Better Know an Artist (Vol 36): Stephen Beatty (of Un Chien)

Un Chien is a Fort Worth band with a sound owing debts to 90’s alt rock (a la Smashing Pumpkins) and modern psych rock (think Black Angels or Tame Impala). Bandleader Stephen Beatty (formerly of Stella Rose) assembled a talented band of respected local musicians (Rachel Gollay, Kris Knight, Jerrett Lyday, and Taylor Craig Mills), and set out to attain a more experimental sound with his music. After a self released EP in early 2013, they signed to Hand Drawn Records and issued an impressive self-titled debut album later that year. Their sophomore effort will be released later in 2016, but Stephen sat down to answer some questions while we wait.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

SB: I first got into music around 4th grade when we could join the school band. I played saxophone. Marty McFly was probably my main reason for wanting to play guitar (I watched Back to the Future at least once a day when I was a kid). Begged my mom to get me a guitar around 11 years old, got one for Christmas, and never stopped playing (or buying) them.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

SB: I usually just tell people, “Alt Rock” because I hate trying to describe my own music.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

SB: Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins were my gateway bands which opened me up to bands like Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Jesus Lizard. I love bands that balance chaos and noise with a good melody. I also respect the underground/punk mentality of bands like those. Brian Jonestown Massacre is another huge influence musically.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

SB: We have a song called “Amarillo” that’s going to be on our new record.  We’ve played it live a few times.  I was in a long-distance relationship (she live in Amarillo) that ended badly.  It’s about that.  Writing that song was my way of coping and closing that chapter of my life

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

SB: Dead: Nirvana, so I could see a Nirvana show
Alive: Queens of the Stone Age

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

SB: Jetta in the Ghost Tree

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

SB: Smashing Pumpkins “Gish”

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

SB: I love that everyone knows each other, I hate that everyone knows each other’s business. It feels like a big dysfunctional family.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

SB: Lola’s, because I’m OG.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

SB: umm, Un Chien, *wink wink

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

SB: I’m much, much nerdier than you’d probably think. I’ll leave it at that.

Many thanks to Stephen Beatty of Un Chien. I’m really looking forward to hearing new music from this talented batch of musicians with a pretty unique sound for the area. Check out Un Chien’s debut album below, and look out for the sophomore record later this year.

Photo Credit: Ronnie Jackson Photography

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BKA #TBT: Zach Mayo (of the Hendersons)

#TBT Update: Zach and the Hendersons will be playing at the Grotto on Saturday night in support of Daniel and Matt Mabe’s band (with Anthony Sosa), Jefferson Colby (to celebrate Daniel’s birthday), and the return of Bomb Atomic. Should be a pretty kick a– show, so go check it out.

The Hendersons 10:00
Bomb Atomic 11:00
Jefferson Colby 12:00

Fort Worth’s the Hendersons are probably my favorite local band right now. There’s just something different about what they’re doing, but they’re definitely onto something. I think this band is headed for some big things in the near future, so I sent the usual questions over to drummer Zach Mayo to find out what’s going on over there. He had a lot to say. See for yourself. BTW’s, that’s him staring a hole into my soul in that photo above.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

ZM: I’ve always had music in my life. My mother was the Cantor every Sunday at church and can sing like an angel. My father played guitar, and my grandmother was also the Cantor at her church that we would sometimes visit. So, I always had music around me growing up. My older brothers (I’m the youngest of 3 boys) both were in band and played percussion and the French horn. I, however, decided not to follow in their footsteps and joined the orchestra program in the 5th grade to play the bass. Truly, I joined orchestra because I hated singing those lame-ass songs we were forced to sing in “music” class. But, I immediately fell in love with the bass. I was always a big kid growing up, and the bass just fit me perfectly. I started studying theory and performance, and my chops grew leaps-and bounds over the years. I continued playing bass in orchestra throughout my middle, junior, and high school years. All the while, I taught myself how to play guitar drums and the piano.

