In a world ruled by fairness, Ben Dickey’s 2016 solo record “Sexy Birds & Salt Water Classics” and its 2019 follow-up “A Glimmer on the Outskirts” would be enough to make his a household name. It was, however, the fortuitous events of that three-year interim that would do the trick.
The Little Rock native — formerly of ’90s-era local post-hardcore act Shake Ray Turbine — found his name on the tongues of critics at Rolling Stone and Sundance last year after his friend Ethan Hawke cast him at the center of “Blaze,” a film depicting the life of Malvern native/songwriting legend Blaze Foley. What emerged was hailed as the best biopic of 2018; Dickey’s film debut grappled with its subject unflinchingly, giving a wider audience not only awareness of Foley’s catalogue and stunning biography, but an awareness of Dickey’s own artistry. Even better, Bob Dylan’s longtime guitarist Charlie Sexton — who played Townes Van Zandt in “Blaze” — produced “A Glimmer on the Outskirts,” selecting its track list and its studio musicians. It’s a mesmerizing collection of tracks, earnest and beatific, and worthy of getting lost in more than once, with vivid turns of phrase like “the Great Rearranger drippin’ all his venom into our eyes.”
Dickey performs from it for this Saturday engagement at the White Water Tavern, where he debuted “Sexy Birds” in 2016, before he became an indie film darling.