Firts Loook Inside Rice's New Swishahouse Library Archive
A bejeweled pimp cup. A young Chamillionaire in do rag. Slim Thug before the ubiquitous singles. Mike Jones clutching a cell phone on the cover of Murder Dog.
These are only a handful of the Swishahouse images and memorabilia now archived in Special Collections at Rice University's Fondren Library.
Rice has released a video of some of the materials, and it shows Swishahouse head honchos G-Dash and Michael "5000" Watts poring over artifacts from the label's 15-year history. Rice professor Dr. Anthony Pinn helped mastermind the initiative through the Center for Engaged Research & Collaborative Learning at Rice University (p/k/a the H.E.R.E. Project).
Says Pinn: "Rice has an obligation to help Houston preserve its historical and cultural memory, in part because it's significant for us on a local level but also a recognition of the role that Houston has played in shaping the cultural lives of people in the United States and far beyond.
"You can't think of 20th-century and 21st-century culture — world culture — without giving proper recognition to what hip-hop has meant," he adds. "So we are delighted to be able to initiate this effort through materials brought to us by Swishahouse. This has just been phenomenal."
The materials on display include cassette tapes, awards (among them a Houston Press Best Label award from '09), photos from Swishahouse beach parties, various video shoots and in-store signings, plus tapes, flyers, posters and more.
Austin City Limits Festival 2013: What's Next?
As we close the books on ACL's 2012 festivities, full of mud (but not too much), Iggy Pop's elastic skin, Neil Young's reverb and light shows aplenty, we look forward to the 2013 edition of the Texas megafest.
The '13 affair will be scattered over two weekends, with identical lineups, like California's Coachella. Jazz Fest in New Orleans has had two weekends of music for many years but with different lineups save for some of the locals.
Fan chatter at Zilker Park was heavy on talk of next year and whether it would change the dynamic of the event.
For one, ACL will tie up one side of Austin for nearly three weeks in terms of raising and striking the festival, not to mention the trauma on the park grounds that will occur. The whole fan-perceived magic of one weekend out of the year being devoted only to the fest will be gone, too.
Economically, it will be a boon for the city on par with SXSW and the quickly growing Fun Fun Fun Fest. Disgruntled locals are already harrumphing over the idea of spending two weeks with muddy out-of-towners, traffic snarls and other general headaches. SXSW lasts almost two weeks now, with the interactive portion nearly eclipsing the music side this past year in terms of star wattage.
For ACL's organizers, though, it's a good way to alleviate the stress of heavy crowds, lightening the mental loads on the staff, artists and vendors. Everyone will make double the cash, too.
With a dynamite lineup, they could sell out two weekends straight. For sure, some rich folks will line up for two rounds of ACL.
This could open the door for larger-scale events, too. The Rolling Stones are trickling out dates for late 2012, and 2013 is imminent. Having them headline two straight weekends next October would be a moneymaker.
The Stones have hinted at discarding the normal road-dogging touring model for camping out days at a time in one major city for multiple shows instead. At their age, it makes total sense.
Throw in Daft Punk or U2 one other night and you have a major happening, but both could probably headline the park all on their own. Craig Hlavaty
Free Press Summer Fest
Inside That $14 Million Summer Fest Study
Earlier this month, the producers of Free Press Summer Fest released the results of an economic impact analysis they had commissioned from the University of Houston about the 2012 festival. The figure they arrived at is certainly impressive: According to the study, Summer Fest juiced the coffers of local merchants and other businesses by an estimated $14 million.
But what does that mean? It's easy to throw out a number like $14 million, but figures like that don't really mean much to most laymen unless there's some kind of context. It sure sounds like a lot, but is it really?
Recently Rocks Off spoke with one of the men who co-authored the study, University of Houston economics professor Steven G. Craig, who worked with Evert Crawford, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the Hobby Center for Public Policy.
Comparing data provided by Summer Fest with visitor-expenditure numbers from the Greater Houston Partnership, the authors determined that more than 25 percent of people who attended the festival came from out of town. (Total attendance is listed at 81,000 people.)
What Craig found most impressive, he says, was not the figure itself so much as how much money generated by Summer Fest came from out-of-town visitors.
"What [the study] tries to get at is that some activities in a city bring new resources into our area," Craig explains. "So with the example of this festival, the new resources are the visitors that came to town to go to this festival from out of town — so people from Austin, and even as far as New Orleans, like that came here."
That $14 million is the estimated amount of total output added to the local economy. Craig and Crawford also measured the amount of employment (FPSF added 104 full-time, equivalent jobs), labor income ($5.4 million) and value-added income ($8.2 million). The different numbers represent, says Craig, "in some sense, three different views of the same thing."
For comparison's sake, Rocks Off dug up an economic impact analysis of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, prepared by the Austin consulting firm Angelou Economics and covering the years 2006-09. It tracked the same types of economic effects as the UH survey: Direct (ticket sales, rentals), indirect (sales increases by local businesses, more jobs created) and induced (people benefiting from ACL, then spending more money).
That study estimated ACL '09 alone added more than $82 million and 871 full-time-equivalent jobs to the Central Texas economy. A full 25 percent of ACL visitors came not just from out of town but out of state, with about 3 percent trekking in from overseas on top of that.
Still, the bottom line is that Summer Fest brought a lot of money to Houston that wouldn't have been here otherwise. Craig said he once did an economic impact analysis for the 2012 Summer Olympics coming to Houston (ha) and estimated that effect as several billion dollars ("big money").
