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Hey, let it be known that we here at The Squawker are all about good causes. Throw in a few excellent musical acts and we’re really all about lending a helping hand.

What’s that, you say? One of the performers is a talented singer-songwriter that we were just wow’d by at SXSW last weekend? Come again? The benefit show is at what is possibly Dallas’ grandest, most historic halls of music?

OK, we’re in, then. Arm, consider yourself lightly twisted.

The Dallas-based Wandering Chicken Wire Show will be hosting the North Texas Music Makers Showcase, benefiting the SPCA, this Sunday at Sons of Hermann Hall. Music, puppies in need of some love and old-timey Dallas: that’s a great combo for a Sunday agenda, folks.

Yes, the line-up is solid to begin with, especially given that Greg Reichel will be throwing down. But, it’s a late addition to the schedule that really has us excited. Bonnie Whitmore, who you may remember from my SXSW Saturday notes, will also be playing on that fine day. In fact, that’ll be her second show at “Sons” within a 48 hour period (she’s playing with Adam Carroll and Scott Nolan there on Friday night).

While the name is funny, the Wandering Chicken Wire Show’s cause is nothing less than noble. Each month, the organization of musicians picks a worthy charity to support, thus ensuring that the love is indeed spread.

So, there. Add love to the already heady mix of great music, good causes and great venues. By going, it’ll almost be like you’re not actually making much effort, because it’ll be so much fun, but never fear, the fun will go to a great cause and will be appreciated by the animals of North Texas for some time to come.

Let’s be honest: We love our fellow-Texan musicians and, for the most part, we have great reason to feel that way. There’s just something to being a proud member of this state’s population that lends a native artist an honesty and insight into their work than what might come from an “outsider” when it comes to spinning yarns that relate to the folks who live here.

Of course, there have been many an act make their way to Texas from other areas, only to become hometown heroes, none the less (See: Reckless Kelly or The Mother Truckers in Austin). On top of that, there are the artists who simply do not make Texas their home, yet seem to just get it. They visit for the occasional tour and seem to have crowds awaiting them when they come as if they were regulars or neighbors. Been to a Chris Knight show in Dallas anytime recently? You know what I mean, then. The talented, but a little scary Kentucky-dweller hits Texas regularly and still pulls in crowds that would make most jealous. His music speaks to Texans in a way which comes across as if he’s speaking in a code that is spoken only south of the Red River.

Another artist that fits that description is California’s Ted Russell Kamp. A prolific singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, Kamp stays busy when it comes time to release an album, but especially when it’s time to hit the Lone Star State. Kamp’s stellar new album, Get Back to the Land, is absolutely making the miles add up for him these days. Just this past week, Kamp played what must’ve been 10 different gigs from Austin to Parker County and from Ft. Worth to Hill Country.

What’s even more interesting is that Kamp’s distinctive Cali-country sounds are likely what makes his presence in Texas so welcome. As Texans, we appreciate an artist who likes sharing his regional love with an audience, even if it’s not our region, necessarily. In fact, as is the case with other records from Kamp’s catalog, especially the excellent Poor Man’s Paradise from a couple of years back, Kamp manages to push the influences of his life on the road (this guy has literally seen the world from a tour bus) into his songs, as he incorporates southern, soulful horns and roadhouse boogie-woogie vibes into the mix. And hey, if there’s another thing we Texans love, it’s Southern soul, right?

So, remember, local is great, but an out-of-towner who appreciates what we have locally is pretty sweet also.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.

For those of us with small kids, or even not-so-small kids, the Saturday birthday party can be a bit of a beating and can absolutely throw a wrench into any well-meaning plans of getting something productive around the house done (even if we were likely never going to get to that pesky project, anyways.) Screaming kids, ringing video games, creepy, large singing mice and general sensory overload can really bring a frown to a parent’s face, if we’re all being honest here (we are, aren’t we?).

