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Continued from 14 >> punk-influenced garb — from Doggie’s garter armbands and scarlet vest to Messerli’s Betty Boop shift and Morehead’s black top hat. Doggie structures his set list as a miniature three-act opera, weaving song stories (“A Little Bar in Texas”) and murder ballads (“Herr Vasser’s Wife”) through pub roasters until winding everything down with a straight-up working man’s anthem, “Hard Road Walkin’.” “The Hellraisers are all, to a man, entertainers,” Doggie says. “The theatrics

Messerli says it was watching the Hellraisers that schooled her in performance. Messerli was a kid who saw President Bill Clinton playing saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show and fell head over heels for brass music. She ended up playing trombone, and was in the habit of standing still while playing, eyes cast down at the music on the stand. Messerli says she joined the band for the experience. She’d been in a ska band before joining Bone Doggie, which might account for her 1940s-era stage style. Being with the Hellraisers “taught me that you don’t have to play off the page,”

The theatrics came with the music for the Duchess. “When the Hellraisers are playing, it’s impossible not to dance,” she says. Bone Doggie says Messerli is his wingman. “I hope I always have this one,” he says, pointing at Messerli. “She keeps the Hellraisers’ feet on the ground. I don’t ever want to be without the Duchess. Whenever we’ve needed to audition a new band member, they have to pass the Abby test. If the Duchess doesn’t want ’em, they don’t get in. And every now and then, I get these ideas, and she’ll be the one to tell me if they’re not going to work.” Take, for instance, the matter of Doggie’s murder songs. “Herr Vasser’s Wife” is a seven-minute song about a married woman meeting a messy end. “He kills so many women in these songs,” Messerli says. “I’m threatening him now. I’m like, ‘If you kill one more woman in a song … .’” Messerli gives Doggie a side-eye and

The Hellraisers were becoming a pub band that would draw drinkers to the stage even though they showed up to do anything other than listen to music. are extremely important to me. And to the band, I think. Everything you see happening up there, it’s an extension of our personalities. Even when I was playing in rock bands, I thought it was important to put on a show. You want to connect with your audience.”

she says. “It taught me to do improvisation, something that had always been a mystery to me. I have a lot of influences, like Tower of Power, and that kind of style. Being part of the Hellraisers has taught me that, when in doubt, just blow.”

the maestro lets out a gravelly peal of laughter. “Yeah, she has threatened me, for sure,” he confirms. Like Denton’s Brave Combo, the Hellraisers have a fan base that reels in punk rock buffs and the Lawrence Welk set. “Sometimes the people you’d never expect to like us end up liking us the most,” Cordell says. “We played Roanoke, and there was this old cowboy guy over to the side just eating it up. He was digging it for sure.” Doggie brings material to the band, and each musician adds another layer to the music. They get together every Wednesday at Morehead’s house for jamstyle rehearsal. The musicians says ego hasn’t crept in to gum up the system. “We’re pretty straight with each other,” Morehead says. “We all respect one another, and if we think something isn’t working, we let one another know. And if you have an idea, but someone else has a better one, you let go of your idea.” The band is about to go into the studio to record an EP. Cordell says the band is burning up fun as fast as it can. “It’d be nice to be able to make a >>

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October 2012

Little d After Dark

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October Little d After Dark 2012  

Monthly entertainment magazine of the Denton Record-Chronicle.

October Little d After Dark 2012  

Monthly entertainment magazine of the Denton Record-Chronicle.