A new year can be like a tyrannical, spandex-clad personal trainer, the kind that bullhorns you right out of a blissful slumber and straight into whatever resolution you’ve sworn to keep. Just because some bottle rockets and champagne corks were popped, we’re all expected to be better versions of who we were just a week ago.
Okay, yes, fine, it’s actually admirable that so many of us are using the calendar turn to attempt personal improvement; of course, Houston’s music community is following suit. In the last week alone, we’ve seen many of our favorites vow that 2017 will be the year they put in more work than a Himalayan-size anthill. While all that labor is appreciated, we hope you won’t put too much pressure on yourselves, artists.
That’s why we’re advocating for a kinder, gentler approach to these promises. We asked some of Houston's musical locals to share their wishes for 2017 rather than their resolutions. We already know they’re going to do everything they can to make Houston music bigger and better, and are interested in how they hope that work will ultimately pay off. Here’s what they shared:
Andrew is the self-described “boss person” at Satellite Bar and bassist for Cleen Teens. The bar is open tonight for California bilingual ska act Tarolas de Hueso. Cleen Teens next perform Sunday, January 8, at Walters with Jealous Creatures and San Antonio’s The Rich Hands.
“My wish for 2017 is to find bigger and better ways to carry on as an active member of the Houston music scene!" says Andrew. "2016 was full of late nights at Satellite Bar — lots of hands were shook, and connections/plans were made. I'm very excited to move forward and continue to share this incredible experience with so many great and talented people."
We caught singer-songwriter Gibson and his bandmates, Gerard James and Richard Rodriguez, earlier this week at Notsuoh and can’t wait to catch the band’s next gig, February 4 at Heights Vinyl. We’re pretty sure we’ll be humming “Stellar” and other favorites right up to the band’s set at For the Community 13 in March.
“Our one and only wish this year, both musically and personally, is to align ourselves within a space that is organic and feeds the soul," says Gibson. "We plan on stripping down the sound to something earthy and intimate. Oh yeah! And look forward to an album coming out this year. Infinite Love and best new year's wishes to everyone from the Markell Gibson Band.”
Rachel Hansbro of Fitzgerald’s finished 2016 in a whirlwind. From 30footFALL’s annual Xmas show to a Shinyribs set and a New Year’s Eve party featuring Soul Creatures and Muddy Belle, she was busy with the good work of bringing excellent music to her Houston neighbors.
“Professionally, I wish for more national and regional touring bands to keep Houston in their horizon, and to keep having great shows with large, thirsty crowds at Fitzgerald's," she says. "Personally, I hope that our community continues to support our ever-growing, diverse musical scene and to find better ways to lift one another up instead of tearing each other down. We do more when we are working together.”
McCrary is vocalist for longtime punk act The Unconvicted. The band plans to celebrate ten years together this year with a new album, tentatively titled Under the Influence. What started out as “six or seven” songs bloomed into 15 recorded tracks, McCrary shares, so the band hopes to release the work by April.
“We hope to get this record out soon and really make a splash in 2017," he says. "We hope to grow even more as songwriters and get to rock out with as many awesome bands as possible this year! We love this punk rock scene.”
DANIEL “BARTY” RODRIGUEZ
Rodriguez performs with The Real McCoys, which plays Satellite Bar tonight; and, Heck Nugget, which is slated to play at Christmas Island on January 11. “I didn't set any goals for last year and it ended up being an awesome one," he says. "Played shows all over town, venues, houses, DIY spots. And got to do a mini tour. Everything booked by myself and/or with help from some fellow musicians we either met along the way or people we already knew from ‘the scene.’ The Real McCoys released Folk Drunk, and in about a week we got hundreds of downloads and thousands of people all over the world listening. We even got some e-mails from the UK and Slovenia asking us to play shows there...it was a very unreal week. I also joined Heck Nugget, a project a little bit more pop with sad lyrics and happy melodies. With them, we started playing shows in April and got to share the stage with some awesome bands. We also got selected to open for Jeff Rosenstock at Walters; I was speechless when we got an email saying they wanted us to open.
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"So, for this 2017, I guess I just want to continue to do what I've been doing — booking shows, playing and recording, and, if we can, I wanna keep touring; that’s the coolest experience I had so far," adds Rodriguez. "Both The Real McCoys and Heck Nugget are working on albums. I personally would like ’em to be released before June so I can say I released three albums in one year, but that's just me. Another wish that's a little harder to accomplish is to go back and visit my hometown, Montevideo, Uruguay, and play with my best friends in Lusers, a band that I'm a part of every time I'm home. Then my biggest wish is for the Houston scene to keep growing the way it is. There's a lot of talent out there and our local bands are doing a great job making music.”
Sjoberg is a burgeoning singer-songwriter with a tenacious spirit. Her legion of fans nearly elected her this year’s Houston Press Music Awards Reader’s Choice, and she rewarded their faithfulness by giving them “World” in December, an official video to her 2016 single.
“As a musician, my hopes for 2017 is that with my passion and hard work, I'm able to not only put Houston on the map, but share my music with the world," she says. "Being a Reader’s Choice nominee by the [HPMAs] and successfully releasing my single and first music video was amazing; it has encouraged me to spread my message. Great things have happened...but I know this is only the beginning.”