For many of us possessors of the BestBuzz App, we have found a different, and less stressful way of helping our children celebrate birthdays, whether it be their own, or the celebration for one of their tiny friends: Bounce U.

The well-trained staff of each Bounce U knows how to operate the well-oiled party machine they possess, ultimately taking the headache of having to handle everything away from the parent. Imagine, just hanging out while your kids bounce and play in the indoor, bounce-eriffic playrooms before heading to another party room for pizza, goodies and presents – all in the span of a quick hour or two.

Be sure to use the BestBuzz App to it’s fullest and you can see what I mean for yourself. Go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bestbuzz/id405561566?mt=8 to read more about the App and download it FOR FREE, for yourself.

Maybe it’s the beard, maybe it’s the globe trotting ways that he has adopted over the past few years, maybe it’s the mercurial way in which his last band, Lift to Experience from Denton, stormed onto the scene a decade ago, but then popped out of it so quickly. Maybe it’s the beard (I know I’ve mentioned that one already, but I really think that has something to do with it.) 

Regardless of the actual reason, Josh T. Pearson has developed quite the mystique around himself, whether he realizes it, or not, or even if he cares, or not.

Pearson, who is now living primarily in Europe, is absolutely back into the musical spotlight, thanks to his fine new album, Last of the Country Gentlemen. Among the many compelling factors at play with this release is how sonically opposite these slow folk tunes are from his reverb-heavy and wall-rattling sounds of the shoegaze-y Lift to Experience. Adding to the about-face overall sound is the religious imagery and lyrical themes that are simply, well, confounding. Titles such as “Thou Art Loosed,” “Woman, I’ve Rasied Hell,” and especially, “Sweetheart, I Aint Your Christ” really seem to let the listener behind the door of what Pearson has experienced in the past few years, but still, the tales are quietly epic and never reach a melancholy, self-indulgent tone.

Who knows if Pearson will ever return to the eardrum-splitting tones of his earlier band, but it’s not like this rather somber album doesnt speak volumes on it’s own, either.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.

Some loyal readers may remember that we hit last year’s edition of South By Southwest in Austin. Fun was had, cans of Lone Star were drained and music revelry was had in a very serious dose. This year, we’re only making the trip for some of the laid-back Day Party good times over the weekend of march 19th.

Let’s face it: For those living outside of Austin and working outside of the musical realm, it can be tough to make it down for multiple days of uninhibited, song-driven debauchery. That’s why it’s a good thing you are reading this, because below is a listing of some of the best, free parties that are going on in Austin on March 19th.

The Nine Bullets.net Day Party: For the second year, one of the internet’s best musical blogs will be making the trip from Florida to host not one, but two days worth of festivities. The first one is Friday, but on Saturday, you can catch Two Cow Garage, Glossary and several other cow-punk greats at the Revolution Bar.

Twangfest at Jovita’s: When SXSW rolls around, there are only two legitimate culinary companions to the music being heard and the beers being had: BBQ and/or Tex-Mex. Thankfully, that is capably covered with this party. Two stages and insane acts. The Waco Brothers, Kasey Anderson and Freedy Johnston are but a few of the acts that will be present, and again, FREE!

Brooklyn Country Cookout: Taking the “cookout” theme literally, this find collection of twangy bands from both Texas and New York will be held in an actual private yard, just off of South Congress St. It’s open to the public however. Bands in both the front and back yard will make for some frantic fence-jumping, don’t you think?

Mess With Texas 2011: Taking the “Day Party” idea and stretching it into the night-time for those who aren’t rocking SXSW badges or wristbands is the annual Mess With Texas party. Taking place this year at the Eastside Drive-In, off of 6th and San Marcos St., this all-day line-up is kind of insane, especially for free. Headlined by punk legends The Dead Milkmen, there are plenty of buzzed-about and out of starters supporting the bill. Deer Tick, the Dodos, Esben the Witch, Surfer Blood and many more ensure that this will be the most indie-riffic day party all week.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.

