Houston Calling

Sad state of affairs in Houston music

May 16th, 2006 · 5 Comments

Forgive me if you’re one of the few Houstonians who actually bothers to go out on at least a semi-regular basis to see local bands play, but this past Thursday night proved to me once again that the majority of people in this city are much too apathetic when it comes to supporting local musicians.

Two of the best bands this town has to offer (and I am not solely basing that on my opinion) played together at a small club yet it was barely packed. This time, there’s no blaming sporting events, the weather or humidity, or anything really. There is no excuse why the bar wasn’t swamped with people — these are established bands with good followings and great reputations. It’s pathetic, really. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but Houston musicians deserve our support.

To hear a musician talk about how he or she can’t pay the bills or is continually broke or or going to have to eat ramen, Taco Bell, or [insert your least favorite fast food here] is a shame. Especially when those same musicians have released incredible albums that deserve to be heard outside the relative comforts of Houston. It’s sad.

And sure, the same musicians could go out and get what some might call “real jobs,” but to ask someone to sacrifice their dreams and goals simply to conform to an ideal is absurd, in my opinion. Also absurd is the fact that almost any decent band in Houston can drive a couple of hours in practically any direction and play to packed clubs and — get this! — even hear their songs on local radio. I know, it’s a novel concept… But an hour or two a week on public radio or the local “alternative” station in Houston just doesn’t count anymore. Good local music is out there and Houston needs to support it, nurture it, and earn the national attention that Austin and Dallas get. A ZZ Top here and a Blue October or The Hunger there won’t make it happen. There is simply no reason that these cities hog the spotlight when Houston has great bands as well — it’s very telling that bands have to leave Houston to make any sort of progress, career-wise.

Of course, I am not referring to the hip-hop scene — it does fine on its own.

Houston is about money — always has been, always will be (since I doubt there will be any sort of oil bust anytiime soon, judging from my gas bills). Maybe people here are too focused on raking in the dough, worrying about the trendy club du jour, or their clothes or hair. Maybe there’s simply too many choices? Who knows?

The reason Houston Calling exists is to help spread the word about local bands. Sometimes it just seems pointless — which is what I can only assume local bands think when they’re playing a cheap gig at a hometown bar and it’s not packed.

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Tags: Music

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff // May 16, 2006 at 9:41 am

    Preach it, Dave. Preach it! I was at rehearsal on Thursday, but STILL managed to get out afterward – not to the show in question, but to another one. I am 36-year-old, co-own my own business and juggle full-time music projects, yet I can still find time to make it out to shows. The excuses are abundant, but the reality is that Houstonians aren’t self-motivated when it comes to the arts. They have to be pushed and, for popular music, that means airplay…something we just don’t get. Thanks to folks like you, we have at least SOME voice. Keep speaking the truth.

  • 2 Gary // May 16, 2006 at 10:07 am

    What time did the show start? That’s a big issue with me on weeknight shows. I’m not going to be out late when I have to go to work the next morning. If they would start around 8 or 8:30, I could go, but if they are going to start at 10, forget it.

  • 3 Susan // May 16, 2006 at 11:43 am

    I’m afraid I’m with Gary on this one. I no longer go to weeknight shows because they start too late. It’s a shame because those are the nights with the least competition with other events and commitments.

  • 4 Jeff // May 16, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    You know I’m always with you, G-Man, but that doesn’t account for younger folks. When I was 21 and in college, I’d go out pretty much any and every night of the week. There are PLENTY of younger people here in Houston who either don’t have to get up or have the energy to go out and still make it to work.

  • 5 DAC // May 16, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    The time issue is a good point. I’ve avoided many a show for the same reason, but more often than not, when I do go I never regret it the next day. For people who live outside the city a bit I understand not coming in 30 minutes for a show on a weeknight. But what if it was some big-name band? Would that change anything? Surely people have come into town or stayed out later than normal on a weeknight for “touring” acts…

    I think clubs should definitely have bands start earlier on weeknights but it doesn’t look like it’ll ever happen. It would be nice.

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