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News from Nowhere

Clearing the desk for the New Year, and other excuses for a column

There's no particular reason why things have to be this way, but with the year drawing to a close, it seems like all the news is broken up into tiny little bits. So instead of real stories or anything genuinely compelling, there's a pile of news bites on my desk that need to be cleared out of the way so that when things get cranking again in a few weeks, I won't have to mess with them anymore. And if that's not incentive enough to read on, I don't know what is. Maybe you'll see your name.

You take your promotional opportunities where you can find them in this town, and Budweiser seems to throw at least as much money at local bands as any other corporate entity. This time, the brewer has teamed up with GHS brand guitar strings to produce a CD, String Together by name, comprising singles from 15 bands of diverse styles to make the point that GHS strings can be used to play, duh, all different kinds of music. You care because one of those bands is local funk mainstay Global Village, whose "Third World America" is one of the CD's offerings. You can't find it in regular music stores, but if you're a guitar geek or browser, you may see a copy starting early this coming year, when the CD will be sent out to some 5,000 GHS distributors for sale.

Banana Blender Surprise News... Okay, the 7-inch vinyl single, "Chester" backed with "Leftover Lunch," was released back in September, but I haven't mentioned it before, so take a peek at Sound Exchange if you're looking for a copy. I can't count myself among the band's original fans, but I can say their musicianship grows on you. BBS opens for Mojo Nixon at the Satellite Lounge Friday the 30th, which gig doubles as a CD release party for Live at the Black Cat, recorded at the Austin club that serves as Banana's home away from home. The boys are also holding court at The Pig "Live" New Year's Eve, after which they're planning to enter the studio to cut a full-length, vinyl-only album for release, the band predicts, in March or early April.

Beef Masters News... Nacogdoches' Beef Masters are playing New Year's Eve in Houston as well, and they also are pushing new product. In this case, the CD is called Psilocybin Rodeo, and unlike the Beef Masters' debut, Secret Place of Wonderment, which came out under the auspices of Houston-based Sound Virus Records, this one's self-produced. The Beef Masters ring in the new year at Emo's, and you can look for a CD review in this paper shortly thereafter.

And speaking of former Sound Virus bands... Aggro glam punker Spunk has moved off the label as well, inking a deal with Dallas-based Last Beat Records, home of Pervis and others. The press release from Last Beat predicts a January release of Spunk's first 7-inch single for the new label, before the band heads off on another legendary West Coast tour.

More Releases: Local blues veteran Bert Wills, not to be confused with the long dead and stylistically dissimilar Bob, has a new CD out on the Bellaire-based GoldRhyme label, and it's called Mr. Politician Man. It ought to be in your local record stores by now, so take a look-see.

Something Completely Different... At present, there are probably just as many rock and roll bands being introduced to just as many fans through snowboarding and skateboard videos as there are through MTV, so it's only appropriate to bring two complementary subcultures together in one show. That seems to be the idea behind the tour kickoff gig featuring Southern California's Organ Grinders at Fitzgerald's on Thursday the 29th. Yeah, the Organ Grinders will play the standard set, but when they're not playing, focus your attention on the half-pipe ramp that I'm told will be set up on the floor at stage front. That's where famous skateboarding guy Tony Hawk will be showing off alongside various local skateboarding notables. You may have seen Hawk strutting his stuff in recent television commercials for Gatorade and Campbell's soup. Or you can see him Thursday night.

This is the last New Year's Eve announcement I'll make. I promise. Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds shares a double bill with Feo y Loco at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar. As far as related band news goes, you've got Barton's new book, the self-explanatorily titled Lines and Lyrics -- a 70-plus-page booklet filled with Barton's drawings and the words to his songs. You can buy this curious memento at Bi-Ped shows for $20 and give it to those hard-to-buy-for folks as a late Christmas gift. As for Feo, that time honored confabulation has a new record ready for stores as well, and it's called Politically Incorrect -- The CD.

And the battle of the local compilations continues with this notice from the Houston Music Council, announcing the commencement of work on the HMC Volume II comp due out... Well, it doesn't say when. It does say, just in case you were wondering, and a bit jealously at that, that: "This compilation differs from the Justice Records compilation in two ways. First, it will feature musical styles ranging from world beat by the likes of Zwee and the Graveberries, to lyricist/folks singers [sic] such as Doug Clark-Steiger. Secondly, bands are placed on the CD on a first-come, first-serve basis. There will be approximately 16 bands on this CD, with several slots still available." So, if you've got $200 and Justice turned you down, give the HMC a call.

 
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