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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? The Houston scene got a little groovier (man) earlier this spring with the arrival of Silver Blueberry's Twin Reverberation, one of 2014's more appealing and tuneful local debuts. Chunky and riffy in spots, fragrant and meandering in others, to us it recalls the Paisley Underground, the largely L.A.-based subclass of '80s college-rock that attempted to cross-breed the Byrds' swirling jangle-pop with the Velvet Underground's garagey art-rock.
Some groups were more successful than others, but Dream Syndicate, Green on Red and the Long Ryders continue to have their share of admirers, and the Bangles were loosely associated with the movement before they found their way onto the pop charts and started walking like Egyptians.
Anyhow, like the Breeders, Bee Gees and Tegan and Sara before them, Silver Blueberry features a set of twins, Tyson Rinker and his brother Shaun. The Houston natives have been musicians for most of their adult lives -- "to sit with my guitar, ponder my thoughts, and write songs has always been my favorite way to escape," Tyson affirms -- but didn't join forces until late 2012, after he admits both of them realized "forming a band with like-minded, compatible people was difficult to do."
Nevertheless, it wasn't long before the brothers met Phillipp Kleiner, a drummer and German emigrant who was in Houston working for the German consulate. They hit it off and started hanging out and jamming, and at one of the shows met Jasmine Martinez, a bassist who would shortly become the fourth Blueberry.
"She is a real bright young bass player who shared all the same interests as we did," Tyson says. "We knew we wanted her in the band, and as a friend."
Silver Blueberry, the name, comes from a street the Rinkers once lived on, Tyson explains. The foursome began rehearsing last summer, and played their first real gig at AvantGarden in August. Today, besides Twin Reverberation, "we have tons of great memories from shows, and were excited to see what the future has in store," he says. Silver Blueberry's future is on pause at the moment while business has called Kleiner back to Germany, but they'll be back in action and ready to rock next month.
Home Base: Between the three of them, Silver Blueberry enjoy hanging out at and playing most local venues open to indie-ish bands on their way up: Fitz, AvantGarden, Rudyard's and Mango's, while Tyson tosses in the warehouse-style parties at House of Creeps. Appropriately, Shaun says he also enjoys hanging out in his garage, and Jasmine prefers Silver Blueberry's rehearsal space.
"We like to throw keggers there, which have been known to get pretty wild," she promises.
Good War Story: Tyson recalls something that happened to him at a show one of his previous bands was playing, opening for a group called Jeffree Star:
The average age of that concert was about 16. I guess the thing for all these kids to do at those kinds of concerts is to take ecstasy. While playing, I saw at least five girls flop to the floor having full-on seizures! It was insane! That must have been how the Beatles felt when they arrived to America.
Shaun, meanwhile, reflects on an early AvantGarden gig.
We had so many obstacles just to get down to the gig. We eventually got there and when we started playing we then had a lot of technical difficulties on the stage. It was packed, very sweaty, slippery and loud. Right before "JV Girls," Tyson slipped off the little stage and landed on the ground.
A lot of people rushed to help him up but he just grabbed the mike and sang from the ground, and we all jumped off the stage and went crazy. It was just really awesome to see how much the energy rose in the room. We took whatever was thrown at us and just kept it going!
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Jasmine says she's annoyed by cameraphones "all up in my view of the stage," while Shaun says he can do without the cliques and "elitism" he sometimes encounters.
"It's all Rock n' Roll to me!" he says.
Story continues on the next page.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? Houston may not be the hippest city in the world, Tyson argues, but he's proud of being from here. "People from the outside always seem to think its just another cow town with no art and culture but I tend disagree with that," he says. "Especially over the last few years, the music scene has became a lot more diverse and exciting."
"You can take the easy route and move to a city where you might have a better chance of getting noticed in the music scene," adds Shaun, "but I think it will say a lot more about you and your band if you can make it happen here in Houston. Plus the scene is definitely on the rise down here."
Jasmine, though, stays because it's home and always has been: "gotta start where your feet are," she figures.
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Beatles, Abbey Road
- Pink Floyd, The Wall
- Joan Jett, Up Your Alley
- Deap Vally, Sistronix
- Suzi Quatro, Suzi Quatro
- Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
- Jacobites, Robespierre's Velvet Basement
- Bob Dylan, Blood On the Tracks
- Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
- Roky Erickson, Gremlins Have Pictures
- Van Halen, Van Halen
- The Speedies, You Need Pop
- Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland
- Dogs D'Amour, The State We're In
- Psychedelic Furs, Forever Now
Best Concert You Ever Saw: At age 17, Tyson's mom took him to see Chuck Berry on the rock and roll elder statesman's 79th birthday, when "he was still duck walkin' and movin' all over the place...it was magical," he remembers. Shaun's came when he was a few years younger, sitting eight rows back from the Sammy Hagar-fronted Van Halen at Toyota Center.
"It definitely lit a fire under me," he says of his 14-year-old self.
First Song You Fell In Love With: Tyson got into Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA" at age eight and says he "still jam(s) that whole album to this day." (So do we.) Choosing Jimi Hendrix's "The Burning of the Midnight Lamp," Shaun says, "Such an amazing intro and beautiful song...I love songs that remind me of a different time of my life.
"Every time I hear it now it reminds of being a young kid watching Andrew Reynolds' part in Emerica -- This Is Skateboarding," he adds. "Epic skate part and epic song!"
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and a link to the Rocks Off 100, on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
DJ Squincy Jones, "If It Jams, I Play It!" DJ B*Ryte, From VA To H-Town With Love Jess Walker, the Pride of Pride Houston Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star John Janatsch, Mayor of Houston Rock City Frank Ortiz, Synth-Pop Served Perfectly frank. Optimo Ram, Online Radio Jefe Meagan Chambers, Don't Gag Her Gorgeous Guitar Justin Nava, the Voice of thelastplaceyoulook Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky 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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