- Carter-Grammy nominated performers locally
Sunday, January 29th, 2012
Grammy nominated performers playing locally
I had the opportunity to interview blues-y singer songwriter Marcia Ball last Thursday and had a great time. She’s recently been nominated for the fifth time for a Grammy and will know if her new album, produced by Gary Nicholson, will receive best blues album this February. By the way, Ball and her band—which includes former Wichitan Don Bennett—will be playing in the Great Hall at the Kemp Center for the Arts next Saturday, February 4. It should be a great show.
I got a text from John Langford the other day and his band Louis Lewis will be playing a backup show to Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights at the Pub on February 24. It’s a good show for the band and a good night to hear them if you have not already checked them out.
Speaking of staying in touch, the Black and White Band, after playing Backdoor Theatre last Saturday also played Fuzzy’s Tacos last Thursday and is scheduled to play at Fuzzy’s again next Thursday, February 1 from 7:30 to 10 pm. They will also play at the Wichita Theatre on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The group plays James Brown and is becoming the hardest working band in showbiz—at least locally. Fuzzy’s will be showcasing local bands, and supposedly they are having good crowds come to hear them.
I chatted with Chris Roberson last week and he told me the first Dr. Philgood show in forever will be at Toby’s in later February and it will be a slightly acoustic show. It seems that guitarist, drummer and singer Stephen Welch purchased electronic drums. and the band is looking at doing some new stuff in different ways. We shall see. The area group hasn’t played in a while and is looking for some new options. Perhaps a full-length CD by the beginning of summer.
Speaking of the look at the summer music scene, I will be interested in what happens at Bully’s if the area bar and grill manages to expand its live shows outside. They are doing jazz inside right now but have a lot of options for live music during the summer. The same is true of the Neon Spur, which has so much potential. I would suggest contacting them if you want to express your ideas on what they should do with live music. If they know what the people want, that makes it a lot easier for them to fulfill it.
I ran into drummer Brandon Arnold of High Windows, Lycergus and Coffin Crusher this week, and he told me that the first Coffin Crusher CD is about done and that second High Windows CD is about to be recorded. If you have not heard Coffin Crusher, the band is a must and features Johnny Thrash on vocals. I will let you know when and where the CD is available.
I dropped by the Wichita Theatre tonight to listen to the sound of the Music Man on their new stage and it sounds amazing. The interesting thing is that it’s kind of a good idea anymore to go and listen to musicals at the Backdoor or Wichita Theatres starting at 8 pm or so before going to the clubs and listening to more music. The thing is that music at clubs never starts until 10 p.m. so if your budget affords it, you should check out some live music musicals. Seriously, I saw two metal performers I promise you that you know at Music Man Saturday night. It’s kind of happening.Share
- Carter: drums, drums, drums
Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
Drums, drums, drums
I am happy to announce that the Black and White show Saturday night at Backdoor Theatre sold out. It’s a great sign for horn music in town and a great sign for the Backdoor. The live music program that the theater does with local bands is good for the theater, the bands and the audiences. The theater and the bands both get money and the audiences get a great venue (smoke free) that they can listen to live music. There is another show coming up sometime in March featuring Elizabeth Speer and some jazzy types. Pay attention to the Backdoor website for more information. Should be a blast.
Strangely enough, I have been noticing what seems to be a shortage of drummers in town lately. Not that any bands are at this point doing without, but that drummers are being stretched tighter than a snare drum that’s tuned several notes too high.
The Dopplegangers were searching for a drummer while their full-time guy was on hiatus for his job, and the Blue Light Specials had to find a full-time replacement for Ricci Amador who committed to playing with James Cook and the Audacity. Any number of drummers are playing for more than once band, including, for example, Dave Norman who is playing for Miyagi and also for X. The area band Breakfast of Champions is about to break up because their drummer is leaving the area. Dopplegangers is playing with Barry Sloan right now, and he’s solid. But, he’s also playing with the Jason Brown Band, the Ranchrockers as well as another project.
