Photo by David Minton
by lucinda breeding >> features editor
one Doggie can’t keep the hint of irony out of his rasping voice when he names the
date he and the Hickory Street Hellraisers were born into the personae they now enjoy. “I can tell you exactly when the band we have now came to be,” he says, pausing to exhale a long drag from his e-cigarette. “It was at Denton’s Day of the Dead last year.” Makes sense. Bone Doggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers have gathered good ol’ steampunk steam in the last two years by slinging face-melting — wait for it — Gypsy Americana. See, when you put it like that — Gypsy Americana — the “face-melting” part feels all kinds of wrong. But then you see this outfit live. Abby Messerli, known as “The Duchess,” boogies hard and fast in a curve-skimming red dress, her trombone whipping this way and that when she isn’t calling Gabriel down with crazed blasts aimed at the rafters. Christopher “Ghost” Morehead (who lives up to his nickname with pale skin and long-as-hell, stringy limbs and sharp cheekbones) glowers through sooty guy-liner, digging a hole in his guitar. Greg “Thumper” Beach slaps the bass double-time, deadpanning at the audience under a porkpie hat. Kris “El Chupa” Cordell works up a sweat behind the drums, never nursing a grudge about the comped drinks that never seem to make it to the back of the stage. Then there’s the man known by most local movers and shakers as Bone Doggie. The short guy born Brett Coleman hollers over a throat that’s one part God’s gift, one part smoking habit (hey, he’s down to a half a pack a day now that he’s got the e-cigarette). When it’s time for the frontman to take a solo, he struts to the front of the stage in dingy white spats and delivers a fevered set of phrases on the bouzouki that singe the faces in the front row. “I guess we knew we were onto something at the jazz festival last year,” says Cordell, who has played with Bone Doggie for years — since the time when Doggie was playing bass with rock bands. “We were on the Celebration Stage on the midway, and we had a huge crowd. And it kept growing.” Bone Doggie got to Denton 15 years ago. The Kansas City, Kan., native moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1975 and graduated from Carrollton’s R.L. >> Continued on 14
Little d After Dark
Monthly entertainment magazine of the Denton Record-Chronicle.