By Dustin Blocker
The alarm clock was flickering “3PM”. I put on a Rock n' Roll plaid, fired up the 4 cylinder, and swung the Chevy through Bedford to pick up Jeremy Hutch and Misty on the way to catch the first bands for this year's Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards Festival.
As we pulled into Funkytown the read-out said 100 degrees, and although the stretch between the seven venues wasn’t much, the Texas heat made any walk regrettable, so staying at any one stage for an extended period seemed bright. First stop for the day; Poag Mahone’s for new artist nominee Igneous Grimm.
Grimm flashed experimental-psychedelic sludge riffs with crisp western swing beats and duel lead vocals. They were tight, introverted, and solid during jam portions. Definitely a great start to the afternoon, and then it got even better.
The second band on the bill was a no-show (later it was stated there was a miscommunication on the band’s cancellation), so before Jerm and I could head out to the next venue we were asked to do a quick fill-in set.
Being wholly unprepared to play; the guys from Grimm (whose keyboardist David Vaughn and drummer Ben Hance are also equal parts Secret Ghost Champion) were gracious enough to let Jeremy use their guitar and rig. And although Jeremy Hutch has been in Exit 380 for over three years, we had never played a set with just the two of us, so we slapped together a few songs to which we were both slightly familiar and made it through the list fairly unscathed.
After the set we scrambled some gear out the door, and were out on our heels to catch as many acts for the 6 o’clock hour as physically possible. By this time our good friend, and go-to photographer, James Villa had joined us along with his family, and we took the short walk together to Lola’s Saloon for the much buzzed about American/Roots Rock nominee Whiskey Folk Ramblers.
Greeted at the door by the ever jovial Brian Forella; Lola’s (which is easily my favorite Fort Worth venue), was as expected…PACKED. A sweaty and vibrant Whiskey Folk Ramblers was killing it w/ multi-instrumentalists on accordion, banjo, and horns laying down some tight swamp Americana. We stayed for about 3 songs, and then it was across the street to the Pour House for a band I had heard a lot about, but had yet to see live; Quaker City Night Hawks.
Being another nominee under the American/Roots Rock umbrella QCNH gave a hard charging upbeat squelch to that moniker, and I especially dug vocalist David Matsler’s high register delivery. Admittedly, it was a bit hard to focus on the act with the 3000+ televisions on the walls of the Pour House tuned to Sportscenter, and we had one more band to catch before the 6pm slots were wrapped, The Orbans, so up the street we did go.
The Orbans have had an explosion of buzz lately and we saw them at The Capital Bar for last year’s FW Weekly Fest. They were back on the same outdoor stage, this time sans-drummer. The lack of a rhythm section (albeit they had bass and keys) didn’t detract from The Orbans’ sound whatsoever, as their three-part harmonies and meticulous strumming on the mandolin and acoustic guitar filled up the void without pretense.
Next to that stage was the completely badass Calhoun, but we were pressed for time, so we had to hoof it back across to Poag Mahone’s where our HDR label mates Secret Ghost Champion were kicking off the 7 o’clock hour.
SGC were already into their second song by the time we rolled back into the pub, and the crowd had swelled significantly in our absence. Nearly a year since seeing SGC live, these guys have apparently been working on their live chops, as they were beyond tight. Their tracks on record are extremely well done, but they really brought it up several notches on the live take. Thumbs up homies.
After the SGC set we stepped outside and nearly got ran over by a couple of women in a pickup truck trying to hop a 2 foot curb...so that was fun. Then we threw out a few more high-fives intermingled with some hip-hop hugs before heading to the house and/or crib.
Definitely a good time in ol’ Fort Worth, and the FW Weekly staff deserves some big thanks in continuing to help cultivate such a diverse local music community. Indeed a great day for the fans and artists alike.
Till next year!
Anthony Mariani snagged us a couple of copies of this year's FW Weekly Compilation Disc recorded specifically for the Music Awards by the nominees, and the CD is AWESOME. Not sure if they will continue to sell copies, but if so, check out http://fwweekly.com/ for details.
|Courtesy James Villa Photography 2011|