Music Not a Real Big Selling Point for Houston Right Now

Categories: Only In Houston

Nice to know someone appreciates what Houston has to offer musically.
Look, we all know Houston has a lot going on, and a lot to be proud of. As one of America's biggest and busiest cities, it offers an almost infinite array of diversions and amusements to go along with world-class shopping, restaurants, universities and medical care.

But some of us also believe that Houston is one of the best music towns around, and has been for a long time. Seems like we've been beating that particular drum forever. (Yes, it is our job.)

Lots of other people know it too, from the Europeans who line up to see to some of our venerable blues and R&B musicians on tour to the indie-rockers shocked at the packed houses and enthusiastic crowds that greet them here and the city of Austin, which sometimes seems like it is entirely populated with former Houston musicians.

So Rocks Off was a little dismayed (and a little shocked too) when this week we started poking around the city's official visitors site to see what kind of musical assets Houston was touting to the world in its quest for those prized tourist dollars. There wasn't much.

Right up front, the site,, is (almost) first-class all the way. It would take a smarter computer person than us to identify the specific software used by the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, which maintains the site, but they have to be happy with the results. The site is easy to load, graphically rich and aesthetically pleasing, packed with information, and even fun to explore.

It's just really difficult to find anything about music on there, even more troubling considering many of the people in the GHCVB's current "My Houston" ad campaign are musicians like Beyonce, ZZ Top and Lyle Lovett. (Two out of those three still live here, we might add.) If you click on each one's ads you'll see a quick interview about Houston, and in ZZ Top and Lovett's cases their TV spot.

Across the top of the homepage are several tabs divided into "Travel Tools and Info," "Things to Do," "Coupons & Discounts," "Hotels," "Restaurants," "Shopping," and "Nightlife." Cactus Music and sometime music venue the Orange Show (primarily a visual art space) get singled out in the "Insiders Guide" under "Things to Do," but let's go straight to "Nightlife," shall we?

Here you will find four "Insider's Guide"-style tip-sheet essays, two of them potentially music-heavy: "Signature Sips," (choice cocktails), "Mix Masters" (more drinking), "Happenin' Hoods" (more like it) and "Houston After Hours" (surely there must be something here).

Lyle sept28.jpg
Lyle Lovett says "There's no limit to what goes on in Houston, and no limit to the possibilities you can find in Houston" in his ad.
Sadly, no.The "Happenin Hoods'" piece glosses over if not omits entirely the principal music venues in the highlighted neighborhoods of Downtown/Midtown, Montrose, River Oaks/West U and Washington Avenue. House of Blues rates a mention in Downtown/Midtown, but not Warehouse Live, Walters or the Continental Club.

A couple of dance clubs squeak into Washington Avenue, but Rudyard's and Mango's (Montrose), Fitzgerald's (Washington... sort of) or the Armadillo Palace (West U.) are nowhere in sight. Where's Numbers? Blanco's? The new MKT Bar?

As for "Houston After Hours," well, this is one hungry city. Under "Entertainment," you can choose between the River Oaks Theatre and two bowling alleys.

The news is a little brighter navigating the site's labyrinthine events database, which at least has an an option to search for "live music." It turns up 25 results. We know there are more than that, which you can see on our own Houston Concert Calendar (try "select venue" under the "Find Any Show" box).

Rocks Off took our concerns to the HCVB, and talked to A.J. Mistretta, who works on the Web site and helps maintain that database. To his eternal credit, he admitted as much instead of giving us a "no comment" or hanging up on us entirely.

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Articles like this are why I read the Houston Press.  Thanks, Chris.


@JayDebauchery AGREED!!!


@houstonpress Houston has thousands of professional musicians and singers that deserve to be mentioned along with the venues that pay...

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah topcommenter

Really glad you brought this up Chris... Houston is selling itself short by not creating a media outlet informing visitors about

the live music resource H-town has...


Like MidtownCoog always says:  "Houston - Be Yourself".


All of this trying to hard business is for Yankee-Kook posers.

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

The music scene isnt all that great in Austin either. Unless you like hipster music.


 @jeffbalke Montreal used to have a resource much like the one you mention, which had an insane concert calendar and a lively forum for its many, many users. It was a great way for bands to find gigs or collaborators, and it was also a way to give out an extra ticket you knew would go to good use. It was a great connection tool for the music scene and its fans.

Jack Gilbert
Jack Gilbert

At least they acknowledged the deficit, said it was "on the list" and also said that the Press is the go-to place anyway. Decent of the contact anyway.

Matthew Brodnax
Matthew Brodnax

Overall, Houston is not a big time music city like Austin, but when it comes to blues, there is no other city, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, with as good a scene as here. Almost every week night there's a jam and several top notch shows from great local blues bands too.

John Stoll
John Stoll

Well yeah... I love this little town of Houston, but it's definitely not an arts town. It's a town of consumption and money-making, two things that run exactly counter to a life lived for creative pursuit. You covered what Houston is perfectly in sentence #2 of this article. ;-)

jeffbalke topcommenter

Speaking in nerd terms, one thing I wish this city had was a centralized database of shows and venues that had an API (nerd term for open access to the data) so anyone could modify it and display it as they so chose. But, that is MUCH easier said than done. Just gathering and inputting that info would be insanely difficult, but it sure would be cool.

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