The biggest outtake from the music world of recent years, though, is the power artists can wield by connecting directly with their listeners. It's a mantra Camper lived by back when they played basements in Chico and continues to operate under now. Through their Web site, Camper and Cracker release combined compilations of oddities and live shows every few months. And in mid-September they'll host their third annual "campout" in Pioneertown at Pappy & Harriet's Palace. It's a three-day show with Camper, Cracker, and guests (who this year include Built to Spill and Quasi) in a setting that shows Camper is still rooted in making entertainment minus the middleman. "It's us putting on our own show, selling the tickets to our fans directly, selling the hotel rooms directly to our fans," Lowery says. "It goes back to that whole DIY stuff we did in the beginning, and that's what we're doing in the end."

Back in 1986, Lowery sang, "I've got an electric guitar and half a bottle of warm beer/I've got some funny ideas about what sounds good." More than two decades later, those funny ideas are still relevant.

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