Texas®

I would like to be able to tell each and every one of you that I will always tell the truth and do the right thing in every situation. As I look you in the eye. With my hand placed on the Bible. I know some folks like to swear on a stack of Bibles, but I don’t think that quantity really matters in this case. I’m a “less is more” kind of a guy. And I couldn’t swear on my parent’s graves, because they’re both still living. I’m drifting from my point. That happens quite a bit. But if we were meant to to focus all the time, we wouldn’t have peripheral vision, right?

I have never been comfortable answering a “What if…?” question. They seem like a waste of time. Because the answer I give today probably won’t be the way I react tomorrow. I am very brave on my couch after a few glasses of wine. In fact, I am a superhero. And I say that because I usually wear a cape and a utility belt when I’m in the privacy of my own home. But I honestly don’t know what I would do if someone did harm to my kids or a tornado was seconds away from my house or if I witnessed something morally wrong. And I don’t think that makes me a coward. I think it makes me human. I celebrate my flaws. It is my imperfections that keep me going.

Having said all of that, it is going to be semi-embarrassing to admit that I am not always in the moment. If I see a crack in my house, I wonder how in the hell I am going to pay for a new foundation. If my foot is numb in the morning when I wake up, I curse my luck that I have come down with a bad case of muscular dystrophy. And if a friend doesn’t text me back within five seconds of of me sending him a text, I am replaying every conversation we’ve ever had to figure out where our friendship went south and soured. That is simply crazy. Human. Nuts. Yeah.

Knowing that you don’t have it all together is the first step. At least it was for me. There is really no way to study for a test on hypotheticals. Because there is no right answer. And once it becomes a reality, it’s no longer a hypothetical. And then you’ll react. And at that moment you’ll know exactly what you would do when faced with a “What If…?”

*************************************

Dave Little is a Dallas-based stand-up comedian, writer, musician and actor. He’s funny for Best of Texas twice a month, but he’s funny all the time on his website www.lovedavelittle.com.

So, a couple of weeks ago, at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, thousands were treated to some blistering performances that were every bit as extreme as had been promised. With metal, electronic dance, hip-hop and alternative comedy acts making up a large portion of the weekend long bill, extreme is the only way to properly describe the sets that took place on four different stages over the course of three days. Check out my article from that week’s Dallas Observer, and check out a few more thoughts below…

 
 

The first set I took in at FFF Fest; Big Freedia got everyone's rump shaking. Hard.

 

Russian Circles - Before that Friday night, I simply wasn’t aware of this well-regarded band that excels in post-rock style metal. Without singing a word, this group pummeled the stage into smithereens as they featured tunes from they rhythmic, groove-heavy and bombastic recently released album, Empros. Easily the biggest surprise for me over that weekend, this Chicago-based trio had me feeling horrible about my modern musical IQ, since this was the first I was ever hearing from them. They ruled.

 
 

The Murder City Devils were great, but the Russian Circles set that ended just before this one stole some of their thunder.

 

Public Enemy - They did what they do and have done for so long. They owned the stage. They weren’t flakes, they weren’t divas and they hit the stage pretty much on time and tore through the classics such as “911 is a Joke” and “Fight the Power.” It was just one of those sets where you were just happy to know that you were witnessing a legendary group show why they so legendary.

 
 

Yet another crappy picture from me. This is Donald Glover inside of a jam-packed Comedy tent.

 

Donald Glover - The guy from one of the best, and least watched, comedies on TV, Community, offered a hilarious and taboo-filled 30 minutes that had the hundreds of people watching on cracking up at everything form his impression of Michael Cera doing a Shaft impression to his thoughts on how homeless people freak him out and intrigue him, all at once. He performed his hip-hop set later as rapper Childish Gambino, but we didn’t catch that.

The Joy Formidable - The band that I was personally looking forward to catching the most, the Welsh trio, led by Ritzy Bryan, didn’t disappoint in the least. Playing a 40 minute set consisting of tunes from their breakthrough album, The Big Roar, Bryan commanded the stage with a fiery and almost angry presence. It’s no wonder why this band got picked to open a few shows for The Foo Fighters.

The festival's MVP, Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable. She dominated.

Austin Daily Press Food Truck - The team that almost took home the prize in Season One of The Great American Food Truck Race, brought home the prize for the best Caprese Sandwish I’ve ever had. I typically need a great deal of meat on my sammys, but this pressed offering, featuring gooey mozzarella and basil blew me away.

Hometown heroes, Okkervill River shook up the late afternoon crowd.

There were tons of great sets, great food and great people watching. There’s just no question that this is every bit the go-to festival as its bigger brother, Austin City Limits.

It's tough to beat the skyline of downtown Austin as a fitting festival backdrop.

I feel good. I’m not bragging. It’s just a fact. I am happy about it. I realize I am lucky. There are people right now that are not feeling so great. I feel bad about that. I am empathetic. I hope their situation changes. I have a friend whose back is all jacked-up and has been for months and the only thing she does is complain and I’m fairly certain that does little to provide relief. I suggested that she investigate the merits of yoga and she suggested that I investigate the endless possibilities of placing anything that comes out of my mouth into a place that never sees the sun. Fair enough.

