CACTUS MUSIC’S THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
Of course it’s always better to not wait until Black Friday to do your record-store shopping, but Cactus is a hell a lot more enjoyable than fighting the hordes at Kohl’s or Best Buy. This year the store is putting out choice Record Store Day-related swag from Don Henley, the Dead Weather and more, a scavenger hunt for Suffers New Year’s Eve tickets, but as usual the real pull are the in-stores. Charlie and the Regrets (1 p.m. Friday) and Chris Lively (1 p.m. Saturday) will be performing by personal invitation of Cactus GM Quinn Bishop, simply because he wanted to expose more people to their new albums.
Also performing at 3 p.m. Friday will be Trudy Lynn, Houston’s premiere blues diva and 2015 Houston Music Hall of Famer, who sings it like she means it on new album Everything Comes With a Price — currently No. 9 on Billboard’s blues-albums chart — with hard-blowing harp man Steve Krase riding shotgun. Putting some Chicano soul into Small Business Saturday, at 3 p.m. San Antonio’s Los Nahuatlatos and H-Town’s DJ Simmer Down offer a preview of Nick Gaitan’s “Sounds of Tejas Roots Music” that evening at House of Blues. CHRIS GRAY
I am increasingly thankful for the number of emerging collectives who together, not individually, make each other greater. From Wonky Power, Cloudopolis and Printz not Prince to Defunkt, Sweater Weather and Dykon Fagatron, these collectives provide opportunities for artists to continue pursuing their dreams of becoming great while building a stronger, more resourceful community. STEPHAN WYATT
When it comes to Houston music, I'd say I'm most thankful for the overall community. The music scene is an incredibly close group of caring people who have dedicated their lives to the promotion and awareness of an incredible cross-section of diverse talent. Whether you realize it or not, many of the people who showcase artists are only rarely publicly acknowledged. These people sacrifice their time, talent and energy in an enormous communal effort to build the Houston music scene — every night of the week. From managers, publicists, tickets sales, stage hands, sound production, merch retailers, photographers (and journalists of course) all the way to the person sweeping the venue after a show at 3 a.m., these dedicated individuals often make minimum wage or less, earn no benefits and work long, late hours. All of this sacrifice for the love of Houston music and the fabulous artists that live here. Best of all, I can honestly say the Houston music community is the kindest, most helpful group of people I've ever worked with. Every one of them deserve our thanks and appreciation every day of the year. KRISTY LOYE
DAY FOR NIGHT
This year, I’m thankful that Free Press Houston took the plunge and decided to try out a full-blown winter music festival in Houston. I’ve never been to an outdoor festival during summer in this town when at least 11 people nearby weren’t actively bitching about the heat, and that always leads to some wise-ass or another pontificating on how brilliant it would be to hold the festival in winter, instead. I’ve got high hopes that the Day for Night festival next month will shut said wise-asses up for good simply by proving them right, once and for all. The fact that it’s going to afford me the opportunity to see Kendrick Lamar, New Order, Philip Glass and Richard freakin’ Ramirez all on the same weekend without checking into a crappy motel is almost just a bonus. NATHAN SMITH
JEREMY HART & DAVID GARRICK
I am grateful for Jeremy Hart (Space City Rock) and David Garrick (Free Press Houston) for their continued dedication to Houston's burgeoning music scene. Need a show promoted? Send an email (at least a day or two before the performance, please) to Jeremy about an upcoming show, and he will make sure it gets posted. Need a CD, tape, or online tracks reviewed, a place to perform, or blurb of promotion, contact David, and he will make sure to give you a shout-out. Both are encyclopedias of Houston's music history, so they have had a first-hand look at failure and success in this city. STEPHAN WYATT
Unless you're deserving of a stocking full o' coal, you will suppress the completely understandable urge to body-slam your fellow Black Friday shoppers this week. Thanks to Hometown Hoedown, we don't have to turn the Walmart electronics department into a mosh pit. Every Thanksgiving weekend for nine years now, punk bands have gathered to give thanks for a small but close community and to provide a setting for everyone to forget, at least momentarily, about the downsides of the holidays. Past Hoedowns have been held at Mango's and Walters; this year's all-ages event will be down at White Swan on Saturday night. Perennial neckbreakers KTCM have brought their brand of thrash to all but one of the shows; this year promoter Scott Gray has added Battle Rifle, The Drafted, Gnar World Order, DDA and Escape From the Zoo. If you don't want to wind up in jail — or, worse yet, the star of one of those incriminating Black Friday YouTube videos — go get yer ya-yas out at the Hoedown. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
HOUSTON PRESS MUSIC WRITERS
It’s almost sad that it takes something like Thanksgiving for us to recognize or own writers, but what better time to do it? The Houston Press is blessed to have well over a dozen of those freelance oddballs known as "music writers," folks who not only care deeply about music but know enough about it to string together more than two sentences, and aren’t shy about telling people their opinions on it. Reflecting what a crazy quilt of humanity the Bayou City is, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a more motley bunch of people under the same masthead. We love what they bring to the table, especially their taste for the out-of-the-way and offbeat: sure, we do concerts and festivals, and plenty of them, but also Texans rapper tweets, Ask Willie D, Explaining Grownup Music to Kids, and in-depth conversations with folks ranging from death-metal bands to H-Town punk legends. You certainly won’t find stuff like that at any other news organization in town, or people as dedicated to covering local music in all its many shapes and flavors, either. As the Music Editor, I am forever thankful for that. CHRIS GRAY
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KPFT’S SUNDAY BLUES
No disrespect to the other days’ programming, especially Saturday’s rootsy free-for-all, but KPFT’s block of blues programming makes Sunday, already the most soulful day of the week, the sweetest too. Eleven straight hours of blues from 6 a.m. on, thanks to the good people of Down Home Blues, Blues On the Move, Blues Brunch and Howlin’ the Blues, lets listeners hear how wide the blues has spread its tentacles throughout our society; in practice it means you’ll probably hear several Lightnin’ Hopkins songs throughout the day, but perhaps something from Adele’s 25 too. And there’s always something special about leaving the grocery store and turning on the car to hear Muddy Waters stomping his way through “Deep Down In Florida.” For blues lovers, experiences like that can’t be bought. CHRIS GRAY
I know it's sappy, but if one can't ooze sappiness during the holiday season, when can one ooze? I'm actually thankful to have met so many nice people while writing about Houston music the past couple of years. Almost without exception, my encounters have been pleasant. From simple inquiries about shows or albums, I've been able to get to know some of Houston's most interesting people a little bit. From musicians to managers to venue operators and staffers, talent buyers and show promoters and the blessed people who take time from their day to read these bits and, of course, the folks with Houston Press Music — I appreciate you all and hope to meet many more of you through this pastime. It's a worthy pastime. I root hard for Houston music to break through because it's good music made by excellent people. Who wouldn't be thankful for that? JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
While I certainly appreciate the larger, corporate-owned venues, what I'm talking about are the mom and pop locally owned dive bars. The local watering holes that offer a stage to our own homegrown talent. Places that smell like spilled beer and sweat with an open mic night and a turf attitude. The type of place willing to give a new band their first gig; gritty buildings filled with memories and graffitti. Give me a lo-fi room with a four-piece punk band who smell like they've been traveling in a van for weeks with a beer-fueled circle pit and I'll call it home. These venue owners are everything to our scene; without them, we wouldn't have a scene to be thankful for.
Before you dismiss this idea, remember, opening a business takes great personal risk. Besides that, it's an even greater risk to open a venue with no guarantee of customers, customer loyalty, or even booking famous bands to receive a good draw. Think about your best memories at a great show in Houston — all of that happened because someone cared about our scene enough to pour their own time, effort and money into creating a place where local bands could be showcased. KRISTY LOYE