By the way, the next X show is on Saturday, February 11 at the Iron Horse Pub for the annual Valentine’s Day extravaganza. Women get in free and it’s a crazy night with live ‘80s metal and so forth.
It seems odd that there would be a shortage of drummers—I mean, I know Michael Christmas quit the drums to do his own music and Rob Kirkland left the drums for harp—but it’s a large town with loads of people to cull from in the county. We are one of the few cities in the state that has a dedicated drum shop. There’s also a ton of people to take lessons from—anyone from Chris Hunt to Alan Black of Midwestern State University.
Drums are fun to play, if they are a little loud, and it’s probably one of the most therapeutic things you can do. Trust me, nothing relieves tension more than playing drums. Everyone plays guitar, so there’s less bass players and even fewer drummers. At least guitarists can easily switch over to bass, if they need to.
That said, I would like to briefly mention the Bleu Edmondson show last Saturday at the Iron Horse Pub. The cool thing about the show was that Matt Morris (bass) and Matt Preston (keyboards) are both former long-term Wichitans playing with Edmondson. They are both super talented and have played in any number of area bands.
A number of things struck me about Edmondson’s band besides the fact that they have dialed down the country next to nil. I mean, for a band that is called a red dirt, they would likely be heard a lot differently in places like New Jersey where Bruce Springsteen holds sway. Another thing that struck me about his band was the rhythm section.
Bleu Edmondson probably has the best rhythm section of any band that comes through this town. The drummer was doing seriously amazing things while also singing background vocals and Morris’s bass was right there. I mean, if you owned a Timex and it still worked, you could set your watch to Edmondson’s rhythm section. They were just that good, and they are also musically interesting.Share
- Carter: “Breakfast of Champions”
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
Breakfast of Champions
Sadly one of the area’s more interesting groups, Breakfast of Champions, is recording something right now before their breakup. Drummer Clint Thorman is preparing to move, so guitarist and singer Caleb Brantley told me that that would be the band’s last hurrah. The group is rounded out by bassist Mack Carter, and all three of the members sing. They’ve been around for a while and played several places, and I liked them. Brantley and Carter were founding members of Chillum some years ago, and it seems like more and more bands are breaking up, or at least losing members and are having to start over again from square one.
It’s never easy to replace someone in a band, and some people really cannot be replaced. It always changes the dynamic when you lose a member or replace one. For example, when It Hurts to be Dead lost guitarist Roger Whitaker, I was really worried and they really did come through, but it wasn’t just by dropping his part out of the sound. They had to work with that space, and I think they did that creatively.
Recently White Knuckle lost drummer Michael Christmas, which to my way of thinking was not good for them, and they brought in Taylor Labrum who is very good. But I understand they just lost rhythm guitarist and singer Marcus Wise.
Different bands react differently to the loss of a member. I remember playing in one band that started with four people, then lost a keyboardist who was replaced with a bassist, and then lost the bassist not too much longer than that. The three-piece was probably my favorite iteration of the group. But there was no more losing anyone from the band, and that was the problem.
The most popular touring act in Wichita Falls, Queen for a Day, could not survive losing their singer and keyboardist, because I mean who is going to sing the Freddie Mercury part. Even Queen itself, the band, has never really replaced Mercury. It’s one of those voices, and that’s all there is to it.
Looking at area bands, it could actually be a game, and I promise you that there are musicians out there who play it. The game is called who can be replaced in a band, or who can a band find that will make them better. Of course, there are better guitar players, bassists, drummers and singers out there at all times, but the people who write the music and play it have a certain dynamic together and it’s not something that can be duplicated or enhanced without taking a big chance. You can lose everything by getting a new guitarist.
It’s fun to play that game, though.
As I was driving this evening, I passed by the house of someone who I first played with in a band, and it brought back interesting memories. It was actually three of us and we all played guitar, and as the group was coming together, it became obvious that friends don’t necessarily make great band mates. But sadly when the changes were made, something was lost in the recipe.
