Great band names are significantly less common than bad ones. Many are pretentious. Still more are just plain stupid. Or goofy. Or snide. For example, an Austin band in the '90s conjured up a wonderful moment in TV history where racists clashed with a pretentious talk show host. That band, Geraldo's Broken Nose, is history now as well. The best band names are short, to the point, memorable, and conjure up in some intangible way the music they advertise, the times they live in, and possibly even the city the band comes from. For now, Katy's youthful punks, the Diseased Pigeons, take the cake. Only a punk band could have such a lurid, unforgettable name. And with the West Nile virus ravaging our avian population, no name could be more geographically appropriate. Check their bizarre Web site (www. diseasedpigeons.cjb.net) for some of their useful statements of intent, such as this one, from "The Cat Song:" "I want to be a cat / I'll eat myself a rat / You won't see me in the fog / I'll be taunting your dog." Well, try to find it, if you can, amid all the levitating clip-art monkeys, lions, and gingerbread men and the weather forecasts for Djibouti and Colombo. These kids aren't there yet, but they look like they might be going places.
After three years, a boatload of Press music awards and more than 100 local gigs, Houston's very own Marxist synth-pop sextet is no more. Their epitaph: "Let the record state, we kicked nature's ass." Front man Tex Kerschen is now hovering about in his new underground supergroup, Swarm of Angels, with various former or current members of Rusted Shut, the Vulgarians, Matty & Mossy and Culturcide (among others). Of that band's first EP, Splendid E-zine said the following: "Static and dense at best, this short EP is quasi-catchy on a brute, animalistic level" and meant it as a slam. Sounds pretty cool to us. Then again, maybe we're just quasi-smart brute animals.
After three years, a boatload of Press music awards and more than 100 local gigs, Houston's very own Marxist synth-pop sextet is no more. Their epitaph: "Let the record state, we kicked nature's ass." Front man Tex Kerschen is now hovering about in his new underground supergroup, Swarm of Angels, with various former or current members of Rusted Shut, the Vulgarians, Matty & Mossy and Culturcide (among others). Of that band's first EP, Splendid E-zine said the following: "Static and dense at best, this short EP is quasi-catchy on a brute, animalistic level" and meant it as a slam. Sounds pretty cool to us. Then again, maybe we're just quasi-smart brute animals.
Normally the words "rap rock" and "sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers" set off alarm bells. Uh-oh, we think, another bunch of loud, heavily tattooed white kids who can't rap or play guitar, jumping around on stage in their briefs bellowing about blunts and the porn starlet du jour. Fantastic. Houston and the world needs that like it needs another energy-trading scandal. Luckily, Houston has Simpleton instead. Like the Chili Peppers with their City of Angels, Simpleton revels in the ins and outs of their hometown -- and at its best, Simpleton is the sound of this overlarge, brawling city. Sly, hilarious front man B.C. is the rare rap-rocker with mad flow, and Marc Armaos is probably the only upright bassist in the rap-rock game. Simon Reynolds's guitar is another highlight -- every song on this disc has a riff you can sink your teeth into, and the scratches of DJ Sun are another big plus. "Milo," Simpleton's ode to the Lima-era Astros, is the best sports-related song to ever come out of this town, and the fact that Houston's nine don't take the field to this rip-roaring anthem is a crime.
Normally the words "rap rock" and "sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers" set off alarm bells. Uh-oh, we think, another bunch of loud, heavily tattooed white kids who can't rap or play guitar, jumping around on stage in their briefs bellowing about blunts and the porn starlet du jour. Fantastic. Houston and the world needs that like it needs another energy-trading scandal. Luckily, Houston has Simpleton instead. Like the Chili Peppers with their City of Angels, Simpleton revels in the ins and outs of their hometown -- and at its best, Simpleton is the sound of this overlarge, brawling city. Sly, hilarious front man B.C. is the rare rap-rocker with mad flow, and Marc Armaos is probably the only upright bassist in the rap-rock game. Simon Reynolds's guitar is another highlight -- every song on this disc has a riff you can sink your teeth into, and the scratches of DJ Sun are another big plus. "Milo," Simpleton's ode to the Lima-era Astros, is the best sports-related song to ever come out of this town, and the fact that Houston's nine don't take the field to this rip-roaring anthem is a crime.
For years, Dowling Street was Houston's home of the blues. Lightnin' Hopkins and company plied their trade at any number of bars along the strip, which was once the main artery of black Houston south of Buffalo Bayou. But by the '70s, Dowling was in the doldrums. Several years ago, Miss Ann's proprietor Bobby Lewis set out to change all that. Now Miss Ann's Playpen has brought the blues back to where it's always been, and Lewis sees to it that it is presented the way it should be. The Blue Monday jams have already become a fixture on the city's music map, and the star-studded affairs have been known to feature everyone from up-and-coming acts to legends like Joe Hughes, Sherman Robertson and I.J. Gosey. Lewis keeps the sound level low enough to allow conversation and occasional audience participation, the beer is cold and cheap, and the soul food buffet offers up comfort food de luxe. Hey, hey, the blues are back on Dowling Street, and it's all right!

