Archive for the 'Photo Interviews' Category

Opening Bells 120mph Video Interview

This is a little bit of a different angle on my Photo Interview series; instead of a photo shoot at my little home studio with people in the local live music scene I thought it would be fun to kick things up a few notches. This time around I left my trusty DSLR at home, and opted for a helmet mounted HD video camera and a parachute. Instead of asking questions over a glass or two of wine at my dinner table, the questions were asked at Skydive Dallas, 13,000 feet over beautiful North Texas.

Below you will find the very first video interview with the lovely and wonderful Pascale Hall. Pascale opened Opening Bell Coffee at Southside on Lamar about 8 years ago, and has been kicking ass ever since. OBC is one of the coolest places in town for great food, drinks (including beer and wine!) and live music. Some of the best established music in Dallas can be heard here, and it is also a great place to see aspiring new artists. Make sure to check out OBC to quench your Coffee and Musical needs, and go spend a day at Skydive Dallas fulfill your need for speed!

Opening Bell: Clicky!

1409 South Lamar, Basement #012
Free parking on Belleview Street entrance
Dallas, TX 75215
Phone: 214.565.0383

Skydive Dallas : This click could change your life!

Toll-free:1-800-SKYDIVE (from Dallas numbers only)
Direct Line: (903) 364-5103


Photo Interview- The BAcksliders

The Back Sliders

Welcome to the Photo Interview series! Instead of just having one local artist answer a few questions and take a few photos, this time around you will will be introduced to 3/4ths of one of the most rockn’ bands in Dallas: The BAcksliders. The BAcksliders are known for putting on high energy live performances, and have won Dallas Observer Music Awards for Blues and for Hard Rock. Today I would like to introduce you to Jason, Kim, and Chris Bonner of the BAcksliders. Brother, Wife, Husband/Brother for those trying to keep track at home :) .
*Taylor Young was not available for the interview.

Z-What is it like having a band that is mostly family?
Chris- It has some benefits, like the fact that we are able to do things without consulting each other. It is easy to be honest with each other, and not have to worry as much about how the others will take it. It can be good or it can be bad.

Kim-Hell. Ha!

Jason- It is very volatile, but it also can make refinement a lot easier.

The Back Sliders

Z-I will never forget when I saw the Stones play when I was younger. That show gave me an appreciation for showmanship, and when I left I realized that even if you had never heard of the Rolling Stones before, you would have enjoyed that show. You guys have a great stage presence; were there any bands that really taught you showmanship?

Jason- I learned a lot from the Stones too. Whenever you see them on stage they are up there smiling and having a good time, no matter what is going on in their personal lives. They are smiling at each other and having a good f@ckn’ time and making sure you are having a good time too. You don’t have to be all stoic up there. I want people to know that that is my f@ckn’ brother over there, and he is rippn’ a crazy lead, and I am going to go over there and sing out of his mic and we are going to rock it out.

Chris- If I wanted to be a musician, I would have joined the f@cking symphony. I’m in show business. I want to entertain people. Guys like,Kiss, The Who, The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Chuck Berry playing guitar between their legs, smashing guitars, playing with their teeth. That stuff never goes out of style for me. I want people to watch us and know that something is about to happen. It might be bad or it might be good, but something is about to happen.

Kim- The first time I went to see Fishbone, two of them got thrown in jail on the way to the show, so they had to do an a cappella show opening for The Replacements at Bronco Bowl. These guys were such great musicians, and such great performers that even missing people they sounded amazing. They sounded so good I cried. You didn’t have to know or like their music, and you would not have been disappointed in the show.

The Back Sliders

Z-What is the story with your albums being named Thank You, and You’re Welcome?

Chris- It was kind of a joke from when we were touring early on. Whenever anything good or successful would happen, I would tell Kim “Annnnd you’re welcome!”. For our next album that we were going to be giving away to our fans, it only seemed appropriate to name that one Thank You.

Z-Best hamburger in Dallas?

Jason- Jake’s or Keller’s

Kim- Adair’s or Maple and Motor

Chris- I hear Barley has a burger that is 1/3rd ground bacon!!!

Z-What would be a dream bill for a BAcksliders show? What local musicians would you want up there with you?


Jason-The Royal Butchers and Salim Nourallah

Kim- Johnny Lloyd Rollins

Z- Kim, what is the hardest thing about being a female lead singer?

Kim-Having your period. That’s the only problem. Everything else is easy.

