Sometimes it's frustrating trying to get people to call you back. We've all been left in the lurch by a dawg romance or fallen prey to a would-be employer's "don't call us, we'll call you" gambit. As Aaron Neville once angelically crooned, "Everybody plays the fool." But it turns out the burly New Orleanian was wrong. There is one exception to the rule -- the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. These folks don't mess around.
When Los Angeles booking agents Creative Artists Agency didn't respond to the rodeo's total of two bids (the second had a revised date) requesting the services of Jon Bon Jovi at this year's cowapalooza, the event's lawyers filed suit in Harris County court. On what grounds? Well, simply speaking, rodeo officials complained that CAA hadn't called them back about the deal, and also alleged that the agency made unspecified derogatory comments about the rodeo to other powers that be in the music biz.
When Racket apprised a local booking agent (who didn't want to be named) of the details of the suit as they were reported in the Houston Business Journal, the agent scoffed. "That's ridiculous. How can you sue for that? Unless there's a binding contract, you can't sue just because somebody won't call you back. Calling back is the polite thing to do, though."
The booker added that he was sure there was more to it than that, and it turns out there was. Actually, more and less. "There really never was a suit," says rodeo spokesman Leroy Shafer. "We filed to establish jurisdiction in case we had to clarify offers. It did not come to that. But we didn't want to get in a situation where if we did have to sue, we would be in Los Angeles and not Houston. That was really what we were doing. Sometimes when you're in a situation where there's lots of agents and lots of managers, what gets said on one end and what gets recorded on the other end is two different things. Usually this kind of stuff gets resolved immediately, but this one was taking a little longer than what we were comfortable with."
Shafer has been making nice with CAA ever since word of the suit/nonsuit leaked out. After all, CAA represents about half of the artists the rodeo has booked over the years and will want in the future. Quoted in the Houston Business Journal, Shafer sounded eager for the nastiness to abate: "CAA has been a very friendly supplier and will be for many years to come."
Or as Jon Bon himself might put it, "We've got to hold on to what we've got. We've got each other and that's a lot. For love, let's give it a shot."
So far, the only confirmed rodeo gigs are the bookends and two in the middle. George Strait will open the event on February 25 and Alabama will end it on March 16; ZZ Top and Tim McGraw are down for March 3 and 4, respectively. The rest of the lineup will be announced in the second week of January. If Bon Jovi is to come at all, they would presumably be playing the last week of the show, as they're stacked with Northeast and upper Midwest gigs until then. Geez, what a hoo-raw over an act that hasn't been the slightest bit relevant since the advent of grunge
Early Line on the I-Fest
Next year, the Houston International Festival will spotlight Mexico for the second time in its history. So far, two wildly eclectic rock bands from East L.A. -- grizzled-yet-still-mighty warhorses Los Lobos and relative newcomers Quetzal -- have been booked to honor our neighbor to the south. Amid all the staples (Jesse Dayton, Reckless Kelly, the Iguanas, C.J. Chenier) are some acts who come to town less often, like Angelique Kidjo from the tiny country Benin and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. Quite possibly the most mysterious act to ever play I-Fest has also confirmed. Lagbaja, a Nigerian saxophonist-singer who always performs in a mask, drew comparisons to the late Fela Kuti after the 2001 release of his album We Before Me. His Yoruba name translates to "somebody, anybody, nobody in particular."
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Frank Zwebeck's local rock/soul/funk sextet Zwee has released its debut EP. Produced by the band's guitarist -- John Edward Ross -- the short-player is highlighted by "Tapioca," on which the band shows that it aced Funk 101. Diligent students of that class come away knowing that proper funk should be loose enough to lope like a mule, yet tight enough that it doesn't fall apart like an overstuffed fajita. Those who earn extra credit demonstrate an ability to make their funk sound like you're hearing it at night no matter when you spin the disc. Zwee will be serving up tasty "Tapioca" and more at the Zwee Holiday Toy Show December 20 at St. Pete's Dancing Marlin. You can shave five bucks off the $7 cover if you bring an unwrapped toy for the Houston Fire Department's toy drive.
The Tie that Binds isn't very tight. Now the other Richardson brother has left the local emocore band. According to former bandmate Steve Duarte, guitarist Aaron Richardson's split, after ten years with the group, was amicable: "He's burned out on the whole rock thing. He said he had a blast, but it was time to move on." Five years ago, Aaron's brother, singer/guitarist Kevin Richardson, left the band on less pleasant terms and is now playing with the John Sparrow. That last band is one of the previous stops for new TTTB guitarist Dwayne Cathey, who will debut with the newly Richardson-free group at Fitzgerald's on December 27. One Point Style, the Contingency and St. Patrix are also on the bill In other departure news, vocalist Jeff Farris has left the straight-edge band Finer Truth, and the group is currently auditioning singers Northside honky-tonker deluxe Davin James has finished his fourth album, which now lacks only a title and a firm release date (expect it in the first quarter of next year). This is James's first album on nationally-distributed Ranger Records; his previous work all came out on his own Bull Nettle label Rolling Stone lauded Lil' Flip's "The Way We Ball" as its rap single of the year, and Flip represented H-town in its pages wearing a vintage Astros jersey Congrats are also due Johnny Nash. The native Houstonian was recently awarded a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. At a February 20 ceremony in New York, Nash will receive a statuette and a portion of the $100,000 cash prize to be divvied between him and other honorees such as Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Koko Taylor, the Dixie Cups and the Del Vikings. It's another capper on one of the most unusual careers in American song. Who would have thought that a Third Ward kid would go from singing caddie at Hermann Park Golf Course, to "America's First Negro Teen Idol," to palling around Jamaica with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and singing the first number one reggae hit in U.S. history ("I Can See Clearly Now")? Who would have thought that same guy would go on to own an indoor rodeo arena/BMX track that bears his name? As James Brown would say, only in America Finally, we've always known Swedish metal maestro Yngwie Malmsteen to be a pretty pompous ass. (Note to Yngwie: The word "opus" should not be used in re: rock albums.) Hell, he's always regarded himself as the second coming of Mozart, not some overweight washed-up Scandi with fast fingers and no soul. But who knew he could maintain his titanic pretension even in the midst of a conniption fit? On a recent flight to Tokyo -- the only place on earth where his genius is still taken seriously -- the vicious Viking was overheard making numerous homophobic remarks. One female passenger took it upon herself to pour a glass of ice water on the Nordic shredder. Whether or not that's the proper response to insensitivity is up to you, but suffice it to say that Malmsteen was not pleased nor chastened by this development. His tantrum (captured on tape by a member of his entourage) can be heard at www.blabbermouth.net/yngwie_tokyo_flight.mp3. Trust Racket -- you won't want to miss such Malmsteenian invective as "I paid for a first-class ticket! I don't need to have some fucking cunt do this shit to me!" and "You've unleashed the fucking fury!" Cool (unused) band name: Weapons of Class Destruction.