Only in Houston
About six months ago, Rocks Off wrote an article expressing our surprise and disappointment at the paucity of musical content on the City of Houston's tourism site, visithoustontexas.com, the Texas-friendly smiling face it officially presents to the Web and thus the world. There wasn't much at all, just a few live-music listings buried in the bowels of the site.
Even officials at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which operates the site, admitted that acknowledgment of our music scene was a little lacking. But to their eternal credit, they did something about it and then some. Some weeks back, they added a guide to 20 prominent local music venues to the site's "Nightlife" section.
They didn't stop there, though. The bureau's new "Houston 2.0" marketing campaign is placing fancy-pants ads touting the Bayou City's abundance of culinary and artistic talents in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Texas Monthly and Forbes.
Best of all, the materials the GHCVB sent out to these 500 or so media outlets (even us) come with a CD featuring Houston artists that fans can go see in local venues most weekends, including this one.
The disc, H-Town Presents, features 19 acts that, taken together, offer a better-than-average representation of what our scene actually sounds like, curated by photographer-turned-promoter (and former Houston Press contributor) Mark C. Austin of the Convoy Group.
Thus it is flush with Houston's indie scene — the Tontons, Featherface, Wild Moccasins, The Manichean — but not exclusively, and also features DJ Sun, Come See My Dead Person, Shellee Coley and now-honorary Houstonian Robert Ellis, among others.
Such an eclectic range of sounds is second nature to those of us who live here but probably not what your average tourist coming from Fargo or Fort Lauderdale would be expecting. Overall, the CVB and Austin, and of course the performers, have done the city a great service by helping the national media get a clearer picture of what "Houston music" means today.
It's certainly nice to have Beyoncé, ZZ Top and Lyle Lovett — featured in the bureau's previous national campaign, "My Houston" — as proverbial feathers in our cap, but the H-Town Presents artists are all on their way up and likely to be acting as Bayou City musical ambassadors for years to come.
The feedback has been encouraging, according to Lindsey Brown, the CVB's director of marketing.
"The wine editor from Travel + Leisure told me he listened to it," she says. "A lot of the chefs in the campaign really like it. I'm glad people are responding to it so well."
H-Town Presents is only destined to become a collector's item, though. Due to various copyright, publishing and licensing issues, the disc is for promotional use only and not commerically available. About 800 copies are left over from the production run of 2,000, and Brown says the bureau plans to give the remaining copies to its sales team to use in goodie bags for visiting media.
But, she adds, the public can hear the music on the Houston 2.0 pages on the CVB site, and the remaining copies will be offered as "takeaways" at events the bureau sponsors. So there's still an outside chance of snagging a copy yourself.
Hey, the Kids Like It
Kids Don't Follow
These pop songs may not be the best parenting advice ever.
I'm not sure who thought to film the fabulous display of parenting that is documented in the new video "Booty Pop" (search YouTube), but after watching this hot mess for exactly two minutes and 39 seconds, I've decided there's nothing quite as disturbing as a six-year-old rapping about how he can make my "booty pop."
I refuse to list everything wrong with this equation because I don't want to end up on a list somewhere. I mean, I like to pop my booty as much as the next white girl, but there's something utterly illegal about accepting this challenge from a kindergarten-age child.
What the hell were his parents thinking, setting this up? Yes, I know it's in every stinkin' rap video known to man, but those are grown-ass men, and they might actually understand what they're rapping about. Six-year-old boys are not supposed to follow in the footsteps of dudes like 2 Chainz.
This tiny Don Juan's video makes me wonder what would happen if we stopped parenting and just simply let our kids follow the advice they're given in pop music. I mean, hell...would they all be starring in their own booty-pop videos, or would we be insulated from that disaster thanks to some good ol' fashioned desensitization?
I'll let you be the judge. Here are some of the more obvious reasons to clear out the old iPod and replace these with gospel songs.
Afroman, "Because I Got High"
Do you really want your kids using Afroman's advice on life as an excuse for mediocrity? Teach them to be productive stoners by forcing them to hide their habits like the rest of the population. It'll benefit them in the long run, trust me.
Pussycat Dolls, "When I Grow Up"
Wait, boobies?! I've been under the impression that this damn song says "groupies." This song is a terrible idea for anyone, ever, but especially for girls young enough to find the Pussycat Dolls tolerable.
Aqua, "Barbie Girl"
Oh, for the love. This effing song is about a Barbie doll; children are bound to be attracted to it. If I can't find a way to make a joke out of the lyrics (which I can't on this one without feeling really awkward), then chances are good that the song is practically begging for a pedo-bear warning. Aqua: raising only the highest class of trophy wives since 1997.
Fountains of Wayne, "Stacy's Mom"
This song is responsible for tons of false hope, and that makes it irresponsible. Your teenage boys should be clear that no matter how many times they mow the neighbor's lawn, she's probably not coming out in a towel anytime soon. We don't want any misunderstandings.
