Dedicated amateur

For longtime local music fixture Bucks Burnett, the playing is the thing

"The dream--my wildest dream--has already come true," he says from his living room, as cluttered with bizarre knick-knacks as any room you could recall from college or early post-adolescence. "That's such a joyful thing that everything else is just extra." Still, he's been sending the album out, and Shaun Edwardes of Last Beat is helping him shop it around.

"There's not much that we can do with it right now," Edwardes says. "It's a good album, but Bucks doesn't play live, and that makes it hard to sell. Most A&R people want to see an act perform. Still, if there's someone out there who might be interested in it, I'll help them find him."

"It's about the best I've ever played or sung," Burnett explains. While he feels sanguine about the future, he's not basing that upon the past. "Even if I were to play live, I think I'd do other stuff, new stuff, more casual--I wouldn't try to recreate something that I've done before. Right now my desire is to keep recording. I've got several more albums, just standing by."

Blow, winds, blow
Who plays harmonica? Most would say cowboys 'round the campfire and bluesmen, but Tom Ellis says the instrument nicknamed "the Mississippi saxophone" has a far broader context. Ellis is a seller of vintage microphones, the author of a series of articles about Paul Butterfield in Blues Access magazine, and an organizer of the 1997 Dallas Harmonica Happening that takes place at Blue Cat Blues on Thursday, July 24, from 8 p.m. until midnight. Ellis says that in the 1930s and early '40s, America was full of harmonica organizations, and that kids in those days were more likely to be in a mouth organ band than a little league baseball team.

Ellis is a member of the Harmonica Organization of Texas (HOOT), which--along with Buddy magazine and the Hohner Company--is sponsoring the shindig, designed to showcase the breadth of Lone Star harmonica craft. Representing the blues will be Dempsey Crenshaw (of Shame Shame) and Joe Jonas; both will be backed by the Hash Brown Trio. The C&W torch will be held aloft by Tim Harris (who also blows a mean rock 'n' roll harp) and Gerald Welch, who plays at the Mesquite Opry. Harder to categorize is Paul Harrington, who's worked with acts as diverse as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Dolly Parton.

"He's one of the finest harmonica players, period," Ellis says of Harrington. "If he wasn't a single dad with kids, he could be on the road with--well, with anybody he wanted, because he can play C&W, blues, and pop." The most unique acts in the Happening line-up are the Harmonichords and the Don Sanders Group, a trio and quartet respectively. Both utilize bass, chord, and chromatic harmonicas, and although the combos don't sound much alike, they both share something with the hit-making Harmonicats of the '40s in that any song, from polka to pop to swing, is fair game to them. Tentatively scheduled are Gary Primich, Mickey Raphael, and the mighty Sam Myers. It promises to be a bigger collection of blowhards than you'll find at any city council or school board meeting, and considerably more uplifting.

--Tim Schuller

Scene, heard
The Old 97's are doing well on the road, playing the second stage on Lollapalooza...at a recent show, several youths who were obviously Korn fans were spotted stage front, soaking up the sounds of Rhett Miller and Co., after which they promptly went and bought Old 97's T-shirts...Ray Wylie Hubbard will be at Uncle Calvin's Friday, July 25, backed up by Terry "Buffalo" Ware. Hubbard's guitar teacher, Sam Swank, opens and will probably join the duo onstage later...Transona Five will play their last show in a while that same night, up in Denton at the Argo's benefit for the Good/Bad Art Collective. Slobberbone and others will also play. The boys in T5 will then concentrate on recording another album, leaving us with just the split seven-inch due soon out of Italy (mentioned here earlier; their song will be called "No Door") to tide us over...

Tuesday, July 29, Voyager's Dream in Denton will host an evening of Sufi circle dancing, drumming, and chanting...Riot Squad has a new album out titled Naked Aggression and is currently touring the Midwest with REO Speedealer...Deborah Vial, formerly of Blanche Fury and Naked Barbi, has organized Petstock '97 to benefit homeless animals. The event will feature Vial and other acts on Sunday, July 27, at Sue Ellen's from 4 to 10 p.m...Broose Dickinson continues the trend of annoying, hard-to-remember band and album names that require constant re-checking with the release of TooMuch is Not Enough, the debut album by TOOMuchTV, his project with Charles Reeves. Both names are sure to make proofreaders and copy editors want to pooke...The Tomorrowpeople's Golden Energy is finally out...Jazz trumpet great Roy Hargrove joined noted guitarist Mark Whitfield and our own Marchel Ivery to work on Leaning House Jazz's production of local pianist Fred Sanders' East of Vilbig, due out soon.

Street Beat welcomes all your input, tips and assistance at Matt_Weitz@dallasobserver.com.z

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