The Friday Free For All relays albums, artists, videos and vibes the Houston Press Music staff has been grooving to (or grieving) over the past week.
RIP MEGAN TILTON
What a terrible reason to say "I told you so." Not a handful of hours after I published my piece outlining the dangers of turning a blind eye to Houston's young and reckless festival-goers, we learned of the unfortunate death of Megan Tilton, an 18-year-old Woodlands resident who apparently died from complications involving illegal drugs taken at Free Press Summer Fest. We of course can pray for the Tiltons. We can even help them with their unexpected funeral costs via their GoFundMe page. But we cannot simply chalk up Megan's death as collateral damage, the mere cost of doing festival business. It's time that FPSF own up to the fact that drug experimenters are part of its target market and set up its festival accordingly. Start and support a local chapter of DanceSafe and give that organization a free booth at the festival. Include vouchers for testing kits with the cost of festival passes. You know those giant screens that broadcast concerts? Display the symptoms of heatstroke and overdoses on them between sets. And for God's sake, if attendees are publicly vomiting, collapsing or relieving themselves on festival grounds, it's time for them to be sent (safely) home. KATIE SULLIVAN
I was fairly indifferent to ColleGrove, the collaborative effort between rappers 2 Chains and Lil' Wayne, heading into last weekend's Free Press Summer Fest. In short, I really had no opinion on the duo's album either way (it was released in March). However, after catching them live at the fest, the energy the pair brought to their set inspired me to give the album another chance. I'm glad I did, since it's among the more refreshing hip-hop releases in some time. Technically a 2 Chainz solo effort thanks to label issues, ColleGrove finds the Georgia rapper pairing up with a revitalized Weezy; seriously, Lil' Wayne hasn't seemed this inspired in nearly a decade, dating back to Tha Carter III. But, as is often the case, it took a live effort to make me realize that. Plus, "Bentley Truck" is an absolute banger! CLINT HALE
LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX
Back when punks were still bookish and self-aware, Lizzy Mercier Descloux was a punk. More than that, she was a fairly serious bohemian of the decadent Romantic strain, a free-living intellectual artist, a person of modern standards. She had an inquisitive mind, a talent for lyrics, a great look, and transatlantic friendships with various now-famous Lower East Siders like Patti Smith and Richard Hell. What’s more, being French, she had a cool French accent, as one can hear, here, on this cover of Arthur Brown’s “Fire”:
Most of her tracks cohabitated with the sort of classic electro-friendly line of post-punk just then developing, lighter than Joy Division and PIL, a little darker than the more commercially nascent forms of synth-pop. And then there was that split second in the ’80s when everything exploded from grisaille tones into tropical color. There was Agnetha Faltskog’s “The Heat Is On," Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Haircut 100’s “Love Plus One," and then there’s this little bit of the hybrid highlife, Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s “Mais Où Sont Passées Les Gazelles?" (top), later reissued with less nuanced title “Zulu Rock.” At the time this was recorded and released, 1984 to be precise, appropriation was a practice in postmodern art still very much en vogue. Europe was still in an early stage of trying to get used to the rest of the world.
Being an artist of greater commitment than many at the time, LMD traveled to South Africa in the apartheid era to work with Soweto musicians. Purportedly, she tried to secure touring visas for the South African musicians she worked with, but was ultimately shut down by the authorities. It’s worth remembering that the apartheid policy in South Africa, thoroughly racist as it was, only legally ended in 1994. Nelson Mandela wasn’t even removed from the USA’s terrorist watch list until 2008. It could be argued that policies very similar to South African apartheid are still in place in some fairly well-lit corners of the world. TEX KERSCHEN
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THE DEAN FAMILY
We challenge you to name a Houston family as arts-entrenched as the Deans. Matriarch Rhonda runs Dean's Hair Design in Maplewood and is "the Charlie Parker of hair!" according to Dad, a.k.a. well-known veteran Houston musician Kelly. This summer will be his 20th with Summer Jazz Workshop, continuing music-ed work begun by storied Houston music educators Conrad Johnson and Bubbha Thomas. He also teaches at the Emery/Weiner school, while his band TKOh! is known to throw down with good-footed, jazzy funkiness. The twins, Rebecca and Olivia, are seniors at Lamar High and members of the school's Loading Dock Productions. Olivia is performing in Shrek: The Musical at Main Street Theater, and Rebecca is in Edges at Wildfish Theatre. Both are involved in Leading Ladies, which is presently endeavoring to raise entertainment program funds for residents of Seven Acres Senior Care. With schedules like that, it might be hard to catch them all in one place, but we expect they'll be together June 18 at Bohemeo's when son/brother/comic filmmaker Chandler returns home from school in NYC to deliver An Evening of Stories and Sounds. His YouTube channel just cracked 100,000 views this week. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Sally Allen finds herself in a sweet predicament: Just as she releases her second album, Eight Track Sessions, she's been asked to join Kevin Russell’s exploding supernova Shinyribs project as a backup singer. Since her divorce from Austin pianist Bukka Allen last year, the former TCU cross-country runner has been working on Eight Track Sessions, an album she assembled almost entirely at her home on a TASCAM eight-track recorder. Bukka Allen and composer Stephen Barber assist occasionally on keyboards, but otherwise this is just Allen tracking herself through eight originals and a devastating cover of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Black Dog.” Lyrically, the album finds Allen making statements about relationships, quandaries, personal freedom and the desire for fulfillment. She doesn’t cave in to the typical Austin singer-songwriter predisposition, wherein the music emerges as an emotional muddle that can’t find a genre and doesn’t necessarily need any identifying label. Allen will be previewing music from Eight Track Sessions next Friday (June 17) at Cactus Music at 5:30 prior to performing with Shinyribs that evening at Fitzgerald’s. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH