Sick of corporate Christmas? Try shopping local. Hair Balls presents a 12-part series highlighting ideas for holiday gifts made and sold in Texas.
Hair Balls is headed to Cactus Music tonight for another in-store, and it got us thinking -- Cactus is pretty much the most awesome place in Houston for local music lovers. They certainly carry the best selection of CDs from local bands in town, and they're free in-stores are a good way to catch a few songs from a group you're curious about with committing to a whole night on the town. They also sell gift cards (hint, hint).
If you are shopping for a budding musician, you need only scan the back pages of the Press to find ads for instructors. Or head over to Fuller's for a cheap used ax and to sign up for lessons.
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If you're looking for something fancier, Houston has a ton of luthiers making born-in-Texas instruments. Rahan makes Stratocaster-like electrics right here in Houston. They also sell guitars by Fender and Gibson. Check their special deals page for scratch-and dents that are just as good as new -- there's a Houston-made Rahan on there now for about $900.
Marchione Guitars is based in the Montrose, and check out Stephan Marchione's client list, which includes Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler, even Mel Tormé. His guitars are stunningly beautiful, and he also makes violins and basses.
For something a little different, what about a Remington Steel guitar, named after Houston's own musical icon Herb Remington. In fact, if you have a music lover in your life, do them the favor of treating them to a performance of the Swingfield Playboys sometime at the Mucky Duck. Not only do the Playboys feature Herbie (who was in Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, is probably the most famous lap steel guitarist in America, and as an octogenarian, in a nonrenewable resource of music history), but the other musicians, especially fiddle player Jeff Duncan, are pretty amazing in their own right.
If you can really afford it, pitch in for a few sessions for your favorite band at Sugar Hill, Houston's oldest recording studio. Barron Studios is another option, and their rates are about $50 an hour, with a special of five hours for $200.