- Carter: Best of 2011, part 1 of 2
Sunday, December 25th, 2011
Best of 2011, part 1.
For the end of the year, I chose some great posts from 2011. This is part one.
Van Halen cover
I wish you could be here to listen to the Mr. Fairchild guys put this Van Halen cover song together in practice. It’s really cool to hear it come together. The pace is a little quicker than you would think, and the guitar parts are sort of involved with lots of tremolo bar (both Jon Richerson and Cody Tucker are playing Strats on the tune). But the real key to the song is the spoken interlude for the tune where David Lee Roth is talking to a girl about what he likes. That part said with a straight face and the right attitude should bring the house down.
I got to check out the live music of the staged “Cinderella” on Friday night. I went to check it out for like 20 minutes and ended up staying for the whole first act.
The show has a lot of charm and just the right amount of magic. Watching the horse-driven coach appear from nowhere was pretty amazing. It was also very cool to hear everyone sing. I thought everyone did a very good job, and they should be very proud of the production and their accomplishment.
Forever the Sickest Kids
The vocalist for Forever the Sickest Kids had the forethought to wear a Bowling for Soup shirt. They toured with the Denton-based band last October in the UK and said they had a blast. Both groups play power pop and have a great sense of humor, but the Kids also had a guitar player who had an ear for some more electronic oriented stuff. Because Forever the Sickest Kids has such a reputation for horsing around on stage, I was wondering if the bass player took a back of the head stage dive on purpose. I think it was accidental because he looked a little shaky getting back up. Good thing he had a hard head.
Last Thursday, the 35 Conferette four-day music festival began in Denton Texas, and numerous bands from all over the place played a city with a population about the same size as Wichita Falls. Already in its third year, the festival continues to grow and this year features bands and such diverse music as Big Boi, !!!, Mavis Staples, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dr. Dog and so on. 170 bands played Denton, and people from all over the state came and visited and enjoyed the city square, the numerous clubs, the great coffee shops and all the cool things to do in the city.
I also got to listen to my favorite band locally, Dr. Philgood and the Let’s Get It On’s and they did a four-piece show with some hand percussion, electric guitars and a bass, and it was pretty amazing. The band has a huge crowd in front of Alley Cat Collective and it was a good time. There were people of all ages coming and going with a guy selling pizza from the Spot and people at tables giving away literature for what I do not know.
Last night, I happened to wander by a meeting of (wait for it, wait for it…) Slabrat where the band members were actually talking about their set list for a forthcoming show at Backdoor Theatre and I guess an upcoming tour where they play all over the region or something. Don’t count on a whole lot of shows, but the good thing is they they’ve scheduled practices and stuff. How long has it been since these guys actually played? I think anyone who has seen Slabrat play will pretty much recognize most of the songs on the group’s set list, but there will be some special guests and stuff like that, and there will be a few new tunes. Needless to say, I hope we have a few shows coming from up from them including perhaps a Neon Spur show. That would be cool.
Drums and documentaries
You really hear music differently when you’re on stage, especially as a drummer, and it’s something that I wished more people got to experience. It’s not just the drums either. You are more part of the musical process, and you hear things as they come together. The cool thing is that you take that experience with you when you hear that band again, as well as others. Speaking of being closer to the band experience, I got an e-mail from Tim McMillan the other day about his new band Tantrum. On April 29, there will be a screening of a film made by an MSU film team that’s been following the members of Tantrum for the last two months.
Too many drummers
I am sitting in the Bluelight Special Blues band studio right now as they get their show put together to open up at the Pub this Saturday. Sadly the drummer has not yet shown up and Rob “I am a harpist now” Kirkland is sitting behind the drums to play, and it sounds pretty good. Ooops, the drummer just showed up, and now Kirkland is leaving the drums to check out the keys of his different harps. I honestly thought I would never hear him play drums again. But then again, now Rob is singing again and I’d much rather hear him play drums. For the record, there are three drummers in the band: Troy (who actually plays drums when he is there), Dustin (who plays keys) and Rob (who cheerleads, plays harp, sings background vocals, and is right now playing cowbell).
