Little Steven Van Zandt Stepping Up Garage-Rock Campaign

Guitarist has plans for his Lost Boys side project as well as a band competition and radio show.

NEW YORK — For those who were pleasantly surprised to find the Lost Boys' blaring garage-rock track "Affection" on the second "Sopranos" soundtrack, Little Steven Van Zandt promises there's more where that came from.

"I did that a few years ago, and it's close to my heart," the E Street Band guitarist said of his Lost Boys side project. "I'd love to put a whole record out. It's one of those things that's been lying around looking for a way to get out."

Van Zandt said that as part of his Cavestomp! campaign he might release Lost Boys music and albums by other garage-rock bands that hark back to the simple beats and urgent, primitive rhythms that first inspired him to pick up a guitar.

For the past seven months he has been presenting a monthly Cavestomp! garage-rock event at the New York club Village Underground — upcoming gigs will feature the Troggs, the Pretty Things, Dave Davies, the Swingin' Neckbreakers and the Von Bondies — and now, with the assistance of electronics retailer the Wiz, he's launching a garage-band contest.

Garage groups can apply at any Wiz location or at the chain's Web site. The top 20 finalists will be featured on a compilation CD, and the winner will be booked at the next Cavestomp! Festival and might receive a record deal.

Along with the contest, Van Zandt hopes to launch a syndicated garage-rock radio program and have some of the best contest entries played on the show. But he's running into a few obstacles.

"I'm not only trying to put garage rock on mainstream radio, which has never been done, I'm also trying to do the unthinkable and limit the commercials," he said. "That's what's been difficult. At this point mainstream radio is up to 18 minutes per hour of commercials, which is just unlistenable."

Van Zandt said he's so committed to the garage cause because he's become disenchanted with the current music scene and hopes that going back to the roots of rock will help trigger a musical renaissance.

"I consider this music not only fun, but important," he said. "We want to establish some sort of infrastructure for this whole movement, which could be the rebirth of rock 'n' roll. This is where it all begins."