Happy 32nd Anniversary, Rudyard's
Jandek (right) at Rudyard's, April 2009
Mark C. Austin
Sunday, Rudyard's celebrates its 32nd anniversary with an afternoon barbecue buffet and night of free music with sharp-witted singer-songwriter Teresa Kolo, holy terrors the Hell City Kings and the stuff Rocks Off's dreams are made of, an all-Thin Lizzy cover band called Ultimate Warrior. Bring on that whiskey in the jar, boys.
As has about half of Houston at this point, Rocks Off has seen many great shows at Rudz over the years. We don't remember the first show we ever saw in the cozy upstairs room with the heavy curtain at the head of the stairs, but most recently we caught Austin's The Happen-Ins on a down-and-dirty early-'70s Stones/Faces kick.
Others we can recall off the top of our heads include Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, King Khan & BBQ Show, a wild New Year's Eve reunion gig by Houston's Sprawl a few years back and, most of all, the time reclusive local genius Jandek shook Rudz - and maybe all of Montrose itself - to its very foundations one Sunday afternoon last April with a set we called "Maggot Brain on acid." We'd rather forget falling asleep at the Meat Puppets this past Halloween, but hey, we were tired.
Yesterday Rocks Off put out a call to our friends on Facebook to share their Rudz stories with us; see them after the jump. Now we invite you to do the same in the comments.
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The night Tropical Storm Allison blew through town in 2001 must have been some night to be there. Miller Outdoor Theatre director Reg Burns says his normal 10-minute drive home from Rudz turned into an hour, while Houston attorney and guitarist for Austin garage-rock go-go girls the Platforms Junie Tune says Atlanta mods the Woggles (and many others) were forced to spend the night at the bar due to the high water. Sort of like us at the Meat Puppets, except not really.
Tom Bunch, former Vatican owner and Butthole Surfers manager, who was recently hired by the University of Texas to book shows at Bass Concert Hall, shared the following two pearls:
1985, I'm drunk at the bar at Rudyards. I hear a woman say "Sterling, will you pass me the ashtray?" and I look over my left shoulder and there stands Sterling Morrison, guitar player for the Velvet Underground, one of my fave bands and guitarists. I introduced myself, told him I was a fan and concert promoter and asked him what the hell he was doing at Rudyard's.
He told me he taught English at UT in Austin and was dating a woman in Houston that liked to hang at Rudz. I invited him as my guest, to my upcoming Replacements show at Lawndale (with Alex Chilton opening). Sterling came to the Replacements show and he left right before the riot almost broke out and right when the police showed, he grabbed his girlfriend and made a mad dash for the door.
I got lots more Rudyard's stories and many from the early 1980s, when it was a punk-rock and inner-city dive bar, much, much different than today.
1981: Seeing Really Red play in the tiny back room at Rudyard's. They were stuffed in the corner, no stage, room has a few dartboards and video games and the 30 or so people watching Really Red were running into each other, the band, the dartboards, the video games, and for 75 minutes you could not tell who was in the band or who was in the audience and there were 30 or so people, sitting in the front of Rudz that had no idea this was going on in the back.
Really Red was as good or better than any punk band I ever saw, and I saw 'em all.
We also invited people to message us if they'd prefer to share their story anonymously, and got this back...
Lead singer of Horseshoe walking around the bar singing and/or ranting in people's faces... getting to me and saying "Oh great! glad you're here, Mr. Happy"... Yeah I was all smiles... coz I had a few Strongbow ciders in my belly... Horseshoe was playing... and i was hiiiiiiiiggghhh...
Finally, sometime Rocks Off contributor and full-time Mr. Pop Rocks over on Hair Balls Pete Vonder Haar sent this one in. Having just seen Slobberbone pack the Continental Club a couple of weeks ago, Rocks Off can attest to the whole shit-eating grin thing:
This had to have been back in 1999 or thereabouts. My brother-in-law asked if I wanted to go to Rudz with him to see as band he'd just recently gotten into. Since he and I both dug groups like the the Jayhawks, Bottle Rockets, and Whiskeytown, I said sure, even if this particular group's name ("Slobberbone?") didn't exactly fill me with anticipation.
We were two of maybe eight people hanging around upstairs that Tuesday night. For a while, we wondered if the show had been canceled, but then some scruffy looking dudes started setting up amps and pedals, which appeared to resolve that question. We settled in for the show, and they took to stage around 11:00.
I honestly don't remember what they opened with (though I'm pretty sure it was "Barrel Chested"), because my jaw was just on the fucking floor. The only other time that had happened to me was when I saw Heart back in 1988 (and then only because I couldn't believe how huge Ann Wilson had gotten).
I spend the entire set with this incredulous look on my face that soon morphed into a huge shit-eating grin, wondering to myself, "Where the hell is everybody else?" I was honestly astounded that a band with their chops wasn't packing the Continental Club or something.
They would later, of course, but that night was just for those of us, not even enough to fill a jury, who'd come out to Rudyard's on a weeknight. They played two and a half hours, closing with a cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" that literally rocked my face off (I'll show you the scars).
There was nothing for it but to introduce myself to the singer. Brent turned out to be a funny, self-effacing guy, and we ended up drinking and shooting the shit at the upstairs bar until about 3 AM (I'm still not sure how that worked), and I made my erratic way home knowing that even though I'd be hating life at work the next morning, I'd found my new favorite band.
Happy anniversary from Rocks Off, Rudz. And many more.
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