Head Full of Beer

The Slobberbone chronicles: An oral history

"There comes a time when nothing seems clear. Passed out on the front porch with a head full of beer." It doesn't get any truer than Slobberbone's "Front Porch"--sung with Brent Best's hardscrabble twang and grit, it was the porch that birthed a thousand house parties. As the Denton music legends wind down a banner 13-year run with a two-night home-court grand finale at Dan's Silverleaf, there has been an outpouring of gratitude and support from admirers the world over, particularly from the Denton music community--and not just from the many who have been drunk on that fabled front porch. Slobberbone more or less put Denton on the national music map in the mid-'90s, ascending from gigs at the back of a beer store to tours with Cheap Trick and spearheading a national alt-country groundswell within a few short years of the group's humble beginning. This is the only band that nailed Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy's early vision of Uncle Tupelo--a seamless mix of old country, punk and garage rock delivered with bone-cutting sincerity. Slobberbone is Crazy Horse colliding with the heart-on-sleeve, fall-on-the-floor Midwestern punk of the Replacements and Hüsker Dü--with a little more country. As I was growing up in Fort Worth, Slobberbone wormed its way into my consciousness alongside the Von Erich family, late Rangers broadcaster Mark Holtz and the Trophy Nissan rap. But don't take my word for it. Ask the fans, the ones who have been there from the beginning and those who discovered them along the way. --Michael Chamy

In the Beginning, There Was Beer

The first Slobberbone show is more or less a blur. It was at the back of a beer store called (I think) Eagle Stop in Denton early summer '92. There was lots of beer spilled, a female vibe player (no kidding) and a great song called "The Trailer Park That Time Forgot."

The band, from left to right: Brian Lane, Brent Best, Tony Harper and Jess Barr
Cheryl Null
The band, from left to right: Brian Lane, Brent Best, Tony Harper and Jess Barr
Top: Brent Best breathes fire--literally. Bottom: And you will know them by the trail of empty beer cans: The tell-tale signs of Slobberbone: Jess Barr with a cigarette dangling from his lips (center), Brent Best singing through a mess of shaggy hair (top left).
Top: Brian Lane
Top: Brent Best breathes fire--literally. Bottom: And you will know them by the trail of empty beer cans: The tell-tale signs of Slobberbone: Jess Barr with a cigarette dangling from his lips (center), Brent Best singing through a mess of shaggy hair (top left).

The second show is a little more clear. The vibe player (again, no kidding) slipped on beer and fell on her ass. The original bassist, Lee [Pearson], refused to play anymore unless someone got him more beer, and the singer, a guy named Ryan, was in jail, so Brent had to sing all of the songs. --George Neal, ex-Little Grizzly and one-time scurvy victim

On Those Nights, Brian Lane Always Got Naked

The first time I ever hung out with Brent, we were tossing beer bottles into the street, watching cars run over 'em. That set the tone for the time I spent with him. The great thing was, there was always another show at Brent's house after the real show. He would back his maroon Dodge right up to the porch, open the tailgate, and the band would set up and play. And they never got busted, because if the cops did show up, they would just hang out and kinda dig the white-trash vibe. On those nights [bassist] Brian Lane always got naked. One New Year's Eve, there was a party at Brent's, just like every year. Brian stripped down and disappeared into the fog--the tallest naked, hairy man you'll ever see. Then he comes back a little while later with Quincy Holloway from Sub Oslo who lived up the block, and he was naked, too! So you had the naked white Southern rocker running up the street with the naked black dude from the spacey reggae dub band. That pretty much summed up Denton right there. --Philip Croley, booking agent, The Parish in Austin, formerly of The Argo in Denton

Prohibition!

Baboon played a show with Slobberbone at Rick's Place in Denton, and afterward, both bands convened at an after-party. The show was Slobberbone's first since returning from tour, and after hearing a few road stories from one of the boys in the kitchen, I looked up to see Brent emerging with a prized trophy from the road--a big jar of moonshine. Moonshine?!? What kind of backwoods speakeasies had Slobberbone been frequenting? We knew they had a cowpunk rep to uphold, but this took the cake. Well, being in Rome, we Baboons partook. As would be expected, the homemade swill tasted something like gasoline smelled, but at least we could all now say we'd had moonshine. --Mike Rudnicki, Baboon

A Cautionary Tale

The one thing I know about Slobberbone is that [guitarist] Jess Barr can fucking drink. The boy has nearly caused me divorce at least three times. It starts out with innocent conversation about how bad the band sucked when he joined or how much younger he is than me, and somehow the guy slides two shots of tequila in front of my face. I tell him no, and then he guilt-trips me with lines like "You pussy, you would have done this when you were my age" or "What has happened to you, man?" Next thing you know I've got six shots in me, and I start talking to all the fat girls in the bar. Basically I'm not allowed to hang out with him anymore, and if I do, I have to take an oath that goes as follows: "Honey, I swear to God I won't take shots with Jess." Inevitably I fail to honor the oath. Fuck you, Jess Barr. --Corby Davidson, The Hard Line on The Ticket, KTCK 1310

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