When I was in the 7th grade, my very good friend, Justin Elliott, started asking me if I wanted to “jam.” At that point, I had never really played “rock” music. I was only used to orchestra and church song arrangements. However, when i started playing with Justin, my entire outlook on music changed. I started playing drums more often, and Justin would play guitar. He was a madman when it came to the six-string, and I felt obligated to be just as much a madman on the drums. We had our two-man band, the Sugarmen, which was a very blues-heavy, garage rock vibe, much like the Black Keys or White Stripes. At the time, Justin was playing lead guitar with the Josh Weathers band and they needed an opening act. Josh was sick, and he didn’t have the will or energy to play for their full 3-hour bar set, so he enlisted me and J to fill in as an opening act. We played our first show at the Moon Bar to a crowd of people that were NOT there to see these two guys – they wanted to see Josh. By the end of our 1-hour set, we had the crowd in our hands. They loved it. After shaking hands with people and having compliments thrown at me left and right, it was then I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

Over the years, I’ve played in tons of different bands with different roles. I can honestly say that there’s nothing out there better than music – playing it, listening to it, practicing it. Every aspect of music plays a huge role in my life, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

ZM: The Hendersons are kind of hard to pinpoint and describe. Lots of people have told us that they remind them of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. There are also shades of Harry Nilsson and the Kinks. Nolan is the principle songwriter. He’s been influenced by all of the aforementioned bands, as well as a heavy influence of classical music. If you listen to Indian Summer, you might pick up on all of those. Kind of like a throw-back Harry-Nilsson-meets-Brian-Wilson-with-a-dash-of-Beethoven-and-a-sprig-of-Beatles.

Gun to my head, if I had to give the Hendersons a “genre”, I would say it’s Vintage Baroque Pop-rock.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

ZM: I’m influenced by heavy-hitting drummer, Buddy Miles. The man was a beast. He could sing and play drums like a madman! I’m also heavily influenced (drum-wise, that is) by a man named Steven Kleisath. He played drums for a hardcore band called Armstrong, as well as the more-poppy Further Seems Forever. The way he moves around the drum kit showed me that there was much more to playing than just “keeping the beat.”

Nowadays, I find myself watching drum solos all day. Benny Greb, Thomas Pridgen, Mike Johnson, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa – watching those guys has shown me that drums can also have a melody. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the way I hear it.

My favorite bands span tons of different genres: Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, Ray Lamontagne, AIR, Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, Ween, G. Love & Special Sauce, Otis Redding, James Brown, Menahan Street Band.

Me: Which of your songs means the most to you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

ZM: I always love playing “Skid Row.” It usually gets everyone dancing and singing along, and I enjoy that very much.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

ZM: The Hendersons don’t necessarily fit a perfect bill these days (especially in rock-heavy Ft. Worth), so I’d have to say that I would have LOVED to have been one of the acts at the Monterey Pop Festival back in 1967. But, only as long as we weren’t the ones following Otis Redding. That fucker brought the house down.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

ZM: I’m a big fan of Vodeo (formerly Shake the Moon). Those guys are super talented and have great hooks. I’m also digging what the fellas in Arenda Light bring to the table. They’re super tight and well-practiced, that’s for sure. And even though, they’re not “new” at all, I spend lots of my time in the car cycling through Wilco records.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

ZM: Tough call. I’d have to say it’s either between Ray Lamontagne’s Trouble or the Beach Boys’ Friends

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

ZM: I’m a big fin of how tight-knit a lot of the bands in FW are. Lots of us party together, share the same bills, and sometimes even share the same band members. It’s nice to feel like part of the “crew.” We’re all working together, doing the thing that we all love to do, and supporting each other along the way. There’s also the opposite side of the spectrum, where it can be difficult to crack into that “circle and be considered an outcast – especially if you’re new to the area and you’re trying to find the right group of people to play music with.

Dallas has always been a tough place to get your exposure to the masses. Every time I’ve played Dallas, it’s been for very few people. So, I guess the way to be known in Dallas is just say “Fuck it” and play for the small crowds as often as possible. Who knows? You may just gain a few more fans along the way.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

ZM: The Grotto. Hands down. It’s kind of like our “home bar.” We usually can pack the house, even on short notice. We also like that we’re allowed to bring in our homemade Frito-pies or Beef Stew for our fans to munch on during dreary, cold evenings. However I really enjoyed playing on the new outdoor stage at Lola’s/Trailer Park. That place is going to be a mainstay for outdoor shows for years to come.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

ZM: Some cat named Leon Bridges is doing pretty well for himself – or so I’ve heard. And Oil Boom is pretty solid. Chingalotus is another band that’s incredible. Cosmic Trigger makes my ears bleed (in the good way). Secret Ghost Champion has a record called Electric Neck and the Mercy Skull that I think EVERYONE should listen to. Jake Paleschic is amazing every single time I see him (and I’m super-jealous of his drummer Peter Wierenga’s snare sound.)

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

ZM: I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons with my girlfriend, Sarah Jane, for almost 2 years now. That shit is amazing, and does wonders for relationships.

A big thanks to Zach Mayo for taking the time. I think this is the longest post yet. If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Hendersons show, you’re going to want to do that. I have a feeling they’re about to blow up. You can check out their last record, Indian Summer, below, and keep an eye out for new material due next year. On a more somber note, Zach’s old band mate, Justin Elliott, passed away in a household accident last year. His family has established a scholarship fund to benefit local children in their musical and academic endeavors. If you’d like to donate to the fund, you can do so here. The Hendersons will be performing with Jacob Furr at the Grotto this Thursday, the 14th, if you need to catch a great show.

Photo Credit: Moi (yeah, I’m pretty awesome)

Better Know an Artist (Vol 12): James Duffer

James Duffer is a pop/rock singer from Dallas, who, much like last week’s artist, Claire Morales, has pretty much grew up wanting to be a musician. He started at a young age, and has progressed to a pretty polished sound. The piano pop tracks that I’ve listened to reflect on inspirations like Elton John, Billy Joel, or more modern artists like Ben Folds or Tobias Jesso Jr, although his voice is a little more gruff than you might think of those other artists. All in all, I think James is a pretty intriguing package of tools that we could be hearing big things from soon. James took the time to submit to our little game unsolicited, so I’m paying it forward for him. Here we go.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

JD: My name is James Duffer and I’m a singer/songwriter from Dallas, TX. I write and perform my songs on piano and guitar and released my first album “Midtown Odyssey” in 2014. I first got into music at the age of 7 when I started taking piano lessons but got much deeper into music at age 11 when I started to discover rock music and my father got me my first electric guitar. From that time on, I knew all I wanted to be was a musician. Later on, I started playing percussion in school bands and began taking drum lessons and then formed my first band in high school with some friends after I gradually learned to sing. After high school, I studied music at Collin County Community College in Plano, TX. This is where I really learned and practiced a lot of my songwriting and live performance skills as well as studying recording techniques and music business. I finally released my 1st album, “Midtown Odyssey” in 2014 and graduated from Collin County Community College in 2015 with an Associate’s degree in Commercial Music, a Certificate of Music Business and an Audio Engineering Certificate. I’m currently performing regularly in DFW and Denton with my band and as a solo-acoustic act and I’ve also been performing in a heavier styled rock band called Space Ape in which I play drums and sing.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

JD: I would describe my music as Pop/Rock. I try to write with varying styles and influences in mind to differentiate my songs from each other. I write up-tempo songs and guitar riff based rock songs, but I also write a lot of ballads and occasionally try to incorporate jazz or other influences into my writing and playing.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

JD: I have a very wide scope of influences and musicians I’ve followed. Most of my biggest influences are from a songwriting standpoint. As a keyboard based songwriter, my biggest influences have always been Billy Joel and Elton John. I later discovered other piano based artists like Warren Zevon and Tom Waits, who influenced me greatly. Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan…the list goes on forever with me but these are some artists who left a major impression on me for their artistry and songwriting. I also obviously grew up on classic rock and all the great bands like Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Who, Rush, Pink Floyd, etc.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

JD: The opening track on Midtown Odyssey, “Without Telling You Why” is one I’ve always been very proud of and never get tired of playing. “Only the Night” and “Death and Romance” I feel were both personal breakthroughs for me as a songwriter. There’s a song of mine called “Never Any Reason” which now holds a special place for me due to my sister passing away last year and the dedication of that song to her. The song that closes the album Midtown Odyssey, “This Strange Farewell” is one of my favorites because it’s also what I close my shows with most of the time and again I remember what a struggle it was to finish that song and how proud of it I was when it was done.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

JD: That’s a tough one. I’d say either the Rolling Stones or U2 because they always have the most amazing tours and stage set-ups. It seems like it would be the thrill of a lifetime every single night to open for a band like that and you could experience things very few people get to being on the road with those bands and that scale of production. There’s so many other I’d love to open for in more realistic terms though.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

JD: As far as local people, I’m a big fan of Charley Crockett, whom I’ve played with a couple of times around town and I read the interview you did with him. I opened for the Hey Hey’s at the Boiler Room one time and they’re awesome. Obviously, Leon Bridges is undeniably great and a major credit to DFW music.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

JD: Another tough one, there are so many I don’t know if I can narrow it down to just one album.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

JD: My favorite things about the DFW music scene are the indie record stores and live venues we have which support local artists such as myself as well as the vast amount of talented people performing in the area. My least favorite things about the scene (at least in Dallas) is a lack of community and support between artists and people who work within the music scene. It’s been very unorganized and chaotic and I’ve found the mentality of certain people working in the Dallas/Deep Ellum scene to be much more cut-throat and competitive than communal and supportive most of the time. Also, the support between artists, promotors, venues and publications can be very genre specific, territorial and closed off. I know this isn’t specific to just Dallas either and don’t get me wrong, I know some really great people in the Dallas music scene. I’ve obviously came into contact with both good people and bad people in my time and have been treated both very well and very badly. I just wish there was more general structure and more of a music industry presence in DFW to give artists like myself more oppurtunities to thrive and connect to create clearer objectives to reach larger scale and more diverse audiences. However, having seen some big developments in the scene since I’ve been involved, I’m hoping it’s moving that direction. I thought the 2015 Dallas Observer Music Awards was a great event for showcasing local music.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

JD: Unfortunately, one of my favorite places, the Boiler Room, is gone, but for full band shows I love RBC in Deep Ellum. They’ve always been great to me with whatever shows I’ve done there and Geoff is one of the best FOH sound-men in Dallas. For solo acoustic shows, Opening Bell Coffee has consistently been the most supportive venue in DFW for singer/songwriters such as myself.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

JD: My friend, Mikey Gattus’ new band, Jake Dexter and the Main Street Sound. It’s a great band with a unique blend of Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop and R&B.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

JD: I’ve luckily somehow never broken a bone. (Editor’s note: he forgot to add “Knock on wood”, so uhh, watch out, James, karma’s coming for you)

A big thanks to James Duffer for shooting me these responses. I look forward to hearing more from this cat. He’s got some serious tools in his shed. You can catch James on Jan 26 at Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas. You can also check out his debut record, Midtown Odyssey, below.

 

Better Know an Artist (Vol 11): Zach Mayo (of the Hendersons)

Fort Worth’s the Hendersons are probably my favorite local band right now. There’s just something different about what they’re doing, but they’re definitely onto something. I think this band is headed for some big things in the near future, so I sent the usual questions over to drummer Zach Mayo to find out what’s going on over there. He had a lot to say. See for yourself. BTW’s, that’s him staring a hole into my soul in that photo above.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

ZM: I’ve always had music in my life. My mother was the Cantor every Sunday at church and can sing like an angel. My father played guitar, and my grandmother was also the Cantor at her church that we would sometimes visit. So, I always had music around me growing up. My older brothers (I’m the youngest of 3 boys) both were in band and played percussion and the French horn. I, however, decided not to follow in their footsteps and joined the orchestra program in the 5th grade to play the bass. Truly, I joined orchestra because I hated singing those lame-ass songs we were forced to sing in “music” class. But, I immediately fell in love with the bass. I was always a big kid growing up, and the bass just fit me perfectly. I started studying theory and performance, and my chops grew leaps-and bounds over the years. I continued playing bass in orchestra throughout my middle, junior, and high school years. All the while, I taught myself how to play guitar drums and the piano.

