Posey strikes a powerful pose.
Posey strikes a powerful pose.

Lord of the Cover Bands

Chances are, if you've patronized one of the many clubs along the Richmond Strip, Barker Cypress or South Mason Road on a weekend, you probably heard a cover band playing a string of hits you grew up listening to. And if you heard a song you liked in a bar, and you were drinking, you probably got up from the stool and started dancing and singing along. Anyone would do that. That's why cover bands exist to revive the songs of bands that have long broken up, died or gotten so big it would take a healthy chunk of money to see them in concert. Cover bands are an untapped market that often goes unnoticed. While patrons may be too forgetful (read: drunk) to remember the name of the band, club owners are hungry for live jukebox entertainment that keeps spirits high. And Lonnie Posey, executive director of Houston's Live Music, is there for them. Nobody knows the business of cover bands in Houston better than he does.

"It's interesting the way it goes, how a band goes from being in the garage to playing at clubs to becoming one of the top bands known in the city," says Posey, who personally scouts all the bands he deals with to make sure they're up to par. "I know if a band is able to hold a crowd all night long and if it's not. I'm the middleman, the guy that puts it all together and makes everything work."

Posey approached Wack about his business, which got started just eight months ago. He wanted a cover story. Well, that wouldn't fly, but we did find it interesting that there was one man responsible for this particular niche in Houston, one composed almost exclusively of cover bands.


Lonnie Posey

With the help of talent buyer Dennis Lange, who took Posey under his wing for almost eight years, Posey was able to build a solid clientele. Because of what Posey calls Lange's "bad rap" around the city, he withdrew the partnership and ventured out on his own. Houston's Live Music's roster of bands is now more than 130 strong; they play at nearly 40 venues in and around Houston (not to mention Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and other, smaller Texas cities). Posey says his "state of the art" Web site, www.houstonslivemusic.com, cost many thousands of dollars, thanks to its large volume of content profile pages, calendars, music and video for each and every band. "It's a work in progress," he says.

But music critics often neglect the cover band sect (with the exception of certain tribute acts, such as Super Diamond and the all-female AC/DC, Hell's Belles). Apparently we're making a mistake by focusing on acts such as Paul Wall, Slim Thug and even Blue October. According to Posey, Houston's biggest and most popular acts in town are Infinity's Twin and Citizen X (anyone?).

Then there's Love of Peace. "They do a variety, from the '60s all the way to the brand-new stuff that's on 94.5 right now. They do a little bit of everything," says Posey. "I like all the bands to be that versatile to be able to do that and an acoustic show."

Ah, yes, to cater to your average Joe, you have to be diverse. Rock bands have to play a country song every once in a while, dance bands have to play a ballad whatever will keep the crowd, the club owner and Posey happy. And plenty of upstart bands are looking for a break and getting their foot in the door with the Posey stamp of approval.

"In a lot of cases, they don't have to be that good. They could be a dance band and have so much energy, a singer that goes out in the crowd and gets everybody going, the musicianship can be secondary. Their energy can overpower the musicianship and be that good," says Posey. "That's why I go to see the bands live first, so I can see what they have to offer."

When many musicians start out, they play other people's music. Some go on to write original tunes and become struggling, self-maintained musicians, but some stick with what they know, opting to make a living off music, even though it's not exactly their own artistic property.

"There's a wind of change in Houston. It's not that old guy, or the other agents anymore it's me. I'm the new kid on the block, and I'm booking 90 percent of the clubs, and I've worked hard to get to it," says Posey. "I don't mess with people that don't do what they say they're going to do. I'm bringing a whole new integrity to it."

Go for it, dude. Where there's demand, there will be supply. Travis Ritter

Strange things happen when actors sing

In the wake of Jamie Foxx's Billboard-chart-topping Unpredictable and Sex and the City hunk John Corbett's solo album, it's easy to forget where the actor-turned-singer phenomenon truly began: with Jack freakin' Wagner! Here, Wack pits Jack against the poseurs.

Jack Wagner

Choice acting gig: Melrose Place (Dr. Peter Burns)
Music: Solo artist, four albums
eBay value: Lighting Up the Night (import CD), $110 Wagnerism: Originally tied to his General Hospital band, Riff Raff, Wagner broke free with that consummate '80s hit single "All I Need."

Robert Downey Jr.

Choice acting gig: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Harry Lockhart)
Music: Solo artist, one album
eBay value: The Futurist (CD), $5
Wagnerism: Between his liberal replacement of s's with z's ("Little Clownz") and his Phil Collins-ish emoting, we gotta wonder if dude's been speedballin' again.

Jared Leto

Choice acting gig: My So-Called Life (Jordan Catalano)
Music: Vocals and guitar, 30 Seconds to Mars, two albums
eBay value: A Beautiful Lie (CD), $11.26
Wagnerism: Maybe if Jordan Catalano had fronted this cookie-cutter distortion band at Liberty High, Angela would have fallen for Brian Krakow instead.

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Choice acting gig: Party of Five (Sarah Reeves)
Music: Solo artist, four albums
eBay value: Barenaked (CD), $5.72
Wagnerism: Why bother ripping on her nasal voice when there are lyrics like this: "There were lasers and computers and living in space / The '90s kids' dream is for the whole human race / My dream for the '90s / We'll make it come true / This world will be a better place / For me and you."

Billy Bob Thornton

Choice acting gig: Bad Santa (Willie)
Music: Solo artist, three albums
eBay value: Hobo (CD), $7.54
Wagnerism: Sounds just like Tom Waits although we're not sure that's a compliment when you're not Tom Waits.

John Corbett

Choice acting gig: Sex and the City (Aidan Shaw)
Music: Solo country artist, two albums
eBay value: "Ain't No Trouble to Me" (MP3), 99 cents
Wagnerism: For the first time ever, we're okay with Carrie dumping this Toby Keith disciple.

Marla Sokoloff

Choice acting gig: Full House (Gia Mahan)
Music: Solo artist, MySpace (www.myspace.com/marlasokoloff)
eBay value: N/A
Wagnerism: We've believed in this girl's musical talents since she and Stephanie formed the band Girl Talk and played Ace of Base at the talent show.

William Shatner

Choice acting gig: Star Trek (Captain Kirk)
Music: Solo artist, two albums
eBay value: Has Been (CD), $12.34
Wagnerism: None! Shatner is the shit-ner!

Juliette Lewis

Choice acting gig: Natural Born Killers (Mallory Knox)
Music: Singer, Juliette & the Licks, two albums
eBay value: You're Speaking My Language (CD), $3.54
Wagnerism: She tries so desperately to be hard-core like Joan Jett or Karen O. But it's, like, hey, remember when she guest-starred on The Wonder Years?

Eddie Murphy

Choice acting gig: Coming to America (Prince Akeem)
Music: Solo artist, three albums
eBay value: How Could It Be (CD), $36.01
Wagnerism: My. Girl. Wants. To. Party all the time! Party all the ti-i-ime!

Minnie Driver

Choice acting gig: Good Will Hunting (Skylar)
Music: Solo artist, one album
eBay value: Everything I've Got in My Pocket (CD), $11
Wagnerism: Once, our brother thought he was going to see a band called Minnie Driver, but then it was actually Minnie Driver. He was refused a refund.

Patrick Swayze

Choice acting gig: Dirty Dancing (Johnny Castle)
Music: Solo artist, three songs
eBay value: "She's Like the Wind" (seven-inch), $1.76
Wagnerism: With a single like this, no wonder his murderer in Ghost took him for a cream puff. Kristyn Pomranz


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