It's been a hard year thus far for Houston's pre-eminent punk-rock institution, the Hates. Former drummer and co-founder Glenn Sorvisto lost a long, hard battle with cancer last month, and if the Craigslist ads are any indication, the band is still searching for a full-time percussionist.
Nonetheless, our elder statesman Christian Kidd né Arnheiter is still going strong. He taught his annual class at the University of Houston about music of the '70s, his autobiography is nearing completion and now he mans a weekly Internet radio show courtesy of Houston Media Source. Christian Arnheiter's '70s Punk and Beyond airs midnight Fridays.
"When Houston Media Source decided to add an Internet radio station, I was asked if I would be interested in doing a half-hour punk show," said Kidd. "HMS has shown several Hates videos over the years."
Kidd sent us a recording of his third broadcast, and it is equal parts expert mixtape and history lesson on the amazing contributions that the '70s made to music. Incredibly in-depth reminiscences of meetings between giants, the motivations of mad geniuses like Lou Reed, and the perspective of a man who actually lived it roll off Kidd's tongue smoothly and easily.
It's like he's sitting next to you guiding you from one gem to another in a way that has almost left radio forever.
You might think that the show would focus exclusively on the punk scene that Kidd is so famous for being a part of, but his selections run the gamut from Mott the Hoople to Suzi Quatro to the Cramps. It's not a one-trick pony show, but a cohesive look on the musical identity of a particularly fertile period of pop.
"There's not a lot of music from that era that I don't like," says Kidd. "I think glam-rock from Hollywood, New York and London had a huge influence on punk. And I like exploring the less obvious ties that bind to the music that I care so much about.
"I've seen musicians from Irish folk bands, mod music groups or even pub-rock bands end up taking their places in the punk pantheon," he adds. "It's pretty cool to me how so much of it all is interconnected."
It's hard to believe that so much trivia can come straight from one person's head, but Kidd never misses a step. Producers, dates, places, albums, current incarnations, influences and random bits of pop ephemera fall effortlessly into place between the throbbing, loud songs that he plays.
Eventually, Kidd plans to use the "Beyond" part of his show's title to expand even further into other decades and to hopefully include some local music as well. It will always connect to punk in some way.
You wouldn't expect less of a man who has been seen in the Houston streets defiantly showing off his mohawk from an endless series of scooters for decades. Currently, you have to tune into the station at midnight like in the old days, but Kidd hopes to be able to have podcasts available soon.
Kidd remains himself a Houston institution and treasure for his music alone. Now he gives even more back to the city in the form of his experience and knowledge. We never really understood just how much modern music owes to this one magical decade, but now we can't get enough.
"I think the decade was a big influence on modern artists," says Kidd. "I see the theatrics of Lady Gaga, Ke$ha or a hundred other performers and think of the glam movement. I laugh thinking about this one time that a goth kid told me about a song that he loved by the Fields of the Nephilim.
"It was 'In Every Dream Home a Heartache,' which was originally done by Roxy Music," continues Kidd. "One night as the Hates were waiting to hit the stage, a guy complained to me about the house music. He said that Queen was butchering the Metallica song 'Stone Cold Crazy.'
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"I guess there's no accounting for taste, but the proof that the '70s really aren't dead is out there."
Christian Arnheiter's '70s Punk and Beyond airs midnight on Fridays at Houston Media Source.