MasterMinds 2011

Foodways Texas is among our three winning arts groups.

But Nodler, committed to returning to Houston and saving something from the remains of Infernal Bridegroom, returned to start Catastrophic Theatre. The company has opened five plays since 2007.

In the summer of 2009, Nodler was traveling in Europe, finishing some research for Bluefinger, when he was hit by a car in Amsterdam. The experience left Nodler with a broken leg. During his time at the hospital, he slipped into a deep depression. The experience also, however, led to his getting treatment, for the first time in his life, for his  mental illness. He returned to Houston clean and sober — also for the first time in his life — to open Bluefinger.

Nodler says the group now has "a lot of new plays" that he hopes will take on a life outside Houston. And his sobriety has led to Nodler writing more than he has in a long time. He's currently working on a big project, he says, that is basically a play about his life. (He didn't want to talk too much about it, for fear that he would "hex it.")

Foodways Texas is determined to preserve the Texas food history and culture. (L-r) Randy Evans, Robb Walsh, Bryan Caswell and Chris Shepherd.
Jeff Myers
Foodways Texas is determined to preserve the Texas food history and culture. (L-r) Randy Evans, Robb Walsh, Bryan Caswell and Chris Shepherd.
Executive Director Marvin Bendele is busy collecting oral food histories for Foodways Texas.
John Anderson
Executive Director Marvin Bendele is busy collecting oral food histories for Foodways Texas.


VIDEO See bios of 2011's three winners.
BLOG MasterMinds, One Year Later: Opera Vista
BLOG MasterMinds One Year Later: Reginald Adams and MOCAH

More than anything, perhaps, Nodler is looking forward with a clear vision of what his theater, and, in effect, Houston theater, will look like.

"I used to be a very controlling director. I had to know exactly how everything was going to look," Nodler says. "It's different now. Now I feel like we all have our hands on the Ouija board, waiting to see how it will turn out."

Nameless Sound

During the mid-'80s and early '90s in Houston, the improvised/noise music scene, if there was, in fact, a complete "scene," started and ended with Sprawl, a popular potpourri of local musicians who gigged at the old Axiom and Fitzgerald's and toured the United States and recorded albums.

David Dove joined the band in 1988 as a 17-year-old trombone player, and he continued with the group until it broke up in 1994. For many young musicians, such an experience could define a career, and if not define, it would almost certainly shape a career path. For Dove, however, that's not exactly how it worked out.

Today, Dove is the director of Houston's Nameless Sound, a nonprofit that explores new ways to teach music in public schools and homeless shelters and just about any place in between. During the last four years with Dove at the helm, the group has grown into something that, as Dove puts it, is "on the brink of figuring out what this means."

"I see Nameless Sound as a network of music education; we're doing it on the grassroots level. And it's cool because Houston is seen as the place where this kind of thinking is taking root," Dove says. "But we are at the point where we have to decide, where do we go from here?"

Dove moved to Houston in the 1980s, when he was a teenager, from San Diego, where he had taken up the trombone and played in his school's jazz and marching bands. Once he arrived in Houston, however, the school made him choose between the two, and Dove ditched the marching band. It also caused him to become disillusioned with the traditional path — school — which led eventually to Sprawl.

After that band broke up, Dove found himself alone, musically, for the first time since he had picked up an instrument, and instead of trying to find a new group to jump in with, Dove went through a period of several years trying to find his own voice as a musician. And while he was doing that, he was also getting a top-notch self-education in different styles of music.

"Back then, you could see a guy like Pharoah Sanders at Miller Outdoor Theatre once a year, if you were lucky, if that," Dove says. "I knew Scandinavian musicians my age who had more connection to contemporary American jazz music than I had, because they had Oslov and Glascow."

Dove spent his time at the library, looking for music to listen to and reading material — anything that could expand and diversify his own music. He bought records at Sound Exchange and listened late nights to KTRU. He was playing with about the only three or four musicians in the city, he says, who were into the same kind of sound as him.

Near the end of the '90s, Dove said he started to realize that whatever drove him as a musician, he wanted to share, and in 2000, he hooked up with Pauline Oliveros, a Houston-born musician who was teaching music, through her Deep Listening Institute, in New York, San Francisco and overseas.

About a year later, Dove started a Houston chapter of the Deep Listening Institute, and after five years of that, he branched off to start the independent Nameless Sound.

 "Typically, music education is more conservative than other arts," Dove says. "I'm not against orchestra or marching band, that's how I came up, but we're really about letting kids gain and develop more creative music. Not just perform what another composer wrote, but grasp how they can develop their own thing."

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Still waiting for poke salad and woodpecker eggs on ya'lls menu.

Jason Nodler
Jason Nodler

Thanks, Houston Press! It's an honor to be in such great company.

David Dove
David Dove

I'm thrilled for Nameless Sound to be recognized with your Mastermind award. Nameless Sound is an organization truly unique to Houston (and an organization who's development is directly connected to its city's culture). I'm very proud of the efforts/participation/contribution of everyone in our community (students, musicians, audience, staff, board, members, supporters, etc). I never expected this honor. I'm very happy to receive it.

There are a few inaccuracies in the story that I would like to clear up.

Sprawl (the band that I was in from '88 to '94) was not anything close to a "noise" or improvised music band. Houston at that time had a pretty healthy "noise" scene. (I use "noise" for the lack of a better term. Houston's experimental sounds have always resisted easy categorization, reflecting a certain quality about much of our city's culture.) I would say that I was trying for something that was musically a bit different (something that I was only hearing locally from my few collaborators). Our early efforts at improvisation did exist in the context of pretty wide-ranging experimental music activity in Houston that did have a history. (Maybe it was too wide ranging to ever be called a scene.)

These details about sub genres may not mean a whole lot to most of your readers, but the clarity is important to me. I would hope that my friends and colleagues in the "noise" scene don't think that I would purposefully misrepresent that history and context in my interview

A couple of other things to clear up might be less significant. I probably wouldn't bring them up, but since I'm at it......- I don't have a former student in band called Yucatan. Juan Garcia lives in the Mexican state of Yucatan. He plays in the Yucatan Symphony and teaches creative music to impoverished children in small villages. - I'm not originally from San Diego, but Orange County (It had a MUCH more serious punk rock scene!).

Thanks so much for the attention and recognition. It’s greatly appreciated.David DoveFounding Director - Nameless Sound

Marvin Bendele
Marvin Bendele

Thank you Houston Press!! We're very excited to be a 2011 Mastermind and look forward to putting that grant to good use. I did want to mention our affiliation with the University of Texas. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Toni Tipton Martin and Elizabeth Engelhardt, we are honored to be an affiliated institute of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, housed in the Community Engagement Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Please see our website for more details -- Foodways Texas is a statewide organization with over 100 members (and growing) that seek to preserve, promote, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas. Thanks again to the Houston Press for this wonderful honor. I look forward to Artopia this Saturday.

Marvin BendeleExecutive DirectorFoodways Texas


Jeff's photo (Foodways Texas) should reference Chris Shepherd, not Chris Henderson, although I'm sure Henderson is a likable guy as well.

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