Taking a Bite

How the heck does a musician get some press in Dallas? It's not quite the million-dollar question--that's the one about fame, groupies and Hummers full of cash--but for local bands, it's a start.

There's no scientific answer. Sometimes, a band has an interesting story. Sometimes, a band's unique music deserves attention above the rest of the generic local fray. And sometimes, a band's lead singer corners me and forces me to listen to a demo while eating dinner at my mother's house.

I get my fair share of CDs in the mailbox, Web site invites and concert fliers. Nothing new after two years on the local music beat. But last weekend, I fell victim to a whole new level of grassroots promotion. My mother invited me to celebrate a family birthday, and before sitting down to dinner, the birthday boy arrived with a buddy I'd met once before...and wasn't looking forward to meeting again.

The previous time, the buddy name-dropped his Dallas hard-rock band and gave me one of those looks. The "You can hook me up, riiight?" look. I knew his tunes weren't my cup of tea, so I dodged the question with my favorite kiss-off: "I'll have to run it by my editor." So much for that excuse.

Fast-forward to this evening, when everyone else moved to the back yard--and he pounced: "I want a few minutes of your time." The buddy had a demo CD ready, and I said I'd spin it on my way home, but he was a sneaky one. It's his only copy, he said. Let's listen to it now, he said.

Great. Soon, I was taking off my shoes so I could walk on Mom's brand-new rug and listen to his CD on the stereo. The two songs were better than I'd feared, and the band was proficient enough, but other than a few melodic bits, all I heard was a near-exact replica of mid-'90s Anthrax.

The buddy shot me a few curious glances, and while I normally have no qualms with brutal honesty, I took the easy route by suggesting local venues that fit his sound. I didn't have anything bad to say, really, but nothing nice, either.

Afterward, while sitting with the family for dinner, I got to thinking. Is it wrong that I don't want to write about the band? Who's to say a dozen potential fans won't show up at his next concert after reading a newspaper or Web site blurb?

Getting cornered at Mom's house sucked for this very reason. There I was, face to face with someone looking for a little help. It's just as hard for the local bands I don't like to succeed as it is for the ones I do, so why not pass along a little love?

But here's the wonderful thing about my job--I never have to settle. So many exciting groups make music throughout Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton, and those guys and girls know better than to interrupt a pork tenderloin dinner. No need to list them right here--I don't have the space to print all of their names, and I'm ecstatic about that quantity.

That's not to say I don't wish other bands well. My hat goes off to folks who start bands and put their hearts on the line. But I'm not here to answer the million-dollar question. I'm here to write about the best bands in town.

To clarify, I chose not to list the buddy's name for a few reasons, but the biggest one is to dissuade other musicians from stalking my mom. Maybe his band'll get written up someday. In the meantime, feel free to mail Mrs. Machkovech your demo CDs.

Dallas, please don't beat us up: On Friday night, after reviewing a concert at Lower Greenville's The Cavern, music listings editor and new music writer Noah W. Bailey walked back to his car where he and his girlfriend were bum-rushed by two meatheads. Sorry if you couldn't score at the Sugar Shack, but please don't take your frustrations out on a woman's face.