The Rocks Off 200: Cindy Pruitt, A Walking Vocal Epiphany
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.
Who: There aren't many voices in Houston like that of Cindy Pruitt, who proved it earlier this year when her song "Epiphany" took home Best Song in this year's Houston Press Music Awards. Whether she's fronting Fluff the Kat or putting on one of her custom one-woman shows using pedal loops, the sheer raw power Pruitt calls from the depths of her soul hits her audience in the face like a 12-gauge rainbow. Her style leaves behind modernism for a sincere indie mentality that is refreshingly honest in a world of mass-marketed "organic" sound.
Photos provided by Cindy Pruitt
Pruitt started her path toward fame and fortune many years ago as a child actress doing KFC commercials, as well as writing songs for her grandparents' anniversary. From there she's risen to be a considerable solo presence and picked up great acclaim with Fluff the Kat, Kat Drake and Virginia Fleming.
She also used to hit Nancy Ford's open-mike and jam with her; Ford jokingly called the trio her backing band the Vulvamatics. When Chances needed a regular Thursday live act, Fluff the Kat stepped up. Since then, long after Chances fell by the wayside, the band has kept that lighthearted jam-session approach going strong.
With an award-winning EP recently under her belt, Pruitt is dedicating her time to finishing some more music in the studio, as well as learning more of the recording side of the industry in hopes of lifting up other bands within the local music scene.
Home Base: In addition to performing, Pruitt has her own studio, Smiley Face Records, where she does the majority of her writing and recording. Many of her favorite venues to play at are no longer with us. Chances was a regular home for her, and she liked the dark coziness of Mary Jane's Fat Cat back in the day.
For the last year and a half, the band tends to keep to themselves in the studio, venturing out only to play the occasional charity gig in the Montrose area. However, Pruitt is keen to give AvantGarden a shot sometime in the near future.
Good War Story: "There was one show that was a battle of the bands, so to add a bit more 'theatre' to the show I decided I'd buy a super-cheap guitar that I could just destroy on the last song," she says.
I got a really crappy guitar on eBay that hardly stayed in tune -- just for this last song -- but... only half the band knew I was gonna do this. For even more effect, our drummer and rhythm guitarist were unaware, so when I started banging it on the concrete floor of the club they thought I'd lost my mind. Pickups flying across the room, but this cheap guitar was built like a frickin' tank and it wouldn't break.
I started swinging it against the stripper pole in the middle of the room... nothing but dents. Finally I dropped in on the floor and just started jumping up and down on it. Still nothing.
We all had a great laugh over the fact that I completely freaked out half the band and the dang guitar just wouldn't break. I still have that darn thing on display. It just wouldn't die! But the crowd loved it.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Like a lot of Houston musicians, Pruitt dreams of a more centralized music scene that would give original bands more of a shot at picking up a live audience by association.
- The Beatles, Revolver
- The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
- The Cult, Electric
- Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
- The Smithereens, 11
Best Show Ever You Played: "The grand re-opening for Chances after their fire," she says. "My mom was there to see Fluff the Kat for the first time, and it was the last time I saw her before she passed."
First Song You Fell in Love With: "You Can't Do That," the Beatles -- "My grandparents had managed a roller rink back in the '60s, and they had stacks of old 45s they'd play," Pruitt recalls. "When I heard that scream before the guitar solo at the tender young age of five, it made me all tingly inside. I was hooked!"
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.