I was in Denton the other evening on the town square. The square is gorgeous at night, and it’s always lively. There’s at least 14 clubs within a block either way but that magic to me really is about all the people hanging out and walking around or sitting on the lawn of the courthouse or sitting at tables at the coffee shop (Jupiter House) or liking the chill scene at the wine shop or whatnot. It’s an amazing area to hang out at night that’s not only scenic, but cool because it brings such a wide variety of hangers out as well as musicians. I love the idea of walking into a coffee shop at 10 p.m. and sipping quality espresso and listening to a band play jazz standards from the ‘50s and ‘60s. That’s pretty cool and it’s not so loud that you cannot sit down at a table and talk with friends.
Alternative places to see shows locally:
There is some really great music out there, and it’s cool to go to the Kemp Center or Memorial Auditorium to see a show. Because, the music can be pretty fresh there as well (it doesn’t just have to be a club). Remember, it was at the Memorial Auditorium that the Clash played one of their last shows. And it was Ely who was responsible for them coming here to play that show. Just saying. Okay, Ely didn’t jump on my table at this show like he did in the mid ‘80s at the old Shakey’s Pizza Parlor (now a church) behind the old Treasure City (now a building supply store) off Southwest Parkway and Jacksboro Highway.
I went to see White Knuckle practice the other day, and I really like their band dynamic. At one point their drummer Michael Christmas was bouncing a drum stick off one of his floor toms while the guitarists were trying to figure out an intro. He was bouncing it higher and higher and then catching it and then bounced it where it hit the wall behind him and made that part of the routine. The singer was laughing while that was happening and I was rolling, because it was so funny. Band practices can get really stressful when a part isn’t working, and I thought that was an inventive way to undercut the stress.Share
- Carter: Not Even Memorex
Saturday, December 17th, 2011
“Not even Memorex”
Thursday night I dropped by Akin Auditorium at Midwestern State University to check out and listen to the dress rehearsal of the Christmas Homecoming show that benefits the Opera Breve Vocal Intensive two week seminar at MSU. The program brings former Wichita Falls singers back to town from New York and other cities to sing, and the voices are pretty amazing.
Their final performance is today (Sunday) at MSU and I believe it starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the door. Tickets, I think, are $25.
While I recognized the three singers that I interviewed for the opera and noted their good diction while they spoke to me, it’ always amazing to hear those same people when they sing. It goes from a good, reserved, spoken voice to amazingly well-trained singing voice with real power. Seriously, listen to Eugenie Grunewald “lay into” the high points of an aria and it’s amazing. Very few non-opera singers have the power and the passion that opera singers bring to their profession. And, here we are in Wichita Falls getting to experience people at the top of their game singing, and the price to hear this kind of talent sing is pretty affordable. I hope that people don’t miss out on this, and that we can continue to host such an excellent program and talents.
It’s so much more direct and immediate to hear live voices—even if amplified—as opposed to recorded voices in the various shops around town singing the same songs. There’s something lost in translation along the way.
The other day I was asked in a radio interview about culture in Wichita Falls, and I observed that we can’t have it too bad because we still have a symphony. There are much larger cities out there that have lost theirs. We also produce some brilliant singers who go across the country and the world to perform. And it was just announced—from what I understand—that MSU will host two additional classical programs each semester. Again, we should feel lucky that people want to perform and play here–even if we can’t seem to show up in droves for major shows like Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Lady Antebellum.
After the dress rehearsal at MSU was over, I went to the Spot to listen to the last of their bi-weekly open mics. Starting in January 2012, the open mics will be limited to the first Thursday of each month. I think it’s sad that cool open mics don’t draw the way they used to, but maybe the time for that locally is over. I remember when Vincent’s first opened and they had open mics once a week and sometimes more. Despite this setback, there are still some good performers and some intriguing new performers who continue to show up. I’m not sure if it’s the weather, the economy or whatnot that stops more people going to appreciate free live music. It may be a while if we ever know.
I understand that the Mix is going to have a huge rave for New Year’s Eve, and that has possibilities. Finally, I got to hear an area blues band work up a version of Prince’s “Let’s Get Crazy,” which was so much fun. It’s almost as good hearing a band kill it live as hearing them painstakingly put it together in the studio. Wonder what that was like back in the day when Prince himself was putting it together.Share
- Carter: Music Everywhere
Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Outside of concert halls, cars and clubs, music has always seemed to be standard in places like elevators, lobbies and cafeterias. Now music in all the coffee shops, grocery stores, pawn shops, malls, bathrooms and pretty much everywhere. I’m not sure that we haven’t becoming kind of immune to “listening to” and appreciating music, and that cannot be a good thing.
