The good life is filled with more and more knowledge every day … for me, especially in regards to music.
No wonder I have hit it off with a new couple of music fans – John and Melanie. He teaches economics at TCU but was first identified as a potential BFF when I saw his alter ego The Who, The Clash and The Jam stickers on his laptop at Starbucks. She teaches as well …
So anywho … The Professor of Punk first alerted me to Fort Worth’s fledgling Solar Powered Music Festival on Facebook. Didn’t have to twist my arm … And after a little fast talking, The Ping secured a spot backstage and talked lots of music between bands.
I am willing to say The Prof is the first person I have ever met who also owns a punk rock compilation album called “We Do ‘Em Our Way” on which bands like The Sex Pistols, Those Helicopters, The Flying Lizards, The UK Subs have their way with some pop classics … My favorite — an awesome, Cockney cover of Burt Bacharach/Dione Warwick‘s “Walk On By” by The Stranglers. The Prof knew all of this.
Color me impressed!
Ha … so I tried to stump the Economics Department by referencing an even more obscure compilation album — the soundtrack of a relatively unknown movie bomb about punk rockers — “Times Square” with Tim Curry. No sooner had “The Ramones” left my lips, when The Prof blurted out “I Wanna Be Sedated!” That is correct, although he did not phrase his answer as a question … I digress …
The music education continued through the night, this time via the second biggest band on the bill – The Romantics. The Romantics taught me that old fellas with hair colored like dark shoe polish can still rock. They also taught me they had more than the two big songs I knew – the sugar-coated “Talking In Your Sleep” and the better, driving “What I Like About You.” They also had “Tomboy.” Ha … a great punk band in Amarillo of all places, The Amatones, used to cover “Tomboy” and I always thought it was their’s. Live and learn ….
“I think you’re so attractive, until you get your muscles active” – “Tomboy,” The Romantics.
When the Ramones … I mean Romantics finally played “What I Like” i hoisted my old arse from my chair backstage, and walked over to the steps of the stage, to take a shot from the place where everyone else and their dog had shot throughout the show. Ha … I guess just to get my blood boiling as if I were young again, some snotty nosed, short and squatty stage hand pushed me. I thought he figured I was just a fan. “It’s ok. I am in the media,” I explained. “I don’t give a f… who you are,” he replied. Well, my compliments to your PR trainer … I guess someone on the stage had to muster some teen angst for it to be rock ‘n’ roll.
What he like about me? … Nothing, apparently. Hair jokes aside, the Rs still rocked. Drummer Jimmy Marinos (once with Blondie) still has total prowess on the drum kit and endless showmanship, although he did NOT sing “What I Like About You” as he once did during the MTV classic video days. What a let down, but I don’t think anyone else noticed. I did, especially considering I was pushed – yes pushed – off the backstage steps, as I planned to take a photo of him singing … in a song he did NOT sing. One of the frontmen took over vocals on the song, although in the original, the guitarist’s part was restricted to “Hey!” …. “Hey!” … pity.
Before The Romantics shoving event … The real story … how much everyone enjoyed Ishi, a funky little outfit from Dallas. The singer, has the long hair and a bushy handlebar mustache suitable to play lead in a biker movie … the dance moves of a drunken theater major … completing his stage personna with trendy oversized white sunglasses, a colorful Big Chief headdress and a few stripes of war paint. Kind of a Frank Zappa meets The Village People, with Chili Peppers seasoning the mix. I suggest the group probably packs ‘em in over in Dallas on ladies’ night given the six-string slinger’s six-pack abs. And keep in mind, Ishi played at the hottest part of the day, in sweltering solar power on overload. But they just kept funkin, and cuttin up and dancin. … Would love to see them in a small club at night. The name … i think it is Hindi for the sound yo mama makes when she sneezes …
Finally after the solar power had run out … the band I came to see … The English Beat with Dave Wakeling (sans Ranking Roger). The show was bittersweet. I always wanted to see these guys, and sadly caught them as Wakeling’s career wanes. I fear soon it will be time for Dave to throw in the towel, although he looked better than the “warm up band.” … Oh the challenge of having great songs done in falsetto when you are young. Falsetto, I am sure, much harder to replicate when you get older.
The inevitable aging of Wakeling was tolerable though, and even his classic rock remedy of adding younger, more vibrant backup singers to help hit the notes … But the guy beside me … not so kind. As he struggled to sit up in his reclining lawn chair, drunken, he chirped with a thick country accent, “H-h-h-h-h-h-EY! What’s wrong with your voice!?!”
I left The English Beat performance early, which totally surprised me too, but the Brits played my favorite early in their set, the falsetto masterpiece — “I Confess.” It was a slower version than the LP and MTV classic sound … perhaps so slow, most of the too-young-to-know crowd had no idea of the song’s fluid quality back in the day.
Special note, regarding too much of a good thing: There were (sponsor) Rahr Brewery beachballs everywhere … a nice, fun branding idea … but please, limit the number of beachballs somewhere below 500, so the crowd can pay attention to the music rather than guard their beers.
Overall … it was a bit of a shame. Small crowd … perhaps do to Father’s Day weekend … but a respectful outing, good enough to warrant a bigger, better repeat next year. How was the show promoted? … I saw only about 300 likes on Facebook. Had it been for my new friends from the Economics Department over at TCU, I might not even had known.
Coolest thing … or it is? Is it safe to float/swim in the waters of The Trinity over there? Some were … I hope it is safe and catches on. … Had a little fatherly concern for the kids doing flips off the dock of the little pavilion on the north side of the river. But all went well …
Also earlier in the day … Don’t know what to say about Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights. They seem to have all the raw material to form a pretty soulful jam band/ blues rock entourage … but they need a little more polish. They are fun … did a version of a Stones song “as Leon Russell” would … but they made Leon sound melodic. Tighten up.
And there was a real brush with fame at he food trucks area of the show … Wiener Man! Broke my rule and asked him for his autograph, because the last time I saw him, he was rappelling down the side of a skyscraper in Downtown Fort Worth, in a fundraiser, dressed in full wiener regalia. One brave wiener … I will never forget the mental image of the danglin wiener, high above Cowtown.
Oh the potential of this festival … Great place for a concert along The Trinity … a little mall of a strip of riverside real estate just off Henderson.
But, despite all the solar power panels, no public Wi-Fi at the event, sorry to say. So me and the other dozens of folks I saw promoting the concert on-site, through social media and our smart phones, had to do so at dreadfully slow upload speeds.
I would say the Solar Powered Music Festival in Fort Worth gets a slightly overcast 4 pings from our 1-7 pings Wi-Fi forecast. Good … lots of potential … room for more improvement and Cowtown participation. Must like Wi-Fi!
Know what I sayin?