Chris-That’s gross.

The Back Sliders

Z-Your album Thank You is available on your site for free to anyone who wants to download it. No registration, e-mail address, or any other strings attached. Why?

Jason- Bands recover money by playing shows. Most bands don’t make much off of their records anyway. What a record is and was in the classic sense, is a tool to promote bands that are touring around and helping them make money off of the draw to the shows. That’s what the industry is getting back to. Bands make their revenue off of playing shows.

Chris- Asses in the seats. That’s the answer. We want people to come to the show live. When people know your songs, they might sing along when they come to the show. We want to reach as many people as possible with our music, and encourage them to want to come see us live and experience it.

The Back Sliders

Z-How important are the DOMA’s for local bands and musicians?

Kim-It’s good press.

Jason- It’s really great to be acknowledged for your fans. It’s really great that people took time out of their day to vote for your music.

Z-How would you define your style of rock? You have won awards for Blues and also for Hard Rock.

Jason-Kim-Chris(all together!)- Rock and Roll!

Z-Who were your early musical influences?

Kim- I wold say Soul and Adult Contemporary. I was a big Queen fan. Brazil 66, Burt Baccarat, Delfonics, Stylistics, Earth Wind and Fire, and Ohio Players.

Jason- The Beatles, The Clash. I like melody and song writers, but growing up… what did I like Chris? Kim wanted to be Freddie Mercury.

Chris- He liked Elvis and the Beatles. Chuck Berry, Stones, Little Richard, ELO, The Move. For me,Chuck Berry, The rolling stones, Little Richard. It all starts with Chuck Berry.

I encourage you guys to check out their webisite and listen to their music. They have their new album free for download and also streaming on their site. If you get the chance to check them out live, I know you will enjoy what you see and what you hear.

For other photo interviews, click here.


Photo Interview- Amy Curnow

Amy Curnow- Dallas musician

The Photo Interview series continues now with a quick interview and a few photos of the lovely and talented Amy Curnow. Amy is currently the lead singer for the Charming Gardeners, and was the leading lady of Shanghia 5. Charming Gardeners were recently signed with Idol Records, and Shanghia 5 won Best Jazz Band at the Dallas Observer Music Awards in 2007. Amy has multiple DOMA nominations for Best Female Vocalist. She also teaches at Zounds Sounds music school, and you may also recognize her as your friendly and colorful bartender at Lee Harvey’s. I am confident that no matter when or where you may have seen Amy, she is not someone who you will easily forget. Without further delay, I would like to introduce you to Amy Curnow.

Z: Name, Rank and Serial number?
Amy- Amy, Master Vocalist and Bartender (at your service!), 3 7 11 13.

Z-Do you have any recommendations for a fantastic place to enjoy brunch around town?
Amy- I love the All Good Café; that was the last place that I went for brunch and it was wonderful. You really can’t go wrong in Deep Ellum. Pepe and Mito’s, and Monica’s are great as well.

Z: Shanghai 5 had a great run that included a strong and loyal following, upscale venues, and local recognition. What are the chances of there being a reunion at some point in the future?
Amy- Oh no, I don’t think that will will ever happen. We tried to get a reunion together for Halloween last year, and that just wasn’t happening.

Amy Curnow

Z-Who are some of your favorite local female musicians?
Amy- Camille Cortinas, Cricket Taylor, Norah Jones, and Erykah Badu.

Z- I find I get my best vocal training and education when I have to turn the radio up loud enough that I can’t actually hear how badly I am singing to learn just how terrible I am. Rumor has it that your musical education is a little bit more extensive.
Amy- Well, I’ve been studying music since I came out of my momma! My formal education is Bachelor of Arts of Vocal Performance from Asbury College, and a Masters of Vocal Performance from the University of Kentucky. I started playing piano when I was five, and took music lessons my whole life. I was in every choir, band, musical theory class, you name it, since the time I could stand up.

Z- Growing up, who were your musical influences?
Amy- I used to listen to a lot of Christian stuff when I was really little. I listened to people like Amy Grant and Sandi Patti. My parents were also really into Jazz, which was really cool because I got to listen to people like Manhatan Transfer and bands with real singers and harmonies. Talking Heads, Violet Femmes, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, and Earth Wind and Fire were all early influences. By the 90’s I was listening to a lot of women singers like Sarah McLaughlin, Edie Brickell, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and a lot of the Jazz classics.

