South-by, New Ealey
The four Fort Worth bands selected to play sanctioned showcases at SXSW next month aren’t any surprise: Best Fwends, Bosque Brown, The Rocket Summer, and The Theater Fire. They’ve all played the annual music festival before – some more than others – and they’re all deserving.
Most of them are also actually busy. (Slacker-hipsters? How now, brown cow!) The pen name for singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bryce Avary, The Rocket Summer is about to release a new full-length on The Militia Group (Copeland, Jill Cunniff, The Appleseed Cast), the same record label that’s released his three previous records: Calendar Days; Hello, Good Friend; and last year’s The Early Years EP. Best Fwends are still making fun of themselves, gangstas, children, and music in general, and doing it well. Earlier this month, they appeared in New York City on NPR’s Fair Game, a satirical news program hosted by former tv actress and current wet dream Faith Salie (Significant Others, Deep Space Nine). The boys played four songs but neglected to shout-out to God. I kid you not. Visit MoreFairGame.org. Bosque Brown is celebrating the release of her new disc, Cerro Verde, on Burnt Toast Vinyl Records, and the guys in The Theater Fire are resting comfortably on their laurels. (Slackers.) For more, see SXSW.com.
… Most local musicians may think they’ve exhausted every conceivable avenue to get their music to the unwashed. But producer and musician Mark Robbins is offering another alternative, an iTunes of sorts but for Texas bands only (except rap groups – he hates rap). A few months ago, Robbins started All Texan Music and AllTexanMusic.com. We fans will have to pay a little more than the 99 cents we’re used to per song, chiefly because Robbins says he doesn’t deal in high volume á la iTunes – he doesn’t have much music up now – and also because PayPal, the company that conducts his transactions, takes a 33-cent cut from every sale.
Robbins has yet to get a sure handle on sales. “One week, we sell 10 to 15, and the next only three or four.” The cost for bands to participate is $50 – “Since I’m going to remaster the songs and pull samples, I don’t think $50 is much.” All Texan Music, Robbins said, offers one thing that iTunes and other digital music providers can’t: his amazing ear. “A c.d. usually transfers OK, but I also do cassette tapes.” Wha-? Yes. A couple of weeks ago, Robbins was approached by Mike Kubiak, a local music lover who funded a recording by legendary Fort Worth bluesman Robert Ealey more than 15 years ago.
The result never saw the light of day and had been collecting dust on Kubiak’s shelf. He “found out I was doing a label,” Robbins recalled. “He handed [the tapes] to me and said, ‘Do it.’” Eight songs that add up to about a half-hour’s worth of music, Robert Ealey: Lost Tapes 1991 is for sale at AllTexanMusic.com for $15 or $1.50 per song. Kubiak “only gave me one tape,” Robbins said. “He’s looking for more.” … The sentencing trial date for Fort Worth rapper Tommy “Twisted Black” Burns (see last week’s column) has been pushed back to Thu., Feb. 22.
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