Slip Slidin' Away: My Life as a Rock Journalist With the Houston Press

Photo by Craig Hlavaty
A picture of B L A C K I E at the 2009 FPH Block Party
Along the way I got to take my brother and my mother to shows they wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. My mom has seen Rod Stewart twice on my watch, plus Eric Clapton, the Eagles and Bob Seger, all from great seats. That all makes up for not having grandkids yet, at least I hope.

The first show I ever covered? A Kings of Leon show at Warehouse Live in early 2007, when they still had long hair and didn't travel in private jets. When they were still "cool" that is. The second was seeing My Chemical Romance and Muse at the Reliant Arena. Yes, Muse opened.

My last concert review for Rocks Off was Elton John's Toyota Center show, though it was almost George Strait's RodeoHouston show, but there were snags. That would have been perfect for such a blazing Strait fanatic such as I, but alas it wasn't to be.

Elton's last song was "Your Song," but I got misty during "Tiny Dancer" six songs in because I am a stupid sentimental clod that has seen Almost Famous too much.

Damn you, Cameron Crowe, for lionizing the life of a music journalist. You didn't tell us it was actually more fun than the movie could ever show, or that I would meet some of the closest friends I have ever had. I even met my girlfriend Kristie while covering an Alkaline Trio and Cursive show in 2010. How's that for Generation Y cred?

First off, photogs Mark C. Austin and Marco Torres snore so bad that when I bunk with them at music festivals I bring extra earplugs so I can sleep.

I first met Mr. Austin while bunking with him at SXSW in 2008 -- my first for the Press -- and he's been like a big brother to me ever since, "for reals yo".

Mr. Torres is a true trill soldier, and he's been a pleasure to work with at the past few SXSW and ACL excursions. He knows everyone.

I met colleague Marc Brubaker at Summer Fest in 2009, little knowing that we would be running buddies for the next few years, and that we would get kicked out of at least three Washington Avenue bars together. I also got to be a groomsman at his wedding last year.

My music editor, friend, and brother the whole way has been Chris Gray, who has somehow put up with five years of my bullshit. I never want to feel as helpless and sad as I did the day he had his heart attack, and I am glad that he has been back in the saddle the past year. He's building a team right now that I think you will enjoy reading. [Happy thirtieth birthday, Craig. Your thirties are going to be better than a private audience with Iggy & the Stooges. -- Ed.]

When I began working for the Press, we didn't have the stable of photographers and writers we have now at all, much less dedicated to the Houston music scene. I can say with pride I helped make that a reality in my small way, and now budding music writers in Houston have an outlet beyond their own personal blogs, where I started out.

I've enjoyed running the social-media wing of Rocks Off, on Twitter and on Facebook. For a good while I think the Twitter account was just my late-night drunk diary. Live-tweeting concerts was fun too, even Scott Stapp acoustic shows.

I have to thank the venues, past and present, like Warehouse Live, Fitzgerald's, Rudyard's, the Meridian, House of Blues, Cynthia Woods, Mango's, Walter's, and even Jones Hall for being so accommodating to our blog and bloggers through the years. And the bartenders for having strong pours of course. You made writing concert reviews in the middle of the night much easier.


Personal Bias: The only words I have typed that will ever matter are as follows...

People talk all the time about the depleting ozone layer, melting polar ice caps, melting polar bears, ravaged rain forests, shortages of crude oil, but that can all go to Hell.

When ZZ Top is gone from this Earth, we will really have problems. The quotient of cool in this state and even the world will begin to rapidly diminish. We don't want to live in a world without ZZ Top, even though one day we may have to try.

The Crowd: I would love to thank all the friends and cohorts who accompanied me to these shows and dealt with the drunks and idiots along with me. I'm also sorry that I had my face attached to Twitter most of the time. Live-tweeting, naturally. But hey, you got in free, so why you bitching?

Overheard In the Crowd: OK, I can now admit that most of those I concocted in my own head. Oops.

Random Notebook Dump: Really wish touring bands would stop telling us during a great set that "Houston, we don't have a problem," because we know we don't have problems. This is Houston, we're fucking awesome.

Location Info


Grand Prize Bar

1010 Banks, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

That rag could use some talent!  I like your style - our generation's Ken Hoffman!


Insect Warfare namedrop! :D

Good luck with your future endeavors, Craig.


Craig, your Creed concert reviews have a special place in my heart. Yesseah! Shine on you crazy diamond.

Noah Ramon
Noah Ramon

After that, my own eloquence escapes me, so I'm just going to say : Sir, you fucking rock. Thanks for all the cool stuff.

WestSideBob topcommenter

You've been eyes and ears for those of us who couldn't attend various events for numerous reasons.  My record collection is greater for your reports.  You opened my ears to new groups and music I probably would not have auditioned on my own.  Thanks and Vaya con Dios.


Good luck, Craig! I've had loads of fun reading your writing over the years and I look forward to continuing as you move to the Chronicle.

I would've written this on Friday, but the Houston Press website infected my school-issued (I'm a teacher) laptop with some pretty serious malware, so, uh, thanks for the parting gift?


I sincerely thought you were the luckiest guy ever for all the cool shit you "overheard in the crowd", turns out it was just more great writing.



Damn you Hlavaty for making me cry in the middle of Boston Market as I read this...

Thanks for the wisdom and encouragement, sir. You are a true amigo. And sorry for the snoring.


Best of luck to you Craig. Always enjoyed your writing and talking to you when I'd see you around at shows when I was with the Houston Press Street Team and after I left.

MadMac topcommenter

Good writing, good sir. You gave me a window on shows I would never/could never attend. Thanks again and I wish you continued success.


Good luck, man! Thanks for all the great morning after reads...especially on the ones that I didnt make it to!


Good luck in your travels down the block, juggalo bruddah. And for the Strait side, cowboy, you may be riding away, but you're carrying Press love with you.

Yah, that feels right.

You saw Katy Perry and Mariah Carey?? I'm jelly!

MadMac topcommenter

Pearland represent!

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault