Ben Dickey Releases “A Glimmer on the Outskirts”

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In the South Congress District on a busy Thursday evening, a line of ticket holders wait for the Continental Club to open its doors. Ben Dickey is warming up inside, gearing up for a busy tour schedule with troubadour Hayes Carll.

Dickey stares out under his black-flat-brimmed hat toward the bustling room in downtown Austin. The sold-out crowd is receptive as he performs songs from his upcoming album “A Glimmer on the Outskirts,” the first release for the recently formed SexHawkeBlack record label.

Ben Dickey performs at the Continental Club. Photo by Andrew Blanton

Dickey found a love for writing and performing throughout his high school years in Little Rock, Arkansas, playing with local rockers in Shake Ray Turbine and recording an album for File 13 Records.

“Little Rock is really a wonderful gem in the middle of the state,” Dickey said. “There was this marvelous punk-rock scene, art scene, huge collective where parents and everybody supported it, you know? Kids taking chances, doing stupid (expletive) they might have not should have done, but also being industrious. That shaped who I am a lot.”

The distorted tones and squealing feedback on Shake Ray Turbine’s album “The Sauce of Solution” show the rebellious attitude of a teenager reaching for an artistic outlet in rural America. Eventually File 13 relocated, and Dickey took the group to Philadelphia.

“It was a culture shock in a dramatic way, living in a hive dwelling,” Dickey said. “It was the first time in my life I could hear my neighbor like coughing in their bed. It was real intense.”

Dickey later found success in Philadelphia with Blood Feathers, gaining support from actor Ethan Hawke and recording three albums, but a growing schedule with the group, and a full-time position as a chef took its toll on the artist.

“When the band broke up, I sort of like doubled down in the chef world, but that kind of melted my brain,” Dickey said.

Dickey made plans to move to Louisiana, and spent his last months in Philadelphia recording his first solo release “Sexy Birds & Saltwater Classics.”

“Getting out of that world was like jumping off of a train, and jumping off of a train your going to get hurt,” Dickey said. “That record was a hail mary for my psyche.”

Throughout the past decade, Hawke, a native of Austin, and Dickey discussed the idea of making a feature film about little-known songwriter Blaze Foley. Though the proposal seemed like a daydream, Hawke was determined to direct the project and Dickey made his acting debut in the leading role.

“More opportunities to make art are happening which is very exciting to me, and I feel incredibly lucky every second,” Dickey said.

Ben Dickey performs at the Continental Club. Photo by Andrew Blanton

Dickey performed several prominent concerts at South by Southwest this year, including an event with Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel and a chance to meet Willie Nelson at the Luck Reunion in Spicewood.

As Dickey embarks on his first major tour under his own name, an education for young songwriters that the artform is alive and well, he’s reminded of how long it took to make it this far.

“This first rule is don’t stop,” Dickey said. “Even if all points leave to nothingness, don’t stop.”

“I Think it’s all Different” from Ben Dickey’s album “A Glimmer on the Outskirts”

 

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