The beer and the music are still flowing out in Pantego.
The owners of Dr. Jeckyll’s Beer Lab have continued pumping out brews for pickup while also allowing bands to livestream from the taproom, including — perhaps especially — Frio Trio, the indie rock triumvirate of EJ Calderón on vocals and bass, Beer Lab co-owner John Valentine on guitar and backup vocals, and Kolby Kelly on drums, plus new guitarist Ben Bruneau.
“Honestly,” Calderón said, “if a band approaches [Valentine] or, in a sense, Dr. Jeckyll’s and says they want to do a livestream, it’s one of those things where myself or the production company that I own would just do it, or I will map out everything we need to do it and just help them out, but at the end of the day, I’m just wanting to help out those who want to express their craft. If this is the place where you can do livestream shows and [Valentine] is cool with it and you want to perform and do a livestream show, then I think that’s great.”
Valentine said Dr. Jeckyll’s can provide space for just about any creative endeavor. Calderón, he said, “is probably one of the best sound engineers in our metroplex, especially for his age, and he’s offering his services to a lot of local bands, and I feel like that’s going to be a hot commodity soon because everyone is trying to do something else. We’re all just trying to build the music scene here.”
Valentine said that while Arlington doesn’t have an especially great live music scene, he hopes to bring more artists to the area. While Calderón is in the process of structuring his production company and combing through the legalities of branding it Frio Live Productions, he said he’s willing to work with groups to expand Arlington’s creativity while hosting them at one of the Mid-Cities’ newer production hotspots.
The Beer Lab is the Frio Trio’s home base. It wasn’t always that way, but the pandemic changed things.
Valentine said they started right before the lockdown as a trio and are performing when they can with Bruneau, who, Valentine said, “plays a little guitar live, but we are still trying to figure out Frio Trio. Now we have come full circle with lead guitar, but we are still really trying to settle what we do.”
COVID affected the group’s progress in quite a few ways, the group said.
“The last week of March and first week of April, our traction got hit,” Calderón said. “We lost all that traction we were getting.”
During lockdown, matching schedules for rehearsing and planning was difficult, Valentine said. The pandemic not only took away momentum from the band but also from the Beer Lab. The silver lining, Valentine said, was in being able to use the facility for recording, rehearsing, and now livestreaming.
“Beer is the oil of our machine,” Calderón said, referring to the band’s writing/recording processes.
Frio Trio recorded what will be its debut EP inside the Beer Lab’s empty lobby. Calderón engineered and mixed the tracks that were sent to Zach Lewis from On The Rocks in Austin for mastering.
“The bar was just our space to record, but [Calderón] is our professional sound and recording engineer,” Valentine said. “We can make a lot of ruckus and record bands and rent out space to bands, and it’s been a cool hangout spot, but it’s tough not having customers. … Being able to provide a space to include our livestreams with ample room and no hassle is great. We just want to get it back to the good old days where there’s people in.”
You can check out Frio Trio on all digital platforms, including Spotify. As of now, the lab usually offers up to 30 varying beers on tap and is open every day of the week taking curbside orders.