Category Archives: Denton

New Pup Video — please stop yelling at me!

Right, right, right.  I’ve had pathetic video malfunctions of late.  I’m not doing this on purpose.  I promise.  I find videos.  I share videos.  Videos disappear from Internet and make me look like a douche.  I am aware, and seeking to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, please to enjoy this BRAND SPANKING NEW Snarky Puppy video courtesy of my Google Alert.  I will continue my endeavor to properly post the “Quarter Master” video from the Jefferson Center.  Then you can stop calling me a tease and we can all have a nice listen.

I’ll be reporting from New Orleans this weekend — home at last after two solid months in Denton (God help me).  I’ll be spending a good chunk of July there, until we’re all covered in oil.  Then I’ll bounce between DFW and New York for the fall.  Lots to talk about, more to listen to.

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All But Quiet On The Music Front

Wear a helmet. Photo by Timothy Scott

Forgive me, dear readers, for instilling any abandonment issues on you.  For one reason or another, I have refused to blog for a month.  This was immediately following my promise to “blog every day for a month.”  Whoops.  I’ve still been writing (you can ask my roommate).  Between tinkering away quietly on the book and doodling interminable dross in my diary, I haven’t felt much like a blog.  But today I decided to kick myself in the ass a little.

Summer has wound it’s way around Denton.  No one is here, but those of us who remain go hard.  I’ve hosted a number of poor-to-fairly attended shows on multiple stages across Denton and Dallas.  The music has been unjustly good.

Have you seen the Black and Blues?  Oh my God.  Solid.  One would have no idea they’ve only been together a few months.  First you have Mark Lettieri whose devilish good looks rival my own. ” That Wanker” remains a guitar demigod among North Texans, shredding the blues alongside soul rocker, Keite Young.  Goldie Fornow brings a distinct and powerful presence to the blend of intoxicating originals (“If We Were Alone.”) and apt covers of Gnarls Barkley. Drummer Evan Gentry proves Houston boys know how hit it right — that’s some Chris Dave shit, right there — Straight up hip hop, with a polish that will make even the tightest Dallas cats sit up a little more.  Pull it all together with Matt Skates (Shuttle) on bass and you get the sort of blues that make you shake your fist and rock.

Wheew!  I am a fan.  Hitting the road with the band next month!  You can catch them in Dallas at the Green Elephant on Friday, July 9th, and Wednesday, July 28th at Hailey’s in Denton.

In other news — NEW SNARKY PUPPY!

Introducing “Quarter Master” — named after the band’s favorite gay deli in New Orleans.  Since the tune is a tribute to our favorite city in the whole wide world, Jason Marsalis and John Ellis decided to join in and become official Pups.  Welcome to the family!  I am now cosmically bound to cluck around like a mother hen and cook for you whenever you come to town.  The boys won’t be hitting the road again until October after Ropeadope releases Tell Your Friends in September (which means I’ll be getting my ass to New York in August).

In the meantime…

I thank you god for YouTube, Bill Laurance, and most this amazing day

Bill Laurance and Michael League

This afternoon I was in the throes of the usual Monday flurry and flutter, zapping out emails, texts, and Tweets, when I was suddenly disrupted by a wave of nostalgia.  While putting together a show proposal, I ran across this video I took a year ago at the Boiler Room. Suddenly instead of thinking of all the things I have to get done, I was overwhelmed with a reminder of why I do any of it in the first place.

Of the many blessings I count in my life, musicians hold an empowering majority. Working with those who inspire me beyond reason and allowing that impact to take hold has turned my world on its ear. For years I just considered myself a fan with no real understanding of the importance of that role within the musical community — I was frankly surprised no one had issued a restraining order against me and my megaphone.  It was Bill Laurance of Snarky Puppy who first brought this dynamic to my attention — that my steadfast love and support was not only appreciated, but necessary to the development and direction of musicians. Soon after I devoted myself to music. I plucked up my nomadic laundry baskets and moved back to Denton where I could put all that sonically-driven energy to good use.

That was when everything went right side up.

I would not have the beautifully eccentric life I have today had I not been so compelled by my friendship with Bill. His music reaches a part of my spirit like no other — from the vibrant “34 Klezma” (off Bring Us the Bright) to the heart-pumping “Good Man Delivers and the Best is Blessed” and the slightly gut-wrenching “Ready Wednesday” from Tell Your Friends. He is just the sort of charming genius Michael League is always parading into my life. My number one live music experience is presently a tie between Roger Waters doing Dark Side v. Leaguers and Billy at the piano last Mother’s Day.

Running across this video brought this all back today, it’s a wonder to see how much can happen in just one year.  Keith Anderson can be seen shattering minds with his band, Full of Soul and sassing Bobby Sparks on HDNet’s Ray Johnston Road Diaries.  Mike and Bill are enjoying a “chill” Pup summer on either side of the Atlantic.  Steve Pruitt and I have been cohorting on Chris Ward’s upcoming Texas tour (hitting North Texas next week), while Mark Lettieri and I verbally abuse each other over Black and Blues gigs.  It’s hard to imagine what life was like before these jazzholes took over — and it’s much more fun to imagine what’s ahead.

Whatcha Gohn Do With All Them Gigs?

