State of the blog, end of 2010

The year 2010 comes to a close and I find it once again is time to reflect on the state of the blog and how far it has come in the preceding year.

I had hoped 2010 would be the breakout year for Quinn’s Big City. Back in 2009 August when I started this blog, I had hoped it would become the blog for which I am best known, my “flagship” blog and perhaps even my new personal brand. This year saw the time finally came to sunset one of my blogs (Iced Tea and Ramen, archives still in place) due to lack of time and motivation. Rant Roulette is seeing fewer posts than it once did, due to a variety of reasons already enumerated there, and is also facing radical format changes.

Are there fewer people who actively follow what I’m up to this year? Maybe. I’ve done my best to stay interesting and relevant. Despite the fact I had to put this blog on hiatus not once, but twice, during this year, I did not do so without good reason both times, and always with the idea of coming back bigger and better. I’d like to think I’ve done an admirable job for what has literally a one-man show to date. And that leads me to my next point.

I think long term, for this blog to be a success, even though my name is prominently featured, it has to be about more than just me. The problem is finding the right people to add to the editorial team alongside myself. It would help to know that someone else is covering the recap for event X, freeing me up to go to and possibly recap event Y, and in the end we are all part of a higher quality blog in the end. Anyone who is interested, do realize it’s a volunteer gig, but you would get full attribution for your recap post. Drop me a line if interested.

In the process of writing my most recent recap (Canned Acoustica, 10-W50-3) I recall something someone told me at that event. And that’s that if you’re “out of the scene” long enough, it becomes a bit harder to find out where things are going on. The vast majority of events I’ve featured in the weekly and monthly LOVIEEs, I found out about from either Facebook invites, fishing expeditions on the existing press calendars (mostly the Houston Press calendar), or sometimes from the upcoming events listed on the Fresh Arts Coalition or Spacetaker websites. For a while I looked at online venue calendars (most notably Continental Club’s because it’s the best example of how to do one right, at least for my purposes). However, let’s face it, it serves neither my nor your best interest if this turns into “the best of what’s going on at (insert venue names here).” I mean, if you wanted the Continental Club’s calendar, you’d go to their site. So it’s a tough balancing act. I still have plans to make the “making of” video at some point, but building readership takes
priority. If you like what I’ve got here, by all means, spread the word, “like” the page on Facebook, follow the Twitter account, share the latest posts.

I’m now focusing, once again, on events I’d actually attend. It’s not that I don’t think the word should get out about black tie galas benefiting our arts community or other great causes. Right now I’m in no position to attend them myself and I just feel like they are out of place next to shows I would go to if I could pony up the admission fee, however small. Let’s face it, $10 or $20 is a lot of money when gasoline costs nearly $3 per gallon, and I live near Willowbrook Mall now, which puts me no closer to most ITL events. That leads nicely into what I was about to say next…

While the LOVIEEs will still feature many centrally-located events, I’m mostly getting rid of the “ITL or up to 2 miles OTL” filter. This isn’t 1970 and the Houston area has expanded far beyond the confines of I-610, and the “up to 2 miles OTL” was never a hard-and-fast rule, and was always bent for truly interesting happenings a bit more distant from the city center. Given I’m near Willowbrook, there will probably be some north/northwest bias, maybe even stretching as far around as the Memorial City area, The Woodlands, and Humble (let’s face it, Sam Houston Tollway traffic around to Memorial City is never as bad as traffic going into or out of downtown on, say, Texas 249). I’ll try to drop the occasional south/east event in when I can remember.

I’ve had the “On The Horizon” feature sitting on the shelf for months if not nearly all of 2010. I think I’ve finally found the perfect event to debut it with. I want it to be a nice surprise, so everyone will find out in about a week.

Here’s hoping 2011 is the greatest year yet for Quinn’s Big City, and the Houston area’s arts, music, and event scenes. Catch you on the flip side.

(The change made on 2011-02-10 was to correct a minor typographical glitch and add this notice for the benefit of readers of the blog’s archives.)


2010-12-27/2011-01-02 Weekly LOVIEE

There may not be a whole lot here; just like last year, I’ve made the New Year’s Eve parties a separate posting. Since that cuts this post down to almost nothing, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight some events in the Ongoing LOVIEE.

I may add some more stuff later this week, most likely for Saturday or Sunday.

Ongoing This Week

Perspectives 172: Kirsten Pieroth, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. 5216 Montrose, Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 10am-5pm. Thu 10am-9pm, Sun 12pm-5pm, free admission. Unusual juxtapositions of everyday objects. This exhibition is themed around the life and work of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor in the field of radio. Exhibit runs through January 2. 10/11-PERSP

The Ice At Discovery Green, $10+tax including skate rental per person, see website for hours and details. Back again for the 2010-11 winter, an outdoor ice rink in Houston! The model boat basin portion of Kinder Lake (the part directly behind the Anheuser-Busch stage) will be frozen over using renewable energy and transformed into an ice skating rink. Great if you miss outdoor ice skating in your northern US or Canadian hometown, or if you just don’t feel like battling Galleria traffic to go ice skating. 10/11-IADG