Z- In your opinion, what are the top three Beatles albums of all time?
Amy- Anything from Sgt. Pepper on. Revolver is one of my all time favorite albums. Abbbey Road is one of the best ever made. There are too many to even count. When I was 13 I started on this total Beatles craze. My entire room was covered in Beatles posters, and I collected anything Beatles I could find. The Beatles were also a huge influence for me musically.

Amy Curnow

Z-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Amy- Hopefully I will find myself writing, touring, recording, traveling the world and making people happy with music.

Z- Any interesting or funny stories behind any of your tattoos?
Amy- I like humor. Life is short, so why be so serious all the time? As permanent as tattoos seem, in the grand scheme of things, everything is so temporary. My armpits are tattooed with P and U. I also have “potty” on the inside of my lip as another example of my humor. I also love the dichotomy between good and evil; I have good and evil tomatoes and good and evil horseshoes.

Z-What is your favorite movie of all time?
Amy- Oh God, lets see here. Maybe Raising Arizona? [laughs] I like the really silly ones. Movies like The Three Amigos, Being John Malkovich, and Raising Arizona. I like that crazy and funny movies.

Z-So there really is a “School of Rock” in Dallas?
Amy- Yea there is, and I’m proud to say I teach there! Zounds Sounds is actually the first school of rock that came to Dallas and was started by Marc Solomon and Mary Armstrong. They are vets of the music scene. It was actually started in their garage before they found the space. Now they have the most talented local musicians working there. People like Chris Holt, Trey Johnson, Wade Cofer, Mike Saunders, Chad Stockslager, to name a few. I work there four days a week, and have about 30 kids for voice lessons. I also help out with our band program.

Z- You seem like you are a very fit person. What do you do to keep yourself in such good shape?
Amy- I love personal fitness, but I am a health freak. First and foremost I think that 75% of health has to do with what you put into your body. I eat super healthy, and I have three dogs that I walk often. I love yoga! It saved my life,[laughs] and keeps me happy and balanced.

Amy Curnow- Dallas Musician

If you guys get the chance to catch one of Amy’s performances, I am sure you will end up with an experience to remember. Also keep an eye out for the Charming Gardeners EP; I may or may not be listening to an unreleased version of it right now, but I can tell you that I like what I hear. :) You can find more photos from the shoot on my flickr here.


Photo Interview with Becky Middleton

Becky Middleton: Dallas Singer Songwriter

For the sixth installment of the Photo Interview series, I hope you will enjoy learning a little bit about Becky Middleton. Becky is an exciting young singer/songwriter from Dallas, who released her most recent album No Trouble last summer. What you will find below is what you end up with when mixing an interview with a splash of wine, and a photo shoot.

Z- Name, Rank, and Serial Number?
Becky- Becky Middleton, Team Member, 4 8 15 16 23 42 .

Z- How old were you when you wrote your first song?

Becky-I was in 6th grade, so I guess that made me 11 years old.

Z Do you remember the song?
Becky- It was called “Why”….it was hilarious and will never be repeated. Ha! It was a good start for an 11 year old.

Becky Middleton, Dallas Singer Songwriter

Z-One of the things I struggle with is trying to define someone’s sound or style. I think “folk” and “indie” are overused and most times don’t do justice or accurately describe any given music. How would you characterize your style and sound?

Becky-Well I’d only say that it is 1/3 folk. I would say it is a mix of Folk, Soul and Roots music.

Z- A lot of times there seems to be some disdain for “Pop” musicians from the Singer/Songwriter crowd. Are there any Pop performers you are willing to admit that you enjoy?
Becky- For sure! The thing about Pop is that like most things, there is good Pop and bad Pop, good Country and crappy Country. That holds true for any genre I suppose. Having said that, I do like me some Britney. Christina Aguilera is awesome. Who Else… Byonce, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson.

Becky Middleton, Dallas Singer Songwriter

Z- Dallas has a few radio options that don’t follow the Billboard charts, or common radio playlists, and allow you to have a Gaga free listening experience. Among them, The Range has been around a while for non-Nashville/Pop country, and recently we added KXT public radio. Do you listen to either, and what are your thoughts about KXT?
Yes, I listen to both. I’ve listened to the Range for a while; I was a finalist in their songwriter contest a few years ago and they have always been very cool and kind to me. They have great alternative country; I love it. I do find myself listening to KXT a lot. The music they play is the music that is on my iPod/iTunes.

Z-Can you tell us a little bit about your first live performance?

