Rodney Crowell, Forever the Houston Kid
Songwriter supreme Rodney Crowell, whose latest LP Sex & Gasoline (Lost Highway) came out last month, will publish a memoir in early 2010 that deals with his Houston years "but not my music career." Though a longtime Nashville resident, Crowell's open love affair with his hometown, which culminated on 2001's brilliant The Houston Kid, has never abated.
Houston Press: In "Ain't Livin' Long Like This" it says, "Grew up in Houston off of Wayside Drive." Where did you live as a child?
Rodney Crowell: When I was born , we lived in a three-room shotgun house on Avenue P about four blocks from the intersection of Wayside and Navigation. [We] later lived at 10418 Norvic in Jacinto City.
HP: How did you get into music?
RC: My father, grandmother and a couple of uncles were musicians. My dad had a band called J.W. Crowell and the Rhythmaires, and that was my first gig, as a drummer. But I wasn't very good.
HP: Where did you gig with your dad?
RC: All the joints along Telephone Road — Red Bluff Sally's, The Igloo, Cook's Hoedown.
HP: What was your favorite venue?
RC: I loved Magnolia Garden in Channelview, this big open-air dance floor and bandstand. I saw Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash on a show there.
HP: So that line about seeing "Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and The Killer" — and I think it mentions Magnolia Garden — that's pretty much true?
RC: One hundred percent. The ironic thing is that almost 20 years to the day later, I produced a record [The Survivors] by those guys.
HP: I think you also mention Prince's Hamburgers in that song. Was there a Prince's Drive-In near you?
RC: Right there on Wayside Drive. Those were real hamburgers, you know, with poppyseed buns.
HP: Do you recall knowing any of the other musicians around town back then, like 13th Floor Elevators, ZZ Top or Lightnin' Hopkins?
RC: I actually opened a show once for Lightnin' and ZZ Top in their very early days, but I can't say I really knew them. Billy Gibbons did drop in backstage before a gig in L.A. when I was starting to get better known, and my crazy coked-up drummer threw him out. It was about ten years before I ran into Billy again and apologized.
HP: Steve Earle's "Telephone Road" or Rodney Crowell's "Telephone Road"?
RC: I've never talked to Steve about his song, but they're two different things altogether. Mine was inspired by "Black Diamond Strings" that Guy Clark wrote about my father. That caused me to go back and dig deep. And so much of my early life was Telephone Road.
Notsuoh has had a run of ill luck. Its front door is now a piece of particleboard after someone crashed through it, and the downtown coffeehouse/bar/venue was also recently burglarized to the tune of around $1,300. • Houston guitarist Milton Hopkins, who's played with Little Richard and Sam Cooke and spent a decade in B.B. King's band, releases his latest CD, Waiting for Perfection, 8 p.m. Monday, November 10, at Red Cat Jazz Café, 924 Congress. Cover is $7 and includes a CD. • John Legend, Patti LaBelle, Carlos Santana, Jon Secada and many more will be on hand to honor Gloria Estefan as the Latin Recording Academy's 2008 Person of the Year November 12 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, one night before the Latin Grammys at Toyota Center. • After the Press's Best of Houston® issue called out local honky-tonk DJs Vinyl Ranch for not having a mechanical bull, Friday's latest installment at Leon's Lounge — a tribute to Dolly Parton — will have a mechanical bull in the parking lot across the street. 1006 McGowen.
Vinal Edge Records
13171 Veterans Memorial Dr.,
1. Sunn, Domkirke (LP)
2. Slayer LP reissues
3. Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue
4. Eagles of Death Metal, Heart On
5. Nachtmystium, Assassins
6. La Düsseldorf CD reissues
7. Darkthrone, Dark Thrones and Black Flags
8. Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping
9. Legendary Pink Dots, Plutonium Blonde
10. Ani DiFranco, Red Letter Year
KACC (89.7 FM), 6-9 a.m. Thursdays
Selections from DJ Jason Vandygriff's
October 30 playlist
1. Heart, "Straight On"
2. Joe Walsh, "Ordinary Average Guy"
3. Beatles, "Glass Onion"
4. Allman Brothers Band, "One Way Out"
5. Revery, "Popstar Wedding"
6. Rolling Stones, "She's So Cold"
7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club,
"Shuffle Your Feet"
8. Fondue Monks, "Running Out of Time"
9. Marauders, "Nothing to Prove"
10. Joe Cocker, "Feeling Alright"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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