Along with the long-needed revitalization of the Seventh Street neighborhood comes the inevitable plague of trendy, shiny new soulless buildings.
I get it -- it's progress, and if there's anything Fort Worth needs, it's progress. But what developers don't get is that the very thing that makes an area like that interesting is a quirky landmark like Fred's Texas Cafe. The restaurant's outdoor area, with its stockade walls (known as "The Fort"), is looking less decorative and more like a last-ditch defense against the hordes of developers intent on making everything in the area look the same.
Progress or no, keep your greedy hands off of our Fred burgers.
After parking way too far down the street Saturday night, I slipped in the band entrance at Fred's and conned a couple up front into letting me share their table for the evening. (Everyone's a friend at Fred's.) The restaurant has recently installed an awning, so we were shielded from the sun, and a few tables and fairly comfy chairs have been added. Then Blu Pearl took the stage.
The opening strains of guitar had that distinct Stevie Ray Vaughan tone to them, and normally that's a warning sign. Anything imitated too often (and in Texas, it's done way too often) wears thin.
But Blu Pearl made it work, with more funk and a more complex rhythm section than your average Texas bar blues band. The band followed the opening number with the old Memphis Slim standard Every Day I Have the Blues, some rather tasty originals and the Stevie Wonder classic Superstition. Derrick Harris, the band's frontman, guitar player and vocalist, worked tirelessly to get the laid-back crowd involved in the show.
While the rest of the band took a break, Derrick stayed on stage playing some funky finger-picked instrumentals. When the band returned, we got more originals and Blu Pearl's own take on such classics as Hey Joe (made famous by Jimi Hendrix), Led Zeppelin's The Ocean and Ray Charles' I Got a Woman.
The overall sound of Blu Pearl the band is a strange mix: You can hear strains of Vaughan, Hendrix and Wonder, and I think I heard a bit of the Spin Doctors in there as well. The guitar pulls heavily from these excellent influences, and the rhythm section (Lee Hall on bass and Brandon Henderson on drums) has a precise but soulful, almost gospel feel.
Fred's became a legend for its burgers and atmosphere, and it's bands like this one that have made Fred's a legend for music as well. Let's just make certain that we do everything we can to prevent Fred's from going under the bulldozer anytime soon.
For more on Blu Pearl, go to www.myspace.com/blupearlband.
For more Fred's Texas Cafe, go to www.fredstexascafe.com/.