Feature Stories

Local Yokel Backs Its Way Into Helping Dallas Musicians by Having a Good Time

The Local Yokel podcast started in 2009 with a single microphone hanging from the ceiling in an apartment. Six years and an undetermined number of episodes later, Local Yokel is a video podcast recorded in a professional studio by an eclectic mix of people from the music and visual arts scenes. With busy schedules and families, the group gets together infrequently to spotlight local artists with interviews and unique performances — and to have a good time.

The six people behind the podcast have been friends for about 20 years. Gavin Mulloy is the marketing director at Trees and the marketing manager of The Bomb Factory. Along with Mulloy, Chad Davenport and Simon McDonald, who own The Libertine Bar, are the voices of the podcast. Tom Bridwell, owner of Tomcast Studio, records the show and has also been known to join the conversation. The podcast is filmed by Jason Raney, a freelance television camera operator, and Peter Wagner, who does camerawork for Dallas Mavericks games.

Tonight they have huddled into a booth to plan the upcoming 16th annual Toy Drive Concert at The Libertine on December 14. For an unwrapped toy or a cash donation, you can enjoy live music from local bands and help a great cause. Every year someone dresses up like Santa Claus and toys are taken to Dallas LIFE, the largest homeless shelter in North Texas. Money left over for toys is used to buy essentials like clothes and toiletries for families.

The podcast idea originally started after Davenport and McDonald’s DJ nights at The Libertine fizzled out and they decided a podcast might be fun. Actually, it depends on whom you ask. “The way this whole thing started is that we were all fucking idiots sitting around here getting drunk,” says Mulloy. “But we all liked music.” At the time, Mulloy was making posters for bands. Raney says they decided to do the podcast sitting around Lee Harvey’s; he had a bunch of equipment and wanted to do a talk show. But then the idea became to spotlight local music.

They argue to no avail about the order in which everyone got involved with the show. Somebody’s Darling was the first band to play in the apartment. “It was the Local Yokel podcast being broadcast from the dump,” says Davenport. Some say the recording sounded awesome, others say it was terrible. But everyone agrees that being in that room full of live music was an amazing experience that got them all hooked on doing a podcast. They wanted to help spotlight local talent and enjoyed private concerts.

“The first time we all fucking had Somebody’s Darling playing in my fucking apartment,” says Davenport. “It was a standup bass, fucking all straight-up acoustic.” The cigarette smoke was chest deep and they were about halfway through a gallon of vodka. The shows went on for hours and then they spent hours arguing after the shows. By all accounts, Local Yokel got off to a rough start.

At one point a couple shows were recorded at someone’s house while the owners — who had asked one of the guys to look after their dog — were out of town. They still don't know to this day. But the show was eventually moved over to Bridwell’s studio and they started putting a format together. With Bridwell recording the podcast, he made them do it over if it sounded bad and started editing out the jewel from the rubble until Local Yokel was done in an hour or less.

There have now been around a hundred episodes, but after three were posted as No. 34, they just started posting them all that way. McDonald and Davenport tend to go into the show prepared while Mulloy is the wild card, throwing out random questions. One episode was never aired at the insistence of a band — they won’t say which — that wasn’t happy with the show. “You know who you are,” Bridwell says, and they laugh. “If you’re too embarrassed to put a show out on Local Yokel, you fucked up big time,” says Davenport.

“The sound quality and video quality that comes out for free is immeasurable,” says McDonald. Indeed, bands get studio quality MP3's and a black-and-white video of their performance after appearing on the show. Thousands of people watched the A.Dd+ episode; it had the biggest audience and they all count it as one of the best. Air Review, Paul Slavens and RTB2 are also listed as favorites. Eric Harvey from Spoon appeared on one episode and the first question he was asked was, “Are you a dick?”

At one point they were able to put out a couple episodes a month and then they were shooting for every other month. But these days it is more difficult to get everyone together. After months of inactivity, the latest episode featuring Bobby Sessions has just been released. The chemistry of Local Yokel is typically built out of tension. The show also does a good job of preparing bands for radio interviews. "When they go on a real radio show somewhere down the road," says Mulloy. "They're going to be like, 'I've been asked way crazier shit by these guys doing the Local Yokel show than you're ever going to ask me.'"
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Jeremy Hallock