Roky Erickson at the Continental Club, 10/30/2013

Photos by Jason Wolter
Roky Erickson & Hounds of Baskerville
Continental Club
October 30, 2013

You don't have to know a whole lot about Roky Erickson to know he's written some of the most touching, sweetest songs around. "Starry Eyes" by itself belongs on any halfway decent pitching-woo playlist.

But maybe some other time. Wednesday was the night before Halloween, and Erickson was made for Halloween.

The set list scans like EC Comics' greatest hits -- vampires, demons, ghosts, two-headed dogs and one creature with an atom brain, among other nightmares. Erickson's lyrics only peer further into the maelstrom; not that they were entirely audible Wednesday, but his gruff yet anguished bark said plenty on its own.

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Spud Boys' Revenge: Devo's Innovative Videos Drive U of H Crowd Nuts

lenticular Devo pin, 1982
On November 30, 1982, two years after "Whip It" made its rounds through radio and television airwaves, Devo's spazzy music had become the encapsulation of everything pop culture at the time had to offer. Though their catchy synths and calculated kitsch had brought them to fame, come the band's second performance in two back-to-back shows at the Cullen Performance Hall in the University of Houston, a good chunk of the crowd could care less. The venue was far over capacity, and few expected to hear Devo's one Billboard hit.

But on this night, a brand-new technology was expected to premiere to many eyes. It was going to be a video-synchronized concert, with Devo performing in tune to their own video clips projected on large screens behind them, equipped with simultaneously moving props and lighting.

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Moving Sidewalks Finally Book Houston Reunion Gig -- at $225/Head

A biker gang has done what Houston's top concert promoters have so far been unable to pull off.

Granted, the Deacons of Deadwood is no biker gang. They might kick our ass for using such a term. (We hope not.) But the Houston-based nonprofit, a motorcycle club that takes its name from its annual trip to the massive Black Hills rally in Sturgis, S.D., announced earlier today that the Moving Sidewalks will play its 12th annual charity ball on September 28 at Bayou Music Center.

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Hazy Highlights From This Past Weekend's Austin Psych Fest

Ed. Note: Austin Psych Fest brought the weirdos to the state capitol this weekend for sets by big legends like The Moving Sidewalks and small ones like Silver Apples. Our friends at DC9 at Night in Dallas, writer Jesse Hughey and photographer Tracie Louck, were there to brave the mud and reverb to bring you these dispatches.

Photos by Tracie Louck
The sun setting over the Saharan desert music of Tinariwen marked for me the first moment that Austin Psych Fest truly felt like we were somewhere else completely. Tie-dyed kids, a guy in a curious mirror-and-disco-ball-bedazzled pink getup and the usual festival dirtbags in black concert tees swayed and spun to the hypnotic Malian African blues unwinding from the band's hand drums and acoustic guitars.

Before that, Besnard Lakes and Vietnam had both built up the kind of droning, reverberating rhythmic grooves that set the mood for getting a good buzz on in beautiful Texas weather. Now it felt like we were somewhere else completely.

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Moving Sidewalks Dust Off Their '60s Brooms In NYC

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This weekend the Moving Sidewalks, best known as the band Billy Gibbons was in before ZZ Top formed, were once again a living, breathing, kaleidoscoping musical being. Gibbons and the other Sidewalks - Tom Moore (organ), Dan Mitchell (drums) and Don Summers (bass), all of whom still live in Texas - drew a full house to B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill near Times Square Saturday night.

If you ever wondered what a primitive ZZ Top might sound like slathered in psychedelic '60s organ, you can stop.

The psychedelia didn't stop with the trippy tunes, including covers of "Wild Thing" and Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and "Foxy Lady." The guitar the 63-year-old Gibbons was playing featured an illuminated green blob on a screen embedded into the body.

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The Rocks Off 100: DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, 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 the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

A "selecta" was originally the guy who selected the reggae vinyls from the crate and passed them along to the person playing them through the sound system.

