Trae Day 2014 In Photos

Photos by Marco Torres
Six years ago, in the sweltering summer of 2008, the City of Houston bestowed a proclamation upon one of its citizens, a certain Frazier Othel Thompson. Rap fans know the man much better now as Trae Tha Truth, Houston's own "King of the Streets." The following year, the city was rewarded with "Trae Day," a free family block party and concert that has become an annual extravaganza of music, carnival rides, health screenings, school supplies and giveaways.

So much has happened since the first "Trae Day," both in the city and in Trae's personal life and rap career. A dispute with 97.9 The Box and subsequent ban from the station's airwaves only fueled Trae's urge to work, first aligning himself with Lil Wayne's camp and then signing with Grand Hustle, the umbrella label run by the self-proclaimed "King of The South," Atlanta's own T.I. Trae also suffered the loss of his brother "Money" Clip D and ABN associates Dinky D and Poppa C to gun violence. A bullet even managed to find his shoulder, although he would make a full recovery from the shooting.

Despite all of the adversity, Trae Day lives on as one of Houston's most anticipated annual events, and Tuesday's 2014 edition at NRG Park was full with memorable moments. Here is a short racap of yesterday's festivities as seen through my camera lens:

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The Houston Music Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Photo by Marco Torres
DJ Sun
There's an old saying in the music industry that you have your whole life to make your first album but six months to a year for your second. This is almost the reverse. Last year, when we started the Houston Music Hall of Fame to salute the 25th anniversary of the Houston Press Music Awards, the whole thing went from concept to finished product in about six weeks. This year we had an entire year to think about whom to induct.

That made it tougher in some ways, and easier in others. We kept our original rule of inducting only people who are still at least semi-active, but we expand our scope to include a former Houstonian still very much going strong at age 75 and a venue owner who is now a sort of godmother to two or three generations of local musicians. Other than that, our five inductees have little in common aside from the fact that their talents have seldom drawn widespread acclaim until now.

Besides the household name who last year put a song on the charts for his seventh straight decade, that is. But it is now our distinct pleasure to induct DJ Sun, Grady Gaines, K-Rino, Walters Downtown owner Pam Robinson (profiled separately) and Kenny Rogers into the Houston Music Hall of Fame.

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Walters Owner Pam Robinson Hangs Tough

Categories: HPMA, In Print

Photo courtesy of Zack Robinson
Pam Robinson is not going anywhere.

The outspoken owner of Walters Downtown -- and now an inductee into the Houston Music Hall of Fame -- has felt better, true. Recently her doctors discovered that the experimental drug that had been attacking her cancer was going after her heart just as aggressively. She had been on the drug since late April, and had even been able to give up the wheelchair she had been using since beginning chemotherapy last summer. But within just a few days of going off it, her pain was already coming back with a vengeance.

"By Monday I'll probably be screaming at MD Anderson," Robinson told Rocks Off a couple of weeks ago in Walters's small office. "I'm not real happy about it, but it was killing my heart, so I had no choice."

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New Houston Rap: In Memory of M.U.G.

Photo by Marco Torres
Normally the Houston rap column would start off with an anecdote about my life, or something that happened to me that inspired me to write something poignant and funny and stuff, but this time that would be misleading.

This past Sunday afternoon word got out that M.U.G., a bowling ball of hardened street rhymes and heat-seeking rap purpose, was gone. Dead. There's been speculation about exactly how he died, but from the moment the Instagram posts and tweets began rolling out, I knew something was different.

If you knew him, M.U.G. was quiet and rarely raised his voice unless embattled in a discussion about music or knee-deep into a verse onstage. He seemed like the second coming of J Dawg, the two of them perfectly matched in Boss Hogg Outlaw harmony. His last tape, 2012's astute and relatively smart Money and Pain, was lauded and placed in its proper context as one of that year's best projects.

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Kinks Bio Shows Davies Brothers Brawling to This Day

Original Kinky Kinks: Ray Davies (vocals/guitar), Dave Davies (guitar), Mick Avory (drums) and Pete Quaife (bass).
God Save the Kinks: A Biography
By Rob Jovanovic
Quarto Publishing Group, 330 pp., $14.95

As battling brothers Ray and Dave Davies continue to go back and forth with each other -- and in the press -- with sometimes wholly different views on what if anything the Kinks will do to mark their 50th anniversary, this new bio offers a fresh and insightful look into the band's music and history.

