North Texas Daily

Raising hell with Bone Doggie and company

Raising hell with Bone Doggie and company

August 09
22:04 2012

Ben Peyton / Staff Writer

Almost anyone who has strummed a guitar, turned on a local radio station or been to an open mic night in Denton has heard, or heard of, Bone Doggie.

The whiskey-sipping Bone Doggie – who responds to no other name, not even the one his parents gave him – is an omnipresent force in Denton’s music scene.

When he’s not hosting open mic nights at Banter or delivering raspy-voiced bits of wisdom to the “cats and kittens” who tune in for his weekly radio show, Bone Doggie and his band, the Hickory Street Hellraisers, can be found performing at festivals, events and venues all over town.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Ka., the seasoned bluesman discovered his love for music while playing drums in high school.

But like many travelling blues hounds before him, he eventually left home in search of new prospects, and by the 1970s found himself in North Texas, where his Bone Doggie persona began to take form.
“Bone Doggie was basically created to play the blues,” he said. “Hardcore Delta blues.”

He worked as a designer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram for several years before finding his niche at a coffee house in Denton. Bone Doggie quickly became a regular at Banter, then known as Brick House, and plugged himself into the local community of musicians who frequented the shop’s open mic nights.

Bone Doggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers (from left to right: Christopher “Ghost” Morehead; Bone Doggie; Kris “El Chupa” Cordell; Abigail “The Duchess” Messerli; and Carrek “Bam Bam” Coleman) pose in Voertman’s Concert Hall on UNT’s campus. Photo by:Desiree Cousineau

“This is where Bone Doggie first started playing,” he said, sitting in the bistro and coffee shop where he got his start. “And I still do.”

Mic Night

Six years ago Bone Doggie went from being a regular to the host of Thursday’s open mic nights at Banter. The first-come first-serve sign up list has 25 spots that fill up in a matter of minutes. Guests get to perform two songs – three if Bone Doggie likes you.

There are only a few rules at Banter’s Doggie-hosted open mic night, including a strictly enforced ban on covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and a tip-the-barista-well policy.

“Every open mic we get someone new, said Banter co-owner Ellen Ryfle. “It’s interesting to see the transition over the years.”

The ages of performers span generations, and musicians and audience members offer a supportive and welcoming experience for stage-wary musicians looking to hone their skills.

Regulars at the self-proclaimed “best open mic night in DFW” include an assistant professor of music at Texas Woman’s University, who is given the honor of opening most open mic nights, and the Long family: Don and his four sons Randall, Kevin, Tommy and Jesse.

The Long Road Home – Bone Doggie gave the family band from Aurora, TX the name – are usually joined onstage by Bone Doggie for at least one of the 47 songs the group knows by heart.
“It’s like our second home,” Don Long said.

Doggie Time

“Can you dig it?,” Bone Doggie asks guests on his weekly show on DentonRadio.com.

Fully entrenched in the local music scene, “Doggie Time” features interviews with Denton artists, news, gossip and more – emphasis on “more,” as anything goes on the playful talk show.

The online radio station and Bone Doggie’s show focus on talented local musicians that haven’t yet “made it big,” he said.

“The talent in this town is just flat amazing,” Bone Doggie said.

The online-only radio station recently marked its one-year anniversary and Doggie Time has been aired more than 25 times.

Doggie Time is on every Thursday at 8 p.m. Past recordings of the hour-long show can be found online at dentonradioblog.com.

Raising Hell

Bone Doggie is quick to admit he wouldn’t amount to much onstage without the Hickory Street Hellraisers at his back.

“Separately none of us are Van Halen, but put us all together we’re Jimmy Page,” the band said jokingly.

Bone Doggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers play Gypsy Americana with a touch of the blues, and have a theatrical circuslike presence onstage, dressing in red and black and fusing steam punk style with 1940s blues outfits.

All five Hellraisers claim they were born on Hickory Street in Denton, and like Bone Doggie, have a knack for self-mythologizing and nicknames. Christopher “Ghost” Morehead is on keyboards, Carrek “Bam Bam” Coleman plays bass, Abby “The Duchess” Messerli plays trombone, Aaron “Skwiggels” Price handles percussion and Kris “El Chupa” Cordell is on drums.

“They’re a pain in the ass,” Bone Doggie said. “But I would not trade those guys for anybody.”

Bone Doggie plays an Irish Bouzouki, which he tunes like a mandolin to play blues.

The band contributes to the community, and has played at the Arts and Jazz Festival for three years running.

“Anything civic I will do,” Bone Doggie said. “Anything for the city of Denton I will do and I’ll do it for free.”

City officials know Bone Doggie well and in the past have called upon the Hellraisers to help with fundraisers for the Denton Animal Shelter.

Bone Doggie attributed his success to a growing and exceptional music scene in Denton.

“We do this because we love it,” Bone Doggie said, speaking on behalf of the community of musicians he is such an intrinsic part of. “We bang away at it as best we can.”

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