FPSF's Journey From Crazy Idea to Civic Institution

Photo by Amber Roussel
A crowd watches Austin's The Sword during FPSF's very first day in August 2009.
We tried our best to come up a question for Omar Afra that was a clever play on "seven year itch," but failed miserably. It's just as well -- the co-founder and producer of Free Press Summer Fest says he wasn't thinking in those terms anyway.

According to Afra, the date of the lineup announcement could be revealed as soon as Friday morning. For at least the past week FPSF's Twitter account has been pinged steadily by antsy fans wondering when it's going to drop. Right now Afra says the roster for FPSF's seventh go-round, which returns to Eleanor Tinsley Park on June 6 and 7, is about 98 percent finalized, but he and the festival's other senior staff are still working up a few last-minute "curveballs."

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Houston's 10 Most Eccentric Musicians

Screencap from Hearts of Animals "Sea Babies"
Let's preface this with the fact that I was once one of Houston's premiere musical weirdoes, staging insane protests and inventing toilet-paper cannons for the Black Math Experiment's live shows. So when I say that the following ten H-town rockers are a little crazy, I mean that in the most complimentary manner possible.

Everyone else can go on with their belief that Austin is where you go for out-there musicians, but we proudly present these folks as counter-evidence.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Sons of Texas, Maroon 5, Pete Yorn, etc.

Photo by Chris Phelps/Courtesy of Razor & Tie
Sons of Texas are on the hunt for some "Texas Trim."
Sons of Texas
Scout Bar, February 16

An early leader in the race for the Lone Star State's breakout band of 2015, Sons of Texas have come storming not out of one of Texas' big cities but the Rio Grande Valley, as their "Baptized In the Rio Grande" has already become one of the year's most added Active Rock tracks. Drawing liberally from the power-metal grooves dug by fellow Texans Pantera -- and making absolutely no apologies for it -- the upcoming album of the same name (due in March on Razor & Tie) is muscular in just about every aspect, from Mike Morales' vocals to Jes de Hoyos' guitar work and the fraternal rhythm section of Mike and Nick Villarreal. Monday's spot ahead of Houston's Like Monroe and Massachusetts veterans All That Remains is just one of many opportunities Sons of Texas will have this year to prove they can slug it out with rock's big boys.

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The 10 Best Bars in Galveston

Photo by Marcus via Flickr
With the last weekend of Mardi Gras coming up, we thought we would share our favorite bars on Galveston Island. Most of the action during Mardis Gras happens on the historic Strand and we are sharing a few bars located down there, as well as bars located elsewhere in Galveston, as the whole island should be jumping.

Not a fan of big Mardi Gras crowds? No problem, these places are great to visit year-round.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Sunny Sweeney, Bob Seger, the Blasters, etc.

Photo courtesy of PuraPharm
Mixing Up the Medicine: PuraPharm's new self-titled EP is the hard stuff.
Warehouse Live, February 13

Easily one of Houston's most unique bands, PuraPharm manages to balance several imposing musical elements -- Tessa Kole's foreboding vocals; Niki Sims' palate-cleansing woodwinds; the fog of effects-mottled guitars -- to arrive at a coherent sound, whereas any one of those might overwhelm a lesser group. As it is, this town has all too few acts who have been seriously touched by the likes of Spiritualized, the Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie & the Banshees, but PuraPharm (the drug reference is no accident) makes a pretty strong case that we really only need the one.

After years of knocking around the Bayou City's finer alternative-music rooms, the band's brand-new eponymous EP has already begun charting on some college-radio stations across the country. Friday Purapharm throws a release party with three other superb alt-pop bands, Austin newcomers Casual Strangers and Houston's Glass the Sky and Jealous Creatures.