Musicians and listeners would be wise to remember that anything started locally should be for the fun of it. As it develops, things will change, but for right now it should be for fun.
It won’t be long before musicians are in their late 20’s or even early ‘40s and that’s all they are doing is playing music that makes them money, and more often than not they’re miserable with the compromises they made to make that money. Have fun now. The professionalism will eventually come, and it ruins pretty much any fun that the music was when you first started playing with other people.Share
- Carter: “The Beauty of Soundchecks”
Sunday, January 8th, 2012
The Beauty of Soundchecks
Anyone who has read my blog for some length of time knows how much I enjoy hanging out and listening to musicians do soundchecks before their club dates. After the mics get set up for vocals, or during that time, the musicians will goof off playing some great old songs or some new songs that you would never expect them to play.
Briefly some terminology and appropriate manners if you ever manage to attend a soundcheck. The term “wedge” is the monitor—those angled boxes at the front of the stage that musicians hear themselves and other members of the band through. If you’re close enough to the stage, that’s probably what you’re mostly hearing as well. It’s my favorite mix.
In terms of manners, if you ever see a musician bent over in pain during sound check holding their ears, it’s because there was feedback in their in-ear monitor and they are in extreme pain. It’s considered polite not to laugh.
Best band ever to watch a soundcheck was Queen for a Day, now sadly defunct. They would play Rush, Led Zeppelin, goofball cheesy Billy Joel songs, and pretty much anything they wanted to because 1) they were musically that good and 2) they had like the best sense of humor, ever.
Any experienced band (with a sense of humor) is worth checking out on soundcheck.
Last week, I got to watch Miyagi goof off and then watch lead singer Nolan Cannedy go all operatic while getting his mic levels together. It was pretty funny, and I was rolling laughing, the band members tried to get even by insisting that I call out a song for lead guitarist Travis Dosch–who was playing his last show with the band–to play. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of anything. It was embarrassing. Where is Rush’s “2112” when you need it?
Anywho, if you play lead guitar or know anyone who can play lead guitar real good, you might contact Nolan on his facebook.com address. I think that Miyagi also has a band address that you might like and contact. The band is fun and solid, they’re all great guys and they really need a lead player, so get on it.
Tonight (Friday night), I happen to be at the sound check for Black and White and pretty much MSU band guru Alan Black was doing the drums and the keyboards. Bassist Austin Monson is doing double duty tonight playing bass for both Black and White and also the opening band–Broadcasting on All Frequencies. WFISD fine arts music guy Dan White is playing guitar and doing all sorts of ‘70s stuff. The guy can play. What am I writing? Everyone in both bands can play.
There’s talk about all three instrumental bands in town, Broadcasting, the Jason Brown Band and The Doppelgangers will play a show somewhere all together. I don’t know about you, but a night without singers could be a good thing to check out.
Leading into the Broadcasting on All Frequencies soundcheck, drummer Mason Warren started the sound check off playing pretty much anything he could get people interested in, and Pedro Moreno (on saxophone) started playing jazzy lines, so their check started out as sort of a funky hard rock beat with a jazzy sax. Guitarist Bryce Falnes is stating to throw in heavy-duty jazz chords.
The beat temporarily stopped which killed the momentum while Warren is changing out his cymbals. Without drums, it sounds kind of like what a band hall at the MSU stage jazz band hall might sound like. The bass is now starting to come in and Falnes is starting to bust a Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar line.
Of all things, Pedro started laying into some Kenny G sax and we all beg him to stop. Now, the full band is going into a full jam that sounds a lot more like them. The bass is funky, the drums are rocking, the guitar is jazzy and now the sax is on hold because I guess sax’s don’t play during guitar solos.
This could go on for a while.Share
- NFL Wild Card playoffs
Saturday, January 7th, 2012
Two teams without a lot of recent sucess kicked off the 2011-12 NFL playoffs.
