The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Monday, March 31, 2024

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: The Dirtbombs with Kelley Stoltz and Dead Roses at Rudyards 28 March 2024

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 8:22 AM

Welcome to my new live review column for the Free Press' blog in which I recap for you some fine shows in our town under the helpful guidance of Jameson and Lone Star.

Larry Pirkle (aka PRKL8R) is a Houston institution and I got a total laugh when he wrote the following on Hands Up Houston:

"the only thing you didn't get a picture of was the empty floor like 10 seconds after they stopped playing at 20 til 2. did anyone notice that they didn't play "21st century" or "stop"? that's because they were saving them for the encore that no one even gave the energy to ask for. yeah, people texting in the front row, a crowd of ####ers standing in my way (not dancing, standing) with their arms crossed, and an entire crowd that just turned and walked away without cheering for an encore as if they were just happy to have the whole damn thing over with. Houston is weak. "

God, I love Larry because he doesn't fuck around. Damn it, the Dirtbombs came to town, rocked your face off, and you were too stupid to ask for more. I love that! And yes, I was one of the losers who ran downstairs with his friends and enjoyed a few more drinks outside of Rudz on a lovely night. Guilty as charged but, let's face it, The Dirtbombs played a pitch-perfect set. It was like eating some finely prepared meal and you wouldn't dare ask the chef for another course so instead you sit there patting your rotund belly and maybe emitting a burp of satisfaction. Really, they pegged it! I mean unless you were at the warehouse party watching American Sharks and The Young Mammals with Mlee Suprean ripping it up so hard that the yuppie bastards in the townhouses finally called the cops to shut them down, you should have been here. With that one exception, if you weren't in the room as the band ripped through their set with the force of an 18-wheeled semi, you seriously missed out on some serious rock and roll. But let's cut back a few hours and take it from the top...

I swear, I had planned on catching the Dead Roses' full set but circumstances being what they were I had a few drinks and chat with my friends beforehand and time just got away from us. Sorry, that kind if thing will happen. Sometimes you make it on time and other times you sit in a patio hearing gory stories of someones giant puss filled spider bite. Thankfully, I did at least roll-in and catch the last song from the Roses right when it began. Danny Mee on the drum kit was a treat and Ralph was ripping it up front on the bass. You can imagine my disappointment when Ralph then said "Thank you!" and the band started packing-up its gear. The Roses have some great songs and I always get a kick out of watching them play live. C'est la vie.

San Francisco's Kelley Stoltz followed with a great little set even if perhaps only Will Adams, I, and a maybe handful of people stood up front to catch it. Really some lovely bouncy 60's inspired garagey pop. (Attention John Sears and Joe Mathlete you may like want to check this fellow out. ) Smaltz moved from keyboards to guitar in the set which seemed a bit odd as he seemed more comfortable behind the keys but the set never lost its hop. His backing band was nimble and had the nice touch of having one fellow on sax and xylophone which added some very much appreciated texture outside of the standard rock triumvirate of guitar, bass, and drums. Now, don't get me wrong this wasn't a holy crap they rocked that shit out kind of performance; this wasn't a Fatal Flying Guilloteens set. Instead, this was a band that was clearly concerned with presenting the songs for you and doing it right - no frills despite the extended band. Kelly Stoltz was like sitting on your porch on a hot summer day and someone brings you a ice cold drink and right then you get a nice cool breeze. Nothing big or pushy but beautiful in its simplicity and you can't help but admire Stoltz's confidence in simply letting his songs do all the heavy lifting. I was very glad to have caught it.

/bin/kick > jams
or should we say
fsck out the jams!

Let's move on to the main course! The Dirtbombs. The motherfuckin' Dirtbombs. They come in all dual-op - two guitars, two basses, and two drummers - and proceed to pile-drive through their set. Sure Mick Collins didn't run around the stage like a mad man. We'll leave those parlour tricks to people like Ted Nugent. No, Collins didn't need to do that - the man simply owned the stage and, with his army behind him, he was unstoppable. Now, the Dirtbombs' webpages don't really help when it comes to getting some names so you'll have to excuse me but his second guitarist was great - flailing away and ripping it up - while the drummers hit you with the relentless beat of each song.

I mean Larry was right! How were we not dancing?! I was standing on a speaker, snapping pics, and drunk off my ass - I simply couldn't dance unless I wanted to look like some hideous go-go dancer. But really, the floor should have been hopping. What the fuck was wrong with us? You'd think the heat, sweat, and energy coming front he stage would be enough to make the place hop like some perverted whack-a-mole. Me? Personally I think I was just awestruck by the band and like a deer in headlights with a shit-eating grin on my face while they played their set. I mean you simply couldn't move. It was like "holy fuck they are kicking it so hard that I am paralyzed"! Truly we were not ready for what they brought down from Detroit**. Take heed if you are in another city and reading this! If the Dirtbombs are coming your way, you have been warned!

