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GRAVELLY VOICE IS BLESSING AND CURSE

Ex-Psychedelic Furs front man Richard Butler said having an instantly recognizable voice can be a blessing and a curse.

"When you start a new band, people tend to say it sounds like the Furs because of my voice," he said.Butler, who moved to New York from his native Britain in 1983, broke up the Furs three years ago. His new band, Love Spit Love, recently released its self-titled debut album on Imago.

"I think the Furs were pretty much of their time," he said. "I'd been in that band 12 years. I came off the last tour and just wasn't excited about being with that group of musicians anymore. I wanted a new sound."

"I love getting on stage for that hour a day, but I don't like the rest of being on the road," Butler said.

Asked if his distinctive gravelly voice was in any way forced, Butler replied, "That's just what I sound like when I sing. It's really as simple as that. I don't force it or try to sing that way on purpose."

- BUILDING AN AUDIENCE: Cuban-born blues-rock guitarist Rosco Martinez realizes patience and hard work are the keys to building a national audience.

"It's not easy, I know that," said Martinez, 27. "It takes time. People have to get to know you. I'm being very patient about the process and enjoying every second of it. I have a great band and I'm having a blast."

Martinez, who recently appeared at the House of Blues in support of his debut album, "Neon Moonlight" (Zoo), started out in music as a drummer.

"When I was a kid, I began playing with a guitarist who was just wonderful," he said. "So, at 13, I picked up the guitar because I was inspired by this person. I liked the idea of being out front."

Martinez, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., plans to record a Spanish-language version of his album for foreign markets.

"That's a very important part of my music, the Spanish end of it," he said. "These days, it's such a huge audience."