As some doors close, others open... Evidently, The Edge is calling it quits at the end of the month, following its younger acoustic cousin, The Edge Unplugged, up to nightclub heaven's pearly gates. Reason? Money, for the most part. It appears the people at Walter's Ice House made Edge owner Steve Smith an offer on the club's West Alabama locale that he simply couldn't refuse.
"They just really, really wanted the space," says Smith. "They basically said, 'Here's some money, now leave.' So I took it."
Smith says that he'd been thinking for a while about taking a break when the Walter's people approached him. After five years of hosting some of the better live bands in Houston and their fans, burnout was beginning take its toll.
"It's kind of a good thing and kind of a bad thing [for me]," Smith says. "The grind gets to you after a while -- night after night after night -- and I felt like I had kind of outgrown the neighborhood."
Walter's owner Walter Cameron says he plans on opening another icehouse-style establishment at the location, following six weeks of renovations to give the club "a more open-air feel." He'll call his new haunt Cydney's, after his wife, and suspects the bar will be up and running by early March. Cameron adds that he's still debating how much of a role live music will play at Cydney's.
Meanwhile, Smith is off to Costa Rica for a vacation -- that is, after The Edge's final show on January 31 (the Jinkies and Clover headline). When he returns to Houston, Smith plans on reviving his partnership with Benji Smith, who co-owned The Edge Unplugged, and possibly joining his former midtown neighbors, the Urban Art Bar and Laveau's, downtown, where he sees a bit of a live-music renaissance in the making. Smith has been talking with the folks at the Urban Art Bar about taking over the basement of their building on Milam. "Half the fun is getting something started," he says.
god dog's Daniel Murphy would tend to agree. The singer is preparing for the official opening of his new Montrose venture, The Mausoleum. The small nightclub, in the 400 block of Westheimer, will double as a coffeehouse during the week, serving up jet fuel and acoustic music. On weekends, he'll air the place out with live rock from local bands; god dog will play at the club's grand opening party Saturday.
Murphy will dress the interior of the space, which is just below his residence, with paintings and sculpture created by his wife, Mariana Lemonsoff, and other local artists.
"This is more of a table-and-chairs sort of a thing," he says of his 40-seat club. "The idea is to have more of a show, [rather] than just a bunch of people standing around playing pool while the band plays."
Murphy and the rest of god dog are featured on Underground Music Series, Vol. 1, Disc 1, a new alt-rock compilation from New Jersey-based indie UMS Records. The CD features the band's "Throw It Away," along with 14 other contributions from acts across the country. Aside from the Mausoleum gig, you can see god dog live Thursday night at Deep Phat; the Melon Farmers and Temper Scarlet open.
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Raves and wave-offs... Former ubiquitous sideman extraordinaire Bob Gallarza strengthens his reputation around Houston with another impeccably produced and passionately delivered Tejano release. Body and Soul begins with a spoken introduction from Gallarza thanking all those who've bothered to listen to him over the years -- a bit corny, maybe, but, hey, a little graciousness can go a long way. He then proceeds on an imaginative course that adapts a number of styles from both sides of the border to his broad notion of Tex-Mex's future. En route to that vision, Gallarza makes efficient use of an impressive lineup of friends, including Lisa Lopez, Ruben Ramos, Joe Jama and his old partner, Little Joe of Little Joe Y La Familia. Body and Soul is a little on the fluffy side, but it's still filling.
On its local self-titled, self-released debut, Hollister Fracas grinds out weary licks and silly lyrics, striving in vain, it seems, to stake out a piece of ground between Metallica and the Meat Puppets. Just what we need in Houston: a sludge-metal band with the Kirkwood brothers' stunted sense of bathroom humor and none of their irony and hooks. The wittiest part of Hollister Fracas is the CD's back cover, which features the faces of band members superimposed on a photo of Mount Rushmore. These guys must think pretty highly of themselves, or maybe that sense of humor I was talking about is way over my head.
Etc.... Leaning toward the classics, McGonigel's Mucky Duck hosts Wyndnwyre Thursday. The Texas trio plays medieval and Renaissance versions of the dulcimer, harp and flute -- the music is ancient, the singing in the Celtic tradition and the end result more contemporary than its raw ingredients might suggest. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church on South Main, the Vilnius String Quartet will perform. This is the Lithuanian ensemble's first trip to the U.S., but its members are hardly new to touring, having done countless shows around Europe. Expect a mix of Beethoven and Shostakovich, as well as the premiere of a piece by the influential Lithuanian composer Ciurlionis.
Other shows of note: Friday, hard-core "slanguage" rap buffs Das EFX perform at Fitzgerald's and Nighthawks alum Jimmy Thackery returns to the Satellite Lounge; Saturday, East Texas hard-rock divas Sinister Sirens take to the coffeehouse circuit with an acoustic show at Cafe Maison. -- Hobart Rowland