I have stopped saying that I feel good for my age. I don’t know what someone my age should feel like. I think losing most of my hair in my 20′s prepared me for what was going to happen the older I got. So now when I run into someone I havent seen for years they remark that Ihavent changed one bit. Of course, they may be referring to the fact that I’m still a bit of a jerk and dress like an unemployed skateboard salesman. But I choose to believe they are talking about my looks. And my not too fat gut.

The only medication I take is wine. I take a few supplements: Omega 3, B-12, vitamin D. I’m not sure if they work but they sure taste great when they’re knocked back with a glass or two of red. I try as hard as I can to monitor what I put in my body. If I’m putting food that is colorful into my mouth, I believe I’m on the right track. Of course, M&M’s are rainbow colored. And Twizzlers. Not sure where they fit on the anti-oxidant pyramid of goodness. But come one, foodies, doesn’t it all even out if I alternate between popping bite-sized Snickers in my cake-hole with crunchy carrot sticks? Isn’t the way to live adhering to the phrase “everything in moderation?” It’s the same reasoning behind the flu shot, right? You give yourself the flu to protect yourself from the flu. So, the best way to make your body immune to fat is to make sure it’s supplied with the same deliciousness daily. Hey, I’m certain that I’m no doctor. But I know what I like. And I like to feel good.

*************************************

Dave Little is a Dallas-based stand-up comedian, writer, musician and actor. He’s funny for Best of Texas twice a month, but he’s funny all the time on his website www.lovedavelittle.com.



I was all up in the grill of Austin’s Auditorium Shores this past weekend enjoying the extreme and often hardcore offerings of this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest. Headlined by the likes of Public Enemy, a diva-esque and dissappoointing Danzig, Spoon, Slayer and Passion Pit, the festival was a blast. One of my favorite sets from the weekend was the Friday night performance from Seattle’s Murder City Devils. Above, there’s a video of a pretty awkward interview with the band. I’m not familiar with ATX Music Mag, but it sounds decent enough. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge it based upon this interview alone. Below is a clip from the performance that really busted the stage to pieces. The clip itself has horrible audio, but it was taken from a camera that basically held itself about two inches above my head, as I was in the pit area taking phots just in front of this specific cameraman. Plus, you at least get an idea for the type of fire these guys threw at the audience, even if the audio isn’t great. Later in the week, I’ll have a few thoughts on the performances and items from the weekend that really left an impression.

A couple of years ago, one wouldn’t think of Texas, let alone Dallas as a Mecca for world class electronic dance music festivals. Sure, there are some significant clubs scattered through the state that have always attracted relatively big names from e do world, but it wasn’t until last year when the Electric Daisy Music Festival hit Dallas that many people began to take notice of our states thirst for electro dance grooves.

After another commercially successful, but sadly tragic, EDC, Dallas is set to host what might be the single biggest music-related New Years Eve party in the country. The Lights All Night festival is so big, in fact, that it requires two nights of stone lights and pulsing beats to get it all done. Beginning on December 30, the party won’t end until the New Year is sufficiently rang in, for sure.

The number of performers is only topped by the sheer quality of the talent. Worldwide headliners such as Diplo, Tiesto, Girl Talk, MSTRKRFT, among other quality acts such as Neon Indian and Texas’ own Ghostland Observatory.

So, for those looking to ring in the new year with some danceable beats that last well beyond the drop of the times square ball, look no further than downtown Dallas.

Rodney Parker and his band, The 50 Peso Reward has been country-rocking-in-the-free-world for a few years now. In the last three years or so, however, the Denton-based band has really cranked things up a notch in terms of the quality of their releases. While The Lonesome Dirge is a muscular album that doesn’t boast one skippable track, and their EP, The Apology – Part I, was a great, if too small, collection of tunes; the bands latest effort, the acoustic, Live From The Living Room showcases a band that isn’t afraid to lay it all out in the open, eschewing the overdubbing and numerous takes that a studio often affords a band as they perfect an album.

There isn’t terribly much on here that’s new to longtime fans as far as actual song titles are concerned, but that isn’t to suggest that one shouldn’t pay close attention as the differences between the versions provided here and the ones given on past releases are substantial enough to make even those familiar with the bands catalog pay close attention to the older tunes in new packaging.

It’s often said that the true greatness of an individual song can be measured in how it holds up over the transition from plugged-in and polished studio track to a stripped-down, skeleton of it’s louder counterpart. Perhaps that’s become a cliche, but it’s especially true in the case of Parker’s brand of insurgent country. And by that measure, the Living Room versions more than survive the transition, they shine.

Want a taste? CLICK HERE for “Skin & Bones” from the new album.

 One of my good friends from The Dallas Observer, Daniel Hopkins, is more than just a writer and musician, these days. Thanks to his segments on the site You + Dallas, he’s a real-life video star kinda dude. Here are a few examples of his handy work.

