Please try not to think about it. Attempt to shoo from your mind the fact that while crotchety backward-minded souls still walk the Earth, and are often paid handsomely for their efforts, we have been deprived of a supremely gifted 34-year-old musician and artist. The only applicable modifier is “bullshit.”
Having written about Tarrant County music on a weekly basis or more frequently for nearly 14 years, I can say that there has always been a dearth of serious, groundbreaking, idiosyncratic music here. Lots of rock. Lots of country. Lots of rap. But not a lot of genre-bending, in-your-face craziness, the kind that reminds you of your small place on the planet and how when our worlds are going to hell, we finally realize that we all have a lot more in common with one another than we may have thought while slouching in our beanbags in our parents’ basements with our phones, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, ranting, ranting, ranting.
Native Fort Worthian Nevada Hill, who died Thursday after a protracted battle with cancer, was one of North Texas’ most original, challenging, and thought-provoking musicians. Count among his peers Ornette Coleman, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Dewey Redman. Hill’s last band –– the singer-songwriter-guitarist was in several, including the much beloved Zanzibar Snails –– was Bludded Head. Was the trio of Hill, upright bassist Ryan Williams, and drummer Jon Teague (Pinkish Black) the loudest heavy act around? No. Were they the fastest? No. But was Bludded Head the most dynamic, most progressive, and most reflective of a master musician’s singular vision? Yes.
Clear Acid, Spacebeach, and Sin Motivo are probably the only Fort Worth locals I can think of that come close.
In a 2014 story, Fort Worth producer Britt Robisheaux told me that what we didn’t know at the time was Bludded Head’s final album represented the most “honest-sounding music” he knew.
“There’s no pretense, no trickery,” Robisheaux said, “and you’d be hard pressed to find another band to draw a real comparison to.”
Reign in Bludd was recorded straight to tape with minimal editing.
What you hear during playback, Robisheaux continued, “is how the band sounded in the room. That’s not something a lot of bands can do.”
EMott, the mother of Hill’s 9-year-old daughter, Gillian, told Art&Seek that her friend “fought tirelessly with his cancer with such will and determination to try any and every treatment there was and to never give up. Art and music were [Hill’s] passion and his legacy, but Gillian was the light of his life and his soulmate. She’s really the greater legacy.”
Memorial service details will be announced soon. Fuck cancer.