When I was in the 7th grade, my very good friend, Justin Elliott, started asking me if I wanted to “jam.” At that point, I had never really played “rock” music. I was only used to orchestra and church song arrangements. However, when i started playing with Justin, my entire outlook on music changed. I started playing drums more often, and Justin would play guitar. He was a madman when it came to the six-string, and I felt obligated to be just as much a madman on the drums. We had our two-man band, the Sugarmen, which was a very blues-heavy, garage rock vibe, much like the Black Keys or White Stripes. At the time, Justin was playing lead guitar with the Josh Weathers band and they needed an opening act. Josh was sick, and he didn’t have the will or energy to play for their full 3-hour bar set, so he enlisted me and J to fill in as an opening act. We played our first show at the Moon Bar to a crowd of people that were NOT there to see these two guys – they wanted to see Josh. By the end of our 1-hour set, we had the crowd in our hands. They loved it. After shaking hands with people and having compliments thrown at me left and right, it was then I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

Over the years, I’ve played in tons of different bands with different roles. I can honestly say that there’s nothing out there better than music – playing it, listening to it, practicing it. Every aspect of music plays a huge role in my life, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

ZM: The Hendersons are kind of hard to pinpoint and describe. Lots of people have told us that they remind them of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. There are also shades of Harry Nilsson and the Kinks. Nolan is the principle songwriter. He’s been influenced by all of the aforementioned bands, as well as a heavy influence of classical music. If you listen to Indian Summer, you might pick up on all of those. Kind of like a throw-back Harry-Nilsson-meets-Brian-Wilson-with-a-dash-of-Beethoven-and-a-sprig-of-Beatles.

Gun to my head, if I had to give the Hendersons a “genre”, I would say it’s Vintage Baroque Pop-rock.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

ZM: I’m influenced by heavy-hitting drummer, Buddy Miles. The man was a beast. He could sing and play drums like a madman! I’m also heavily influenced (drum-wise, that is) by a man named Steven Kleisath. He played drums for a hardcore band called Armstrong, as well as the more-poppy Further Seems Forever. The way he moves around the drum kit showed me that there was much more to playing than just “keeping the beat.”

Nowadays, I find myself watching drum solos all day. Benny Greb, Thomas Pridgen, Mike Johnson, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa – watching those guys has shown me that drums can also have a melody. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the way I hear it.

My favorite bands span tons of different genres: Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, Ray Lamontagne, AIR, Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, Ween, G. Love & Special Sauce, Otis Redding, James Brown, Menahan Street Band.

Me: Which of your songs means the most to you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

ZM: I always love playing “Skid Row.” It usually gets everyone dancing and singing along, and I enjoy that very much.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

ZM: The Hendersons don’t necessarily fit a perfect bill these days (especially in rock-heavy Ft. Worth), so I’d have to say that I would have LOVED to have been one of the acts at the Monterey Pop Festival back in 1967. But, only as long as we weren’t the ones following Otis Redding. That fucker brought the house down.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

ZM: I’m a big fan of Vodeo (formerly Shake the Moon). Those guys are super talented and have great hooks. I’m also digging what the fellas in Arenda Light bring to the table. They’re super tight and well-practiced, that’s for sure. And even though, they’re not “new” at all, I spend lots of my time in the car cycling through Wilco records.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

ZM: Tough call. I’d have to say it’s either between Ray Lamontagne’s Trouble or the Beach Boys’ Friends

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

ZM: I’m a big fin of how tight-knit a lot of the bands in FW are. Lots of us party together, share the same bills, and sometimes even share the same band members. It’s nice to feel like part of the “crew.” We’re all working together, doing the thing that we all love to do, and supporting each other along the way. There’s also the opposite side of the spectrum, where it can be difficult to crack into that “circle and be considered an outcast – especially if you’re new to the area and you’re trying to find the right group of people to play music with.

