The Rocks Off 100: Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager

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.

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If you spend any time at Fitzgerald's, you have most likely met or at least seen Tobin Harvell, who works at the venue, mainly keeping doors locked, gates closed, and making sure we are all on our best, reasonable behavior at shows.

For this edition of the Rocks Off 100, I reached out to Harvell, who has some amazing stories of his time here on Earth. Next time you're at Fitz, shake his hand and say hello, and bask in his wisdom.


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Join Us for Cocktails & Covers at House Of Blues Fridays This Summer

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Graphic by Monica Fuentes
The other day, Rocks Off was researching another blog, and we stumbled across Duran Duran's 1995 all-covers LP Thank You on Spotify. Then we listened to it all the way through, on purpose.

Recorded when the Birmingham-born band was at a post-"Ordinary World" fork in the road, Thank You wasn't the Durannies' contractual kiss-off to Capitol/EMI, as some might assume -- that actually came with 1997 stiff Medazzaland -- but it was probably the coup de grace that doomed the band's career with the label.

The album actually starts off OK, with a crunchy-guitar version of Grandmaster Melle Mel's old-school rap nugget "White Lines (Don't Do It)," but Lou Reed's anemic "Perfect Day" is an early sign things are heading south. Never mind Public Enemy's "911 Is a Joke," there is no reason they should have ever even rehearsed the Doors' "The Crystal Ship," and by the time Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" comes around, Thank You is astoundingly bad. No thank you.


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A Dream Austin City Limits Weekend For Houston

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Craig Hlavaty
Coldplay at The Woodlands, July 2009
Summer is creeping in, which means the fall concert calendars are filling up fast, and we should know which Austin City Limits Music Festival artists will book side dates in our area sooner rather than later. The standard disclaimer: Rocks Off is not a promoter, and we have no inside knowledge whatsoever that any of these shows are even close to being a reality. What we do know is that, as of right now, they could happen.

As far as we know, on each given day, all the venues below have an open date while each ACL artist is booked in Zilker on one of the other days of the festival. By the law of averages, some of the artists below will show up in this area around that weekend - based on years past, Houston figures on getting a couple of big shed-filling names, and enough mid-card artists to keep local theaters and clubs full all weekend.

But who? And where? What follows is Rocks Off's absolute best-case scenario, how we'd bring the cream of this year's ACL crop to the Bayou City. As John Nova Lomax alluded to in this week's cover story, Houston is a lot closer to catching up with our neighbors to the northwest than a lot of people realize. True, maybe not quite this close...yet. Some of these are obviously pipe dreams, others maybe not so much. Get cracking, promoters.


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Dazed And Confused 2: A Rock Of Ages For The '90s

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Broadway loves nostalgia, and they also love a sure thing. That's why most of the biggest hit musicals on Broadway right now are jukebox musicals that string together narratives out of popular songs. Musicals like Movin' Out, Jersey Boys, and especially Rock of Ages utilize hits from the past few decades to pack audiences into theaters, which is all fine and dandy, but Rocks Off has been wondering: What about the '90s?

The 1990s, particularly the grunge era, are ripe for the picking, as far as nostalgia goes. And while we're at it, you know how Broadway love a musical version of a hit movie? The Wedding Singer and Legally Blonde have both had huge success in their Broadway incarnations. Well, why not a Dazed and Confused musical? 70's nostalgia is still pretty big, but the best part is that once the first one completes its run, why not a sequel set in 1993, the year Rick Linklater's film was released?

Boom. Two of Broadway's most successful current formulas, brought together. The only thing is that due to the subject matter of so many 90's songs, it would have to be significantly darker than anything currently on Broadway...


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A Very Special Behind The Music: Zack Attack!

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Zack Attack keyboardist Samuel "Screech" Powers before his cutting days.
Everyone remembers Zack Attack. A lighthearted, tween-oriented pop group from California, they shot to the top of the charts in November 1990 with their No. 1 hit, "Friends Forever."

Teenagers and close friends themselves, they displayed an easy chemistry the likes of which few manufactured pop groups of the time (or since) could duplicate. Lead singer and songwriter Zack Morris credited this bond between them as the driving force behind their success, and the reason for their later disastrous failure.

Morris and drummer Albert Clifford "A.C." Slater had been rivals for the affection of bandmate and lead keytar player Kelly Kapowski since early on in their friendship, a rivalry which caused much tension on the road in support of their massively successful debut album, Friends Forever.


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Leave It To Bieber: The Lost Pilot Episode

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Fade in on a darkened Bieber household living room. The porch light snaps on outside, and the door opens slowly and silently. JUSTIN BIEBER sneaks into the house in filthy clothes, carrying a baseball bat and glove. He silently shuts the door and starts walking, tracking mud inside the house.

He's only made it a few steps when somebody claps; the light snaps on, revealing that Bieber is not alone. His MOM is waiting, standing in the center of the living room, arms crossed, not looking very happy. She's a generically pretty lady in her late 30's. Nearby in an easy chair is DAD, whose face is obscured by the newspaper he's reading. As soon as the lights go on, canned applause erupts on the laugh track.

MOM (accusingly): BIEBERRRR!

Laugh track: Appreciative laughs and cheers.

BIEBER: Hey, Mom! How's it goin'?

MOM: Don't you "how's it goin'" me, young man. You're over an hour late. Your father and I were worried sick!

DAD: Yep.

MOM: Well, let's hear it. What's the excuse this time?


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Straight-To-DVD Music Sequels Soon To Come

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If you're a struggling writer, musician or filmmaker trying to work up the nerve to kill yourself, have we ever got good news for you! Your morale may have been damaged or even crippled by seeing bad music, bad movies and bad stories dominating the upper echelons of their respective fields, but Rocks Off has a new brand of crapfest designed to shit directly into your soul.

You know those godawful straight-to-DVD sequels the movie studios have been churning out for the last few years? You see them languishing, unrented, on the shelves of the few remaining Blockbusters that haven't buckled under DVRs and Netflix. Someone realized that some moderately successful films' intellectual properties were owned by the studios, so they quite brilliantly slapped familiar titles on bargain-bin movies made without the participation of the principal cast, or the director or writers from the first film.

This led to cheap, shabby sequels to Wild Things, American Psycho, Cruel Intentions, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Road House, Inspector Gadget, Home Alone, Cabin Fever, Road Trip, Donnie Darko, The Butterfly Effect, Dr. Doolittle, and Legally Blonde -= slipshod, money-driven, poorly crafted and ridiculously exploitive movies every one. This isn't even touching on the legions of horrendous sequels to beloved Disney films with which Walt's old company has decided to dilute its brand name.


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