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He was a blues slinger then. Not anymore. "I got sick of playing mediocre, half-assed blues for drunken audiences," Hendrix says. "There are legends out there -- and then there are cats like me. I mean hey, I like to consider myself a picker or whatever, but sometimes you gotta quit kidding yourself and say, 'Look, I could spend my whole life trying to bend that note in two, but Stevie Ray Vaughan wannabes are coming age 14 now."
After releasing an EP in this blues-rock vein, Hendrix released the alt-country Smashed Hits in 2000, from which KPFT DJ Roark Smith has been heavily spinning the rollicking rocker "Yellowhammer." "We didn't know Smashed Hits was gonna do what it did," Hendrix says. "It was just an example of 'Goddammit, I turned 30, I'm gonna make a record, and I'm gonna make it my way.' And some weird things happened. I didn't get any Grammy nominations or anything like that, but I did get some radio play."
Hendrix is hoping to build on the small success of Smashed Hits with San Jacinto. First, about that title. Is Hendrix a Texas history buff? "Dude, if you wanna know the God's honest truth, I named it that just 'cause it sounded so ZZ Top," he admits. "You know? Degüello, Fandango, San Jacinto "
And there's a bit of extreme Top-style songwriting on the album, too, though Hendrix is even more leeringly crass (in a good way) than the tiny aged combo from the land of the bluebonnets. Here's a sample of lyrics from "My Favorite Waitress": "She's got big boobies / likes dirty movies / she can suck a golf ball through a garden hose / shaves her beaver / I'll never leave her / just get her wasted and it's anything goes."
The description shows this waitress is also capable of "[driving] you all the way to crazy and [making] you walk back home."
Other highlights include a perfecto cover of the Fleetwoods' 1959 doo-wop No. 1 "Mr. Blue" (complete with wah-wah chorus by a vocal group Hendrix has dubbed the Moron Tabernacle Choir), the heart-tuggingly pretty, Mexican-tinged "Pale Blue Eyes" and -- throughout -- the stellar, ambient steel playing of Susan Alcorn. Her impromptu intro to "Mr. Blue" will shiver your timbers.
Hendrix hasn't quite finished the album, and he's hoping this show will help to that end. "As you know, Capitol hadn't picked it up yet, and I have to pay for this album myself and raise a family and all that," Hendrix says. "Basically, this is a benefit for Joe Omelchuk, the sound guy at Rudyard's. He engineered the album. He worked really hard on the album, and he's not like, 'Dude, where's my money?' But that day will come."
The gig is also a showcase debut for M. Martin's Earthwire Records, the label arm of his Webcasting outfit, on which the official debut of Little Joe Washington is slated for imminent release, as is a rerelease of the Schwartz/Hendrix/Kool B collabo. Invites to the after-party will be available to all comers to the Hendrix gig.
Hendrix is hoping to have San Jacinto out by the end of the year. He's also hoping to elevate Houston's perception of him somewhere close to the current reality. He clearly ain't the half-assed blues cat of the old Boat Yard days. "I want this to be my 'Hey, look at me!' show," he says. "I'm really gonna swing for the fences on this gig."
Should be a wacky-doodle dandy evening, for sheezy.
The hepatitis C-ravaged liver of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill has responded well enough to treatment for the band to resume touring. Top heads to Europe for 21 shows next month. "I'm living proof that hepatitis C can be contained and ZZ Top cannot," Hill said in a statement. (Racket is sick of that "lil' ol' band from Texas" sobriquet. Is Bushwick Bill a lil' ol' gangsta rapper from Texas?) Next year the small mature group from the Lone Star State will release their 14th studio album Congrats to former Houstonians and current Austin residents Charalambides. The psych trio has signed to Kranky Records, a Chicago label that experimental rockers Godspeed You Black Emperor!and Duluth sadcore maestros Low already call home Believe it or not, downtown Beaumont is said to be booming. The formerly moribund center of "the armpit of Texas" is now home to the Crockett Street Entertainment District, which consists of 11 clubs housed in historic buildings, one of which is the only Antone's nightclub franchise in the world. (Antone's founder Clifford Antone is originally from nearby Port Arthur.) While Racket is hardly recommending even an allegedly revitalized Golden Triangle as a vacation spot, a viable Beaumont scene would make for some convenient gigging for local bands.
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