Missouri Whirlwinds

The Domino Kings have trumped Texas on their bid for alt-country success

Newman brought the tape back to Missouri and handed it over to studio proprietor Lou Whitney, known as the guru of Midwest roots rock for his work with the Bottle Rockets, Syd Straw, Robbie Fulks, Wilco, Rex Hobart, Blue Mountain and a host of others. "Lou put the tape on and turned a few knobs and said, 'So you want it to sound like this, right?' "

Impressed, Newman and the Domino Kings recut the album with Whitney and put it out on their own. Then, after local lawyer and music buff Dale Wiley tried unsuccessfully to win the band a Nashville deal, he started Slewfoot Records to issue the group's second disc, Life & 20. It started winning the Domino Kings a national rep with critics and the alternative country crowd. (Today, Slewfoot has a roster of about a dozen bands.)

One place where the Domino Kings have found favor is here in the Lone Star State. By now they have enough of an audience and enough airplay on Texas music radio stations to be almost honorary citizens of our republic. (Of their next 21 gigs, eight are in Texas and 12 are in Missouri.) "Texas has done real good by us," Newman says appreciatively. He admits his band's success here was hard-won. "They've really put up with us is what they've done. They've let us come down there and establish ourselves, whereas you can't do that in a lot of other markets. We didn't just stroll into Texas and have good crowds that night."

Nelson (left): "You can't listen to Bill Monroe and KISS 
without wanting to kill somebody or have some kind of 
Nelson (left): "You can't listen to Bill Monroe and KISS without wanting to kill somebody or have some kind of derangement."


Thursday, February 12. For information, call 713-439-0072.
Blanco's, 3406 West Alabama

Newman is thankful for the acceptance here and elsewhere, given that the Domino Kings play the sort of country music that the mainstream of the industry has forsaken. "I love what I'm doing, and I'm happy with the way that I'm doing it," he says. "Ideally, there would be a lot more people happy with the way I'm doing it and willing to pay for it. But I didn't get into it for the money, I really didn't. And I'm still not into it for the money."

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