The Beatles had Liverpool's Cavern Club. For Bruce Springsteen, it was the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J. Too many bands to count got their start at CBGB.
Every new music act needs a place to play its music, that first friendly space where it may unveil its brilliance to an unsuspecting world. This year, seven acts are vying for the Houston Press Music Awards' Best New Act tomorrow night, so we asked them which local venues have proved most supportive of their early efforts.
BIG GERB "I've performed everywhere from bars like Varras in the hood to House of Blues," says the rapper, who classifies his rhymes within the genre of "real shit." "I treat every venue and audience with the same respect. I try my best to put on a crowd-pleasing show."
Gerb may be tabbed as a new artist, but he's piling up veteran credentials with albums and mixtapes on his self-run Hongree Records label, to go with videos and increasing club dates. He even offered some advice to the always-growing legion of new H-town rappers.
"To all upcoming Houston rap/hip-hop artists, I strongly suggest you visit optimoradio.com where you can upload your music and possibly make it in rotation," he says. "Ram's the guy you wanna know, he knows good music."
BLSHS "Fitzgerald's has been, and continues to be, our most supportive Houston music venue," says the synth-pop trio's Rick Carruth. "We love the venue and everyone who works there. They have a very friendly, talented and professional team that always makes us feel at home. We can't thank them enough for everything."
The group racked up multiple nominations in this year's awards. When Carruth and bandmates Chris Gore and Michelle Miears haven't been playing live shows, "we're currently writing for our LP," says Carruth. "We've also got some really cool surprises that we're looking forward to announcing later this year. Our main goal now is writing and getting you guys some fresh new music to listen to."
CATCH FEVER "Houston music venues in general have all been very supportive to us when we have played," says Josh Wilson of the indie rock trio. "Warehouse Live holds a special place in our hearts since we released our album there in February and had such an awesome night."
Wilson and fellow band members Doug Andreano and Taylor Huffman have a new video out for "Naysayer," a cut from their album Shiny Eyes. The song has been getting good rotation on 94.5 The Buzz. But Wilson says it's not just spaces that are open to new music that are important, but also venues that will book local bands in support of national acts.
"House of Blues went above and beyond to make us feel right at home when we opened for Bad Suns earlier this year," he notes.
CHILDREN OF POP Chillwave artist Children of Pop may or may not win the Best New Act award Thursday, but he's not wasting a chance to thank everyone who's helped his music grow, from fellow musicians Gabe Lopez and Jordan Brady to the Press' nominating committee to anyone who has caught the act live.
And, of course, the local venues that have hosted those shows.
"Much love to Scott O' Doyle at House of Creeps," CoP says. "He was the first person to book Children of Pop. Definitely our headquarters from the get! There is nothing like a party at the House of Creeps.
"Lately, we have been getting a lot of love from my man John Baldwin from Wild Moccasins, who is putting together some dope shows at Walters. I love working with Zach and Terry over at Walters. Very postive vibes all around.
"I think we are actually playing Walters the night of the Houston Press Music Awards with DPAT, Sango, Young Slutty, FLCON FCKER and No Sir E," he adds. "I'll come peep the awards and then bump over to Walters.
Children of Pop has also been getting hooked up by Jason Petzold from Fitzlately, too.
"Fitz has a super-chill crew I can really get down with," he continues. "Mark at the door always hooks me up with an almost endless guest list. Paul and Brian are always super-easy to work with, whether it's logistics like loading or cooler or payout. They are chillers, for sure. Wes, Ryan and Lauren, the sound engineers at Fitz, always make it enjoyable to play there. I try to pick their brains a little bit -- they know about the waves."
If Children of Pop's enthusiasm seems high, it may be because the act had better luck booking out of town gigs for a while, before Houston venues caught on and extended invites. Children of Pop says getting accepted into the local scene has made all the difference.
"Houston is dope," he beams. "Music is real. We are special. Let's dwell, pass some love around, and high-five each other."
Story continues on the next page.
THE DEAD LINKS Rocks Off received this late -- but not too-too-late -- response from Ken Sheppard of The Dead Links. He appreciated the shout-out given to the burgeoning band in the original blog, but couldn't let the moment pass without thanking one venue and looking forward to another.
"The Continental Club has been great to us," he says. "If I can get a show together with two other bands, owner Pete Gordon will give us a date. We had our debut record release there last fall, and are looking to do a show there this fall, too.
"We're still trying to get into Fitz," adds Sheppard. "I'm hoping these nominations will give us the opportunity to open for some of the touring acts that go through there every month."
The band is currently working on new material for its next record, which Sheppard says will be "a bit heavier that the previous effort, but not a complete departure."
DE'WAYNE JACKSON "Who Is He?"
Fewer Houston music followers are asking this question as hip-hop artist Jackson makes the rounds and makes waves. Even before he and producer Donnie Houston dropped this track - which features a dope sample of George Benson's "Breezin'" - and their Halftime EP, Jackson was already known to many who follow Houston rap.
"There's a couple (of supportive venues) but I want to say Fitzgerald's has been the most supportive to me," he says. "Just every time I go there I know it's going to be special," he said. "I opened up for Dizzy Wright there, Z-Ro and I also did the Free Press Summer Fest there. I always gain a lot of supporters there and people are always just more open to the style that I bring as an artist."
SATELLITE D'HOMME Satellite D'Homme may be a new act, but members of the band are Houston music veterans. Adrian Graniel, for instance, is a common thread between Satellite D'Homme, Tax the Wolf and Bang Bangz. He says, no matter the band, one venue has stood above the others in terms of support.
"Fitz has always been there for us and allowed us to have control of our shows," Graniel says. "This goes back to even the Tax the Wolf days, when we were barely starting out. They've allowed us to grow as artists by having us open for national acts, having great sound and the capacity it has in regard to people. Bang Bangz, Tax the Wolf and Satellite D'Homme have always had great experiences there."
Graniel and Bang Bangz are kicking off a tour of Mexico here at home, August 23 at 3534 Navigation Boulevard with FLCON FCKER and Senior Jukebox.
The Houston Press Music Awards concert featuring Electric Attitude, thelastplaceyoulook, the Suffers and the Tontons, is tomorrow night at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. See here for tickets.
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