Winner's circle

All the bands that fit,and one that quit

The pinnacle of the Argo's calendar last year was the three-day Melodica festival, which attracted some luminaries of contemporary noise: Sonic Boom's E.A.R., from England, for their first-ever public performance; as well as Tortoise, Brad Laner's Electric Company, Sea and Cake, Lotus Crown, and about a dozen others. Melodica was a mini-Woodstock for the '90s. "The musicians checked their egos at the door," Dover recalls. "We broke even. Sonic Boom dug the vibe so much that he came back a couple of months later for another show."

This year, the Argo has put together a bigger Melodica--involving four days of sonic euphoria, induced by 21 bands. The line-up includes Roshonnda Red Quotet, Sixteen Deluxe, Light Bright Highway, Drain, Skip Tracer, the Silver Apples, Mazinga Phaser, Transona Five, Sugar Plant, Wiring Prank, and Ohm. "It's one of these things that should happen, and we make it happen," Dover says with pride.

--Philip Chrissopoulos

For ticket info call the Argo at (817) 383-3705 or check out the website www.win.net/spacerock.

Ship of Vibes sets sail again
Longtime local reggae act Leroy Shakespeare and his Ship of Vibes are working on a new album, having gotten a creative rush from advances in recording that have allowed the band to escape some of the studio pitfalls that have hindered them in the past. "We've been writing a bunch of new songs," keyboard man Arthur Riddles says, pointing to advances in digital technology as the spark. "And with this digital stuff, it's like a virtual studio; we can record straight onto disc--with effects and everything--ourselves, without having to book tons of studio time and without all the time and money pressures that we'd had before." Such pressures had in the past led the group to accept gambits designed to work economically that didn't make sense musically.

The band--vocalist and frontman Shakespeare, Riddles, and guitarist Dave Burris--first started working their way back into the local scene about a year ago after an extended hiatus during which they recovered from the excessive roadwear of their earlier heyday. They did some well-received gigs about town, but in November Riddles broke his shoulder, and plans had to be put on hold. Now, with Riddles healed, the band is ready to give it another go.

"We pretty much knew that to come back in force, we'd have to have this album out there," Riddles says. "We've been having some killer shows lately, and things are really going well, especially the songwriting. With this digital technology, we finally have all the freedom that we never had before, the ability to take our time and create something that we're really proud of."

Leroy Shakespeare and the Ship of Vibes plays at the Pound Saturday, May 17.

Scene, heard
Austin Accordeonista Ponty Bone has been playing the squeezebox since long before the current Americana-roots trend elevated it--and sister instruments like the fiddle and mandolin--to "cool" status. A fixture in the river city music scene since the '70s, Bone has accompanied scores of that town's brightest lights, most notably Joe Ely. Although he keeps busy playing festivals, parties, and clubs, he doesn't make it up thisaway very often. Go to Poor David's and see the guy who was zydeco--and norteno, and Acadian--long before it was the hip thing to be on Thursday, May 8, and shout out a request for "Beer Drinking Woman"...

Transona Five's release party for their melatonin bullet will be held at Last Beat Records on Saturday, May 3. The show is free, the band will perform, and things start at 7:30 p.m....Pump'n Ethyl is looking for a bassist...Dallas Observer Music Awards winner Earl Harvin (Best Jazz) has a new album, Strange Happy. The album, on the local Leaning House jazz label, features all new originals and a version of Charles Mingus' "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," particularly appropriate since his stint with Ellington's Orchestra in the late '80s, at the end of his college career at UNT, is what brought him to the attention of many jazz mavens. Joining him on the disc are Dave Palmer on piano, Fred Hamilton on bass, and Chris Maguire on tenor sax and bass clarinet...

Street Beat welcomes any and all input, abuse, tips, hints and questions at Matt_Weitz@dallasobserver.com.

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