All of the stellar bands in town work their asses off – gigging, rehearsing, promoting shows, writing new material, robbing banks to pay for studio time.
These bands need and deserve press coverage, and, while I’m not sure how well the daily newspapers in Dallas and Denton cover local music, I do know that if I were a Tarrant County musician, I would bang pots and pans for the removal of Malcolm Mayhew from his post as local music columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He’s a likable guy and a decent wordsmith who’s done a lot of good work for the scene since he began writing for the Star-T more than a decade ago. But he’s been phoning in the column for the past couple of years, and, in his downright offensive Jan. 6 piece, he essentially dares his bosses to get him off the local music beat.
In the column, the 2,493rd local media story about Deep Ellum’s alleged demise, Mayhew bemoans Fort Worth’s lack of a concentrated nightlife district, like Austin’s Sixth Street or, well, Deep Ellum. If we had one, our intrepid daily paper local music columnist says we’d see him out “more often.” (Translation: We’d see him out. Period.) He then gets misty-eyed over days past, recalling all of the great local bands he’d seen perform live in Big D, including Tripping Daisy, the Toadies, Funland, Course of Empire, and Billy Goat. He then says “they” (whoever they are) no longer make local bands like Tripping Daisy et al. First off, Jon Pareles, chief pop music critic for The New York Times, is in his fifties and has more than likely seen and heard 100 times more music than any of us, certainly more than someone as young as Mayhew. If any variation of the phrase “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” ever appeared in print under Pareles’ byline, he’d be reassigned instantly – there’s nothing more annoying than a music critic trapped in the past.
Second, for a guy like Mayhew who admits to not going to shows, how in the hell does he know that “they” don’t make ‘em like “they” used to?! I guess the local music columnist for one of the largest daily newspapers in Texas has never heard of Black Tie Dynasty, Collin Herring, Chatterton, The Theater Fire, A-Hummin’ Acoustical Acupuncture, Coma Rally, Goodwin, The February Chorus, Tiebreaker, Snowdonnas, The Burning Hotels, The Me-Thinks, the cut*off, Horses, The Undoing of David Wright, Stephen Pointer, Alan, Pablo and the Hemphill 7, Flickerstick, Spoonfed Tribe, Green River Ordinance, Briley, or Legends of the South.
Even in the unlikely event that Mayhew has heard of all of the aforementioned bands but has forgotten, the cold, hard fact of the matter is that the local music critic for our daily paper is saying that he’d do his freakin’ job if local music was better. You know, at a real daily newspaper, another way for a reporter to get reassigned (or shit-canned) is to arrogantly blame his constituency for his indolence. How Mayhew has managed to retain his post – who knows. Even more mysterious is why some local musicians still think he gives a shit. Here’s a newsflash: He doesn’t.
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