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You've been participating in weekly gatherings of music and bible discussion at your church in Burbank, California. Did the album grow out of that?

I suppose it did. I used to do bands, write like crazy. I gave Rhett Miller his first two gigs ever, opening for my band. But to put out a solo record, you have to figure out what you have to say. But it took me years to do it, because I wasn't sure I had something to say. Of course, I did, and I was writing with the 97's, but who am I by myself? You have to answer that question to do a "solo record." It was made to stand alone. I'd like to be a guy who goes out and plays in the folk music world the rest of my life. I needed to make my first record as a general statement of the kind of music I make, and it's what I'm going to do the rest of the way.

You make it sound like you're imagining a life after the Old 97's.

No, that's not it. I'm trying to imagine the kind of musician I'll be in my 60s and 70s. When you get to be in your mid-40s...now, how old are you?

I'm 43. But don't print that.

You may know what I'm talking about. You're eyeballing 50 now and starting to look at the last half of your life. I forgot the person who said it, but old age is one of the biggest surprises you'll encounter. And so I wonder if when I'm in my 60s, will I make something that moves anything, that will have a little higher purpose, that isn't just me being ambitious or selling records to make myself slightly more famous than I was five minutes ago.
Roy Kasten

9 p.m. Friday, September 19. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.

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