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The Anti-Clapton

Rocky Hill hopes to find a smooth patch on his rocky road

And what exactly was it that Hill absorbed from the blues masters? "I learned how to play craps and High Chicago."

Hill spent the '70s backing Lightnin' Hopkins on bass and finally played guitar at his wake. He also cut a couple of tunes with Townes Van Zandt and fronted his own band, often featuring a teenage Dallasite by the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan as his opening act. A recording session from that era -- the only one that captured Rocky at his best -- has yet to see release. And the albums he did release did little to further his career. So after the megaplatinum success of ZZ Top's Eliminator in 1983, Dusty started helping his big brother with the bills.

Rocky drank plenty of whiskey back then. But now he's screwed the cap on the bottle and re-entered the ring. "I'm just gonna try to play the goddamn thing," he says. "When I pick up a guitar, it's me against it. I still sound like Rocky Hill -- the anti-Clapton."

Scuttlebutt Caboose

The Boat Yard, Dennis Marshman's "musician's paradise" in Shepherd Plaza, was raided three weeks ago by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Marshman didn't have a liquor license, so patrons were encouraged (by handwritten signs posted in the toilets) to donate the price of a drink. "They sent in two undercovers on me," Marshman says. "And one Friday night five of 'em came in and made me pour out every damn bottle in the house. I told them about my donation policy, but they didn't believe that was good enough." Marshman says the Boat Yard is now BYOB. "I'm just trying to hang on and reopen, 'cause I don't know how to do anything else with myself," he says. "We're hoping to get a benefit going so we can stay open."… Nashville's Starlings TN, which sounds something like what would happen if Spiritualized's Jason Pierce produced the Will the Circle Be Unbroken sessions, are coming back to the Continental Clubon July 17. If you missed them last time through, and that includes all but about four of you, make sure you make it out this time for an evening of intergalactic hillbilly sounds, led by the otherworldly drone of Tim Stubblefield's ambient bowed mountain dulcimer… Garage popsters Dune*TXrelease Goldenarm at a July 12 gig at Rudyard's. The trio takes the stage at 11 p.m…The free, weekly outdoor music series "Live At Chuy's" is moving from Thursday to Wednesday evenings for the rest of the summer. Former Houstonian Miss Lavelle White inaugurates the new night on July 10 at the Tex-Mex restaurant's Richmond Strip location; Shake Russell and Dana Cooper follow on July 17, ex-Groobee Susan Gibson on July 24, and Aztexon the last day of the month…Many an American act has crossed the ocean to win the fame denied them at home. Jimi Hendrix and the Strokes, to name but two, scuffled through years of fan indifference and press apathy before jetting off to London and instant celebrity. Houston's Raindance is the latest band to try this time-honored tack, with one significant difference: Instead of London, the band has chosen to jump-start its career in Uzbekistan, a central Asian republic near Afghanistan. There, in the capital city of Tashkent, the band gigs at embassies, private parties, international hotels and for organizations like the Association of Tennis Players. The self-described "Texas Gulf Coast Rock and Rollers" are also hoping to become "the first rock and roll band to play Afghanistan." Raindance is led by Wil Van Winkle, formerly of local bands Bad Influence and The Legend Thereof, and his group is one of only four Uzbekistan-based entrants on MP3.com. There's also Setora -- an all-female vocal group whose synth-pop hits "Qaytgin," "Uchkuduk" and "Yosh Tokma Osmon" have earned them the "Uzbek Spice Girls" sobriquet -- and a rock band called Manic Daemons, whose humble leader introduces them as postmodernistic artists. "Our lyrics are extremely deep -- seriously," he writes. "I know you won't like our music since the greatest art is the most hard to be understood." And with lyrics (in passable English) like "I want you, I want you to be here right now, I need you," you know exactly what he means. About not liking his music, that is…RIP, John Entwistle and Ray Brown. So far, it's been a bad summer for touring bass players.

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