The Skyline Network's Ryan Clark, former Hands Up Houston stalwart Anna Garza and Bright Man of Learning Ben Murphy want you to have a very happy New Year, so the trio has organized eight full hours (at least) of cover-band shenanigans featuring many of Houston's best and brightest. This "Hootenanny" promises to be a bit like Yo La Tengo's annual fund-raiser for New Jersey radio station WFMU: lots of well-intentioned (and hopefully well-received) professional amateurism, punctuated by moments of sheer greatness. Although there have been several lineup changes since the idea was hatched a few months ago, this was the roster at press time:

Local supergroup/weirdo collective Indian Jewelry wraps their warped brand of darkly danceable noise around the very like-minded, darkly danceable synth-pop of Depeche Mode. "We don't see how we could be strongly informed by Depeche Mode, as they are English and we are in fact Texan, so there's the whole language barrier to take into account," the band insists...Mathy instrumental wizards Blades take their post-rock back in time to post-grunge, morphing fluidly into Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters...Grey Ghost series mastermind John Sears owns up to his own inadequacies, playing as soul progenitor Sam Cooke even while noting, "I'd be very misguided to compare myself with Sam Cooke — however, I am very comfortable with self-effacement."

Laws bring the jangle-rock Fogerty-style, playing as Creedence Clearwater Revival...The Jonx send their fast, angry, melodic assault up North, electing to cover Canada's version of the Minutemen, Nomeansno. "As it turns out, Nomeansno is way harder than Mission of Burma or Trenchmouth because their songs are too damn fast," they confide. "Joke's on us"...Houston's favorite sons of the moment, the Dimes, rip into the Pixies with Hearts of Animals' Mlee Marie...Joe Mathlete and an undisclosed lineup go post-punk with Talking Heads. "I don't think we actually sound much of anything like the Talking Heads, but it'll be fun to try," he muses. "It mostly had to do with the fact that we're pretty sure we know where to get big suits."



Hootenanny begins 6 p.m. Saturday, January5, at the Backroom at the Mink, 3718 Main, 713-522-9985.

Not to be confused with Panic! At the Disco, Panic in Detroit will handle the non-hardcore end of the late-'80s D.C. spectrum, working through a set of Jawbox tunes...Something Fierce aim to co-opt one of the most influential bands in rock history, bringing their raw garage-punk sound from Houston to Westway as the Clash...Satin Hooks champion one of the most underappreciated indie bands of the '80s and '90s, bringing out the guitar histrionics of Greg Sage's Wipers...Transplanted and somewhat defunct Houstonians Awesome! trot out the nerd-chic of perennial favorites and Feelies impersonators Weezer...David Bazan's lo-fi, shoegazey one-man-band/children's-book character Pedro the Lion will be animated by two-man band Papermoons, whose folky jumble should work well with Pedro's softer side.

This is just like karaoke, only on a much grander scale. As long as the booze holds out, Saturday should be one hell of a shot in the New Year's arm. After all the death and darkness of 2007, Houston could use some levity this year.


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