Some things are better left alone, in an unedited format. This interview is one of those things. The first time I heard Josh play was on a Sunday night at the Bottle Shop (R.I.P) mid-fall of last year. I distinctly remember sitting at the far end of the bar with a few friends trying to scribble in my notebook while being constantly distracted by the beautiful voice carrying through the microphone from the other end of the room. However, I did not officially meet Josh until his EP release party at Intrinsic Brewery on the 8th of this month. Through a series of serendipitous circumstances, Jim Fitzgerald (a mutual friend of ours and a frequent collaborator of mine) designed the PA system for Josh's EP release party. I tagged along in support of Jim, eager to learn first hand how the production process worked. I arrived around 4pm and was immediately swept away by the bustling atmosphere of pre-production stage configuration. Jim put me to work at once, and I scrambled to overcome the audio engineering learning curve. The experience had quite a profound effect on me, so much so that it inspired the concept behind this interview series, Sounds from the Keep. The night moved along like a wave in smooth fashion, from one musician to the next:
- Josh Lowe
- Will Latham
- Nathan Wells
- Devil's Sooty Brother (Josh & Nathan's duo project)
- Joshua Ray Walker
- Ottoman Turks (Josh, Nathan, & Will together with Paul Hinojo on drums)
Not only did I get to see Josh play a full solo set, but I had the opportunity to see him play with each of his collaborative side projects. The full spectrum, if you will. Each set had its own style and flavor while retaining one key element - passion. That's something you can't fake, and being a listener in the crowd you feel it in the music as it reverberates off the stage. Josh's stage presence is impressive, and though he later admitted that he was nervous, I hadn't the slightest idea that he was at all. I would argue that his ability to hide his nervousness comes from playing live almost every night of the week, holding residencies at East Bound & Down in Dallas and Intrinsic Brewery in Garland on Monday nights and Tuesday nights respectively. The musician-friendly climate in Dallas is one of the factors Josh believes enables him to make a living as a working musician in this city, and though Dallas was not always a city that paid its musicians, the tide is turning rather rapidly. Dallas also has an air of small town, big city where everybody knows everybody. The degree of separation is minimal, and that tight-knit community has created a ripe environment for a dynamic music scene in Dallas. One of the things Josh and I have talked about a lot over the past week as we have gotten to know each other is the role that community aspect plays in developing talent and quality performances. As Josh said,"You might be able to play guitar, and you might be able to sing, and you might write really good songs, but if you can't do all of that in front of a crowd..." it is almost null and void. Dallas provides open opportunities for that crucial stage time.
The aim of Sounds from the Keep is to highlight local working musicians in order to deconstruct what makes music thrive in the city of Dallas. I love this city. I always have. It may be the writer in me romanticizing the hidden history and culture of Dallas, but so be it. The music of this city speaks to me in ways I have been unable to articulate for a long time. This project is my attempt at expressing that feeling I get when I look at the Dallas skyline at night. The light from the city has a way of igniting me, and I feel that same emotion emerge when I talk to the musicians living and working here.
**A huge thanks to Jim Fitzgerald and Shaun Steiniger for their support, advice, and technical expertise in obtaining the equipment I needed to start this project (and for teaching me how to use it). I wouldn't have been able to launch this project, nor will I be able to continue it, without their help. Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.