by Andy Eng
Well done, folks! Another summer is successfully in the books; another school year has begun. We survived the anniversary of Hurricane Ike dry as a bone and despite the rough start for our hometown pro football team, pressing on with the gusto that makes us Houston. There was some very good live music out and about on the SCENE, and we enjoyed catching up with many of you out there. Let’s take some time to run down some of what went down in September.
Zone 504 – Over the past couple of years, Cassette Tape has grown themselves a nice Nuevo Grateful Dead / Phish-like following that tends more on the bright and happy side of the groove. And so with that, we headed into the Zone 504 for a homecoming evening of sorts with Cassette Tape in the house. Many new bands in our area got their early chances at this cozy Lighthouse District hangout; so it’s always cool when they make it back after their road of triumph.
In case you’ve never been to Zone, it’s a perfectly sized venue of a large garage-sized proportions which makes it a great place to catch the latest bands coming out who very likely formulated their sound inside a garage to perfection at loud volumes which just so happens to translate perfectly into the cozy Zone 504 caverns, complete with a great AC, full bar and grill, making for a perfect evening of fine live music. Dig it?
Jackie’s Brickhouse – ’Twas time to checkout one the area’s favorite performers, the Mambo Jazz King’s at Jackie’s Brickhouse, of course. It was a fine night catching up with Tim Miller (of Equusearch) in the house relaxing and shooting a game of pool in the back. Mr. Miller speaks with his eyes louder than anybody I’ve ever seen and that evening at the Brickhouse, it was good seeing him get in some R&R. Back to the Jazz Kings. Personally, I first crossed paths with this big band at the first GBAMA post-Ike fundraiser, and along with you, have enjoyed their shows over the years since. Band Master, Art, had the group crisp and tight on the turnarounds as ever. One of these days, I think it would be cool if Jackie’s Brickhouse brought the Mambo Jazz Kings to the annual Clear Lake Epicurean Evening for the night’s entertainment – Either the Jazz Kings or somebody like Madigan, either would make for the perfect big event the likes this area seems to be missing since Ballunar Festival, South Shore Harbor Wine Festival, or the Old Seabrook Music Festival. Perhaps?
Over the Top – Was watching this year’s Emmy Awards and couldn’t help but notice all the stars of yesteryear pulling in nominations for the seemingly more dignified and elderly categories these days. These nominees really need to go see a Hunger show and see what aging with out “getting old” is all about. This year’s annual Hunger Pre-Labor Day party at Scout Bar clearly made it on my over-the-top list – ’Twas good catching up with many of you… Many bands I’ve witnessed over the years age with grace and dignity, but with the Hunger, we notice that these guys simply reload, stick it in your face, all while kicking everything up to a higher level. Pretty impressive, yes? I’ve made mention before the brilliance of bringing in another keyboard player, allowing the two Wilson brothers to focus on the vocal harmonies – Aside from sounding better than ever as one powerful voice, the band cleared the stage of the mic stand clutter making room for high-flying action complete with a good, old-fashioned mosh pit, all of which tallying the score that night to an Over the Top level. My only lament about the entire evening was being able to get a picture of the entire band all looking into the camera at the same time and out of position on some of the jumps – Utterly impossible…. The honor of opening on this evening went to Vanilla Sugar and Tydings and possibly a candidate for new band of the year, To Whom It May. This band includes the former Melovine members sans frontman Matthew Neice, featuring Johnathan Jourdan (Lead), Robb Marshall (bass), and Dexas Villarreal (drums). An awesome night with a great crowd – an epic show! Cheers!!!
AND THE POINT BEING – Prior to becoming a shutterbug, I used to record music and produce CD albums of live music performances. About 8 years ago, my guitar dealer, Danny D invited me out to check out his band, at that time playing the old Sundance Grill, where I met Andy Upchurch of Andy and The Dreamsicles. Over the years, this group has entertained thousands of people in the local area and in September, we caught up with them doing just that at T-Bone Tom’s under the big palapa stage which gets us to the point of the matter – HEY FOLKS, IT’S PATIO SEASON!!! If you haven’t already, IT’S TIME TO GET OUT!!!
TOUR STOP CLEAR LAKE – This month, we caught Nothing More on their Monster Outbreak Tour along with a full house at Scout Bar in September. With a seemingly dubious roster over their 12-year history of 12 musicians, this current line up has demonstrated to be most solid with only drummer Ben Anderson being the only member with fewer than seven years tenure. Frontman Jonny Hawkins (lead vocals and additional drums) clearly connects with the audience giving it his all while veterans Mark Vollelunga and Daniel Oliver (guitar and bass) shows through their love for playing to the appreciative fans, something you simply can’t fake. Looking at the setup at Scout Bar, I’m actually sorta glad we don’t have that humungous amphitheatre like they do up north or that huge fine art theatre out west. Yeah, they’re nice and draw lots of good shows, but a Tour Stop Clear Lake, every seat at Scout Bar is up front. We’ve got it good!!
A NEW GAME – Saw an interesting site the other night with Claudia Hammond strapped into a Stratocaster at the Hourglass show at the Cock-Eyed Seagull in September. Over the years, we’ve only seen her play on acoustic Martins and Taylors. Mark Fenton describes the new style as a Joan Jet look – I thought it sounded great and am look forward to hearing more of it through the years ahead. The previous owner of the Stratocaster was area minstrel, Steve Shannon, who no doubt imparted many hours of fine playing on the instrument.
NEW BAND OF THE YEAR CATEGORY – And if the vote were to be called today, my vote would go to The Waltones. Lead by keyboard monster, Randy Wall, this new band features a lineup of seasoned musical veterans from across the greater Houston Metroplex including Chris Perry (Drums), Brian Rooney (Bass), and Bob Emmons (guitar) – Plus they “all” can sing! Tight on a huge variety of songs and able to handle requests, the Waltones band is certified as “party ready” in my book. We caught this group for the first time at Katie’s, that fine little music appreciation room in Bacliff where there’s never a cover. Bob surprised me that evening by playing on the lead guitar as I’ve only seen him on either the bass or riding the sound board – That or running one of the friendliest places happening along with his charming wife, Katie. He’s a pretty good lead player too, I might add. Check ’em out!
IT’S A WRAP – Hope everybody out there had a great summer. With the days getting shorter and the weather cooler, we get to look forward to the best time of the year, snow bird season Gulf Coast style. But before that, let’s all have a great October as Indian Summertime passes through, okay? Be sure and check out some of the outdoor festival events happening in the area, take in a great meal and hang out at one of the many great spots we have on The SCENE! We’ll see you out there!