Pablo & The Hemphill 7 may be the longest-running Fort Worth band in town.
Pablo & The Hemphill 7 may be the longest-running Fort Worth band in town.

The year 2004 seems like forever ago. The music scene hereabouts was only a fraction of what it is now. The only day-in/day-out rock venues were The Aardvark, The Moon, Ridglea Theater, and The Wreck Room. That’s it. The big bands were Flickerstick, Woodeye, John Price, Goodwin, Collin Herring, the “The”-having Burning Hotels, and the party-tastic white-boy reggae band Pablo & The Hemphill 7.

Cut to 2013: While some of those old heads are still kicking in one form or another, you’ve got to think that Pablo might be the longest-running act in town, having launched in November 2001. Sure, they’re mainly a repertory outfit –– and no one would confuse them with hungry young turks seeking a big, fat recording contract (more like hungry young turks’ parents or the guys offering the contracts) –– but there’s something to be said for a group that just keeps grinding away merely out of love and respect for music, specifically reggae.

November 2004 marked the inaugural SoundClash, a small festival created by Pablo frontman Joe Vano to establish “a rock-reggae vibe in the Fort,” he said via e-mail, and also to celebrate Pablo’s third birthday. (The guys’ first gig was at The Red Star Lounge, now Poag Mahone’s Irish Pub.)


“I just felt like there were a lot of people who would enjoy it,” Vano wrote. “Fort Worth needed something other than country. And, besides, Peter Tosh said, ‘Reggae music is the nicest music in the world.’ ”

The first SoundClash was held at Club Axis (now Amphibian Stage Productions) on the South Side. Over the years, the festival moved to the Ridglea and the Wreck before finally settling in its current home of Lola’s Saloon (2736 W. 6th St., 817-877-0666). “Now [SoundClash has] become sort of a tradition that Pablo can’t live without,” Vano wrote.

For the 2013 version on Saturday, Pablo will be joined by the upstart Dallas outfit The Effinays and by one of the most beloved Fort Worth groups of all time. Though defunct (except when the occasional cool/well-paying gig comes a-callin’), Darth Vato was also one of the most original-sounding bands around, pounding out a SoCal-influenced brand of rock that in its jumpiness, raggedness, loudness, poppiness, and gnarly grooviness demanded irie times. Bassist Steve Steward is now off playing in Oil Boom (and writing for the Weekly), drummer Eric Dodson is picking up gigs here and there and giving lessons, and frontman Kerry Dean is working on his second solo album, the follow-up to 2008’s all-acoustic El Heladero. On his forthcoming yet-to-be-named long-player, Dean is backed by drummer Jordan Richardson, a.k.a. Son of Stan, and two cats from The Orbans: guitarist Kenny Wayne and bassist Cliff Wright. And Kevin Aldridge, Quaker City Night HawksSam Anderson, and Holy Moly’s Joe Rose will sing on a cover of The Highwaymen’s “Silver Stallion.” Stay tuned.

SoundClash 2013 is all ages; cover is $8-10. Wear your drinkin’ — and dancin’ — shoes.


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