Fox and the Bird: Tonight’s venue perfect fit for upcoming album’s narrative

Dallas band Fox and the Bird will debut songs from the band’s upcoming album, Darkest Hours in mere moments at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church in Denton, with Doug Burr and Glen Farris. Band member Dan Bowman talked about the show, the first single and the album. (Listen to the single, “Wreck of the Fallible,” here)
littledTX: Fox and the Bird bills itself as a folk choir. This makes me think two things: 1) vocals and lyrics are central to everythingthe band does and 2) gospel music. Are vocals and lyrics the formative part of the band’s music? And how does gospel music inform the band’s sound?
Dan Bowman: Lyrics are really import in the music we make, mostly because these songs are as much about storytelling as they are about the music. The album we’re releasing in October is a collection of songs with a common theme that tell a story about desolation, hope and the power of people that band together. The lyrics are the backbone of the musicand give it it’s power. Harmonies and group vocals just show that this is a collective story we can relate to as a group. We’ve all contributed to the songwriting and composing the music so group vocal delivery is an easy way to show that. The choir reference doesn’t actually refer to gospel music, but more to the vocal arrangements. Some of us have an affinity for old gospel songs. Really it’s just that the harmonies are layered and delivered like something you’d expect from a more traditional choir.  
St. David of Wales is a small, pretty church in Denton. It’s almost an anachronism, with its brick, bells and stained glass standing quietly near the boundary of a neighborhood full of fixed gear bikes and hybrid cars. Any special reason FATB wanted to perform “Wreck of the Fallible” and other tunes in this church? 
Wreck of the Fallible is a song about the downtrodden and rejected on our society. The homeless. The beggars. The drug addicts. The prostitutes. And the feel of a church chapel with its stained glass and live acoustics fits the theme of the song (and the other songs that will be on the album). The space in the chapel is completely open. We can perform the songs without much (if any) amplification so they can be heard just as they are. No added effects. It fits the theme – the rejected of society have no choice but to appear just as they really are, without alteration… so that’s how we want our music to be delivered for this release show. 
Where are you guys in the process of releasing the upcoming album? 
We’ve recorded nine out of the 12-13 tracks that will be on the album. Our final recording session is down at Ramble Creek Studios in Austin on June 14-16. Britton Beisenherz at Ramble Creek is recording and producing our album and he has a knack for capturing the raw sound of folk artists like Fox and the Bird. Doug Burr, Seryn, Telegraph Canyon and other local acts have recorded at Ramble Creek.  We plan to have the album finished by the end of June and it will then take several months to create the vinyl.  We expect to release the full album the first week in October.  On a side note, we’re filming a music video for ‘Wreck of the Fallible’ that we will release in June.
For each song we recorded in the studio, we tracked as many of the instruments and the lead vocal simultaneously. Many bands track songs one instrument at at time, but we had to get everything right in just one take. It was crazy because you’d have one take where the vocal delivery was perfect but the drums and guitar were out of sync here and there. Or another take where the vocal performance could have been better, but the instrumentation was perfect. For some songs it was hard to get that one perfect take, but for others it came naturally. Even though it made for some challenging recording sessions, we wound up with a set of songs that sound authentically like us. Our live performance sound comes through in this album.
Do you think FATB took some risks while writing and working on this upcoming album? 
What do you think the band has gotten really good at this far? What do you feel like the musicians have discovered about making art through the work they’ve done in this band?
Fox and the Bird has seen members come and go as the musical collective changed over the years. I am the only original founding member of the band but most of the current members have been playing together for years. The current lineup of musicians is a great fit. We push each other creatively and it shows on the new album, especially when it comes to innovation with the drum and vocal arrangements. As a collective of musicians that each write and contribute their own musical parts (and songs), we’ve had to figure out how to deal with each other as musicians.
We want a collective sound. We want the songs to be collaborations. But I don’t write the same way Jacob Metcalf does, and he thinks about music differently than our drummer does. So it’s learning when to back off and let people explore new compositions, and when you should jump in and provide critique… learning how to work with each other to make the music better while still allowing everyone to contribute what they think is the best thing for the song. And that means dealing with differences in opinions and dealing with amazing musicians that just take different approaches to songwriting.
But when we have the patience to deal with the process and the humility to accept our differences, we create songs that are better than anything we’d have written as individuals. And that’s what happened on this album. 

