Possibly the biggest surprise of this recent turn of events is the return of Willie D. His unceremonious departure after 1991's breakthrough We Can't be Stopped and its blistering Scarface-penned personal agony anthem, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," was thought to signal the beginning of the end for the group. Instead, the Geto Boys picked up new member Big Mike and continued on, pulling in their biggest hit with 1993's Till Death Do Us Part, which finished at number one on Billboard's R&B chart. Apparently, Willie D knew a reunion with his former mates was inevitable. "I couldn't shake the connection," he says. "Every time I went to a club, I was always introduced as Willie D from the Geto Boys."
Just months ago, a chance meeting between Willie D and Scarface at Houston's Ultimate Sounds recording studio ignited plans for the Geto Boys' return. Both were working on other projects -- Scarface with his R&B group, Flah, and Willie D with a local rap act -- but the prospect of working on the group's first release in three years was enough to draw them back. And about those major incompatibilities? "We settled our differences," Willie D says, "like men."
The Geto Boys are featured this month in a special "on the road" issue of the national rap/urban industry publication, BRE, focusing on Houston. Also included are stories on Suave Records, D.J. Screw and teenage R&B up-and-comer Jackie Key.
The party's getting oldE In organizing this year's Party on the Plaza concert series, local promoters, it seems, have surrendered to the dinosaurs. Pace Concerts has ended its one-year affiliation with new-music station The Buzz/107.5 FM, and taken up with Arrow/93.7 FM for a warm-weather spurt of rehashed stadium-rock glory at Jones Plaza. Eddie Money is the tentative headliner for the first concert on March 14, and aging bands such as Starship and April Wine are slated to take the stage for future shows. Intermingled with the nostalgia will be performances from crowd-pleasing Texas acts such as Storyville, Miss Molly and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Quite simply, booking older acts for Party on the Plaza's tenth year made financial sense, says Tyler Flood, Pace's special events coordinator. Though last year's Buzz-sponsored show with Adam Ant drew one of the largest crowds in the series' history, says Flood, many of the other concerts were poorly attended.
"Classic rock is time-tested," he says. "What we figured out by trial and error is that it is that type of crowd that comes out."
The name game... Succumbing to major-label pressure, Clover has reluctantly changed its name to Clouded to avoid confusion with the Mercury Records band Klover; Mercury apparently got wind of Houston's Clover through a promotional package. With the group's first trip to Austin's South by Southwest Music and Media Conference less than a month away, the timing couldn't have been more unfortunate -- or necessary, considering that name recognition is key in a zoolike conference atmosphere. The band played its first show as Clouded on Sunday at Emo's Alternative Lounge.
Etc.... Fiery Houston singer/songwriter Mary Cutrufello is hitting the road at the end of the month as a guitarist for Jimmie Dale Gilmore's touring band. Cutrufello says she'll begin with a string of Texas dates that includes South by Southwest, break for a few months until the June release of Gilmore's new CD, then take up with him again on a national tour this summer.
Local Tejano superstars La Mafia will join cowboy legend Mickey Gilley for an open house Thursday at Jones Tape Duplicating, which is celebrating its 25th year in business. The Houston company has changed considerably since its early days as a recording studio churning out hits for Gilley (a studio founder), Bobby Bland, Archie Bell and the Drells and others. An outgrowth of the studio's success, Jones Tape Duplicating currently manufactures cassettes and CDs for mass distribution, working with everyone from local groups (deadhorse, 30footfFALL) to national-caliber acts (Willie Nelson, Doug Supernaw, Geto Boys).
Also Thursday: Texas Johnny Brown celebrates his 68th birthday with a bash at Billy Blues; an all-female lineup featuring vocalist Marilynn Thibodaux, pianist Claudia Burson, bassist Erin Wright and sax/flute virtuoso Carol Chaikin entertains the jazz-inclined at Ovations. Friday, Dallas-based dabblers in the discordant, rubberbullet, headline at Deep Phat with Injury and I End Result. Saturday, funk-enraged H.O.R.D.E. outcasts Ugly Americans return to their semi-regular haunt, the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. A full-length release from this Austin-based sextet is imminent who knows when, but, in the meantime, the group's groove-heavy live performances are a must-see, sweat-soaked fun-for-all. -- Hobart Rowland