Feature: Wednesday, May 15, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Music Awards 2003

By Anthony Mariani

Let’s get this outta the way first: The Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards are, by nature, supposed to be about Fort Worth bands, performers, and people. And if not Fort Worth bands, then at least Tarrant County acts. That’s why this year you’ll see very few Dallas-based bands or people on the ballot. Dallas is wonderful, as far as music goes. We just would rather celebrate what we have in our backyard than what’s 30 miles away. Rock

With the exception of relative newbie John Price, this category could have come from 1995 (or thereabouts). Flickerstick, Sugarbomb, and Spoonfed Tribe are names that have been around for a good while now. That these acts are still churning out good stuff says a lot about this scene. Who needs major labels? You can make a perfectly good living from here. (Fort Worth is as good a place as any from which to launch tours, right?

Flickerstick is still this town’s 800-lb. gorilla — they play where they want, when they want. If anything, this band is rocking harder than ever. No matter the decade, they’re still the team to beat.

This isn’t to say Flick’s path to the podium will be strewn with rose petals. The main problem is that most of Flick’s local fans are also John Price’s local fans (who may also be Sugarbomb fans). A three-way split could leave body-rockers Spoonfed Tribe in the clear.

Hard Rock

The crowd favorite is Garuda, a stalwart, long-running outfit that lots of Scenesters believe has never been given proper credit round these parts. See, Garuda has been the center of the Fort Worth metal universe for the past few years. Music Awards past have chiefly celebrated local metalheads who’ve gone on to major-labeldom, not blue-collar, workaday bands like this one. Garuda is clearly the band to beat in this category, chock full as it is of other hardworking, talented outfits. Primary among them, Black Belt Jones. Named after a blaxploitation martial arts flick, Black Belt Jones prides itself on making music as rapid, relentless, and punishing as movie star Jim Kelly’s Oriental fight style. Their guitars-blazing approach is probably most similar to Lifesize’s style. Melodic, metal-based music coming from old-school purists, the Lifesize sound is bluster, more bluster, and taut musicianship. They’re probably the most “radio-friendly” of the bunch. On the complete other side of the dial is Phleshpipe. Rocking out on a few chords and lots of anger, the young lads of Phleshpipe make quite a ruckus for being only three men deep. Fans of underdogs, unite!

Live Band

Lotsa variety in this category, as well as proof positive (as if any more were needed) that the best things you can listen to don’t necessarily come out of a c.d. player. Resolute college boys the Audiophiles are the leaders of a pack of “local bands who have been influenced by Radiohead.” Their deceptively simple sound really consists of layers of texture so subtle that you can only really hear them to their best advantage with a decent mix (sadly lacking in some local venues). Yet the emotional peaks and valleys of their music have won over many a jaded listener.

The Ho Chi Men, on the other hand, are that great rarity — an unashamedly arty rock band that continually reinvents itself. On a given night, they might attack Reggie Rueffer’s challenging yet tuneful songs like a mob of edgy experimentalists. On another, they might come across like a relentlessly driving pop-rock steamroller. Guitarists Ed McMahon and Chad Rueffer find infinitely interesting ways to intertwine their lines.

Latin Express is such a reliable favorite that we’re probably overdue to retire this group’s jersey to the rafters of the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards Arena. Whether they’re making a throng of partiers’ hips sway at a Northside dance hall or filling Sundance Square with their exuberant sounds during the Main Street Arts Festival, the hard-swinging Saenz family covers all bases, from Tejano to salsa to jazz to old-school R&B with style, class, and, above all, brass.

Hard-gigging comparative newcomers Pablo and the Hemphill 7 are masters of all things reggae. They routinely perform feats of alchemy, such as filling the Black Dog Tavern with a tightly packed crowd — in which college kids and slumming yups rub shoulders with dreadlocked, pierced, and tattooed Coffee Haus denizens — and making everybody dance.

