The Vandoliers Trio | Carolina Story | Summer Dean Cactus Theater 1812 Buddy Holly Avenue Friday, February 25th 7:30 –
The Vandoliers Trio | Carolina Story | Summer Dean
1812 Buddy Holly Avenue
Friday, February 25th
7:30 – 9:30pm, doors at 7pm
First 3 rows (A-C): $20
Floor Rows (D-M) & Standard Balcony: $15
Balcony Box (includes concessions): $40
Please note: All sales are final. The Cactus Theater does not permit exchanges, refunds or credit for future shows in exchange for unused tickets.
Box office hours:
Monday – Friday: 3:00 – 5:00 PM*
Saturday: Open 1 hour before scheduled shows
Sunday: Open 1 hour before scheduled shows
The Vandoliers Trio
Vandoliers are the next wave of Texas music. The six-piece Dallas-Fort Worth group channels all that makes this vast state unique: tradition, modernity, audacity, grit, and— of course—size. Forever puts it all together for an enthralling ride down a fresh Lone Star highway. Produced and recorded by Adam Hill (Low Cut Connie, The Bo-Keys, Deer Tick, Don Bryant, Zeshan B) at American Recording Studios in Memphis, TN, the band’s third album (and first with Bloodshot) Forever is a mix of youthful and defiant punk, rugged Red Dirt country, and vibrant Tejano. The full-length’s 10 songs blend emblematic rock ‘n’ roll with bold horns, violin, and a slather of twang reflecting where the band is from, where they’ve been and, eventually, where they’ll be headed. It’s regional and universal all the same. “I wrote a series of songs about my life and gave it to the best musicians I know to flesh out,” says lead singer and guitarist Joshua Fleming. “I spent over a year writing by myself, with friends and mentors, and we spent just as long filling out arrangements and writing scores. We wrote horn and fiddle parts on a trio tour through the mountains of New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.” One of those mentors is fellow Dallas-Fort Worth musician Rhett Miller of Old 97’s. The influence and tutelage of Miller and his bandmates helped sharpen Vandoliers’ Texas – bred, roots-based punk rock. “Before the band started diving into the new material, I sent Rhett a bunch of acoustic phone demos,” says Fleming. “Being the amazing person he is, he sent me back a 3,000- word email of advice that read like a master class in the art of songwriting. Beyond their influence musically, they’ve really taken us under their wing, letting us play shows with them and giving us all kinds of advice along the way.” While tracking alongside the muddy path that country-punk bands like Old 97’s, Jason and the Scorchers, and the True Believers blazed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Vandoliers define their own style; no one else is upending the genre quite like them. There are familiar ingredients—Fleming’s raspy vocals, rousing sing-along choruses, and an infectious energy (like on the rippin’ “Sixteen Years”)—that lay down the foundation on Forever. But it’s the ancillary instrumentation that separates them from others. When they seamlessly inject punk rock with ‘60 and ‘70s country grime (“Tumbleweed”), old-timey fiddlin’ (“Miles and Miles”), Tex-Mex horn and violin (“Fallen Again”), and heartfelt balladry (“Cigarettes in the Rain”), a rich new sound emerges. References to the Texas Tornados, Social Distortion, Deer Tick, and Calexico can be made, but none fully capture the soul of the self-proclaimed “Converse cowboys.” For a band that spends more than half the year on the road, “forever” is their credo of hope and determination—“VFFV” (Vandoliers Forever, Forever Vandoliers) is tattooed on the six members’ arms as an emblem of their solidarity and commitment to the collective, through good times and, more significantly, the tough ones. The album’s lyrics center on themes of dedication (“Sixteen Years”), being known as middle finger-throwing rabble rousers (“Troublemaker”), seizing adventure while traveling (“Nowhere Fast”), and addressing anxiety and depression (“Fallen Again”). When they return home from tour, broke and empty, they humbly look to their families for support (“Bottom Dollar Boy”), and unconditional love—despite their unconventional career paths—(“Tumbleweed”). Thus recharged, they can hit the road again, to spread the Vandoliers’ message with renewed fervor.
