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Most of the time Coley crafts her tunes curled up in bed with her guitar. For performance, she likes Main Street Crossing and Dosey Doe, big venues for other northern acoustic acts like Kathryn Hallberg and Mason Lankford. Coley enjoys the incredible sound engineering and clarity available at the spots, which is important for her as a lyricist.

Good War Story

Shelee Coley says she fell in love with Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" at an early age.
Courtesy of Shellee Coley
Shelee Coley says she fell in love with Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" at an early age.
Willie D
Willie D

"Hmm...does sibling war count?" she asks. "My sister and I have had some pretty good knock-down drag-outs. One year at Thanksgiving, there was a lot of wine thrown and people left before pie was served.

"There was no blood, but there could have been if my mother had not threatened us with our lives," she adds. "And yes, we were full-grown adults at the time and I think it had to do with the game 'Catch Phrase.' STUPID GAME!"

Why Do You Stay in Houston?

Coley actually headed out to Nashville to make her mark as a musician when she was a teenager. On a trip home one year, she found herself surrounded by people who made art, not just music, in the Houston scene, and it inspired her more than Nashville ever did. She's been here ever since.

Music Scene Pet Peeve

"That point when musicians start to get popular because of what they are doing well and then all the indie people start hating them because they 'sold out' or went mainstream," says Coley. "And the business people want to keep pumping them for more 'hits' or whatever and they start burning out.

"It is so hard as an artist to find the balance," she says. "We all want a certain amount of success, even if that is just having a steady stream of income to keep doing what we do...but nobody wants to be considered a sellout, either."

First Song You Ever Fell in Love with

"[Johnny Lee's] Lookin' for love in all the wrong places," Coley says of the Urban Cowboy tune. "I had it on a 45 record and would lie on the floor and listen to it over and over again when I was a kid."

Shellee Coley plays 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at La Carafe, 813 Congress.


A Life in Punk
Christian Kidd, singer of long-running Houston band the Hates, pens a memoir.

Bob Ruggiero

As the singer, guitarist and chief songwriter for the Hates — Houston's most enduring punk rock band and a local institution — Christian Kidd (nee Christian Arnheiter, Christian Oppression and Christian Anarchy) has seen a lot.

And as the band nears its 35th anniversary (with Kidd as the only constant), the man known even among non-music fans downtown as "the guy with the huge Mohawk" has put pen to paper for a memoir written with wife Alexis Kidd, Just a Houston Punk.

More a series of snapshots of his and the Hates' musical career than straight bio, it offers a lot of recollection and reminiscences of the city's music scene of years gone by, from clubs like the Axiom, the Vatican and Pik-n-Pak to bands that once gigged across the city with names like Legionnaire's Disease, Jerry Falwell and the Vibrating Crosses, and Chernobyl Sunrise. The book takes the Hates' story right up to the band's performances at recent Free Press Summer Fests.

"Some books are really boring that have all these details. I think people want to read about my time in the Hates and the city," Kidd says.

"I think it's really special that Houston had its own identity and underground scene for punk," he continues. "I mean, I'm not trying to slight that the Ramones and the Sex Pistols got big record deals, but they eventually became pop stars.

"We had this melting pot in Houston that was all artists and way-out people. And that's what was great about the Houston punk scene," adds Kidd. "It wiped the slate clean."

Now nearing 60 years of age and retired from his day gig working for the City of Houston's Building and Permits division, Kidd enjoyed looking back for the book, but is always on the hunt for the next Hates gig. But, as he points out, those in the punk scene could be just as strict in their outlook as fans of any other music genre, as Kidd saw when the Hates veered toward rockabilly at one point.

"I could go and on with so many stories of people who had bad reactions to that. People are territorial. You have to look and act a certain way," he says.

Of all the big names in punk, Kidd says the Sex Pistols — who he saw in San Antonio on their infamous 1978 Texas tour, right before they broke up – were the best.

"They took it to the hilt. They created the fashion, the politics and the sound," he says. "No one could top them."

In the book, he also laments the passing of the old-school Westheimer street festivals of the '70s and '80s, where curious suburbanites would descend on Montrose to witness Houston's other cultures of gays, drag queens, weirdos, space cases, burnouts, and half-naked guys with iguanas or snakes on their shoulders.

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