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Fort Worth Stock Show Is Forever; Caravan Long Gone

January 19th, 2019 · Tags:Music

Although cold/wet weather stifled the parade today, it is Stock Show in Fort Worth.  Interesting, the Martin Luther King Jr. parade is still on for Monday and the Right To Life parade went as planned yesterday. I digress …

Yesterday was day one of the 123rd edition —the oldest continuously running livestock show and rodeo … anywhere. Sadly, the 2019 event will be the very last time all these thousands of boots and beltbuckles and their high-dollar animals will amass in the iconic Will Rogers Arena.  Next year, the event goes Hollywood — or perhaps ups the ante a bit — in the huge, bright, shiny Dickies Arena still under construction nearby. (Did I hear “King George” — as his fans call the guy who ripped off Terry Stafford —will open the place?)

The Stock Show’s newfangled Web Site tells me the origin goes back to 1896 … that’s easy math … easy as 1-2-3.  Much easier than getting information from the site … Its one of those cool new designs that flash all the moving graphics … moving sections and tiny tidbits a person could want … if they are ADD and don’t want to dig deeper … YES, getting old their Ping!  But it is also so counter-intuitive to deliver information in that manner! … But, hey, everyone (excluding www.pingwi-fi.com) is doing it … so you have to remain relevant.  Whatever … I digress …  

Thank goodness for fact finders who want to know more like me, there is still wikipedia:)

Fort Worth Stock Show

Although the Stock Show isn’t my cup of tequila, there’s no doubt its Southwest notoriety was the very first thing I can remember knowing about Fort Worth, when I was a child … before moving to Fort Worth as an adult … a.k.a. Cowtown. 

Therefore, when I moved to The Fort I was so pleasantly surprised to find not only the Stock Show greatness, but so very much more … so much culture or high art or whatever … several of the best museums in the country, if not the world … great people … decent college sports … a river … even a subway of sorts when I first arrived … but … the thing that really started my obsession with Fort Worth was a very specialized niche of the overall larger Dallas/Fort Worth music scene.  Metroplex music lovers back then were the beneficiaries of what I think was Fort Worth’s Golden Age for music.

Cool bands were popping up all over Denton (music college town), Dallas (Deep Ellum scene) and yes, Fort Worth too (I’ll cite The Toadies, for example).  And during those fertile years — best of all — Fort Worth had one of the coolest, most affluent, acclaimed music venues.  Again, I would have to say — in the late ’80s it was one of the best in the nation, if not world class.

That was back when you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting Edie Brickell or one of her New Bohemians playing in clubs around the Metroplex … or Sarah Hickman … or Ten Hands … or Fever In The Funkhouse … or Brave Combo … or The Old 97s … or Tripping Daisy … the original Dixie Chicks, (not the pop imitation with Natalie Maines) … good times.

 

Caravan of Dreams is gone now.  A reputable restaurant took over the killer, multi-level space.  One thing remains the same — the transparent geodesic dome on top, filled with cacti and succulents from around the world … Back then during Caravan days … all cacti and no Wi-Fi … I digress …

Some of my Fort Worth friends weren’t “legal” back in the heyday of downtown Fort Worth’s Caravan of Dreams … or they had yet to move to town. Sorry for you.  Yes … a golden age.

Caravan of Dreams

By the way … I am blogging about Stock Show because it was all over the television news here yesterday.  I am blogging about Caravan of Dreams studio, because — as my Facebook friends can attest — I have been listening to my my obscure vinyl music recordings to truly enjoy a new set of headphones.

As obscurity goes, this may be the cream of the crop.  It’s a recording put down on tape in Logos, Nigeria, but mixed at the Caravan of Dreams studios in Fort Worth.  Back in the day, the Caravan had a very nice live music venue/bar … a theater … and a professional quality recording setup for live performance and studio recordings as well.

 

Raise your hand if you know the music and/or art of Twins Seven Seven.  I think I listened to the record once or twice when the people at the Caravan gave it to me decades ago.  So … it looks really interesting and I broke it out again to testdrive the bluetooth headset.

Slang Trance,” by Twins Seven Seven.  

This may not be my tequila too … but certainly an intriguing listen … especially if you like a combination of Western/world/African rhythm sections … With the headphones, I could pick out more congas, bongos, rattles, perhaps a tabla or two, gourds, bass lines and more modern drums, spacey synthesizers and horns than you could shake a stick at. (“‘Ever’ little tune” as my friend Gary S. used to say …)  This record is a product of the highest high-dollar nightclub in this part of Texas!?!

 

The vocals on side one of the LP are the singer’s native tongue … some Nigerian dialect. I can dig that … sort of.  Side two ventures into the English language, with some join-hands, save-the-world, peace-out, we-are-brothers kind of optimistic lyrics.  And two angelic voices in the background are singing a chanted word over and over — in call-and-response fashion … that sounds a lot like they are singing “knee, knee, knee” But it is the percussion … “You can’t give up on the percussion*.” … That makes the music. (*Silly “Game Of Thrones” reference …)

Later, I presume, Twins SS did record at Caravan of Dreams on a jazz recording with Ronald Shannon Jackson.

But here is prolly the more interesting thing about this artist … check out the wikipedia page for the late Omoba Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki who changed his name to Twins Seven Seven for what appear to be obvious reasons:) But there’s more to the story than a tongue twister.  It’s quite a story … wait until you see why he took the name TSS … pretty incredible.

Twins Seven Seven

Caravan of Dreams was always booking and recording some of the most avant garde music or performance art.  The squawky, some-say-saxophone-genius Ornette Coleman opened the place.  William S. Burroughs recorded a spoken word record there … Famous and obscure blues artists played there. There was always something cutting edge, high-brow or eclectic going on … way ahead of the curve.  But there were lots of “fanfare-for-the-common-man” kinda things going down too.

I saw acts ranging from Americana troubadour Joe Ely to bluegrass rockers Killbilly to an Eastern European experimental jazz ensemble (Ha … yes … won the tickets to that last one …)  Although I can’t verify, one Internet source lists artists who played in the lush, acoustically superior club to include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos, Kirk Whalum, Willie Dixon, Little Feat, Squeeze, Judas Priest, Bela Fleck, “The Todd,” Gov’t Mule, Warren Zevon, Ben Harper, Cheap Trick and more.  (Fact checkers?)

Stock Show will never be the same.  For better or worse?  We’ll see. But regardless, it will always be a part of Fort Worth … perhaps the heartbeat.  But The Caravan … 

Know what I sayin?