The Fine Line

History of Dallas Music – Written by Jeff Liles

Posted by Cindy on April 4th, 2008

Jeffrey Liles is compiling a “History of Dallas Music,” thank goodness, and you can keep up here. Below are a few excerpts…the man is a freakin’ gift to this town…

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I made this page for a reason. It’s time to for the Dallas creative community to start owning our collective past, present and future.

We certainly aren’t suffering from a lack of talent. Our artists sell literally millions of recordings to people all over the world. Our musicians tour all over the place as bandleaders and hotshot hired guns. We’re everywhere… everywhere except home.

Fuck all that.

There is simply no reasonable excuse for the North Texas area to NOT have a signature profile as a progressive, economically viable music and art epicenter.

As crass as this might sound, I need to put this in terms of the only language a lot of the elitist motherfuckers understand – our creative people are makin’ money. For all these people who branded Dallas as a new money oil town – a glitzy and superficial fashion circle jerk – it’s time for you to step to the side and let our musicians, photographers and artists illustrate this life experience.

“A History of Dallas Music” is more than just that. It’s YOUR personal connection to the collective community – how YOU experienced it. If you are a fan, musician, artist, engineer, photographer, DJ, venue employee or hater, this is the place for you to own your contribution or experience within the context of who we really are.

I realize that one of the reasons the North Texas area doesn’t have a higher profile is mainly an issue of aesthetics. We’re all over the map stylistically. This has always been our blessed curse. Hopefully this page will help educate musicians and fans about artists who exist outside of their chosen genre.

Dallas is Pantera and Rigor Mortis. It’s Erykah Badu and Norah Jones. It’s Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ben Kweller and MC 900 Ft Jesus. The Toadies and 1100 Springs. Dallas is Roy Hargrove and Cafe Noir. Our musicians are playing in bands with artists like Fiona Apple, Seal, Air, Korn, Smashmouth and Bob Dylan.

We’re everywhere, all the time.

We’re more diverse than New York City and more original than Los Angeles. We’re more talented than Seattle and more country than Nashville.

Our people are nicer and certainly less egotistical than all of those places.

No longer will we collectively exist under the radar.

It’s finally time to own what has always been ours to begin with.

Now go add your perspective here: myspace.com/historyofdallasmusic

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When I was growing up in the 70’s, there were killer music stores all over town.

I rode my bike up to Sound Town in the Promenade Center in Richardson to pay five bucks for a brand new vinyl copy of “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”. I had no idea what “bollocks” meant. Didn’t know what anarchy or submission was either. Had literally had no idea at what they were screaming about, but I fucking loved it anyway. That album just came flying out of the speakers of my stereo.

I also remember meeting Van Halen at an in-store appearance at Disc Records in Valley View Mall. God I loved that place. They gave away free 7 inch singles of “You Really Got Me” b/w “Atomic Punk” that day. Van Halen had just released their first album and they were out on the road opening up for Journey. I actually won a jukebox in a promotion they had that afternoon at the store. It was too heavy to lift up the stairs to my house, so it sat in the garage until I sold it to Bill from Bill’s Records a couple of years later so I could go buy a bass guitar.

Robert Fripp did a great in-store performance at Peaches Records on Lemmon Avenue. He had just released the “Exposure” album, and he did this deal where he sat there on a stool playing along with tape loops. It was my birthday that day, and it was great to spend it with such a prog rock legend. That whole day was a trip. I might have been hallucinating, but Fripp was about four feet tall.

When I was really young I used to talk my parents into taking me to Melody Shop in NorthPark Mall every Saturday afternoon. I used to love to go there and play all of the electric guitars. They also used to sell sheet music there. Man I loved that place.

When McCord’s Music opened up in Valley View I actually talked my parents into buying me a drum set there. I took lessons for about a month and then gave up before turning to the guitar. A month or so later I bought an old white Gibson SG Jr. for $150 at Pete’s Pawn and Music in Garland and started learning a few chords. Think I got my first amp at Sears at Valley View.

I really dug that Sound Warehouse that was tucked away across the street from there in the corner of that strip mall at 635 and Preston Road. Such a great vibe in that store. It had a “California” look and feel to the interior. I think that may have been the first location for Sound Warehouse. There was another one a couple of miles away on Belt Live in Addison that was really cool as well. Used to ride my bike up there all the time too.

Arnold and Morgan Music and Charley’s Guitar Shop are both legendary. In a lot of ways I was too chickenshit to go in there. Those places were for the real pros, I was just a kid hacking away at “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin. It was a big deal for me just to walk in there and buy strings.

I really miss a lot of the smaller indie record stores. Record Gallery, Direct Hit, Last Beat Records, RPM, Pagan and VVV Records were all amazing in their own ways. I can’t tell you how many amazing records I bought at VVV over the years. Such an incredible store. Neal Caldwell and Mark Griffin were always so great to talk to. I would spend hours there in the side room listening to records that I just couldn’t afford.

As a teenager I lived a short bike ride away from the original Bill’s Records, back when there was still a Northwood Four Movie Theatre in the same shopping center. (Bagelstein’s Deli, which was next door, has now moved to the shopping center at Coit and Arapaho Road.)

Over the years, all of these stores influenced the musicians and DJs of Dallas in deeply profound ways. People would drive in from Oklahoma and Arkansas just to buy records at VVV, RPM, Metamorphisis and Bill’s Records. High school kids would save their lawn mowin’ money to buy their first guitars at Arnold and Morgan. Bands like P-Funk would sign autographs at Peaches. It seemed like every week something cool like that was happening in Dallas.

Ya gotta miss that shit.

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“More and more I can see, who I am, who I might be… how will you make your dreams come true?”

