For a few weeks now, I’d been hearing about this new music venue in Fort Worth’s north side, a bar called the River Run Roadhouse. So when I heard Cameron Smith (of War Party) had a side project playing there, I had to head that way.
Turns out this is not a new venue at all, but an old familiar place with a new name. River Run is the re-birth of J&J Blues Bar. It has a pool table now, and the back patio is a nice wooden deck. However, other than that and the sign outside, the place is just as I remember it (yes, the bras are stilling hanging from the rafters). It is even open 3 p.m.-2 a.m.seven days a week.
Saturday, I had the place all to myself. This was a last-minute show, and by the time the band was in full swing, it was just me and the staff.
Sur Duda is an experimental band, with War Party members Smith and drummer Peter Marsh performing an eclectic mixture of covers and originals. Chris Walden came out from behind the sound board to play trombone with the band.
Smith’s vocals have an edgy, punkish vibe, and the songs were rough in spots. The whole thing had the feel of hanging out with a couple of musicians while they jammed to whatever came to mind — and that was essentially what this was. It’s really one of my favorite things — the mistakes are entertaining, as is the spontaneous anything-can-happen atmosphere. Sur Duda has played twice now, with only one practice under its belt.
“I was thinking that every Sur Duda show could be different,” said Smith, “so on Arts Goggle we’re playing, and I think Hunter [Moehring] from [Dallas band] Sealion is going to be playing with us. And that’s not going to be every show.”
The lineup will change, and Smith plans to use this as an outlet for his original material.
“Usually, by the time I write three songs for a War Party record, I have like seven others they don’t really care to do anything with,” he said. “That band is very democratic, and so I wanted to have a band where I could do whatever I want.”
Among the covers, there are Whole Wide World by Wreckless Eric, Yer So Bad by Tom Petty, Shangri-La by the Kinks, and even Nervous Breakdown by Black Flag.
Sur Duda is what happens when you get musicians like Smith and Marsh — people who live to play music. Most players coming off a tour with their band would be content to take a break, but these guys are looking for any excuse to play — and I’ll look for any excuse to go see an act like this one.
“Music changes everything about the way I feel,” Smith said. “I’m a very anxious person; I get stressed out all the time. People say ‘Oh you need to breathe, you need to pray’ or whatever else, but if I can find the right song to listen to — that works better than anything.
“It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen.”
Saturday, Oct. 4
River Run Roadhouse, 937 Woodward St., Fort Worth
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