Every year on March 17th, people aim to celebrate their Irish-ness (whether real, or imagined). Cheap green beer, T-shirts with funny puns relating to drinking and general, Guinness-drenched revelry ensue.

Also each year, on the Saturday before the greenest of all holidays, Greenville Avenue in Dallas is transformed into a jubilant parade of drink, whoops, hollers and a complete lack of concern for the following morning’s dehydration-induced headache. But, before all the craziness, something perhaps even crazier occurs down Greeville Avenue - a 5k Run!

The annual St. Patty’s Dash Down Greenville Avenue at 8:30 am, you can register from the parking lot of Central Market at Lovers Ln and Greenville. This is one run where typical active attire doesn’t cut it, by the way. Not only should you rock as much green as you can, but one is in danger of feeling left out if one opts to run without a green afro-wig, massive leprechaun hat, or some other season-appropriate good-time accessory.

Of course, for all the hard work that a 5k really is, there is a reward. Tons of live music, drinks and fun await the runners at the end of the line. Later in the day, even, The Dallas Observer is hosting an insane concert featuring not only recent Squawker subjects True Widow and Here Holy Spain, but non other than Texas-rock heroes The Toadies.

The Dart rail makes it easy to get to that special strip of upper Greenville Ave, so there is really little room for excuses to those who are looking for reasons to not make it out this year.

For more information on the St. Patty’s Day Dash Down Greenville Ave 5k, go to www.dashdowngreenville.com. For information on the St. Patrick’s Day concert, starring The Toadies, go to the show’s offical site

 

For the past nine years, Addison’s WaterTower Theatre has hosted one of the coolest theatrical events in Texas, if not the nation. The Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is back and even better. Such a claim isn’t near as bold as it may sound, when you look at the roster of not only the plays and stars that have taken part in the 10 day-long festival, but at the line-up of this year’s festivities, which started this past week, actually.

Still to come are plays by a well-known name in comedy and an up and comer who is still making a name for herself in the comedic realm, both on television as well as the stage. Robert Wuhl, he of Arli$$ and Bull Durham fame, brings his one-man play, Assume the Position, to Addison after successful runs on other parts of the country. Also, on Friday night March 11th, Lauren Weedman stars in No…You Shut Up, a play that has already received its share of raves from runs in unlikely theatre hotbeds such as Idaho, of all places.

The festival runs until March 13th and features many other productions, ranging from comedy to intense drama. Head on over to the WaterTower Theatre’s official site for details on not only the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, but also for the other great productions coming to the center soon. www.watertowertheatre.org.

Hopefully, it wasn’t lost on everyone that this week marked another Texas Independance Day. Of course, that also means that another legendary and pride-inducing, albeit somber, point in history is also welcoming another turn of the calendar.

The Battle of The Alamo took place between February 23rd and March 6th of 1836. The shocking losses suffered by the forces that had held its ground so bravely for that fortnight proved to be a galvanizing force, helping propel the rebel squad, led by Sam Houston, to a resounding and revolutionary victory over the Mexican forces of General Santa Anna just over a month later.

These days, the Alamo stands as not only a moving tourist attraction in the middle of a busy downtown collection of modernity, but as a symbol of Texan pride and resilience. It is with both of those attributes that the city of San Antonio asks people from all over the country to come, learn and remember what happened during what was perhaps our state’s most pivotal two weeks.

Concerts, lectures, exhibits and remembrances will be in great supply between March 3rd and March 6th. Go to www.visitsanantonio.com/alamo/events for more information.

Best of Texas is excited to launch our new social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) app called BestBuzz, so to celebrate, we’ll be doing “Appy Hour” parties around town all month.  Please join us and ‘buzz-in’ to receive great deals at our events and have some fun for a couple hours!  To get on the guest list for all of our upcoming parties, please visit www.BestBuzz.bz to register.

