Album Review: Fjord by Jacob Metcalf

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For the better part of a decade, Jacob Metcalf has been hovering below the Dallas radar. You probably know him as one of the members of the very likable folk act The Fox and the Bird, for whom he has sung and played banjo, guitar, spoons, really anything that can make a noise. You may have also seen him busking the streets with that augmented crew under the name of the Dallas Family Band, bolstering a clodhopper chorus of heartfelt voices. To most, that is what Jacob is: one of the hirsute faces in a crowd of howlers and musicians.

Yet for a select few close friends and watchful fans, Metcalf’s larger ambitions have always been apparent. Those who have seen Metcalf play solo, perhaps during his lengthy residency at the Kessler Theater, understand that premonition. His songs had reach and he had a clear vision of what he ultimately wanted from them. Expectations for his debut album, if one should materialize, were lofty. Continue reading

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Review: Remain In Light at the Kessler Theater

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The Talking Heads released Remain in Light on October 8, 1980. It was the same year that Joy Division’s Ian Curtis committed suicide, Led Zeppelin broke up following the death of John Bonham, and John Lennon was assassinated. It might be glib to say music was at a turning point, but those are some major tectonic shifts and Talking Heads were standing right on the fault line. Their first three records were part of a disparate artistic effort to drag punk into the next decade and Talking Heads themselves were at a crossroads. Remain In Light, fed on upheaval, became an album that nudged the boundaries and still earns critical accolades. Continue reading

Road Rookie: A Dilettante’s Journey from New York to Dallas – Pt. II: Hamlin Beach State Park, NY

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In the fall of 2011, against my better judgment and with no prior experience, I attempted to ride a motorcycle from a dairy farm in Upstate New York back to my home in Dallas, Texas. This is the long-winded account of that trip in easy-to-digest line segments. For earlier portions, go here: part 1

Uncle Dick and I woke at the same time. I made breakfast for both of us: a few eggs, bacon and toast with margarine. How a veteran dairy farmer ever permitted himself to buy margarine, I will never know. As we sipped weak coffee, Uncle Dick asked me a few questions about the trip, how long it would take, what kind of route I had planned. I was hoping for a kind of folksy confidence from him, but with every question, he would pause to look up at me with a paternal worry. There is nothing quite as sobering as having your dread validated. Meanwhile, the motorcycle I still had not seen sat in the adjacent shed. Continue reading

Tebowing Orthodoxy

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Tim Tebow’s decision to cancel his April 28 appearance at First Baptist Dallas, due in large part to senior pastor Robert Jeffress’ controversial public statements, is generating a lot of dialogue. Some of that conversation is about what constitutes orthodoxy in the Christian Church, worldwide, irrespective of denomination. Continue reading

Road Rookie: A Dilettante’s Journey from New York to Dallas – Pt. I: Edwards, NY

In the fall of 2011, against my better judgment and with no prior experience, I attempted to ride a motorcycle from a dairy farm in Upstate New York back to my home in Dallas, Texas. This is the long-winded account of that trip in easy-to-digest line segments.

I lay on my uncle’s couch, under a short blanket that barely reached my chest, tossing and turning with one restless thought in my head: “What the hell am I doing?” It was around ten at night. My uncle Dick had just gone to bed and I, his namesake, was dealing with the possibility that I might be dead within the next day. Continue reading

Paying the Piper: Songs I would Tip RTB2 to Cover

Asking a band that writes their own material to cover classic, albeit cherished, songs is generally poor etiquette.  I am not sure “freebird!” guy still exists in this day and age (Grady thinks he has been replaced by “more cowbell!” guy), but he and his counterparts are a public nuisance.  If a band writes their own material, they are not about to be your personal YouTube channel. Continue reading

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

It is tough to watch people age, particularly if they are very close to you.  It is common for one to watch his or her unreasonable expectations run, nose-first, into the brick wall of reality.  To watch the strong father you thought would never diminish struggle to tie his shoes.  To watch men and women of great virtue succumb to baser impulses.  While less grave by many orders, this has been the case with The Smashing Pumpkins and me for well over a decade. Continue reading

Cornering the Cool Market: A Musical Rebuttal to August Kleinzahler (Eight Years Late)

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This is appallingly irrelevant.  In 2004, San Franciscan poet August Kleinzahler reviewed a 2003 collection of poems edited by beloved radio personality Garrison Keillor.  “Reviewed” is pretty kind.  “Drooled intellectual venom all over” is closer to the truth.  Sometime in 2011, an episode of Travel Channel’s No Reservations mentioned the “unprovoked attack,” which is now over eight years old. (How much does it sting Kleinzahler, by the way, that to even make him relevant to a TV audience, he had to put him in the context of Garrison Keillor?) Continue reading

Obituary: Dick Sullivan

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Richard J. Sullivan (1930 – 2012)

 

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I don’t think my uncle, Dick, was ever aware of his name’s euphemistic popularity.  That, or it was so distant from his lifestyle and geography as to be meaningless.  It was irrelevant because no one would ever call him “Dick” except to say hello.  He just did not cross paths with any lexicon except that rounded, canuck-ish variety of the Adirondacks.  He was never captivated by the great metropolis to the South.  For Uncle Dick, Upstate was, for the better part of his days, always enough. Continue reading