The Rocks Off 200: John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager
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.
Goodtime, right, and the rest of Polish Pete's army
Photos courtesy of John "Goodtime" Smith
Who? John Smith is the dapper, salt-and-pepper haired chap who is almost always the best-dressed gentleman at the Continental Club, where he has been general manager for the past three and a half years. Especially when he's taking a beer delivery at four in the afternoon.
But in a previous musical lifetime, he kept time for Chicago party-rockers New Duncan Imperials, a sort of Midwestern Dash Rip Rock that struck the proper balance between Dean Martin and the Ramones on albums like 1993's Loserville and '97's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vegas. These days Smith, much better known as Goodtime, does most of his drumming for Polish Pete and the Polka? I Hardly Know Her Band, the quasi-house band for special Continental occasions.
"We will play anywhere at any time," Goodtime swears. "We've played a 96-year-old woman's holiday party, the Rose Garden, the Beer Can House, Dan Pastorini's book signing, played on the light rail, and of course the Continental Club."
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Home Base: Besides the Continental, Goodtime manages the Big Top and adjacent patio bar the Pachinko Hut. That puts him in the thick of "The Island," the compound of eclectic businesses on the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Main Street. (Disclosure: I rent an apartment upstairs at 3700 Main.)
"I love the block and all that is going on down there," Goodtime says. "There is something for everyone: record shop, barber/hairdresser/tattoo, coffee/exotic drinks, handmade clothes, vintage clothing, weird/psycho trinkets, tango and of course the Continental Club and Big Top."
Photo courtesy of John "Goodtime" Smith
Why Do You Stay In Houston?"Since we moved here we have busted our tails and enjoyed every minute of it," Goodtime says. What could be better than managing the Continental Club for Pete? And we have an awesome group of friends that seems to grow and grow.
"Where else am I going to find a group of guys that want to start a Polka band because Groundhog Day is coming and we want to learn the Pennsylvania Polka? Or have duet parties where everyone does an act, (no laughing at, only with). And my son's band, Thrill, gets to play the club and street fests. Pool parties! I could go on and on.
"And honestly, I love the weather," he continues. "I can shovel the heat and humidity in no time."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "Nothing has come close to making me want to leave," Goodtime swears. "I do have pet peeves, though. When a band is completely unprepared. They don't have guitar cables, forgot the cymbals, etc. Get it together, people.
"Or when the next band sets up their gear in the walkways," he continues. "Excuse me, are we in your way? How about underage girlfriends? 'But she won't drink.' Damn right she won't drink, not here, anyway. Tell her you'll see her tomorrow and do your gig."
Story continues on the next page.
Photo by Jay Lee
Good War Story: Goodtime takes us back to his NDI days and Winnipeg, Canada, where the band played "a couple times a year" at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel.
This was a run-down hotel with a great rock and roll club. We would play three nights in a row and stay in the hotel rooms above. Over time we we made many friends and would always have an "end of the tour" party in one our rooms.
These rooms were tiny and we would have 30 people in there having a great time, even the owner would stop by. One time a really drunk guy wanted to come in and I wouldn't let him. He kept knocking on the door... over and over. Finally, I opened the door and handed him a beer as a peace offering, thinking he would go away.
Instead, he broke it over my head. I lit into him like a windmill, literally punching him down the hallway. When we got to the top of the stairs I kicked him down with my cowboy boots. What I remember most is our guitar player, Pigtail, yelling at me as I took out my revenge, "Goodtime! Remember, you're a guest in this country."
The funny thing is this event played out again a couple years later, only I didn't kick the guy all the way down the stairs, just kicked his ass in the hall. What is it about Canadian guys busting beer bottles over my head?
Five Desert Island Discs:
- "Anything by Dean Martin"
- AC/DC, Back In Black
- Hellacopters, By the Grace of God
- Budgie, Never Turn Your Back On a Friend
- "Anything by Frank Sinatra"
Best Show You Ever Saw: "Ramones, any of the times I saw them," says Goodtime. "Actually got to open for them once and when in college I was the production manager for the concert committee and we did the Ramones."
First Song You Fell In Love With: The Beatles, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" -- When I was a little boy I would sit on the floor with a small footstool over my legs and drum on that as I listened to the song," he says.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200 and a link to the Rocks Off 100 on the next page.
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
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