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Testify – Nic Armstrong
August 26, 2024 – 7:02 am | One Comment

Nic Armstrong plays music that is easily recognizable.  Listen to his first two albums and you will hear music that evokes the best elements of the British Invasion yet, these albums (The first as Nic Armstrong and the …

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Interview: Geoffrey Mueller

Submitted by admin on July 2, 2024 – 10:44 amNo Comment

By Omar Afra
Photo by Cecilia Johnson

Geoffrey Mueller is a musical chameleon having mastered several instruments such as banjo, guitar, bass, saw, voice, and whatever else you stick in his hands. Playing in such notable bands as Sideshow Tramps, I am Mesmer, Grandfather Child, Chase Hamblin’s band, Perfect Penis, and more, Mueller manages to be everywhere yet not spread himself thin. Frankly, if you spend any night of the week watching live music in this town then you are surely to run into this local musical treasure. In the 90’s as an adolescent he was well known as an amazing pop-and-lock break-dancer and as the front man for local metal band Lower ( I shared a studio with him more than a decade ago when I played in a similarly mook-ish band) . The SceneWiki says “He’s embarrassed about this so be sure to ask him about it.” But Geoffrey is one of those rare hyper-talented performers that are just straight up nice guys. He brings smiles wherever he goes and we here at FPH are just smitten with him. He was also gracious enough to answer a few probing questions.

What motivated you to pick up the saw as an instrument?

Like most things in my life it was pure impulse. I never heard a saw in person, but I knew they could be played, so I made a bow out of fishing line and a ruler, bought a saw from Southland and got to work. It took me a month of experimenting before I could get a good sound (this was pre youtube DIY days). Now it seems to be the instrument I’m most closely associated with. I love the saw. I still give free lessons to anyone interested in learning. Contact me here - cajunbanjo@gmail.com My goal is to create a full saw orchestra.

I am Mesmer is such a ’supergroup’. Tell us how that came to fruition.

Ha ha ha, that’s funny, yeah, I’ve heard that term thrown around a few times. It’s like the “We are the World” USA for Africa group of Montrose with Kelly Doyle and Whitebread as Hall and Oates, Robert Ellis as Lionel Richie, and Jo Bird as Cindy Lauper. I’ll let you fill in the rest, Omar, well, except for Lukas Aberer, he’s obviously Dan Akroyd.
I don’t know how we formed really, It’s not like I woke up one day and said “I think I want to put together a 9 piece string band to play insanely fast apocalyptic gypsy music right here in Houston, Texas,” but it happened and I’m glad it did. We just all found our way to that first rehearsal, and now everyone is a vital member. The line up is Kirk Suddreath, Hilary Sloan, Young Will, Mike Whitebread, Lukas Aberer, Jo Bird, Robert Ellis, Kelly Doyle, and myself. These are some deeply original and talented musicians, I’m happy to be the weakest link in the group.

Is there anything you can’t do?

Tell Karen Carpenter how much I love her music. Besides that, the list is far too long to mention.
When you are alone at home in front of the mirror, do you ever catch yourself practicing your old break-dance moves or zipping through some rhymes?

My moves are too powerful; I won’t even let the mirror watch. As for rhymes, I composed a new routine for I am Mesmer. It’s really just an excuse to get Jo Bird and Hilary Sloan to rip on the mic.
What local musicians ‘flabbergast’ you?

My biggest influences have all been from Houston. I love Little Joe Washington. He absolutely rips on the guitar, charms any crowd in the first ten seconds, passes the hat, and takes off on a little girl’s bicycle. When I see him at gigs he’s always encouraging and usually drops some Yoda like wisdom on me about playing music. I like Greg Harbor and the Gypsies. Kelly Lancaster, Ferrence, Richard, Vladymir, Julia, and all the rest. A while ago, Greg had triple bypass surgery or something of that caliber. I saw him the next week throwing back cocktails at a tango event. There’s also Kelly Doyle - Everything I know about guitar I stole from him. Doug Kosmo, Rodney Elliot, and all of J.W. Americana - The most entertaining band in recent Houston history. Two Star Symphony, Sabra Laval, Clouseaux, Space City Gamelan, Hilary Sloan, Bill Miller, Nick Gaitan, Robert Rodriguez and that whole crew, Wayne “The Animal” Turner, Blarin’ Aaron. Pretty much anyone I’m playing with or have played with over the years. This list could get very long very fast, so I’ll just say I love the musicians in this town. I’m also very impressed with the new bands of late: The Ton Tons, Buxton, Wild Moccasins, NOTM, etc. Looking forward to what they’ll all do.
What instrument is next?

The Cajun Accordion. I’ve always wanted to play one with the Sideshow Tramps. I bought one in Dallas a few months ago, named it Yves Dupree after my Mom’s Dad.

Are there any festivals on August 8th and 9th at Eleanor Tinsley Park that you are looking forward to?

Funny you should ask that. I was just sitting in my favorite vegetarian restaurant Mango’s, drinking a Robert Ellis, when I saw an ad in my favorite monthly publication the Free Press for that very festival and all my favorite bands are playing you shameless self-promoting bastard. Too bad I have to work those days.

I love you Geoff, Do you love me?

Yes. Sorry if I don’t always show it, I’m just slightly autistic.

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