The 10 Biggest Reasons Houston Is Turnt Up

...because B L A C K I E has a new release out, and it's a doozy. Entitled Imagine Your Self In a Free and Natural World, it's subdivided between two tracks that last more than 16 minutes apiece, "Wings Blocking Out the Sun" and "Forest of Ex-Lovers," and a six-minute coda, "Cry, Pig!" Forest is an apt metaphor too, because you'll find a virtual Grimm's fairy tale full of spooky sounds and monsters of the mind within these three tracks.

Listen for globs of synthesizers like the opening of The Shining, wheezing saxophones combining in a dissonant chorale, bass-guitar notes marking time like the secondhand on an armageddon clock, an ominous Doors-like repeating guitar pattern, and an abundance of its creator's primal-scream therapy. Depending on your temperament, Imagine Your Self... could be a tough listen anywhere outside a 2 a.m. drive through industrial wastelands, but this explosion of nervy energy is surely best experienced live -- where the always-riveting B L A C K I E is in his element.

...because female lead singers always end their Houston shows with smeared mascara and messed-up, frizzy hair. It's probably the humidity, but we'd like to think it's because Houston knows how to have a good time.

...because live local jazz is alive, and the torch is being passed. Stalwarts like Kelly Dean, Erin Fisher Wright and Warren Sneed are welcoming newer, younger players into the fold; in Sneed's case, his own son Andrew is an excellent drummer to look out for. Maybe one of these exciting new talents can unseat Free Radicals -- awesome group, but not a pure jazz band -- from its HPMA Best Jazz Act throne.

Within the last month, Dean put some young players through their paces with his band TKOh! at Jet Lounge, and they held their own. Weeks later, he was oversaw a young pianist's efforts like a proud papa at Costa's Thursday Jam Session. The experienced guiding the novice players along -- that's what makes a strong scene, and it's nice to see Houston's flexing some muscle again.

...because it's slowly becoming the festival capital of Texas.

...because "Fuck You, Houston's Awesome." When I'm at a local music fest or show and I see people of all backgrounds wearing FYHA gear and my heart grows three times its size, just like The Grinch on Christmas Day. They can keep Austin weird and tie-dyed if they want, and Dallas is so hoity-toity it doesn't even have a catchphrase. But when visiting bands come here, they get an eyeful of "Fuck You" from the crowd's T-shirts and know right from jump they need to bring it.

...because people still showed some damn sense and a sense of outrage when asked to pay $80 to park near a stadium hardly anyone visits these days for the Beyonce/Jay Z show. Economics 101: don't pay for something that's overpriced and you won't be asked to pay a similar outlandish price the next time. Every Houstonian knows what they seem not to in L.A., NYC and Paris.

List continues on the next page.

...because of Little Joe Washington.

...because bunch of second- and third-tier show promoters with big ideas and bigger balls aren't afraid to book a show in someone's living room, squeeze three dozen acts into an eight-hour day or keep giving unknown locals chances to play their way into the major leagues. Most bands don't go right from the garage to Fitzgerald's or House of Blues, they earn their way in by playing the small circuit first -- proof our local music scene is developing depth.

...because of videos like this:

...and this:


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