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So, we’ve added a calendar

We’ve been keeping out Twitter up to date on shows we’ve been to, but we’re looking at getting a little more active here. Probably the easiest part of that seems to be by adding a calendar.

This area’s got a lot of resources for things to do, a lot of places to look. You’ve got the Observer and Central Track (probably the biggest aggregator, but they still miss some things, some of the smaller things) and this newspaper and that rag and that radio station and all the venues’ sites and all the artists’ sites and all the theater companies’ sites and… and…

As a friend asked, a couple weeks ago, “Where’s the one place I can go to find what’s going on, to find this show we’re at now, and the [completely different] one we were at last night?”

Well, as we had found both the events and let her know about them… maybe that’s us.

We’ll miss some, to be sure. Early on, we’ll miss lots. We’ll try to err on the side of local artists and art. We may also find ourselves completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of places we have to look, and the sheer number of events we have to note.

But we think it’s worth a shot. That’s what the “What’s Happening” link at the top means, and what this will take you to: Calendar

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Thursday Night Gypsy Jazz & Wine

New DBD favorite La Pompe is playing at Two Corks and a Bottle (2800 Routh Street #140) from 7:00-10:00pm, tonight.

If you don’t know Two Corks, it’s a quiet little winery and wine bar on the edge of the Quadrangle, on the Laclede side. They rotate the varieties they have available by the glass, and have bottles of everything available. They have cheese plates from Scardello available (I don’t think that rotates), but you can certainly bring food, or order from several local eateries (I’ve had MoMo’s, which is a few doors down, bring it right over like it was their own restaurant, including regular dishes and silverware).

As for La Pompe, they do “Gypsy Jazz” (think Django Reinhardt). Their site notes this, and they will explain it, too—but Gypsy Jazz doesn’t use drums. Instead, it relies on a driving, regular beat established by a guitar or two, and maybe an upright bass.

The lovely Kathryn Hackett fronts the band, and sings most of the songs, some in English, some French, with the occasional Spanish, German, and/or Yiddish song thrown in. Max Robertson plays the living hell out of a mandolin. Mark Deffebach—who frequently plays bass with Dave Burris and the Sassafrass Swing Set—drives the guitar, in this case a slightly tinny-sounding instrument that fits perfectly in this band, and sings a song or two. They will usually have one of several upright bass players join them, or occasionally a second guitar.

Get out to see these folks. It’s a great band in a marvelous location.

This weekend, March 14-15

Tonite – Dogdander at the Wine Therapist (1909 Skillman). Now ’til maybe 11:00.

Tomorrow – Camille Cortinas, John Lefler, & Holly Peyton celebrate the fact that all their birthdays fall in March at the Wine Therapist. 8:30 until they get shut down.

Open Classical Artist Series “Passionate Journeys” at AllGood Cafe

(Open Classical) is doing the latest installment of their Artist Series concerts at the AllGood Cafe in Deep Ellum on Main Street, tonight at 8.

Open Classical Director (and Chief Powerhouse–it’s not on his business card, but it should be) will be playing viola and violin. Thiago Nascimento, who makes up the other half of the Dynamic Duo of Classical Open Mic, will be bringing his piano genius to the show. Tenor Edward Kuntchef–who, seriously guys, bring the special lady in your life to this show, and just watch her melt when Edward opens his mouth–will be singing. And in a bit of a divergence from strict classical (there’s nothing “strict” about Open Classical, ever), multi-instrumentalist Matt Tolentino will step away from his frequent swing-music performances with bands such as the Singapore Slingers, and will bring a little taste of a Parisian cafe to the AllGood’s stage.

How can you go wrong at $10 a ticket (and with bottles of wine at half price)?

Well, that all made more sense earlier. But I could not publish to save my life. Oh well! Was a great show!

Too old?

I didn’t get into Dallas music until I was (almost) too old to enjoy it. Almost.

Vanessa Peters plays Santa Clause in June – and plays LaGrange in Deep Ellum

The last week has been like Christmas for me.

Vanessa Peters‘ new album “The Burn The Truth The Lies” became available for download last Monday (June 18) for those of us who pledged to her Kickstarter campaign, late last year. I’m going to add—and I don’t mean this sarcastically, but as someone who has been looking forward to this for months—finally.

Fool that I am—I didn’t check my email Monday, didn’t get the link until Tuesday afternoon. Of course, I promptly downloaded the album, imported it into my iTunes, and listened to it three times through, twice in order, once on “shuffle”. And several time since then.

Once again—it’s well worth the wait.

She’s previewed a few of the songs for those of us smart enough to go to her shows, and another one was made available several weeks ago for us Kickstarter donors, but the rest of the 11-song album is all new. I gotta say, it’s brilliant.

And then, as I was running around Saturday, trying to get ready to go have dinner with friends, there was a knock on my door. The mailman was bringing me a Box o’ Joy, which included my physical schwag from the Kickstarter pledge: my signed physical copy of the CD, 2 really cool new T-shirts, a black Moleskine journal (with the Italian sales wrap label on it—how cool is that?) with the lyrics and a little story behind one of my favorite songs from her last album handwritten inside.

Anyway, now I have the physical CD, and can listen in my car. And have. More or less nonstop.

Yesterday, still more goodies—an email with a link to download of an EP containing some acoustic mixes to several songs from the album, as well as one song which didn’t make the album. Downloaded, imported, and listening to. As I type.

OK, so enough about my “Christmas in June” week—here’s the really important part:

Vanessa is doing an album pre-release show on Thursday, June 28th at LaGrange. This will be a rare, rare “full band” show (her first in Texas in 3 years, I think she said). The show includes most of the band who actually performed on the album: John Dufilho (Polyphonic Spree and Deathray Davies) on drums, Jason Garner (Apples in Stereo and Deathray Davies) on drums and bass, Rip Rowan (frequent quiet collaborator with Salim Nourallah) on keys, and Andy Lester (The Blurries) on guitar. (San Antonio’s Joe Reyes played guitar on the album, and has done several shows with Vanessa in the past few years, as well as shows and recording with Salim—in addition to his solo work, and his band, Buttercup.)

Thursday’s show is set for 9 pm (doors at 8). Denton’s Birds of Night and Dallas’ Daniel Hart are also playing, and I’m not really sure who’s playin’ first—so be on time! For. Once. In your. Life.

And the whole thing is only $5.00. That’d be a bargain at 4X the price.

Catch this one—she’s running off to tour Europe for a couple months soon after, and won’t be back on our side of the pond until October-ish, when I’m guessing she will make the rounds of Texas and nearby (and not-so-nearby) states, including—I’d guess—several shows within 100 miles of Dallas.

But really, who would want to wait that long?

The Best Show You Didn’t See: The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart at AllGood on April 5

Freedy Johnston looks like FDR is a Wisconsin fan.

At least, the image of the 32nd President we have become used to seeing in movies: vertically-oriented face, closed jaw that looks like it would be more at home with a cigarette holder grasped in his teeth. Tonight, he’s wearing a red and white “Wisconsin” T-shirt and matching ball cap.

Susan Cowsill calls to mind the favorite cousin who went off to school in California and came back a little Bohemian: ripped jeans, loose peasant blouse under a sweater she’s constantly readjusting about herself, black military-style cap pulled down to thoroughly shadow her eyes.

Then there’s Jon Dee Graham. He’s reminiscent of that one uncle. You know the one–your dad’s brother whom your mother is just not quite comfortable having around because his laugh is just a little too hearty, his language a lot too salty, his loose-hanging flannel shirt entirely too casual for her dinner table. But he’s great, partly because he annoys Mom.

John Dee takes the AllGood stage first, and gives a solo performance of a couple of his well-loved songs. His lone acoustic guitar is raw and heavy–but nimble. His voice is a growl that would be at home in a smokey blues bar in New Orleans, or a sleepy honky-tonk in Nashville–which breaks into silky smoothness at the proper moments of a tender song.

Then Freedy replaced him onstage, for a couple of his own. His voice is higher-pitched and slightly nasal–and that’s not at all bad. It works. And matches his acoustic playing, which is somehow lighter and definitely higher than Jon Dee’s.

The boys convince Susan to do one, so she borrows Freedy’s guitar. Her voice is homespun silk–rough cut fabric woven from the smoothest of threads. Her guitar is a little tentative at first (I don’t think she’s rehearsed this song) but picks up and she ends up as sure as either of the guys.

The Hobart Brothers” join “Lil’ Sis Hobart” onstage, and the camaraderie which had been evident as they talked and joked back and forth between the one onstage and the two in the audience became what this trio truly is: three masters joining forces to produce magic. Mixed metaphors intended. And appropriate.

Their voices complement each other well, trading off lead vocals on songs, with one or two on background. The guys’ guitars seemingly weave in and out of each other, and Susan just has fun–in time (and in lieu of a drummer)–with her tambourine. And they’re having fun, the other 2 verbally cheering on on a guitar solo, or providing a “call and response” to some of the lyrics. All 3 teasing each other between songs.

Shift forward in time (and tense): the show was just fun. Fun to watch, fun to tap your toes to, fun to laugh with.

It’s not often that I am going to say this here (more likely, never again): Go to Austin to see them do this. Seriously, find out where they are playing, and go. Houston–GO. OKC–GO. El Paso–GO. Poughkeepsie–Do what ya gotta, but GO.

The show will be well worth the trip.

And you might just see me there.

The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart at AllGood

We got a big event coming up next week at the AllGood.

The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart is a sort of supergroup composed of Austin legend Jon Dee Graham, New York’s Freedy Johnston, and the little sister of the legendary family band The Cowsills (upon whom the Partridge Family TV show was based)–Susan Cowsill.

OK, so I am gonna confess–I’m not at all familiar with Freedy Johnston (though I had at least heard of him when his name came up). I’m also not real familiar with The Cowsills, though I did watch a hell of a lot of Love, American Style when I was a kid and anything on the idiot box entertained me (The Cowsills performed the theme song) and, of course, The Partridge Family, and who hasn’t heard the iconic Hair? And I honestly didn’t know Susan Cowsill had her own career.

Both are my oversight, and based on what I’ve heard from The Hobart Brothers–and what of their solo efforts I’ve had time to listen to–I’ll correct, soonest.

Jon Dee Graham is another matter entirely. The man is considered something of a legend in Austin–and he oughtta be selling out shows here. I first became aware of him a few years ago, when he was trying to establish a “residency” (aka a “regular gig”) one night a month at The AllGood. A friend who has known Jon Dee personally for 20-some-odd years basically begged me to come to the show one night. I heard Jon Dee play his acoustic and his “lap steel” and belt out some of the most heartfelt lyrics I have ever heard in his gravelly country-meets-blues voice–and I have tried very hard to get to all of his shows since.

The problem is–no one here knows him. I have seen him play chronically under-attended gigs here in Dallas. This is a complete travesty–and, really, the reason we don’t get more intimate live music up here. We should not have to drive to Austin to see this stuff.

For real–say his name in Austin, and they know who you are talking about. Say “Jon Dee” to Bob Schneider, James McMurtry, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charlie Sexton, or Alejandro Escovedo–or the people who go to their shows down there–and they know who he is. He’s got great people playing with him–I’ve seen Jon Dee play with Andrew Duplantis, who has been the bass player for Son Volt for several years now, and with Fastball drummer Joe Shuffield. Both Andrew and Joe are also part of Jon Dee’s semi-regular backing band, The Fighting Cocks.

And, yeah–damn right I’m dropping names.

Jon Dee Graham, alone, should be filling bigger venues. Solo, he should be filling the Kessler. This deal with The Hobart Brothers should be filling the Granada, or maybe even House of Blues.

The fact is–next Thursday (that’s April 5), you and I and all too few others will be able to eat a good meal–AllGood’s food is great–and enjoy a very intimate show with this awesome, awesome “supergroup”. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that they will tear completely through the one album The Hobart Brothers recorded together (which is greatness, IMHO), and have time for some of the artists’ solo work.

Seriously–do not miss this show.

My interest in the Dallas music scene began in–of all places–Austin

So, I was flying back from visiting my parents in Raleigh, NC. Pretty sure it was just after Christmas 2004. I’d flown Southwest Airlines, so of course there was the obligatory stop Somewhere Else (thanks to the soon-to-be-dead-but-not-soon-enough Wright Amendment) to get back to Love Field.

This trip, Somewhere Else was Austin. My layover was somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple hours, so I wandered over to find a beer. Turned out they played live music in the terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International, so I took my bottle over to a table by the stage and sat down to hear the young lady who was playing.

Well, I caught about the last song and a half of her set. Certainly long enough to tell she had a pretty voice, and sang about subjects I could identify with. So, as she packed up her guitar, I walked over and told her so. She said she was actually from Dallas (but spent about half her time in Italy) and played around Dallas when she was home. I put my email addy on her mailing list and bought one of her CDs.

Her name was Vanessa Peters and I started getting her email announcements pretty quickly, telling me of shows in Dallas and all of Texas. And Europe. (Yeah, I was confused by that, but seemed to recall her mentioning spending some of her time overseas, when we talked.)

And I kept reading the emails, but not going to the Dallas-area shows. The timing either didn’t work for me, or it did and I planned to go and then just wimped out, at the last minute.

Finally, a little more than a year later, I made it to a show. It was at this really cool coffee house in the basement of what used to be the old Sears Catalog Merchandise Center, south of Downtown. Now the building was lofts and shops (called South Side on Lamar). The coffee house in the basement is now called Opening Bell (at the time it was Standard and Pours), and was neither your typical music venue, nor your typical coffee shop.

Anyway, I was hooked. Since then, I have caught nearly every show Vanessa has played within 50 miles of Dallas–many but not all at Opening Bell–and even one in Raleigh. I just flat out love her music.

More than just Vanessa’s music, however–the other acts she has played with have opened me up to a world of other artists, including (but not nearly limited to) Dallas’ Salim Nourallah and Camille Cortinas, MC Hansen from Denmark, Austin’s Aimee Bobruk, San Antonio’s Joe Reyes, and Swedish/Canadian gem Sarah MacDougall.

I keep going back. As long as Vanessa Peters keeps singing, I’ll keep listening.

…And even I will admit: One Good Thing came out of the Wright Amendment.

Vanessa Peters at Opening Bell

Got an email earlier today from Vanessa Peters noting that she is opening for Houston songwriter Matt Harlan and Danish band The Sentimentals tomorrow night, at Opening Bell Coffee. Friday night, March 2, at 8 pm.

Kind of knew about it because MC Hansen–who is a member of The Sentimentals and has played with Vanessa before and is amazing in his own right–mentioned it on Facebook a couple weeks ago. Been planning to go all along, but since I have finally gotten this little project up and running, I thought I’d mention it.

I’ll definitely mention it afterwards.