Girlie man... As he's gotten older and bolder, Johnny Goudie has become less afraid to flaunt a certain sexual ambiguity. Lately, the Austin gossip mills have been crawling with reports of the Houston native's exhibitionist displays in his adopted hometown. His silly acts of gender defiance have been rumored to include everything from making out in public with a member of Vallejo to trying to kiss Texas music critic Andy Langer in a crowded bar.

Fortunately, Goudie's unorthodox sex appeal carries over well to the stage. Fronting his band -- which goes simply by the name of Goudie -- the slight-framed, somewhat effeminate singer/guitarist wows the women with his preening rock-star poses and high cheekbones without posing the slightest threat to their men, most of whom could drop him in a heartbeat. Not that they have to worry, anyway: Goudie is married.

"It doesn't give me a boner," says Goudie of his antics. "It's just funny."
Then there's the matter of his songwriting. Undoubtedly, Goudie's music is still as compelling as ever, pooling all the coolest '60s, '70s and '80s influences, especially British Invasion pop, glam rock and new wave. His lyrics, though, have taken a turn toward the bizarre of late. Take, for example, "Drag City," a randy barnburner inspired by the controversial erotic classic The Story of O and an amusing little brainstorming session with his guitarist, Jimmy Messer: "I dress up like your mother so you can call me names," Goudie slurs over a grubby, candy-metal guitar lick. "But I can't be your bitch anymore."

It's safe to say that this is not the Johnny Goudie most locals remember clowning about as the macho frontman for the Houston funk/soul outfit Panjandrum. But then, Goudie has gone through a lot of changes since leaving town after Panjandrum's breakup in 1990 -- and many of the biggest of those have come within the last year.

Goudie's March 11 show at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge will be his first in Houston since last spring. Just days after the latter performance, he dismantled his group to focus on his songwriting and a possible deal with the publishing arm of Lone Wolf Productions (owned by ZZ Top manager Bill Hamm). Then, in June, Goudie found himself in Los Angeles sharing ideas with ex-Go-Go Jane Wiedlin, whom he'd met in Austin a few months earlier. The gorgeously unhinged "Julie," now a staple of Goudie's live set, is a product of their brief partnership. The tune, about a necrophiliac, was written at Wiedlin's L.A. home while the two were high on beer and Valium.

To say the least, those few weeks on the West Coast were quite productive for Goudie. He also teamed up with Kevin Hunter, known for his '80s stint in Wire Train and more recent songwriting work with Sheryl Crow, recording a handful of songs in Hunter's living room. That partnership continues today. Another L.A. highlight for Goudie was having tea with Men At Work's Colin Hay. But, sadly, no songs came out of it. "Dude, you wouldn't believe the amount of people from the '80s I hooked up with," Goudie gushes.

Wisely, the singer carted that enthusiasm back with him to Austin, where he promptly reassembled a band -- which, aside from Messer, includes former Seed drummer Bill Lefler and bassist Einar -- and postponed any commitments to a publishing deal to actively pursue a recording contract. (Columbia has shown some interest.) Interestingly, Goudie has also found a good friend in Spencer Gibb, son of the Bee Gees' Robin Gibb, who relocated to Austin about two years ago. And though the two have teamed up for weekly acoustic shows in Austin, they are not -- as it's been rumored -- writing together in any serious capacity.

The jury's still out, however, on whether they've actually sucked face on Sixth Street.

Toasting regional sounds... Newcomers looking for a quick and painless entree into the wacky, paradoxical inner workings of the Lone Star jukebox could do worse than Texas Music. Written by onetime Press contributor Rick Koster, the book, just out from St. Martin's Press, attempts to reel in well over a half-century of brilliance, rebellion and outright insanity in the span of about 300 pages. For a state as big as Texas -- and a music scene equally vast -- that's no drive in the country. But Koster very nearly pulls it off.

Though somewhat deficient outside the rock, C&W and singer/songwriter realms, Texas Music manages to capture the state's eccentric, mix-and-match flavor, making a colorful case for a scene like no other. But in the process, critical perspective tends to get lost in cheerleading and superlatives. After all, Houston's Mary Cutrufello may be a keen guitarist, but she's no female Jimi Hendrix, as Texas Music implies. Likewise, folks outside Austin might take issue with Koster's assertion that Texas is only as good as its guitar players. It's also hard to excuse the author's reducing Houston rap history to a few-paragraph summary. Even so, former Dallasite Koster displays an obvious passion for his subject matter, be it old country, new country, country punk or (!) new age.

Also worth a perusal: Let the Good Times Roll: A Guide to Cajun and Zydeco Music, published out of Portland, Maine -- of all places. With a forward by Beausoleil's Cajun journeyman Michael Doucet, the new reference book details the recorded output of more than 130 artists -- "virtually every Cajun and zydeco artist that ever made an album," its trio of authors claims; and since I'm no expert on the subject, I'll have to take their word for it. The 232 pages ought to be a hoot for anyone sweet on the squeezebox.

Etc.... Make room for the latest local additions to 1998's South by Southwest showcase lineup. Junior Varsity, Truth Decay and Hamilton Loomis have also been picked to perform in Austin this year, raising the grand total of Houston artists slated for the March conference to a still unremarkable seven (also chosen were Carolyn Wonderland, Jesse Dayton, the Hollisters and Caedmon's Call). Still, don't hold me to that figure. The way things have been going this year at SXSW central, there could be more hometown acts to come.

-- Hobart Rowland

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Hobart Rowland