The Wreck of the Record Rack

Another local music institution bites the dust

But don't let it be said that Godwin doesn't have some fun memories. In 1995, Morrissey dropped by the Record Rack for an in-store appearance. "We had 3,000 people spending the night in our parking lot," Godwin says. "The line went six blocks down the street all the way to Richmond. It was unbelievable."

There was also a sense of, shall we say, exhilaration, when the store was visited by a certain band of muscle-bound men who liked to dress up. "There was nothing more exciting than having 500 queens in here all trying to blow the Village People!" Godwin says, laughing uproariously.

Now Godwin will be turning his attention to the other irons he has in the music-scene fire, such as running Numbers. But he's also considering a career change. "The new year in the music business is definitely gonna be interesting to watch," he says. "I'll probably be selling crack in the hood, though. You can't download that for free, and Best Buy won't lowball you on the price!"

Scuttlebutt Caboose

The bad news isn't confined to the Shepherd Square area. Mars Music, the instrument megastore with locations in Meyerland and Memorial, is also in the process of liquidation. According to employee John Egan and manager Steve Baker, the Houston stores were profitable. The problem was with many of the company's 39 other stores. "We were doing fine, that's the ironic part," says Egan. "The two Houston stores last year made 17 million bucks between them, so you can be sure somebody else is gonna come in -- one of the other big chains is gonna come in. There's been some talk that Sam Ash would come in at those locations, because they're already proven." Still, a lot of Mars employees -- many of them, like Egan, working musicians -- are at least temporarily out of a day job…Billy Joe Shaver will release Freedom's Child, his debut on Houston's own Compadre Records and his first album since the death of his son Eddy, at two shows on November 22. He's playing an in-store at Cactus Music and Video at 6 p.m. before trundling on down to the Mucky Duck. Freedom's Child was recorded in two weeks in Nashville with roots music producing whiz R.S. Field. Though the album doesn't reach the same heights attained by two of the records Billy Joe made with Eddy -- last year's harrowing The Earth Rolls On or the 1993 all-time classic Tramp on Your Street -- it still ranks among Billy Joe's best work and is one of the strongest country releases of the year. Cool tracks include the rockabilly tribute to Johnny Cash "That's Why the Man in Black Sings the Blues" and the timely remake of Tramp standout "The Good Ol' U.S.A.," a gently patriotic tune of a type the world could use more of. (Toby Keith take note.)…A nervous Little Joe Washington headed for the gig of his life last Thursday, when he got on a plane for the first time in his life and jetted off to Holland. There, the pint-sized bluesman played at the 23rd annual Blues Estafette in Utrecht -- Europe's blues event of the year -- in front of tens of thousands of people. Washington had San Antonio's famed West Side Horns (one of the late Doug Sahm's backing bands) at his side. Expect a full report when Washington comes home.

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