The term has since evolved to symbolize the DJ himself. DJ Meshak has been selecting reggae, dancehall, and dub records at art shows and warehouse parties in Houston for almost a decade. Foregoing fancy mixers, headphones and computers, Meshak uses an old telephone receiver to throw down one of the realest music experiences you will ever find in Houston.

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Charalambides Guitarist Tom Carter On the Mend

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Courtesy of Nameless Sound
L-R: Christina Carter, Heather Murray and Tom Carter in 2003
Tom Carter, guitarist for Charalambides, the influential and prolific ex-Houston avant-garde/psychedelic duo, is out of intensive care and recovering at a rehabilitation hospital in Ahrenshoop, Germany after awakening from a medically induced coma last week. Carter's bandmate and ex-wife, Christina Carter, says he could be well enough to fly back to the United States as soon as the first of next month.

Carter was on tour with Charalambides when he began feeling ill and was hospitalized in Berlin May 31. Doctors diagnosed pneumonia, but decided to put him in a coma after further complications, and he remained in the ICU for 40 days until waking up and being transferred to a rehab hospital earlier this month.

"We went there thinking they were going to say, 'Oh, you have a virus or something or the flu, here's some antibiotics,' Christina told Rocks Off from her home in Austin last week. "But [doctors] said 'No, you have to stay here. We have to observe you at least a couple of days. That's when he went really downhill and they put him into ICU that night. It was really a last-minute kind of thing."

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Saturday Night: Roky Erickson at the Continental Club

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Photos by Marc Brubaker
Roky Erickson
Continental Club
July 14, 2012

With the arid summer of 2011 fresh in our memories, it's easy to forget that Houston's often a sweaty, swampy mess. Saturday night it was no different, having rained for a week straight.

Though the rain was done by evening, the air was thick and balmy through the night. It was heavy air, the kind that forces folks to smoke their cigarettes faster and down their beers a bit quicker, just to crisp their lips once again.

Inside the Continental Club, the atmosphere was not much different. A swath of bodies had gathered in anticipation, chattering in excitement. They knew what was coming, or at least had been roped in by a knowing friend and were appropriately expectant.

Though he might not lay claim to "household name" status, Roky Erickson is a legend: the storied godfather of psychedelic rock has legions of disciples, including fans as well as followers in his musical footsteps. The crowd assembled at the Continental featured plenty from both camps.

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Linus Pauling Quartet Plans Summer Campaign Of Stoner D&D Metal

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Photo by hellokitty2399 via Flickr
Linus Pauling Quartet in May 2010
Five years sounds like a long time unless you're one of Texas' most nefarious stoner-rock merchants. In that case, sometimes one song can feel like five years.

Really, it's hard to believe that much time has gone by since Houston (mostly) five-piece Linus Pauling Quartet's last new album, 2007's All Things Are Light. But songs about "Bongs of Power, Monkeys in Space, D&D shit," according to an LP4 announcement Wednesday night. The new LP is called Bag of Hammers (Homeskool Recordz), so we're guessing it's going to be heavy.

"You know how every band has to have the one guy who moves things along?," says one of LP4's myriad guitarists (actually there's normally three), Ramon Medina, who also practices music journalism for Free Press Houston, Nonalignment Pact and occasionally us. "That guy may not be the smartest, the best guitarist, the best songwriter, etc. but he's the guy stupid enough to follow through on dumb ideas that shouldn't be?

"Well, while I was too busy with my personal life to really focus on the band, it appears I was that guy."

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The Best LP Side Ones Ever

Spurred on by the realization that both David Bowie's commercial breakthrough Let's Dance and Queen's News of the World had solid, sturdy side ones on their vinyl releases, I then began the hunt for other great vinyl slabs with amazing side ones.

Of course, the idea is that this could only include albums from the (first) great rock vinyl heyday. I am sure that Wilco and others have turned in great side ones in the past decade, but only a select few of you have heard them on vinyl.

The secret to great albums, of course, has everything to do with genius and gripping songs, plus proper sequencing and editing. And you may remember a few years back, when I attempted to cut some of most popular double slabs down to one lean collection.

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