It's been a ride. For nearly four years, I've enjoyed writing the Local Music 'Mericans column, getting to know some of my neighbors who are in love with music at least as much as I am.
As a tribute to this column known as Local Music 'Mericans, I've been asked to list my top ten Q&A's in the history of doing the column. And while it really is true to some extent that every one is special to me, there were definitely a handful of people I walked away from feeling especially educated and inspired. And, while only picking ten is a chore from a pool of over 150 interviews, what follows is a handful of true "Local Muse" from people right here in our own backyard that made me want to be a better person and music fan.
10. Jazz vocalist/instructor Damon Clark DFW's jazz is not the easiest to infiltrate, so finding someone like Clark was especially sweet. He's unapologetically candid and filterless on Facebook (not easy to pull off in such delicate environs as a jazz community) and, among his other great expressions of music passion, Clark made a profound point about paying artists a living wage. Hear, hear.
9. Doublewide owner Kim Finch Finch is an idea fountain and labor-of-love entrepreneur. She draws her inspiration from such corners as her history in Assassination City Roller Derby (under the moniker of Puncho Villa). And she has a reputation for being an especially gifted party host who burns brightly in the middle whatever soiree' she walks into.
8. Collector/curator/record store & 8-track museum owner Bucks Burnett Full credit to Kirtland Records' Tami Thomsen for the referral to Burnett, whom I had heard of, but had assumed that he'd be about as easy to reach via modern communication methods as, say, Bill Wisener at Bill's Records. Nothing could be further from the truth. He's a wealth of music history and information, with insane contacts in his phone like Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend and Chris and Tina Weymouth, but that's only the peripheral points of interest with Bucks. He's an eccentric, mad scientist of all things rock, both local and global. He's exhaustingly un-boring to listen to. Burnett knows his shit, and we're so lucky to have him.
7. KNON Blues Radio Personality Don O For the better part of three decades, O. has driven into KNON, to host a weekly radio show that carries the flag for what might be the most underrated and unfairly forgotten genres of local music: North Texas Blues. There's just simply not anyone else out there on the air in DFW still reminding you about Freddie King, while turning you onto a new kid on the block. Thank heavens for Don. An awful important part of our history would be gaining rust right now if not for his consistent, noble work.
6. Matthew Vickers and Evan Henry of Dallas Distortion Music Matt and Evan from DDM: What modesty. What balls (Pushing cassettes! To KIDS. In 2014! Fucking bold, my friends). Most importantly, what pure, unfettered music fandom from the bottom of their hearts. They know the blogs, and do they ever know the new bands. You don't have a hope in hell of keeping up with the newest, most exotic sounds like these two do, nor do you have a chance of dancing and flailing at their shows as freely and relentlessly as Evan does. It's crazy to think those two are headed anywhere but way, way up.
5. Live sound engineer and COE drummer Chad Lovell This was a tough one. I talked to some to some real sound monsters: Lee Russell, J.T. Dayton, Carlos Sanchez, so on. Chad is just absolutey holding court at the Curtain Club, though. Right there in his booth. The location even has its own, popular check-in label on Facebook, complete with an impressive plethora of visitor pics posing with his plastic mascot figure, "Bath Salty," and with countless volumes of Tuaca. Chad is fearlessly staunch in his beliefs and isn't afraid to get honestly pissed off in his posts. He's a great sound man to have in your corner, a sensitive and creative soul and one hell of an innovative and gifted musician.
4. KHYI, 95.3 The Range GM Joshua Jones No, that's not Dermot Mulroney in cowboy hat, but I hear you. Jones runs KHYI The Range, home to nicknames like the "blowtorch of twang" and gruff, dry voiceover work from character actor Burton Gilliam, The Range is a treasure, complete with real, live, round-the-clock jocks and a sense that even the higher-ups in the station's management chain are true, deep fans of the genre of country music they play. Jones and his people just absolutely love what they do, and it shows in the sound of Texas' ultimate Mom & Pop radio station. Long live.
3. Former Fair To Midland drummer Brett Stowers What a fascinating journey it was to get to know this guy a little better. In short, Stowers was staring rock star status in the face just a few years ago. Then (sometime after a frightening van wreck while on tour), he took personal inventory, applied what must have been some very difficult thought to the situation, and completely stepped down and began his entire life over again. Stowers, now living out in the country, is a whip-smart college student techie now, and fast becoming one hell of a Texas chef...especially when it comes burning the perfect spicy crust onto a hunk of red meat. Personally, I'm hoping a collaboration with rocker chef Patrick Stark is in his future some where. Oh, and he continues to support local rock as if he lives in Deep Ellum.
2. Music photog Fabien Castro Nothing was harder than only picking one photog to list here. We have exceptional shutterbugs in our music scene: James Villa, Brian Ullrich, David Wilson and Mike Brooks were all featured in this column, and that's just scratching the surface. Castro's undeniable excitement to be doing what he's doing and the way he makes capturing musical emotion just look so easy has landed him a special place in my heart for sure. Fabien worked tirelessly to forge his way from his native Mexico to not only now shoot in DFW, but all over the world.
1. Artist Frank Campagna, Jr. Frank gets the #1 spot here. I doubt I'll hear a single argument on it. It's not because he spawned the brilliant-and-achingly-missed punk musician Frankie 45 or daughter Amber (a gifted art eye in her own right), nor is it his his Deep Ellum wall murals or sensational gallery hangout Kettle Art. It wasn't even his ability to win our hearts as the unofficial Dad of Deep Ellum. It was his expression of properly crossing the wires of art and music: how difficult the collaboration of the two can be to interpret and convey and how often the importance of that is overlooked.
And that's that. I'm out. Thanks a lot for reading my scribbles.
See y'all on down the trail? Well, alright.