Dear #Texans: Please Let Kam Franklin Sing the National Anthem

Photo by Mark C. Austin/Courtesy of the Convoy Group
Kam Franklin warms up at a Houston Rockets game...could NRG Stadium be next?
In accord with the time-honored tradition, before every Houston Texans football contest at NRG Stadium, someone is trotted onto the field to perform the national anthem.

In a nod to fans, something the hometown football team truly excels at, it is "auditioning" talent to perform the song before the team's December 28 home game. It's part of a contest the Texans have done previously, inviting fans to load their video auditions to the team's Facebook or Twitter accounts and use the hashtag #TexansFanthem.

When that game arrives, it'll be a merciless beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, my hopes are that sweet victory will be preceded by a stirring rendition of the anthem performed by Kam Franklin of The Suffers.

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PuraPharm Vox Tessa Kole's Top Five Desert Island Discs

Categories: Local Motion

Photo courtesy of PuraPharm
PuraPharm's new EP will be released in February.
Here on Rocks Off, we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; Tessa Kole, vocalist and guitarist of one of our Houston Press Artopia 2015 performers, PuraPharm.

Prince, Sign O' the Times
Anyone who knew me in junior high and high school knew how big of an influence Prince was to me! Good God, that man could put out an album and no two songs on it would even remotely sound alike.This is the main thing I always admired about Prince the most; other than the fact that nobody could even touch him when it came to his unique style of writing, his team of musicians, sound, and incredible work ethic. On Sign O' the Times, though, I really feel that he reached an especially genius level of his craft. It was pretty unbelievable.

My favorite song on the whole double album is "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night." What an explosion of horns, drums, and voice! Honestly I didn't realize the full potential of this song until I saw the Sign O' the Times movie. The dance sequences, the horn section, the stage and set design...WOW, just wow. The level of energy all those musicians had was off the charts.

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Retro Musicians Still Make Houston Swing

Photos by Lynn Lane
Photo courtesy of Bart Maloney
Bart Maloney has a steely gaze to go with his steel guitar.
Louis Armstrong once said, "The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago."

Bittersweet in its achy nostalgia, the saying is quite fitting for some of Houston's retro musicians. On vintage instruments, these players resurrect the memory of music long gone, bringing new life to the words of Etta James or Bob Wills, paying homage to the old swing and jazz greats.

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Doomstress Alexis's Top 5 Desert Island Discs

Photo by Helene McCarron
Project Armageddon anchors the third annual "Doomsgiving" at Rudyard's on Saturday.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Today we're starting a new column on Rocks Off, where we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; Doomstress Alexis, vocalist and bassist of Project Armageddon.

Iron Maiden, Live After Death
While this isn't a studio album, it is a live collection of five great albums Iron Maiden put out and it captured such energy from their show and from the audience. Steve Harris' bass playing and Bruce Dickinson's vocals are probably the two biggest influences on me musically, both as a singer and a bassist, as well as being a performer onstage.

This was also my introduction into heavy metal around the time I was five or six years old listening to all my older brother's records, so those early years probably have had the biggest impact on me. I also liked that they could write a short, three-minute, single-worthy song or a 14-minute epic and they would play them both live. This album just has it all.

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Six Types of People You Might Meet at a Guitar Store

Categories: Local Motion

Photo by H. Michael Karshis
Fact: all American guitars made before 1968 are magical, and were blessed by wizards. Paying $25,000 for one makes total sense when viewed in that light.
Any guitar player will occasionally venture into a guitar shop or musical-supply store that specializes in guitars. They can be wonderlands to anyone who likes to play guitar and wants to see firsthand what kind of gear is available. Like a comic-book store is a playground for comic fans, a guitar shop is a similar experience for guitar players.

But these paradises of gear-lust are also weird environments with their own social order and rules of conduct. There are also quite a few characters you're likely to encounter if you spend much time there. Some of them are fun people to be around, and others will make you wonder if they have a secret doll-themed torture room in their homes. Proceed carefully.

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Gabe Bravo Drums Up a Comedy Career

Photo courtesy of Gabe Bravo
Gabe Bravo, asking you to please check the drummer jokes at the door.
A funny thing happened to Gabe Bravo on the way to a successful career in music: He found out he was funny.

More precisely, others are finding out Bravo is funny. The well-known and highly regarded Houston musician is notably an outstanding drummer known for his time in acts such as Shotgun Funeral and The Trimms. But since early 2013, Bravo has traded his place at the back of the band for front-and-center as a stand-up comic.

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A Few Things Local Bands Should Know About Opening for National Acts

Photo by Clever Cupcakes via Flickr
As close as a typical opening band might get to meeting KISS.
Your band has been playing shows for a while, and seems to be getting popular. Perhaps you're still just rising stars on the hometown circuit or have hit the road a few times to try your luck at touring. Eventually, the day comes when you get a dream gig opening up for a big national act -- a band with a certain amount of fame and success that you've always looked up to, or at least respected.

Does this gig mean Death Hippie has finally made it and superstardom is around the corner? Can you and your bass player finally quit your jobs cleaning up "accidents" at the porno theater where you both work? Will you at least make industry connections and become friends with your rock and roll heroes after your band opens for them?

Probably not. But as with most things involving the music biz, you'll probably learn some lessons along the way. I certainly did.

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These Bands Know Mental Health Is Serious Business

The Walk for Mental Health Awareness Houston is a nonprofit organization that hosts events to, as the name implies, raise awareness for mental-health issues in the Houston area.

This is an issue that is close to my heart, so I'm happy to report that The Walk will be hosting a benefit show called Rockin' For a Cause tomorrow night at Fitzgerald's featuring Mellow Riot, Cassette Tape, Soul Creatures, Handsomebeast and the Trimms.

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Will H-Town Acts Impress Mile High City Fans?

Nick and his new CD, straight from Houston
My ongoing commitment to the young adults I parent is strong. Occasionally, it leads to weekends like one late last month, which included 30-plus hours of driving to and from Denver to help my daughter, who lives in nearby Boulder.

Errands aside, my wife and I had about six waking hours in the Mile High City, which wasn't much, but was enough to check out the music scene. It was a perfect weekend for that, since the Denver Post was holding its annual Underground Music Showcase. Better known as "UMS," it brought together dozens of Denver's best local acts, plus regional and national artists, like People Under the Stairs and Blonde Redhead.

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The Deep Roots of Houston House Music

Categories: Local Motion

Photo by Carlos A. Martinez, courtesy of Extended Play
Extended Play: the re-mix
About six weeks ago, I met with some notable figures to get the real story of Houston's house-music scene. And, as I've learned since the first half of this blog ran, still others are waiting to tell their stories and fill in the blanks even this trio of respected artists missed.

For me, this all started with an article about two Houston brothers who were entirely new to producing house music. They wanted to find and maybe learn from some of the city's EDM talent, especially artists who were producing original house music.

It didn't take long for Josh Dupont, Eddie Spettro and James Reed to step forth. They collectively bring music to the masses at regular gigs at Boondocks, Jet Lounge, Royal Oak, The Davenport and elsewhere. Outside the city they've played major shows too, most recently the Denver 2014 Winter Showcase, hosted by Beatport's Beta Nightclub.

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