When Joe Tillotson and his investors (including Scott Cecil and Richard Winfield) opened a bar in the Knox-Henderson area a decade ago, they were taking a chance. There wasn't much there in the way of nightlife, and it didn't look like there would be anytime soon. Take a look at the area now and that seems impossible, but it was true then. But Tillotson, Cecil and Winfield (the latter two bought out the other investors awhile back) stuck around, and now, not only is Barley House a successful bar, it's a prospering music community, separate but equal to the one happening in Deep Ellum.
"The Old 97's, the Cartwrights, Lone Star Trio--even back then, those kind of bands liked to hang out there and also play there," Winfield told us a few months ago. "You'll see guys from Slobberbone, Sorta and Sparrows, Little Grizzly, Pleasant Grove, Chomsky, Deathray Davies; they'll come in there to drink as much as to play. It sorta just happened, but it sorta keeps happening, as old bands go away or move on."
A few of those bands will help celebrate Barley House's 10th anniversary this weekend: Hard Night's Day plays Friday night, followed by Sparrows, the Deathray Davies and the Nitrons on Saturday and a Shibboleth CD-release par-tay on Sunday, featuring guest appearances by Paul Slavens, Little Jack Melody, LCC's Peter Schmidt and Carter Albrecht of Sparrows and Sorta.
The Sunday-night shindig will feature the normally all-instrumental Shibboleth backing up the aforementioned singers while they plow through some "tasty covers," according to guitarist Don Cento. No idea what the set list will entail, but the guest stars alone should get you through the door. But even if you don't come that night, drop by the club sometime this weekend to wish them well. And remember: If you come early on Saturday night while the Final Four is on the big screen, don't be offended if someone politely screams for you to move should you happen to wander in front of the action. Do it during the Texas-Syracuse game and we won't be quite so polite.
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Best band we've heard in a while: Panda, a five-piece from Denton rock city that isn't terribly interested in rocking. The group (singer-guitarist Jeremy Yocum, viola player Eric Elterman, drummer Bradly Brown, guitarist Stephen Kimbrell and bassist Ryan Goolsby) recently released its debut, the six-song Twenty String EP, and it's one of those discs that should come with a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of wine and a rainy day. The songs (personal favorites: "On Your Path" and "New Moon") are as slow and quiet and rambling as a wisp of smoke, and often just as beautiful. Backed by the band's music-box melodies, Yocum's soft-spoken crooning is reminiscent of another Jeremy: Sunny Day Real Estate singer Jeremy Enigk. If you don't know who that is, you should go find out. But stop by a Panda show on your way there. As far as we can tell, they don't play again until May 9 at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, with the Baptist Generals and Raised by Tigers. Clear your schedule...
One correction: Last week, we said that Heaven is a Hotel's new EP was recorded by LCC's James Henderson. Well, it wasn't. It was actually recorded by Adam Israel and mixed by the pAper chAse's John Congleton. Either way, you should still pick it up. We'll stand by that, at least...
You still have a couple of days to vote in the 2003 Dallas Observer Music Awards; head to www.dallasobserver.com for your last-minute picks. (Voting ends April 4, and if you think we're kidding about that, just try to turn in a ballot after then. The punishment isn't death, but after spending a few hours with us explaining why you couldn't follow the directions, while playing the creepiest game of Candyland ever, you'll almost wish that were the case. You. Do. Not. Want. This.) Winners will be announced April 15 during a proper throw-down at Gypsy Tea Room, featuring performances by Queen for a Day, Sorta, Eisley and Jack Ingram. It's free to get in, but you need a ticket--keep an eye on our Web site for information. There's no better way to spend tax day. Well, nothing that's free or legal, that is.
Hand stamps: Sparrows and Sorta perform April 4 at the Liquid Lounge; Soviet Space celebrates the release of a new EP on April 3 at Gypsy Tea Room with help from Sounds of Earth and Junior. Speedtrucker and Slick 57 are at the Tea Room on April 5, and El Gato opens for Sebadoh's Jason Loewenstein at the club on April 9. OK, then.