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The Rocks Off 200: Cindy Pruitt, A Walking Vocal Epiphany

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

The Rocks Off 200: Cindy Pruitt, A Walking Vocal Epiphany
Photos provided by Cindy Pruitt

Who: There aren't many voices in Houston like that of Cindy Pruitt, who proved it earlier this year when her song "Epiphany" took home Best Song in this year's Houston Press Music Awards. Whether she's fronting Fluff the Kat or putting on one of her custom one-woman shows using pedal loops, the sheer raw power Pruitt calls from the depths of her soul hits her audience in the face like a 12-gauge rainbow. Her style leaves behind modernism for a sincere indie mentality that is refreshingly honest in a world of mass-marketed "organic" sound.

Pruitt started her path toward fame and fortune many years ago as a child actress doing KFC commercials, as well as writing songs for her grandparents' anniversary. From there she's risen to be a considerable solo presence and picked up great acclaim with Fluff the Kat, Kat Drake and Virginia Fleming.

She also used to hit Nancy Ford's open-mike and jam with her; Ford jokingly called the trio her backing band the Vulvamatics. When Chances needed a regular Thursday live act, Fluff the Kat stepped up. Since then, long after Chances fell by the wayside, the band has kept that lighthearted jam-session approach going strong.

With an award-winning EP recently under her belt, Pruitt is dedicating her time to finishing some more music in the studio, as well as learning more of the recording side of the industry in hopes of lifting up other bands within the local music scene.

Home Base: In addition to performing, Pruitt has her own studio, Smiley Face Records, where she does the majority of her writing and recording. Many of her favorite venues to play at are no longer with us. Chances was a regular home for her, and she liked the dark coziness of Mary Jane's Fat Cat back in the day.

For the last year and a half, the band tends to keep to themselves in the studio, venturing out only to play the occasional charity gig in the Montrose area. However, Pruitt is keen to give AvantGarden a shot sometime in the near future.

Good War Story: "There was one show that was a battle of the bands, so to add a bit more 'theatre' to the show I decided I'd buy a super-cheap guitar that I could just destroy on the last song," she says.

I got a really crappy guitar on eBay that hardly stayed in tune -- just for this last song -- but... only half the band knew I was gonna do this. For even more effect, our drummer and rhythm guitarist were unaware, so when I started banging it on the concrete floor of the club they thought I'd lost my mind. Pickups flying across the room, but this cheap guitar was built like a frickin' tank and it wouldn't break.

I started swinging it against the stripper pole in the middle of the room... nothing but dents. Finally I dropped in on the floor and just started jumping up and down on it. Still nothing.

We all had a great laugh over the fact that I completely freaked out half the band and the dang guitar just wouldn't break. I still have that darn thing on display. It just wouldn't die! But the crowd loved it.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: Like a lot of Houston musicians, Pruitt dreams of a more centralized music scene that would give original bands more of a shot at picking up a live audience by association.

The Rocks Off 200: Cindy Pruitt, A Walking Vocal Epiphany

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • The Beatles, Revolver
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
  • The Cult, Electric
  • Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • The Smithereens, 11

Best Show Ever You Played: "The grand re-opening for Chances after their fire," she says. "My mom was there to see Fluff the Kat for the first time, and it was the last time I saw her before she passed."

First Song You Fell in Love With: "You Can't Do That," the Beatles -- "My grandparents had managed a roller rink back in the '60s, and they had stacks of old 45s they'd play," Pruitt recalls. "When I heard that scream before the guitar solo at the tender young age of five, it made me all tingly inside. I was hooked!"

See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.

 

THE ROCKS OFF 200

DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC

THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI

Crystal Toliver, Source of That Yello Echo You Hear Mr. Castillo, Song-Sniping DJ DJ Big Reeks, The Chief Waxaholic Melane Gutierrez, The Coffin Queen Folk Descendent Kevin Taylor Kendrick Eloy Contreras, Deathrazor's Sharp Thrash Vocals Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One" Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior Kathryn Hallberg, Little Girl Gone Tessa Kole, PuraPharm's Voice and Vice Richard Griesser, Vintage Camera Hound With Enviable Archive Downfall 2012, Sci-Fi Metal Storytellers Kevin Choate, Drum Like You're Screaming DJ Rockwell, Booth Pimp and Party-Rocker Ash Kay, the Freakouts' Punk Vocal Head-Butt Pat Kelly, The Godfather of the Suffers Michelle Miears of BLSHS, Siren In the Machine DJ Remix, Genre-Hopping Mix Maniac Kahna, Brutal Nation's Metal Booking Queen DJ Ill Set, Enemy of Wack Tracks Shane Tuttle, Updog Owner and Album-Cover Designer Electric Attitude, Renegades of Funk Sama'an Ashrawi, Trill Gladiator Recon Naissance, A Rap While Matt's Guitar Gently Weeps DJ Klinch Asks, "Can You Dig It?" Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón Love Dominique, Wicked Heart R&B Chanteuse Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster The Jobe Wilson Band, the Boys From Chambers County Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale DJ Panchitron, Stirring the Cumbia/Moombahton Melting Pot D.R.I's Kurt Brecht, Thrash Zone Supervisor Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus Mike Meegz, Scoremore's Houston Lieutenant Jacqui Sutton, Houston's "Jazzgrass Lady" Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter Billy Dorsey, Grammy-Winning MARATHON Runner David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia Jason Puffer, Your Psychedelic Sex Panther Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager Walter Suhr, the Straw That Stirs Mango Punch! Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder OG Ron C, Chopstar King of the Purple Dome Football, etc., Giving Emo Back Its Good Name Angela Jae, Renaissance Artist Shellee Coley, Voice of the Northern Woods Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter K-Rino, South Park Coalition's Southside Maven DJ Candlestick, One Niceguy and a Very Busy DJ Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls Felipe Galvan of Los Skarnales Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer Elroy Boogie, Top-Notch Turntablist Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss Alyssa Rubich, Angel of Instability Alphonso "Fonz" Lovelace, Righteous Drummer Frank Zweback, Funkmaster General OG Bobby Trill, Bombon Beatmaker Beau Beasley, Organist for the End of Time Rapid Ric, Mixtape Mechanic Dwight Taylor Lee, the Wandering Bufalero Coline Creuzot, Soulful Pop/R&B Singer Cristina Acuna, Cactus Music's Twitter Fingers Clint Broussard, Blues In Hi-Fi Man Now Back On FM Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid Chris Alonzo, Bringing Night Flight to Facebook

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