As a P1, I’m happy to report that Danny Balis, producer for The Hardline, probably the longest-running radio sports-talk show in North Texas, on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, will be joining Fort Worth indie-pop rockers Calhoun on bass –– former bassist of two years Nolan Thies is relocating from North Texas to New York City.
In a press release, the other four Calhoun guys say they “could not be more excited to have not only a great all-around musician but such a good friend picking up where Nolan left off.”
Balis isn’t new to the scene. Co-frontman of the popular C&W outfit The King Bucks, he has backed such esteemed North Texas musicians as Doug Burr and Salim Nourallah and was vital to one of Dallas’ most beloved defunct indie-rock bands, Sorta. In 2009, Balis released his debut solo recording, the critically acclaimed Too Much Living. The Calhoun guys got to know him over the years through music. When the option to take him on was introduced, the choice was a no-brainer.
Balis’ first show with the band will be on Saturday, May 19, at the hotly anticipated soft opening of the lovely Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge on the Near South Side, with Denton’s Seryn, as part of Fort Worth South Inc.’s annual street party Arts Goggle. Co-songwriters Tim Locke and Jordan Roberts have already begun writing new material for Calhoun’s fifth album, a work into which Balis will be integral as a writer and arranger, they say. Recording is tentatively set to begin in October.
After recently learning that Thies was relocating to New York City, Balis approached his good friend Roberts about joining the quintet. Balis said he has known Locke for about 20 years and has always wanted to work with him, dating back to Locke’s days with major-label signees Grand Street Cryers. “But I was busy with other stuff,” Balis said.
Roberts called Locke and said, “Danny wants to try out for the band. Tim said, ‘Fuck that. He’s in.’ ”
Roberts e-mailed the songs that comprise Calhoun’s regular set-list to Balis, who promptly began learning and rehearsing them. “It’s been a real easy fit,” Balis said. “And since we’re all good pals, it’s been a lot of fun too.”
Balis and the band rehearsed for the first time last week. “Man,” Roberts said, “him doing harmonies with Tim, it’s really badass. It hasn’t sounded that good since [original bassist/backing vocalist] Byron [Gordon].”
Roberts said Balis knew all of the harmonies and bass lines and added his own “spin” to them. “It made me feel like the songs were new again,” Roberts said. “It was just so good. It’s gonna be badass. I’m super-excited about it.”
Balis joked that he and his new Calhoun bandmates sound so good that they’ll soon be able to eliminate contributions from keyboardist/backing vocalist Toby Pipes “and start splitting the money only four ways.”
Balis’ expectations are “simple,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to play with great songwriters and good friends and hopefully add something to the band that makes it different or better or interesting or whatever.
“But the more I get involved,” he continued, “the more I realize that this band is an excuse for middle-aged men to get out of the house and drink beer.”