So few rock and roll songs manage to articulate revelation or personal discovery in a way that’s anything other than blatantly emo. This is different.

When it was released twenty years ago, “More and More” by The Buck Pets was one of those songs that just sent chills up your spine. Two minutes of sheer dissonance, kid. A wave of chaos, lead singer Andy Thompson above the fray asking “what’s the price for your slice of life?” This shit was heavy.

“More and More” was both massive and introspective at the same time. Chris Savage’s guitar solo is a writhing atonal feedback-drenched wall of noise, a black Gibson Les Paul screaming through an old Marshall half stack like an damaged F16 scorching the desert sky.

His melodic figure during the bridge wavers on a teetering high wire above the rest of the band; the wall of sonic anarchy that follows perfectly simulates the effect of biting down on tin foil. When Thompson comes back to finish the lyrics, Savage’s harmonic squall line just swims around all over the place.

The song is pure genius. After hearing it you realize that you’ve been holding your breath the whole time. It’s that dramatic and concise.

That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? How you’ll make your dreams come true?

Now, in retrospect, do you think Andy knew that twenty years later he would be running a general store in a small town in Virginia? Or that bassist Ian Beach would become a highly innovative chef? Where is Tony Alba these days anyway? I know that Chris Savage is in a band called Mic The Tiger, and I wanna check ’em out. It’s about time he got back out there and reclaims the style that he helped invent.

In a lot of ways, The Buck Pets were Deep Ellum’s first real Rock Stars. Barely out of high school, they signed with Island Records, toured with Jane’s Addiction and even opened for Neil Young in LA at a few arena shows.

They were easily my favorite band in town at the time. To this day, there have only been a handful of records that are as abrupt and beautiful as the Buck Pets debut album. Can you imagine if this record had been released the same year as Nirvana’s “Nevermind”?

This band would have been huge.

It should also be noted that David Bindler, who passed away three days ago, was one of the Buck Pets earliest and biggest supporters.

In The Los Angeles Times today, there appears a brief paid obituary without any further explanation; all it says is the name of the deceased, William David Bindler, along with Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries.

But there are plenty of folks living in Dallas who could fill in the copious blanks: After all, David was one of the first people any of us at Thomas Jefferson High School in the mid-1980s knew who was in a real band.

Back then he was the drummer in Da Nu Man, which would perform at the Theatre Gallery and 500 Cafe and Kool Vibes, and which, in October 1986, released the single “Sidestreets” on Russell Hobbs and Jeff Liles’ Deep Ellum Records. Later came Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! with no less than Nervebreaker Barry Kooda.

David died over the weekend of a bleeding ulcer, according to a mutual friend from T.J.; she says “it got the best of him,” simple as that. He was 41 and married, and he leaves behind a 17-year-old son.

For his part, yesterday Barry Kooda posted a video, available after the jump, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! made at the State Fair of Texas many, many years ago.

Also, some of David’s former classmates from T.J., many of whom also grew up and moved away only to settle back in the old neighborhood, will gather on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Club Schmitz. Of course, all who knew David are welcome.

–Robert Wilonsky
Dallas Observer

Anybody else have any interesting Buck Pets memories?


“Moon Goddess” by The Buck Pets

6 Responses to “History of Dallas Music – Written by Jeff Liles”

  1. Liles Says:

    Thank you so much, Cindy. YOU are the real gift to the Dallas music scene.

    If anybody has anything… (Dallas music scene photos, posters, etc…) that they wanna add to the page, just send the jpegs to my email address and I’ll get it all up there.

    Or send a review of a favorite Dallas show and I’ll post it as a blog. Whatever you’re into.

    This is your page too, you know…

    dubteam@aol.com

  2. Cindy Says:

    More Liles, More Liles, More Liles…infinity…

  3. Johnny Says:

    Wow, what a blast from the past. Chef Ian was our (wife)downstairs neighbor during the Buck Pets days. I’m sure I was at that show posted above (looks like Trees. I happened to run into chef Ian this weekend at a food festival at the Cresent. He still look like a kid. Man, the funny smoke drifting up to the second floor during those days toxic. Hard to believe it it’s been this long, since those good ole days and the real beginning of deep ellum. 3 on a hill, about nine times, new bohs, sarah hickman, the old theater gallery, studio D,original video bar, State Bar (what ever happend to Trippi T?) oh, the memories!

    Johnny

  4. Patrick Boyd Says:

    You are so right about Arnold $ Morgan being only for the pros. I remember my first visit there, standing next to a hugh, intimidating Marshall amp. I knew I was out of my league! I’d never even seen a Marshall amp before! I knew this is where the bad boys hang out.

  5. Josh Says:

    Liles – I have been following you on youtube for quite a while (since beginning of ’07), and I really appreciate your archival of all of the local music in Dallas. very cool – keep it up.

  6. mike pritchett Says:

    My name is Mike Pritchett and I started going to Arnold & Morgan’s at an early age. I think my first time there was with my dad. I had been playing the drums since 1967 at that point. In 1979 I bought a Ludwig drum set there for one thousand dollars(which I still have to this day.) Years later, around 1985 I got a job working there as a piano mover. It was pretty cool being around all the musical instruments. When Van Halen just started out they went into Arnold & Morgan’s because they were in Dallas for a concert,and according to the salesmen there David Lee Roth was walking around bumming change from people to get something out of a vending machine. In 1986 Stevie Ray Vaughan put on a guitar clinic at Arnold & Morgan’s and I was lucky enough to get a ticket to it. I got to meet him, shake his hand and get an autographed Guitar magazine. It took Stevie a long time to finally come out from the back area to start the clinic because he was watching the last of a football game(seems like it was the Cowboys playing.)