The pick-6 at the end of the first half of Andy Dalton may not have been the deciding points, but it turned everything the Texans’ way for the second half. I liked the Bengals by a hair coming in, but didn’t have a strong opinion either way.
It’s a shame the Texans, for a long while they next year’s team, couldn’t stay healthy in their first run to the playoffs. Also interesting in that offense was the calling card for most of those “almost” years but defense has carried the day when they finally were able to taste success.
Good coaching by Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips and an injury to Peyton Manning opened the door and the Texans ran through it.
The Texans will play at Baltimore next week. It’s easy to see things going wrong to T.J. Yates up there, but it should be a tight game. The Ravens were my preseason Super Bowl pick from the AFC, but their offense isn’t so trustworthy, either.
Never fell in love with the Texans the way I liked the Oilers of Earl Campbell and later Warren Moon as a youngster, but go Texans!
Two teams I’m rooting against will square off soon as the Lions play the Saints. Nothing against the Saints, I think they may be better than their Super Bowl team, but they were chasing hard after the 49ers for the No. 2 slot so I’ve been rooting against them most of the year.
I’m bracing for the offensively-challenged 49ers to take on the sometimes defensively-challanged Saints next week.
The Lions were an easy team to make fun of. Couldn’t stop by their game on Sunday Ticket for five minutes without seeing a dumb penalty. Their coach is a hothead. The team follows suit. They waste timeouts and challenges out of anger. They’re ready to fight over a handshake.
And they’ve got the best wide receiver on the planet. Watching Calvin Johnson makes me want to warm up my arm and throw a football again.
But I like watching Drew Brees compete. Him against the 49ers sounds like great fun. So bring on the Saints.
The Sunday game of Falcons and Giants may be the best of the weekend, but I’m not too fired up about it. Kind of blah teams.
The game that may end up boring us will be Steelers at Broncos, but I’m much more intrigued. We think Tim Tebow has hit the wall and will never again complete an important pass, but then there’s that part of you that wonders if this is all a setup. He’s been trampled on for three weeks, especially the last two. Reports are that Brady Quinn has a package of plays ready. Nobody believes in him once again, just like two months ago.
So does Tebowing make a return. Can the magic happen against a very beaten up Super Bowl loser from a year ago. Super losers don’t always have the best of luck the following year and I’m really surprised that the Steelers managed to go 12-4. I’d have thought 10-6 was more realistic.
The Broncos aren’t every good whether or not they pull off the upset of the Wild Card weekend as Seattle did as a big home underdog last January.Share
- Carter: Best of 2011 pt. 2
Sunday, January 1st, 2012
Part 2 of best of 2011
Here were some posts that I thought were were repeating, as they were some good happenings locally.
Long-time area drummer Jessie Brashear had a blood clot removed from his head earlier this week after experiencing an extreme headache while playing on stage. I spoke with him at the 11th Street campus hospital the other day, and while he was wiped out on pain medicine, he is handling things pretty well. He sounded upbeat and said that his doctor thought that his drumming would be great rehab. I just hope that he continues to get better and continues to be upbeat. He told me that musicians are coming from out of the woodwork to come see him, and that’s really deserved. Jessie is a totally good guy and we all wish him the best.
Doug Boyd is a really great story. This is a guy that used to play metal in the ‘80s and is now playing music again. The next time you see him on stage with whomever he happens to be playing with, say “Dude, I remember you from way back when…”
Lead singers working their off jobs.
I just left The Spot where Chris Roberson and Jac Chalfant were working. Of course, they are both the lead vocalists of their respective bands, Dr. Philgood and the Let’s Get It On’s and also Jac Damsel. It’s sort of cool that two singers work together in a pizza parlor where they have live music and a free juke box. When there is an open mic, they both sing and when it’s just the jukebox they are also both singing. The Spot is sort of a musical place.
