Friday Free For All: Wally Farkas, Sherita Perez, Test Pattern, Sir Doug, Braniac, etc.
Wally Farkas spinning records at Cactus Music, c. 2013-14
Courtesy of Cactus Music
The Friday Free For All relays albums, artists, videos and vibes the Houston Press Music staff has been grooving to over the past week.
Wally Farkas, one of the coolest names in music and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, needs our help. For decades, Farkas has maintained a low-profile persona filling the guitar spot for notables like Galactic Cowboys and dUg Pinnick & the Poundation (dUg of King's X fame). Recently, after nearly a year of health issues, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness that attacks the joints, with debilitating and brutally painful symptoms. As a result, Farkas, a tireless working musician, has been confined to bed for months. His friends have started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for his medical treatment; like far too many musicians, he doesn't exactly have high dollar health insurance.
I first met Wally more than 25 years ago, both of us working at Northside music stores. He was an incurable instrument nerd. We would talk on the phone about the coolest guitars and he would come see my shows. He was quiet and unassuming with a sly sense of humor and a deep wealth of knowledge about all kinds of music. When I opened a Guitar Player magazine a number of years later and saw him performing with Galactic Cowboys, I was thrilled for him.
Quinn Bishop, owner of Cactus Music, described Farkas in an email: "He's produced the many of the King's X fan club releases, produced written and played guitar in Galactic Cowboys and made incredibly interesting, kooky music on his own including tributes to Yoko Ono and The Bee Gees, of which he is an ardent follower."
Unfortunately, Farkas is now facing an uphill battle with this illness and his friends are asking for help. In a brief update on Wednesday, Farkas posted this note to the GoFundMe page:
Hi everybody. I have not been able to respond to each of you individually yet, but I have read all of your comments, emails and messages. I want to thank all of you for the support and donations. Your kindness has been overwhelming and has lifted my spirits.
I am still in a great deal of pain and am spending most of my time in bed, as I still have much difficulty walking. I've taken steroids for the past two weeks to help with swelling. It has helped somewhat, but I'm still dealing with quite a bit of inflammation and fluid.
With soaring healthcare costs, Farkas is yet another example of musicians struggling to deal with serious health issues. Go visit his GoFundMe page today for more information on how you can help. JEFF BALKE
THINKING MAN'S RAPPERS
I’m a child of the '90s, which means I grew up on some pretty mean hip-hop. In fact, some consider the '90s the golden era of hip-hop. After all, this decade witnessed the rise of such talents as Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, DMX, Jay-Z, Nas and so many more. These artists’ lyrical talents are otherworldly, and each brought his respective background into the lyrical fold. My son, who is 12, is a child of this decade, and his hip-hop tastes are different. He doesn’t really care to listen to gangsta rap and the like. Rather, he prefers what I like to call “thinking man’s rappers” — artists such as Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. These rappers’ beats are solid if unspectacular, but it’s what they have to say that rises above. We’re entering a new era of hip-hop, one in which lyrical poetry and social consciousness play a role. I’m looking forward to hearing where it goes next. CLINT HALE
Legend has it starlet Lana Turner was discovered at the soda counter of a Sunset Boulevard cafe, which could never have happened to Houston singer-songwriter Sherita Perez. It's not that Perez isn't talented. Find out for yourself how she can go from a coquettish whisper to blues-mama belting without missing a note by stopping at Axelrad for the release party for her new EP, Htown Love, release this Sunday. And, like Lana, she's a looker, with a confidence and style that turns heads before she ever starts singing. The reason Perez could never have been discovered at the soda shop is because she probably would have owned the soda shop. That's the kind of crazy drive and energy she's got. She wouldn't need to wait for some producer to happen upon her and create a star. She's smart and driven enough to know how to shine on her own. There's probably not a music writer in town who didn't get an advanced copy of Htown Love from her with a personalized note. The two-track EP features "Under the Sheets" and the title track, her ode to the sites and people that make Houston special, particularly its music-makers.
The Sunday show will be a highlight in an ongoing weekly residency at Axelrad and will feature Dem, a band she handpicked for the event. And that big event will be the second of back-to-back performances for her over the weekend. She's one of the featured acts on Saturday's Women That Rock 2 at Rudyard's. If this was all she was working on, it would be plenty, but Perez is determined to grow her name outside of Houston, too; so, later this month she and her partner, Sik Mule drummer Nick Melcher, will hit the road for shows in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Cailfornia. Naturally, they're both hustling to GoFund themselves all the way there and back. If you can't make one of this weekend's shows to do it in person, visit the crowdsourcing page to show one of Houston's rising talents a little Htown love. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Test Pattern, reclusive legends from the late-1970s New York art-rock scene, have finally returned to TV with their appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week. Although not as prolific or well-known as their contemporaries, there was a very real feeling at the time that bands like Talking Heads, Devo, and Television would be left behind, artistically and commercially. David Byrne has often remarked that Talking Heads "would have ended up sounding like Foreigner" were it not for these early CBGB innovators. Between this and the upcoming airing of their concert film "Final Transmission" on the IFC Channel show Documentary Now!, it looks like Test Pattern is due for a resurgence. Now that they are finally getting their due recognition, we may find an entirely new generation of artists pulling from their rich catalog. ERIC SMITH
