Ryan Thomas Becker was David Byrne. At least for a few days he was. Seems Becker was fronting a Talking Heads tribute band this past weekend at the Kessler, part of a three-city mini-tour he and the rest of the ensemble had undertaken.
"About a year and a half ago, I was contacted by a percussionist name Joe Cripps," says Becker. "He told me that he had some old friends who were going to be in town and that they were going to get together without any rehearsal whatsoever and play this Remain in Light album."
Remain in Light is the Talking Heads masterpiece from 1980, an album that marked the transition of the band from an arty new wave outfit to a funk-infused juggernaut. The album's rich textures and intricate musicianship made Remain in Light hugely influential.
The whole project is the brainchild of a producer from Los Angeles named Scrote, who spent some time at UNT back in the '80s and still has connections with many area musicians, including Kenny Withrow, Adam Pickrell and Dave Monsey.
"When they asked me if I would be interested in singing a couple of songs, I said, 'Hell yeah,'" says Becker.
Ironically, Becker wasn't even born when Remain in Light was originally released, but he was introduced to the Talking Heads later in life and always loved the album.
Scrote has been playing with different musicians in L.A. performing the entirety of Remain in Light plus a few songs from its predecessor, Fear of Music. When Scrote comes to Dallas to perform his original music, he often hooks up with old and new friends and does the Remain in Light tribute.
"I thought the reception at the Kessler show was amazing. It was a good crowd," says Becker. "It took people a while to loosen up and dance. In Austin, people were dancing right away."
The success these recent shows has prompted Scrote to think about taking the show (including the locals) on an extended tour.
"I keep getting calls about that," says Scrote from his home in L.A. "I just got a call about doing the show at a larger venue here and then doing a special show in New York. It just keeps growing."
"Chris Franz and Tiny Weymouth from the Talking Heads have sent word that they may want to get involved," adds Scrote. "They are touring with the Tom Tom Club and if we cross paths, they may sit in with us."
Becker is excited about the chance to perform these songs across the country and who can blame him? His newfound friendship with Scrote is providing new opportunities and challenges.
"I had to really work to memorize all the lyrics," says Becker.
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For Scrote, it's a labor of love.
"I am just trying to rally great musicians around great material," says Scrote.
Lucky for all involved that Scrote promises a new round of shows in Dallas come October.