Six Houston Acts for Six Local TV Commercials

Could Maninkari be the new face of Houston Garden Centers?
Could Maninkari be the new face of Houston Garden Centers?
Photo by Kellie Brett/Courtesy of Maninkari

The casting director for those VisitHouston television commercials made an inspired choice when The Suffers was chosen to star in a recent spot. The band is as big, diverse and soulful as the city it represents, and it’s representing all the time, not only in 30-second TV ads but in real life, on the road, night after night. That got us thinking about commercials for other local businesses and which Houston acts might complement the message of these ads. After all, it’s a big city with varied business interests and just as many Houston acts to sing their praises. Here are a few more we’d pair up.

The tough, smart lawyer is known for his fiery, loud and over-the-top advertisements. His perfect musical counterpart is Trukstop Assassins, a hip-hop group that is known for its tough, smart, fiery, loud and over-the-top live performances. We last caught them at Poor Dumb Bastards’ 25th anniversary event, and they wrecked the joint like a five-car pile-up. They traded the mike for verses and caused more head-nodding-induced whiplash than Adler could shake a Texas hammer at. If you need a convincing closing argument, check the band out this Saturday at Notsuoh.

The DeMontrond ads are endearing because they frequently feature dad and daughter, George and Melissa DeMontrond. There's something heartwarming about a family business in this day and age, and the DeMontronds have been keeping Houstonians behind the wheels of new cars for some time now. Their musical equivalent in Houston is the Traveling Murphys, an entire family of musicians. Imagine the Partridge Family sans the bell bottoms, cheesy songs and amps. Kevin, D'Arcy, Rosy and Lulu specialize in Celtic and folk tunes plucked out on banjo, mandolin and fiddle and delivered with wholesome enthusiasm, just like George and Melissa's TV bits.

Fiesta already has a musician in its television ads — one of the Houston greats, Billy Gibbons. There's nothing like watching ZZ Top carousing the produce aisle and squeezing lemons. But if Fiesta were looking to go a route that might tap into their core clientele a bit more, maybe they'd consider Paul Ramirez. After all, Fiesta once suggested that as much as 70 percent of its clientele in some stores is Latino. So, with Ramirez you'd get a blues-rocker and a fella named Ramirez. While he may not have the international fame of the bearded wonders, Ramirez is definitely known in this city thanks to years of regular gigs all over, most specifically at The Shakespeare Pub. If I know anything about Fiesta, it's that the people who work in those stores are hard workers. So is Ramirez. His July gig calendar is jam-packed. Even if Fiesta doesn't come calling, he'll be taking the fiesta to Houston music lovers all month by playing a show, on average, every third night.

If you judged his interests solely by the TV ads he appears in, you might believe H-E-B's Scott McClelland is nothing more than a sports buff whose only friends are JJ Watt and Craig Biggio. But you'd be wrong. We've seen the face of H-E-B Houston out and about at performing-arts events, so it seems he's as well-rounded as his trademark spectacles. That makes it a bit of a surprise he hasn't yet made a TV spot with one of Houston's music acts, and we'd recommend Nicole Starch. She's got a commercial-ready smile and vocal qualities that can sound soulful and raw or refined and striking as a Broadway belter. You can hear bits of both on black coffee & key lime pie (both also sold at H-E-B!), her 2014 album. Or, just come out to Nightingale Room July 12 to catch her set. If McClelland shows up, maybe he’ll bring his hall-of-fame athlete friends along to catch some of Starch’s tasty work.

L-R: Maninkari's Ephrem Paz and Derrick Broze
L-R: Maninkari's Ephrem Paz and Derrick Broze
Photo by Pablo Solis, courtesy of Maninkari

On the surface it would seem Houston Garden Centers' Kim Hooper and indigenous metal act Maninkari have nothing at all in common. But you have to dig past the surface to the roots here to grasp the common ground. Hooper runs the family business and is its typical TV spokesperson, promoting an enterprise that is all about bringing more natural beauty to Houston. And Maninkari has the same objective — bringing more natural beauty to Houston. Only they do it as a four-piece djent act and are trying to grow beauty from within their listeners. The band formed in 2013, and its seedlings are songs with meaningful messages and heavy, energetic tones. How has this garden grown? Head over to Fitz tomorrow night to see for yourself, where the band is headlining a bill including The Earth As We Know It, Metanoia, So Soon, The Truth and Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarchists.

Schlitterbahn hardly needs advertising these days, what with alligators and flesh-eating bacteria floating about the Gulf waters. Besides that, most folks who have had to suffer through even a few days of Houston heat have found their way to the park’s inviting waters and thrilling rides. But for the sake of this blog, let’s say the park's advertising budget has some cash lying around – it clearly should be spent on the Phantom Royals. The mysteriously masked men of surf-rock rose like a killer wave this spring, with a quartet of groovy instrumental demos on a Bandcamp page. We envision them laying down a tune Dick Dale would be proud of, a musical backdrop for images of the Schlitterbahn faithful splish-splashing to the beat. Until the day this fantasy ad airs, just head over to Voodoo Queen tonight and join the band’s “Surf Rock Party,” where beachwear is highly encouraged.

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