Avant Garde/

Experimental

We’ve heard a member of one of this year’s nominated bands disparage that more sophisticated variation on speed metal known as “math rock.” We’re not sure if Benway considers the label an insult, but their hardcore fans sure don’t. A Benway show boasts amphetamine-obsessive bravado, jabbering-squabbling guitar notes, wild beats, and stuttering screams.

It’s not too far removed from the sound of Yeti. These “doom prog-rock instrumentalists,” as once described, received a tragic blow to their artistic and personal dynamic last year. Doug Ferguson, the group’s keyboardist and one of the sweetest guys on the Cattle Prog scene, died unexpectedly from complications during surgery to remove a blood clot. The triple threat of Ferguson’s Moog, Mellotron, and organ is simply irreplaceable — on the band’s nationally acclaimed album Things To Come, his layers of keyboard notes, sometimes pretty and shimmery and other times eerie and ominous in the tradition of the best horror movie soundtracks, made Yeti sound like a full-on orchestra performing the symphonies of some long-dead, demented composer. Ferguson’s friendly, humble demeanor masked a musical sensibility as twisted as it was sophisticated. We hear he would’ve taken both as a compliment.

And when you talk about twisted, you can’t help but talk about Ghostcar. What began as a large alternating company of musicians who had a weekly gig at The Expo Lounge (the only available rehearsal space at the time) has tightened into a quartet that plays a brooding version of jazz seemingly influenced as much by Bird’s honking, twirling notes as by the fuzzy psychedelic improv of Jimi Hendrix. It’s jazz ... but funkier.

Just like Sub Oslo’s music is techno ... but more organic. The members of Sub Oslo are also some of the few American practitioners of dub in its purist form, an evolved incarnation of reggae that started in Kingston, Jamaica. This music involves such complex arrangements and mixes that it was originally intended to be a studio-only creation. If you’ve ever seen the bodies rocking at a Sub Oslo show, you know that most folks were grateful that this band didn’t keep its music from club-goers.

OK, we’re not sure if The Theater Fire really belongs in “avant-garde/experimental.” After all, can these avid fans of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson be pioneering any new movement? The Theater Fire, led by guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Don Feagin, isn’t doing anything particularly new, but these musicians are original revisionists — tinkering with post-grunge and that lush, long-dead Nashville style known as “countrypolitan.”

Country-Western

There’s probably no shortage of outfits playing pure country music in Cowtown. All the same, this year’s nominees display some decidedly alt-country leanings. (Alt-country is a silly label used to describe country bands that sound kind of rock ’n’ roll or vice versa, in case you didn’t know and were wondering.)

Collin Herring’s music feels at home in either a country or rock setting. His lyrics — lots of heartbreak and hard times — recall Bruce Springsteen as much as they do Willie Nelson.

Phil Pritchett likewise borrows heavily from country and rock. Give the guy credit, though: He actually moved to Nashville a few years back with every intention of becoming a country-western songwriter. He became disillusioned about the same time he rediscovered his love for classic-style Springsteen/Petty/Costello rock. The result is that Pritchett now makes what’s best described as a country-tinged roots-rock concoction.

Woodeye has been entertaining locals since 1995, though the band doesn’t play all that often. The members also don’t much like the country or alt-country label. Lead singer Carey Wolff was both pleased and surprised by the band’s nomination. “We’re probably the most rock band in this category,” he said.

Wolff calls Woodeye’s music Texas rock, but admits there’s some country flavor in their sound. Well, he admits to being influenced by Son Volt and Wilco at least.

Joey Green is the closest to pure country in the bunch. Even so, he still describes his sound as the Counting Crows mixed with Merle Haggard. “Some of our covers are pretty country,” he said, “but some are pretty rock. Same with our original songs.”

