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The 'Boys themselves are Houston music scene pillars. Bassist/singer Mike Manning, guitarist/singer Mike Bowen, drummer John Hessel and harp player Cliff Benoit have played in lots of bands over the past 20 or so years. Mudville, Pierre and The Night Cats, Lips and the Trips, Romeo Dogs and Lefty and the Rights are just a few. After getting together by chance in October '98, the 'Boys have been gigging at a Corvair's pace, hitting spots such as Rudyard's and the County Line. That show at Mary Jane's was, according to Manning, probably their second gig ever.

"It was a natural fit," says bassist Manning."It's comfortable. We're all big fans of Texas singer-songwriters. We all wanted to be in a good-song band. And we're also guys who like to play live and have fun. It's guys my age, who've heard it all, with a wealth of Texas influences. That makes it enjoyable."

"Me and Eddie," written and sung by Bowen, is a love song about a guy and his good bud. Pretty brave, considering the macho posturing that fills the pop music world.

Puttin' down the gavel: Hamell On Trial, live.
Puttin' down the gavel: Hamell On Trial, live.

"Yeah, [Bowen is] the ballad guy with a little bit of British invasion," says Manning matter-of-factly. "I'm more like the country guy," who writes songs about cheatin' women, cheatin' women and cheatin' women. "Together, I'd like to say we're an alternative country band that can rock with a blues harp player."

"Three chords and a cloud of dust," Manning says with a laugh. "That's what I like to call us."

Local MP3 Hit

Local ska band and multi-time Houston Press Music Awards winners The Suspects are No. 5 on Rolling Stone's Top 10 MP3 downloads this week. The space is dedicated to unsigned bands and their digital music. Go to www.thesuspects.com and hit the R.S. link to see for yourself.

Happy Jack

Another perennial HP Music Awards winner, Jack Saunders, is having his album-release party at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, on Friday, September 24, at 9 p.m. Cover charge is $8.

E-mail Anthony Mariani at anthony_mariani@houstonpress.com.

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