Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, 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.
Who? If you're a fan of Texas R&B radio, and you definitely should be, there is no greater compliment than to compare Clint Broussard's Blues In Hi-Fi to Paul Ray's Twine Time. The latter program ran for years and years and years Saturday eveninngs on Austin's KUT-FM, with Ray -- himself a key figure in Austin's '70s blues scene with his group the Cobras -- mixing solid gold oldies, regionally-oriented classics and ultra-rarities, all in the name of soul.
Broussard works that same kind of Gulf Coast groove on Blues In Hi-Fi. A Nederland native whose dad went to Port Arthur's Thomas Jefferson High School with Janis Joplin and ex-NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, he did his Wednesday-night show on KTRU for 12 years until the Rice-owned station's signal and transmitter was bought and transferred to the University of Houston, which now operates the station as KUHA Classical 91.7. Surely you remember that whole mess, which still wasn't as awful as the serious car accident that Broussard mercifully survived in April 2011.
Next Monday, Blues in Hi-Fi goes back on the air, at 6 p.m. on KPFT 90.1 FM, after the syndicated Pacifica network show previously in its spot (Uprising) ceased production. Broussard's program hadn't really gone anywhere, joining many other KTRU shows on one of KPFT's HD channels, but the 14th is his first time back on the FM airwaves. Right now it's only an hour long, but he says if all goes well, he could get bumped back to two hours. In any case, he sounds awfully glad to be back.
"Being a music 'dork,' it's nice to share a passion with people that choose to listen," Broussard says. "I still love to learn with my audience; yet I'm so happy to share what I've learned over the years with them. I am, simply, a record collector who enjoys sharing his passion with anyone who'll tolerate it.
"I'm also very humbled by the kindness and sincerity the people of this city have shown me," he adds.
Broussard estimates he owns 3,000 LPs and the same number of 45s, "at least." It's alphabetized according to genre and year as well, with selections from just about all of Houston's finest wax merchants.
Resale Concert Tickets
"I typically buy records at Cactus, Sound Exchange, Black Dog, Heights Vinyl, Vinal Edge, Sig's Lagoon, or Half Price Books," Broussard lists, careful not to leave anyone out. "I try to not do so much online buying. I'd rather keep my money in the community. Houston is SO LUCKY to have so many local record stores."
Home Base: "Well, after having not been on the radio in at least a year and a half, I am honored to say that a few places have had me DJ and help keep my name and interests in the fold," Broussard says. "I've spun at Cactus, Leon's Lounge, and Poison Girl. All three places continue to keep local DJs working, and relevant!
"The Ginger Man has had me do many events as well," he adds. "I'm so thankful to all of these places. I hang out in all of them. My typical haunts are Under the Volcano, The Ginger Man, Poison Girl, Leon's Lounge, Blanco's, The Big Easy, and occasionally at Big Star Bar and/or Fitzgerald's."
Good War Story: "I will say, I've had Billy Gibbons on the show," Broussard says, an excellent way to open a lengthy and touching tale. "He came up and spun records with me. We talked about Houston, his upbringing, and some of his favorite tracks."
I've interviewed Jimmie Vaughan. He was a total gentleman, and could not have been more willing to be part of the show. However, my favorite moment from my program, sadly, came when it was announced that KTRU was sold.
I was invited to do a "spin" at Cactus even before the announcement came. [Cactus GM] Quinn Bishop and all the great staff at Cactus suggested that I turn it into a "rally," which was a great idea. I tried to make the day about the station, and not about the show.
There had been another rally on campus that day, and after it finished, they all came to Cactus. I met so many people that were really endearing to my show and to the station. It was really something.
The best part was when I was approached by a family of four. The parents were pretty young and had an infant and a little girl who had to be about three or four. The parents came up and said such kind things about listening to my show for a long time and really enjoying it.
I shook their hands and couldn't have been more honored; when their daughter (the toddler) reached up and said, "Mr. Clint! We listen to your show every Wednesday and make dinner and dance!" Just then, she handed me a paper plate that she had colored, and cut out to make a "Spotlight 45."
To those who don't know, I did a feature on my show for it's entire run, where I dropped a needle on a "spotlight 45" every week at the halfway mark of the show. I would talk about the label, the producer, the musicians, where it was recorded, etc.
Anyhow, this little girl's name was Lucy. I was humbled and completely touched that not only a family such as hers had been listening to my program, but that she, herself, made something to show her appreciation. I had spent all those years giving out "Spotlight 45s," and Lucy was the first and only person to give one back. I'll never forget her.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I stay here because of the history and people," Broussard explains. "Musically, the history in Houston, Texas FAR overshadows that of Austin or anywhere else in this state. We had one of the most important blues/R&B/soul labels in the country based out of Houston for at least two decades (Duke/Peacock).
"Meanwhile, if you find your niche here, nothing else could be more comforting," he adds. "Everything you could possibly want is here in this city. You just have to find it. There is no defining characteristic of Houston because so much is here; but there is something for everyone here."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Broussard interpreted this question as "What makes me think about leaving?" "Only the lack of preservation and knowledge regarding the music scene here," he says. "There are so many great bands here that vary in style; but we as a city have made it difficult for those bands, or their fans, to truly know and understand what came before them in this great city.
"Preservation has had a difficult struggle in Houston," he continues. "We are a prosperous and fortunate city; but sometimes we think so forward, that the past disappears. That's my only regret about Houston. However, I'm not ever leaving. I'm here to fight the good fight."
Five Desert Island Discs:
Everyone loves this question. "Wow. Oddly enough, most might not be blues," says Broussard. "To me, blues is such a 'singles'-era thing. The songs can cut you to the quick, but they were never meant to be albums. I could be wrong. Either way..."
- James Brown, Live at the Apollo (King, 1963)
- The Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle (Date Records, 1968)
- Nick Drake, Pink Moon (Hannibal/Island, 1972)
- Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City (Ardent, 1972/'74) ("Maybe I'm cheating," Broussard says. "I hope not." We'll allow it. - ed.)
- The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966)
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "Ray Charles at Jazz Fest In New Orleans," says Broussard in another lengthy reply that necessitates the blue-block text again:
I had seen in the same day: Dale Hawkins, Elmo Williams, Dr. John, and Fats Domino. All were really amazing. My brother, Phillip, and I had gone to a tent to see Bobby Bland. I was stoked. I'd never seen him before.
He came out and begin to sing and I noticed that his voice would go out completely at points. You could hear this clicking sound; yet, it was his voice struggling to hit a note. It broke my heart for him. Bland has been, and always will be, one of my favorite artists ever.
I just thought that it would be difficult to see Ray Charles after the Bobby Bland show. I told my brother, "Man, I don't want to go to the main stage. I love Ray Charles so much; it would be a total bummer to see him struggle up there." Luckily, my brother talked me into hitting the main stage.
Ray came out in a brown tuxedo. The entire orchestra was behind podiums that had "RC" written on them. He was led to his piano and sat down only to unleash one of the most powerful shows I've ever seen. His voice was as amazing as I might have dreamed.
He did "I Believe To My Soul," "Busted," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Unchain My Heart" and a version of "Georgia On My Mind" that left the ground soggy (and it did not rain that day...) Seeing Ray Charles has stayed with me ever since. Nothing will ever be able to top it. Or at least, I hope not.
First Song You Fell In Love With? "Probably 'Cry Baby' by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters, or 'My True Story' by The Jive Five," Broussard says. "When I was a small child, my Dad used to play his records on Saturday while my Mom was at work. He, my brother, and me would listen intently. My Dad would sing along close to on pitch with some of the doo-wop falsettos.
"Those two songs stick out in my head from when I was really small," he continues. "I still love them both dearly, and they both show up in my radio show from time to time."
THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!