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One More Day?

Free Press Summer Fest is itching to expand.

Free Press Summer Fest

Inside is a hand-built stage and small art gallery.

Free Press Summer Festival has decided it wants to grow.

This past Monday, the popular Houston outdoor music festival — which drew an estimated 81,000 people to Eleanor Tinsley Park in June 2012, the first sellout in its five-year history — posted a video urging fans to e-mail their City Council representative asking his or her blessing on extending the FPSF curfew, and "possibly adding an extra day."

A healthy crowd like this one this year has Summer Fest organizers exploring adding another day.
Marco Torres
A healthy crowd like this one this year has Summer Fest organizers exploring adding another day.
Eastdown Warehouse has fit right in to the Warehouse District since opening about three months ago.
Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Eastdown Warehouse has fit right in to the Warehouse District since opening about three months ago.
Eastdown's spacious interior resembles a more upscale version of Walters.
Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Eastdown's spacious interior resembles a more upscale version of Walters.
Historically, pipe organs like this one have been a not-so-silent killer.
Nico Retro via Flickr
Historically, pipe organs like this one have been a not-so-silent killer.
Willie D
Peter Beste
Willie D

"More hours means more jobs to our local economy," the video's narration says. "To that end, Free Press Summer Fest is looking to help bolster the local economy and bring our audience an even more diverse lineup and less congestion, and to create more jobs, more revenue and more visitors to the city."

The video cites many of the findings of the 2012 economic impact study FPSF commissioned last year from the University of Houston, which reported that the event added some $14 million to Houston's coffers. Though it's hard to imagine how many more jobs would be added if each day's hours were extended (people would presumably just work longer shifts), adding a third day would almost certainly increase demand for more positions.

Specifically, the video says FPSF is asking for the same kind of extension stadiums enjoy, which allows them to extend their cutoff time past 10 p.m. while events are taking place. The extensions sought are from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 31, and from 10 to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 1. (Our old ass asks, isn't everyone already going to be exhausted by 10 p.m.?)

The narrator goes on to mention, almost offhandedly, "as well as possibly adding an extra day to the festival."

But there's the rub. To us, it doesn't seem that extending the hours would be much of an issue, but adding an extra day could well be. Or maybe not. FPSF already shuts down Allen Parkway the Friday before to build out the festival, a significant part of which takes place on Allen Parkway itself. And many of the downtown parking lots now used by festivalgoers would be mostly clear of downtown commuters — or on their way out — by the later Friday start time FPSF organizers propose.

"Naturally, a Friday addition would begin later in the day, about the time those lots start clearing up," confirms FPSF co-founder and producer Omar Afra. "May consider a large park and ride as well..."

Here are a few reader comments posted after this article went up November 4:

@H_e_x: "I don't know, if it was extended I can see prices at least doubling. Consolidate before you expand, and no more white girl "rappers," that shit was embarrassing."

@superfluousyou: "Allen Parkway gets shut down all the time for various events. What's one more day? To everyone hating on the "summer" part of Summer Fest: ughh just shut up already. If it's so miserable for you, just don't go. It sold out and will continue to sell out, so I think they're doing just fine without you."

@RebelYellTexan: "Change it to Free Press Winterfest, and I'll give you all of my money. ALL OF IT."

@Hannah Ali Drew: "Two days is good enough, esp. as a summer fest in Houston.

@Chris Conaton: "A 3-day festival would go a long way towards justifying the $50 ticket increase over last year's price. Because as of right now I've been priced out of the market. If my $135 gets me 3 days I might think about it."
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Night Life

Eastdown & Bound
Inside the warehouse district's newest music venue.

Jesse Sendejas Jr.

The words "work in progress" spring forth on a visit to Eastdown Warehouse.

Anyone even a bit familiar with the people behind the warehouse district's newest music venue will tell you to put the emphasis on "work" in that phrase. The operators of the club, located at 850 McKee, have a big vision for it, but they're not waiting for a fully finished product to do any or all of what they have in mind. They've rolled up their collective sleeves and have presented more than a dozen events in the two months the venue has been running.

Flores says his neighbors, places like The Doctor's Office and Ponderosa, have been ­welcoming. Eastdown Warehouse affords what many of the other local spots can't — space, and lots of it. There's a large outdoor deck for smoke breaks and an oversize lot for the food trucks that will wheel in on occasion to feed ­audiences.

"A lot of those people are now hanging out at our spot, too," Flores says of the music fans who frequent warehouse district spaces. "We don't get fucked with here; the police don't bother us about how many people are here or the noise."

Inside, there's a hand-built stage and a small art gallery where local artists' works are on display. There's ample bar space, clean restrooms, offices and a gargantuan dance floor. Think of a more upscale version of Walters, just swank enough to host private functions, and you're on the right track.

This may all sound ambitious for an upstart, but Flores and Rodriguez have the benefit of some talented and experienced cohorts alongside them. Adam Rodriguez, a veteran in Houston's music industry who has brought national acts to Houston's House of Blues and other venues, books shows for Eastdown.

He brought U.K. punk legends the Vibrators in last month, and has up-and-comers Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands and NYC's Spirit Animal booked for November.

The venue also enlisted "Senior Jukebox," the former Mango's barkeep, into its ranks; his animated love for music automatically gives the place character. Flores and Rodriguez have friends and family in long-running local bands like Always Guilty and FUSKA, and have leaned on those ties to strengthen their position in drawing hometown acts to the venue.

