Music Trends That Should Stay In 2014

Photo courtesy of Big Machine Records
Will we hear even a little less about Taylor in 2015? One can only hope...
Despite what the editors of Rolling Stone want you to believe, 2014 was not, in fact, "another great year for music." In all honesty, it was one of the worst on record for new creations that innovated or inspired. Sure, there were some highlights: Jack White, FKA Twigs, Schoolboy Q, St Vincent. But overall, the year was somewhat of a bust.

The good news is that there is no need to abandon hope for popular music. All that needs to happen is that these dreadful pieces of 2014 need to stay on this side of the calendar when the clock hits midnight on December 31. Here's to 2015!

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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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Five Sample-Using Songs That Deserve Grammys Now

Photo by Marco Torres
Wu-Tang Clan
Recently the Grammy Awards announced changes to the annual music awards' criteria and categories, the most notable being now permitting songs that utilize samples in the songwriting categories, specifically Song of the Year. This is huge news for many electronic artists and rappers, obviously.

But why wasn't this always the case? It seems like the often stodgy judges behind the Grammys have unfairly excluded a lot of amazing works of art from winning awards just because they featured samples or interpolations. Here are some of the best songs which should have won that couldn't before this rule change.

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Springboard South Hopes to Silence Critics, Not Performers

Photos courtesy of Springboard South
When it comes to Houston's music scene and the lack of respect it gets, you can do two things -- complain or do something about it. Organizers and participants of the Springboard South Music Festival and Conference choose the latter. They want local musicians, music-oriented enterprises and music fans to follow their lead and do the same.

This year's event, the third annual, begins today and runs through Sunday. The music fest features more than 120 acts from across the southern U.S. performing on five stages at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Warehouse Live and nearby venues. It aims spotlight on-the-cusp artists from more than a dozen genres, all in the air-conditioned, rain-free comfort of downtown Houston's showcase sites.

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Austin Weirdos The Hard Pans Know From "Mount Bullshit"

Photo courtesy of The Hard Pans
L-R: Claude Barnard, Jimmy Smith and Mark Creaney, keeping Austin weird
The Hard Pans do just about what their quizzical name implies. To quote Mike Stinson, "they scratch and cuss and fight and moan," hoping to get by in this crazy, confusing, mixed-up maze people call a business.

In the eternal quest for gas money and beer, they'll bring a new album, Budget Cuts, to Cactus Music Wednesday for an in-store performance prior to an evening gig at Under the Volcano.

An offshoot of Austin Music Hall of Famers the Gourds, the Pans are led by bassist Jimmy Smith and keyboard hoss Claude Bernard. If you know anything about either of these guys, you already know they'll never be forced into any kind of George Strait lookalike contest, nor will they dumb it down so the Josh Abbott fans feel safe.

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Wait...When Did Houston Beer Fest Become a Music Festival?

Photos by Francisco Montes
The Houston Beer Fest crowd watches Action Bronson Saturday afternoon
Houston Beer Fest: It's not just for beer-induced dehydration anymore. It seems that while people were busy side-eying the folks over at Houston Beer Fest for the antics that happened in years prior -- overcrowding, oversold tickets, lack of beer, etc. -- something kind of amazing happened: they started giving a shit about the music.

No, seriously.

Going into HBF's fourth year this past weekend, we didn't expect to find much. After all, anecdotes about overcrowded entrances, drunk festivalgoers (ourselves included, mind you), and irritated would-be attendees stuck outside the gates run rampant when Beer Fest is mentioned.

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The Five Best Things to Know When Choosing a Stage Name

Categories: Music Bidness

Photos by Jordan Chan
Our author, very much in character with Black Math Experiement
Hello, my name is Jef Rouner, but I've been going by the name of Jef With One F on various Houston stages and in publications since I was 14 years old. It's a pretty good handle that I was happy enough with until a freakin' Bachelorette contestant starting using it too, but for the most part I like being Jef With One F. It's a character I can use and something to set me apart. That's what stage names are all about.

Now, you boys and girls getting ready to mount the stage under something you think sounds cooler than your birth name, I want you to pull up a chair and listen to your Uncle With One F. I've been working under a pseudonym for longer than some of you have been alive, and I want to give you the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

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Houston Losing Last Full-Service Sheet-Music Store Next Month

Categories: Music Bidness

Photo by Jef With One F
After 21 years in the Houston area, next month RBC Music will no longer host a local location. The city's last full-service sheet music store will shut its doors on May 15.

Previously, RBC had partnered with H&H Music to supply a wide selection of piano, guitar, instrumental, and choir music to all the stores in the chain. In Houston, there was always a main sheet music center mostly based in the H&H location on the Katy Freeway. It was this location where teachers and parents all over the city would flock to obtain method books, audition selections, solos for the UIL competition, concert and marching band program literature, and more.

Upon the bankruptcy of H&H Music eight years ago, RBC (where I've worked for the past 13 years) opened a store on Blalock and continued serving the community as a standalone enterprise. It was still one of the several businesses in town that sold sheet music, but online sales and digital downloads have begun to erode the sheet-music business and force consolidation.

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Sound Revolution Comes Full Circle With New Tomball Store

Photos courtesy of Alicia Schultz/Sound Revolution
The inventory at Sound Revolution's new Tomball store; note Record Store Day signs prominently displayed
Earlier today we mentioned that the Houston area has a staggering 16 music retailers that will celebrate Record Store Day tomorrow, but we'd also like to single out two that go by the same name. Sound Revolution's F.M. 1960 location near Bush Intercontinental Airport has been around since 1976, long enough to resemble the shop the character Hyde worked for under Tommy Chong and later owned in That '70s Show. The other is Houston's newest record store, opening March 1 in Tomball's Lakewood Shopping Center.

"You never know when you start something out as a kid how much you're gonna like it," reflects owner Alicia Schultz, who says that she can remember a time when there was a record store every two miles or so. "It's been a long road, a lot of ups and downs in the music business, but it never really goes away."

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Record Store Day's Rising Tide Has No End in Sight

Record Store Day returns to the nation's music retailers tomorrow, so if you're the sort of person who only buys a handful of LPs or CDs a year -- assuming you still buy physical music product at all -- you may want to hold off until sometime next week. In just six short years, this unofficial holiday of sorts has achieved a significance among the music-loving public somewhere between Christmas and Flag Day, probably much closer to the former. As a cultural phenomenon, it's definitely reached critical mass.

This year Warner Bros. Records sent out an email to the media, saying (in part), "we feel that's it's our civic duty to remind you of what Warner Bros. Records has literally in-store for you." (Ouch.) That would be the raison d'etre of Record Store Day, the carefully curated limited-edition releases parceled out a few at a time to the approximately 1,000 participating retailers, which most commonly take on the form of deluxe 180-gram vinyl prizes like a 5-LP LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden set or a blue-colored pressing of Jay Z and Linkin Park's 2004 Collision Course collaboration. But it could also be a My Chemical Romance "coffin" T-Shirt, for the fortunate few lucky enough to score one.

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