I started reading a new novel last night and it opens with a young woman noticing a particular orchestral piece while sitting in the back on a cab. The storyline notes the musical implications of the particular music and its historical implications at the time it was composed as well as at the time the piece is being heard by the woman in the novel. The scene gorgeously sets up what promises to be a significant theme in the novel.
Around people who listen to a lot of music, such as record stores and music stores that I’ve worked in, it’s amazing to follow the conversations of people about a song that happens to be playing and what that song (or the music of the group performing it) invokes to them. People who love music can more often than not tell you stories about when they first heard a song or some wild story about something that happened to them while that song happened to be playing.
The point I am trying to make here is that more and more live music has become a sort of background music to people going out and partying or drinking or doing something crazy. This became obvious to me Friday night at a restaurant where a musician was playing a variety of wind instruments and then a club later on where a live area band was playing.
Surely, a musician playing music at a restaurant is performing what would be called background music. But yet I was shocked to discover after I commented to people at the table that he had not played a standard yet that no one really had noticed anything that he had been playing. But then the conversation turned to the current song that he was playing, “Girl From Ipanema,” and the brilliant 1964 “Getz Gilberto” album by Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao and Astrid Gilberto.
It was the kind of conversation that befitted the music and the importance of it to the people at the table.
Later that evening, I went to the Spot for their third birthday party. While I missed Jay Burnam who will be back in town for a while, I did get to hear Markus play a DJ set. I cannot emphasize enough all the sounds and things which people take for granted that are being done by a good DJ. While people were hanging out and sipping beer, eating pizza or talking, he was doing all sorts of slides, hitting buttons, doing scratches and going in and out of the songs on his laptop and the LP on his turntable. Watching that over his shoulder seemed to emphasize the effects on the music coming through the speaker. It actually showed the live musicianship of what was being done and how “sick” it was. It generally appeared that the crowd was hearing little more than the beats on the PA.
It wasn’t much different when the band, Dr. Philgood, came on. While I can see someone ignoring muzak in an elevator or possibly even a live musician at a fancy restaurant, it seems odd to be oblivious to a loud live band in an eatery that is playing music that’s making conversation nearly impossible.Share
- Carter “Clubs and bands”
Sunday, December 4th, 2011
“Clubs and Bands”
Earlier this week, I was preparing to be interviewed about the state of popular music in the area, and a notion hit me about how the actual places to play in a town influences the bands that manage to form and to play consistently.
Not that the venues around this area literally spawn the bands who play at them, but the clubs do influence the formation of bands and what those bands will try to write, practice and play as also how successful they will be.
Forming a band and developing it without a sense of where one will play, what the sound will be and who will be in the crowd is simply not realistic. At some point, bands leave their garages to play in front of people. There are only so many high school stages that people can get built-in crowds to play high school assemblies and talent shows.
In Dallas or Denton or Fort Worth there are a ton of clubs, and there’s at least one club that will suitable for any band who manages to play their music well. Smaller cities like Wichita Falls don’t have the masses of people or the number of clubs to specialize in music to the degree that clubs in the Metroplex do.
So choosing cover songs and writing music and arranging music must be done by bands with some real idea of where those tunes will be performed. How loud and energetically a band practices also depends on the club and its patrons. For example, shows at the old 169 were perfect for all-out loud noisy garage practices, because the sets were mostly going to be deafening on a cramped stage with not always the best sound. Larger all-ages venues like the Hangar allowed the sound to breathe a little more, despite the stage still being crowded and not always the best sound. The bottom line for bands that played that music was that they could write, practice and play loud and extreme, and if their music was “bad” enough, it would appeal to crowds who regularly assembled there.
Knowing your crowd is important and the type of people who regularly attend the different area clubs. For example, while bands will always bring their own audience to see them–up to a certain point, club regulars will also be in attendance and club owners generally have a pretty firm idea of what kind of club they want. I’ve heard extreme metal bands play at established clubs in the area and even if they were really good, they were still out of place (for the most part) and they didn’t get regularly booked.
The bottom line is that when the 169 was open, there were tons of metal bands forming on a regular basis and playing there on a regular basis. There are still area metal bands that are headstrong enough to stay together and practice regularly and play from time to time in various venues–such as Bully’s who recently hosted the Derby Dames Benefit. But those are the same bands that end up practicing here but mostly playing other cities. Lycergus, and members of Coffin Crusher, are holdovers from the 169 days who play out of town more often than not–if they want to play in front of people who are actually there to hear them.
