The last roundup

There's nothing wrong with a little self-empowering confidence or belief in your mission, but there comes a time when you have to acknowledge that your plan ain't workin'. After seven years and three albums, and a period of popular ubiquity in the early '90s, Soul Food Cafe is facing that fact: The band plays its last gig Saturday, May 31, at Club Dada.

"It's really frustrating when you have something that you think of as special, and other people just don't see it that way," said band leader and vocalist Sean Wisdom. "We pretty much decided at the start of making So Bright, So Blind [their latest release] that we'd put everything we had into one last album and see if anybody noticed."

Nobody really did, not in any of the ways that matter to a band. "We were set to start working on another album--I'd already written three or four songs that I think are better than anything on So Bright, So Blind--but there was just this feeling that we were fighting a battle that couldn't be won."

Indeed, SFC had been fighting since their beginnings. The unfortunately titled Gospel and their occasional use of horns stampeded many fans into labeling them as a blues or R&B act. In fact, they were a rock act, the vehicle for a singer-songwriter-style presentation, with just enough funky touches to seriously cloud the image. Their ability to pack 'em into clubs like Trees and Club Dada during their heyday led some to dismiss them as a slightly exceptional frat band. Soul Food Cafe was ambitious, with a good show, but their brand of "musician's music" was out of step with what it currently takes to jump up to the next level. "Yeah, people have told me that we peaked with Gospel," Wisdom says grudgingly, reluctant to cede the point. "I really don't know."

No one has any other projects. "It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out," Wisdom says. "I've got those songs for the fourth album, but I really have no plans."

Caught in motion
When she was nominated for a Dallas Observer music award in the field of blues, Cricket Taylor--as noted in our little introductory paragraph on her that came out before the votes were tallied--has been in and out of the local scene lately. Her last official sighting was a few months back, when she unexpectedly showed up at Greenville Bar and Grill and wowed the crowd before vanishing again.

It turns out that Taylor has been globetrotting, hanging out in Amsterdam and Italy, and working on her painting. "I've always liked painting," she says. "But I never really had the time to pursue it." She got more free time when she broke up her band in the first part of 1996.

"It was just time for us to go in different directions," she explains. "I wanted to learn more about different kinds of music and different ways of expressing myself." Taylor has some of her work hanging in Fair Park's Bar of Soap, consisting mostly of nudes and musical figures. Some of the paintings are on canvas, while others are painted on oddly shaped pieces of plywood--surfaces of opportunity that match Taylor's sometimes-primitive approach. With Ike Zimmerman, she gets funky, employing a Van Gogh-like swirling.

Don't get too worked up about Taylor's return, however; the opening party for her exhibit was also a farewell fete, as she'll soon be taking off again, first to Mississippi for a spell, after which she'll "move on to another major music city overseas."

Boredom with the local music scene isn't a factor. "Dallas isn't really known as a music town, which is insane," Taylor maintains. "Dallas is a great music city, and there's a lot of good music out there. It's just that it's time for me to move on and try new things."

Cricket Taylor's paintings will be hanging in the Bar of Soap until the end of the month.

Phase two
From the ashes of Code 4 come the Terror Couple--brainchild of Tim and Jacqueline Sanders--a "live hip-hop" effort that makes its first public appearance Sunday, June 1, at the Rehab Lounge. Backed up by someone called Semaj and former Spot drummer Davis Bickston, the group has spent the past year getting ready for this live debut; Tim estimates that each song requires about 100 hours of preparation.

The band is Jacqueline on bass, Bickston on drums, and Tim on vocals and various instruments and sound-making thingies. Semaj is in charge of the various members' parts and a wide array of prepared samples, which he'll control through a sub-mixer, doing with knobs what a conductor might do with his hands.

"People talk a lot about this keyboards-versus-guitars thing," Tim Sanders explains, "but I think it really goes deeper than a fad like that, to a male-female kind of thing. I think the show's going to be really different--we're going to be exploring our feminine side pretty thoroughly, through keyboards rather than guitar. We're going to come as close to musical sensualism as we can," he says, adding that he's been listening to a lot of artists like Marvin Gaye and Andrae Crouch lately. "I like the way they can bare their souls through their voices, how their singing is so expressive that they don't even need words."

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Matt Weitz