For Pageantry, less is more when songwriting is on the line

When: doors open 9 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2013
Where: Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E. Sycamore St.
With: The Angelus & Lord Buffalo
Cover: $5, $7 for ages 18 to 20
On the web:  Pageantry on Facebook, Pageantry on Soundcloud
Denton’s Pageantry, a local trio of established musicians, caught our ear after band member Pablo Burrell mentioned the new band while waiting for drinks at Banter Bistro. We found the Facebok page and checked out the too-few music files available. What we heard was enough to convince us that Pageantry was one of the top Denton bands appearing at 35 Denton last March.
With an EP release on the horizon, and a show on Friday at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, we picked the musician’s brains about what make the band tick, music-wise.
From left: Bassist Pablo Burrell,

Meet Denton’s Pageantry. From left: Bassist Pablo Burrell, guitarist and singer Roy Robertson and drummer Ramon Muzquiz. Photo courtesy of the band.

littledTX: Can you tell me who plays what in the band?
Roy (Robertson): I sing and play guitar. Ramon (Muzquiz) plays drums and Pablo’s (Burrell) on bass, they both sing back up vocals, too.
What made this group of musicians decide to form a band and make music together?
Ramon: I think admiration for each other more than anything. We all were playing in different projects and our paths crossed at a lot of local shows. Eventually Roy asked me to play on some of his material, and we didn’t click at first. Roughly a year later, we got together again and recorded an EP that, for various reasons, was shelved. Some of those songs actually made up the first Pageantry material. I had been playing in another band with Pablo. Roy had wanted to play with him after seeing him play with yet another band. It was an easy fit due to mine and Pablo’s experience together already.
For such a recently-formed band, Pageantry has a mature, measured and fully-formed sound. To what do you guys credit that?
Ramon: Practice and musicality. We trust ourselves and each other but we are more than willing to try five different things before we decide something is done. We try to practice a couple times a week and our rehearsals are usually pretty rigorous. The longer we play something the more it takes shape and can breathe. In retrospect, the songs on the EP (Friends of the Year) were written in a much shorter time than the new material we are working on, but we also did a lot of self-editing on the final recorded versions of them. We are very proud of how it turned out, though we wish we could have released it sooner. Hopefully, the next album will be more of a happy medium between self-critiquing and trusting our guts. We also are finding our footing as a band more and more as we write. Songs from the EP were presented to us as a whole. New material is coming in parts and we are shaping more of it together. The new songs are different but we are looking ahead to the future and not willing to compromise on what we enjoy playing just to appease older material. That being said, there are elements of the old in the new. It’s hard to explain without sharing the songs but hopefully that will come soon enough.
What is the band working on right now?
Roy: We have our first EP coming out June 11th, with an EP release show at Dan’s Silverleaf on Friday, June 14th with Chambers, Good Field and Senor Fin (go here to get details). We’re also playing a bunch in Austin this summer, working on touring outside of Texas more and hopefully start recording a new album soon.

What needs to happen for the musicians to feel that Pageantry is making good music?


Roy: It’s pretty intuitive.
Ramon: Definitely intuition. We rely a lot (live) on seeing each other and it’s no different in rehearsals. If I look up and see that Pablo is focusing really hard and Roy is smiling really big, then we are on the right track. Also, confusion. I like to think we confuse ourselves into a hole that we then attempt to dig ourselves out of. Sometimes though, it’s like we have to dig to the other side to get back to the surface.
How do songwriting duties break down for the band? Is there a melody maker and lyricist, or does everyone contribute sounds and words?
Ramon: Roy is the main songwriter. He writes melodies and lyrics. Pablo and I contribute more in terms of arrangements and grooves although sometimes this is at the direction of Roy or each other.
Often a song takes shape when the groove is established. At that point it can take the weight off of the chords or guitar parts to function as the lead. It’s something we are striving to get better at, because it is easy to overcrowd a song even with three people. It’s also different in terms of our live show and our recordings. We have a lot more breathing room on a recording where we can layer instruments and build more of an atmosphere.
In terms of sounds, that’s a number of sources. We all have a pretty good handle on what sounds good and we record a lot of ourselves in rehearsals in order to see if those sounds are meshing. Roy has a great ear for recording and we are lucky to have that in the band. Pablo has a great ear for melodious bass lines. I try to incorporate some electronic elements via a drum triggering pad that we’ve had varying degrees of success with. Overall, we are very open to each other’s criticisms. Rehearsals are an open forum and we rarely butt heads.
What: Friends of the Year
When: doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m.  on June 14, 2013
Where: Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial
With: Chambers, Goodfield & Senor Fin
Cover: $5. No smoking.

West coast by North Texas: Qm connects with Denton in Rec League

San Francisco emcee Qm, a frequent contributor to Denton’s underground hip-hop scene (by way of Rec League, a mash-up of Cali and Denton rappers) just dropped a video (NSFW) for the track “Juice” with his comrade Maclane. Nothing fussy or deep, just your average San Francisco street party. Qm doesn’t confine his partying to the West Coast. In fact, he tipped back a few in Denton in March. The artist answered some questions about his Denton connections, but didn’t get too serious.


