Carolina alumnus James K. Polk campaigned for president on a firm stance for annexation and the northern border of the Oregon territory: "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!"

Well, as often happens with presidents, his statement didn't hold true, as America eventually settled on the 49th parallel without a battle. Rest assured, though, that Polk never imagined his mantra would turn into a company name a century and a half later.

But it did. And, what's more, Ticonderoga--a band that formed only after moving to Polk's native Carolina--is the newest addition to 54-40' or Fight! Records, a small but expanding indie on the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay. It's run by Royce Deans and Steve Brydges, publishers of the worthy bimonthly magazine Copper Press.

Deans and Brydges discovered Ticonderoga while browsing the links on the Web page of Raleigh popsters Schooner and immediately contacted the band.

"They sent us an e-mail and said they wanted to put all of our stuff out," Mark Paulson says as he readied lobsters for the Thanksgiving meal at Enotica Vin. "We were taken aback and flattered that a record label had found us on their own."

After a string of e-mails, the avant electronic folk trio--Paulson, Phil Moore and Rosebuds drummer Wes Phillips--packed the car and drove to Michigan, spending a few days with Deans and Brydges as they finalized a three-record deal.

Ticonderoga will release its first album on the label in March, followed by an East Coast tour and a tentative stop at South by Southwest.

The band agreed to do three records after seeing that their philosophies were closely aligned: "They don't want to skip steps, but they want to build a reputation slowly and solidly. Really, they're not interested in haircut bands."

Shore Up
Kenny Shore--the world's only self-described Clay Aiken-chasing, carbohydrate-craving, psychopopfolkabilly singer/songwriter--is two weeks away from having his latest solo album in hand. Shore recorded a portion of the album with Dick Hodgin at Osceola Studios before laying down the final tracks with his Widget bandmate and engineer Ian Schreier last month.

In a clever promotional twist, Kenny offered fans on his mailing list the chance to be included in the album's liner notes by pre-ordering three copies of the disc for a mere $20. Operating on a shoestring, Shore immediately used those funds to master the record and have designer Natalie Nobles finish the packaging. If you have always wanted to make someone's liner notes, here's your chance. Just send a check to PO Box 10431, Raleigh, 27605, and you're in.

Comments? Questions? Leads? If you've got beef, e-mail Grayson at dgcurrin@ncsu.edu.

  • A presidential slogan becomes a record label

Latest in MUSIC: Raleigh Rhythms

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