OK, South by Southwest. You’ve made your point. We get it. I’m an ass. I never should have ragged on you in the mid-aughts for booking Complete two years in a row, arguing that the infamous Fort Worth heavy metal trio that’s also known as The Worst Band in the World (seriously) did not represent the wealth and diversity of talent here. After booking Complete a third time –– and a fourth time and a fifth and sixth time –– I thought, “Now, South-by is just being a jerk, trying to capitalize on the band’s infamy.” Complete’s YouTube videos, for their sheer unintended hilarity, went viral before Facebook and Twitter really took off. Now the views are through the roof. The video for “Hoogie-Boogie Land,” recorded as part of some cable access show back in the day, tops out at 616,118 views as of this writing. Alas, South-by, you have gone and booked Complete for sanctioned showcase No. 7. In a row. If you’re not trying to prove a point to me, someone you’ve never even heard of but who’s been critical of you over the years, personally and in print, then you shouldn’t be booking an event as respectable as South by Southwest.
Though frontman Curt Low, bassist Creecher, and new drummer Helix may argue otherwise, they are still as jaw-droppingly awful as ever. After forming in the 1990s, they’ve just released their debut album, Beginning of a New Era (it’s a live recording), and I’d argue that their “Hoogie-Boogie Land”-era material is better. As horribly written, arranged, and performed as “Hoogie-Boogie Land” is –– and “Dream-Ing,” “Beautiful Sunrises,” “Into the Night,” and “Hot as Hell” are –– they are also honest, genuine, and utterly guileless a la Wesley Willis or Sister Gertrude Morgan.
That’s another thing for which I’d like to thank South-by. By booking Complete every year in the place of real, hard-working souls, who, of course, could use the exposure that SXSW would afford them, these hipper-than-thou Austin pricks are, basically, cheering a little too hard for the small, scared kid in gym class who makes a free throw. And now South-by is being even more childish by passive-aggressively lobbing a grenade at a nobody writer in Fort Worth. Grow up, will ya?!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my (deranged, possibly stoned) system, a few other Fort Worthians have been tapped to play sanctioned showcases, including “It Boy” and recent Columbia Records signee Leon Bridges, Atlantic Records’ The Unlikely Candidates, one-man disco machine Ronnie Heart, neo-Texas Music purveyors Green River Ordinance, and two old-timey bluesmen, Rick Anderson and Ray Reed. (Watch Anderson teeth-pick a solo in the video below.)
Congrats to all. Even Complete. Especially Complete.
Among Fort Worth cats selected to play sanctioned showcases this year, I overlooked JLD, or Just a Little Different, a rapper originally from Hillsboro who was homeless for three years before moving in with friends on the Near Southside. For his deliriously odd brand of socially conscious yet energetic hip-hop, he’s joined by multi-instrumentalist Bryce Braden, bassist Chris Evans (The Hanna Barbarians), and drummer Mark McCreight (A Bird A Sparrow).
Once Around the Square
The first time New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley saw Once, it was in the East Village. Reviewing the Broadway production a few months later, he wrote that while the show registered as “a little too twee, too conventionally sentimental,” it felt “as vital and surprising as the early spring that has crept up on Manhattan” at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. Not long after winning eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical, Once began to tour. The story of two star-crossed lovers –– a down-on-his-luck Dublin street musician and, basically, a groupie –– comes to Bass Performance Hall on Feb. 18-22. And in celebration of the groundbreaking show (the cast members play various instruments onstage) a few of Fort Worth’s finest singer-songwriters are taking their music to the streets. At 6 p.m. in six venues in Sundance Square on Thursday, Jan. 29, Brandin Lea (Jetta in the Ghost Tree, Flickerstick), Stephen Beatty (Un Chien), Katie Robertson (Chucho, Foxtrot Uniform), Jacob Furr, Taylor Craig Mills (Mills & Co.), and Deanna Valone will perform, one artist per location. A pub crawl will wind its way through all the stops. There’s no cover (but you have to pay for your own drinks). Full disclosure: The event, called Once Around the Square, is partly sponsored by the Fort Worth Weekly.
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