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Pop Moment

I skipped a poker game for the Houston Music Council's Meet the Press shindig at the Urban Art Bar last Monday night (and probably spared myself another $10 loss in so doing), but it turned out to be good fun of a different kind. The HMC had invited the usual lineup of local critics -- which means Rick Mitchell from the Chronicle, Claudia Perry over at the Post, Kimberly Stoilis at Public News, David Wildman from Music News, Gene Kelton from Texas Blues Magazine, Leon Beck from 93Q Magazine and myself.

We all showed up, except for Rick and Claudia, who have the good sense to ignore most local music anyway, and had a grand old time fielding questions from hippie promoter Wil Space. Space was fresh off the "victory" of having his recent Country Joe McDonald show at Dan Electro's covered in both PN and the Press, and every time some less fortunate local band member would ask one of us what to do to get more press (there was really only that one question), Space would slur out "Persistence!" from the back of the room, perhaps ignorant of the knowledge that if he had called me one more friggin' time about that hoary freakfest, I would have yanked the copy out of the paper just to spite him.

But it only seemed like Space was the only one vocalizing. Actually, there was a pretty broad array of bands in the room, most of whom seemed to think that press is their own personal key to success (it isn't -- I've had my name in print every week for two and a half years, and look where it's gotten me...), and almost none of them able to differentiate between an advertisement and editorial copy. "What should we send you to be considered?" was a common question with an easy answer (your music with a phone number and the name of someone I can call if the music interests me). Perhaps the second most popular question, which seemed terribly odd coming from folks who by-and-large had never bothered to actually contact any of us, was: "How often should we call you? We don't want to bug you." Which is a stupid question, since we're paid handsomely to be "bugged" by precisely that sort of thing, but Kimberly fielded that one most adroitly. "I'll tell you if you're bugging me."

HMC also took the opportunity to unveil the cover art for its upcoming HMC Compilation Volume II, with much hoo-hah about it being in color this year, and how the new look will cause the CD to leap out of the racks and into the hands of browsers everywhere looking for the Next Big Thing, which -- I hate to burst bubbles, but I saw the art -- simply isn't going to happen.

Anyhow, the panel eventually retired from the stage to a flood of business cards and demos and press kits from bands who don't feel comfortable with the mail, and we sat around drinking beer and schmoozing while the evening's post-show entertainment played. At which point one of UAB's bartenders decided to finally ask a question a critic knows how to answer. "Whatcha think of these guys?" he asked, with a conspiratorial nod toward the stage. "Well," I answered thoughtfully, "they suck."

This can't be the most satisfying way to get your name in print, but you do what you have to. Back on February 1, some schmo decided he needed just a little more audio equipment than he had, and stole the main house P.A. -- mixing console, effects unit, CD player, tape deck and monitors -- from Fitzgerald's. Apparently the thief threw the equipment over the railing of Fitz's second floor into the bed of his truck and then drove away. Apparently, everyone in the club was nodding off at the time. Except Dive's Simon Reynolds, who chased the crook. Reynolds didn't catch him, but did get a description and a license plate number that so far, haven't helped local police find the guy. So. Come Sunday, February 19, Fitz regulars I End Result, Non Stop Bombers, Ground Turkey, Feed Lucy, Grey, Wishbone Bush, Hollow Point and other as-yet unconfirmed local acts will play a benefit at Fitz (we assume the club will be renting a P.A., and a security guard, for the occasion), to help raise money for a new P.A. Why the bands should purchase a club's P.A. is a bit beyond me at the moment, but when you're a young band in a town with as few legitimate places to play as Houston, you do what you have to do.

Release Me... I swear this is the end of this column's How to Get in Print theme, but even though it directly contradicts what I wrote last week (about not writing your own copy and expecting me to print it), I can't help myself. Thus, this recent missive from Linus: "Brad Tyer: Your new film reviewer sucks. By association, Your Very Own Soul is risking the eternal NASTY Flames from the lower Depths of Hell! Your Only Hope for redemption is to shamelessly Promote The Linus Pauling Quartet's Debut CD -- Immortal Chinese Classic Music on the fine Indie label Worship Guitars. Ye must Breathe the word 'Linus' with Every Breath and Chant 'CD Release Party w/the Keenlies @ RUDYARD'S FEB 17 (FRI).' YEA, THIS MUST BE DONE NOW TO SAVE THINE PUNY & PATHETIC SOULS. DO NOT QUESTION ME I AM INFALLIBLE." THIS FAXED FROM GUITARIST RAMON MEDINA, WHO'S A RICE WUSS. ANYHOW, IT'S REAL; I'VE HEARD THE TAPE, AND THOUGH IT'S MOSTLY UNDISTINGUISHED GUITAR NOISE, THERE'S AT LEAST ONE TUNE HERE ("LINUS THEME") THAT'S WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION.

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