Bad News Leads: The loose-knit Herb Life movement, comprising local Planet Shock! and offshoots Cloud Nine and Laveau's Thursday night Dub House event, had a brush with philosophically incompatible thugs December 29, when a group of unidentified males went on a violence spree in Laveau's parking lot after the Montrose-area club had closed down for the night. According to Shock! manager Edward Maldonado, four to five patrons were sent to the hospital with gunshot and knifing wounds. "It was totally a freak thing," Maldonado says. "That's not the vibe we're about at all." At press time, no suspects had been apprehended, and the victims, some of whom entered the hospital in critical condition, seem to be pulling through.
In response, Laveau's -- already the target of neighborhood liquor license petitions -- has canceled the moneymaking Thursday night Dub House event. Herb Life fans are instructed to call the band's KLOL Concert line, access code SHOCK, for future events.
So Long: It's not terribly unusual to see local performing talent siphoned off to the neighboring music mecca of Austin, but last week Houston bade farewell to a good chunk of the business end of the business as well, when blues lover and entrepreneur Pete Selin packed a U-Haul and headed off to his new post as general manager at Austin's famed live music hot spot La Zona Rosa. The venue has been closed since October of last year while owner and Marcia Ball-hubby Gordon Fowler reconceptualized the restaurant/ nightspot, and Selin will man the reins when the club reopens in mid-February. "It's a tremendous opportunity for me to live in a town I've always loved and make good money doing it," Selin gushes.
Locals may remember Selin's Houston contributions from any number of clubs he's had a hand in: Chelsea 804, Club Hey Hey, the Bon Ton Room and the Big Easy. Selin and wife Pat also opened Pat and Pete's Blues Burgers on Old Market Square last year, and Pat Selin plans to remain in Houston and continue running the restaurant. Most recently, Pete has been booking the music at the Velvet Elvis since mid-October.
In Austin, Selin will leave the music booking to owner Fowler, while he concentrates on the restaurant/venue's day-to-day operations, though he expects his blues-booking expertise will still be put to occasional use. And if Selin's got any reservations about leaving behind the city where so many of his venues have opened and closed their doors during the past decade and a half, he's hiding them well. "I'm just curious to see," he says, "how Austin is gonna handle a half-Jew Yankee who's been living in Houston for 15 years."
High Concept Press Release Bullshit Line of the Week... I've been thinking about adding this item to the column for a while now, on the theory that if I have to suffer through the promo-driven dreck that lands on my desk announcing new albums, you should, too. Can't say it'll be a regular feature, but when I see an especially lame example I'll pass it along, just to let you know how low the language can sink in the pursuit of publicity. And here's one now, copped from the opening paragraphs of the Island Records' band bio for Wig, a Michigan alt-rock quartet that plays at the Urban Art Bar January 26. Feast yer eyes: "Like a musical vampire sucking out the fatty excess left by prefab popular culture, Wig flush out all manner of psychic impurities on their Island debut album Deliverance .... Wig's purposefully customized perversions of rock orthodoxy drive such riveting numbers as "Gun Groove," "Tender Assassin," "10 Seconds," and "Spear Ritual." ... Indeed, one of Wig's ongoing goals is to scare the shit out of bands who think they're breaking new ground by regurgitating tired and stale musical formulas .... For this reason Wig are perfectly willing to accept temporary ridicule until the rest of the world catches on."
There's an incontrovertible joy in getting high and listening to music, but there's an equally incontrovertible reason to sleep it off before turning in your copy....
Meeting of the Musical Minds: Friday and Saturday, jazz club Cezanne offers a two-night stand that's a must-see for anyone hoping to appreciate Texas music or jazz or the intersections between the two. Revered swing guitarist Herb Ellis is showcased both nights, supported by piano, bass and the drumming of labelmate and hometown bop hero Sebastian Whittaker. The music will be extraordinary. The venue is tiny. Make your plans early.
Friday night's later-night option probably won't draw much of a crossover crowd from Cezanne, but it's equally worth celebrating. The venerable venue/booze emporium Emo's -- continuing home away from home to countless thousands of aimless indie buffs and over-lubricated teen scenesters -- commemorates its fifth anniversary with Ed Hall, Poor Dumb Bastards, Peterbuilt and Man Unkind, along with whatever sort of memorable mayhem the patrons can muster. Emo's, for all its many qualities that invite ridicule, remains a local treasure well worth the hoisting of drinks, so pay your respects.
At the same time, the space neighboring Emo's at 2400 Albany, newly inaugurated as Hot Wheels Bar, aims to cash in on the (continuing?) hipness of the neo-lounge culture. Hot Wheels plans to be open on Fridays only, from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., for 21s-and-up, with a full bar and emphasis on the lounge aesthetic of music like Combustible Edison and Esquivel -- though the ads don't mention Martin Denny and do plug the decidedly non-loungey Hole, so who knows how far they'll actually take the concept.
Goodbye: When Venice Beach street singer and semi-legend of soul Ted Hawkins played his first-ever Houston date at the Satellite a few months back, he was just beginning to reap the rewards of his talent, having been picked up by DGC Records and sent on a highly hyped tour of the states, where he'd never garnered the recognition he'd attained in Europe. In what may be remembered as his signature song, "Big Things," Hawkins sang, "I've got big things to do / Too soon my life will be through / Got no time to stop / And pick no flowers / I've got catching up to do / Yes, I've got big things to do." That second line turned to prophecy on January 4, when Hawkins, 58, died of a stroke in Los Angeles. We were lucky enough to see him play before he passed, and he will be missed.
Locally Notable: The advertised Friday night Writers in the Round installment at Ovations featuring Mike Sumler, David Rodriguez, Linda Lowe and Steve Young has been canceled, so don't go, but The Mike Gunn plays Rudyard's that same night, so check that out instead. Saturday at Fitzgerald's, Taste of Garlic and Dallas' Pervis headline for a special surprise guest (I'm told on good authority it's 30footFALL, but don't tell anyone I told you...).
-- By Brad Tyer
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