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In 1999 Itai Faireman took that quintessential "year off to find himself." According to his bio at www.itaimusic.com, Itai "slept on friends' couches, hotel lobbies, and late-night Laundromats and busked in subways, on street corners, and in parks." His parents come from South America; he was born in Israel. He did the starving-artist thing in New York City (acting, playing in bands -- the usual route), and his Sam Shepard--esque wanderings took him to the Grand Canyon and finally to San Diego in 2000, where he's been living ever since, writing and recording music.

Itai has released a handful of solo CDs and three with another local musician, Mary Tamsin. They are known as the Enchanted. He has another band, the Peppersands, where he can become his alter ego, Hank Aaron Mitchell, a guitar-wielding cowboy drifter from Montana with an attitude. There's even a bio for this fictitious six-stringer: "[He] was born and raised in the backwoods of Missoula, Montana. At the age of 12, Hank's mother bought him an acoustic guitar. He soon joined the Mitchell Family Jug Band. The group consisted of his father on banjo, his mother on upright bass, his older sister on mouth harp, and his brother on acoustic guitar. By the age of 20, Hank had lived in six states across the country. He soon found employment with various trucking outfits and kept on the road -- eventually, Hank's wanderings led him to San Diego."

TRICKIEST MUSICAL PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?

"Getting my guitar to sound like Woody Guthrie yodeling."

LIST OF INSTRUMENTS/ EQUIPMENT USED?

"I have a Gibson 333 hollow-body guitar, an old beat-up Martin acoustic, and three vintage pedals -- a Boss Digital Delay (for looping), a TC Electronics chorus/flange, and a vintage compression pedal (with the name rubbed off)."

MOST MEMORABLE ENOUNTER WITH FANS?

"I played a show at CBGB's with my band a few years ago, and these five Japanese girls were in the front row singing almost all the words to one of our tunes (we had a CD circulating in Europe). When we finished, I went out to speak to them, and they couldn't understand or speak one word of English. We ended up partying till the wee morning hours."

BRUSH WITH THE FAMOUS?

"I was working at an espresso shop on the upper east side of Manhattan, and Yoko Ono came in with a friend and ordered a latte or something. I brought it over to her and gushed about my love for John Lennon for about five minutes. She was appreciative, took one sip of her drink, and asked me, politely, to leave her alone."

TOP FIVE GREAT FLICKS?

The Graduate, On the Waterfront, Pollock, East of Eden, Lenny.

FIVE FAVORITE LOCAL VENUES?

Spreckels Theatre, the Casbah, Lestat's, SOMA, Scolari's Office.

TOP FIVE CDs?

John Lennon's Imagine, Jeff Buckley's Grace, Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline, Nick Drake's Fruit Tree, and Led Zeppelin II.

DREAMS ABOUT PLAYING MUSIC?

"I once dreamt I was playing my music at an Orthodox Jewish wedding. I had to sing all my songs in Yiddish. There was a fantastic fiddle player with me who turned out to be the catering manager. He told me we needed to finish serving the wine before we could play more music. I put down my guitar and started pouring red and white wine for the crowd. When I got to the bride and groom, they looked really drunk, and the groom resembled Frank Zappa. He mumbled something about fame and blew me a kiss."

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