Forgive my elusive blog routine, it’s been mad around here the past two weeks.  We lost my primary jazz stage in Denton when Cold Fusion “unexpectedly” shut down, leaving me with over a month’s worth of orphaned gigs.  I had handled the booking the first three weeks the club was open last summer before taking the Pegasus gig, and it was one of my first stops when I later left Peg — the club owner was notoriously difficult to work with, and I wanted to ensure the only jazz stage in Denton not go to waste.

Oddly enough, a business cannot run solely based on what’s happening on stage.  Even Bernard Wright, Ambrose, and Taylor Eigsti couldn’t save that joint.  Oh well, on to the next!

My incredible assistant, Diane, and I immediately set to make the most of this situation.  I have to say, Denton has served me well by stepping up and letting me play with our best clubs.  Hailey’s, Boiler Room, and the Harvest House have opened up their schedules enough to take in a little more jazz.  Herding cats has never been more fun!  Now instead of one cave-like club (that no one wants to hang out in anyway), we get to infest everyone’s favorite spots.  Behold the onward progression of sound — muahahah!

I am particularly excited about what Hailey’s and I are up to.  They are letting me have my way with their bad ass stage most every Wednesday night for the Nica Presents Lounge Series — and the timing couldn’t be better.  Considering Riprocks has shut down their live music on account of young families moving to Fry Street and complaining about the noise level.  This is a bummer, as Sol Kitchen and Bastard Sons of Skoalfield always put on a great show perfect for Denton’s hardcore mid-week hang.  Wednesdays are our Fridays.  We go hard.

To prove to you that I’m not jerking around with this Wednesday business, I offer up Hatch and Sweatervescence on a well-lit silver platter.  The evening will also serve as  Hatch’s CD release party , so you know we’ll  have oh-so-many albums to get into your psycho-funk lovin paws.

Kicking off the night is a little project I found whilst trolling senior recitals at UNT.  I was impressed with Sweaters’ bandleader Tyler Mire’s compositions — anyone willing to write a song called “Nord Storm” is basically guaranteed my ears for at least five minutes.  They’re green as a band, but not as musicians.  With school winding down this week, you can rest assured everyone will be ready to listen to music and drink heavily.

God bless Denton’s Hump Day.

Come play with us, New York

Ganglin' through the streets of New York (you know how I do). Photo by Michal Garcia

Tuesday is going to be a very big day for me.

My not-so-quiet small town, Denton, will play host to two extraordinary young artists setting fire to the New York jazz scene.  You can’t get much hotter than Ambrose Akinmusire, as far as I’m concerned.  Since discovering him at the NYC Winter Jazz Fest this year, I find myself listening in on the space inherent to breath and brass and hearing so much more than I have before.  Taylor Eigsti, from what I gather, is some sort of piano angel.  I missed his set with Nick Peyton, but still had a few chance sightings, most notably when he played with Gretchen Parlato.  I was fascinated by the chemistry of the band, especially the apparently elated pianist.  He was having a great time!  So we all joined in.

You can imagine my anticipation, then, to be welcoming these two firecrackers to my lil ole club, Cold Fusion.  This is all the doing of one Brian Girley —  a self-driven bandleader, talented saxophonist and UNT alum.  Brian invited the guys down to play two nights with a slew of North Texas’ emerging musicians — this includes Yuka Tadano, quite possibly the hottest chick bass player in existence; and Jason “JT” Thomas who has played with everyone from Roy Hargrove to Marcus Miller and has the smoothest voice of any drummer I’ve seen (he is likewise responsible for my introduction to D’Angelo and I therefore owe him a drink).  This dynamic quintet will be performing a very special two night engagement in Denton — if you are so compelled to hear the bleeding edge of living jazz, I do hope you can join us.

Wednesday night’s show at Hailey’s will feature sets by two young acts just starting to make waves through the North Texas jazz scene.  Tatiana Mayfield— our very own Josephine Baker, as saucy as she is talented — will have her Quintet on hand.  They’ve been gathering a steady following from Fort Worth’s underground scene with regular gigs at Scat Jazz Lounge and Buttons, while Tatiana has picked up notable mentions from Downbeat and All About Jazz.

Here she is in full recital regalia:

Wednesday’s show will also include Roberto Verastegui‘s group — the Grammy nominated One O’Clocker has been touring the globe (while going through the North Texas Jazz program, no less) with his inventive styling and decidedly personal inflection.  I must say, his playing reminds me very much of Bill Laurance (maybe it’s the Nord face, maybe the kicky knees, you decide).

Here’s Roberto with yet another hot bass player, Linda Oh.

Needless to say, I am just beside myself about these shows.  I will try my best to keep my Jazz Geek fits to a minimum (I held my own when we were all playing pool with Lyle Mays a couple months ago, but just barely).  The good thing is that since the shows are in Denton, there will almost always be someone jazz geekier than me somewhere nearby (though that may be up for debate at this point).

See you Tuesday!

Cookie Pants Interview: Ian Rapien

Behold the scrappy video production of my interview with the highly educated Tenor Sax man, Ian Rapien!  The newly-hazed Pup is in Denton this week soaking in the culture, including a gig tonight at Cold Fusion featuring the Jazz Wizard himself, Fred Hamilton (guitar), Steve Pruitt (drums), and Grammy-nominated Ryan Hagler (bass).

You can nab Een’s tunes for your very own diabolical playlist with his album, Spectrums, and hear him full-Snarky on Tell Your Friends (available at Recycled Books in Denton and online beginning April 11).

Special thanks to Roni Gan for leaving her front window unlocked so we could break into her house and turn it into a make shift talk show studio.