I think my very first one was at Club Dada several years ago for the Dallas Music Fest in Deep Ellum. It was very cool. We had a packed room for the festival. It was very nerve racking, I had a slight panic attack outside for a moment before I went on, but as soon as I got on stage I was fine. It’s always like that for me, as soon as I get up on stage and start doing my thing I’m OK.

Becky Middleton, Dallas Singer Songwriter

Z- Auto-Tune has gone from something used sparingly behind the scenes, to more overtly as a vocal effect, and now it seems it is almost impossible to listen to the radio and hear a song that doesn’t use it. What do you think about Auto-Tune, and is it here to stay?
Becky-I hate Auto-Tune! I think JZ is right! I think Auto-Tune is way over used, especially in the Top 40 style radio stations. As an obvious effect, I hope it is just a fad. Sadly a lot of things in major markets are over used, so it might be here for a while.

Z-Who are some of your favorite local bands/ musicians?

Becky-David Ramirez, Summer Ames, Salim Nourallah, Dovetail, Jack County, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Johnny Lloyd Rollins, to name a few.

Z- Tell me about how you started Song Writers in the Round at Opening Bell, and how it has evolved.
Becky-It started 3 years ago. It was my drummers idea to start it, so I can’t really take the credit. I started hosting it just once or twice a month, and now it is on almost every Monday night to strong crowds each time. I am very proud of it, and have learned what works and what doesn’t. There really isn’t much to do on Monday evenings as far as live music goes, and being so early in the evening, it allows people to get out and enjoy the shows and the music.

If you guys get the chance to check see a “Song Writers in the Round” at Opening Bell, I highly recommend it. You will get the opportunity to hear Becky along with other talented acts from the Dallas area and around the country. You can see that schedule as well as her other performances and music on her Myspace. Besides, what else do you have to do on a Monday night?
For more pics from the shoot, click on any of the pics on or visit Becky’s set on my flickr


Photo Interview- Manya Repnikova

manya repnikova

Photo Interview number five will introduce you guys to a fantastic singer songwriter whose name is fun to say with a thick KGB style accent. Her voice and writing have been front and center for Blue Petal, and Morning Elephant, and she can hold her own just fine with only her voice and a guitar (even if she doesn’t like the video recording :) ). Below you will find the results of a quick photo shoot, and a simple interview (maybe just a smidge of wine). Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Miss Manya Repnikova.

Z-Name, Rank, and Serial Number?
Manya- Mannichka, Guru, 79

Z-When did you first consider the idea of becoming a musician and performing?
I’m not sure I can name the exact moment. It’s sort of always been there, I think. I definitely can say it’s my biggest love, and I can’t see myself doing anything else, willingly, with as much passion or desire.

Z-One of the things I struggle with is trying to define someone’s sound or style. I think “folk” and “indie” are overused and most times don’t do justice or accurately describe any given music. How would you characterize your style and sound?
Manya- I don’t purposely try to go into any genre, like pop or folk. I just kinda go with it, and go with whatever I come up with. I don’t have a steering wheel right now, whatever is happening is just happening…. I’m not really controlling it.

Z-Where were you born?
Manya-Moscow, Russia.

manya repnikova

Z- If you could only listen to one album, what would it be?
Vocally speaking, I could listen to Kathleen Edwards over and over again.

Z-What is the most difficult thing about being a musician in Dallas?
DWS- Drinking While Singing :-)

Z- If you could only keep one possession, what would it be?
I’d take the cross necklace my mother gave me when I was a very young girl. She woke me up at midnight on the “Russian X-Mas” and let me open it under the tree.

Z- Tell me about food! Are there any venues that you have played that you think has fantastic food?
All Good Cafe’s pork chop MIKE’S way with the poblano peppers.
I wish there was a sushi place that needed musicians. I would gladly play in trade for sushi.

manya repnikova

Z-Name one thing that made you smile this week.
Manya- My mother sent me an old photo of her holding me. The first impression I got when I opened it up was that it looked to much like me to be her. So knowing we looked so much alike made me smile. I love my mother very much.

Z- So you are Russian…. But the rumor is that you are a Whiskey Girl…. Do tell.
I appreciate a good whiskey. And I like red wine, but I’m not a very nice person when I drink too much Vodka.

The links above to Blue Petal and Morning Elephant will let you hear some of her music, and check the Morning Elephant ( A.M. Elephant if ya’ nasty) to find out when and where you can go experience it for yourself.