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It's hard keeping up with Noel Stefan Stoyanoff. The musician known as N.S.S. has a childlike enthusiasm and an exhaustive knowledge of music that makes you want to run home and study "The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock."

Detailed information pours from his mouth at a rapid-fire clip -- release dates, names, album artwork and liner notes. With N.S.S., you'll get the full history and lots of surprises:

One of his earliest influences: "Free to Be You and Me" by Marlo Thomas and Friends. The message of the 1972 album "is to be who you want to be," he says, an important philosophy he always remembers.

The very first song he taped off the radio: "Mr. Roboto" by Styx. "I got a boom box for my birthday and was glued to my radio, voraciously making tapes -- I didn't like to be told what to listen to even then."

His eternal buzz is in memories associated with songs: "Signals" by Rush (1982) is required on a dreary day traveling to Toronto; "Storm Watch" by Jethro Tull (1979) is "quintessential winter listening"; his newly rediscovered copy of Henry Mancini's score for "Return of the Pink Panther" (1975) carries pleasant thoughts of painting a room with his daughter, Ginger.

"I'm a music freak, it's my passion. I love music and everything about it," says the solo acoustic artist who has exactly 1,298 CDs in his collection.

His grand passion for music and everyone from Marlo Thomas to Black Sabbath and Tom T. Hall has created a distinctly diverse style to his own writing, heard on his eclectic debut CD "Mr. Handpuppet Man & Other Campfire Collections."

"I'm always listening, critiquing, taking concepts and reading why they did what they did," N.S.S. says. "When I write or play, I'm always referencing others. I've learned a lot."

Not only has this knowledge helped his composition and performance skills, N.S.S. says its integral to continuing as an artist. His varied interests allow him to perform as a soloist, lend a hand on bass for industrial mavens Elevation of Depression or add to the progressive pop of Riley.

"I want to make it so I can always play music. So you have to be careful not to pigeonhole yourself because the music industry is so fickle," he says. "I'd like to have a different style of music for each album."

Keeping with that thought, N.S.S. is releasing his sophomore CD -- "Have You Met Edna?" -- with a decidedly Southern taste. The next one could be punk or metal, he's undecided. The one constant is his quirky storytelling, a style that relies heavily on a self-deprecating sense of humor.

"I let the audience get a laugh on me. I open myself up to critics with no apologies. This is who I am," he says. "You have to be able to laugh -- laughter is the best medicine."

Upcoming: CD release party, 10 p.m. Saturday at 454 Pearl St.; next Friday at the Blues Room at the Lafayette Hotel (with the Buffalo Music Collective); 11:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Clarkson Theatre (with Buffalo's Original Music Blast).



For information, call: 892-3804

"Four Songs," by Girlpope. Buffalo's favorite power-pop trio is back at it with this short, but (bitter)sweet, collection. The band is losing the naive charm that won over audiences early on, replacing it with a love-weary (but somehow still hopeful) attitude on "Indy 500," "So Far As Now," "That's a Good Question" and "One Rich Starts" (an apt title for a song bassist Rich Campagna starts). The songs are straightforward, honest and catchy: "Of all the things I'm holding, why can't I be holding you right now?" guitarist Mark Norris asks in "Indy 500." Hopefully a full-length CD is coming soon.

-- Toni Ruberto