Dallas has always been a tough place to get your exposure to the masses. Every time I’ve played Dallas, it’s been for very few people. So, I guess the way to be known in Dallas is just say “Fuck it” and play for the small crowds as often as possible. Who knows? You may just gain a few more fans along the way.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

ZM: The Grotto. Hands down. It’s kind of like our “home bar.” We usually can pack the house, even on short notice. We also like that we’re allowed to bring in our homemade Frito-pies or Beef Stew for our fans to munch on during dreary, cold evenings. However I really enjoyed playing on the new outdoor stage at Lola’s/Trailer Park. That place is going to be a mainstay for outdoor shows for years to come.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

ZM: Some cat named Leon Bridges is doing pretty well for himself – or so I’ve heard. And Oil Boom is pretty solid. Chingalotus is another band that’s incredible. Cosmic Trigger makes my ears bleed (in the good way). Secret Ghost Champion has a record called Electric Neck and the Mercy Skull that I think EVERYONE should listen to. Jake Paleschic is amazing every single time I see him (and I’m super-jealous of his drummer Peter Wierenga’s snare sound.)

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

ZM: I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons with my girlfriend, Sarah Jane, for almost 2 years now. That shit is amazing, and does wonders for relationships.

A big thanks to Zach Mayo for taking the time. I think this is the longest post yet. If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Hendersons show, you’re going to want to do that. I have a feeling they’re about to blow up. You can check out their last record, Indian Summer, below, and keep an eye out for new material due next year. On a more somber note, Zach’s old band mate, Justin Elliott, passed away in a household accident last year. His family has established a scholarship fund to benefit local children in their musical and academic endeavors. If you’d like to donate to the fund, you can do so here. The Hendersons will be performing with Jacob Furr at the Grotto this Thursday, the 14th, if you need to catch a great show.

Photo Credit: Moi (yeah, I’m pretty awesome)

This Week in Indie Vol 3 (3/25/15)

Today(March 25) marks the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s live album, Band of Gypsys. It was the first album recorded without his original group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the last full-length album released before his death. While it’s one of the least acclaimed Hendrix records, it still features possibly the greatest and most influential guitarist of all time, and it was a major precursor to the funk rock music that would soon follow.

Band of Gypsys was recorded on January 1, 1970 at the Fillmore East in New York City and features Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums. It infuses funk and R&B in with the traditional hard rock jams of Hendrix’s earlier work. This amalgam of styles led to what came to be the funk rock of the 70’s. The album is cited as an influence for acts like Parliament-Funkadelic, Cameo, Chic, Slash, Lenny Kravitz, and even Ice-T.

The album itself was put out as kind of a kiss-off to the label. Hendrix owed the label an album, and this ended up being it. Jimi felt that the live performances weren’t his best, and the tuning was off in some places, but the label was pushing for it, so it just had to get done.

The highlight of the album is “Machine Gun”, which by the time of recording had grown into an extended guitar improvisational piece that really showed off Hendrix’s chops, sometimes compared to those of John Coltrane. The song is about the realities of war as guitarist Vernon Reid describes “it’s like a movie about war without the visuals. It had everything-the lyrics, the humanism of it, the drama of it, the violence of it, the eeriness of it, and the unpredictability of it.”

All in all, while it’s not an all-time classic at the level of Electric Ladyland or Are You Experienced?, it’s still a pretty solid live record, and still just as influential on the music that came after it.

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Download in mp3
Get It On Vinyl

Listen: Jimi Hendrix “Machine Gun”

Listen: Jimi Hendrix “Changes”

Listen: Jimi Hendrix “Power of Soul”

This week in Indie is a weekly series focused on record releases that had a great effect on the indie rock landscape.B

This Week in Indie Vol 2 (3/18/15)

This week (March 22) marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most important recordings of all time, Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. The album was Dylan’s first entry into top 10 status in the states, and contained his first single to chart in the US, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Bringing It All Back Home marked Dylan’s firm step away from the protest folk scene that he had become associated with. He began to take a more creative approach to his songwriting.

Dylan spent the summer of 1964 in Woodstock, NY, up all hours, hitting the typewriter. In the month of August, he had finished edits on “Mr Tambourine Man” and “the Gates of Eden”, and written at least 2 more songs, “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”. Later that month, he met with the Beatles for the first time in their New York hotel and reportedly introduced them to marijuana, a meeting that paved the way for their series of more introspective sounds on future records.

