Erv Karwelis has worked the music scene in Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles, but when it came to starting his own label, he knew where he’d end up.
“I knew this was definitely the neighborhood I wanted to live in,” says Karwelis, who founded Idol Records 10 years ago. “I was always amazed at how reasonable real estate around here was after living in other major cities.”
He was also aware of the buzz surrounding the scene here.
“It’s definitely a good music scene,” he says. “There’s still definitely some bands out there that are doing really well.”
And, Karwelis says: “The whole spectrum of music is covered” — punk, funk, polka, country and many other genres.
Though there are no numbers to gauge how many aspiring and successful musicians live in our neighborhood, it’s a safe bet that we house more musicians than any other in the city.
There are a number of household names whose rise to stardom originated or made pit stops here in our neighborhood: Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, Tripping Daisy, Jack-O-Pierce, the Old 97s, Reverend Horton Heat, The Spin Doctors and many more.
The latest neighborhood rise to stardom? Polyphonic Spree, many of whose members live right here in our neighborhood, are on tour with David Bowie through the end of this month, and the band recently contributed two songs to the soundtrack of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film released earlier this year starring Jim Carrey.
Other signs of a thriving neighborhood musical landscape? Karwelis’ Idol Records, a well-regarded independent music label, is run out of his home on Palo Pinto. The owner of CD World, our neighborhood’s only independent music store, lives on the M Streets. And neighborhood venues such as Poor David’s, the Cavern Club, Muddy Waters, the Barley House, the Lakewood Bar and Grill, and others continue to attract local, regional and national acts.
Says Karwelis: “This is definitely the enclave if you’re a musician in Dallas. It seems to be the area that musicians tend to gravitate toward. You can find an affordable place to live, and it’s convenient to Deep Ellum and Greenville, as well as other musicians. It’s just the hip place to live.”
With that in mind, the Advocate sought out some of our ’hood’s rising musical stars. Here are their profiles:
About the band: Mur formed a couple of years ago with members Max Hartman, (vocals/guitar), Jonathan Price (guitar/vocals) Matt Kunkle (drums), and Chad Murray (bass/vocals). “Mur” was a nickname for Hartman’s grandmother.
Neighborhood contacts: Hartman and Price live in Junius Heights, and Kunkle resides in Little Forest Hills.
Interesting fact: Hartman, who acts as well as teaches in addition to being in Mur, was able to use one of his acting contacts, C&C Productions, so that the group could produce a slick, stylish video.
Musical stylings: “Plush, dramatic rock” is how Hartman most often describes Mur’s style. But, he adds, “we write songs more than we just play a certain style. Our focus is definitely on songwriting and quality of melody and that kind of thing. And, I think though some might consider our music mellow, it’s like a slow burning intensity kind of thing,” he adds.
Discography: Mur, self-titled debut, released in 2003. The band expects to release a second CD this summer.
Best compliment: Mur was nominated for Best New Band in the 2003 Dallas Observer. And online music magazine Dallas Music Guide wrote: “Singer (and songwriter) Max Hartman reveals himself to have one of the richest, fullest and most satisfying new voices to come along in quite a while.”
More info: www.muronline.com
About the band: The band, represented by Idol Records, formed in 1999. Its members are Dylan Silvers (vocals/songwriter), Mike Lamb a/k/a “Spammie” (drums), Jeff Parker (bass) and Dave Christianson (guitar). The Deathray Davies’ Chad Ferman is currently filling in on keyboards.
Neighborhood contacts: Three of the band’s members live in the ’hood: Lamb and Parker off Lower Greenville and Silvers in Casa Linda.
Interesting fact: Silvers lists one his songwriting influences as “West Side Story.” “It’s not that I want to write a musical,” he says, “but it’s always been amazing to me musically.”
Musical stylings: “The best way to describe us is kind of The Pixies mixed in with some Police,” Silvers says. Writes Web site www.modernrock.com of the band’s style: “It’s as if the ’80s sensibility has collided with contemporary garage rock.”
Discography: Two full-length CDs: The Technology and The Pink Record. An EP, the synthesizer-heavy Uneven Surfaces, was released by Idol Records last year, leaving many reviewers anxious to hear the shortly forthcoming Ohio.
Best compliment: Silvers probably pays himself the best compliment when he says: “To be honest with you, I just really want to be able to write music that will last more than a year, more than the trend. We just try to write good records.”
More info: www.darylmusic.com
About the artist: Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Sachse is a lawyer-by-day who is also starting an entertainment industry law firm with fellow neighborhood musician Creede Williams.
Neighborhood contact: Sachse lives in Hollywood Heights; in fact, his house was featured in that neighborhood’s home tour in 2003.
Interesting fact: Before striking it solo, Sachse was in a well-regarded band called Hollis with fellow Tulsa resident Scott Griffith and bassist Jay Blakey.
Musical stylings: Sachse jokingly calls his style “sailboat funk … I guess it’s what you’d expect to hear if you were just sitting on a sailboat somewhere,” he says. Reviewers and fans have compared Sachse’s sound to Duncan Sheik, Paul Heaton and the late, great Nick Drake.
Discography: One solo CD titled Every Summer Night, which Sachse co-wrote with Williams, and www., a Hollis project. Sachse is at work in the studio on a third CD he hopes to release soon.
Best compliment: Thomas Conner of the Tulsa World wrote of Sachse’s 2001 solo CD:, “Sachse writes sweet, simple ballads of longing and regret and whisks them out on acoustic guitar.”
More info: www.decksachse.com
The Zapruder Sequence
About the band: Mike Karnowski (drums), Noah Bailey (vocals/guitar), Jordan Munn (guitar/vocals), and brothers Jonathan (lead guitar/keyboards) and James Binford (bass) make up Zapruder Sequence, named so because, says Karnowski: “We wanted to pick a name that had some local flavor to it, and we figured, well, that’s one of the one things that — whether we like it or not — defines Dallas.”
Day jobs: ZS are true hometown boys — most of them met at Lakewood Elementary School. They formed the band in 2001, shortly after graduating from high school.
Interesting fact: They almost called themselves Conspiracy-A-Go-Go, but a Tennessee band had already claimed the name. “I think we’re a little better off for it,” says Karnowski, “but maybe not much better off.”
Musical stylings: The band, admittedly, can be all over the place in terms of genre — pure rock ‘n roll, pop rock, alt.country, etc. — but for now, that’s part of their charm.
Discography: Zapruder Sequence released one eight-song EP in 2003. It was recorded in two nights, and mixed and mastered in two more. “We view that as our excuse,” Karnowski laughs.
Best compliment: Self-effacement aside, the Dallas Observer wrote of the band’s release: “Well-sung harmony parts and a few subtly pretty songs may not stop discerning listeners from casting this aside as overdone pop-rock fare, and the EP seems more like a portfolio than a cohesive record, but these are minor gripes for a promising debut. If they keep this up, the ZS will find themselves on teenagers’ walls in no time.”
More info: www.zaprudersequence.com
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