Fort Worth Music Awards: Hall Of Fame
Lady Pearl Johnson
Lady Pearl Johnson was the heir apparent to Fort Worth blues legend Robert Ealey, who passed away in 2001. Her own sudden death in November 2002 left a void in the Fort Worth blues scene that has yet to be filled. Lady Pearl’s performances were filled with the passion and feeling that you find only in a real blues artist. Sadly, most of Fort Worth never made it out to the small black clubs where she usually performed (such as the 2500 Club, the 40-50, and the Bluebird) to witness her heartfelt singing and slinky stage gyrations. Lady Pearl never made it into the studio, but those who saw her perform will never forget her. Her daughter, Miss Kim, carries on the tradition with the BTA Band and is a fine blues performer in her own right. A large photo of Lady Pearl joins the band onstage at each performance.
— Don O.
Don O. is the blues format director for KNON/89.3-FM.
“What in the hell is this?” was the response I heard repeatedly from countless confused bar patrons (and owners) as Ohm’s soundscapes immersed listeners in a psychedelic mire of synthesizers and percussion. As is the case with most improvised music, the crowd’s response was mixed. Some people were enthusiastic and inspired. Others were nearly consumed by loathing for what they were being subjected to, thus fulfilling the experimental musician’s most important goal — to evoke a strong response. Love it or hate it, the experience will always be remembered.
Doug Ferguson was all about bringing new experiences to the masses, whether they liked it or not. And despite the reception they got from the scene, Doug’s band Ohm managed to play any venue that would have them with massive amounts of obsolete musical equipment in tow. No one who experienced an Ohm show at the Argo or the Impala could forget “the band with all of the crazy crap spread all over the room.”
When YETI was forming, I was quite excited. After all, Doug was the one who had introduced me to the world of underground music. From Scratch Acid to Albert Ayler to Magma, he saturated me with a broad spectrum of amazing music. It was this type of diversity that would help me — and many others — grow as listeners and musicians. As with his other musical endeavors (such as Vas Deferens Organization and Musik von Tone Float), he added his unique aural stamp of synthesized madness to YETI’s music. I will never forget the looks of horror and amazement of those who stood too close to the keyboard amp. Most people didn’t expect that much rock to come out of a pile of disheveled analog synths and a combo organ.
All in all, Doug accomplished many amazing things as a musician, and I know that years from now some kid will discover his music in a flea market and think, “This was happening in Texas ... in the 1990s?!?”
ROCK ON, DOUG! — Jon Teague
Drummer Jon Teague played with Ferguson for years in the progressive-metal band YETI.
The Old 97’s
The Old 97’s have been playing in and around Fort Worth since before the Aardvark hatched out of the beloved Hop. Forming in 1993 as the same quartet they are today, the Old 97’s had no idea how far they would go and how much impact they would have on both the local and national music scenes. Their first album — meant to be a sort of demo, Hitch Hike To Rhome (as in Rhome, Texas) — spawned a longer-lasting career than most bands can ever hope for. As a group of musicians, the Old 97’s offer up hope and inspiration to other area bands who strive to travel a similar path. Not many bands could last as long and with all their original members, let alone stay humble and down-to-earth. Seven albums and a few record labels later, the Old 97’s have watched their sound mature, but the core that makes them great and not just good is still shining as bright as when we first saw them back in the early 1990s as eager young men just wanting to make some music and see what would happen. We thank you Rhett, Murray, Phillip, and Ken for entertaining and inspiring us with songs about love, Texas, and everything in between. We look forward to many more years to come! — Melissa Kirkendall
Melissa Kirkendall is co-owner of both the production company 3-Day Pass and the booking agency Daughter Entertainment.
Nov. 16, 2002, Chicago — Outside of the legendary nightclub the Metro, there’s a line that stretches for blocks, past Wrigley Field. The snow is falling heavily. It’s about 1:30 a.m. when the club finally starts to let the fans into the venue. Flickerstick hits the stage a half hour later in front of a sold-out crowd. Brandin Lea, Fletcher Lea, Rex Ewing, Cory Kreig, and Dominic Weir play for an hour and a half, with no one leaving the building. The crowd sings every word to every song.
That was the point when I realized how far the Fort Worth-based Flickerstick had come. A year removed from the VH1 reality tv show Bands on the Run, and they were still selling out venues all over America, living the dream of everyone who ever picked up a guitar.
Three of the four bands on that tv program called it quits after being exploited by the network. It just goes to show you that if there is no substance, the fans will see through it. Flickerstick continued to play on the road for months at a time, building a loyal fan base the old-fashioned way — show by show. Their music became tighter, and their songs grew to reflect those of a veteran rock band. It’s been almost three years since that performance in Chicago, and Flickerstick is still selling out venues all across the country.
Over the countless miles traveled in vans and buses — and once getting into an accident with an 18-wheeler — the guys in Flickerstick, including new drummer Todd Harwell, have never forgotten where they came from. The band is always willing to give new local bands a place on the marquee, so they can get the exposure they need to grow. Still, after all the shows, Flickerstick works as hard as ever — putting up fliers, sending out e-mails, and staying out late, telling people about upcoming shows and never taking for granted that the fans are going to show up. The creativity of Flickerstick has never been better than on the band’s most recent release, Tarantula.
There is probably no other band around more worthy of the North Texas scene’s gratitude than Flickerstick. By spreading their shows out so that each one is an event and by writing new material so that every show is new, Flickerstick helps keep the local music scene thriving. I only wish there were a hundred bands with the work ethic of one Flickerstick. — Danny Weaver
Danny Weaver is owner of the Aardvark and the don of the “Acoustic Mafia.”
‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott
From the first moment I high-fived the guy when he was just starting out and I was fresh out of school and working at Craig’s Sound Gallery, to the last time we banged glasses at a gig in the months before his sudden death late last year, I always thought that in those small gestures, Dime showed who he really was: a true Southern gentleman with the soul of a prankster demon ... who just also happened to know how to make a guitar scream as if it — and not he — was sitting at the crossroads.
Glorious thunder, the high times, the good times, the real times — that was what Dime was about, and if you knew his music and felt empowered by it and part of a tribe, then pity those who didn’t have the opportunity. The guy could also make you feel as if you were the only person in the room worth hanging out with, not necessarily because he was so charismatic (though he was) or because he was a celebrity (though he was that, too), but because he was homegrown. He was what the English would call a “pureblood,” from bone to blood to skin; the real and genuine deal.
Now that the world will always remember Dime as a drinker, hotel-wrecker, and absolute wizard on the guitar — a potent mix of Randy Rhodes’ heaviness and Billy Gibbons’ soulful touch — let us here in North Texas also remember him as a man who loved his family, friends, and fans with great ferocity and sincerity. — Justin Press
Justin Press is a contributing writer for the Weekly who works in marketing and operations at Nokia Theatre @ Grand Prairie.
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