Saturday, August 13, 2022 Aug 13, 2022
95° F Dallas, TX


By D Magazine |


If you happen to be in Washington, D.C., this month, mosey on over to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and check out the Texas Festival, June 11-22. Chaired by Georgette Mosbacher, the Festival will celebrate the arts and music of Texas with folks like Sara Hick-man, Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, Kris Kristofferson, Lou Ann Barton, Tish Hinojosa, and Robert Earl Texas Kid. For ticket info, call 1-800 444-1324.


PEOPLE This month Willard Watson(a.k.a. The Texas Kid) turns 70. Thebirthday party starts on June 9th whena caravan of local fans and friends takesoff in various funmobiles, including hisphoto-covered, fringe-upholsteredpickup, and the sedan he decoratedfor Governor Richards’s inauguralparade – a mile- long LincolnContinental covered with longhorns.Destination: Washington, D.C. Watsonand his color guard of artists, writers,and raconteurs will unveil his LifeSeriesdrawings at the Kennedy Center’s TexasFestival where they’ll be on display inthe Terrace Theater Lobby. Back homein Dallas, Willard and wife Elnora will”start out real slow” on the big day,celebrating with neighbors in their newstudio on Kenwell Street. Then it’son to the 8.0 Bar for the official birthdaybash-a party the entire city is invitedto attend. -Janelle Ellis

Sightseeing: Not For Tourists Only

THE CITY June days are long, warm, but not too hot-the best time to show off Dallas to visitors, or to play tourist yourself. Start with the Dallas Visitor’s Bureau (746-6677) and pick up three suggested walking tour pamphlets of downtown Dallas. The Dallas Sculp-Tour identifies 32 public works of art. The Legends of Harwood Street guides you by 15 architectural treasures, and Up, Down, and Around Dallas is a complete map of the underground and second-level walkways that comb downtown.

Leaving the driving-and guiding-to someone else is also an alternative. Gray Line (824-2424) offers a number of standard bus tours, but to see the city in style, try Keys To The City {324-9376), which offers customized tours in either town cars or limousines.

It takes wings, however, to do justice to Dallas’s scale. The Dallas Tour is a spectacular, soaring ride via All-Star Helicopters (357-8018). Thirty minutes of stunning vistas sweep you from Love Field to the Galleria, down Central Expressway through the Park Cities into downtown, then out Stemmons Boulevard to Texas Stadium before landing. More than any other tour, it personifies the spirit of Dallas-gleaming, glamorous, and grand. It’ll leave you breathless. -David Alex Schulz

Camp-out Cuisine

OUTDOORS Grilled strips of duck breast with Thai sauce on a Boy Scout camp-out? Yep, and that’s just the first course. Steve Chambers, leader of Highland Park’s Troop 35, says he’s been the official camp-out chef for about eight years. “I started cooking as self-defense, because I didn’t want to eat hot dogs and potato chips.” Nothing Chambers makes is cooked on a stick. Pork tenderloins with cilantro-lime marinade, poached pears in praline sauce, and pancakes with lemon butter and blueberry glaze are troop favorites. The architect~by-day insists his recipes are uncomplicated. The trick, he says, is doing the prep work at home. “I’d be afraid to cook for a dinner party, but it doesn’t scare me to cook outdoors with a campfire. If it’s bad, you can always blame the conditions,” he says. And like the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared” says, a chef must always be ready to overcome unforseen adversities. Once it was so cold that Chambers slept with bread loaves in his sleeping bag, so they would rise overnight. What does he enjoy mostabout cooking outdoors? “Eating it,” saysthe father of two scouts. “I’m always thefirst in line.” -Ellise Gunnell

If you leave the house only one time this month, make sure it’s to go to the Dallas Folk Festival, June 5-9 in the Arts District. It may be the best jazz, blues, salsa, and gospel you hear all summer.

The Triple Threat: Robin Syler

MUSIC It almost died in the Sixties.

That’s when guitarists wanted to be cosmic like Hendrix. Folks like the Chantays, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and the prolific Ventures-all purveyors of the Guitar Instrumental- suddenly seemed tame and their genre faded. But it lives on in the hands of Robin Syler.

Faithful but forceful interpretations of vintage instrumentals are but part of the Syler story. He’s very respected in blues circles for his work with his trio, the Skulls, and with the Doyle Bramhall band. In both groups he plays his own material and well-chosen (sometimes obscure) cover tunes.

Syler and Stevie Ray Vaughan were once together in the stream of “revolving guitarists” in Cracker-jack, the rock band. By ’71 he was playing blues in California with singer/harmonicist James Harman, who’s now almost famous. Syler and Harman backed senior bluesguys Big Joe Turner, George Smith, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson in beach clubs all up and down the South Bay area. Syler also toured with Canned Heat. (“Their heyday was past,” he states, although famed frontman Bob Hite was still on board. After Hite died, the band-sans Syler-continued to perform; it was rather like The Doors without Morrison.)

Back in Dallas by ’78, he and Bramhall had the house band at the weird Cave on Greenville Avenue. The band became the Millionaires, and played venues including blues landmark Stubbs’ Barbecue (the original Stubbs’, in Lubbock). Syler was a favorite of musician/ bluesman Robert Wisdom, who died in ’89, but not before releasing a rather remarkable cassette, Blues, Jazz and Country. Syler was the guitarist on the tape.

These days we admire Syler’s command of evolved, jazz-type chord work but know he can get low, and that’s low. Nobody is better at interpreting the wild bottleneck style of Hound Dog Taylor-bom in Mississippi in 1917, the Dog used cheap guitars to get a distorted, depraved sound that is easy to imitate badly but hard to do well. Rather like the old instrumentals, which were easy to parrot but hard to play compellingly. Syler’s got both styles down pat. So, in addition to hardball blues, he pours out tunes like “Pipeline” (by the Chantays), “Penetration” (by the Pyramids), and “Apache” (by Jorge Ingmann, although Robin learned it from a cover by the Ventures, who covered everything).

Syler’s a good guitarist and songwriter, and a good picker of cover material. Rare is the artist who’s all three, and that’s why you should know who he is. -Tim Schuller

Forget hot dogs and Beanee-Weenees, camp-out cuisine is a new culinary art.

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