Human trafficking is one of those things that many people think only occurs in history books, or in far-off barbaric countries. But according to Mosaic Family Services, a group right here in the Metroplex that aids the victims, it's a little closer to home and a little closer to now.
"Texas has become a hub for human trafficking," according the group's website, "due to its economic stability, cultural diversity, major interstates and airports, large number of sexually oriented businesses, and international border.... Many individual trafficking victims are brought to the state and forced to work against their will."
So when Tripp Mathis heard about this, he did what Funkytown denizens do best: He set the fight to music.
Sunday night at the Live Oak was the annual TraffickJam. The goal was to raise money for Mosaic, a nonprofit in Dallas that provides services for victims trying to escape slavery, and to do so Tripp brought together some of the best musicians in the area. In the concert hall at the Live Oak, we had Animal Spirit, Captain Mayo and the Phonos, Trailer Park Princess, Bryant Goodall Trio, Pistol Packin' Mama, Katsuk, Jody Jones and the Lobster Dogs, My Wooden Leg, and the Hanna Barbarians. Upstairs, on the deck, were Clayton Witt, Tripp Mathis, Matt Householder, Julia Runge, DeAnna Wendolyn, Big City Folk, Dobro Danny Hill, Jacob Furr and the mighty Joshua Irwin. All this for a $10 admission, but many people voluntarily coughed up more (and Fort Worth Weekly promised to match the door take).
I arrived just in time to catch the end of the Katsuk show, and although frontman Daniel Katsuk said that this one was the best show he had ever done, he promised that the next one would be even better. It always is with that guy.
Jody Jones and the Lobster Dogs were up next, and while they set up I grabbed a table and ordered a damn fine Reuben sandwich and talked to the guy next to me about '70s and '80s punk clubs that we remembered from our misspent youth. He was able to one-up me, having caught the Sex Pistols at the Longhorn in '77.
Last I saw Jones, he was doing a solo act. But this time, Jones (guitar, vocals) was joined by Steve Harrison (mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, didgeridoo), Gerald Ray (lead guitar), Clay Anderson (bass) and Jeffry Simms (drums/percussion). Not surprisingly, the group brought a much beefier sound than the solo acoustic act.
Jones has a strong voice and songwriting skills, and the additional weirdness of the bouzouki and the didgeridoo really kept things interesting. Ray's guitar work was first-rate. The crowd was small at this point, but enthusiastic. With music on the roof as well as indoors, many people were moving back and forth.
Following a rock-solid folk-rock set from Jones, the expurgated version of My Wooden Leg took the stage: Michael Maftean (vocals, guitar) and Joshua Jones (drums). The Romanian-themed rock band appeared to be missing its bass player and much of Maftean's hair. No matter, though. Even as a duo, this is one of the most entertaining acts in Funkytown.
I wasn't able to stay for the Barbarians, but I did get an advance copy of their new EP. Tasty stuff, as usual.
TraffickJam happens once a year, but human trafficking, sadly, is an everyday occurrence. If you or someone you know is a victim, or you just want to help out, check out Mosaic Family Services at www.mosaicservices.org.