Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Picture (Or Poster) Is Worth 1,000 Words

I'm headed to bed, but don't forget to mark Friday on your calendars. I'm hosting quite the showcase, and I hope to see a lot of familiar faces at Lakewood Bar & Grill along with some new faces. Costumes are certainly encouraged for those who enjoy Halloween, but it's okay if you don't want to (I probably will not be wearing a costume). Come, drink, eat (the LBG burgers seriously rule), and be merry!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Dallas Music... Movement?

It has been far too long since my first true post (MySpace playlists notwithstanding). There have been a multitude of factors behind this, some of which are personal in nature. I must, however, say that there is another factor. In recent months, I have become increasingly frustrated by the state of affairs in the music community. There are far too few people give a damn about the music that comes from the metroplex area. More importantly, almost all of those who do care are musicians, club owner, record label owners, etc. In other words, the local music scene consists almost exclusively of those directly in it. There are very few genuine fans of the scene. By fans, I mean people who have no direct investment in the success of a band or musician. These are people who support who regularly attend shows for the simple love of the music. I’ve tried coming up with a list of true music fans. Not people who like one band or singer, but make a regular effort to support a variety of musicians. The sad truth is I can count those people on one hand.

This should not be a problem for a city the size of Dallas. Many cities smaller in size (Seattle and Portland come quickly to mind) do not face this. The most obvious example of this, however, is a mere three hours south from us. Austin has been called the live music capital of the world, and for good reason. There are a number of tremendously talented musicians from that area: David Ramirez, Jaimee Harris, Jarrod Dickenson, The Criminal Kind, and Scorpion Child are artists that I have discovered in the past several months, all of which are first rate artists. These musicians, however, have something that acts from this area lack. Austin musicians live in an environment that is supportive and nurturing, that encourages and rewards artistic creativity. Dallas, on the other hand, is a city that rewards musical followers and not leaders. This is a city where cover bands rake in money, while acts that perform original material struggle to find an audience. The pool of talent is at least equal to that of Austin, and in my opinion overall exceeds Austin. Yet Austin gains the title of live music capital of the world because it CARES about its musicians, and based on the way they’re treated, this city does not.

That leaves the ultimate question hanging over us: how do we change this? I’m not sure that there’s a simple answer to this question. In the next few days, I plan to discuss this issue at greater length. I may not have an answer for the larger problem, but I do have some ideas that may be steps toward a solution. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will share some of these ideas with you, and I look forward to receiving input from my readers.

I would, however, like to leave you with one thought courtesy Jimmy Menkena (lead singer of the band Menkena). During a recent conversation, we talked about the problems faced in Dallas by musicians, and one topic that came up was the idea of a scene versus a movement. Scenes come and go, almost in the blink of an eye. A movement, on the other hand, has an energy and passion behind it and leaves a lasting legacy. Will changing the phrase “Dallas music scene” to the “Dallas music movement” truly change the state of things? Changing names does not make a long term difference. What will matter is if the attitude towards local music changes. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again now: the problem is NOT a lack of quality bands. Within the past few years, I have discovered such first rate acts as Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights, THe BAcksliders, Dove Hunter, Menkena, Hendrick, Iris Leu, Luna Matto, The O’s, The Monco Poncho, Nicholas Altobelli, Elkhart, and Damaged Good$, and I’m just getting started with the list. These are artists should be heard. Scratch that: these are artists that NEED to be heard and embraced. The music coming out of the metroplex right now possesses both the quality and the sense of urgency and vitality that it warrants the upgrade in title from “scene” to “movement”. The music also warrants the upgrade in attention from all area music fans.

If you feel like I do, then do me a few favors. Forward this article to your friends, both the serious and casual music fans. Comment on my blog. It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not, so long as you can be respectful and thoughtful in your comments. My goal with Ghost of Blind Lemon has always been to encourage growth in the local music scene. I can only do so much on my own; I need your help.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MySpace Playlist: 10/25/09

Ah, the Halloween season is upon us, and children (and overgrown children) are putting on masks and dressing up as personas different from their own. In honor of this tradition, my playlist consist solely of the musical equivalent of dress-up: the cover song.

  1. "I Need U/I Need A Man", Morning Elephant
    Shameless plug time here: Morning Elephant (found here covering two Eurythmics songs) will be part of a Ghost of Blind Lemon showcase occuring this Friday at Lakewood Bar & Grill. Iris Leu, Luna Matto, and Jokersdeck will round out the bill.