Endorsed by Bob Dylan, quickly accepted as a peer by the older black and Tejano musicians he so admired, Doug Sahm went from steel-guitar prodigy to Tex-Mex rock legend to out of this world completely in 58 all too short years. Even if all you know of his output is “She’s About a Mover” and “Mendocino,” that’s enough to make you hipper than most people. Sahm stood at the crossroads of psychedelic rock, cosmic country and Texas roots music so imposingly he came to embody all of it. His eventful life was far too cinematic not to be turned into a movie, and director Joe Nick Patoski obliged with the 2015 documentary Sir Doug and the Genuine Cosmic Groove. Patoski, one of the great Texas music scribes, draws a detailed map of Sahm’s profound impact and lasting influence on Texas music, using dozens of interviews with those closest to Sahm and loads of choice footage. Monday at 8 p.m., Patoski and Cosmic Groove producer Dawn Johnson will host a special screening of the film on the patio of Cafe Brasil, its first showing in Houston since last fall’s Houston Cinema Arts Festival. More music films on the way include Amy J. Berg’s Janis: Little Girl Blue before the series turns its attention to Latin music in October. CHRIS GRAY
One of Houston’s best songwriters, Chase Hamblin, has just released another gem in "Fools," his new single that's the groovy, psychedelic love song that’s been missing from your playlist for, well, ever. “Fools” feels like an impeccably produced Beatlesque pop song straight from the soundtrack of your best day. While plenty of people can write music, there’s a certain spell to arrangement and melody and that magic resides deep within the voice and pluck of a vibrating guitar string in the hands of Hamblin. Good news is you can add “Fools” to your collection for only a buck through Bandcamp or see the man himself as he performs a solo acoustic set tonight headlining at the Waughford with The Beyonders and Ben Stalets. KRISTY LOYE
MUSIC AND MEMORIES
We all know that smells have the ability to elicit vivid memories, and I believe music is capable of the same. Not all of it, of course, but some albums and artists are intertwined with specific times and places, at least in my mind. Following his latest release, I've found myself revisiting Drake's older albums. On Thursday afternoon, while driving through the Galleria area on my lunch break, "Too Much" from Nothing Was the Same began playing on my car's stereo. Despite being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I was immediately transported to New York City, circa 2013. Vivid memories of a train ride from Washington D.C. to the Big Apple came to mind. I wasn't sitting in traffic; I was sitting on a rooftop, drinking wine from a plastic cup with friends and enjoying a jazz concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. It then crossed my mind that I should create playlists for every trip I take, that way I can revisit these memories while stuck in traffic the same way I would flip through a photo book at home. MATTHEW KEEVER
HOUSTON BLUES CHALLENGE
If you’ve got a healthy taste for competition (like every other red-blooded American) and some free time this Sunday afternoon, turn off the Texans game — hey, it’s only the second game of the season, and one you may not want to watch anyway since they’re playing perennial nemesis Kansas City — and head over to the Continental Club for the first qualifying round of the Houston Blues Challenge. Thirteen overall acts, nine bands and four solo/duo acts, will plug in either Sunday or September 25 at The Big Easy for a chance to advance to the finals on October 9 at Dan Electro’s; winner there gets a trip to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January, where Houston artists have quite a track record of doing well. See houstonbluessociety.org for more details. CHRIS GRAY
If a road trip is what you need, head toward Beaumont's Texas Rose Saloon to catch none other than the satanic underlords of dark metal, Goatwhore. Why these New Orleans boys aren’t making it out to H-Town to deliver a dose of their musical blasphemy here is unclear, but nevermind, we’re willing to meet them half-way. The show looks even better factoring in openers Avaris and The Blood Royale. KRISTY LOYE
NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS
Football is king in Texas, and every Saturday alumni from colleges across the nation gather at bars all over Houston to cheer on their favorite teams, loudly. That includes the University of Georgia, whose fans traditionally hold watch parties at the Lucky’s Pub next to Warehouse Live. So, when UGA’s 16th-ranked Bulldogs’ game against SEC rival Missouri got moved from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. earlier this week, it threw a wrench into the gears of Saturday’s Yes, Indeed! Festival, which had planned to set up one of its four stages at Lucky’s. Fortunately, reports festival PR chief Marissa Saenz, Lucky’s EaDo neighbor Ahh, Coffee! stepped in to provide a last-minute home for the stage — which will host Nicole Starch & Torpedoed Heart, Arthur Yoria, JVS Reel, Jealous Creatures, duneTX and Muddy Belle — while Lucky’s agreed to keep all the bands in food and drink throughout the festival. Handshakes and warm fuzzies all around. Advance tickets are only $20 through yesindeedfest.com; gates open at 4 p.m. CHRIS GRAY
Fresh from a summer European tour, Texas-based supergroup Honky will be in the Bayou City to cut rugs, shake butts and raise all kinds of Southern hell. If they appear slightly familiar to you, that’s because this power trio is made up of some of the finest (if not most eccentric) musicians in the Lone Star State in JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers/Melvins) on bass; guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down, Skrew); and drummer Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch). According to the press release, Honky will perform with Whiskey Dick and Pure Luck at “White Oaks,” which we take to mean White Oak Music Hall Upstairs at 8 p.m. KRISTY LOYE
Holograms are a start, but band reunions won’t sit well with me until the actual dead can be exhumed and reanimated. Though I’m the certain the terms of their second life will be damnable, there will be no rest, no peace, it will only be then that we’ll all get to really monetize human potential, obviously embodied largely by rock bands and rappers. For what is this world but a prep line for the world to come, an enormous floating Pet Semetary for dead celebrities and niche talents, whose imminent return to festival stages could certainly galvanize ticket sales. At such a time, with our champions reclaimed from oblivion, the entire untold wealth of history on parade before us in all its venal detail, some Wikipedia Brown in our midst will turn to their friends and loudly remark on some bit of trivia that utterly ruins the vibe. So I guess what I’m getting at is this: from the first time I heard Brainiac (“Go Freaks Go!” eons ago on the late, lamented KTRU), it was love. And my love goes on and on. TEX KERSCHEN