Meanwhile, Lowery's been hunkered down in Richmond, Virginia, for 20 years, producing everyone from Sparklehorse to Daniel Johnston and Joan Osbourne, and slowly working on a solo album (the unsurprisingly great ThePalace Guards, out next month on Savoy/429). He's also been busy with a fascinating blog called 300songs, in which he takes a Camper or Cracker song as a jumping-off point in each post to talk about anything and everything — from old album-production tales and music trends to 1800s Texas bohemians. (He promises a book out of the project in the near future.) All of that somehow, on the fans' end, constitutes these two bands' ongoing adventures.

"We've always played with this notion of 'What exactly is a band?' " he explains. "We have our thing we do. It's a loose ensemble, an alliance."

You could say Camper are cynical about the music industry, but since the beginning, that's never been their attitude. "Bands we knew [in Camper's early days] were just trying to play classic rock for our own generation," Lowery concludes. "We had no one to really look up to. The closest thing we could do was kind of look at the punk-rock scene to see how they toured and how they got around the country and where they played. Otherwise it was quite uncharted."

CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN + CRACKER | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | January 16 at 9 pm | 18+ | $20 | 617.864.EAST or mideastclub.com

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