Between 2003 and 2006, the Burden Brothers ruled North Texas rock. The band's full-length debut, Buried in Your Black Heart, from locally based Kirtland Records, made a splash nationally, and songs like "Shadow" and "Beautiful Night," the ocean-sized anthem that had a nice run on the Billboard Rock charts, became ubiquitous in bars and Guitar Centers across the region. National tours, radio airplay and Dallas Observer Music Awards were regular for the band that many likened to an epic 1970's arena-rock act.
But the group had something going for it other local acts couldn't have, aside from killer veteran area musicians. Vaden Todd Lewis, the lead singer of the then-defunct Toadies, was the madman behind the microphone. And now the Burden Brothers, long thought to be gone forever, are coming back -- for one night, anyway, courtesy of the Toadies annual Dia De Los Toadies festival.
The Burden Brothers' second record, Mercy, didn't seem to hit the national rock scene as hard as their debut had. Then in the spring of 2006, Lewis and a newer version of the Toadies started making the rounds again, and before too long they were back to touring and recording. Meanwhile the other Burden Bros, including Casey Hess, Corey Rozzoni, Zack Busby and founding member and drummer Taz Bentley, went on to other projects.
For any local music fan that's lived under a insanely large bolder for the past few years, the Toadies haven't only been back, but the older, wiser version of the band has been in legitimate ass-kicking mode since the 2008 release of No Deliverance. The group famously (or infamously, depending on who is asked) spent 2014 celebrating the two decades of its seminal album Rubberneck, released a couple of tasty beers and has established one of the better annual festivals in the state with Dia De Los Toadies now preparing for its eighth edition.
The festival, which features bands hand-picked by the Toadies, has offered some crazy lineups filled with rock, punk, country and Latin flavors. Last year, the fest marked the final occasion that the group would play Rubberneck in its entirety, while the Old 97's -- then prepping to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut -- acted as the main support for the night. The comfy, familial theme of that night was furthered as former Burden Brother, Taz Bentley, acted as DJ between sets.
Yesterday the band announced their plans for the 2015 installment of Dia De Los Toadies, to be held once more at Fort Worth's Panther Island Pavilion on September 11 and 12, and last year's family rock picnic vibe has more than carried over to this year. Most importantly, that Saturday night the Burden Brothers previously unthinkable reunion will take place ahead of the Toadies' usual headlining slot.
Even as late as winter of 2014, mentions of a Burden Brothers reunion were quickly dismissed by certain folks who would know best. But according to bassist Zack Busby, a guy that's stayed busy playing in Descender and the Black Dotz, among other pursuits, this reunion just seems like a cool thing to do. No more, no less.
"Tami [Thomasen of Kirtland Records] told us there had been a lot of requests for Burden Brothers to be on the Dia De Los Toadies line-up," he says. "So she floated the idea our way. Our thinking was that as long as everyone's schedules would work out and V's [Vaden Todd Lewis] voice would be up to it, it would be a good idea. No hassle, no B.S., just a good time."
While the Friday night festival action will feature a Sarah Jaffe set and the Toadies celebrating the release of its upcoming album, Heretics, the focus of that weekend will be time-tested tunes. The rest of the announced lineup offers more '90s-tinged nostalgia. Local Clinton-era rock gods the Buck Pets and Hagfish will be on hand for the festivities. Hagfish, a frenetic punk band that's as responsible for Deep Ellum's glory days as any other band, will perform its stellar 1995 album Rocks Your Lame Ass in full. It's also worth noting that current Toadies bassist Doni Blair is an original Hagfish member.
The rest of the bill is the usual grab-bag that Dia De Los Toadies has become known for with Fort Worth acts such as cowpunk kings Holy Moly and pop-rock group Gollay alongside the likes of alt-rock radio throwbacks Local H. (Yes, the "Bound for the Floor" guys.)
All in all, Dia de los Toadies 2015 has all of the makings for a beautiful night in the shadows.
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