Ke$ha, "Tik Tok"
(Even typing that name is annoying.) Nothing good can come of letting your kids have Ke$ha as a role model, but if they start brushing their teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, you know it may be time to replace it with something less binge-drinky and junk-touchy. Also, my daughter better not ever say the words "Boys try to touch my junk," or there'll be a whole lotta fist-shaking taking place in my house.
The Rocks Off 100
Legendary local MC K-Rino joins our members-only club.
K-Rino has been such a longtime fixture of Houston hip-hop that it's hard to imagine the underground without him. The Southside MC has been spitting street poetry for three decades, dating all the way back to his days at Sterling High School, where he battled his lyrical rivals in hallways and on street corners in Houston's gritty South Park neighborhood.
From those early rap battles emerged the South Park Coalition, H-Town's first rap clique, which set the bar high for local independent distribution and work ethic. As co-founder and driving force behind the SPC, K-Rino simply never put the mike down in the intervening decades.
Today he has more than 20 albums under his belt and has spread his rapid-fire, streetwise wordplay to every corner of the globe — all without the help of a major record label.
Good War Story
"Probably what's made me proud to be a rapper is just the fact that I've been able to do shows all over the world, going overseas without the backing of a major label," he says. "Just from the underground, I've been able to do a lot of those things that most artists dream of doing and some are never able to do.
"That's probably one of the highlights of my career, just being able to travel the world and perform in front of packed parties, just on the strength of being an underground artist."
Why Do You Stay in Houston?
"Houston is home," the rapper says simply. "I'm not the kind of guy who 'goes Hollywood' and packs up and moves to another city or another state. I think that the foundation of what I represent and what I write about is rooted in this city, rooted from my experiences growing up in this city.
"To leave that would just alter that whole dynamic," K-Rino continues. "It would actually just remove it totally. So, I stay home, stay grounded and stay rooted in what made me who I am right now."
Music Scene Pet Peeves
"I got a couple!" K-Rino says. "My biggest would probably just be the lack of originality. You know, the game has turned pretty much into a copycat industry. People just kind of wait to see what's going to catch on and what's going to get so-called 'hot,' and then they start to pattern themselves and pattern their careers after that.
"I'm from an era where people were not scared to be individuals and not scared to just be who they are, be original," he explains. "And all of those different artists were able to prosper just on the fact that they represented something different. I don't think you see that now."
Classic Rock Corner
Time of the Season
Resurrected British Invasion alumni the Zombies visit Houston.
In today's pop culture, zombies are hot. Their lumbering, slack-jawed forms are moving (albeit slowly) on TV, in movies and video games, and off the pages of books.
So it's sort of appropriate that — like these monosyllabic, flesh-shedding creatures who get a second chance — the beloved '60s British Invasion group the Zombies ("Time of the Season," "She's Not There," "Tell Her No") should also have a resurrection decades later.
"We were pleasantly surprised — astounded, really — when we started playing together again in 2000 that there was this huge interest in the band, especially since we didn't put out a lot of material," says original vocalist Colin Blunstone from his home in England. "And it's worldwide. People are just fascinated by the band, and we seriously didn't realize that."
The Zombies will play Fitzgerald's on March 17, right after a busy schedule of appearances in Austin at SXSW.
Blunstone and original keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent are the two beating hearts of the current Zombies lineup, which also includes Jim Rodford (ex-Argent, Kinks) on bass, son Steve Rodford on drums and Tom Toomey on guitar. A new record, Breathe Out, Breathe In, was released last year.
"I think it's very natural from what the Zombies have done in the past," says Blunstone. "And Rod and I have always worked the same way. This was the ten best songs we had at the time, just like Odessey and Oracle [sic] was the best 12 songs we had then. It's funny to me that people think that was a concept album, and it wasn't."
The Zombies and Elephant Stone play Sunday, March 17, at Fitzgerald's (upstairs), 2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838, www.fitzlivemusic.com.
Ask Willie D
A reader is having a hard time getting her offspring to leave the nest.
Dear Willie D:
My son is a complete and utter deadbeat. Since he graduated from high school four years ago, he has been to jail twice: once for possession of marijuana and the other time for driving with a suspended license. He still lives at home with me and his father, and all he does every single moment of the day is smoke weed, sleep, eat and use the bathroom.
Growing up, he was a good kid but he wasn't required to do chores, and we — or should I say I — gave him everything he wanted without conditions. His father says it's time for him to get out on his own and become a man. But knowing how I handicapped him, I can't bring myself to kick my son out of the house. I feel responsible. What do I do?
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Children are like bank accounts: You get out of them what you put into them. If your account balance is $50 and you write a check for $2,000, what do you think is going to happen?
At this point, your son's behavior might be irreversible. Children have to be given boundaries and taught the value of work and responsibility in their most formative years, which many experts say is birth to 15. By not teaching your son the habit of responsibility, by default you taught him the habit of irresponsibility.
If you really want your grown son out of your house, on his own and functioning as a responsible adult, give him a move-out date and stick to it; six to nine months should be plenty of time for him to find a job and get his own place.
If he fails to do so within that time period, you will have to inject some tough love and kick him out, or he might become your bingo partner in a few years.