For Rip Rowan, the Old 97's Hitchhike to Rhome Survives Because It's All About North Texas

Categories: Columns

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Jeff Scroggins
A little older, a little wiser, but still all about North Texas: the Old 97's in the studio in 2013

By Rip Rowan

Rip Rowan is a Dallas producer and engineer whose credits include artists like the Old 97s, the Deathray Davies, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Fate Lions and Dovetail. He also performs on keyboards and drums (sometimes at the same time) with his indie singer-songwriter wife, Vanessa Peters and other local Dallas artists. This year, Rowan oversaw the remastering for Old 97's debut Hitchhike to Rhome for its 20th anniversary.

"Old bands know it's impossible to make a perfect album. But young bands have enough naivety to think they just might pull it off."

So wrote Old 97's guitarist Ken Bethea on September 11, 2014 for the Dallas Observer. Ken was speaking, of course, about the Toadies. But his quote applies equally well to the Old 97's debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome.


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Mark Abuzzahab is Helping KXT Grow Up

Categories: Columns

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Will Von Bolton
Somebody's Darling join the festivities at KXT's fifth anniversary party tonight
Since debuting five years ago, 91.7 FM KKXT has been one of the city's most contentious radio stations. For in-the-know music snobs, the station wasn't "indie" enough. For middle-of-the-road music listeners, KXT was playing too much weird shit. But then we all remembered what our garbage commercial radio alternatives were, and appreciated KXT for its quirky, if imperfect, selection of rock, indie and local music.

Gradually, the station started to get better, due in large part to the hiring of program manager Mark Abuzzahab. Abuzzahab is a veteran of this type of radio, having worked at Austin's KSGR and a ClearChannel station in Boulder, Colorado. When Abuzzahab was hired in 2011, he viewed the criticism of KXT as an encouraging sign of the station's success. In an interview with former Observer music editor Pete Freedman, Abuzzahab said "I think the best sign there is the fact that people feel so much ownership over it."

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Hat Tricks Bar is the Reason You Should Spend More Time in the Suburbs

Categories: Columns

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Taryn Walker
Tony and "Coach Joe" Avezzano in 2011 at Hat Tricks.

I'm a suburbanite. Of course, I do spend a great deal of time in Dallas proper, drinking, eating and going to shows. But I live in Carrollton. I actually love it here, in fact. I'm not saying all suburbs are great - most certainly are not, but dangit-all-to-heck, C-town has a killer record store in Dead Wax, the best bathhouse-slash-café the Russian Banya of Dallas and the greatest of all indie beer stores around. It also is just a stone's throw away from Coach Joe's Hat Tricks, the bar and live music venue that every Dallasite should venture to the suburbs to go see.


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Dallas Metal Changed Forever After Dimebag Darrell

Categories: Columns

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Courtesy the artist
Dimebag Darrell (far right) with Pantera at the height of their powers in the mid '90s
Music is all about the immortals. We talk about them all the time: the Ozzy Osbournes, the James Hetfields, and so on. We let these people into our lives. They become a part of us, helping us along as we grow up. The best of them are there for the biggest moments of our lives, for the highs and as well as the lows. In Dallas' world of metal, and really all of Texas, there is only one band that has held a monopoly over this emotional connection to its fans: Pantera.

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The 15 People You Meet in Dallas Nightlife

Categories: Columns

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Roderick Pullum
Keep chugging and we'll put you on this list: Dallas night life is full of characters

By Amy McCarthy and Jaime-Paul Falcon

Bars, clubs, and music venues are generally great places to be, especially when you factor in copious amounts of alcohol and loud live music. Still, there are plenty of people in Dallas who are dead-set on harshing your mellow while you're taking in a show at Club Dada or drinking at Twilite Lounge.

There's no question that most of us spend too much time out at the bar, which means that you've inevitably run into these 15 people in the pursuit of a drunkenness and a good time. It is also likely that you fall into one of these categories, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing or an indictment of your character. Just know that we've got your number, Dallas.