I officially give up. There is now too much information. Even when I try to learn, my brain informs me that, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am closed. Recently, I was in Austin. I know, look at me! World traveler. And when I’m in Austin, I always visit two of my favorite places. Waterloo Records and Book People. They are across the street from one another. Very convenient. I get very excited thinking about it. Music and books are weaved throughout my life. On my table next to my drinking chair sits at least 20 CDs and 30 books. Whenever I am sad I look at my table. I look at my table all of the time.

I walked into Waterloo Records. It’s organized chaos. Music is alphabetized and categorized for both enjoyment and protection. There is nothing I have to have, which means I am not looking for anything in particular, which causes me to be rudderless, which makes me nervous. I have several hours before I have to be anywhere, so you think that would be a perfect scenario for leisurely browsing. Nope. I wander over to the listening station and gaze at the selections. Okay, I like Lindsey Buckingham. Great guitarist. Plays with his thumb. Had sex with Stevie Nicks back when she was prettier and I had bangs. I fumble with the headphones and try to put them on over my hat, which I’m wearing because I am bald and don’t have sunscreen. My hat falls off. I pick up my hat and drop my sunglasses. I put the headphones back on the hook and knock several Wilco CDs off their perch and onto the head of a baby sitting quietly in a stroller. Until then. I decide I’m more in the mood for books, so I leave. Quickly.

As I enter Book People, I am greeted politely by a staff member who apparently hasn’t heard that I am a one man flash mob. I decide to get some coffee from a woman who would have to do some major disassembling of her face to pass through a metal detector. I figure a double espresso with steamed milk is the perfect companion to help me in my quest to find the perfect book that hooks me in the first few pages like a deep sea fisherman and keep me engaged for the next 400 pages so that when I finish I feel both a sense of accomplishment and worn out from my word journey.

But it doesn’t happen. I pick up several books that the staff recommends on a note card, begin to get the jitters from the caffeine jolt, leave the books on a display where they don’t belong and make a beeline for the bathroom.

Sometimes, there are more important things than the arts.

*************************************

Dave Little is a Dallas-based stand-up comedian, writer, musician and actor. He’s funny for Best of Texas twice a month, but he’s funny all the time on his website www.lovedavelittle.com.

 

It’s doubtful that any of you out there are aware of this, but I can’t help but be. Austin one-man-blues-devil Scott Biram was one of the two subjects of my very first post for this here blog. By no means am I suggesting that I was the first to write about him. In fact, I was way behind on him. Way behind.

Needless to say, I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. As it turns out, a ton of others will soon be trying to do the same thing in terms of Biram’s career. Thanks to some recent happenings, Biram’s profile is raising at a nice and rapid rate. Most notable, perhaps is that two of his songs “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” and “Lost Case of Being Found” will be feature on October 25th’s episode of the hit FX drama Sons of Anarchy.

Talk about an apt pairing of singer to show. His tales and overall sound are every bit as gritty as the characters and story lines of the biker-gang that inhabits the town of Charming, CA.

Also, be sure to check out the latest Austin Chronicle. Biram’s featured as the cover boy there and writer Austin Powell does a bang-up job in delivering a story that’s more than worth reading.

Oh, by the way, Biram’s new record is out, too. Word has it that Bad Ingredients, his latest from Bloodshot, is yet another grimy, desperate gem.

A few months ago, we discussed what exhibits were being showcased in some of our states best museums. We figured it would be a good time to see what new things were going on. You know, just so you have something to do and stuff.

Dallas Museum of Art: Mark Bradford ~ The DMA focuses on this emerging, modern artist. According to the museum’s website, Bradford “ is best known for his large-scale abstract paintings made from a variety of collaged materials.” For many North texans, this seems like an exhibit that would typically be found in Ft. Worth, so it’s pretty cool to have it land in Dallas’ Art District.

Museum of Fine Arts Houston ~ We could stop with two words: King Tut. But we wont. This gem of Houston’s stellar museum district has too many other great thigns going on right now. If the lines are too long for Tut, or tickets are sold-out, we suggest the The Spirit of Modernism exhibit. Thanks to a gift from a friend of the museum, John R. Eckel, MFAH has only built a stronger case as perhaps the prime must-visit museum in all of the state.

Harry Ransom Center (Austin): Banned, Burned, Siezed and Censored ~ On the heels of wonderful, literary exhibitions (see: Kerouac’s scrolls for On The Road and the recently concluded Tennessee Williams exhibit), this Austin treasure’s latest exhibit ”reveals the rarely seen ‘machinery’ of censorship in the United States between the two world wars. It’s also more than worthy to note that the permenet collection of the Ransom center has one of the only five Gutenburg Bibles in the US. In terms of literary history, it’s pretty hard to top that one.

Kimbell Art Museum (Ft. Worth): Caravaggio & His Followers in Rome ~ What can be said about this museum that hasn’t been said by legions of admirers already? Not much really. In fact, the jewel of Ft. Worth’s excellent arts district is worthy of one simply showing up without even knowing what’s currently travelring through, thanks to the museum’s high standards and historically-proven track record of being beter than so many others at what they do. So, with that said: Just go.