The Rocks Off 200: Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky

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Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Describing Glass the Sky's music is difficult, the way describing a dream is difficult. It's not a fully-formed thing most of the time. Instead, their largely improvisational and atmospheric songs weave in and out of structure, yet never seem to lose their firm, melodic grip.

One of the linchpins of the band's sound is Erin Rodgers, who lends an ethereal keyboard and vocal presence as well as some clarinet when the situation is called for. Music has been her life for as long as she can remember; she says a song is playing somewhere in her head 100 percent of the time. In school she focused on the clarinet, and eventually learned the piano after her parents acquired an ancient model that had been on someone's front porch for years.

Though Rodgers picked up the guitar to try and get into the live-music scene, she disliked the instrument and jumped at the chance to ditch it after a former band broke up and Glass the Sky started auditioning for a keyboard player. She's been with them ever since.

The band is doing well, with both a full-length album due this year and a music video by acclaimed local director Jerry Ochoa filming in a few weeks. They'll be playing the Wheel Workers' vinyl-release party this Friday. Rodgers also clocks hours in an Austin-based all-female Ween cover band called Poon, which she hopes to get booked in Houston soon.

Home Base: Like a lot of Houston's more diehard musicians, Glass the Sky holes up to rehearse at Francisco's. Rodgers considers the space an improvement over the band's last home because it has more air conditioning and fewer gun shots, but is among the many who have remarked on the urine smell. For playing live, Rodgers likes the upstairs at Fitzgerald's best because the wide-open space suits their sound well.

Good War Story: "I went on tour last summer with the Invincible Czars to fill in for their keyboard player, and the very last leg was the longest -- we had to make it from New Orleans to Austin overnight and play a noon show," Rodgers says. "Somewhere around Baytown at midnight, the alternator died on the van. After a lot of effort and the help of some kind fans, we were able to get most of the equipment and all of the band members to my apartment in Montrose.

By now it's 4 a.m. Some of them wanted to give up and cancel the show, but I wasn't going to hear of that. We managed to get the six of us and the most important pieces of our equipment into my Altima; I had to sit on the floor in the backseat.

Somewhere along the way a piece of rubber in the wheel well of my car started flapping around, but I just cut it off with a knife and we kept going. I forgot to bring my costume (it was Old West-themed), but fortunately the show was in a theater and I found some costume parts backstage.

I think we even managed to look like we'd slept at some point in the last 24 hours.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: Rodgers' day gigs are as an entertainment lawyer and teaching in the audio department of the Art Institute, meaning that she is connected to the Houston music scene three different ways. Seeing it from so many different angles, she hates it whenever she hears someone complain that Houston doesn't have as big of a scene as someplace like Austin. Not that she's an Austin-hater, but Rodgers wishes more people recognized how first-rate what we've got going on here is.

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Why Do You Stay In Houston? "My favorite thing about Houston is that it has no clear identity, so you can be anything you want. I like that challenge," she says. "I used to live in New Orleans, and it seems to me that you automatically have an identity purely by existing there. It was a great identity, but I like the fact that Houston makes me work to be someone."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Andrew Bird, Hands of Glory
  • Radiohead, Hail to the Thief
  • Blood Orange, Coastal Grooves
  • The Antlers, Burst Apart
  • Fiona Apple, Tidal

First Song You Fell in Love With: "That's a tie between "El Condor Pasa" by Simon and Garfunkel -- I took the record to show and tell in Kindergarten, which is probably why I didn't have a ton of friends -- and "Downtown" by Petula Clark," Rodgers says. "That was the first thing I ever taught myself on the Casio."

Glass the Sky plays Fitzgerald's Friday, April 18 with The Wheel Workers and A Sundae Drive.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.


Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC



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