While he remains largely anonymous after 25-plus years on the Houston art/music scene, Dale "Beans" Barton is, for those who have encountered his wacky, frenetic performance-art shows, a local icon and people's hero. From the multi-layered costumes he peels off during his shows as his character changes, to the painting he completes during each performance — which is auctioned at the end of the night with proceeds going to the Houston Food Bank — Barton does it right and for the right reasons.
And not only is it art, it's fun.
Chatter: What was your reaction to Rolling Stone calling your former band Bruiser Barton and the Dry Heaves the worst rock band in Texas?
With Tribal Lilies, 9 p.m. Saturday, August 28, at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 E. 24th St., 713-862-8707 or www.danelectrosguitarbar.com.
Beans Barton: We were crappy and damn proud of it.
C: How did you come up with the idea to do a painting during the set?
BB: I had the idea to challenge myself and combine all the artistic avenues I prowl into one show — painting, poetry, music, theater, comedy, lyrics, operettas and performing. As a bonus, by painting during the lead [guitar] breaks, I can conserve energy. Besides, no one else on the planet does it.
C: What does putting a time limitation on making a piece of art do to you as an artist?
BB: I had to develop a technique that was bold and rapid. The performance pieces are sudden studies. I have to be quick, agile and artistically fearless. It's a very visceral method.
C: What were the early beginnings of Beans Barton?
BB: Many of my characters began with "The Fat Chance Comedy Show" I did with Big Skinny Brown. Skinny played local access TV talk-show host Chubby Chance; I portrayed all of the guests, wearing all the costumes and peeling down one character at a time. That begat the Bi-peds.
C: Beans hates the sound of his own voice. Has Beans considered voice lessons or working with an instructor?
BB: Beans doesn't need to sing. Using his thespianating skills, he talks his songs with verve and elan.
C: You always do a painting onstage during the performance, auction it at the end of the show, and donate the money to the Houston Food Bank.
BB: We've produced a performance-art piece at every show since iFest '92, so we've raised a considerable amount of food. It's a win-win-win situation: The buyer gets a piece of original art with a story and an IRS deduction, hungry kids get fed, and I don't have to find a place for another painting.
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C: You've done this a long time. Who's your favorite character from your show?
BB: Waldo Bob Frost. He's a feetnik spokesperson of the Feet Generation.
C: Favorite skit?
BB: I have a ton of fun with Dr. Oblongatta and the "Banlon of Gracegland." Praise Helvis, and pass the gravy.
C: Favorite line from any Beans song?
BB: "When the river stands naked above the waterfall."
C: Why have you never sued George Lucas for ripping you off by patterning his Jabba the Hutt character after your costuming and persona?
BB: If I spent all my time siccin' lawyers on all the people having my same old ideas, I wouldn't have any time for my same old new ideas.
C: Your shows are kid-friendly. What's the funniest thing a kid has ever said to you at a show?
BB: "Why does that woman have rope up her butt?" And another time I heard a kid say, "We usually have good bands here."
The Houston music community was talking of little else last week than the news that the University of Houston System Board of Regents voted last Tuesday to purchase the transmitter and over-the-air broadcast rights of radio station KTRU (91.7 FM) from Rice University for approximately $9.5 million. U of H plans to convert KTRU to all classical music and current station KUHF to news and NPR programming, while KTRU would continue its free-form, eclectic format on the Internet at www.ktru.org. The heavily student-run and student-programmed KTRU began broadcasting in 1971; although its signal is notoriously spotty, it has been one of the few outlets on the Houston FM dial that regularly plays local music, among a host of other genres. Many Rice students, alumni and especially station staff were enraged that they did not find out about the negotiations until Monday night, and immediately began organizing various rallies, protests and online campaigns such as the "Save KTRU" Facebook group. The Rice administration says KTRU's audience was often too small to register on the traditional Arbitron rating system, and it plans to use the money for various campus improvements, including to the online KTRU. Following a 30-day "public comment" period, the FCC must approve the sale before it can become final.
Vinal Edge Records
13171 Veterans Memorial Dr., 281-537-2575
1. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
2. Boris, Absolutego; Amplifier Worship (LP reissues)
3. Grails, Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4
4. Current 93, Baalstorm, Sing Omega
5. Nurse With Wound, Huffing Rag Blues (LP)
6. Julian Lynch, Mare
7. Tobacco, Maniac Meat
8. BXI, BXI
9. Iron Maiden, The Final Frontier
10. Laurie Anderson, Homeland
1. Chino & Nacho, "Nina Bonita"
2. Shakira, "She Wolf/Loba"
3. Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris, "Break Your Heart"
4. Chayanne, "Me Enamore de Ti"
5. Prince Royce, "Stand By Me"
6. Juanes, "Yerbatero"
7. Bachata Heightz feat. Hector Acosta, "Me Puedo Matar"
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8. Joey Montana, "Tus Ojos No Me Ven"
9. Camila, "Alejate de Mi"
10. Marc Anthony, "Y Como Es El"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)