Honor thy dinosaurs... In a music scene so often intent on undermining tradition, paying tribute to one's rock and roll forefathers has never been a real priority. Yet lately, classic rock tribute shows have been popping up all over Houston.
Back in April, Rockefeller's hosted "Pop Goes the Beatles," featuring the Jinkies, members of King's X and Galactic Cowboys and a band led by Darin Murphy (of Trish and Darin fame) -- the last of which performed astounding, note-perfect covers spanning the entire Fab Four catalog. The club is planning another Beatles tribute for October. Last month, the Urban Art Bar called on Rosebud, the Jinkies, Under the Sun and other local talent to headline an evening of music devoted to the Who. What's more, plans are in the works for a Led Zeppelin night at the UAB in August.
And coming up this week, the Blue Iguana is taking a stab at the Rolling Stones. Feeding off the previous success of its Sabbathon, a tribute to (who else?) Black Sabbath, the club will host Stonestock '97 on Saturday, with a local lineup that includes Chlorine, The Uncool (featuring Jaime Marroquin of the Flamin' Hellcats), Drop Kick Chihuahuas and the Jinkies (who are obviously keen on tributes).
Chihuahuas guitarist Starvin' Marvin recalls the first (and last) time he saw the Stones in concert -- and what he remembers most about the show would probably make the band's publicist cringe.
"I saw them at the Superdome in New Orleans [during] the Steel Wheels thing," says the Louisiana native. "I remember some kids smoking crack in front of me. I thought they were burning plastic ... "
Yes, but what about the music? "When they were doing their hit songs and stuff, the whole Superdome was jumping up and down," says Marvin. "I thought the floor was gonna crack. That's one wild band."
But it's one wild band Marvin knows next to nothing about, something that could pose a problem for the Chihuahuas, who've left themselves less than a week to prepare their Stonestock set. Marvin has made some effort to brush up on his Stones licks, albeit a token one. "I went down to Cactus Records and asked them for that Physical Graffiti album," he snickers, "and they informed me that it was a Led Zeppelin album." Kidding aside, a swamp-blues outfit such as the Chihuahuas shouldn't have much difficulty warming up to the Stones' earlier material, given that the two bands both nurture an appreciation for Gulf Coast blues legends. Marvin is willing to bet that if he and Keith Richards ever compared record collections, they'd find more than a few matches.
"The Rolling Stones, they dig Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester like we do. They did 'I'm a King Bee,' and that's a Slim number," says Marvin, adding that the Chihuahuas' mentor, Ernest "Tabby" Thomas, has even met the band. "I could see doing 'Honky Tonk Woman' in sort of a jump-blues/rockabilly style."
As for the Jinkies, their prime motivation in playing Stonestock -- as it was for the UAB's Who night -- is to "make up for our completely lousy performance at the Beatles show" (a lousiness to which I can personally attest). At the Who night, the Jinkies were better prepared than they were at their Rockefeller's gig, when they barely made it to the bridge of "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" before disintegrating. For the Who tribute, they even slipped in recordings of the phony commercials from The Who Sell Out between songs. For Stonestock, says Jinkies vocalist Carlos DeLeon, the band is debating going disco with a version of "Emotional Rescue."
Raves and wave-offs... The Perle Kings might like to think they're making a contribution to Houston's small lounge movement, and that's their prerogative. Still, it doesn't excuse the middling cocktail fusion posing as jazz found on the group's debut CD, The Lounge Sessions, most of which wouldn't pass muster at a Holiday Inn.
A rhythm section's groove and instinct are crucial to the success of a band of this sort, and the Perle Kings' are uncomfortably leaden -- their swing lacks zing. Exacerbating the clunky feeling are the antiseptic vocals of Rowena, whose Sade-by-way-of-Enya inflection does nothing to stir up the disc's stagnant atmosphere. Cool CD cover, however, though it's hard to tell where the handcuffed-mannequin-in-the-church imagery is leading. From the looks of it, that would be nowhere -- just like the music.
Etc.... Backlash from bands not included on this year's Press Music Awards ballot has reached organized proportions in the form of the Houston opPressed Showcase. Sunday -- same day, same time as the Press Music Awards Showcase -- five groups will gather at World Bait for an evening of unnominated solidarity. Acid Country, Two Second Stare, the Orphans, Secret Sunday and Dune, TX are slated to perform. The Orphans, I believe, were nominees in last year's Best New Act category. How quickly they forget.
Those not caught up in said insurgence should note a schedule change in the Press showcase. Sad Pygmy's 5 p.m. show at The Ball Room has been bumped back to 7 p.m. to allow band members Carol and C-Dog time to scoot over from Instant Karma, where at 5 p.m. they'll be making an ambient racket with their other project, Rotten Piece. The Linus Pauling Quartet and Seeds of Soul kindly accommodated Pygmy by each agreeing to perform their Ball Room sets an hour earlier.
-- Hobart Rowland
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