Artist of the Week: Cindy Pruitt

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to introducingliston@gmail.com.

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In our week-by-week attempt to highlight every single non-crappy musician in Houston, we've come across all manner of acts freaks, geeks, sexpots, whatever. You name it, we've featured them. We're proud to say that, with guitarist/glittery pop songstress Cindy Pruitt, our list now includes the alt-lifestyle sect - and it only took 40 weeks!

Pruitt is a jovial performer, darting in and around the gobby-pop genre that has become so popular these days, and it took only a few listens to decide that we're looking forward to seeing her perform live soon. (Even if it is as part of a cover band.)

Lucky for us, when we reached out to her, she was patient enough to entertain our questioning. Press on to read about the scoop on the alt-alt-pop scene, the myriad bands she's been a part of, and rapper Trae's affinity for punching things.

Rocks Off: Tell us a bit how the Cindy Pruitt Extravaganza came to be. Oh, by the way, that's the unofficial name we've given you. CPE, for short. Use it at your liberty.

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Cindy Pruitt: Sweet! I'm an "extravaganza." Well, once upon a time... just kidding! Honestly, it's just been a natural progression for me to be involved in music. My mom used to play her old '60s and '70s albums when I was a kid and as I got older and could sing she'd play the same songs twice so we could take turns singing backup.

I did the whole band/choir thing in school. I just knew that would make me a rock star [laughs]. I was a drummer in high school, which led to me being a drummer in a couple of groups. But then I started playing guitar back in '96, when the K's Choice song "Not An Addict" came out, because I just had to learn that song.

I started hitting the open mics around Houston and started writing songs soon after. I was very fortunate to make lots of incredibly talented friends along the way and I would soak up anything they cared to share from advice to new riffs. And it's all led me here.

RO: Certainly sounds like an extravaganza. Is there a big lesbian pop scene out there? Seems like we don't hear too much about it - beyond Lindsay and Samantha, of course.

CP: When I was the sound engineer and booked the bands at Chances Bar, I can attest to hearing quite a few talented bands/artists that identify as lesbian or gay. There are many, many more talented artists that, while they are gay, they don't really make it a defining part of their music. It's just who they are, so that may be why you don't hear more about a "lesbian pop scene" per se.

RO: Wait, wait, wait. You mean that being gay doesn't define who you are? Crap.

CP: Ha, I always love that shocked reaction. But rest assured... there are lots of very talented lesbian and gay musicians out there. As the "honorary lesbian" in my cover band, Fluff the Kat, I have a tremendous gratitude and affection for the gay community, which has been exceptionally supportive of my music.

From the first time I played solo at a talent night at EJ's bar, competing alongside some "fierce" drag queens eight years ago, all the way to the shows I play now with Fluff the Kat in the Montrose, my lesbian and gay friends and supporters have been there. I was honored and ecstatic to be selected as a solo performer for the main stage at last year's Houston Pride Festival.

I even ended up running the sound for the festival that day, but that's a long story for another time. And I'm pleased to say Fluff the Kat will have a stage at this year's Pride Festival as well.

RO: Congrats. Your song "Shooting Star" has a certain "Lucky Star" feel to it. Are you upset that Madonna cornered the market on pop songs that incorporate any type of adjectized mention of a star?

CP: Wow, thank you! I think when I was 11 I wanted to be Madonna! I never thought about that song as a comparison, but I'll take it. Hey, I think Madonna corners any market she gets into. But I think there's always room for more songs about stars. Hmmm... Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" is coming to mind.

RO: Talk a bit about your new CD. How's that coming along? Any cool guest appearances on there? Trae perhaps?

CP: It's been a long time coming and I am determined to release two CDs this year! This first follow-up CD is going to be hard to categorize because I am all over the place genre-wise. My personal music taste is pretty broad and all the flavors seem to be popping up on this one. I've been trying to tie it all together in production.

Dude, Trae can totally get crunk on my CD...fo' shizzle. We need to make that happen.

RO: Actually, Trae doesn't do the crunk thing. He does punch though.

CP: Whoa, didn't know that. Then maybe we better pass because I'm a lover not a fighter.

There are guest appearances from my Fluff band mates Kat Drake, Kimberly Jason and Gitiim Chakamoi. And there are a couple of other folks I'm hoping to get some CD lovin' from as well. Don't wanna spoil the surprise.

RO: You've been in, about, what, 45 bands these past few years? What gives?

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CP: Is it 45? Seriously? Nah, sometimes it's just hard to keep a band together. Everything from boyfriends/girlfriends to jobs to personality conflicts to gigs to different musical visions. You name it and sooner or later it all comes up.

Houston can also be a rough town for original music, so unless you're willing to sell out -oh, yeah, I do sell out too - and do covers, it's hard to get those elusive regular paying gigs that help keep a group together through all the aforementioned issues.

But you know that music is like a drug and when one supply dries up you go looking for the next fix. I swear if I could mainline my guitar cable - but I digress. I'm very fortunate that the main band I play in now has been together for over five years and we have a blast playing together.

I play with some super talented women in Fluff the Kat, and those fleeting moments we share on stage are golden. Was that too over the top? Well it's true! And no lie, the Fluffers, as we call our fans, are the best fans to party with ever!

RO: When, where, and for how much can people see you live?

CP: Right now, if they see Fluff the Kat playing I'm there. And we usually play once a month at Slick Willie's in Montrose [for free]. Should have a May show posted soon. And you can look for some solo gigs late summer as soon as the new CD drops. You can always check the myspace page for upcoming shows.

You can keep up with Pruitt via www.myspace.com/cindypruitt, www.graphicbycindy.com, and www.twitter.com/cindypruitt, among numerous other Web sites.


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