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The Judy's Come Back

Just in time for SXSW, the Pearland New Wavers brush off the mothballs

"It's cool to see there's been older people who've come before you and actually succeeded in it," he says. "And you don't have to stay in town and go to one of the six Sonics every Friday and Saturday night."
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Especially now, with their albums finally available on CD and their third live appearance in 15 years in the very recent past — their Austin Music Awards set will, in all likelihood, be on YouTube before this issue reaches newsstands in Pearland — plus the momentum that comes from finding out kids half your age still dig music you recorded more than a quarter-century ago, why don't the Judy's keep this going for a while? Among their fans anyway, the mere possibility of the Judy's playing live again isn't that far removed from, say, the Pixies, Police or Van Halen reunion tours. So what's stopping them?

"Life," Walton and Bean offer simultaneously.

Jeff Walton (left) and Dane Cessac revisit the Judy's Wonderful World of Appliances.
Daniel Kramer
Jeff Walton (left) and Dane Cessac revisit the Judy's Wonderful World of Appliances.
David Bean lets his fingers do the walking.
Daniel Kramer
David Bean lets his fingers do the walking.

If life didn't make the Judy's into the kind of rock stars their Texas fans always thought they deserved to be, it didn't exactly deal them a bum hand, either. Overall, they're pretty satisfied with where they wound up.

Walton made the cover of the Sunday Houston Chronicle business section in October 2004 for his work as a TV and film composer; his well-appointed studio is decorated with memorabilia like a Planet of the Apes trashcan (his all-time favorite film score) and a French poster for Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl. Cessac, who now lives in the Hill Country community of Driftwood, followed his culinary muse through opening and closing a Clear Lake-area restaurant to earning a position as the number one chef at the main Whole Foods Market in Austin. Two hundred people work for him. Bean lives in Houston, but commutes to teach upper-elementary math and science in — where else? — Pearland. He still writes music, but won't say much else except that it's very "personal."

Since they played that cancer benefit for their friend a few years ago — which also inspired them to finally take the necessary steps to get their albums remastered and re-released — the Judy's have continued to collaborate off and on; they recently recorded the theme for a Japanese cartoon called Sergeant Frog.

"It never feels weird," says Walton. "It always just feels like we're doing what we know how to do. It's never really gone away."

The main thing preventing them from playing out again (besides Cessac living in Austin) is simply the amount of legwork and preparation required to stage one of their shows, which were always closer to theatrical productions — a milk-bottle conveyor belt and someone dancing onstage in a cow costume, for example — than three guys walking onstage and playing music for an hour. Short a production manager or any other sort of help, all those duties would fall to the band members. As they have before, including in a pair of previous Press articles, they say they'd be open to the idea given the proper circumstances. But what those circumstances might entail is anyone's guess — this is a band, after all, that even bristles a little at the very notion they're "back together."

"Things happened over the years and people left, but we still see each other through the years so much I don't think of it that we're not together," says Bean. "I mean, I don't think we're together, but I don't think we're not together either."

chris.gray@houstonpress.com

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