Houston Makes Great Strides in Selling Its Own Music Scene

Categories: Only In Houston

htown_presents 0301.jpg
Artwork by Chris Nolen/www.noleofantastico.com
A few months ago, Rocks Off wrote an article expressing our surprise and disappointment at the paucity of musical content on the City of Houston's tourism site, visithoustontexas.com, the Texas-friendly smiling face it officially presents to the Web and thus the world. There wasn't much at all, just a few live-music listings buried in the bowels of the site.

Even officials at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which operates the site, admitted that acknowledgment of our music scene was a little lacking. But to their eternal credit, they did something about it, and then some. Some weeks back, they added a guide to 20 prominent local music venues to the site's "Nightlife" section.

They didn't stop there, though. The bureau's "Houston 2.0" marketing campaign, which started two weeks ago, is placing fancy-pants ads touting the Bayou City's abundance of culinary and artistic talents in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Texas Monthly and Forbes.

Best of all, the materials the GHCVB sent out to these 500 or so media outlets (even us) come with a CD featuring Houston artists fans can go see in local venues most weekends, including this one.

The disc is called H-Town Presents, and features 19 acts that, taken together, offer a better-than-average representation of what our scene actually sounds like, curated by photographer-turned-promoter (and former Houston Press contributor) Mark C. Austin of the Convoy Group.

Thus it is flush with Houston's indie scene -- the Tontons, Featherface, Wild Moccasins, The Manichean, Young Girls, The Handshake -- but not exclusively, and also features DJ Sun, Come See My Dead Person, Shellee Coley, and now-honorary Houstonian Robert Ellis, among others.

Such an eclectic range of sounds is second nature to those of us who live here, but probably not what your average tourist coming from Fargo or Fort Lauderdale would be expecting. Bun B and friends' recent NFL playoff-drive single "Here We Go (Texans Anthem)" is included, as well as a curse-free version of Fat Tony's "Hood Party," but most of Houston's better-known rappers are absent. Whether that's because of a money issue or the bureau preferred to leave off strip-club anthems, we may never know.

Furthermore, only Ellis and Folk Family Revival approach country, so the CVB should consider its knuckles rapped for not including at least Mike Stinson. (Houston is still in Texas, y'all.) And sadly, but sensibly, it skirts the more noise/psychedelic/fringe elements of our scene, so there's no Rusted Shut or Black Leather Jesus. But this is after all a marketing endeavor -- and hey, Venomous Maximus made the cut.

But overall, the CVB and Austin, and of course the performers, have done the city a great service by helping the national media get a clearer picture of what "Houston music" means today.


My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
jkbennett
jkbennett

New York City Queens should have been on this CD.  Awesome band with an awesome CD.

Tom87
Tom87

ha..convoy group is ridiculous.

jenkinshouse55
jenkinshouse55

Mark Austin does more to get Houston music out to the rest of the world than anyone I know.  Obviously a list like this is never going to make everyone happy. Mark (or you or I) could easily add another 20 songs by 20 more worthy Houston artists but these are excellent choices and honestly even 20 could be considered overload - as if some out of town tourist is going to listen to that many Houston bands.  Short of LA and NYC I'm not likely to audition more than 5 bands of any given city.

skquinn1
skquinn1

I like the concept of the CD and I'm glad to see at least a few of my favorites on here, but I'm a bit disappointed that Runaway Sun, Low Man's Joe, Chase Hamblin, Winter Wallace, and Beautiful Contributors (among others) missed the cut. Was this about promoting Houston's best musicians or was it to promote The Convoy Group's artists above those represented by others? The latter should at least clearly be labeled as such.

Luvinthemusic
Luvinthemusic

So they made a mistake, admitted to the mistake, and fixed the mistake?  Not the normal government response.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

Nice to see the Convoy Group "curating" in their own interests as usual. You can smell the self interest from here. True to form, true to form.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

@Tom87  Bullseye. Mikey and the Drags, Featherface? Amateur hour. Pure self interest on Convoy Group's part.

skquinn1
skquinn1

@jenkinshouse55 I agree Mark does a lot for the Houston music scene. Though I will admit there's some of my own bias in the list of artists I named in my first comment, there's a reason I mentioned Runaway Sun first in that list. I know they have a pretty big Houston fan base, Mark's name is on the liner notes for at least the self-titled EP and The Bridge LP, and I know for a fact they aren't represented by The Convoy Group right now.

skquinn1
skquinn1

To clarify: I really don't think Mark intentionally used this as an excuse to "deal himself a winner". I don't have anything against him. But if WhiteLightning noticed that it's heavy with TCG clients, I can only imagine how many others out there noticed too but are remaining silent about it.

skquinn1
skquinn1

@WhiteLightning @Tom87 Shellee Coley and Folk Family Revival, on the other hand, are solid choices and aren't Convoy Group clients either.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Houston Event Tickets
Loading...