Arts & Culture

Ill bartender gets financial boost from musical friends

Carrie Hungerford
Carrie Hungerford Special to DFW.COM

Back around 2006, I was running a little coffee shop on Berry Street called Panther City, and I got a call from a filmmaker friend in Dallas. It seems he had just met this barista who had moved up from Houston, and didn’t I need someone?

Enter Carrie Hungerford. She showed up to interview at my little hippie coffee shop dressed like she was interviewing for a bank president gig (except for the dreadlocks) and would go on to be one of the best employees anyone could ask for.

She was battling cancer at the time, but she never complained and never missed a shift. She was a rock, and I’ve yet to meet a single person who had something bad to say about her. She tends bar at Lola’s now. And the cancer is back. And on Sunday, the people of Funkytown got together to show their love and raise money. How could I resist that?

When I got to Lola’s, I met local music legend Blake Parish at the bar. He and Kris Luther had performed earlier, and although I missed it, Parish said it was too short of a set to turn into the kind of drunken train wreck they are famous for. But when he talked about Carrie, he seemed uncharacteristically serious.

“She is one of the kindest, most soft-spoken people,” Parish told me, ordering a beer and informing the bartender that he was giving his tip to Carrie. The bartender didn’t mind.

“You don’t really get to know who she is unless she lets you know who she is,” he continued. “The people that she lets know who she is should feel privileged. She’s a kind soul, and she deserves everything in this world.”

The Red Admirals were on stage and echoed that sentiment, leading the crowd in a cheer of “We love you, Carrie!”

The Red Admirals — Rob Owens (bass, guitar, vocals), Matthew Lane (guitar, vocals), Deven Kampenhout (keyboard) and Kevin McNeil (drums) — played a bass-driven set, with real songwriting and more depth than you would expect from a post-punk act. They have an EP out, recorded at Empire Sound Studio with Alex Gerst behind the board. Give it a listen at and see these guys live.

In front of the stage was a big tip jar for Hungerford, and the deck by the sound booth was set up as a silent auction. I managed to track down the guest of honor, back in a corner at the end of the bar completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money to offset her medical bills, and as of Tuesday had reached its $1,000 goal.

While I didn’t get to see all of them, other bands who donated their time included Taylor Craig Mills, Carey Wolff and the Morning After, Urban Pioneers, Merkin, Movie the Band, B---- Bricks, and Doom Ghost.

Too many of the people in the service industry — bartenders, baristas and servers, to name a few — fall through the cracks when it comes to dealing with serious injury or illness. It’s great to see our community come together to support one of our own.