Scene, heard

Barley House crams it in with Gramfest; Gypsy Tea Room swings; Curtain Club opens nationwide; Liquid Lounge keeps it real

Barley House presents its annual Gramfest on November 5, a celebration of the life, music, and Nudie suits of former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Gram Parsons. Reed Easterwood, Meredith Miller, Lucky Pierres, the Bradfords, Ridgerunners, Shaggy and the Flamin' Grammies, and Pat McKanna will perform Parsons' music from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., and word is that one of them will be paying the ultimate tribute to Parsons by draining an entire trust fund on a self-destructive drinking binge. (At press time, the performer in question had yet to be determined.) Since there is no cover, we suggest you spend your cash on a pool we are putting together. All you have to do is correctly determine at what point "Sin City" will make its first appearance. Squares are still available...

Proving that it stays on top of trends, Gypsy Tea Room will host a swing-dance contest (which is roughly two years too late), with open preliminaries on November 10, and a final round on November 17. Which raises the question: Why? OK, fine, we know there are more than a few people in the area that like to swing dance. And judging by the overabundance of e-mails the members of the Dallas Swing Dance Society sent us after our last jab at them, they have too much time on their hands, none of which is used to check their spelling. Then again, it's difficult to choose between the many alternate spellings of "jackass." Just proves that you don't need a sense of humor to be a swing dancer, merely access to vintage stores and a love of hearing the same song a few hundred times a night. If nothing else, the Gypsy Tea Room's shindig finally makes it all worthwhile, offering $1,200 in prize money and "special vintage trophies." (Christ, does everything have to be old with these people?) The good news is, there is no entry fee for the contest, just the $6 cover charge normally applied to Johnny Reno and the Lounge Kings' every-Wednesday gig. The contest starts at 10 p.m., and the hate mail begins right...now...

While we were under the impression that "Texas' greatest talent search" was the boy-band auditions KISS-FM (106.1) held a few weeks back at Valley View Mall (well...), apparently, that honor has been bestowed on the 6th Annual Texas Rhythm & Blues Music Association Urban Music Conference, which happens November 4-7 at the Sheraton Park Central Hotel. The four-day conference will feature seminars and workshops -- everything from How to Manage Your Career to Production 101 -- as well as the aforementioned talent search, which will garner the winners a round-trip ticket to New York to meet with a "major record executive." (Knowing the way major labels work, we'd suggest you bring along bus fare just in case.) To register for the TRBMA Urban Music Conference, call (214) 339-9140 or (888) 784-9824. Any calls to Street Beat will be immediately forwarded to a dial tone...

The Curtain Club appears to have relaxed its "all local, all the time" booking policy, finally taking on a few national acts. Last week, Curtain hosted shows by Matthew Sweet and Drain sth, Shawn Mullins (remember?) performed there on Tuesday, and former Minutemen and fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt (November 10) and conglomerate-of-all-that-is-bad Jimmie's Chicken Shack (November 11) are scheduled to appear. Trust us, fellas, we're not knocking the decision. We know it's not easy to live on Lure-Surgeon General-Uncle Silas bills forever. On a related note, the Curtain Club's annex, Liquid Lounge, continues to establish itself as the spot for local hip-hop. The club will host a benefit for KNON-FM (89.3) and its Saturday-evening hip-hop show Knowledge Dropped, Lessons Taught on November 5, as well as Ghetto Fame-Us' CD release party for its long overdue debut Add On! the next night. If only the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge could combine the two and bring more national hip-hop acts to town. No pressure...

In a moment that couldn't come soon enough, erstwhile Richardson native Jessica Simpson makes a triumphant homecoming on November 4, when she opens for Ricky Martin at Reunion Arena. (By the way, we're still angry that The Dallas Morning News beat us to the punch line by cleverly working "Livin' La Vida Loca" into the headline for their story about Martin. Oh wait, it didn't -- at least not cleverly. Never mind. Maybe that's why News pop-music editor David Okamoto is leaving. Couldn't be because his staff of crack writers are so...good. Maybe his supply of female folk records was running low. Been a long time since Cindy Lee Berryhill came through town. Or maybe Dave's tired of spell-checking the phrases "Thor Christensen" and "Teresa Gubbins.") For those of you wondering how Simpson -- who has yet to release her debut, Sweet Kisses -- managed to land on a tour with Martin, they are both signed to Columbia Records. It's all about corporate synergy, brutha. Well, that's our best guess. We don't really know all the details about the tour, since our story ("Signing off," September 9) on Simpson and Teresa LaBarbera-Whites, the A&R rep who signed her, resulted in a bit of backlash from Columbia and its parent company, Sony Music. And obviously, we're incredibly distraught about the situation.

Send a comb and wax paper to Street Beat at zcrain@dallasobserver.com. We're getting the band back together.

 
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