At Sunday's Grammys ceremony in Los Angeles, Fort Worth will play a cameo role in the best historical album category.
Among the six nominees is the Tompkins Square release He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes, a record collecting the handful of gospel songs recorded in the late '20s for Okeh Records by Arizona Dranes, who spent a few formative years in Fort Worth.
The blind pianist lived in Fort Worth, off and on for most of the decade, and helped establish the White Street Holiness Church, now known as the Greater Love Chapel Church of God in Christ, currently located on East Rosedale Street.
Dranes' groundbreaking fusion of the spiritual and the secular, manifesting itself in hymns performed with stride piano accompaniment, marked the Sherman native as an innovator, modernizing the gospel genre and influencing generations of singers.
And if you ask former Austin American-Statesman music critic Michael Corcoran, who spent close to a decade researching Dranes' life and wrote the absorbing, meticulous 44-page book that accompanies the CD, she is long overdue for some credit -- not just as a seminal gospel talent, but perhaps as the foundation upon which rock 'n' roll was built. Corcoran credits Dranes, who died in 1963, with helping spread the Pentecostal religion, thanks to her incendiary performances and unshakable faith.
"Her rise happened to coincide with their rise, so [the church] used her to get a lot of people to come and see what they were all about," Corcoran says. "She considered herself more a missionary than a singer."
You can hear the fire in her voice and her hands on songs like In That Day or Don't You Want to Go, just two of the 16 songs found on Story. Perhaps all these years later, Dranes' passion can bring home some Grammy glory.
As I first reported last week, Telegraph Canyon is nearing completion on its third full-length album, the follow-up to 2009's The Tide and the Current. Frontman Chris Johnson says "the bulk of the songs are there," and the record, once again tracked in Austin with producer Britton Beisenherz, should be out this year. The first single, according to Johnson, should be Wheel to the Garden, and he's excited about what the future holds for the band. You'll have an opportunity to hear some of the as-yet-unreleased material soon, as the Fort Worth collective is knocking out a pair of shows this weekend, one Friday at Trees in Dallas and the other Saturday at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge in Fort Worth. Telegraph Canyon will be joined on both bills by Quiet Company and Glossary.
Spune confirmed this week that it will be launching a Fort Worth edition of its Untapped Festival on April 20; it debuted last year in Dallas. Headliners for the Fort Worth version include Justin Townes Earle, Deer Tick, Sarah Jaffe and Tennis, and the event will take place at Panther Island Pavilion.... Speaking of Panther Island Pavilion, the Toadies' popular festival Dia de Los Toadies will be held there Sept. 13-14, marking the first time that event will be in Fort Worth. Ahead of the festivities, Toadies frontman Vaden Todd Lewis will perform a rare solo acoustic show March 9 at the Kessler Theater in Dallas.... Denton's Bosque Brown has completed work on its third full-length album, Us, which should see a release this year.
Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic, 817-390-7713