The Queen Bee

Pam Kelly hopes to get a Buzz going about local music

In other local radio news, Hot 97, the weakest of Houston's four hip-hop/R&B stations, dropped out of the race at noon on January 3 and became Country Legends 97.1. In what had to have been one of the most jarring transitions in the history of American radio, the station segued abruptly from songs by Jay-Z and Ja Rule to infraredneck David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name."

While the station's classic country format is hardly groundbreaking, it's nice to have around, and it seems a good business decision by station owner Cox Communications. For one thing, die-hard KIKKers will have a new preset. For another, the station's programming and geographical audience will finally match up. The signal from 97.1's transmitter -- located way up the Eastex Freeway in Cleveland -- starts to fade south of Washington Avenue and gets downright weak around the South Loop. Huge swaths of African-American Houston -- Missouri City, South Park, Fondren Southwest -- couldn't tune in to Hot 97, but people as far north as College Station could pick it up loud and clear. Racket is betting fans of Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash outnumber those who like to bust out the Outkast and Khia CDs in places like The Woodlands, Magnolia, Cut and Shoot and Splendora.

Memorial services were held last weekend for two local musicians who died very different deaths. Jazz drummer Rick Porter passed away of natural causes at the end of a long and well-spent life. Folk singer Colleen Cade died young as the result of two teens' moronic New Year's Eve "prank."

Cade, 28, was driving home in the wee hours of New Year's Day after playing a gig at Anderson Fair with her father. On Loop 494 near New Caney her Pontiac Firebird smashed head-on into another car and burst into flames. Rescue workers were unable to cut her free of the wreckage in time. Betty Arnold Burleson, the 43-year-old driver of the car Cade hit, was also injured in the accident but is expected to recover.

The reason for the collision? Orange traffic cones had been moved to redirect southbound traffic into the northbound lane. Ten minutes before the 4:40 a.m. wreck, a witness saw two teenage boys fooling around with the cones. The witness told a policeman when she arrived at the convenience store where she worked, but he got there too late to stop the senseless tragedy.

Cade often performed at Anderson Fair with her father, Bill Cade, and the duo recorded an album in 2001.

Rick Porter was a heavy cat, onstage and off. Over the course of his 57-year career, he drummed for giants like Charlie Parker, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Thelonious Monk, Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Lester Young, Bud Powell, Chet Baker, George Benson and Sonny Stitt. And some of his more than 1,000 compositions were recorded by Cannonball Adderley, Slide Hampton and Frank Foster. In the 1950s, he often played with Vinson and other Houston jazz monsters such as Kenny Burrell, Arnett Cobb and Milt Larkin.

Somehow, he also found the time to be a war hero -- he earned a Purple Heart as a paratrooper in Korea -- and an expert on corporate psychology, a field that occupied much of the last 26 years of his life.

Porter's widow and his many friends and fans gathered Sunday, January 12, at Cezanne for a memorial jam session.

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