The Rocks Off 200: Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man
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? It's not even Mardi Gras yet, but pretty soon Rocks Off may have to start a branch of the 200 exclusively devoted to musicians from Galveston. Last week we brought you Robert Kuhn, and today it's our pleasure to introduce you to Kevin Anthony, whose roots on the Island run deep. Step it up, inner-loopers.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Anthony
Anthony was BOI -- hope you know what that means -- and says he's been playing music since age eight. His parents and grandparents exposed him to the likes of Bob Wills, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard, among others, and the family would also soak up the Cajun and country bands at rodeos and trail rides around the Gulf Coast. They would "dance dance dance," he says.
After graduating high school, he moved to Houston to attend the Art Institute of Houston and began working as a freelance artist. While he was here Anthony played in several bands, but says the city all but killed off the music scene with a noise ordinance limiting the volume to 85 decibels or below. (Sounds familiar.) In 1993 he moved to New York, where he worked for MTV Networks and founded his own studio creating music for Web and TV ad agencies. He also taught himself to play fiddle after joining a bluegrass jam session in the West Village.
In 2005 Anthony took what he had learned to Minneapolis and started the band Kevin Anthony & the Twin City Playboys. Several years later he finally moved back to Galveston, where since 2011 he has led Kevin Anthony & G-Town and raised his two children, ages three and 11. Recently he released his sixth album, the appropriately named 45 Southbound, an amiable sampler of Anthony's hometown sounds.
Full of fleet-fingered honky-tonk shuffles ("Already Gone," "Bacon Blues"), it flirts with Top 40 country ("Running Out of Road") but Southbound's heart belongs to the Island breezes of "Strollin'" and "My Wife's Favorite Song," if not the title track's frisky Cajun two-step. Or if crooners like Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison are more your speed, put on "Still" or "Winding Road" while the sun is setting and watch what happens.
Anthony also teaches music lessons -- by ear -- on fiddle, guitar and mandolin. "No need to take a trip to the mainland," he says on his Web site. "Dust off that new or old instrument and learn to play it." Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Base: These days Anthony stays pretty close to Galveston, where he plays the Galveston's Own Farmers' Market every third Sunday. "I don't get to hang out as much as I used to due to having an two-year-old and an 11 year old at home," he says. "I try to follow the festival circuit around Texas and Louisiana. Playing the fiddle lends itself to barbecue cookoffs and crawfish boils. I can usually stay busy from April-October."
Good War Story: "Once I was playing a club in Clear Lake and the guitar player had a few too many beers," Anthony begins.
While we were playing he fell backwards off of the stage and onto the floor. He didn't miss a beat, though, and kept playing while laying on his back. We took a break and the manager walked up to me and said "You don't have to finish the last set."
He said it in a nice way, but in a way that was pretty clear that he wasn't happy about what just happened. I got paid and we left. It was a lesson that really stuck with me, though. It could have been a worse situation,but the manager was a professional and did me a favor.
Story continues on the next page.