  2. "Lithium", The Polyphonic Spree
    Speaking of Ms. Matto, she's one of the choir members of Polyphonic Spree. This band certainly loves their cover songs; their most recent Dallas show was at least 50% covers. Not surprisingly, no cover that evening had the crowd as enthusiastic as their unlikely take on Nirvana.

  3. "All The Pretty Girls", Lovie
    Here's one Texas band covering another Texas band, Pearland based The Judys. Texas, represent!

  4. "Ceremony", Hello Lover
    This band fuses punk energy with a new wave sound, so New Order's "Ceremony" is a perfect fit for the band.

  5. "Wicked Game", Sara Donaldson
    After I rave about an artist so many times, I feel like I'm at a loss of new things to say. I think I have reached that point with Ms. Donaldson. The great frustration for me, however, is that I think for as much as I rave about her music, there are still very few people who know her work. Check out her covering Chris Isaak, but more importanly listen to her original material. I know few musicians who are as truly multi-talented as she is.

  6. "The Waiting", Petty Theft
    I typically do not put cover bands on my playlist. This week, however, seemed the perfect opportunity to do just that. Here, one of my favorite tribute bands, Petty Theft, covers (gasp!) Tom Petty. Who'd have thunk it?

  7. "Come Together", Eastwood
    This Beatles track would not seem like an obvious choice for a country band such as Eastwood to cover. The funny thing is that this song fits the band so perfectly. Very nice cover, guys.

  8. "Ball and Chain", Noah Caveny
    I'm glad to see that Mr. Caveny's band, The Marfalites, has been performing more frequently as of late. They do a mean cover of this Social Distortion classic.

  9. "Then He Kissed Me", Lucy Loves Schroeder
    I miss this band.

  10. "The Hokey Pokey", Brave Combo
    This cover may be one of the greatest musical mysteries ever recorded. Polka, as a general rule, is one of the most annoying styles of music. "The Hokey Pokey" is one of the most annoying songs ever written. Yet when Brave Combo covers this song, only the greatest of curmudgeons can deny the joy in this cover. Instead of being as torturous as one would think this cover would be, it is musical genius. And no, I cannot explain why this cover works, but it does.

Finally, I offer up a video of Iris Leu's cover of "Let It Be". I wish I had video of her rendition of "Can't Get You Out of My Head" from the GOBL 2 year anniversary party at City Tavern, but alas, I do not. Don't forget, she'll be at LBG this Friday night for my showcase. Last plug, I promise. Well, for today at least.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

MySpace Playlist: 10/18/09

  1. "Julianne", The Crash That Took Me
    I received the band's latest CD, Chlorine Colored Eyes, in the mailbox last week. I wish I could have put one of the song of their new effort on the playlist, but their MySpace hasn't been updated in over a month. I don't want to say too much about the CD yet, but I will tell you that it's a very interesting CD, and I don't mean that in the insulting way. The band takes much of the sound you've come to expect from them while incorporating a more experimental and psychedelic tone to the songs. Hopefully I will be posting a song from the CD in the next few weeks.

  2. "Mermaid of Virginia", The Naptime Shake
    Is it just me, or does this song sound like the country equivalent of early Belle and Sebastian? Feel free to ask them that question this week, as they will play Friday night at Bryan Street Tavern, and then Saturday at Lee Harvey's. I'm not sure if they'll have copies of their debut CD Blood and Panic yet, but if so, bring a few extra bucks and buy it.

  3. "Motivational", Toadies
    Turn your computer speakers to 11 for this song.

  4. "Standing on the Edge of Lonely/I-40 Blues", Jayson Bales & The Charmers
    I've seen Mr. Bales perform before, but when he and his band performed Friday at Opening Bell Coffee, the band did more than exceed my expectations. Jayson Bales & The Charmers shattered my expectations. Not only is Mr. Bales excellent at both the singing and songwriting aspects of being a singer/songwriter, he has assembled a first-rate group of musicians to back him up. More than likely this performance will make the top 10 performances of the year list.

  5. "Old Reactions", Trey Johnson
    I must make a severely overdue correction. The Trey Johnson/Chris Holt/Emmeline show was not last Wednesday, but is instead this Wednesday at Lakewood Bar & Grill. Note to Mr. Johnson: please correct the spelling of this track on your MySpace page. Perhaps I'm the only one who is so OCD about spelling song titles correctly, but it'd just make me feel better. Thanks.

  6. "I'm on Fire", The Farstar
    Speaking of LBG, this band will have their CD release party on Friday night. Technically, it's an EP release, but close enough.