As I recall, we played several times at the Windmill Gardens, a club on Call Field that used to be a second-rate carpet shop before it became the first-ever Apple store and is now the end part of high-end furniture row near the mall. Just for the record, it was in the parking lot of the old Brickhouse (for any of you unreconstructed Ten Cent Pistol fans). Back in the day, the Windmill Gardens was completely without cool, and when we played there it was during the winter, and there was no heat… and we were stuck in the corner playing to almost no one except for our friends who had managed to scam their way into the show free of charge. The owner sold some cokes, and we never really got paid.
Ali’s new sound is tastefully sparse and yet also the right kind of full. Her musicians allow her to play her songs without her having to carry the performance. Easing off the guitar playing a bit and the intensity of the vocals just a touch, the bowing of the fiddle and the picking of the bass gives her guitar playing and bluesy singing a sort of haunting dynamic that fits the sort of country-ish folkish blues of the music. It’s more intense en masse.
The other Doug Boyd
Speaking of people in Austin, I had the opportunity to talk with Douglas Jay Boyd Saturday afternoon, who plays bass, but not the guy who was in the hair metal bands in the ‘80s but rather the guy who lives in Austin who plays in an anti-folk band called “The Sweetness.” He and the band of three talented songstresses will be playing at the Iron Horse Pub on Wednesday August 24 starting at 9 p.m. or so. I think their music will be different from things people have heard around here and that’s worth checking out.
“Very hot, very hot” is the line that Anthony Michael-Hall’s geek character in “16 Candles” uses to his quest for Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald). In a very ironic sense, it’s a positive way of thinking that hot can be kind of good. The movie was set in Illinois or Ohio of course and not Texas during the summer. There’s also plenty of not so very good ways of thinking about hot, and that was something I experienced this Saturday at the Hotter’N Hell Hundred Finish Line Village. The bands played well, and the crowd enjoyed them, but the heat was palpable.
After chatting the other day with Brian Harris, the awesome guitar player for Queen for a Day and the Allmost Brothers, I discovered how to restring a Les Paul where it’s plays a lot more slinky. It’s actually pretty easy to do. But of course, me being me, I strung it with ‘09s rather than ‘10s, which is what he recommended and now it’s way too slinky. Brian, I hope you’re not reading this.
The good news that you should have gleaned from the previous paragraph is that one of my favorite guitarists, and also one of the more popular locally, has recovered from heart surgery enough to be back at work in Dallas. He played his first show back in Denton Sunday at 5 p.m. at Dan’s Silver Leaf and I am told it went well. He even showed off his scar!!! Harris is a great guy, and we need guitarists with his mad skills.
Btw, I am restringing my guitar early next week.
I had the opportunity to talk with the three members of the Jason Brown Band earlier this week, and it was a total blast to talk with such well-travelled musicians who were such an integral part of music in Wichita Falls during the ‘80s and to the present. All of them are good guys and I am looking forward to seeing them play at the Pub in early October. By the way, these “geezers” will be playing with MSU freshman and sophomores who comprise another instrumental band called Broadcasting on All Frequencies. I’ve written about those guys in the past, and it should be a nice evening of music with no vocals.
It’s fun to watch a band develop live watching them play twice a year or even as little as once a year. The Pretty Reckless continue to get better. The first album did not sell enough to do a major headline tour, so instead they are touring behind a band that draws very well in larger indoor venues. I do think the Pretty Reckless is going to be around for a while. But for them to headline in large venues, they need to put out a second album that’s as good as their first one with enough singles to make them a household name.
So, Sam Baker played last week, and Billy Joe Shaver played in town about a month ago, and Ray Wylie Hubbard played in town about two weeks ago. If you are a Texas singer songwriter fan, Wichita Falls is your town. Seriously, we get Texas singer songwriters like no ones business around here, and it rarely costs more than $7 or so to go and see them. There are exceptions of course, such as Joe Ely and Guy Clark down the road, who cost a little more than that to bring to town.
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.Share