so goodwin's been recording again. daniel gomez says he wants 14 tracks in the can, so he can throw out two. right now they have 10.
on saturday, they were working on "two again" (or is it "too again?" or "to again?" i couldn't make out what tony diaz was singing on the scratch vocal track), a number they played for the first time last thursday. because of the relative newness of the material -- as opposed to the first time around, when they'd been a band for two years, with damien stewart in the drum seat for a year, and they basically just went in and bashed out their live set -- they're spending more time working out arrangements, even for songs they've been playing live for some time.
the front room of matt hembree's sumptuous wedgwood pad (aka "meow mix") has been rearranged to house damien's drums, surrounded by improvised baffles to tighten up the sound, and goodwin's full array of amps (without a single cat perched on top -- unusual for matt's), while matt's computer room has been transformed into the engineering booth. damien plays through the piece a few times, trying to work out a fill to provide a transition out of the bridge. his drums sound great on the control room monitors; the big room gives a nice combination of ambience (the high ceiling) and punch (the baffles).
then gomez lays down some gtr for the song "new," plugging directly into the board through a piece of software that emulates various amp sounds, kinda like a sansamp or line 6 pod. his yamahas have tuning problems, so he breaks out "the pointy gtr" -- his new gibson explorer. "if we were in somebody else's studio," he said, "what we just did would have cost $300. here we have the luxury of time to get it right."
damien has to cut out by 5, to give him time to take a dip in the pool at home before heading up to the wreck room to play with pablo and the hemphill 7 that night.
at the wreck, ray liberio is enjoying free drinks, his compensation for the mural he and his partner calvin (from the asian media crew) just completed on the wall of wreck west (formerly the torch). the me-thinks
frontguy is also a talented graphic artist who's done tons of posters for the wreck and the axis, as well as his own band. his pieces have a distinctive look and vibe. kat, who's more knowledgeable of these things than i, thinks he could become the fort's own frank campagna
, stanley mouse
, or gary grimshaw
. i say he already is; people just don't know about it yet. but they're finding out.
the mural he and calvin stenciled on the wall of wreck west has a '70s blaxploitation theme, including isaac hayes (the theme from "shaft"'s creator) staring down the barrel of a .357 magnum that's pointed at the stage ("so the musicians will have to play good," said ray), a foxy brown silhouette, and a '70s musclecar complete with "666" license plate. the haltom city-riverside crew is definitely leaving its mark on foat wuth culcha. in addition to their other endeavors, ray and calvin (an architect by day) are thinking of shooting the pilot for a tv kids' show featuring calvin's laotian-born asian media crew co-conspirator rat as "uncle mee" (his lao name).
for their part, pablo to' it up, as is their wont, flowing seamlessly from the opening set by daniel katsuk's ahummin' acoustical acupuncture (with accompaniment by ph7 on three songs) into a lengthy exposition of all of their many strengths, including some surprises. one was a new instrumental composition by gtrist steffin ratliff that deftly skirted the territory between surf music and ska. another was the extemporaneous version of the old digital underground hit "the humpty dance" by justin pate, who actually came out from behind his keyboards _on his knees_ to do the honors. (dunno, but from where i sit, it seems like playing with confusatron the last few months has hipped the former casa manana stage kid and eleventh-hour bindle frontguy to the possibilities that open up when you learn to stop worrying and embrace your inner goofball.) there were also a nice freestyle spot from spoken word artist jamal (shoulda pulled him onstage, joe) and more dropped mics than at any pablo show in recent memory.
sunday we spent off and on at fredfest, in between taking care of some household things we'd been procrastinating on. missing saturday's festivities meant that we didn't get to see lee allen playing standup bass with custom buck on no notice at all, or the evening's headliners honchie and scott copeland
. i haven't seen honchie since i stumbled into their show at sxsw last year. back then, they were still doing the same material they were playing two years before that, but it was still funny shtick. scott just got a call from cross canadian ragweed about covering one of his songs. it'd be nice to see him finally get the recognition, not to mention the money; hopefully then, other big-name artists would discover what we in the fort have known all along, and start mining the motherlode of his songwriting talent. scott also said that lee allen might start playing bass in his band, the sidetrackks, and asked me if lee's any good. hahahahahaha. for his part, lee (who tends bar on fred's patio when he's not instructing at the fw academy of music or conducting the wreck room's wednesday night jam) offered up "rock fingers" in between slinging the burgers 'n' beers when the sound crew (who performed yeoman service all day; nice work, fellas) played black sabbath over the p.a. remember kids: sabbath _is_ the new beatles.
goodwin played a mighty set, decked out in their summer uniforms of black and white long-sleeved t-shirts and shorts. tony had just driven back from a family wedding in san antonio that morning. the previous night's pablo gig (where he was still twirling sticks on the next-to-last number) appeared to have helped damien to work out the troublesome fill from "two/too/to again." matt found a good use for his, um, backstage pass (at _fred's_?!?!? puh-leeze!!!) and showcased keen fashion sense (black soxxx with chucks are the new multicolored shoestrings). for his part, as if to show he's superhuman, gomez threw in a couple of extra splay-legged leaps.
we missed a couple of acts in between goodwin and kulcha far i, which didn't prevent someone's mom from coming up and offering me a fweakly music poll ballot with her son's band selected for "best live band." a classier way of handling ballot box stuffing: head me-think ray said he fell by the moon to discuss an art project with a potential client the last time darth vato played there, when the folks from the weakly were in the house handing out ballots. kerry dean gave him a shout-out from the stage: "if you don't vote for anybody else, vote for the me-thinks." i asked steve steward about it and he replied, "well, _yeah_. they're our favorite local band." nice to see that level of, um, _collegiality_ on the set.
over the past few months, kulcha far i
has become a really great band. the last time they played the wreck room, it was nice to see them get the ecstatically groovin' audience response they've always merited, and since then, they've just gotten tighter and more confident.
in the kick-back environment of fred's, kulcha aka chris hakata was able to delve into material from all three of his cd's, including the one that's not released yet. kulcha's music shows influences like burning spear and the abyssinians, but chris is clearly his own guy. one of the older tunes had a particularly african feel, causing me to contemplate the rusty roof and treetops across the street and imagine what it'd be like seeing chris perform back in his native zimbabwe. on that tune, ron geida played something that approximated the sound of one of those afrobeat bands that have four gtrists playing interlocking single-note lines.
ron's one of the few axe-slingers in town musical enough to carry the melodic/harmonic load basically by himself, although john shook's a mighty tuneful bassplayer -- more of a point-to-point guy than, say, pablo's marcus lawyer (aka marcos abogado), who you sometimes _feel_ more than you _hear_ (of course, there's less space to fill in pablo's densely-packed soundscape). since the wreck room gig, they've added a backup singer, and they were joined at points by freestyling jamal. also, jonathan irwin (definitely the fort's most valuable player of late through his contributions to pablo, confusatron, and the wreck room's wednesday jams) added his percussion to kulcha's mix. jonathan -- a preacher's kid from east texas who started playing congas in church, then came to the fort to attend college and made himself a fixture downtown with his djembe before hooking up with confusatron -- has the kind of ear that enables him to always find the right space to fill, rather than fighting against the drummer. he and jeffrey williams on traps formed a mighty battery. an uplifting performance by a very happening band.
watching kulcha play, confusatron gtrist john stevens remarked, "this [the fort] is a really cool place. it just took me 30 years to realize it." i concur wholeheartedly. in fact, i've been saying for years that fort worth today reminds me a lot more of austin when i moved there at the ass-end of the '70s than "america's live music capital(R)" does today. we've got lots of little subcultures -- cowboys, hipis, punks, bikers -- rubbing shoulders and generally getting along ok. and we've got a highly eclectic and diverse set of bands, informed by more than the latest trend o' the month from the coasts, the press, and clear channel.
with that in mind, it seemed altogether fitting and proper that woodeye was at fredfest, making their fourth appearance there, in fact. it's hard to believe that carey wolff and co. have been pounding the boards for, what, eight years now, resolutely doing things _their own way_, but it's true. carey still can't seem to open his mouth without making a dig at his own expense, and his songs are kinda like that, too, hiding their emotional core beneath their boozy bluster. scott davis on his arsenal of axes provides the lion's share of woodeye's sturm und twang, while graham richardson serves as the band's punk soul, even more visually apparent since he's foregone his trademark buffalo springfield muttonchops for a mohawk ("i lost a bet") and kenny smith's the most underrated drummer in the metromess (and one of the few local musos you'll meet who actually _makes a living_ at it). long may they run.
towards the end of the night, fredfest organizer letha wilson announced that the event had raised over $1,000 in cash for the tarrant area food bank, and the bin holding the donated cans of food was overflowing. not a bad coupla nights' work, and a nice way for this community to represent.