Using the BestBuzz app, users can scan unique QR codes on door stickers and get real-time special deals from several of the best places in Dallas!  Our motto is, “If you love it, Buzz about it,” so share what you like best at places and add photos using the BestBuzz app.

The BestBuzz app is free and available for iPhone and Android users (Blackberry version is coming soon), so make sure to download the app and join our “Appy Hour” party at Hacienda on Henderson this Thursday, March 3rd from 5pm-7pm . Our team of “social buzzerflies” will be on the patio and the first margarita is on us, and then you can stay and enjoy $3 margaritas and 20% OFF food when you buzz-in and show your waiter!

PLUS! BestBuzz is throwing the Official SXSW Interactive “Appy Hour” bash in Austin next Friday. Come and enjoy free food, free cocktails, and we even have special Grammy-winning artists showing up for some entertainment from 5pm-8pm!

RSVP- www.BestBuzz.bz/sxsw

Be sure to check out some of these other great places for BestBuzz special offers around Dallas:

Patriarchs Humidor
Patriarch’s Sanctuary Bar
Sugar Queen Cupcakes
The Salad Stop
Bounce U
Love, Peace & Popcorn
Salon & Spa at Eaton Court
Addison Improv
Café Malaga
Bounce for Fun
Rene’s Lagniappe Hair
Fortuna Grill Pizzaria
Papa Murphy’s Richardson
Adriatica Day Spa
Hacienda on Henderson
Quesa-D-Ya’s
Primo’s Uptown
The Spice & Tea Exchange of Dallas
Roni Deutch Tax Center
Locked Out Comedy
Fox Sports Grill
The Alcove Uptown
Rock N Taco
Planet Beach Contempo Spa
Chito’s Mexican Restaurant
State & Allen Lounge
The Nodding Donkey
Christie’s Sports Bar
Vino 100
Aura Lounge
McKinney Adventure Boot Camp
Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka
Jasper’s Plano
ZEA Woodfire Grill
Abacus
Tiff’s Treats
Rathburn’s Blue Plate Kitchen

 

I admit it: I really really miss the old glory days of Deep Ellum in the mid-nineties. For those of you who are nodding your head in agreement as you read this, you know the bands I’m talking about. Funland, Hagfish, Doosu, Caulk, Bobgobblin were some of the ones that marked a golden age in Dallas/Ft. Worth music. Of course, that era cant be discussed without mentioning other bands like Tripping Daisy and the Toadies.

I’ve spent a ton of time on this column in the last year discussing my favorite Dallas-area bands that are currently doing their thing, so I’m not living in the past…completely. Thanks to a new album from a Dallas act, my memories of Toadies concerts in 1995 are flooding back to me – whether it’s fair to this new band or not.

The band that has unlocked the floodgate to my grungy, North Texas hard rock memories is Here Holy Spain. From Idol Records – the folks that brought us that sweet The O’s record I discussed a couple of weeks ago – Here Holy Spain’s second album, Division, is a thrashing, punk-informed rock record that just doesn’t mess around. As tough and gruff as the overall vibe of the album is, these songs are filled with heartbreak and guys just trying to figure stuff out in the only way they know how.

There are some downright menacing tones to this album. Some of the lyrics aren’t for the meek or faint of heart. Wes Todd sings about “all of the sounds I can make you make” in “Like a Charm,” when discussing a love gone wrong. The aptly titled “New Bones to Break” doesn’t exactly soften things up as the records progresses ever so forcefully, but enjoyably. Many of the tunes have  a melody to the madness which lends an accessible sensibility to the recordings which make the offering even more pleasing.

Whether the band likes it or not, many of the tunes bare the venom and ferocity of Rubberneck-era Toadies. Todd’s vocals often resemble that of Vaden Todd Lewis, even if they are a bit less threatening, but only barely.

Miss the old days of Deep Ellum hard rock? Grab this record and enjoy the present as much as you may miss the past.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.