Concert

Dry Heeves

Dry Heeves, a Lubbock band that labels themselves “dirt surf rock” plays at City Tavern in downtown Dallas. Dry Heeves got a promotion group in Los Angeles to send their CDs across the country to college radio stations. Ryan Ulm, the bassist, hopes that something picks up soon.

Dry Heeves were lucky to play at City Tavern about three months ago after Arpi visited with his parents and networked with one of the bartenders. The performance was spectacular and they were invited back on their way to Mardi Gras to play. Mardi Gras will be the furthest they’ve had to travel for a show.

“I’d say getting out of Lubbock is the hardest thing we struggle with as a band,” Ryan slurs. “It’s a bubble in the middle of nowhere where it’s five hours to any of the nearest big cities”

Arpi Grann from Arlington plays guitar. He’s the only one band member that’s not an original and has been with the band for nearly three years. The other band members are from Post, Texas and met Arpi after moving the band to nearby Lubbock.

It’s hard for struggling bands to travel and go on the road to play big shows. The biggest show they’ve have played is Choppa Fest in Lubbock. It is not actually a festival but a tribute for a friend of the band who passed away. Local artists got together and had a benefit concert where nearly 400 people attended.

“It was more of a community thing,” Arpi said as Ryan nods his head more in reverence than from the alcohol swimming in his stomach to calm his nerves.

Arpi work at Texas Tech painting and doing simple maintenance but Ryan does not have a job right now. Ryan tried music classes at Tech but it never really took. Singer and guitarist Dylan Davis and drummer Anthony Merrell also have jobs to play the bills- but the band sustains itself for the road and promotion.

Arpi and Ryan hope they can start playing more shows. It’s the most fun they could ever have and want to be able to travel, partying with people from all over the world, while they do it. Getting people to go out and have fun with them is a struggle worth fighting for a band that had a blast choosing their name by putting together gross words on a white board. When they’re not performing, Dry Heeves find pleasure by going hard and practicing.

“I guess our communicating with other people and between ourselves and get on the same page is the hardest thing we’ve had to overcome,” Arpi says as the two walk away to begin their show.

The band has been called an angry Beach Boys and have been together almost six years.

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Jenny

Niko Red Star was driving one day and saw an accordion player on the side of the street.

“She had her case out and she had a little forlorn look in here eye,” Niko Red Star says. “I was like you know what? I’ll see if she’ll play with my band.”

Niko Red Star starts packing away his double-bass as he looks over at her.

“Jenny’s been a musician around the area for quite a while. That’s Jenny’s buddy-friend Kent,” he says as he points to the young man standing next to her. “They come together as a package deal and he plays guitar.”

Niko Red Star walks out of City Tavern to finish packing the instruments. Kent stands behind Jenny, texting as she leans against a post, still swinging with half-closed eyes.

“We’re more or less a package deal on a personal level, I mean we’re dating,” she says.

Jenny and Kent freelance for The Southland Swing Band and tonight is his first show with them. She has played the accordion for a few gigs. Kent, a jazz student at UNT, performs in rock groups and fusion groups.

“He is incredibly talented and has his own groups and performs a lot around the area,” she says.

Jenny started taking accordion lessons when she was seven. Eventually she started taking piano and voice. Jenny, from Fort Worth, started playing on streets, stages and festival stages since she was 11 or 12.

“I got a business degree in college. I didn’t study music,” she says. “I’ve just been taking lessons and performing all my life so. This is what I do.”

She’ll teach private lessons every so often, but is primarily a performer.

“I’m a songwriter,” she says. “There are a lot of different ways I get out there and do my thing, you know?”

Jenny has been on many tours and in countless instances where she did not have a place to stay the night. People at the venue will offer her to stay with them. The coolest place she has stayed was with a friend in the Los Angeles area.

“We stayed at his place one time on tour and he has this incredibly interesting house and a yacht and took us out on the water, it was really neat,” she says. “The whole band was just having a great time and he took us to some neat places in town it was a great, bizarre experience, like we’re sitting on a yacht tonight, okay!”

There have been other times when she hasn’t felt welcome at various gigs. One time, someone even shorted her money.

“That was maybe one of the worst things just because I typically have I do just have a lot of faith in people and humanity and venues,” she says.

It doesn’t happen often, but one time it did and it really hurt her personally, as an artist and someone working with the venue. There wasn’t anything she could do except brush it off and say “okay that happened but I’m not going to let it get me down next gig.”

“And maybe you just choose not to play there again,” she says. “That’s really the way it goes.”

The Southland Swing Band, Dallas, Swing Dance, Swing Music, Dallas Jazz, City Tavern

Niko Red Star

When he’s not acting in, producing or writing horror films, Niko Red Star is the bass player and band manager for the gypsy jazz, swing and Dixieland playing band The Southland Swing Band. Tonight, instead of packing away costumes and camera equipment, he packs up instruments after an incredible performance-ending rendition of “It don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington.

“Duke Ellington has a special little place in my heart,” he says. “I love his compositions. You can swing the crap right out of them. It starts getting people shaking their booty’s, getting drunk and it’s a lot of fun.”

Niko Red Star has been playing upright bass for nearly ten years, since around the time he arrived in Dallas.

“I’m from a wee little country town smack dab in the middle of California,” Niko says, pressing his thumb and forefinger together to emphasize the size after finishing casing the bass. “I guess fate and destiny brought me out here.”

The trained musician is multi-talented, receiving a scholarship at SMU where he completed a degree in classical music. Now, he has had The Southland Swing Band together for around two years. Niko Red Star and his band swing their way around Dallas as much as they can with a small band and large band. Tonight, Niko brought out his small group.

“At times we actually have a full horn section with three horns, a saxophone, trombone and clarinet,” Niko says.

Their audience is generally very receptive. It’s good music and makes people happy. People want to dance to it and so do they, though tonight the small crowd seems preoccupied and few people are dancing.

“We get a lot of swing dancing because this is all time drinking music,” Niko Red Star says.