ah yes, forgot to add that I am part of the audio group.
It's sporadic now, I've found that sometimes if I play an audio cd I can then select an mp3 and get it to play--but not always. I just try and start with an mp3 it locks. I'm reemerging xmms and alsa-xmms right now.
I've been looking all over google, xmms forum, gentoo forum, and here but haven't found a solution yet. thanks for the reply.