After a disappointing recording session at Columbia’s Studio A in New York, Jan 13, 1965, Dylan met up with a full electric band the next day in Studio B and in 3 and a half hours recording time, they had produced master cuts for “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Outlaw Blues”, “She Belongs to Me”, and “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”. The next day, the same group met again in Studio A and finished recording again in 3 and a half hours, working up master takes of “Maggie’s Farm”, “On the Road Again”, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, “Gates of Eden”, “Tambourine Man”, and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.

Some of Dylan’s greatest songs are included on this album. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was Dylan’s first charting single in the US, and is thought of by some as a precursor to rap (or at least a precursor to Michael Stipe and Billy Joel). “Maggie’s Farm” marks Dylan’s freedom from the protest Folk movement. As such, the rambling “Outlaw Blues” further marks Dylan’s escape from the protest folk movement, and his desire for a more bohemian “outlaw” lifestyle. “Tambourine Man” is somewhat a foray into psychedelia, impressive considering it’s entirely acoustic. It was the big breakthrough hit for the Byrds. One of the greatest songs in the Dylan canon, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is an ambitious composition that contains some of Dylan’s greatest lyrics.

All in all, Bringing It All Back Home is considered one of the most important records in Dylan’s catalog, especially considering it marked his first real success and his step away from the protest folk scene. The album ranked 31st on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Another Dylan album from 1965 comes in higher, but we’ll talk about that later. Anyways, have some Dylan.

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Watch: Bob Dylan “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

Listen: Bob Dylan “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Watch: Bob Dylan “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Listen: Bob Dylan “Maggie’s Farm”

This week in Indie is a weekly series focused on record releases that had a great effect on the indie rock landscape.

Top Shows Coming to Town for 3/13/15-3/19/15

I’m going to a couple this week. Also, Saturday is Pi Day, so you know, skip the shows and go to Paris Coffee Shop or something, I don’t know. Anyways, here we go.

1 Santana @ Verizon Theatre (Grand Prairie) Weds, 3/18/15

Carlos Santana is one of the most iconic guitar players of all time. I’m scratching one off the bucket list with this one.

2 Beach Boys @ Verizon Theatre (Grand Prairie) Thurs, 3/19/15

The Beach Boys are possibly even more iconic than Santana, but no Brian Wilson and no Al Jardine, leaves this show playing 2nd fiddle.

3 TV on the Radio @ Granada Theater (Dallas) Thurs, 3/19/15

The beloved indie rock group will perform 2 sold out shows at the Granada (so they’ll appear on this list two weeks in a row), as they carry on without bass player Gerard Smith, who passed away in 2011.

4 Twin Shadow @ Granada Theater (Dallas) Tues, 3/17/15

The emerging indie singer Twin Shadow tours in support of his March release Eclipse.

5 Gang of Four @ Trees (Deep Ellum) Weds, 3/18/15

One of the most influential (while, not successful) bands of all time perform in support of their latest release.

6 35 Denton @ Downtown Denton (Denton) Fri, 3/13/15-Sun 3/15/15

The Denton festival returns, highlighted by UK legends, the Zombies, along with a slew of solid local artists (Telegraph Canyon, Doug Burr, RTB2, amongst others) and up-and-comers. There’s music all over Denton this weekend.

7 Surfer Blood @ Club Dada (Deep Ellum) Sun, 3/15/15

The surf-rock influenced indie-rockers play some fun tunes for your listening pleasure.

8 Matthew E White @ Three Links (Deep Ellum) Mon, 3/16/15

The Virginia singer/songwriter tours in support of his latest record, the critically acclaimed Fresh Blood. White also produced recent album of the week, Natalie Prass.

9 Carolyn Wonderland @ the Kessler Theatre (Oak Cliff) Fri, 3/13/15

Still one of my favorite current blues artists at one of my favorite venues. Should be a kick ass show, as always.

10 Swervedriver @ Club Dada (Deep Ellum) Thurs, 3/19/15

The British shoegaze band perform in support of I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, their first studio album in 17 years.