The jaunty trad-bluegrass standard “We’ve Got Franklin D. Roosevelt Back Again” is one thing (i.e., awesome), but young folks playing it today is a whole ‘nother something altogether (i.e., totally awesome), especially now, when positive political change seems – happily – inevitable.
“Good times are coming back again,” the song goes. “You can laugh and tell a joke / You can dance and drink and smoke / We’ve got Franklin D. Roosevelt back again.” Yeeeee-haw! Of course, when the song was written, by Bill Cox in 1936 a week after the election, Prohibition and poverty ruled. So what better time than now, when intellectual Prohibition and poverty rule, for the tune to experience a small revival of sorts here – and there may be no better band than local trad-bluegrass stompers the Blackland River Devils to do it.
The standard, which also includes the lyric “We’re happy to say the donkey won the election,” is one of several the Devils have dusted off and polished to a fine, semi-contemporary sheen and reportedly have been trotting out at their live shows, along with original material. (“Reportedly” only because, I’m sorry to say, I haven’t seen the band yet myself.) The Devils have been together only a few months, but all of them are old hands: multi-instrumentalists Mark Deffebach, Erich Schriefer, Andrew Bond, and Darrin Kobetich, former co-frontman of trad-bluegrassers the Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang. The other frontman, Kobetich’s younger brother Adam Kobetich, lives in Austin, where EMRAG is now based. (There are occasions when the two bands share the stage, under the name The Rotten Apples.)
The Blackland River Devils won’t be playing the Fort until mid-March, but they have two gigs in Dallas this weekend: on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave. (214-824-9933), and, on Saturday at 9 p.m. at Muddy Waters, 1518 Greenville Ave. (214- 823-1518). Visit www.myspace.com/blacklandriverdevils. … On Sunday, Arts Fifth Avenue (1628 5th Ave., 817-923-9500) will be all reggae. The nonprofit collective will host a reggae clinic, with instruction from drummer Dyrol Randall, a burgeoning star in his native Jamaica, and Matt Hembree, bassist for three local outfits: Goodwin, Underground Railroad, and reggae-ish popsters Pablo and the Hemphill 7. The clinic will precede a performance by Randall with Hembree, keyboardist Jimi Watusi, and guitarist Domino. Admission is $15 per event (clinic or performance) or $20 for both.
… From 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. at Trinity Park on Sunday, several local psychedelic artists will gather for La Paz in the Park, an all-day event sponsored by La Paz, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to, in their words, peace and charity. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which is a pretty small price to pay, considering the bill: Daniel Katsuk, Sally Majestic, Confusatron, End of the World Parade, Week of Tuesdays, Tarantula Pants, and the Skin & Bones Drum Cult (featuring members of Spoonfed Tribe, Top Secret, Villain Vanguard, and others). All donations go to La Paz. Music starts at noon.
Volunteers are needed. Call 1-800-LAPAZ4U or 214-546-0505.
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