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"Basically I've been bugged to do this for a long time," says Wertheimer, who has owned the 43-year-old Austin hot spot since 1987, "to give a little flavor of what we have here in Austin in Houston."

Once Austin club manager Pete Gordon relocated here in December, Wertheimer says, going forward with the plan became easy. With help from area investors, Wertheimer purchased the space in March, though he won't say for how much. Gordon will be head honcho.

Born and raised in nearby Rosenberg, Wertheimer says every time he comes back to this area for a visit he finds himself scrounging for decent roots music. "There's a void in what I look for when I go out."

Houston's CC will be "an export business of Austin," he says. Houston's calendar will resemble Austin's, though Wertheimer is not sure whether Houston's club will be open six days. "I'm not familiar with the nocturnal habits of Houstonians," he says. "In Austin, you can go out every night of the week."

Damnations TX, Dale Watson and Jimmie Vaughan have already been penciled in as inaugural springtime headliners.

Dial-A-Rap

Some of the best commercial radio in Houston happens at The Box. And it happens when the "hot" hit singles stop.

During various on-air interviews with local and national acts, and specifically during DJ Mad Hatta's daily afternoon show, freestyle rapping, or ciphering, takes place. It's unrehearsed and exhilarating -- and as close to live, engaging radio as Internet-generation listeners can get.

Every weekday, from 5:30 p.m. till about 5:40 p.m., area listeners phone Hatta's show and freestyle over in-house beats. Hatta takes at least three calls, passes judgment, then gives the winner a $50 savings bond. "Roll Call" is one of the station's best-known bits.

Touring acts or rappers are also usually allowed (or, more to the point, expected) to freestyle. Last Thursday during DJ T. Gray's nighttime slot, national talent Common delivered a Houston-specific rhyme that probably earned him points among those unfamiliar with his name or work.

The phenomenon overall is a nice blend of talk, music and live performance energy. Houston radio could stand more of it.

E-mail Anthony Mariani at anthony.mariani@houstonpress.com.

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