A redneck institution drowns in a flood of syrupy smooth jazz

"My whole scream about this thing from the very beginning has been either dive in and do it whole hog or do nothing," says Parsons. "And of course what they did was sort of dip their toe in and play just a little bit of this Texas country music, and it just didn't work. People need to get accustomed to the music, and they have been accustomed to the stuff that Nashville puts out. They weren't giving enough of the Texas country music for people to get accustomed to it, and now they're gone. And they deserve it, because they didn't do their jobs right. I told them right from the start that they would have to go 75 percent Texas and 25 percent Nashville, and they didn't."

Local country singer-songwriter Greg Wood doesn't think it would have worked even if Parsons's scream had been heard. He simply doesn't think Houston can support three full-time country stations anymore. "Houston isn't the same place it was 25 years ago," he says. "It's gentrified. In a bad way."

And indeed, Infinity's Houston-area vice president/general manager Laura Morris would seem to agree. "Houston is a diverse and very sophisticated town, and people are here from all over -- not just from the United States but also from around the world, and this station definitely speaks to that," she told Racket. And she's right. Smooth jazz does have mass appeal -- to people who don't really like music. As for sophistication, a truly cosmopolitan city, especially one in Texas, should be able to support the adventurous country station that KIKK never quite became and a real jazz station like KTSU. But the existence of a smooth jazz station does not enter into the sophistication equation. Most Kenny G. listeners of Racket's acquaintance are about as sophisticated as Boomhauer on King of the Hill. (One can just imagine the fast-talking ladies' man in his Mustang, tuning in The Wave for that special date.)

For Wood, the death of KIKK marks the end of an era. Even the station's billboards had a profound effect on him as a child. "I remember when I moved here from Kentucky and used to see those orange billboards with the boots," says Wood. "Those things proved to me that I was in another world. There was just something that was so redneck about that logo and those letters, and it's always stuck with me."

One is hard-pressed to imagine another wide-eyed newcomer being as impressed by a billboard for The Wave. It'll be just another piece of junk along the highway. Come to think of it, that's truth in advertising.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

Veteran local scenester and sound man Phil Davis was leaving Walter's on Washington three weeks ago on his motorcycle when he was knocked over by a hit-and-run driver in an SUV. His leg had to be amputated, but even that couldn't save his life. After two weeks in intensive care, Davis passed away on November 3. (The driver of the SUV remains at large.) The November 16 Cosmos benefit that had been planned to help defray his medical expenses will go on as scheduled. Davis's old employers the Romeo Dogs lead the music lineup, and there will also be a silent auction. Items up for bid include a leather bike jacket from Thunderbird's, a $300 Evans Music gift certificate, works of art by Sharon Kopriva, Ed Wilson and other local artists, and the legendary square toilet seat from the Cosmos restroom, among many other treasures. Proceeds benefit Davis's survivors…Mud. It's all around us lately, and you can't beat it. Resistance is futile. You can only join it. One way to become one with the stuff is to round up a team of six friends and play oozeball: coed volleyball in the mire. November 17 may be Sunday on the calendar, but out at the Harris County Fairgrounds (Houston Farm and Ranch Club, Highway 6 at I-10 West) it'll be just another Manic Mud-day as a bunch of sponsors and a select list of superior Houston bands converge in the muck to benefit the Houston Fire Department. Simpleton, the Hunger, Faceplant, Arthur Yoria, Overshot, Ethyl, the Custodians, Shawn Pander and Paris Green head the all-star lineup of up-and-coming bands that will serenade the swamp. The event will take place rain or shine, of course.

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