Brooke Opie, a.k.a. Little Birds

Several Locals Included on Half Price Books Compilation

In peripheral local music news, Half Price Books takes a Starbucksian step by heading into the CD business. OK, sort of. A few weeks ago, it released Music by the Book, a compilation of songs performed by, as they call it, “our HPB family.” Although I got my hands on one a while back, it’s only recently that I remembered to take a listen. Plus, local contributor and fellow employee John Rhett Barrett kept bugging me about it.

This sucks, because when I left the Observer mothership to dabble in the freelance world, Half Price took me back in so I could pay rent. Translation: I have to watch my critical ear or I might be out on the streets. I kid of course (I think), but because I don’t want to be ostracized, I’ll remain fairly neutral.

The songs are performed by artists/employees all over the country, but five songs out of the fifteen are by locals. The Bob Monk Singers, The Nevernudes, Little Birds, Scott LaChance and Barrett all hail from Dallas, Garland, McKinney and Fort Worth. The songs are mostly of an acoustic nature (surprise!) with a few instrumentals peppering the song list.

I clicked on a few of the artists’ sites and found one of utmost interest. According to his MySpace page, John Schalcosky, who composed “Abigail’s Dream,” “is the fourth-generation nephew on his father’s side to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, composer of such work as The Nutcracker, 1812 Overture, and Swan Lake.” I’ll assume he works in the CD area of the store, but probably not for too long. His page also boasts, “With over 100 years separating him from Tchaikovsky, it is apparent that history will repeat itself as John joins the ranks of some of the greatest composers of this century.”

The CD supports The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which donates musical instruments to schools, programs and students in underserved communities, so bust out your $6.98 plus tax and head over to your nearest Half Price Books and buy a copy. Just don’t ask me for a discount. --Rich Lopez

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