I found a glaring omission in your piece on Dennis Lange ["Lange's Way," by Hobart Rowland, March 27]. Many of the clubs in which Lange's "cover bands" play regularly advertise in the Press. This is not meant as an accusation, but perhaps that fact either consciously or unconsciously influenced Mr. Rowland and the finished product. In other words, I found the article considerably more "softball-ish" than the normal profiles I find in your publication.
Edward S. Chen
The Book on Lange
I have been a professional musician in Houston (and Nashville) for 17 years, and I had the unfortunate experience of being in a Dennis Lange Productions cover band from September 1995 through September 1996.
The reality of being a DLP band is putting up with constant schedule changes (up to the time you're set to play), double-booking (showing up at a place and another band is already there), last-minute bookings (calling one or two hours before a job) and over-booking (we played 18 one-nighters in October '95; after a few months of this we were exhausted and the singers were losing their voices). I can only assume that this booking chaos works to maximize DLP's profits. If you are in one of DLP's elite 15 to 20 bands, life is good. You get the best pay, your schedule is set and consistent and you get to play at the "hot" clubs. As for the other bands, you can only dream of better days.
The problem with the Houston music scene is not DLP; it is, as mentioned in your article, the music listening public. The only way this parade of cheesy cover music will ever end is if the listening public becomes more intelligent, interested and passionate about music. There is no national interest in Houston music, no "Houston sound," and there never will be unless the public tunes in to local music and truly supports local musicians. My experience of playing on the Richmond Strip was unfulfilling. Bands there are a sideshow, merely background music for the modern singles mating ritual. Houston is a huge city with many great musicians (even some in DLP bands), and they deserve the community's support and interest.
As for life without DLP, I am currently playing cover and original music every weekend, and I make the same amount of money I did with DLP. The crowds are smaller, but I think a few people are actually listening. Bands and clubs can survive without Dennis Lange, and I am so happy I'm no longer a "Richmond slut."
Dancin' with Mr. D.
Dennis Lange is perhaps the worst thing to happen to original music in Houston. Period. His comment that the Beatles were "the most famous cover band in the world" is exceedingly offensive and demonstrates exactly what is at the heart of that gentleman's mindset.
The Beatles certainly honed their skills playing their favorites, but with no leverage, they were also not afraid to demand that an original song be released as both their first and second singles. A far cry from the Dan Golvachs and Toy Subses of the world.
Speaking of the Toy Subs, six years ago they were a promising new act with strong, original material, sterling harmonies, good solid musicianship and even an appearance on national television under their belts. Today, because they chose the easy way out -- the Lange way -- all of that potential has been forsaken. Years of singing for four hours, four and five nights a week, have left the outfit a shell of its former self. A significant toll has been taken on the lead singer's voice, the new original material is uninteresting and the harmonies and rhythm section have changed hands several times. Despite the "party" energy that has won them the Press's Cover Band of the Year two consecutive times, the whole act reeks of apathy.
Meanwhile, the original drummer of Toy Subs has moved on to another original band, Pushmonkey. Free of Lange's influence (and, unfortunately, free of Houston), Pushmonkey does quite well for itself, touring the state regularly playing its own music and releasing CDs the band doesn't have to pay to produce. Beyond Houston's city limits, it is quite possible for quality rock artists to make a living performing their art rather than prostituting it.
The same story has been repeated endlessly. Beyond the aforementioned drummer, other artists such as Trish Murphy and Jesse Dayton have also found that there is a whole wide world outside of the "cover scene." The difference between these people's fate and that of Toy Subs? They knew that dancing with the devil would surely get you burned more often than not.
Name withheld by request
Dancin' with Mr. X.
Randall Patterson's April 3 story "Would You Buy a Revolution from This Man?" (referring to Quanell X; a.k.a. "the new Malcolm"; a.k.a. Malcolm wannabe) was very disturbing. As a 23-year-old black female, law student and City Council candidate (public official wannabe?), my initial reaction was something like this: "Here we go again -- the media offering up another symbol of black paranoia as a 'wake-up call' to white America."
Perhaps I missed something. Indeed, I had. So, I read it again and this time, I hear you. Both of you. Brothers Quanell X and Randall Patterson ... I heard you.
You see, Mr. Patterson, in your attempt (and my eagerness) to objectively portray X as a paranoid black man (who himself seeks to be painted as an outcast, another Malcolm X, another man fighting "the system," another black man who believes he is targeted by "the American badge," another black man who desires to be like Malcolm, going down in history as a revolutionary), you failed to see how your attempted objectivity spoke volumes about yourself.
Mr. Patterson, you and I and Quanell X are products of our own environments. Our realities are miles apart: Quanell's sanity is bewildering to you, and vice versa. You attempted to present his life, but you did not really see him -- Quanell the man, the human being, and he never saw you, except as an avenue to deliver his story. So to answer your question, Mr. Patterson: No! I would not buy a revolution from this man. I don't have to. You gave it to me for free.
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Dionne L. Roberts
This Caucasian's Not Buying It, Either
I was pleased the Press printed the article on Quanell X: It saves law-abiding, open-minded, forgiving people such as myself the trouble of having to point out the racist, small-minded and violent attitude that Mr. Quanell possesses. I hate the fact that in a society that appears to be moving forward, he has regressed.
I am a "blue-eyed devil" (devoid of humanity, that is) and I accept people for who they are, their attitude and their outlook. You gain respect through flexibility, attitude, hard work and perception. Don't look for any here in Houston, Texas, with an article like that.
Name withheld by request