Settling in from a solo tour throughout the South — and preparing for his opening slot for Third Eye Blind at Dallas Observer’s St. Patrick’s Day concert — Kirk Thurmond and the Millennials have been busy. So busy, in fact, that Thurmond recently quit his job at Oak Cliff’s Local Press + Brew. We caught up with him at Henry’s Majestic on a sunny Saturday to talk about, naturally, food.
Sitting at the bar with his recognizable peppered-gray beard and fedora, the 28-year-old chatted with the bartenders and quickly recommended an old fashioned, his standard drink order. Henry’s Majestic, he says, makes the best one in town — and they also make their own syrups to use in the drink. “An earlier season, it was made of Sculpin IPA, and currently, it’s a sake reduction that gives it a smoky sweetness," he says.
Thurmond explained why he feels drawn to Henry's. “Man, I’ve been coming here since day one – they know me," he says. "It’s the comfort of being in a place with people you can carry on a conversation with. After being on the road in the unknown, that means a lot. If you invest a couple visits per month in a bar and the bartenders don’t know you, find a new one. Plus, you get down home cooking here and it’s gonna be good.”
As we dug into Henry's new brunch items — the Fig and Pig with a buttermilk waffle and al pastor pork tamales covered with a sunny side up egg and lime rema — Thurmond dropped the question of the decade.
“So, how do you feel about Austin?” he asked. Austin tries to be too much like Austin, I replied. “You’re exactly right. I can tolerate it for a day and I have my places there I visit, like Hillside Farmacy and Flat Track, but Dallas is the place to be. We have our unique pockets all over town. I love being home.”
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When home, Thurmond starts his day at one of his favorite coffee shops. If not found at his former employer Local Press, he claims The Weekend at The Joule has the best coffee in town. “They use Mill-King dairy products from Waco and high quality Victrola coffee out of Seattle. And the baristas, man, they’re like espresso Jedis," he said with a laugh. “It’s cool to see these coffee shops popping up in their neighborhoods and we need more of that.”
Coming from a long line of clergy from a church where hymns weren’t accompanied by instruments, Thurmond went to college to major in percussion before dropping out and coming into his own musical style combining acoustic pop, R&B and jazz. He gives credit to John Mayer for inspiring him to learn guitar, but Earth, Wind and Fire and The Eagles are the mainstays from his youth. “Yeah, it’s been a real bad year for me and my musical influences,” he said with a chuckle. He even admits to passing out in a JoAnn’s fabric store upon hearing of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. “Michael is still the best," he said.
When it’s time for his barbecue fix, Thurmond heads to the dilapidated gas station where Smokey Joe’s has served meat since 1985. He got serious about how he prefers his beef: no fat and no sauce. “I’ve been taken or going there for 25 of my 28 years on earth," he said. "It’s authentic and has stood the test of time. It takes me back to sitting at my grandmother’s house and her yelling not to eat all the ribs. I recently took my wife and there is something really special about sharing such a huge part of my upbringing with her.”
Catch Kirk Thurmond and the Millennials 7 p.m. Friday, March 18, at Nasher Sculpture Center and opening Saturday at the Dallas Observer St. Patrick's Day concert.