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BEST VOCALIST (MALE) Minneapolis 1998 -

Face it, the world of masculine rock vocals is a sorry lot, loaded with fake soul and alt-rock's characteristic post-Vedder moaning and leering. Yet there are exceptions. John H. Knowles is a droll, middle-aged fella--also known as "The Caveman" to some--whose entire body quakes after he plugs in his wah-wah banjo and yelps and gurgles out mock-tragic lyrics such as "I used to be anti-drugs, but not Prozac!/I got 50 personalities, they're all named Jack!" Technique takes a back seat to schizo expressionism when it comes to Knowles's cartoonish singing, and what really comes across is the guy's sheer love of performing. If you like Dr. Demento-style goofiness, you'll be lucky to find a copy of Knowles's 1995 CD The Banjo from Hell, recorded with his band, Cave Music. Your best bet is to find him at his haunting weeknight gigs at various St. Paul pubs.

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