Photo by Jessica Waffles

I suppose it’s a sign that a city’s music scene is busy and vibrant when covering the output of its bands becomes a challenge. Even back in the pre-streaming-service Stone Age, keeping up with releases from local artists was still a slog against waves of jewel cases, CD-Rs, and other handcrafted press material. There just aren’t enough pages in the paper or manpower hours to schlep through all those releases online. What all of that really translates to is an apology in advance: Sorry if we missed or slept on your new EP. Having presented a preemptive “my bad,” please peruse and investigate further the following updates on some local artists.

Emo-leaning Americana songwriter Ryker Hall is dropping a new Bandcamp single this Friday, marking it with a full-band performance at the Post at River East. Hall originally hails from Longview, and his new song, appropriately titled “East Texas Speed,” deals with his distanced observation of a family torn apart by meth. He recorded the track with Jordan Richardson (Son of Stan, Ben Harper & The Relentless 7) at Electric Barryland over a couple of days –– one in November and another in January. Hall played every instrument except drums, which were played by Richardson, and lap steel, which was courtesy of local country artist Alex Bellin.

Bellin is sort of a newcomer to local music, but that just means I hadn’t heard of him until he messaged me. We talked over some cups of coffee last month, and he explained the YouTube link he had sent over, for which I needed some context. The video, entitled “Snow & Water Live Session // ‘Timberline’ Alex Bellin,” shows the songwriter at night, Stetson atop head, guitar case in hand, entering the CD Ski & Sports on Hulen Street. Some young women browse some jackets. A young man checks out skis. And then the footage fades into Bellin and Vandoliers’ fiddler Travis Curry performing the troubadour’s recent single, “Timberline,” in front of a wall of snowboards. If that sounds like a weird thing to see in Fort Worth, a city some 11 hours away from the nearest rideable slopes, you can see why I was a little baffled –– and that’s even before the cutaway to a guy preparing to wax a snowboard.


But the song is good, and its subject matter does evoke a lonely winter in Colorado, so maybe I was just thrown off by a setting that seemed, to me anyway, kind of arbitrary and maybe even unintentionally Tim-and-Eric-esque. But Bellin assured me he did it there on purpose, and the video looks professional. He also has a lot of big ideas for future showcases in other locations –– I think he has a song about boots, so perhaps a video at M.L. Leddy’s or Cavender’s might come next.

Cross-promoting content with a brick-and-mortar retailer sounds like a mutually beneficial endeavor for local acts and businesses, as it’s a good way to bring attention to cool things around town. Then there’s a folk-punk act called Scatterbrain, whose latest release, a Bandcamp single called “Fort Worth-less,” shines a spotlight on something not-so-cool: the consequences of gentrification. Pretty sure this is the first song to take aim at both the Trinity River Vision Project and Dickies Arena. Though neither is explicitly named, the message is obvious in the context of people having to move … somewhere … in the name of progress.

Of course, these releases are but a few drops in a veritable sea of local releases. Two more: Former Fort Worth resident/longtime Denton dude Tony Ferraro has a new album called Paj Mahal out this weekend at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, with support from Fort Worth synth poppers Big Heaven, and Simone Nicole will release a new single the first weekend in March. Give us a hand and check them out.