R&B/Hip-Hop

It may not be obvious, but the rap scene in Fort Worth is pretty damned impressive, even if it’s not as big as, say, Houston’s or Big D’s. It’s not just the number of people involved that makes the scene here something to write home about — it’s the quality. Of all the rappers who made cameos on the recent comeback record from The D.O.C. (remember him, from N.W.A.?), Fort Worth rapper 6two was one of just a few to have an entire song to himself — and he was also one of the many guests on the record to have been lauded by the national mainstream media for his work. Straight-ahead gangsta, 6two is clearly the strongest G around.

Good for him, he’s the only gangsta rapper in this year’s R&B/Hip-Hop category. Which still doesn’t mean he’s gonna be cakewalking through the competition. The class he’s up against is as strong as ever: One performer is an organic hip-hop trip, à la De La Soul; another performer is a socially conscious crooner; and another is a teen-age party girl.

Epatomed has been a fixture on the Fort Worth hip-hop scene for the past 10 years. They almost stopped earlier this year when their bandmate, Eddie Adams (a.k.a. Saahir) died in a car accident with his wife, Quenshell Badger. But the band kept on keeping on. Their brand of funky street reportage, which was underground before underground was cool, hasn’t changed. Their name alone may catapult them to the winner’s circle.

Nuwambae is a newbie on the scene. A smoooooth character with a lot of new age soul in his heart, he sings like he means it. Of the artists in this category aside from 6two, Nuwambae has probably attracted the most major-label interest.

The nominee to look out for is last year’s winner, Sandy Redd. Not old enough to play clubs, Sandy’s been making a decent living gigging at all-ages shows across the southwest and opening up for some major acts. Straight-ahead and clean party music, the Sandy Redd sound will have you dancing in the aisles.

Cover Band

Sorry King fans; no Elvi appear this year. But there’s variety aplenty nonetheless.

Me & My Monkey have served as Fort Worth’s Beatles cover band for about six years now. Looking all Beatle-esque — collarless suits, bowl haircuts — as well as sporting Gretch and Rickenbacher guitars, the band members play their roles to the hilt. Bassist Paul Sacco, a righty, even taught himself to play left-handed for added authenticity. Sacco estimates that the band’s repertoire includes 175 Beatles songs and a handful of solo Beatle works.

The Waltons date back to 1980, though they were much younger and known as the Stingrays in those days. Back then, they played all over the college and club circuit. Now they stick with a monthly Mule gig and private parties. Manager Logan Baker said that even though the band plays less frequently these days, hanging it up is not a consideration. The group covers songs from the ’60s on up, which includes everything from the Stones and Kinks to the Cars, Prince, the White Stripes, and too many other bands to mention. Oddly, they are the only cover band nominee whose members don’t wear uniforms ... at least not anymore.

Now if you want costumes, check out LeFreak. These wackos go back to the ’70s to cover the disco age in all its tacky, campy glory. The members don horrid disco fashions and stay in character all night long, even between sets. You should be dancing, indeed.

That other ’70s mainstay — bombastic rock — is covered by Queen for a Day. Expect note-perfect renditions of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and, well, you know the songs. And, yes, the band members all look like Queen, circa News Of The World.

Blues

How do you spell “incestuous”? Try “F-W-B-L-U-E-S-S-C-E-N-E.” All four of these worthies have shared stages around town at one time or another, which speaks as much to the camaraderie of local bluesicians as it does to Fort Worth’s small-town status.

Guitarist Paul Byrd is a relative youngster who started out as an impressive copyist (of Billy Gibbons, Stevie Ray, and B.B. and Albert King). But with his new c.d., Without Further Adieu..., he’s evolved into a more expressive stylist. (He’s also incurred the envy of more than one Weekly staffer for having a picture of himself with Liz Hurley on his web site.)

Ubiquitous raconteur, bon vivant, and savvy guitarist-singer-songwriter-bandleader James Hinkle continues to cover more bases than any of his podnuhs on the blues scene, adding swing, Nawlins-style R&B, rockabilly, and Americana to a musical stew that makes him a big hit from the Stockyards to the South Side. (For evidence, see last year’s highly eclectic Roads c.d.) Hinkle’s frequent onstage partner Johnny Mack, the cool papa of many a Captain’s Den open jam, is a powerful singer and fountain of good vibes who likes to laissez les bontemps rouler whether he’s belting out a blues or throwing down on his fonky Louisiana rub-board.

