Lord of the Cover Bands

Lonnie Posey rules the retread roost

Chances are, if you've patronized one of the many clubs along the Richmond Strip, Barker Cypress or South Mason Road on a weekend, you probably heard a cover band playing a string of hits you grew up listening to. And if you heard a song you liked in a bar, and you were drinking, you probably got up from the stool and started dancing and singing along. Anyone would do that. That's why cover bands exist – to revive the songs of bands that have long broken up, died or gotten so big it would take a healthy chunk of money to see them in concert. Cover bands are an untapped market that often goes unnoticed. While patrons may be too forgetful (read: drunk) to remember the name of the band, club owners are hungry for live jukebox entertainment that keeps spirits high. And Lonnie Posey, executive director of Houston's Live Music, is there for them. Nobody knows the business of cover bands in Houston better than he does.

"It's interesting the way it goes, how a band goes from being in the garage to playing at clubs to becoming one of the top bands known in the city," says Posey, who personally scouts all the bands he deals with to make sure they're up to par. "I know if a band is able to hold a crowd all night long and if it's not. I'm the middleman, the guy that puts it all together and makes everything work."

Posey approached Wack about his business, which got started just eight months ago. He wanted a cover story. Well, that wouldn't fly, but we did find it interesting that there was one man responsible for this particular niche in Houston, one composed almost exclusively of cover bands.

Posey strikes a powerful pose.
Posey strikes a powerful pose.
For a mere $110, Jack will light up your night.
For a mere $110, Jack will light up your night.

With the help of talent buyer Dennis Lange, who took Posey under his wing for almost eight years, Posey was able to build a solid clientele. Because of what Posey calls Lange's "bad rap" around the city, he withdrew the partnership and ventured out on his own. Houston's Live Music's roster of bands is now more than 130 strong; they play at nearly 40 venues in and around Houston (not to mention Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and other, smaller Texas cities). Posey says his "state of the art" Web site,, cost many thousands of dollars, thanks to its large volume of content – profile pages, calendars, music and video for each and every band. "It's a work in progress," he says.

But music critics often neglect the cover band sect (with the exception of certain tribute acts, such as Super Diamond and the all-female AC/DC, Hell's Belles). Apparently we're making a mistake by focusing on acts such as Paul Wall, Slim Thug and even Blue October. According to Posey, Houston's biggest and most popular acts in town are Infinity's Twin and Citizen X (anyone?).

Then there's Love of Peace. "They do a variety, from the '60s all the way to the brand-new stuff that's on 94.5 right now. They do a little bit of everything," says Posey. "I like all the bands to be that versatile – to be able to do that and an acoustic show."

Ah, yes, to cater to your average Joe, you have to be diverse. Rock bands have to play a country song every once in a while, dance bands have to play a ballad –whatever will keep the crowd, the club owner and Posey happy. And plenty of upstart bands are looking for a break and getting their foot in the door with the Posey stamp of approval.

"In a lot of cases, they don't have to be that good. They could be a dance band and have so much energy, a singer that goes out in the crowd and gets everybody going, the musicianship can be secondary. Their energy can overpower the musicianship and be that good," says Posey. "That's why I go to see the bands live first, so I can see what they have to offer."

When many musicians start out, they play other people's music. Some go on to write original tunes and become struggling, self-maintained musicians, but some stick with what they know, opting to make a living off music, even though it's not exactly their own artistic property.

"There's a wind of change in Houston. It's not that old guy, or the other agents anymore – it's me. I'm the new kid on the block, and I'm booking 90 percent of the clubs, and I've worked hard to get to it," says Posey. "I don't mess with people that don't do what they say they're going to do. I'm bringing a whole new integrity to it."

Go for it, dude. Where there's demand, there will be supply. – Travis Ritter

Strange things happen when actors sing

In the wake of Jamie Foxx's Billboard-chart-topping Unpredictable and Sex and the City hunk John Corbett's solo album, it's easy to forget where the actor-turned-singer phenomenon truly began: with Jack freakin' Wagner! Here, Wack pits Jack against the poseurs.

Jack Wagner

Choice acting gig: Melrose Place (Dr. Peter Burns)
Music: Solo artist, four albums
eBay value: Lighting Up the Night (import CD), $110 Wagnerism: Originally tied to his General Hospital band, Riff Raff, Wagner broke free with that consummate '80s hit single "All I Need."

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