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Big mouth strikes again... It was too good to be true. A phone call conceding defeat; a broken, bitter DJ out of a job once again -- and before he could even mutter a single insult in Houston. Without question, the voice on my answering machine was that of John Wilbur, the latest on-air prospect of the Buzz (KTBZ/107.5 FM) in its continuing efforts to juice up the station's anemic modern-rock formula.

With all his mumbling and what sounded like a bad connection, it was hard, in spots, to make out exactly what Wilbur was saying, but he sure sounded beside himself. He went on about my recent mistreatment of him in Static (9/24); how my comments about his smarmy Whipping Boy persona had cost him a job at the Buzz -- just as his run-in with my music editor counterpart, Michael Roberts of Denver's Westword, had ended his career in that city. You could say his complaints insinuated some sort of smear campaign on the part of New Times, parent company for Westword and the Press, to keep him away from the airwaves. (Nice thought.) The whimpery, 20-second tirade was capped off by a snide sendoff, with Wilbur muttering, "Have a shitty life, asshole."

Alas, it was the phone message, not my life, that was full of shit. Then again, it could be that everyone's life is about to get shittier now that the Whipping Boy is working the nighttime shift at the Buzz. Wilbur started at the station September 28 -- a Monday. I discovered his message the day before, so I'm guessing he was already here in town when he made the call. All things considered, it was an effective hoax -- and an affecting performance. The other day, I phoned the Buzz to congratulate the Boy on his prank (and, you know, check on the livelihood and the family I supposedly ruined), but he never returned my call. So at least he's following Buzz policy.

Somehow, though, I doubt leaving an expletive-filled message with a member of the media the weekend before one's first day on the job falls under proper conduct in the Buzz employee manual. But heck, who knows? Maybe Wilbur is just the sort of simpering idiot savant the Buzz needs to help loosen its corporatized sphincter. Fabricating controversy, after all, is an art form all its own, and seeing as Wilbur must fancy himself a master craftsman in that medium, it's hard to know what this city is in for (or, for that matter, what Wilbur is in for). In any event, I've done my part. God help us -- and watch your back.

Release activity... Hats off to any and all aging artists willing to try to reinvent themselves -- especially those whose formula has grown as creaky and archaic as that of Houston's Ezra Charles. But last time I checked, Charles and his backup band, the Works, weren't much of a blues band. So while Charles's new CD, Texas-Style, may have a lot to say about his home state, it has virtually nothing new to say musically. Ezra's nimble command of the ivories aside, the Works are the not-ready-for-prime-time players in a city hardly lacking in headline blues talent. And Texas-Style proves that Charles may know how to throw a mean party, but he doesn't know a thing about misery.

No matter. Ezra and his Works took home this year's third-place award in the Houston Blues Society's first annual Regional International Blues Talent Competition, coming in just behind the Shadowcasters and first-place winner Leonard "Lowdown" Brown. Must have been a sorry competitors pool.

Latino rockabilly punks the Southern Backtones celebrate the release of Los Tormentos de Amor, their first full-length disc on local indie imprint Pinche Flojo, with a show Thursday at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. Also new on Flojo: Innocence Gone, the latest CD from power-garage rockers Latch Key Kids, who are busy touring the region.

Etc.... Earlier this week, local pirate station Montrose Radio (94.9 FM; formerly the Montrose Radio Collective) joined a host of other "micro-broadcasters" from around the country for a rally in Washington, D.C. The idea was to protest the Federal Communications Commission's longstanding oppressive policies on unlicensed frequencies and its stepped-up efforts of late to shut down renegade low-power stations. The pirate forces' weapon of choice? The First Amendment, naturally.

-- Hobart Rowland

Have a comment, tip, compliment or beef? E-mail Hobart Rowland at hobart_rowland@houstonpress.com.

 
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