Finally, Holland K. Smith has long been recognized as an incendiary, inventive guitarist with deep roots in The Tradition. With his new c.d., Enough Is Enough, he stakes his claim as a top-notch singer as well, showcasing the vocal chops that have riveted critical (read: black) audiences at the South Side’s Swing Club as well as the crowds at his late, lamented Wednesday night sessions at the Black Dog Tavern. A fiery passel of blues brothers, indeed.

Jazz

Another category with lots of connections among nominees. From the top, Bertha Coolidge proves that there’s still an audience for fusion, even though the band has become an only-sometimes proposition since drummer Rich Stitzel decamped for Chi-town. Whenever Stitzel’s in town on academic biz, he and bassist Aden Bubeck, vibist-keyboardist Joey Carter, and guitarist Paul Metzger regroup to hold the stage at the Black Dog Tavern, where crowds of the faithful gather to lose themselves in the band’s free-flowing, profoundly grooving jams.

Over the last year, the Dave Karnes Trio (a.k.a. Dave and Daver) has expanded into a solid, fairly steady sextet, with saxophonist Dave Williams, guitarist Keith Wingate, and flutist-trumpeter Chris White all regular participants. While audiences for the band’s Wednesday night jams at the tiny Moon haven’t attained the proportions of the Black Dog’s Sunday nights, they have grown to include a respectable number of sit-in musicians and hardcore jazz fans.

Still the godfather of the Fort Worth jazz scene, Michael Pellecchia can coax a tone (and make it swing) out of a seemingly endless array of reed instruments, and he’s provided a convivial atmosphere for musicians and listeners to honor Da Real Shit for more than five years at the Black Dog on Sunday nights. Pellecchia brought seldom-heard (on this side of the Tarrant County line, at least) Dallas tenorman Marchel Ivery to the Panther City for last year’s jazz-jam anniversary bash, and continues to lead a band, which includes Carter, Karnes, and Wingate, with impeccable chops and taste.

Last but not least, twice-mentioned axe-slinger Keith Wingate has made several forays into band leadership, especially with a trio that performs a repertoire ranging from jazz standards to arrangements of Beatles and Steely Dan tunes. Proof positive that jazz continues to flourish here in the Fort, albeit on a limited scale.

Folk/Acoustic

The guy every local musician loves to hate, Brad Thompson, is clearly a fan favorite. He’s been so well-acquainted with our Music Awards over the years that he probably doesn’t even know (or care) that he’s been nominated again this time around. How anyone can hate a guy who can churn out Peter Gabriel’s “Steam” on solo acoustic is a mystery.

How someone can turn John Denver’s “Country Roads” into a Wreck Room anthem is even more mysterious. Like Thompson, Daniel Katsuk of A-Hummin’ Acoustical Acupuncture plays a lot more originals than covers, but he still can make you care about anything coming out of his guitar. As a Triple-A show progresses, things typically gets looser and, well, eerier — Katsuk and his rhythmical backup draw audiences into gentle shamanic chants that seem Celtically inspired.

Talk of true inspiration will inevitably lead to bluegrass impresario Darrin Kobetich. By day, he’s a burly metalhead; at night, he’s the meek guy on a stool who delivers instrumental songs sweet and sad enough to make a trucker weep. The only problem here is that, for personal reasons, Kobetich and last year’s winner, Lori Dreier, seem to share similar fans. A split could leave the door wide open for Katsuk or (sigh) Thompson.

Vocalist (Female)

Where are all the good female singers in Fort Worth?!?! Of all the categories this year, this one had the fewest number of nominees. (Thank our nominating committee.) There must be something about being a talented female vocalist and singing “I Will Survive” in cover bands that is robbing underground Fort Worth of its throaty ladies. The women we have here couldn’t be more diverse: a country superstar-in-training; a doyenne of darkness; and an a-hummin’ folky. (We’re pretty sure Lady Pearl would have made the cut, but ... Godspeed to her.)