Qm drops "juice," a party track from 'Take Me to Your Liter."

Qm drops “juice” with rapper Maclane. “Juice” is a party track from the EP  ‘Take Me to Your Liter.” How do you know Denton artist Pudge Brewer and the local Fab Deuce hip-hop crew?

Qm: Me, Pudge and Fab Deuce met in Venice beach in 1992. He was an established basketball player in the area and I was looking to hustle some new courts. I was dating Rosie Perez at the time and life was good…actually that’s the beginning of White Men Can’t Jump. Fab Deuce is actually my cousin.

Can you tell me how Rec League came together, and who all is part of Rec League now?

Rec League was formed together on MTVs reality show Making The Band. Diddy saw our talent early on. There’s prolly 50 members of Rec League.

You live way out in San Francisco, right?

Yeah, been living in San Francisco for 5 years now, but I’ve lived in Northern California my whole life.

Given that there’s some serious flyover mileage between you and Denton Rec Leaguers, why bother working together – what makes the creative relationship worth the travel time & effort when RL decides to travel & gig?

It’s worth it because we always have a kick ass time in Denton. We gets lurked.

Is “Juice” a new single or is it from an album, EP, mixtape or what?

“Juice” is off the Take Me To Your Liter EP I did with Maclane. Grab it for free or tweet me @qmrecleague and I’ll send it to you. Aren’t I a swell guy?

What are you working on right now?

Right now, we are finishing up the remix album for Take Me To Your Liter. It’s got production by Grip Grand (Rec League), Llyght Stevens (Sacramento), TLit (Denton) and Maclane (Rec League). Proe (Rec League) and Llyght Stevens also have guest verses on the remix album. I’m also working on a new solo project for later this year. Email qm@routinefly.Com for features and booking.

What distinguishes San Francisco underground hip-hop and Denton underground hip-hop?

The Bay Area and Texas have always been down to do music independently, so it’s only natural that we work together to forward our careers. Also, Both San Francisco and Denton like to drink enough booze to kill a small village…so we got that going for us.

Are you a DJ as well as an MC? What crews are you working with these days?

I do not DJ. I’m working with Fab Deuce, Gurp City, and of course Rec League. Stop by,,,, or YouTube QM Rec League for my videos. shouts to LittleDTX for the interview and remember to “Rec Your Life.”

You heard it here, kids. Rec your life, and maybe appoint a designated driver?

– Lucinda Breeding.

Taco Fest 2k13: Sunday’s events


What: Total Twit production collective conclude’s its two-day music festival today with bands on two stages.

When: 3 p.m. until close today.

Where: Taqueria El Picante, 1305 Knight St., facing the I-35E frontage road

Details: Admission costs $5, further donations will benefit future remodeling project at the venue and the future purchase of a community PA sound system. Lineup is subject to changes and additions.

On the Web:

SUNDAY’S LINEUP: Track Meet, Brain Gang Blue, the Distressers, SeaLion, New Science Projects, the Atomic Tanlines, FOGG, Bukkake Moms, the Half Truths, Special Guest, Varsity Cheerleader and more.

Taco Fest shows bump in local creative businesses

Sven Wilde, the representative for Taqueria El Picante in Denton, said he wanted to help out some of his peers during Taco Fest 2k13.

So he invited them to be vendors at the two-day punk and hardcore music festival.

Texas Woman’s University student Billie Buck brought Lunar Imports Emporium, a project she shares with Thomas Cromwell, a University of North Texas student who is studying fashion merchandising. Lunar Imports is a creative re-use business that sells handmade clothing and recycled goods.

Buck said she uses existing clothes, and either alters or embellishes them. A regular T-shirt might become a one-shoulder top, and a pair of jeans might become a pair of shorts with some added designs.

“I learned that in middle school: make your clothes fit you. Still do it today,” Buck said. “We take found clothing, bleach the shit out of it, change it up and recycle it.”

Buck, who is Wilde’s roommate, also painted the murals inside Taqueria El Picante. The small taqueria is dressed up in bright colors — one wall resembling a starry sky, and the opposite bearing a purple cat drifting in the sky between a cactus and a painting of the virgin de guadelupe. There’s a message, too: “Taco cat will set you free.”

Cromwell said Lunar Imports is a pop-up shop that sets up at events and shows that attract customers who have no qualms with buying clothes that came off a rack as mall-ready fashion, but have been reinvented with scissors, thread, lace, appliques and whatever whims might come to the designers.

“What really has impressed me here today is really all of it,” Cromwell said. “This isn’t a typical punk hangout. It’s all of these subgroups. Seeing people create this strange imagination of aesthetics is really cool.”

Cromwell said Lunar Imports wants to dress every type of patron who attended the fest.

“We’re not just about doing small sizes,” he said. “We want to make clothes for all kinds of bodies, because all bodies are beautiful.”

The idea of all-bodies-welcome was a theme on Saturday for vendors and patrons. Total Twit, a Denton production company founded by Alli Play-Nice, is intent on booking punk and harcore bands that include women, people of color and queer artists. Total Twit booked the bands for Taco Fest. The taqueria has become something of a default venue for the production and booking company, and Alli has been up front about Total Twit shows being a place where no racism, sexism, homophobia or ableism is tolerated.

Liz Hernandez, also a friend of Alli and Wilde, debuted her tamaleraMasa de la Raza, at Taco Fest. The booth served three varieties all-organic, vegan tamales. Masa de la Raza will begin serving tamales at the Denton Community Market on May 25. Hernandez also brought her pop-up zine library, Puro Pinche, to the festival.

“The idea behind the tamalera is to serve food made in the mesoamerican tradition,” Hernandez said. “And it’s also to educate people about the Chicana and Latina struggle in everyday life.”

How does a vegan tamale educate foodies about the cultural importance of Latinas, as well as their struggles?

“I think food is  inherently an exchange of identity,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said she grew up eating and making foods in mesoamerican tradition, which to her has to do with organic foods cooked and assembled simply — with corn as a staple. The vegan part of the equation has a political dimension to it. Call it protest through flavor and deliberate avoidance of animal products.

“By choosing veganism and not using meat or animal products, we are not supporting an imperialist industry that has exploited the Latin American population since it’s robbed us of our land,” Hernandez said.

Mesoamerican history treats corn with some reverence. Hernandez said historical mesoamericans studied their staple crop, looking for ways to make it as vital as possible, preserving proteins for warrior and clan alike. Community market and festival patrons might not be looking for a historical and cultural anecdote with a tamale, but conversations often get rolling when food gets handed across a booth.

Buck said Taco Fest was a good spot to sell her goods, while Hernandez said it was a chance to road-test her savory tamales (She’ll likely introduce her sweet and breakfast tamales at the Denton Community Market, which is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday through November in Denton Historical Park, at 317 W. Mulberry St.

“I absolutely love finding the right piece for the right person,” Buck said. “When someone tries something on and they see it looks perfect on them, they light up. I love that.”

Jaffe announces festival performance

Kirtland Records reports:

Sarah Jaffe announced that she will be joining her Spring tourmates Why? for this year’s Northside Festival in Brooklyn, New York.  Jaffe (who honed her considerable skills in Denton before re-locating to Dallas) and Why? will be joining an already impressive list of artists confirmed for the fifth year of this growing DIY festival including IceageThe MenSwansThe Walkmen, and Twin Sister.   Jaffe and Why? are scheduled to perform on June 16th and the festival is from the 13th through the 20th.  Please visit  for the most up-to-date information on the schedule, venues and artists confirmed to play.”

And remember, guys, June  marks the release of Disney/Pixar’s release, The Blue Umbrella, a short film that feature’s Jaffe’s voice. The short film will screen before the animated feature Monsters University, the sequel to Monsters, Inc. 

Taco Fest 2k13: Sights & Sounds from day 1

Before the fall. A skater launches himself into the air -- and then loses his board --  on the giant half-pipe at Taco Fest 2k13 on May 18, 2013.

Before the fall. A skater launches himself into the air — and then loses his board — on the giant half-pipe at Taco Fest 2k13 on May 18, 2013. Photo by Lucinda Breeding.

No Outlet performs inside Taqueria El Picante at Taco Fest 2k13. The two-day fest -- which continues today -- is a punk and harcore music bash featuring mostly Denton, and Dallas-Fort Worth bands. Photo by Lucinda Breeding.

No Outlet performs inside Taqueria El Picante at Taco Fest 2k13. The two-day fest — which continues today — is a punk and harcore music bash featuring mostly Denton, and Dallas-Fort Worth bands. Photo by Lucinda Breeding.

An old mattress with a brief suggestion spray painted on it rests against a wall in between sets at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

An old mattress with a brief suggestion spray painted on it rests against a wall in between sets at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

A skater who calls himself Domino checks out the crowd at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

A skater who calls himself Domino checks out the crowd at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

No Outlet grinds through their set at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

No Outlet grinds through their set at Taco Fest 2K13 at Taqueria El Picante, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Denton, TX. Photo by David Minton.

Taco Fest 2k13 kept the punk and hardcore music going with a stage inside Taqueria El Picante and another in the taqueria garage, which doubled as an outdoor stage. Photo by Lucinda Breeding.

Taco Fest 2k13 kept the punk and hardcore music going with a stage inside Taqueria El Picante and another in the taqueria garage, which doubled as an outdoor stage. Photo by Lucinda Breeding.