Mashable recently declared the beard dead, but Houstonians ignored the memo. Beards run this town in 2015. They just seem to be everywhere, dangling freely from the faces of our once clean-shaven neighbors, co-workers and friends. When one drops off the radar for a bit (sorry James Harden — great season, though!), another crops up in its place (keep it goin’, Dallas Keuchel!). Allow us to save you some time down in the comments section, killjoys. No, the next blog isn’t going to be “Best Houston Music Pedicures.” And calm down, gossips – we’re not talking about that kind of beard. This ain’t TMZ.
Maybe, with Houston Press Music Awards time quickly approaching, we're just in the mindset of giving recognition where it is clearly deserved. Here are ten of the most follically fabulous crumb-catchers in the Houston music scene, the face fur that stirs great envy in the baby-faced among us:
MARK C. AUSTIN
Austin leads this list of alphabetically ordered gentlemen. He owns The Convoy Group, the artist-management and promotions company behind Houston breakout stars The Suffers and The Tontons and venues like MKT Bar and The Nightingale Room. Austin prefers to hang behind the talents he represents. He’s comfortable there, shielded further by one of the most awesome red beards since Henry VIII. Houston, meet the man who would be king of the Houston music’s movers and shakers.
Bun B(eard)’s chin game is strong. He has worn a handsomely manicured beard for years. And as with his music, he’s no trend-follower. He sets the trends. The now-familiar look was only in its infancy, but it was there all those years ago on U.G.K.’s Too Hard To Swallow album cover. The beard was looking clean by the time he and Pimp C. were Ridin’ Dirty and has ever since.
Denman is host of the Drink of Ages Radio Show. He qualifies as a Houston music contributor because every show he produces includes music from a local or touring band, along with the latest news on craft beers. Denman has welcomed dozens of acts to the show, most recently bands like Jamison Road, We Were Wolves and Zach Emery Band. And no matter who’s played the show, it’s assured they gazed deeply into Denman’s hypnotic beard when they sat down to chat with him.
Helfenstein is a member of The Grizzly Band. These honors could easily have gone to the band’s front man, Chad Grizzly, who also dons a killer set of whiskers. But Helfenstein is the lap steel player for this alt-country band and gets the nod here. For one, how often do we get to celebrate a steel guitarist in these blogs? Not enough. And second, he’s generally in the far corner of the stage during any show. A beard impressive enough to catch one’s eye from stage left is worth acknowledging.
Bob Lane occasionally wears a beard and, admittedly, it’s probably no match for the other soup-strainers on this list. So, how’d he make the cut? Lane gained entry by virtue of an excellent mustache. His facial hair is mesmerizingly good, a mustache of outlandish talent to match Lane’s musical prowess. Bassist for the popular act Another Run and a member of upstarts Whit, he’s a man of many skills, including the growth and maintenance of facial hair so good it doesn’t need a beard.
Any discussion about Houston music beards has to include thelastplaceyoulook, a band that doesn’t just sport facial hair, but celebrates it with beard-shaped band logos and odd Vine videos. Nava is front-beard for the band, whose booming vocals are enhanced by a booming chin garden. He’s recently hinted at trimming it way back. Say it ain’t so, Nava.
Nunn is sound engineer extraordinaire for Walters. The consummate pro, he’s not normally seen raging to the music or ooh-ahhing over touring acts like a starstruck fan. He just shows up, sits in the shadows of the sound booth, and in the added shadows of a brilliant beard, while bringing audio precision to life for Houston music fans.
Sanchez is lead guitarist for The Dirty Seeds, an outfit that is self-described as “face melting stoner rock.” His long hair and penchant for denim recalls Jerry Garcia, but even the late Grateful Dead leader would need a weed-whacker (pun partially intended) to cut through the thick brush of Sanchez’s face forest. Sanchez offered a grooming tip or two, saying he uses a few drops of beard treatment oil from Manready Mercantile on 19th daily.
"It gives the beard a nice shine, keeps it soft and has a nice, manly scent to it," he notes. "I also think all the cheese, salsa, bacon bits and beer that gets caught in my beard helps condition it, too." Sanchez's new band, RedHawk, will open Ocean of Slumber's EP release at Scout Bar this Saturday. Go be amazed by the music...and the beard.
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Warnke’s beard is sizable. Stood end to end, every strand would likely stretch from here to the nearest corner, at least. This is probably Warnke’s preferred look — he nails it, after all — but it could just as likely be from having little or no time to shave. He’s a man in high demand, who loans his bass-playing skills to Arabella Jones, Mark Jones & Twenty Paces, Ranson Bandits and Quiet Morning & the Calamity. If you'd like a personal, up-close look at this magnificence, QMATC is playing a noontime set this Saturday at Table 57, the dining space at the new Fountainview HEB. No word yet on whether the store will require Warnke to wear a hairnet.
Granddaddies of the Houston music beard, and the standard by which others will perennially be held. So good they have an actual band member named Beard.