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Chase Hamblin Heads "Way Back" to Start 2015

Categories: Only In Houston

Hamblin (bottom center) and the Roustabouts will return to action soon.
Their name notwithstanding, Chase Hamblin and crew are anything but roustabouts. Rooted in '60s-era pop-rock with hooks catchy enough to entice listeners of all ages, Hamblin has been a staple of the local music scene for nearly a decade.

Not being one to sit still for too long, Hamblin kicked off 2015 with the release of his band's latest effort, "Way Back," an upbeat tune about rediscovering oneself in dark times. Available exclusively on Bandcamp to stream or download, Hamblin's most recent release is part confession, part motivation and altogether as charming as many of his previous songs.

"Sometimes you just want to take the advice of that graffiti poet and GIVE UP," Hamblin says. "Some never make their way back. It's hard, but I'm pulling for all of you struggling."

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People Are Stoked About KTRU's FM Return

Photo by Brittanie Shey
A Rice Radio sticker was pasted over the mouth of the statue of Rice University founder William Marsh Rice during the protests against the student-run station's sale to the University of Houston system in August 2010.
"KTRU lives on."

In a message posted on the station's Web site Monday evening, KTRU station manager Sal Tijerina announced that the Federal Communications Commission had granted permission for the station to return to the FM dial after a nearly four-year absence on the low-power 96.1 frequency. His letter said the station intends to build a transmitter on top of Rice Stadium and will be able to broadcast to an area approximately ten miles in diameter.

The station should be on the air by the end of 2015, the letter added.

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Really Red Recalls the Early Days of Houston Punk

Photos courtesy of Bob Weber
L-R: Really Red's Bob Weber and Dallas Holmes, the artist who designed the party for last Friday's release party at Vinal Edge.
Thanks to Alternative Tentacles' new reissue of Really Red's entire discography on vinyl and CD, you can finally hear the local punk heroes' music blaring out of your handcrafted tube amp anytime you like, from the comfort of your own home. Or anywhere else, for that matter. In fact, the only place you still can't hear Really Red's collected works is onstage.

Yep, if you missed hearing the Texas Biscuit Bombs and Talk Sick Brats jam out some Really Red tunes at the release party on Friday at Vinal Edge, you're out of luck. Singer Ronnie "U-Ron" Bond, guitarist Kelly Younger, drummer Bob Weber and bassist John Paul Williams have no plans to reform, and they ain't likely to make any. They're not "on hiatus." They're scattered across three states, occupying themselves with things that very rarely require sleeping in vans.

"It almost seems like it was a past life," says Younger.

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Houston's 10 Most Romantic Bars

Photo by HP Staff
Note: list is in alphabetical order.

Unmarked doors and low lighting seem to lend themselves to romance, and Absinthe in Montrose is a bar that meets these two requirements; the fact that absinthe, the drink, was embraced by famous artists and writers including Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Vincent van Gogh and others gives Absinthe, the bar, a sense of excitement and romance itself by association. Made with an extract of wormwood, absinthe, the emerald-green drink, was once banned and falsely believed to cause madness and hallucinations. It is sold here, and indulging in this once-forbidden fruit is kind of sexy, don't you think?

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Houston's Five Best Concerts This Week: Steve Earle, Kat Edmondson, Chubby Checker, etc.

Photo by Ted Barron/Courtesy of New West Records
Steve Earle
Cactus Music, Tuesday 10 (6 p.m.)

Busy as he stays acting, writing books and hosting a satellite-radio program, Steve Earle remains an astoundingly prolific musician. He's released an album every odd-numbered year without fail since 2007's Washington Square Serenade; the latest, Terraplane Blues (New West), is due next week. But if there's anything Earle loves more than the blues, it's Cactus Music, his favorite Houston rondezvous for many years, so he's added a date here on his brief Terraplane pre-release tour. God knows when we'll get to see him anywhere else in the area, but it may be a while. This is a wristband-only event (guaranteed with pre-purchase of Terraplane) that will fill up quickly -- posted start time is 6 p.m.; our advice is to get there at least an hour before that.

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