Sidecar Sideshow

Racket confronts his hatas at a show in his dishonor

Now, I'm fully aware that there are more of you out there who think I am a complete moron. There are probably thousands of you who think you could do a better job than I do; when I was in your shoes I used to think the same about other music editors, of this paper and many others. Feel free to call me out whenever you want to. Go ahead and hold more showcases like this -- I'll do my best to make it to each and every one. But if you do, at least make me feel ashamed of what I haven't been covering.

A "Don't Just Live With It" supporter on the Google group (check out post number 30 under "houston band meeting?" for the full story) summed it up best: "If you're gonna ping on the Press for not covering any clubs outside of downtown and for not covering any local groups," wrote Acrobat, "then you should at least book some local groups that don't suck in order to make your point instead of theirs."

The black shirt that had Sidecar supporters seeing red
The black shirt that had Sidecar supporters seeing red

And now for some real coverage of the local scene: Pam Robinson is on the move again. When she bought Mary Jane's from Toby Blunt last May, she said that a name/format change could be in the cards (see "Pamland Central," May 30), and she's doing both of those things this weekend. On January 11, Luxurious Panthers will inaugurate the newly remodeled Fat Cat's, Houston's first rockabilly/psychobilly club in a long time, if not ever.

Mary Jane's has for years been a de facto home for Hands Up Houston, the independent indie rock promoters and guerrilla bookers. Robinson will be easing them out of Fat Cat's over the next few months, so you can expect them to book more shows at the Proletariat and the Axiom.

But the displacement is only temporary. "Club number four is coming up," Robinson promises. "It'll be really good for Hands Up. It's gonna be geared for them and that kind of music." The as-yet-unnamed club will be located on or near Washington Avenue in the vicinity of Robinson's other venues: Silky's, Walter's and Fat Cat's.

But why make the switch at all? Mary Jane's seemed to be doing fine. "I want to gear it to more of an Adult Swim kind of crowd, and psychobilly's probably my favorite kind of music," replied Robinson. "I like Reverend Horton Heat, I like Southern Culture on the Skids…"

Are there enough demented hillbillies out there to keep such a club boiling? "There's not a lot of them in Houston, but there's a lot from Austin," she says. "I'm bringing them in from all over the place."

And it turns out that psychobilly/ rockabilly is going to be only a part of the mix. Blues acts such as Kim Wilson and Maria Muldaur as well as the neotrad jazz of New Orleans's Rebirth Brass Band will also be fare for Fat Cat's.

In short, the new Pamland Central will find the wilder and woollier acts hissing and spitting at Fat Cat's, local blues and soul staying at Silky's, the more laid-back roots acts grooving at Walter's, and indie rock popping up down the street. If we don't watch out, we may just have a real, live entertainment district on our hands, all of it belonging to one woman.

Still, it's a shame that Mary Jane's is no more. I know I'll miss the opportunity to hang with three different crowds -- blues, country, indie -- all in one convenient stop. But Robinson doesn't see it that way. She wants the cluster to offer three shades of roots music, not a little of this, a little of that, and a little of the other. Also, with the Satellite's shutdown last week -- rumor has it that the building soon will be housing a hair salon -- Robinson sees a rock-based void on Washington. (By the way, one ex-Satellite co-pilot has already landed on her feet. Robinson has hired former FabSat bar manager Donna LaMel to fill similar duties at Fat Cat's.) And since Mary Jane's is long overdue for a cosmetic makeover, Robinson felt it was time to go whole hog and retire the club.

There were pressing marital reasons for the change as well. "I'm happily married and I want to stay that way, and my husband doesn't like the name Mary Jane's, and I don't give the big guy enough, so I'm giving him that one."

Robinson believes Fat Cat's is the perfect name for a club in a city that keeps on racking up "ample" awards from national mags. "We just got the title fattest city," she says. "We might as well have Fat Cat's, you know? Tie it in to that scene. Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat. Have another chicken-fried steak…"

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