Can a former pre-med student and an elementary school teacher find happiness together as a cutting-edge rock band? If you're talking about Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner -- the drums-keyboard duo known as Mates of State -- the answer is damn straight. With the release of Team Boo, the band's latest CD, the Mates have upped their cool quotient. Larger crowds are turning up to hear their infectious, swirling pop-rock, with its crisp, loud-harmony vocals. And get this fact straight: Although they're as talented a duo as the White Stripes, the Mates really are married.
In 1997, Hammel and Gardner were both attending college in Lawrence, Kansas, and playing guitar in the same going-nowhere band. Tired of band infighting, they struck out on their own, with Gardner playing a 1971 Yamaha Electone organ that Hammel found in her basement, and Hammel switching to drums.
"We got one song right away, then soon enough, it was five songs," Hammel says. He and Gardner are both lead vocalists, singing their harmony parts at equal volume. That's what makes their sound really kick ass.
Hammel says it's tempting to expand the band's roster so he can switch back to guitar and move around on stage rather than sit behind the drums. "I don't know, some people think we're this candy-ass married couple that can't rock out," he says, as Gardner snatches the cell phone away. "Hey, speak for yourself," she says. "I think we rock out as much as we can." 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 18. Fat Cats, 4216 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-869-5263. $10. -- Greg Barr
The Sam Houston Hotel's The Sam
A waitress I knew was in a jam. Her relationship with her alcohol-drenched, used-car salesman husband was, in her words, "a train wreck waiting to happen." She needed a drinking partner with a good ear, and I was only too happy to oblige. We plopped down on some rather cushy bar stools at the Sam Houston Hotel(1117 Prairie, 832-200-8800) and got down to business. The girl behind the bar, Joannie, recommended a drink aptly named the Sam. I turned my attention back to my friend. "He's drunk every night, he's a terrible father figure to my son, and on top of all that, with all this stupid medication he's on, I think his dick shrunk!" I choked when she said this, the bourbon spraying through my teeth right into her lap. "But you've been married more than eight years," I heard myself saying in response. "It's not like these issues just sprang up overnight." The irony of someone asking my advice about marriage was not lost on me, but I continued to listen to her ranting. After a while, something made me turn around, and with a feeling of disgust, I saw my car being ticketed. I laughed it off and ordered two more bourbons.
2-1/2 ounces Sam Houston bourbon 1-1/4 ounces Cinzano vermouth Candied cherry
Measure out bourbon and vermouth into cocktail mixer filled with ice. Shake gently and strain into martini glass. Garnish with cherry. -- J.W. CrookerOpen Up
Gallery openings are more about scene than scenery. Problem is, the scene is usually a bunch of fuddy-duddies standing around sipping wine from tiny plastic cups. But the folks at Mestizo Gallery are trying to think outside the box (of wine, that is) with their first opening, "Public Display of Affection." Free premium beer will be a-flowin' as the works of five emerging artists provide the backdrop for the sounds of Stude Jazz Group, the Stefan Schultz Trio, DJ Suma, DJ Joe B and Mr. Grinch. With the hipness quotient cranked up so high, searching for a potential nude model has never been easier. 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, February 14. 2121 Congress, suite C. For information, call 713-227-0256. $5. -- Keith Plocek
Tea and A
Leave your white gloves at home. The stylish crowd that hangs out at T Spot tea bar is way more likely to be seen having martinis at the Whiskey Bar than high tea at the St. Regis. This day-and-night spot has all the comforts of a high-end home (wireless Internet access, plasma TV, surround sound), plus reasonably exotic nonalcoholic beverages. T Spot's owners are hawking Chinatown's hit drink, bubble tea. The chilled tea drink with tapioca pearls might just have you spending more evenings with a clear head. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7 a.m. to midnight Fridays; 8 a.m. to midnight Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. 2444B Bolsover, 713-521-0710, www.tspotdrinks.com. Free. -- Lisa Simon