* Unix jokes courtesey of Clinton Heider

** I stupidly put Chicago originally. Thanks Dan for the correction. My Ted Nuget swipe and MC5 reference now make a bit more sense now, huh. I have no clue what happened there.

Pics my me

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Saturday, March 1, 2024

Gone to pieces

posted by Free Press Houston @ 9:04 PM

Later this month year the Dave Clark Five will be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame only Mike Smith lead vocalist and keyboard player died last week. So close yet so far away. Does it matter that the DC5 challenged the beatles in their heyday, or that HAVING A WILD WEEKEND, released in the U.S. as Catch Me If You Can is the most underrated rock film of the 60s? During that time frame certainly John Boorman was the David Fincher of the 60s.

Elaine Greer

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

Photograph by John Van

There is a very exciting point in a musician’s career when, after a long time of working on their craft, they realize what they do has a value outside of their own bedroom. If you were at the Proletariat and saw Elaine Greer perform to a packed crowd last month opening for the Fiery Furnaces, you couldn’t help but feel the giddiness of a musician at that stage. Standing on stage behind her Telecaster, you could almost hear her take a deep breath before diving in. Greer’s songs drip with sweet and simple melodies that hum inside your head long after you first hear them. In her home recordings, the songs are intimate and have an understated beauty but that night, with a full band (The Holly Hall), the songs ripped with confidence and endless possibilities. Zahira Gutierrez’s lovely harmonies and Guitarist Nick Cody’s clean and melodic guitar lines played elegantly against Greer’s vocals while JD Tucker and Grant Hickey’s drum and bass added some limber rhythmic muscle to the songs - the crowd ate up every note. The wonderful thing is, be it solo or as a member of The Holly Hall, Greer is still at a point where she has only just touched the needle down onto the record’s groove.

Greer began playing piano at 5. “I was jealous of my sister taking lessons so, when the piano teacher came over to give her a lesson, I ran upstairs, locked myself in the room with the piano, and started banging on it to show them how great I was - it worked!” Eventually, like many kids, she grew to dislike the lessons and quit. “Well,” says Greer sheepishly, “until recital! When recital came up I’d beg my mom to be back in the class just to do the recital. That would drive her crazy.” She also had a fixation with Broadway no doubt inspired by her father’s love of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. “He’d play it all the time and my sister and I would fight over who would be the girl but she’d always get stuck with being the guy.” Then, thinking about it, she laughs with a tinge of guilt, “I’m sure she still has bitter memories of that.” By age fourteen, she started writing songs but was too scared to show them to people. When she did work up the courage at around sixteen or seventeen she would do so only in the relative safety of her room and only while facing the wall.

Greer eventually did put aside her fears and joined The Bluebirds: “The songs were pretty raw and I wasn't a very good singer yet, but Super Happy Fun Land let us play.” About a year after that first band’s dissolution, Greer teamed up with guitarist Nick Cody as an acoustic duo which lasted until last fall’s Westheimer Block Party. “We decided to add drums and bass just for the occasion. You know,” she says with glee, “It’ll be loud!” A few twists and turns later and that band coalesced into the band heard at the Fiery Furnaces show.

“We all had fun playing together, but from the beginning there was some turmoil within the band," says Greer, "Nick and the others wanted to do their own things but at that point were still playing only my songs.” The solution was that Elaine Greer, the solo artist, and The Holly Hall, the band, had to become different entities. The Holly Hall would be more of a collaborative effort while Greer would be able to exert full control as a solo artist. In fact, Greer plans to release a solo EP later this year which will feature members of the Papermoons as well as other musicians. “It’s really exciting and I don’t want to sound like a control freak but I know how I want things to sound.”

When I ask her if this means she’s found her ideal voice as an artist she replies, “I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect ‘Elaine Greer’ voice but I think musicians and artists are always looking for their voice or what they are trying to convey...I think it's something that probably changes throughout life as a person has more experiences and different things become more or less important.”

So how does it feel to have moved from her bedroom to the stage? “It’s a good feeling to get that audience feedback – knowing people are enjoying it. It’s my favorite thing in the world so I like the idea that it makes someone happy. There is a satisfaction in playing alone in a room to myself - it’s extremely enjoyable and that’s how I write everything - but,” she adds with a gracious modesty, “I never expected people to like it.”

Look for the Elaine Greer EP as well a release by the Holly Hall later this year.

Elaine Greer will be performing March 12th at the Westheimer Block Party.

The Holly Hall will be performing March 31st at The Mink with Teenage Kicks, Erin Tobey, and The Pink Razorblades.


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