BABY LOVERAVE-UPS LEADER JIMMER PODRASKY'S SON RISES, EVEN IF POP'S ROCK DROPS

When most proud papas want to show off their offspring, they pop a home video into the VCR or pull out a stack of wallet-size photos. But when Rave-Ups singer-guitarist Jimmer Podrasky wants to give friends an eyeful of his number one son Chance, he turns on MTV or pulls a copy of his band's latest album from the record store shelves.

See, not only does Podrasky's towheaded tot ham it up in both of the Rave-Ups' latest videos, but his Gerber-baby mug is also plastered on the group's current album--the not-coincidentally titled Chance. The only way this kid could get any more exposure is if his gurgling visage somehow made it onto Rave-Ups tee shirts. But then, let's not give Dad any ideas.

Talking to Podrasky backstage before the Rave-Ups' Celebrity Theatre show last Monday, you get the uneasy feeling that he might whip out a phone book-size photo album any minute. Thankfully, the pictures never materialize, but he does gush on about the changes his two-year-old son has wrought in his life.

"For most of my adult years, the one important issue in my life was the Rave-Ups," professes Podrasky. "Not even girlfriends changed that too much. But when Chance came along, it was pretty obvious that there was something more important than the Rave-Ups. The Rave-Ups are still second, but they're a distant second."

If Podrasky is oozing more fatherly love than usual lately, it's probably because this tour has got him missing young Chance. "It's brutal not being with him," he admits. Podrasky, a single dad, isn't used to extended stays away from the roost. In fact, he recently took a yearlong sabbatical from his L.A. band just to care for Chance. But save the Mr. Mom cracks. Podrasky takes baby rearing as seriously as Dr. Spock.

"I've got a whole new perspective on what moms go through," he asserts. "It's an experience everyone could learn from." Podrasky figures that Chance's 3-a.m. feedings and colicky crying fits only built character. After all, nothing humbles a would-be rock star more than having his own flesh and blood urinate on him during a diaper change.

Podrasky alludes to the trials of rock 'n' roll dadhood on Chance's opener "The Best I Can't." "You don't know how desperate I am/I'm a family man doing the best that I can't," he sings with equal amounts of feistiness and self-doubt. "To a certain extent, that song does sum up my feelings about being in a band and being a dad," notes Podrasky. "It's a struggle."

Chance also has the Rave-Up singing about struggles of an entirely different kind. "Faint Sense of Success" addresses the band's fight for recognition from a music industry that only recognizes album sales. The lyrics have Podrasky offering the phony encouragement of a record company boss--"I hope you're a big success"--and then sneering, "Shove it right up your ass!"

Podrasky jokes about his band's piddling record sales a couple times during the Celebrity concert. Before the Rave-Ups' run-through of the song "She Says (Come Around)," he smirks, "This is the point in the show where we'd play our most recent hit--if we had one. So instead we're pleased as punch to play our most recent miss."

The gig proves the Rave-Ups' ability to deliver straightfoward guitar-based rock without the predictability of most so-called roots-revivalist bands. On Chance, the arrangements are fleshed out with a diverse mix of piano, organ, sitar and even Sri Lankan cobra flute. But all that's stripped away in concert so you can focus on the Raves' solid songwriting and energized playing.

The Celebrity show has spirit, self-deprecating wit and 45 minutes or so of stirring tunes (including a straight-faced, quasi-metal cover of KC & the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight.") The only thing missing is a special guest appearance by Rave-Up-in-training Chance. He had, however, made the scene at an L.A. gig a couple of nights before. "He not only stayed awake through the whole thing," brags Podrasky, "but he came onstage with his little guitar during the last song. He was quite cute."

Podrasky notes that, without any overt encouragement from him, Chance has already developed an attraction to electric guitars. It's genetic, the Rave-Up shrugs. But does this mean Pop Podrasky would like to see his son in a rock 'n' roll band someday?

"Not a band like this," he laughs, almost bitterly. "Maybe a successful one."

Talking to Podrasky, you get the uneasy feeling that he might whip out a phone book-size photo album any minute.

 
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