Let's Talk

Hey there, sports fans! Would ya believe that I've been in town a whole year now writing about the local music scene? I mean, it feels like it was only this past weekend that I went to a show only to be confronted by a frustrated local musician who forced me to explain my philosophies; where I came from; who the hell I thought I was; why I didn't cover his band; and why, when I covered other local bands he was involved in, I didn't hold their outputs to a lower standard than the national acts I was covering.

Oh, wait. That was this past weekend? Coulda fooled me. As far as I'm concerned, time really does fly when you're pissing off local bands and doing a mediocre (let's face it, at best) job of covering the local scene.

Surely, though, I kid. I mean, I have to be joking. It can't all be that bad.

No, it isn't. A good 90 percent of those unexpected clashes end up evolving into some fairly intelligent conversations, and a bunch of those people I once argued with I now consider among my closest not-quite-enemies.

See, I get it. No, I really do (maybe). I can't please everyone with my coverage—despite the fact that one well-meaning former Good Records employee suggested I try to do just that when I first came to town. I know it's impossible. But, still, even a year into my gig here as the music editor at the Dallas Observer, I remain encouraged by what I've been seeing around the local "scene." Well, that or maybe I'm still incredibly naïve.

I dunno. Maybe I should mind that both my life and livelihood have been openly threatened by readers and musicians alike. But part of me digs the fact that, for at least one local band, I was once the inspiration for a whole song (unfortunately, though, no matter how many times I request that they play it again, it seems that The Frenz is content to let "Pete Freedman Is a Cunt" remain a one-off deal.) And I like the fact that there's a constant back and forth in our weekly (and, online, daily) conversations.

Fact is, our blog readership has quintupled in the past 12 months (true story!), and I think that bodes well for all parties involved. Hell, we write almost exclusively about local music on there (sidetracks about kinda-locals Kelly Clarkson and The Jonas Brothers aside), and that many people are interested? That's great news.

And the scene keeps growing and evolving, giving us plenty to chat about. Like, for instance, did you know that Club Dada is about to undergo a major facelift and remodel? 'Cause it is, and we've got all the details online this week. And did you know that Vickery Park on Henderson Avenue is adding live music to its space? No? Well, that's funny, 'cause The Riverboat Gamblers are playing a free show there next Thursday night—and that's just the start of things to come over there.

Yep, things just keep happening around town—like the continued explosion of the D-Town Boogie, the increased profile of local hipster-hop projects, the consistent Internet and Billboard chart successes of various acts from various genres around town, and the fact that the artists in Dallas keep earning national recognition. In April, two acts, local bluegrass duo The O's, who are featured on page 48 of this very issue, and mall-punk group Artist Vs. Poet, will be featured in Alternative Press' annual "100 Bands You Need To Know."

Then again, it's not all puppy dogs and ice cream. This past year has also seen the near-complete demise of the local punk rock scene (not including the mall-punk scene, which, good taste be damned, is thriving), no thanks to the closing of Red Blood Club, the last great punk venue in town, back in June. Sure, other venues have stepped up in RBC's place—namely Reno's Chop Shop Saloon and the all-ages Chaos Control, which opened in Denton just a few months back. Already, though, it seems that Chaos Control is threatened with going under; on Friday night, the venue's hosting a benefit show for its own cause with punk rockers Responsible Johnny, Television City and a few others taking the stage and refusing to get paid for it. Instead, every single penny made on this night will go into the venue, hopefully, to help keep it afloat. Sucks, but at least people are doing something about it.

And that's probably what I've come to appreciate most about the regional music scene over my past year within it: It's filled with passionate people willing to argue and fight for whatever trivial point they're trying to make. And until they're red in the face, no less. Most towns don't have that.

So let's agree to keep disagreeing, to keep hashing things out and to keep the name-calling to a maximum—just to keep things entertaining, y'know? We might not get everything right, and we might not come to any conclusions. But so long as there's a conversation to keep alive, things can't be all that bad, right?

Unless, um, they are. Because, really, your band does suck. And no I'm not gonna write about how big of a draw you get at that one bar in Frisco. Now, please, stop e-mailing me about it. I have a very important blog item about The Jonas Brothers to attend to.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman