Thanks, Houston

What we appreciate most this year.

 Fitzgerald's and Band Camp

I'm thankful for two things in Houston: The Fitzgerald's open mikes on Wednesday nights and Bandcamp's Houston search tool, because I like to feel like I am Al Percolo from The Scout, that 1994 movie with Albert Brooks as a minor league baseball scout. The Fitz open mikes always have someone fun, interesting or cringe-worthy, but mostly they are all hardworking and unique. Mostly, I said. My favorite right now is solo act Ross Puryear, who does these really grungy ballads on a keyboard. His takes on Townes Van Zandt's "Waitin' Around to Die" and even Joan Osborne's "One of Us" are worth the hassle of looking for parking around White Oak on busier nights.

Illustration by Monica Fuentes/Killa Kyleon photo by Marco Torres

The fun thing about Bandcamp is that you can find these weird musical projects from people who have little intention of anyone besides themselves and their friends hearing what they recorded. It also makes me happy that so many people are actually making art for themselves in their spare, or probably even company, time. With the boom in iPad-aided home recording, I can only expect to keep finding more gems. Craig Hlavaty

Local Treasures

I'm thankful for Dan Electro's Guitar Bar and Bob Edwards, who provide a venue for unique local treasures like Beans Barton and Teri Greene; Pete Gordon, John Smith, Tomas Escalante and Donna LaMel, and The Big E at the Continental Island; Omar and Jagi for the reinvigoration of Fitz; Roger Wood for being like a perfectly calibrated compass to the rich blues and zydeco history that if you aren't celebrating, you should go to confession and repent for ignoring; and Tom McLendon and the Big Easy for keeping the door to the blues open in this town and for treating the musicians right.

I'm thankful for the Miller Outdoor Theatre, for the quality and diversity of its always-free shows; little venues like West Alabama Ice House, Under the Volcano, Blanco's, Leon's, Brasil, Anderson Fair; the hula-hoops and Mexican food at Last Concert Cafe; the Houston Blues Society for its unquestioning support of blues music, blues musicians and Houston's blues heritage; and amazing sidemen like Wayne "Animal" Turner, William Hollis, Little Joe Frenchwood, Sparetime Murray and hundreds of others who are the best players in town but who are never mentioned when we do the Music Awards, because they don't campaign.

Finally, I'm thankful for the two-steppers and swing dancers who show up at the little joints and keep them alive and enjoyable; and to KTSU for keeping the ocean of soul alive. William Michael Smith

A Strong Year

This year, local musicians gave Houston Press music writers great content, all year long. Anyone who says that the local music scene is comatose must not be attending the same shows as me. Two thousand eleven was a year of releases and victories for Houston bands and artists. There were a few record releases that are still in my regular rotation: Something Fierce's Don't Be So Cruel, Cop Warmth's Die Slow, The Mahas' Dead of Night and The Energy's Get Split. There was even a cassette comeback with White Crime and Noguey releases through the genesis of the tape label Bummer Tapes.

There were a number of firsts for myself as well as the Houston Press, including the inaugural BestFest. I was also introduced to a few new bands over the past ten months. Psychic Palms, Mikey & The Drags, Noguey, and Peloton all dependably played shows all over town, most for free. Thanks, guys, for making it fiscally possible for me to come to at least three shows a week.

I feel a strong tide coming in for local music, strengthened by a force full of booking agents, promoters, venues, graphic artists, blogs, fans, musicians, artists and labels. For this, let's join hands and give thanks. Everyone deserves it. Allison Wagoner

Did You Hear?

Did you hear the dusty, salt-of-the-earth aggression of Delo's Hood Politics Vol. 2? Did you hear the syrupy chomp of Killa Kyleon's Candy Paint-N- Texas Plates 2? Did you hear the agro freedom rally of B L A C K I E's True Spirit and Not Giving a Fuck? Did you hear the anything that Jack Freeman did? Did you hear MC Beezy and Rai P's "Swagged Up I Be Kill­in'"? Did you hear Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy)'s Inside My Mind? Did you hear hasHBrown's Relationsh*t? Did you hear the nonsensical fury of Dante Higgins's "Blow Up"? Did you hear Kyle Hubbard's "It's Making Sense"? Did you hear Doughbeezy's "Pass the Swisher"? Did you hear Slim Thug and the suddenly unstoppable Boss Hogg Outlawz? Did you hear Rob Gullatte's "Trill Hip-Hop"? Did you hear Kirko Bangz's "Drank in My Cup"? Did you hear the belligerence of the super-villain Propain? Did you hear Show? Did you hear Thurogood or The Niceguys or Tana? Did you hear Tawn-P's The Wakeup Kiss? Did you hear Trae's Street King or Quis's 16 oz? Did you hear Preemo's The Magic Bullet? Did you hear Killa Cal-Wayne? Did you hear T.H.E.M.? Did you hear MisFit Crazy8? Did you hear Eskabel? Did you hear H.I.S.D.? Did you hear Fat Tony? Did you hear O.N.E.? Did you hear DJ Mr. Rogers or OG Ron C or Candlestick or Ebonix or Xplicit? Did you hear... Shea Serrano

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That must be great to enjoy the music camp there in person. Oh, pretty inspiring!

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