Scene, Heard

Every year, it seems, the approach of Fry Street Fair is accompanied by a) griping about the annual shindig's price/lineup/both, which leads to b) a competing fest that attempts to render Fry Street obsolete with free admission and a local-centric lineup. Every year, after the fact, Fry Street Fair organizers promise to do better next time, do whatever it takes, go the extra mile, listen to the fans, use fewer clichés, etc. None of which changes much.

In a shocking turn of events, the impending arrival of this year's edition of Fry Street Fair is accompanied by grumbling about its price ($20; $15 in advance) and lineup (headlined by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones). Which, of course, has led to F$$$ The Fair, a rival event organized, in part, by a former member of Fry Street's music committee, Jeremy Shelby. Both events are scheduled to take place on April 21.

Cabe Booth, a current member of Fry Street's music committee, sent us an e-mail last week, trying to head off any/all naysayers at the pass. "No, Fry Street Fair is not comprised entirely of national acts this year," Booth says. "I keep hearing this on the street over and over. Yes, Fry Street Fair is booking local and regional acts, as we always have and always will. Bands confirmed so far, in no particular order: Bela Fleck, Polyphonic Spree, pAper chAse, Deathray Davies, Chomsky, Baboon, International Spark Dome, 420 Blues Band, Lewis, Spoonfed Tribe, Hairy Apes BMX, Ten Hands.

"We are currently working to add more slots to allow us to contact many more bands," Booth continues. "This has caused many bands to believe the rumors or [think] that they will not be contacted. Many more bands have yet to even be contacted and the lineup will be updated as confirmations are made. There are bands we have in mind that will be notified after we have a grasp on how much space and time we will have."

Shelby, meanwhile, has his own version of the situation. "Fry Street Fair every year seems to push farther and farther away from its local bands roots," Shelby says, explaining F$$$ The Fair's origin. "For the past two years, I have tried to resolve this by lobbying to get as many local Denton acts as I could on the bill. However, this year those efforts were shot down and ignored. Due to this continued conflict of interest, I have resigned from the music booking position. I feel like some action should be taken to express our opinions about the Delta Lodge's constant attempt on turning their backs on a scene that is underground but nationally recognized."

That action is F$$$ The Fair, a free, all-ages get-together that is set to happen inside and outside of The Shack (on the corner of Hickory and Avenue B) from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Bands already confirmed include The Riverboat Gamblers, Kid Chaos, Red Animal War, The Banes, Pinkston, Fixture, Prize Money, Crash Vinyl, 2BC, Garuda, Lucy Loves Schroeder, Gropius, The Hellions, and Clutch Cargo.

"Basically we feel that Fry Street Fair has degenerated into a second-rate Edgefest," says Alex Karchevsky, Shelby's bandmate in Clutch Cargo and fellow F$$$ The Fair organizer. "This is going to be a true local showcase. No egos, just rock!" Karchevksy adds, "In no way am I discrediting the actual bands playing Fry Street Fair. In fact, some of my favorite local bands are playing it this year. I'm just sorry that I'll have to miss them that day."

No word yet on whether the gang that set up Mulberry Street Fair, which has similarly gone amp-to-amp with Fry Street in the past, will enter the fray, but at this point, nothing would be surprising. Well, except for an installment of Fry Street Fair to go off without a hitch. Or, better yet, a bitch. It's funny because it's true...

The European version of Pleasant Grove's self-titled debut (issued by Germany's Glitterhouse Records) is among MOJO magazine's recommended releases in its March issue. The mag calls the disc "an album that is both shimmering, majestic pop and lethargic country, that oozes the down and out ache of Texas country as well as the sonic outbursts of Neil Young, the Flaming Lips, or an out of control Alex Chilton." Couldn't have said it any better, though we've given it a shot a few times...

Fans of Tiny Tim might wanna check out E! Entertainment Television's upcoming episode of True Hollywood Story, which debuts on March 25. The episode features interviews with Brave Combo's Carl Finch (who cut a record with the late singer) and Tiny Tim expert/biggest fan Big Bucks Burnett. If you miss it the first time, we're pretty sure E! will air it again, if they can find room between various episodes of the no-longer-funny Talk Soup and whatever they call what Melissa and Joan Rivers do. Besides, obviously, annoying the piss out of anyone within earshot...

Be on the lookout for a live album Joseph Arthur recorded at the Gypsy Tea Room last June. Arthur's label, Virgin Records, has circulated a few promotional copies of the disc, and more than likely, one will turn up at the used CD store nearest you. The disc includes songs from Arthur's albums Big City Streets and last year's Come to Where I'm From. If you can't find Live at the Gypsy Tea Room, at least go out and get a copy of Come to Where I'm From. Really. Come on. Do it.

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Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain