Rocks Off Now Sponsoring Some Cactus Music In-Stores

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After a preview last fall featuring Girl In a Coma, it gives Rocks Off great pleasure to announce that effective immediately, we will be sponsoring selected in-stores at Cactus Music, no fewer than two a month.

Our first in-store is 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, with Texas mods the Freddy Steady Krc's release party for their 7" and CD 1,000 Miles on Krc's own Steady Boy Records. Then, at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 26, we will be hosting the "Big Squeeze" auditions for Texas Folklife Resources' Texas Accordion Kings (and Queens) festival, inviting any local squeezeboxer 21 years of age and under to compete for a spot at the event that packs Miller Outdoor Theatre every year, like last June. Houston family band Promesa Mortal, featuring 2007 Big Squeeze runner-up Robert Vega and his sister Tina on bajo sexto, will perform.

More to come in March, including possibly Dr. Dog and a rare autograph signing and solo piano performances from Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes. With SXSW around the corner, Cactus owner Quinn Bishop says he's happy to open his stage to artists who otherwise who might be passing through Houston but otherwise wouldn't have anywhere else to play.

Because many tours on their way to SXSW (and the rest of the year) are routed through Dallas instead of New Orleans, "these bands can't get a gig,"Bishop says. "There's no place in Houston for them to play."

Since Cactus reopened at its Shepherd Plaza location in 2007, and especially after some remodeling was finished a couple of years after that, the store has increased its in-stores to a clip of as many as three a day on weekends. Bishop says those days can draw between 125 and 200 people through the doors, "even for local artists."

Most Saturday mornings, Bishop says people start calling around 10 or 11 a.m. (in-stores generally begin at noon or 1 p.m.), and often show up even if they've never heard of who's playing.

"They come because even if they don't know who's playing, [that] it's relevant," Bishop says.

Indeed, these days Cactus' in-stores are almost always packed, as with a recent autograph signing by Beaumont-born bluesman Johnny Winter. Bishop estimates about 1,000 people came through the store, and he even had to have someone at the front door keeping an eye on capacity with a "clicker" like a nightclub would do.

"People were flipping out," Bishop says. "We had a line out the door for 90 minutes."

Local artists have also benefited from Cactus' stewardship. It's rare for someone to have a release party and not also schedule a weekend Cactus date shortly thereafter, which allows them to in turn spread the word at their club show that fans can also come see them for free at Cactus - and tell a friend.

It also helps Cactus. Bishop says the store can see an increase in sales of 35 percent or more on in-store days.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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