Grits ain't groceries

Soul Food Cafe tries to take blue-eyed soul to another level

"Our problem has always been that we don't fit into any category," Wisdom admits. "At least with Leroy Shakespeare, when you hear his name, you think 'reggae'...I think that before we had been trying to get to where everybody else's songs were, and on this one we really said, 'This is what we do well.' It may end up fucking us, because--like on the road--if people can easily identify you, you make a lot more sense to them."

Live, the band comes off much crunchier than it does in the studio. King and Allen form a tight, dependable--but still interesting--support structure, while McLemore (one of best guitarists in town) supplies texture and decoration. He looks kind of like Eric Clapton, and, without sounding like him, manages to fulfill a number of expectations, just like ol' Slowhand--taking the reins with "watch this" panache or lying back and merely adding footnotes to the main musical narrative.

It's an inclusiveness that never seems strained, but McLemore recently invited Jason Schummer to sit in with Soul Food so that the band could explore the possibilities of second guitarist. The noticeably younger Schummer--formerly of Headshop--grew up outside of Chicago, in the Hinsdale area. "There's a little of everything there," Schummer says, "and I grew up listening to all sorts of stuff--Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and at the same time Led Zeppelin and all that." He may have a heavier heritage, but many metal bands have underappreciated rhythm guitarists, and Schummer lives up to that promise, meshing solidly with King and Allen and often forming with them a three-piece rhythm section. McLemore--formerly the Fill King on his own--obviously is carefully choosing the changes in his role, slowly capitalizing on his new freedom.

"I could never do live all the subtle things and multiple parts that we've put on the album," he says. "That's why we got another guitar player...Now I can get closer to all the stuff I do in the studio."

With so bright so blind Soul Food Cafe tries to re-establish itself in the minds and hearts of area music fans, but even the fairly sanguine Wisdom acknowledges that the job will not be easy. "We still have people," he says with the slightest hint of a sigh, "coming up and asking us, 'When are you gonna get the horns back?'"

Soul Food Cafe performs Saturday, October 12, at the Dark Room.

Scene, heard
Deborah Vial, formerly of Blanche Fury, has a new project, Naked Barbi, which debuted at Sue Ellen's a few weeks ago...

October 4 is a busy day for the dynamos at Direct Hit Records; that's when the record release party for the new Girl 10-inch and Stephen Nutt's 7-inch as Fury III happens at the Vickery Tavern. Both bands will play, and the fun starts about 9ish...

Shake Russell--a folk institution since the mid-'70s--has decided to go off the road, and October 3 marks his last Dallas show at Poor David's Pub. Ever. BBQ aficionados Lindsay and Gowan open...

After an aborted and short-lived period as Javelina, the pride of Elm Mott, D'Javaheads, have replaced their old bassist with Bill Lewis, lately of Austin's Jerry Giddens Band, and now wish to simply be Javaheads. Since the Talking Heads spinoff The Heads already have claimed that name, further truncation seems unlikely...

Dixie Chicks drummer Tom VanSchaik also has tired of the road, leaving that band after five years to teach at the Dallas Arts Magnet high school and for the DeSoto ISD...

An NeA that even withered and utterly corrupt anachronism Jesse Helms can get behind--the Nashville Entertainment Association, presumably with the lowercase "e" so that we don't confuse it with the effete collection of scoundrels so fond of threatening Western civilization by submerging religious relics in urine--has announced that it is accepting submissions from bands that wish to be considered for its Extravaganza '97 musical showcase. All styles welcome...

The second annual Grammy showcase also is looking for unsigned bands "that don't suck," according to its press release: For more info, call 1-800-544-8991...

The International Drag Poets' Ball comes to Club Clearview October 3 on its Texas BBQ Tour, offering the finest in spoken word, performance art, industrial music, and all manner of weirdness...

The Gingerman goes to Beercon Four for its Oktoberfest celebration October 6, promising (or threatening) oom-pah-pah out the yinyang...

The Recliners, an Austin quintet notable for its lounge treatment of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," plays KERA-FM 90.1's October 9 early-evening slot at Chuy's...

There's a new club--the Blue Mule--in the West End. Formerly the Outback Pub, the spot is reopening with an expanded stage and a greater commitment to music. October 5 it presents Denton's Riddle Me This, Joe McBride, and Andy Timmons and the Pawn Kings. Proceeds will benefit the Texas Music Association...

Rappers Lock Down Inmates report that their new album, Wassup Wit It?, is selling well, and that the single, "according to Lock Down Records Vice President Henry Peeples, a.k.a. Oak Cliff Assassin reports. The album's single, "Kick It Wit We," is getting good regional airplay. "We appreciate the reception we've gotten in Dallas," Peeples says. "We've got seven other acts on our label, and we're trying to bring the community with us; we want to set a blueprint that others can follow"...

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