All this know-how hasn't gone unnoticed by patrons.

"The staff at Eastdown is very friendly, laid-back and easy to work with. Everyone appears to be very knowledgeable about what they're doing," says Jennifer Lunn, who helped organize this past month's installment of Fuzzy Fest, which Eastdown hosted. "It's very spacious on the inside compared to some of the smaller venues — there's enough room for people to be comfortable.

"I really like that it's an indoor venue, which is a huge plus on account of Houston's constant humidity and unpredictable weather," she adds. "For the most part, it's just a really nice place."

"As far as a new venue, they have really made their mark on the Houston music scene," agrees Whitney Flynn. Her band, Decathect, has played Eastdown, and she hopes to bring touring shows there through her grassroots booking service, Sweater Weather.

"It always seems like something is going on there," Flynn says. "The atmosphere there is always welcoming and I'm excited to see their progress. They are great people with a great venue."
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Classically Speaking

A Grave Position
A century ago, playing the pipe organ could be hazardous to your health.

Jef with One F

My day gig is as a clerk in pretty much Houston's last full-service sheet music store, so if you ever want to come down and comment in person, I'm there most days explaining to people the difference between a violin and a fiddle. The difference is no one gets mad when you spill beer on a fiddle.

One of the more interesting aspects of my job is that I get obscure music-professional publications, and on the rare occasion when it's not so busy, I'll flip through them. Last month we got an issue of The American Organist, which has been providing church organists with church organ-related articles for 140 freakin' years.

I discovered reading this issue that playing the organ apparently can kill you. Though it doesn't happen so often these days, an article on the last page of the magazine revealed that a century or so back, at least seven people died in the middle of performance from ailments brought on by overexertion while playing.

In a move that can only be described as an attempt at humor by a capricious god, Professor Henry A. Foster, the organist at St. Andrew's Church in Meriden, Connecticut, was playing "Te Deum" on February 5, 1888, when he was struck with immediate paralysis. He had to be carried home, with the entire left side of his body immobilized. Though an exact date of death resulting from the incident wasn't recorded, The New York Times reported his recovery as doubtful.

God does tend to be pretty attendant in His house. Another man, Dr. Clare W. Beams, was known to have said that he wished to die in the midst of music. He got his wish on June 12, 1887, when he suddenly collapsed while playing the Sunday service at First Reformed Church of Nyack, New York. Beams had suffered from a heart condition all his life, and just before he passed, with his last performance unfinished, he remarked, "I feel it coming now. The end is very near this time."

An ironically macabre organist death happened in Paris of that same year at the church of St.-Honoré d'Eylau. A funeral was in full swing, and one M. Covin was sending off the deceased with an original funeral dirge he had been playing after a soulful rendition of "Dies Irae." Suddenly the music stopped, and after a few moments of awkward silence someone noticed that Covin had fallen to the floor senseless. It was eventually determined that he had died of an aortic aneurysm.

At least Leopold de Grandval of St. Michael's Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, finished the funeral he was playing in 1902. Once the funeral services he was performing for had concluded, the elderly organist decided that he could use a little practice. Moments later, the sexton ­noticed silence and found Grandval dead at his keyboard.
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Ask Willie D

He Got Served
A reader returned from the military to a most unwelcome discovery.

Willie D

My heart is aching so badly that I barely have the strength to write this letter. I'm a proud soldier in the United States Army. Iraq was my first war. I was deployed there in 2003 and had to leave my new wife and son behind in California. Although it was difficult to be so far away from my family, the pictures my wife posted of her and the baby on social media and the video calls kept my spirits up.

After my first deployment, I came home and we moved from a small, dingy apartment into a beautiful house. Things were going great. My wife, my son and I were spending a lot of quality time together. I was the happiest man alive. Then I got a call to deploy to Iraq again in 2009. I kissed my wife and son goodbye and off I went to serve my country again.

After about four months into my deployment, I started noticing my wife was not as available as she was in the past. Whenever I tried to video-call her, she would make excuses and say her hair was a mess or she blamed it on technical issues. To make a long and embarrassing story short, I came home at the end of December 2011 when the war ended to find another man living in my house.

To make matters worse, not only did my neighbors tell me they knew, but my family knew. My brother said because I was at war, the decision was made to tell me just before I returned, but because I popped up to surprise everyone, they weren't able to notify me in advance.

I can't stop thinking about how she played me. This woman who is supposed to be my wife moved another man into my house and slept with him while my son was in the next room, all of this while I was risking my life to provide for her and protect our future. I feel like snapping. My mind is gone and life has little meaning. What should I do?

Aching Heart:

Yeah, she really did a number on you, man. If I thought that snapping would help your situation I would tell you to do it, but it won't. If you harm your cheating wife and end up in prison, or worse, she wins again. The worst thing you can do to her is to move on with your life and live well without her. What she did was incomprehensible. The only type of dude who would be interested in a lowdown woman is a lowdown man, which is the type of dude she's likely to end up with.

I think you should get some professional counseling to cope with your issue, because you cannot afford to lose control. You have a young son to raise and you can't do it from prison or a pine box.

Ask Willie D appears Thursday mornings on Rocks Off.

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