You may not know Michael Cheney, but if you’ve been hanging around Dallas’ music scene, chances are pretty good that you’ve seen him — usually in the front and always digging the music.
This Saturday, Cheney will host his 50th birthday party at Three Links in Deep Ellum, with some of his favorite bands providing the music.
This will be the fourth year Cheney has put on a small festival for his birthday. For him, putting on shows like this is not just to celebrate his birthday, but a way to give people who may not ordinarily venture into the local music scene a reason to show up.
“The first show was 2015 at Three Links,” he remembers. “I think I did the first one because I just wanted to pick my favorite bands and have an event that would give my friends from the suburbs a reason to come to Deep Ellum and see why I'm out multiple times a week watching bands play.
“Most of the people I know who are my age are outside of LBJ Freeway and didn’t venture into the ‘loop.' So for my first show I picked bands that would be a good fit for my friends, and it had to be at Three Links."
This year marks a return to Three Links after hosting his party at the Armoury last year. The inspiration for putting on a show of this nature comes from his history being in and returning to the local music scene.
“I was in a local band back in the mid- to late-'90s,” he says, “but Deep Ellum was in a down period for club venues and places for low rent Tool-esque bands — like mine — to play in.”
Cheney says he went into a dark period until the late 2000s. That's when he started paying closer attention to the music scene. The internet also helped him discover new bands.
As the years have passed, Cheney’s objective for his annual birthday celebration has shifted.
“I wanted to showcase one out-of-state band, like Kill Vargas from Kansas and Ghost Bones from Arkansas,” he says.
However, this year’s selection is all local.
“In my opinion, these are all at the top of what I consider a DFW sound,” he says, “and excellent examples of what this scene has to offer.”
He says Nervous Curtains and Sealion are bands that made him love the scene so much. He's also a fan of Mind Spiders, veterans of the Denton scene, and The Bralettes.
"Every one of these bands should be playing major festivals or headlining AAC," Cheney says. “Even if these bands aren’t your cup of tea, I hope people around here learn what an amazing music scene we have around here. It’s a great time to get out and listen to live music."
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Entering his 50th time around the sun, Cheney is still not entirely sure if all the younger bands in the scene like seeing him at their shows.
“I drop the younger bands' ‘cool’ quotient way down when I’m in the crowd,” he jokes, “but I think I’m tolerated because I’m just very appreciative of the bands no matter their level.
“I really respect how hard these musicians work and the effort they put into creating the cool music I get to enjoy,” he says. “So, I make sure to go to random shows no matter where or when, buy merchandise and try to promote their music as much as my tiny social media footprint allows.”