Heather Morgan is the queen of the kind of country you hear riding around in your SUV on your way back from a TCU baseball game — and she’s got the pipes to prove it. She can hit notes higher than a TCU sorority sister’s credit card limit. On the other end of the sonic spectrum is Southmouth’s Jamie Myers: This Barbie doll can growl like a syphilitic tigress. And somewhere in the middle is Rene West. Going from a plaintive cry to earth-shattering wail, West is a singer in the truest sense of the word. She might be the pick of this category, since Morgan has her eyes set on the Big Time and Myers has relocated to San Francisco. But ... ya never know.

Vocalist (Male)

A broad spectrum of styles here, with the nominees ranging from seasoned veterans to relative novices. Chris Hardee from Alan writes songs of tremendous depth and complexity that wouldn’t carry a fraction of their emotional power without his intense, kid-possessed stage persona or his distinctively high, clear vocalismo. Alan’s ever-accelerating gig schedule and some worthy demos recently won the band the attention of no less an industry biggie than Warner Bros. Records.

Flickerstick’s Brandin Lea has already been there and done that — he’s been through The Biz wringer and survived to tell the tale. On last year’s live-in-Deep Ellum c.d. Causing a Catastrophe, he proved once again that he’s got all the grit and power you could want from a rock frontman, and since that disc’s release, he’s continued earning cred with solo acoustic shows.

In many ways, Tim Locke’s talent is best served by the acoustic solo/duo/trio format he’s favored for the past couple of years. The ache and yearning of his voice tended to get lost in the sound and fury of Grand Street Cryers and Blue Sky Black. Lately, he’s been wanting to rock more, but whatever he does undoubtedly will have the heart-tugging quality that’s made him Foat Wuth’s answer to Nick Drake or Tim (or Jeff) Buckley.

Joe Rose is relatively new to the scene, but his performances as frontman for the Action and as a member of the Moon’s once-a-month, round-robin “Acoustic Mafia” have earned him favorable attention. His work on the Action’s recently-released e.p., Bullet, is sure to win him a few more listeners.

Woodeye frontman Carey Wolff has had an unusually productive year, releasing With Friends Like These with pals Scott Copeland and Andy Pate and preparing to record Woodeye’s much-anticipated opus Such Sweet Sorrow. His gruff, weathered voice is the perfect vehicle for his tales of love lost or gone astray.

Songwriter

Would it be a stretch to say that none of the nominees in our Best Songwriter category pen chiefly happy songs? You probably could have guessed as much, seeing as heartbreak is just so much juicier a topic than, say, glee. Raconteur Scott Copeland probably comes as close to giddy as you’re gonna get. But don’t call him a novelty act — Copeland’s a serious funny man who can play guitar and sing like a banshee (um, a guitar-playing banshee that is). At the other end of the spectrum is Collin Herring. If this young guy’s ever had a good day, you couldn’t tell it by his music. Thing is, he always finds a way to achieve some kind of transcendence by the end of his songs, whether he’s walking in on his girlfriend and another man or digging his own grave.

In between these two lie the other nominees, Kevin Aldridge, John Price, and Tim Locke. Talk to anybody, and you’ll learn that Locke reigns as the songwriter’s songwriter. What he lacks in his ability to craft big hooks like Aldridge and Price, he makes up for in striking lyrical imagery and plaintive moods. Aldridge is probably Locke’s closest kindred spirit. As for Price — no one in the Metroplex writes more melodic, catchy tunes. Period.

New Artist

This year’s best new artist nominees run the musical spectrum.

Singer-songwriter Collin Herring delivers equal measures of country and rock. The end result is a Johnny-Cash-meets-Neil-Young hybrid who pens touching, heart-wrenching stories of everyday life.

Camino produces reflective music, too, though it’s packaged as pop-rock. Though they’ve been around for only about a year, this group of local-music vets has built up a solid local following, playing what singer/keyboardist Scott Everett calls down-home, melodic rock. Others have characterized the band’s sound as similar to the Counting Crows or an American Coldplay.

Green River Ordinance is probably this year’s youngest bunch of nominees. Band members employ the old standby, catch-all phrase “alternative rock” to describe their sound. Though the “alternative” label long ago ceased to have any clearly defined meaning, GRO says that it means poppy music along the lines of Lifehouse or Matchbox 20.

The Snowdonnas dislike labels but sound close enough to My Bloody Valentine and other emo groups to be tagged as a shoegazer band. For those who don’t like wasting time thinking about labels, just dream of fuzzy and heavy guitars, emotional lyrics, not-boring art rock, and, maybe, the softer side of R.E.M. In other words: slowed-down, dreamy, lush tempos that unfold at a languid pace and take their own sweet time to become pretty flowers.

Solomonic takes its name from the Bible, but this band is in little danger of being mistaken for a gospel group. Their funky, jazzy prog rock will see to that. Think of late-night chill-out grooves or what drummer Lucas White describes as the Red Hot Chili Peppers meet Earth, Wind & Fire.

Producer

At its best, record-making is as different from live performance as filmmaking is from live theater, adding a dimension of hyper-reality that just isn’t available on the evening stage. The best producers have the gift of being able to listen both critically and creatively, capturing the essence of an artist and bringing it to life on a shiny silver disc. In 2002, Baboon tapped the pAper chAse’s John Congleton to do the duty for Something Good is Going to Happen, Baboon’s first studio foray in five years, and the producer supplied them with a canvas spacious enough to accommodate a new, more subtle, multilayered sound. Congleton also manned the boards for the 90 Day Men’s To Everybody and his own band’s Hide the Kitchen Knives.

With his band Valve winding down operations, Casey Diiorio is focusing his full attention on production work (Lewis, Macavity). On the Southpaw Preachers’ debut disc, Contender, he performed a magical feat, transforming a hungry young band with potential into a powerfully assured unit.

Centro-matic’s Matt Pence has also had a busy year: drumming for Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar, recording and mixing a c.d. for bluesman CeDell Davis, and engineering new discs for his own band and bandmate Will Johnson. In our Foat Wuth-centric universe, however, his most notable achievement for 2002 was enabling fledgling performer Colin Herring to forge a strong identity on his debut disc, Avoiding the Circus.

Finally, Deep Blue Something brothers Todd and Toby Pipes pulled something of a hat trick with John Price, investing his Little Pieces of a Little Piece of Something Small with Big Rock sonics that belie the singer-songwriter’s alt-country roots. Is it a coincidence that all of our nominated producers are also musicians themselves?

Song of the Year

No crazy shit here — each song nominated this year is a taut, tense, intense, straight-ahead rocker. They’re all too good for commercial radio: All four mean too much to their performers and are simply too complex for program directors’ ears. They’re in this category because our nominating committee more than likely came across these tunes at live shows. And, you know, some songs have ways of becoming crowd favorites. Chances are, these performers like these songs as much as you do.

Middleground’s “Unharden Your Heart” is so smooth and delivered so uber-professionally that you’d swear the boys in the band were wizened old letches, full of bad dreams and too much cheap liquor. As for mature songwriting, John Price’s “Questionably Red” is undoubtedly the song song of this category. The tune is pretty close to perfect, with one of the most memorable hooks of the year — of any song category (including those in the Grammys) — laid out over a meandering, swinging, jazzy beat. “Sunday,” by the Southpaw Preachers, shakes things up, Beatles-style, to arrive at someplace like bar-room bliss. And Soviet Space’s “One Helluva Roller Coaster” may be the catchiest, swingingest song of the lot, if not of the entire Fort Worth universe. House-rocking beats, a great breakdown during the chorus, and a whole lotta attitude make for one helluva rocking cut.