Blending folk intimacy, country grit, and alt-rock muscle, Carolina Story’s resilient new album, Dandelion, is an ode to survival in the face of struggle, a full-throated tribute to the power of hope and the unbreakable bonds of family. Recorded with acclaimed producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Moak (Joy Williams, Ashley Monroe), the collection is fueled by raw, honest storytelling and lush, cinematic arrangements, expanding the homespun craftsmanship of the Nashville duo’s debut to draw on a broader, more ambitious palette, one that hints at everything from The Jayhawks and Lucinda Williams to R.E.M. and Nirvana. Though the record was written over the course of the last few years, the songs here feel eerily prescient given the current state of the world, reflecting on loneliness, depression, and economic hardship with the kind of vulnerability and empathy that can only come from lived experience. Much like the dandelion, though, Carolina Story insist on reaching for the light with their music. After more than a decade in the business, it’s all they know how to do.
“There’s just something about the dandelion that spoke to us,” says Ben Roberts, who shares vocal and songwriting duties with his wife, Emily. “It’s this humble little plant that’s so tough it can grow through cracks in concrete. It’s an underdog, just like us.”
Launched in 2009, Carolina Story built their reputation the old-fashioned way, performing countless shows from coast to coast during a whirlwind six-year run that saw them gracing stages from the Grand Ole Opry to AmericanaFest. After taking a temporary break from the road to welcome two children into the world, the duo returned in a big way in 2017, signing with the record label Black River Americana to release their studio debut, Lay Your Head Down. The album was a critical hit that helped land the band dates with the likes of Hayes Carll, Bob Schneider, and Delta Rae, among others, and prompted Rolling Stone to declare them an “Artist You Need To Know.”
She makes music rooted in Telecaster twang, southern storytelling, and the rugged resilience of the American West; it’s the sound of a lifelong Texan whose songs evoke her tough, independent spirit. Her full-length debut album Bad Romantic struts out of the speakers, but also finds moments of tenderness and vulnerability.
The album stakes a claim for Dean in the same genre that first captivated her attention as a girl in rural Texas. Her grandfather raised cattle and her father worked in land conservation. Dean developed a connection not only to the soil she stood on, but also to the music that sound tracked her small-town experience, steadily building the foundation for the traditionally minded sound that would fill her songs.
Bad Romantic was recorded at Niles City Sound, notable Fort Worth-area analog studio. Encouraged by the reception of 2016’s Unladylike — a critically-acclaimed EP that introduced her mix of vintage influences and modern muscle — Dean recorded the album to tape and made a conscious decision to fully invest herself in country music.
“I taught elementary school for 10 years,” she says. “That’s what small-town Texas girls do. We teach school, work at the bank, or at the courthouse. Then we get married and have babies and a few dogs and die happy, buried next to our husbands. But here I am, age 40, quitting my stable job, cashing in the wedding money my momma put aside for me, and making this album.”
During the years leading up to Bad Romantic‘s 2021 release, Dean built her audience on the road. She played bars and dancehalls, booking every show herself, mixing her songs with comedic banter and western wit. Dean’s ability to spin a yarn and engage with her audience during live shows with wit and humor comes out in spades on Bad Romantic.
After sharing bills with likeminded artists including Mike and the Moonpies, Asleep at the Wheel, Marty Stuart, Colter Wall and Nikki Lane, Dean’s album seems like somewhat of a victory lap for a self-made artist who’s earned her spot in country music’s hip inner circle. On Bad Romantic, Wall for the first time co-writes and duets with another musician, creating the album’s waltzing, pedal steel-filled centerpiece “You’re Lucky She’s Lonely” with Dean. Whitney Rose and Bonnie Montgomery sing harmonies, and Robert Ellis plays piano on “Dear Caroline,” a song about the Dust Bowl and the dangers of overworking the land.
Songs like “Picket Fence” and “Blue Jean Country Queen” are proud declarations of uniqueness, anchored by barroom arrangements worthy of some long-lost Merle Haggard record. “When I released my first EP, I was feeling a little sorry for myself,” Summer admits. “But now, it’s more of a pride thing. This is who I am, and I like it.” Elsewhere, she sings the praises of long horizons and longer drives on “A Thousand Miles Away,” a love letter to the road co-written with Matt Hillyer of Eleven Hundred Springs. A handful of songs written by Brennen Leigh and Simon Flory showcase her strength as an interpreter, but Bad Romantic always feels like Dean. This is traditional country music for the modern world — for sawdust-covered dance floors, worn out blue jeans, and sunset drives in the ranch truck— performed with tenderness one minute and tenacity the next. Bad Romantic or not, it’s hard not to fall in love with Summer Dean