Jovanovic. who has also written books on the Velvet Underground, Nirvana, Big Star, Kate Bush, and R.E.M., pens a brisk and often hilarious narrative. He utilizes both previously published material including the brothers own books, Ray's X-Ray and Dave's Kink, and the more than two dozen original interviews conducted with band members, business associates, fellow musicians, fans, and journalists.

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HPMA Bassist Nominees Pick Best Bassists Ever

Categories: HPMA

Photo by Ian D. Keating/Flickr Commons
One nice thing about the Houston Press Music Awards is the opportunity it provides to root into the brains of Houston's more acclaimed musicians. Here's a ready-made list of folks with music-filled brains, ripe for the picking. But with so many nominees in so many categories, where to start and what to ask?

I figured I'd start in the simplest fashion, by asking people who play the instrument I'd play -- if I weren't sadly void of all musical talent -- about their influences. So here are this year's Best Bassist nominees reflecting on their bass-playing heroes, the bottom-enders who are the tops in their eyes.

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Vote Your Readers' Choice For Our Annual Best of Houston Issue

Categories: Best of Houston

It's time
We're getting ready for our annual Best of Houston issue, which will hit the stands in early October.

This year's theme: we're gamblers willing to take chances and roll the dice. As a result, Houston has prospered and even when the pot gets low, we double down and rebound. And so do the people who live here in every category from restaurants to government to health, to sports and music. Houston is holding a winning hand and we're going to tell everyone so in this year's Best of Houston.

The other important part of BOH -- besides our writers' picks -- is our Readers' Choice awards. That's where you tell us what you think the best places/people are in 99 categories as well as the category we forgot.

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We're Looking For a New Nightfly

Categories: Night Life

Photos by Marco Torres
Perhaps one of the new Nightfly's first destinations will be the popular Gritsy bass monthlies.
Do you like to go out in Houston? Can you tell a good story?

If you can answer "yes" to both, you might be the person we're looking for. The Houston Press has a vacancy for Nightfly, our longstanding column that has seen some of the city's most intrepid writers get the lowdown on what happens in the places where lights are low and the music is too loud.

We're looking for someone who understands what a unique, fun city Houston is, and can tell us in writing. Recent Nightfly excursions have included a trip to El Big Bad at the height of World Cup mania, giving the new jukebox at Alice's Tall Texan all it can handle, admiring the Star Wars toys at Neil's Bahr, or chilling in the pool (fully clothed) at Galveston's new Longboard's. Some more examples:

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The Rocks Off 200: Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment

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.

Photos by Marco Torres
Donnie Houston during an interview with D-Solo of "Street Flava."
Who? Donnie Houston is a producer and DJ who, fittingly, was born and raised in Houston. This Houston Press Music Awards nominee (Best Producer) was first introduced to music by his mother and older sister, who played him all the music from their eras -- Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and other legends of the '60s and '70s from Mama Houston; Donnie's older sister chimed in with '80s hip-hop.

"I actually remember her going to the store with me and buying my first rap cassette," he says of Run-DMC's Tougher Than Leather album. "It's because of those influences that I eventually started DJing in around the year 2000 and later picked up producing in 2006."

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Upcoming: 7 Seconds, Brand New, Dimefest 8, Interpol, Sara Hickman, Turquoise Jeep, etc.

Categories: This Just In

16th Annual Grand Taiko Concert: With Imaginaerial. Sat., September 27, 8 p.m., TBA. Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash Rd., Stafford.

28th Annual Watermelon Festival and Summer Social: With Kindred Spirits, POTROAST, The Hightailers, Hell In a Bucket, JvT Band, Jimmy Lee Deen, QandA, Lark Attack, The Annie B! Band, Charity Ann, Charles Bryant, Mark Bermea, Marina Rocks. Sat., July 26, 4 p.m., $20 to $30. Last Concert Cafe, 1403 Nance, Houston, 713-226-8563.

7 Seconds: With the Copyrights, the Turnaways, Some Nerve. Sat., August 9, 8 p.m., $15. Walters Downtown, 1120 Naylor, Houston, 713-222-2679.

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