Houston Calling

Welcome to the Rodeo baby, you’re gonna die…

March 8th, 2003 · No Comments

The 2003 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in town right now. In its wake it will leave the city with memories of performances by George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Julio Iglesias, Martina McBride, Robert Earl Keen, Lee Ann Womack and Cross Canadian Ragweed, Toby Keith, Clay Walker, Clint Black, Jerry Jeff Walker, Brooks & Dunn, Alabama, Ray Charles, Ronnie Milsap, Pat Green, Joe Diffie, Mark Chestnutt, Tracy Lawrence, Intocable and Los Tres Amigos featuring Little Joe, Roberto Pulido, Ruben & Rocky Hernandez, Phil Vasser, Jamie O’Neal, LL Cool J, Ashanti, Bon Jovi, and ZZTop.

All in a span of about three weeks, a different band playing every night. Seriously.

This annual event brings this city to a grinding halt–it seems all that is talked about is “goin’ to the rodeo” or bar-b-que cookoffs. Companies have “Go Texan Day,” which is an excuse for those interested parties to dress up in their finest country attire and compare their ostrich boots to their co-workers’ paltry Justin ropers. At the beginning of the rodeo, a group that calls themselves the trailriders travels down the already insanely-congested freeways in their horse-drawn covered wagons, leaving behind them a trail of horse droppings for the rest of us to drive through (typically in the rain).

This, in one of the largest cities in the United States.

I bring this up to give you insight into where I live and the type of stuff that goes on in the mainstream here in Houston. However, this is a cosmopolitan city and everyone here doesn’t wear cowboy hats, drive trucks, and have pieces of straw poking out of their slack jaws.

If you’re still reading this, welcome to Houston Calling. You either don’t have a lot to do or are very interested in music–or maybe both. Regardless, thanks for reading this far. Just to let you know, I don’t like the aforementioned bands (well, older ZZTop is good), and I promise to TRY not to mention country music again (exception: Johnny Cash). Anyway, a friend recommended I do this column (he does Atomic Ned, which also graces this website). I thought I’d jump at the chance to bombard you good people with my musings on music.

Houston, Texas. Population: millions. Good bands: not so many.

Most musicians know that to make it in the state of Texas, Austin is more than likely your best bet. They have South By Southwest, and therefore most of the credibility. Sure, we have ZZTop, Geto Boys, The Hunger, and Destiny’s Child, but overall Houston bands don’t get much national exposure. A lot of the time, the good national acts that actually venture into Texas on their tours only play Dallas or Austin. What does this say about our city? I don’t know. And I guess it really doesn’t matter. Unless the Next Big Thing(TM) comes out of Houston, I assume the status of things won’t change much. The rodeo’s a big deal though. But enough of that.

I would like to mention a group of individuals who have taken it upon themselves in the past few years to bring about a change in the Houston scene on their own terms. This is a group called Hands Up Houston, which promotes itself as a “booking collective.” This may be nothing new to you, but it was when I first heard of it. In Houston it is a concept that is way overdue.

These guys bring bands to town that otherwise might just play in Austin or maybe not at all. Bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Rival Schools, BRMC, Aeroegramme, Interpol, The Warlocks, Low, and many more have been to town as result of their efforts. You can view a list of all of the gigs they’ve sponsored at their website: www.handsuphouston.com.

I will be interviewing these gents for a future edition so please make sure you come back and visit often. I plan to have at least a couple of entries each week, including interviews with various musicians.

Thanks. Bye for now. Please feel free to email me with questions, comments, or feedback.

Also, Now Playing in my iPOD: Do Make Say Think — & Yet & Yet

Tags: Music