Album of the Year

It could be saying something that three of the four finalists for the Album of the Year award this year are newbies — Collin Herring, Southpaw Preachers, and John Price. Yeah, they all have c.d.’s and demos under their belts, and they’ve all been at this rock ’n’ roll thing for a good while, but the full-length c.d.’s for which these performers are now nominated represent first cracks at producing professional-grade art. The fourth and final nominee, Pimpadelic, has been churning out Grade-A polycarbonate for what seems like forever. Their appearance here in this category, dominated by middle-of-the-road, singer-songwriter-type rockers, is surprising in itself — also especially considering all the Weekly bashing Pimpadelic’s done in the past.

Round these parts, it seems that Price’s disc, Little Pieces of a Little Piece of Something Small, is the mostly widely circulated: It’s been out for almost six months now and is a staple in the c.d. player at the Wreck Room, a place for the, a-hem, discerning rock crowd. Pimp’s c.d., Reb de Ville, is a little bit older, having come out last fall, but it’s hard to tell if Pimp’s the huge draw they once were. Word is that their promotional show at Ridglea Theater wasn’t packed to the rafters, per the norm. The guy who packs nearly every show he plays — and he’s been playing a lot lately — is Herring. His disc, Avoiding the Circus, came out only a couple of months ago, but most of the songs should be familiar to anyone who’s spent any time on the local scene this past year. The dark horse has to be the Preachers’ Contender — it’s one of the most complete, most versatile offerings this year, but it only came out about a month ago and hasn’t really had a chance to make the circuit.

Artist of the Year

If you’ve listened to all the finalists for Artist of the Year, you’ve listened to a lot of great music.

Flickerstick make catchy, hard-rock pop. You may have heard of ’em: Won VH1’s Bands On The Run tv show/contest a few years back, released a major-label album, and had a song called “Beautiful” that garnered a few spins on Big Radio. They’ve been gigging a lot lately and are currently working on new material.

Pimpadelic, hard to believe, is going on 10 years now. Self-described as Southern punk rap, the band is also “loud and obnoxious,” according to drummer Matt Winchell. “I think we’ve evolved from the rap/rock cliché,” he said, “which wasn’t cliché back then, to a country-metal outfit.”

Spoonfed Tribe don’t play country metal. They play just about everything else, though. You could consider Spoonfed to be Fort Worth’s Grateful Dead, except better. Still, there is a definite hippie element and jam-band vibe running amok here. There’s also funk, world beat, and, um, just about anything else you can think of. The band members call their music persuasive percussion and melodic mood manipulation. Then again, they also say they plan to change the course of history.

John Price has so far been silent on any plans to change history. For now he seems content to make adult pop and rock that’s actually worth a listen. In some ways his music is akin to that of Pete Yorn and the Wallflowers. Price makes mature, upbeat, and catchy music with lyrics heavy with tales of sadness and disconnection. Along the way he also proves that modern rock doesn’t — by definition — always have to mean crap.

And what’s in our backyard is as good as anything coming out of the Big D and the rest of Texas. In particular, there’s a singer-songwriter community here that boasts names like Tim Locke, Phil Pritchett, Collin Herring, Carey Wolff, Joey Green, and John Price — performers whose names are known across Texas and beyond. The rap community here is also formidable, led by one of the hottest upstarts in the country, 6two, and one of the oldest rap groups (going on 10 years) anywhere, Epatomed. The Fort Worth metal scene also is tight-knit and talented. A Garuda show can actually do the impossible — draw people from Dallas to Fort Worth.

Fort Worth music fans’ fascination with Dallas is mysterious — given the general Cowtown disdain for its hulking eastern neighbor and particularly considering how much talent is right down the block, at the Aardvark or the Wreck Room or J&J’s or the Ridglea Theater or the Black Dog Tavern. There’s good shit going on here, you just gotta wanna find it. Per a variation on the old Railhead BBQ slogan: “Life is too short to listen in Dallas."


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