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The New Bedhead Box Set is the Most Essential Dallas Reissue of 2014

Categories: Columns

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Courtesy the artist
Bedhead are best heard with headphones -- even if you're Bedhead

Last week, Bedhead, the renowned slowcore pioneers from Dallas led by brothers Matthew and Bubba Kadane, saw the re-release of its entire body of recorded work. Chicago-based record label Numero Group, a label that specializes in offering up richly detailed, comprehensive collections from artists deserving of further inspection, released the box set Bedhead: 1992-1998. The collection contains the band's three studio albums (1994's WhatFunLifeWas, 1996's Beheaded and 1998's Transaction de Novo) in addition to an extra disc of demos, singles and unreleased tracks.

2014 has been a year rife with backward-looking reissues (Dallas artists have been no exception to the rule), but when one takes into account the thoughtfully written 25,000 word essay/book, this box set is a stunning addition to any personal music collection. Don't just take our word for it - Pitchfork, NPR and the A.V. Club are but a few of the notable outlets hurling hosannas at the band and this early Christmas gift.

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Dallas Hip Hop Needs a Unified Sound to Get National Attention

Categories: Columns

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Nicholas James Harris
Buffalo Black is one of Dallas' hottest rappers. No one else sounds quite like him
The most popular rapper to have ever come from North Texas is one Robert Matthew Van Winkle. You probably know him as Vanilla Ice. This is nothing short of equal parts silly and embarrassing. Vanilla Ice is the Psy of the '90s and "Ice Ice Baby" is hands down the "Gangham Style" of those times. Drop those songs back-to-back in a club and the same people will sing and dance to them both. The same people will also sit the fuck down.

It's very important to be wholly transparent right now and say that this is not the fault of rappers in Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton or -- well, those are the only places that have rap around here, right? It's all on the average consumer, who relishes a simple familiarity.

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Can Fun Fun Fun Fest Stay Texas' Coolest Festival?

Categories: Columns

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Mike Brooks
Kowabunga, dudes! Fun Fun Fun Fest featured beautiful weather and lots of crowd surfing in 2014
Music festivals are a tough business. It's hard to make them stick. Organizers don't usually expect to break even for the first five years, often longer. Even if a festival survives, it's not the end of the story. Maintaining what you have often means expanding your model and your audience. But for many festivals, that goes against what makes them great in the first place.

Exhibit A: Fun Fun Fun Fest, which took place last weekend at Auditorium Shores in Austin. Now in its ninth year, its voluminous credibility is built on its status as a small, well-curated event. But while this year's installment was an overall success, there were hints of a festival that's hit a crossroads.

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No Thanks Fest is a Gem of North Texas Metal

Categories: Columns

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Kathleen Kennedy
No Thanks Fest attendees brave the great outdoors for the festival in 2013

Man's connection to nature, his desire to simultaneously embrace, tame and succumb to the siren song of the wild, has been expressed through art for centuries. And there's no more fitting musical accompaniment to Mother Nature than metal and punk, two genres that place a premium on organic, unvarnished performances and visceral, atavistic live displays.

Unfortunately, festivals that combine an appreciation for both the outdoors and musical extremes are rare in our neck of the woods: Europe essentially claims a monopoly on them, particularly in the metal genre. But this weekend, for the eighth year in a row, the sleepy northeast Texas town of Emory will be home to No Thanks Fest, one of the U.S.'s few multi-day, outdoor metal and punk music festivals.


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Fun Fun Fun Fest Is The Best Festival in Texas, and Here's Why

Categories: Columns

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Mike Brooks
There's no place we'd rather be this weekend than Fun Fun Fun Fest

The ninth incarnation of Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest starts tomorrow, and the growth of the festival shows no signs of slowing. It's a festival that feels loved, that feels like an awful amount of care and attention has gone into it and that is booked by some sort of all-knowing being. (Well okay, it's just Transmission Events, but whatever.) On a related matter, and more importantly, it's the best music festival in Texas. It's also happening this weekend, from Friday, November 7 to Sunday, November 9.

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