On the other hand, he said he expects FPSF to have a much bigger visitor impact than the new Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, now under construction near Minute Maid Park.
More than that, Craig says the Summer Fest study made him take a second look at how much what he calls the "quality of life" around here might bring in to the local economy.
"On average, as economists in town, we're sort of skeptical of the service industries as stimulating much new business in town," he says. "How many people come here from Dallas to go to our museums, even our best museums?
"We're usually skeptical that it's not many," he adds. "But maybe there's more than we think." Chris Gray
Rob Zombie's Mondo Sex Head
Rob Zombie's career has played out like a good horror movie: A surprise at every turn. His '90s band White Zombie put a firm tongue in cheek (and a whole lotta metal) into Alice Cooper-style theatrics and after 1996's Supersexy Swingin' Sounds exited stage left as one of the most remix-friendly hard-rock bands ever. He's still at it, too — Zombie's latest music project is Mondo Sex Head, which allows artists such as JDevil, the Bloody Beetroots and Photek to pick over the bones of "Thunder Kiss '65," "Burn" and "Living Dead Girl."
Back in the day, he also directed most of his own music videos, including White Zombie's VMA-winning "More Human Than Human." Then he parlayed that into a feature-film career that began with 2003's House of 1,000 Corpses and continues now with The Lords of Salem, a rock-and-roll twist on the infamous Massachusetts witch trials of more than three centuries ago.
Currently he's touring with another Halloween-friendly rocker who needlessly scared a lot of uptight parents in the mid-'90s, Marilyn Manson, on the "Twins of Evil" tour that hits Reliant Arena Tuesday. Rocks Off spoke with Mr. Zombie by phone recently.
Rocks Off: With everything else that you have going on now, why do you still like touring?
Rob Zombie: Well, because nothing about touring has changed. What I like about it is exactly the same — it's an experience you can't get with anything else. I love making movies, I love doing everything else I do, but playing live is an entity unto itself the other things that I do just don't provide. Whatever I loved about it, I still love about it.
RO: It's not difficult for you to still make time for it?
RZ: No, it is difficult. It's always difficult. But I figure it out. Everything's difficult — there's not enough time for anything. But I get it done.
RO: Between you and Marilyn Manson, which one of you has the more grotesque stage design?
RZ: Well, I don't know if either are grotesque, but ours is pretty insane. I would use the word "insane." I only wish I could stand in the crowd doing acid watching it because it would be a trip, man. Ours is over the top. There's nothing like it.
RO: Could you elaborate a little bit?
RZ: It's everything all the time. The fire, the explosions, the digital, the giant robots — it's everything. It's like you can't even take it all in. It's nonstop. CHRIS GRAY
The Twins of Evil tour hits Reliant Arena, 8400 Kirby, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 30. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.
Facebook Changes Math, Bands Go Nuts
Almost four months ago, my musician-filled Facebook newsfeed was inundated with outraged artists who called Mark Zuckerberg every foul name under the sun for "hiding" their posts from fans.
It was malarkey, as Uncle Joe Biden says, but since the Web site social@Ogilvy reported that Facebook made significant changes to its EdgeRank algorithm in September, the howls of anguish have returned.
The commonly held belief is that Facebook is holding content hostage in order to force users and small businesses to use the "promote" button, as recently reported by Abby Koenig on the Houston Press blog Art Attack. Or it could perhaps be a response to the company's continued poor performance on Wall Street; the answer is somewhat complicated.
First, remember that EdgeRank is the way Facebook decides what you will and won't see in your newsfeed. Now, before you start hammering the keyboard about "being watched" or "they have no right," you need to face some very important facts.
Facebook is a service you signed onto and use voluntarily under their terms. Under those terms, it has pretty much every right in the book; if you don't like them, you can sue or stop using Facebook. Clear? Good.
EdgeRank is very, very important, since it's the only thing that keeps Facebook from becoming everything that made us leave MySpace. The algorithm assigns weight to content based on your actions while you're logged in. Do you continuously like cat videos and misattributed inspirational quotes over beautiful scenery memes? If so, hi, Grandma!
Well, the system notes that, so when your friends or a business you've liked post those things, or other content that is somehow connected, Facebook makes sure you see them in your newsfeed.
"What really is happening: Facebook is cutting the fat," said Tim Peterson in an excellent recent AdWeek article. "Rather than spamming the feeds for all of a brand's fans — including those who may have liked the brand's page years ago but never interacted with it on Facebook since — Facebook seems to have changed EdgeRank so that brands' posts only pop up in the feeds of those most likely to like, comment or share it."
In order for bands to continue reaching a wider audience through Facebook, they will be required to create content that engages an audience. Your posts have to be the sort of thing that makes people who see it click "like," "comment" and "share." The less your content does so, the lower it will fall in EdgeRank.
This may seem unfair to bands, who I find to be kind of a self-entitled lot on this issue. Typical thinking these days seems to be that since Facebook is free and most people have it, use of it is some kind of inalienable right. It's not. Facebook does not owe you free advertising and was not designed to provide such.
Really, the algorithm change is a challenge to musicians. If you want to reach higher and higher numbers of people, then what you put on Facebook must be the sort of thing that makes people immediately want to say something about it or tell others.
This might mean better tunes, cleverer song titles, political rants, commentary on the industry, humorous memes or who knows what else. This is a social network; the goal is to be social. Jef With One F
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.