[Part 1 of a three-part series.]
Houston International Festival Director of Performing Arts Rick Mitchell's recent remembrance of great shows he saw at Rockefeller's got LOM to thinking about great shows next door at the funky old Satellite Lounge. We spent way more nights in the Satellite, our favorite hangout in the '90s, than we ever did in Rockefeller's. Suffice it to say LOM prefers rowdy bars to listening rooms.
The Scorchers had cured some of their "illnesses," had just releasedA Blazing Grace
and were on the comeback trail in 1995. A group of us had been to Blanco's to see the Hollisters first, and when we got to the Satellite, there was a sign on the door saying the venue had lost its liquor license, so the event would be BYOB. We drove to the store, grabbed a case of beer and couple of styrofoam coolers and went back. We weren't prepared for what we encountered inside. There were people with those huge Igloos filled with every alcoholic substance known to man. People were passing bottles of Jack Daniels around. The Scorchers killed, and by the time the night was over, the entire floor was littered in bottles and cans like a scene from the Patrick Swayze movieRoad House
. Donna, who bartends at the Big Top nowadays, said that was the most trashed she'd ever seen a bar.2. Beat Farmers/Blasters:
The Beat Farmers had finally escaped from the legalistic clutches of Curb Records and were touring hard on their new albumViking Lullabies
. The Dave Alvin-less Blasters had just added Keith Wyatt as their lead guitarist, replacing James Intveldt. The crush was incredible up front when the Farmers started, and it was just a totally electric set by our heroes. The Blasters did what the Blasters always did: they stepped on stage and simply exploded. The highlight of the evening was when Phil Alvin called Country Dick Montana to join the Blasters for a couple of outrageous send-ups. Country Dick would be dead within a year. The Blasters play Fitzgeralds May 8; look for our interview with Phil Alvin in the print edition that week.3. Hightone Records Roadhouse Revue:
A woefully underattended Wednesday show (Feb. 18, 1996; we've got the poster). Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, Dale Watson, and Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys were the well-known headliners, but what really made this show sizzle was our first taste of Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, the Pastor of the First Church of Polyester, and Buddy Miller, who would go on to numerous Americana Music Association awards and tours with the likes of Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin. LOM had never heard of Miller until that night, but backed by Alvin's band Miller worked his way through part of his first Hightone album,Your Love and Other Lies
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, and magnetized my brain. We still remember the hair going up on the back of our neck as Miller wailed his way through Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got To Memphis." After this show, it seemed like there was hope for country music after all in the days of Garth. The show was so sparsely attended, LOM sat on the wall bench with Wirtz and Miller and watched the rest of the show.4. Storyville:
LOM must have seen Austin supergroup Storyville 15-20 times at the Satellite and never witnessed a bad show. But the best one for us was the first time they played Houston. They still hadn't been together long enough to develop enough original material to fill two hours. When called back for an encore, Davids Grissom and Holt, Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, and Malford Milligan enthralled us with a 20-minute workout on Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." Then-Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich came in late in the show.