Bucks Burnett: "The Dallas Music Scene Needs To Be More Like a Monarchy. It Needs More Pageantry."
Bucks Burnett and his lifeblood
You can't really write a column about behind-the-scenes people in the Dallas music scene and not include Bucks Burnett. We are big fans of Bucks, and he's been featured in the Observer numerous times. Hell, one of the last times we tried to interview him, we kept getting interrupted by calls from the New York Times.
He's a crucial part of our creative circulatory system, acting as scene muse, founder of Cloud 8 (a label dedicated to limited edition 8-track releases of local artist's LPs), curator of two Eight Track Museums, the second of which opened over the summer in Roxbury, New York, and has a hand in the in-progress documentary about 8-tracks called Spinal Tape, featuring pals Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads.
So, thank you for taking the time. This time around, we wanted to just pick your brain about DFW music. Who are you most partial to? I am partial to The O's and any projects involving Paul Averitt or Salim Nourallah. Laura Harrell at All Good Cafe is the one to watch. She is made of talent. Sarah Jaffe is great. Menkena has great hair.
How far back does your history go with DFW bands? Give me a year and take me back to it. I was raised in Dallas and started sneaking into clubs as a teenager, about 1973, to see local and touring bands. It was easier to be underage in a club back then. My favorite local band in the '70s was Lynx. Their guitarist, Jimmy Wallace, is still active in The Stratoblasters. I also saw Stevie Ray Vaughan play to about 15 people in a club called St. Christopher's on Greenville Avenue in 1978. Also, about that time I was catching all the great punk and new wave bands in Dallas, like The Toys, The Nervebreakers, Bobby Soxx, Quad Pi. I worked at the glorious Peaches Records in Dallas and knew about all the great bands back then.
And before that? Were there strong ties to music and art in your school days? I went to Mark Twain Elementary in Oak Cliff. In fifth grade, some friends and I in science class started a band called The Sea Urchins. We would draw album covers in science class. We didn't know how to play, we just wanted to be in a band. Music and art, as today, were/are all I think about. I always wanted to be in a band but never was, until my 30s. My first album came out in 1998. We called ourselves The Volares and recorded in England.
Take us inside the museums nowadays. Are they a hang for artists? Is there a "regular crowd" like you'd see at, say, Bill's Records? Oh hells no. I try to keep people OUT of the Eight Track Museum. Having no one there but me makes it feel more exclusive. We had over 100 people at the opening of the new one in Roxbury, New York on October 13, with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. It's good to have a big opening, a big party, then tell people it's by appointment only and not return calls from would-be visitors. Have a nice drink or two in the Curator's Parlour and turn off the phone, look through some tracks. Exhibits are a hassle. I say get it just how you want it, close the door, and lock up.
Will you ever release Spinal Tape? At this rate, it may never come out. I started filming it in 1992, and I occasionally film more interviews for it. But I'm not trying to be a filmmaker. I'm cool if it never comes out, although I did just post the really short version on YouTube, which is a 10-minute best of. I prefer starting projects to finishing. I have about three films I'm working on. I call it a box set, because it's all a bunch of master tapes in boxes at the moment.
Will you ever bring back Edstock? How about another festival? If someone hands me 50k, I will put on Edstock 2 in Dallas for the 30th anniversary of the first one, which was 1984 at The Bronco Bowl. I paid for the first one, someone else can catch the next round. I make other people pay for my ideas now.
That brings up my next question. If money and resources were no object, what would you decree be done for our local arts community? Construct an above-ground subway system that would connect all the music and book stores. Little kids would want to ride on the sky train to my record store, Cloud 8, at Dolly Python, and then catch it to Good Records, Bill's and Shakerag, then ride it to Lucky Dog Books in Oak Cliff. And with Big Tex gone, it's time for a gigantic music mascot for Dallas. I like to think big if I'm gonna think at all. Dallas needs a giant statue of Robert Johnson. I've been saying that for years. People would come from all over the world to see such a thing.
So, if you were made mayor over the arts community, what's first? Also, are we truly operating as a community? Do we need work on that? As mayor, I would raise $5 million or whatever it takes to build that statue. How much does this mayor position pay, anyway? I'll consider any serious offers. I'll get that statue up, and wear my big fancy hat to the unveiling. I would decree that the mayor receive a really fancy hat to wear at music events, and a large salary. The Dallas music scene needs to be more like a monarchy. It needs more pageantry. Musicians, I feel, are too dysfunctional to operate as a community. We are more like a really big mess. But what would I do? I would be qualified to be the mayor, if the Dallas music crowd wants one. In October I opened the Eight Track Museum in Roxbury, got myself into a Pete Townshend book signing, and a Led Zeppelin press conference. I'm always trying to climb to the top of Rock Mountain.
By the way, I'm running from office in 2012. So far I've received hardly any support, which is great. I may abandon my campaign from office to run for Governor of Texas. It's time for a satire of a campaign that is a satire on purpose instead of accident.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.