By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Bear with the local music scene this weekend as it prepares for what should be a pretty emotional span of shows. But it's all very well-deserved, mind you, so don't get too distracted amongst all these feelings.
Things will be especially trying on Thursday night at the Granada Theater as an all-star cast of area musicians and collaborators of the late, great Carter Albrecht gather to pay homage to their friend by spending an evening covering his music and celebrating the release of the fallen local luminary's new solo album, Jesus Is Alive...and Living in London.
The Carter Albrecht CD Release Show takes place on Thursday, May 28, at the Granada Theater.
Raised by Tigers performs Saturday, May 30, at Hailey’s Club in Denton.
On this night, Albrecht's close friends Danny Balis and Trey Johnson, both band mates of Albrecht's in the band Sorta, will start the evening, each performing a set of their own solo projects before returning to the stage late in the evening to perform songs from the newly released Albrecht solo album. That set will also feature performances from Deathray Davies' John Dufilho, former Chomsky member Don Cento, Sorta members Ward Williams and Chris Holt, and solo performers Sarah Jaffe, Salim Nourallah and Jayson Bales—all backed by Holt's The Slack and Cento's Shibboleth.
It's been a year and a half now, believe it or not, since Albrecht's death, and the scene seems finally ready for some closure on the matter. Albrecht's final album, Jesus Is Alive...and Living in London, saw its release when it became available for purchase on iTunes because, for better or worse, Albrecht's family members were just ready to set the disc free. And though it took a fight of sorts to even get it readied for that moment—last fall, Edie Brickell, whose New Bohemians had included Albrecht since the late '90s, and her husband, Paul Simon, financed the album's completion—Albrecht's father, Ken, and Robert Jenkins, whose Summer Break label is co-releasing the disc with the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation, were discouraged by the lack of interest in the project.
"Nobody was interested label-wise," Ken told us back in March. "A guy out in L.A. said there was interest in a label and could we give him till December. Then there was a wild story about a movie producer who liked it, and nothing came of it. Edie gave five copies to a person who works with her and Paul, and the music industry's just such a mess and nobody knows what's going on, so nothing came of that."
A shame, too, because, even if it's not the greatest album ever released by a Dallas musician, the disc is a testament to the fact that Albrecht was far more than just another local bar-band musician; he was a master at instrumentation, and just starting to come into his own as a songwriter.
Indeed, there are quite a few moments on Jesus Is Alive... in which listeners—even those who never knew Albrecht—will cringe at the promise lost with the performer's passing. "Godot," for instance, finds Albrecht singing with a whiskey-soaked, pained croon not all that different from that which has earned Scottish crooner Paolo Nutini acclaim. "Country Living," meanwhile, demonstrates Albrecht's ear for arrangement and showcases the dizzying piano and guitar flourishes for which he'd earned such a strong reputation.
There are the moments that creep up on you too. When Albrecht sings, "When you're younger, you live forever" on the justly named "When You're Younger," it's tough not to imagine the prescience. It's even more chilling when, in the song "Sparrows," he sings "someone lost their way and stood there in the moonlight, screaming till he's silenced with a choke"—a description that matches a little too well with Albrecht's own final moments, a neighbor's late-night gunfire having taken his life.
Clearly, it will be a tough night for many attendees and performers. But if last October's release party for Sorta's final album is any indication, it will also be a happy night—a reunion of sorts, as old friends come together to celebrate one of their own.
That idea—celebrating one of its own—is essentially the same motivation behind a show this Saturday night up at Hailey's in Denton, as art-rock group Raised by Tigers hopes to turn its final show for some time into a going-away party of sorts for one of its members.
Next month, guitarist Pat Ferguson, who also performs around town as part of Deep Snapper and Birth to Burial, will be shipped overseas to fulfill a nine-month (or longer) tour of duty as a member of the Navy Reserves. For Ferguson, who served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 and then went on to serve in the National Guard until 2003, it will be his second time in active, wartime duty, having been overseas during the Gulf War more than 15 years ago.
This time, though, admits Ferguson, now married with children, his feelings heading in are vastly different. "When I was 18," Ferguson says, "it was 'Yeehaw!,' y'know? 'Let's have a good time!' But that was back when I was 18, single and the military was my job."
Even so, as Ferguson's record shows, service like this is just in his DNA.
"It's kind of like Dallas," he says with a laugh. "I keep coming back to it even though I swore I never would."