The Rocks Off 200: Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker
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? This Friday is a good day for local music fans. Downstairs from the big Roky Erickson/Black Angels show at Fitz is the return from hiatus of indie-rock trio Alkari, one of our favorite local bands and an excellent answer if anyone ever asks, "Who's the most underrated group in Houston?" Their driving, dramatic 2012 CD Blackout Falls was reminiscent of anyone from Band of Horses or Guided by Voices to Arcade Fire, and was one of the best local releases of the year. Luckily they'll probably be selling it at the show. (Which is free with an Angels/Roky stub, by the way.)
Photos courtesy of Alkari/This photo by Jay Dryden
Alkari is made up of Mike Beatty, Jason Smith and Marc Badillo, but Smith was the one kind enough to answer our questions Wednesday afternoon. When the Houston native and Cal State-Long Beach grad is not rocking and rolling, he's an elementary-school music teacher ("How fun is that?!") and budding promoter who has helped put together events like last fall's Yes Indeed! festival and the upcoming Madness on Main Street this May at the Continental Club. Andddd...he's also a music writer himself over at Jeremy Hart's site SpaceCityRock.com, of which he says, "I think comes in a close second to Houston Press for covering Houston bands."
Awwwww. Thanks, Jason. We're big SCR fans here too.
Home Base: "Like most Houston bands, Alkari's 'home base' is Fitzgerald's with a nod to Rudyard's, but we really enjoy playing as many different places in Houston as we can," says Smith. "We don't shy away from gigs in the suburbs and have enjoyed BFE and Concert Pub North. We played at Last Concert Cafe last year and loved it."
Good War Story: "I'd really like to tell you but it's part of an ongoing investigation, and to comment publicly may contaminate the evidence," he says.
Best one of these we've heard yet.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "No state income taxes," Smith replies. "Seriously though, maybe I've stayed here because I love being in Alkari. I love making music with these two other guys that have the same vision as to what our music should be.
"And even though we've had to slow down a little due to our careers and everything that comes along with having kids, I believe Alkari will always be there for us," he adds.
Story continues on the next page.