  7. "Chasing Corporate", Air Review
    I know Mark, who hosts the Local Show on KDGE, has gotten behind the band. I wish the program director for the station would do the same, because this song (and this band) strike me as a band that would strike a chord with most of the station's listeners.

  8. "Crudely Drawn", The Drams
    It seems that there have been more Slobberbone shows this year than Drams shows, so I thought I'd post a Drams song because I've missed getting to see them perform live.

  9. "When Hammer Hits Stone", RTB2
    The band performs this Wednesday at Trees with Goodwin and Oso Closo as part of the KDGE local show series.

  10. "Blumenthol (Acoustic)", Iris Leu
    Mark October 30th on your calendars. The Ghost of Blind Lemon has put on another showcase for your listening pleasure. Iris Leu, Morning Elephant, Luna Matto, and Jokersdeck will all be performing that day at Lakewood Bar & Grill. It's the day before Halloween, so feel free to dress up if you feel so inclined.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MySpace Playlist: 10/11/09

  1. "Pushing Strings", Macon Greyson
    I am not happy. It appears that MG will not be playing their usual Texas/OU weekend show at Adair's. That has become my favorite thing about this weekend, and the band's Texas/OU shows are always among their most entertaining. What a shame.

  2. "Supernatural", Rahim Quazi
    Fortunately, there are other show options for the Texas/OU weekend. For those looking for a less raucous celebration, Opening Bell Coffee may be your best bet. Jayson Bales will do the acoustic CD release party for his latest effort, Along the Fault Line. GOBL fave Rahim Quazi, featured here, will open the show.

  3. "Duelist", True Widow
    I'm not familiar with the Vivian Girls; all I know is that they're playing this Wednesday at The Cavern along with True Widow. Since I'm not familiar with the band, this is probably premature to say, but I cannot imagine that their set could outdo True Widow. Their CD is phenomenal, and their live show is even better.

  4. "Five Minutes", Binary Sunrise
    Pete Freedman recently said on the DC9 at Night blog that he knows he's "not only one in the world who can't get enough" of this song. Rest assured Pete, you're on the money on this one. I've been loving this song since my first listen too.

  5. "Wishful Sinking", The Slack
    Word on the street is that The Slack will release their 2nd CD by year's end, and that none other than Idol Records will distribute the CD. I'm sure Chris Holt and the rest of the band will be performing songs off their upcoming CD when they play Friday at AllGood Cafe. In the meantime, here's the title track of the band's first effort.

  6. "Back to the Beginning (Again)", Sara Donaldson
    The original version of this song appears off of her first CD, ...The Beginning. Although I miss the intro featured in the original version, the song benefits from both the extra orchestration and additional chords and melodies woven into the original melody. All in all, the update is the more intriguing and enjoyable version.

  7. "Snow in June", Little Black Dress
    This Wednesday at Trees, Hendrick and Little Black Dress will perform at Trees as part of the EDGE's Local Show. This should be an evening filled with gorgeous melodies.

  8. "Unfavorable Way", Trey Johnson
    This will be a busy week for Mr. Johnson, as he will play Wednesday night at Lakewood Bar & Grill with Chris Holt and one of my new favorite singer/songwriters, Emmeline. He then plays again Friday at City Tavern, along with Here, In Arms and The Orbans.

  9. "Just Wanna Try", Luna Matto
    Last night's show at Amsterdam Bar for Luna Matto and RTB2 was packed, especially during Luna Matto's extraordinary set. What, you weren't there? Tsk tsk tsk.

  10. "She's from the Other Side", Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights
    I'm sure this weekend's biggest post Texas/OU party will be at House of Blues, with Bleu Edmondson, Josh Weathers Band, and the allmighty JT&NL. Get your tickets while you can.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MySpace Playlist: 10/4/09

  1. "D Street", Luna Matto
    Normally, the playlist starts with a song that rocks more. The beauty of this song, however, is so strong that I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn't be sucked in and captivated. This band amazes me, and if you give them the chance, they will amaze you as well. Saturday night they will give you that opportunity when they perform at the Amsterdam Bar.

  2. "When Hammer Hits Stone", RTB2
    And in case you were waiting for that larger than life, grandiose, kick-ass song to open the set, here it is. You can also catch them at Amsterdam Bar on Saturday night.

  3. "Pictures Collected", Salim Nourallah
    Speaking of Saturday night, Mr. Nourallah will open up for hometown hero Rhett Miller at the House of Blues Cambridge Room. I'm not sure if it's sold out yet, but I'd count on this show selling out.

  4. "Same Old, Same Old", Hello Lover
    My friend Emmeline recently commented on how she enjoyed the Hello Lover and Bad Sports songs I posted on one of my more recent playlists. I must say, I too love the high octane new wave sound of this band, so for those who missed it the first time I posted the song, here it is again. And even if you heard it the first time around, it's worth a second, third, fourth, etc. listen.

  5. "Lightbulbs", Something in the Wheel
    Something in the Wheel is only receiving a fraction of the attention that this group so deserves. Fans of The O's will almost certainly enjoy the simple, straight forward acoustic melodies the band creates. They are finally releasing their first CD, and the CD release show will take place Saturday night at Mokah Coffee Bar. Lacey Gage (from Liking Strikes) will release her solo CD that same night, and this will be your last chance to see her for awhile, as she is moving to Australia for school. Oh, and Tim Miller will open the show. Acoustic music fans, this is your best bet of the weekend.

  6. "Jimmy is About to Die", A.I.F.A.
    This track was recently posted on the DC9 at Night blog as a free mp3; click here to listen and download. On their blog, it is labelled as an A.I.F.A. song, but rather to group member Chucky Sly. Whether you call it an A.I.F.A. or Chucky Sly song, I'm just going to call it the most intelligent and interesting rap song I've heard all year long.

  7. "Chasing Corporate", Air Review
    The band will be performing Wednesday night at Trees, opening for the Rocketboy's CD release show. The event will be hosted by KDGE's local show.

  8. "Spiders", Menkena
    There is no hiding the fact; I love Menkena. Here's another new track by Jimmy Menkena and the gang, and it's another great song in the Menkena catalog.

  9. "The Prince Song", Meredith Miller Band
    Unless if you were into acoustic local acts in the 1990's, you probably do not remember Meredith Louise Miller. In my opinion, she just might be the best of that genre that our metroplex area has ever seen. This particular track is probably her best known song. The opening line is probably the best description of love that I have ever heard: "It feels like crying/I'm not real sure what that feels like/So it feels like throwing up/Spilling up guts." It may not be pretty, but it's brutally honest.
  10. "Echo and the Pass", Hendrick
    I've been slacking. I can't remember the last time I've raved about this song. Guess it's time to start again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekend Plans for Those Not at ACL

I still have several other real articles, editorials, reviews, etc. in my mind that will hopefully make it onto the blog in the coming weeks. All I need is time, and to quote Old 97's, "time is on my bad side." In the meantime, let me give you some guidance for this weekend. If you're reading this blog, this probably means you're not in Austin right now for the big ACL festival. If you are, however, make sure you rearrange your schedules to check out sets by Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights as well as Sarah Jaffe.

But since you're probably in the metroplex area, my guess is that you are looking for a show closer to home. The options may be slimmer this weekend, but there are still enough quality shows to keep you busy. I'm keeping comments to a bare minimum this time around, just know that if it's on the list, it's worth considering.

Lovie/The Monco Poncho (Bryan Street Tavern)
I'm not sure who's headlining, but according to Lovie, this is their last show of the year.
Telegraph Canyon/Low Red Land/Seryn (Lola's Sixth Street)
This is the CD release show for TC's The Tide and the Current. If you haven't seen the band in the past year or so, you should see how the band's sound has evolved. The CD will probably be on many Best of 2009 lists.
The O’s/Whiskey Folk Ramblers/Frank Smith (Boiler Room)
My love of The O's is well known, but Austin act Frank Smith (that's a band, not a person) grabbed my attention with their stripped down set at Double-Wide last weekend.
RTB2/The Theater Fire/Mimicking Birds (City Tavern)
This is another show where I'm uncertain of the order in the lineup, so get there early to ensure you don't miss RTB2 or Theater Fire. Sorry, I don't know anything about Mimicking Birds, so I won't say you should or shouldn't miss them.
The Marfalites (Banderas)
I've only been in Banderas once, and that was for the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase. I must say, however, that the sound at the venue that night was top notch. Oh yeah, The Marfalites are pretty damn good as well.

Dove Hunter (Lee Harvey's)
I'm finding fewer good options for Saturday, but this is easily my number one Saturday pick.
Johnny Lloyd Rollins (Jack's Backyard)
It's been too long since I've seen Mr. Rollins in action. Word on the streets is that there'll be a new album out shortly. All I can say is that it's about time.