The bands that do regularly play at area clubs are the ones who play classic rock or standard ‘80s and ‘90s FM music: the type of music that appeals to the masses of club goers in the area. There are exceptions like funk bands or (large or small) jazz bands that occasionally play clubs but mostly do private parties.
If you are going to form a band here, know your audience, your clubs and the regional outlets. The same is true if you enjoy certain forms of music and want to hear it live.Share
- Windthorst-Munday updates
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
I’m here out at Memorial Stadium, where it’s misty, cold but at least not that windy.
Packed pressbox up in here as we have Abilene’s Evan Ren, Munday’s Jay White, Ryan Mills (who works for Childress paper but is covering it for Knox County), MSU SID Trey Reed and Quanah coach Jason Sims.
I think we’re in for a good one!
* Geez, that didn’t take long. Dee Paul returns opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. PAT is blocked, Munday up 6-0 12 seconds into game.
* Windthorst has a couple nice runs by Hoegger; his 37-yarder sets up first down at Munday 18. But Hoegger misses Schreiber on 4th and 3 on the 11. Munday ball.
* Munday gets a 22-yarder by Paul but drive stalls. Neskorik has a nice 41-yard punt.
* Braydon Ingram powers for an 18-yard gain, then Berardi goes for 7 yds on 4th and 2. Windthorst on Munday 21 with about 4 minutes left.
* Right after first down, Munday’s Blanford Paul sacks Hoegger for a 14-yard loss. Drive ends up stalling. Munday gets ball on own 9 — drives to midfield but sack by Stallcup and L. Veitenheimer ends drive.
* We’ve got our first turnover and it’s not Munday. With 7:34 to play in half and Trojans driving, Hoegger makes bad pitch after Munday defends option well. Neskorik recovers and Moguls take over on Munday 47.
* Big holding penalty on Munday after Dee Paul hits Neskorik (the fullback ran a deep pass!) for a 64-yard TD. But it’s wiped out ande Moguls punt. Windthorst sets up on own 28 with 6:18 left in half.
* Windthorst has 4th and 10 on Munday 32 with 3:39 left in half. Third-down attempt was halfback pass by Berardi that was broken up by Taylor and almost picked off by D.J. Castorena. Big play coming up.
* Did I mention only six points in the first half — wild. And Munday gets a big stop when Stallcup can’t come up with a jump ball.
* Neskorik’s leg is helping Munday big-time. Hasa 60-yard punt that changes field position.
* Have either of these teams punted so much this year? Munday holds, forces punt with less than a minute, then goes into halftime after running a couple plays.
* Halftime stats courtesy of Trey Reed: Munday 18-56 rushing, 1-5-0, 15 passing yards; Windthorst 25-122 rushing; 2-6-0, 34 passing.
* Two big plays to start third quarter. Berardi has about a 50-yard return but fumbles and Blanford Paul recovers. But Dee Paul fumbles on the very next play and Berardi recovers. So Trojans ball midfield.
* Windthorst gets first down on fourth and 2 on Munday 23 after getting Moguls to jump.
* Holy Crap! Berardi scores on 18-yard TD catch but Munday’s Garrett Weaver returns kickoff 80 yards for TD.
* Now 21-7 Munday after Dee Paul 17-yard TD run. Wow!
* Hoegger has the Trojans driving but is picked off by D.J. Castorena at the 11-yard line. Moguls have the ball at the start of fourth quarter.
* For those keeping track at home, WIndthorst is losing turnover battle 3-1. After winning it 11-2 last three meetings. Good thing is Trojans get a stop and will start on own 38 with 9:40 left.
* Bad news for the Moguls — Dee Paul limps off the field. Either a cramp or an ankle. Either way, Moguls need him on field.
* WIndthorst gets big break when Munday fumbles on own 13, but Hoegger throws pick.
* Just when you think it’s ballgame, WIndthorst recovers a Dee Paul fumble on his first play back in. Hoegger throws TD pass to Stallcup — 21-14 with 6:20 left.
*WWWWWWOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!!!!! Weaver returns kickoff 94 yards for third Mogul touchdown.
* Trying to do five things at once — sorry for lack of updates. Windthorst scores, but Paul answers with 53-yd TD with 2:46 to go. Munday up 35-21. This one looks over.
* Hoegger scores from 8 yards out; Munday now up 35-28 with 0:57 left. Onside kick coming for Trojans.Share