For years, Dowling Street was Houston's home of the blues. Lightnin' Hopkins and company plied their trade at any number of bars along the strip, which was once the main artery of black Houston south of Buffalo Bayou. But by the '70s, Dowling was in the doldrums. Several years ago, Miss Ann's proprietor Bobby Lewis set out to change all that. Now Miss Ann's Playpen has brought the blues back to where it's always been, and Lewis sees to it that it is presented the way it should be. The Blue Monday jams have already become a fixture on the city's music map, and the star-studded affairs have been known to feature everyone from up-and-coming acts to legends like Joe Hughes, Sherman Robertson and I.J. Gosey. Lewis keeps the sound level low enough to allow conversation and occasional audience participation, the beer is cold and cheap, and the soul food buffet offers up comfort food de luxe. Hey, hey, the blues are back on Dowling Street, and it's all right!

Gonzo country singer-songwriter Greg Wood couldn't exactly be said to have been riding high, but he certainly was percolating along. His critically acclaimed band Horseshoe was gigging all over the city, their third album in the can. Justice Records agreed to nationally distribute King of the World, their second album, and it seemed for a time that the literate and hilarious barroom bard's fame just might radiate beyond Houston. That was when he collapsed. Doctors diagnosed a potentially fatal case of infectious heart disease. Wood spent a month in Ben Taub recovering from heart surgery, and then another recovering from a secondary infection that eventually destroyed his right eye. Wood's travails weren't over yet -- the powerful regimen of antibiotics destroyed his inner ear, and Wood had to spend another year relearning to walk. Meanwhile, Horseshoe disbanded, and Wood thought his musical career was over. Jesse Dayton's bass player, Charlie Sanders, had other plans. Sanders coaxed Wood from retirement and into the studio, and now Wood's Dayton-produced solo debut, Ash Wednesday, is in stores, and Wood is gigging again.
Gonzo country singer-songwriter Greg Wood couldn't exactly be said to have been riding high, but he certainly was percolating along. His critically acclaimed band Horseshoe was gigging all over the city, their third album in the can. Justice Records agreed to nationally distribute King of the World, their second album, and it seemed for a time that the literate and hilarious barroom bard's fame just might radiate beyond Houston. That was when he collapsed. Doctors diagnosed a potentially fatal case of infectious heart disease. Wood spent a month in Ben Taub recovering from heart surgery, and then another recovering from a secondary infection that eventually destroyed his right eye. Wood's travails weren't over yet -- the powerful regimen of antibiotics destroyed his inner ear, and Wood had to spend another year relearning to walk. Meanwhile, Horseshoe disbanded, and Wood thought his musical career was over. Jesse Dayton's bass player, Charlie Sanders, had other plans. Sanders coaxed Wood from retirement and into the studio, and now Wood's Dayton-produced solo debut, Ash Wednesday, is in stores, and Wood is gigging again.
With a little imagination, concertgoers might have transported themselves back to the '60s, when the Astrodome was the brand-new wonder of the sports world and the young Dylan was a messianic folksinger with a global following. The Dome may be ready for scrap, but Dylan proved he's still got plenty of artistic life left in him. After a shaky start, he latched on to a country-rock groove so strong that not even the venue's awful acoustics could stop him from winning over the rodeo audience. Forever young, indeed.

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