went to the black dog to see paul unger's flipside trio a coupla weeks ago. paul's the assistant principal bassist for the fort worth symphony (does that mean he gets to give misbehaving basses detention?) who's also played with guitarist tom reynolds and dave and daver, among others. flipside has been together for about a decade, playing a brand of "free" or "outside" improvisational music that you don't hear much in these parts (unless dennis gonzalez' yells at eels is holding forth). recently i was surprised to hear flipside music on kntu. unger's a great player with an unmistakable sound, particularly when he picks up the bow, and his band is a lot more versatile than i'd expected -- in the course of an evening, they might play anything from straightahead to fatback to funk to circus music to stripper-blues. dave monsch plays the fire out of tenor and soprano saxes, as well as percussion and "little instruments." he'll cue the band with hand signals, blow two horns at once a la roland kirk, or pick up a slide whistle for some art ensemble of chicago-like hijinks. drummer dennis durrick is built like a fireplug and kicks up a polyrhythmic cyclone with a physicality that's a joy to watch.
on this particular night, they were joined onstage by two members of ghostcar -- trumpeter/guiding light karl poetschke and bassist chris perdue. ghostcar, unfortunately, is no more. guitarist daniel huffman was also supposed to put in an appearance, but failed to show (probably too busy with comet/day of the double agent bizness). karl has given up playing music professionally (no more six-month jaunts on a cruise ship for this boy) in favor of a dayjob and hadn't played in three months, but sounded great in his usual milesian spacey-lyrical way. he said his chops hurt; he shoulda picked up a maraca like late-period dizzy gillespie; there were definitely enough small instruments onstage for that. perdue, who used to do the two-bass thing with tony chapman in ghostcar, played simple-yet-melodic counterpoint to unger and held down the groove when paul left the stage. he says he has a new project in the works which might involve him singing. looking forward to hearing it, and hoping clay stinnett is able to overcome his recent difficulties.
my junkie alarm was buzzing that night like it hadn't in 30 years and i realized why when i saw three kids doing the familiar shuffle. when they took a place at the bar next to us and one of them bummed a light from me, i scoped them out. two of them were harmless, phased-out, cancelled, but the one that bummed the light, who couldn't have been more than 20, had eyes like a wounded animal. a little later he stumbled into me and i started thinking "if i put my foot behind his and push him, he'll fall into that table over there." when shaggy finally bumrushed them, i kept watching the kid's hands, half expecting him to go for a knife. people like that are usually harmless in those situations, but you never know. while the heroin plague never goes away entirely, it'd been awhile since i witnessed a scene like that. fuck william burroughs and his "algebra of need" bullshit -- i don't want that in my town.
we checked out the final yeti show at the wreck room. it was a weird night. there was a guy in the audience who looked uncannily like yeti's deceased founder/leader doug ferguson. the band (kilesa?) that preceded yeti was noteworthy for being the first band i've seen in a long time that caused my stomach to go into oscillation to the point where i thought i might vomit. and eric and tommy seemed kinda, um, _detached_ from the whole thing. they played one note for what seemed like half an hour. tommy spent a lot of time with his hands behind his back. jon teague was in good drum form, though. he says he's got a couple of projects in the works, and that he'll probably be ready to gig in three months. again, i look forward to hearing.
last weekend, we fell by the wreck to hear darrin kobetich (who's been working a lot more lately, both here in town and elsewhere -- he told me he was driving to houston for a gig the next day) and wound up staying to hear an underaged metal band of mostly hispanic kids called when faith fails. i love being surprised. i saw the guitar player ordering _a soda_ at the bar and asked him if it was his first time at the wreck. he responded in the affirmative, and we decided to stick around. i'm not the world's biggest metal fan -- i _loathe_ the glossy sheen of most '80s metal; so much hair, so much spandex, so much masking tape, so little musicality -- but these kids reminded me more of the bad brains or living colour (both of whom i dug), only with screaming. they could actually _play their instruments_ -- even the bassplayer, who had _braces_ -- and their song titles ("american warhead," "sex and masturbation," "breakin' shit") were indicative of some wit and intelligence, although i'll be damned if i could understand anything the frontguy was singing. they had the correct spirit, though, and what really endeared them to me was watching them grabassing before and giving shoutouts to their friends (and dedicating a song to one of them's recently-deceased dad) during the show. and hearing that they had to go to a quinceanera afterwards.
live local music: the best candy bar your money can buy.