The Rocks Off 200: Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker
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.
Photos courtesy of Alkari/This photo by Jay Dryden
Who? This Friday is a good day for local music fans. Downstairs from the big Roky Erickson/Black Angels show at Fitz is the return from hiatus of indie-rock trio Alkari, one of our favorite local bands and an excellent answer if anyone ever asks, "Who's the most underrated group in Houston?" Their driving, dramatic 2012 CD Blackout Falls was reminiscent of anyone from Band of Horses or Guided by Voices to Arcade Fire, and was one of the best local releases of the year. Luckily they'll probably be selling it at the show. (Which is free with an Angels/Roky stub, by the way.)
Alkari is made up of Mike Beatty, Jason Smith and Marc Badillo, but Smith was the one kind enough to answer our questions Wednesday afternoon. When the Houston native and Cal State-Long Beach grad is not rocking and rolling, he's an elementary-school music teacher ("How fun is that?!") and budding promoter who has helped put together events like last fall's Yes Indeed! festival and the upcoming Madness on Main Street this May at the Continental Club. Andddd...he's also a music writer himself over at Jeremy Hart's site SpaceCityRock.com, of which he says, "I think comes in a close second to Houston Press for covering Houston bands."
Awwwww. Thanks, Jason. We're big SCR fans here too.
Home Base: "Like most Houston bands, Alkari's 'home base' is Fitzgerald's with a nod to Rudyard's, but we really enjoy playing as many different places in Houston as we can," says Smith. "We don't shy away from gigs in the suburbs and have enjoyed BFE and Concert Pub North. We played at Last Concert Cafe last year and loved it."
Good War Story: "I'd really like to tell you but it's part of an ongoing investigation, and to comment publicly may contaminate the evidence," he says.
Best one of these we've heard yet.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "No state income taxes," Smith replies. "Seriously though, maybe I've stayed here because I love being in Alkari. I love making music with these two other guys that have the same vision as to what our music should be.
"And even though we've had to slow down a little due to our careers and everything that comes along with having kids, I believe Alkari will always be there for us," he adds.
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "When other bands don't answer my emails asking if they want to play a gig with us," notes Smith. "I expect the courtesy of some kind of answer. Now that I say that, someone will remind me down in the comments of the time I didn't get back to them."
Five Desert Island Discs: "How about my favorite 2013 albums, countdown-style?" Smith offers. All rightey then...
- Moon Honey, Hand-Painted Dream Photographs
- Local Natives, Hummingbird
- Anna Calvi, One Breath
- Young Dreams, Between Places
- The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "This may throw people for a loop, but my mom was a huge opera fan, and in turn made me into one," Smith recalls. "She took me to see Luciano Pavarotti in concert at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1990, so I have always held onto that as the best concert I ever saw.
"As for rock and pop, I would have to say back in 2003 or so when Brian Wilson's band played the SMILE album, or being up close at Paul McCartney at the Toyota Center," he adds.
First Song You Ever Fell In Love With: Supertramp, "The Logical Song" - "I was small but that was a great song," reflects Smith. "I could give a runner-up to 'Heat of the Moment' by Asia, as that was a band that made me realize the Beatles weren't the only rock band in the world. At that point as a kid I knew I wanted to be in a band."
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash 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
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.