By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
From within the confines of his East Dallas apartment, Wanz Dover is foreseeing the future. He sayeth the Dallas music scene is on the precipice of something huge—like the coming of a cultural savior. Tectonic plates under the city itself will quake to reawaken the music gods that have slept here for so long. A new age will dawn where people will live in stimulated happiness with a resurrected musical culture. Bloggers, artists and promoters will hold hands and embrace each other's differences.
It will happen, Dover says. He's convinced of it. He even knows when and where.
He points to this weekend's upcoming Melodica Music Festival. Dover proclaims it as the moment for Dallas music, or in his words, the means to "light a fire under Dallas' ass." Of course, he may be a bit biased there: Dover's the man behind the ambitious three-day event, which will bring an obscure lineup of 60 or so national and local acts to the Exposition Park masses. With sounds ranging from vintage electronica to free-jazz to grindcore (with some indie rock thrown in as well), Dover is convinced that his festival will offer something for everyone. And he's convinced that it will succeed.
Until, for a brief moment, he isn't so sure anymore.
"I'm praying Dallas doesn't let me down," Dover says. "This city is dying of its own mediocrity. This [festival] is drawing the line in the sand right now."
But what if, one wonders, Dallas is just fine with its "mediocrity"? What if it just isn't a huge music town?
"Well, there sure is a lot of good music coming out of here for it not to be a music town," Dover says. "Part of the reason of this festival is to call attention to it again. I'm laying it all out for you."
And so he does. Literally. A clutter of music fills his bedroom: records, instruments, as-yet-unburned CDs. Dover's clearly a music freak. Sitting at a laptop amid his collection, he offers with pride a small preview of those obscure national bands he mentioned before.
It's easy to get swept up in his passion about certain bands and performers. Take, for instance, his enthusiasm for the innovative 1960s New York band, Silver Apples, scheduled to play Melodica on Friday night. "They were the first electronica band and way ahead of their time," Dover says while playing a song called "Program"—a fascinating listen that one might not ever guess dates back some 40 years.
He follows with an extended sampling of Spectrum, Medio Mutante and even his own band, The Frenz. Among others he discusses and previews, Dover mentions Philadelphia hip-hopper, Dev79, and Texas artists such as mysterious DJ Convextion, half-hour songsters Light Bright Highway and free-jazz band Yells at Eels.
Although Melodica won't be putting up South by Southwest-type numbers and the headliners are big in an arguably irrelevant fashion, there is some irony to the whole ordeal—as if, in order to reach the future of the Dallas scene, we have to bring in the past. And, in order to ignite the Dallas music scene, outside bands need to play our city's fests.
"Part of what makes other cities great is they have a sense of their own scene, how it got there, where it came from," Dover says. "Dallas doesn't have a sense of its own history. The scene 10 years ago is the most adventurous thing now."
Until now, with Melodica. Or so Dover foresees.