Snowman Poker League runs free Texas Hold’em tournaments at bars and pubs across the Houston area. Featured games this week: Mezzanine Lounge, 2200 Southwest Freeway #150, Mon/Thu/Sun 7:30pm and 10:30pm; Coaches Pub, 17460 Northwest Freeway, Tue/Wed/Thu 7pm and 10pm. Z-SMP

Wednesday 12-29

Lucio, Sedition Books, 901 Richmond, 7pm, free admission. Screening of a documentary about Lucio Urtubia, bricklayer by trade who forged millions of dollars in travelers checks to raise money for guerilla causes in Latin America, and who ultimately only spent a few months in prison for his crimes. 10-W52-1

Thursday 12-30

Chase Hamblin, Khon’s, 2808 Milam, 9-11pm, no cover. 10-W52-2


2010-12-31 Special Edition LOVIEE (New Year’s Eve)

While I know it’s way late, I’m still posting it as promised. So far this is much sparser than last year’s. I may be adding to this list as the holiday approaches. This time around, I’m focusing more on NYE events that would otherwise receive minimal to no publicity, so otherwise well-publicized events may be omitted.

Unless otherwise noted, events end at 2am. Events known to be 21 and over only are thusly noted.

Friday 12-31

Allen Oldies Band and David Beebe & the ConradsContinental Club, 3700 Main, 8pm, no cover. Ring in the new year with one of the best oldies bands based in Houston, joined this year by special guests visiting from Marfa. 10-S-NYE-1

New Year’s Eve 2011 “Puttin’ On the Glitz” at Mezzanine Lounge, 8pm. $35 advance tickets, $50 at the door. 21+. 10-S-NYE-2

BombaChica and Adrian Zavala, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone, 8pm, $10. 10-S-NYE-3

Cafesitos, 3750 S. Mason (Katy), 6pm. Featuring Cuban dance music alongside the usual restaurant fare. 10-S-NYE-4

DaquiRitas 5th Annual NYE Party, “A Black & White Affair,” 20801 Gulf Freeway (Webster), doors 8pm, $5 (before 10pm) / $?? (after 10pm). 10-S-NYE-5

Crooked Ferret, 11835 Jones Road, 8pm, no cover. Featuring live music from two different bands. 10-S-NYE-6


Recap: Canned Acoustica (10-W50-3)

When deciding which event to attend Thursday night, I had plenty of choices. I wanted to go to something that would most easily lend itself to an interesting and fun-to-read recap. I had limited funds and didn’t want to spend all of them just getting in the door. I did have extra canned food items at the house we’re moving out of, the route to which did not deviate terribly far from a rather direct route to Warehouse Live. Add all that together, and Canned Acoustica was the clear winner.

(Sidenote: I wanted to get this up sooner. However, I was simply too exhausted after getting home the night of the event and had more pressing things to attend to during the day after. My memory is not perfect, and I’m doing the best I can to recall the highlights of what wound up being a six-hour-long event for me. My apologies if some sections are light on details, as a good chunk of this was not written until 48+ hours after the fact, and I’m also trying to keep this from being too long.)

I arrived at around 7:15pm (I did not note the exact time) which was partway through the set of Atomic Cat Society. I didn’t want to push myself toward the middle of the room in the middle of an artist’s set, given that this was supposed to be a more intimate setting than most concerts. So I hung out in the entryway and didn’t get that great of a view of the stage for this act; however, I will say Atomic Cat Society has more to them than just a catchy name, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future shows by this duo as I liked what I heard. (For those who have never been, the layout of the Green Room has the entrance behind and to the audience’s left of the stage, with the remainder continuing in front of the stage. The audience-walkable portion, save for the restrooms, somewhat resembles the shape of the Tetris “S” piece.)

Shortly after this, I learned something about this event I didn’t know. I did remember receiving a Facebook message about this event earlier in the day from Mark C. Austin, a moderately famous photographer and supporter of the Houston music scene. However, I didn’t know Canned Acoustica was actually Mark’s event until he took the stage to make the announcements about the food trucks on site. Which, shortly afterwards, I did take advantage of, but not before taking a quick look at the display of local artists’ bowls for sale by Houston Food Bank as a fundraiser ($20 each).

We had two mobile kitchens to choose from: H-Town StrEATs (Facebook page; they appear not to have a website), and Taqueria Taconmadre (the latter of which actually operates out of a cargo van, and set up their cooking equipment out front). While I usually lean towards Mexican food, I checked out the menu of H-Town StrEATs first before looking at the menu of Taqueria Taconmadre. Or shall I say, distinct lack thereof. They didn’t really have a set menu, and while I did not doubt Mark’s honesty at all when he said the offerings are “affordable,” I tend to feel uneasy about ordering something on faith that it’s not going to break the budget. (I’m strange like that sometimes.) I had $10 on me, and for some reason, the Korean cheesesteak with kimchi offered by H-Town StrEATs for $5 was particularly alluring. Add $2 for a soda (Mexican Coke in glass bottle, which I think was a 12-ounce bottle), and that makes $7, which for me, that night, came a bit close to boundary between “affordable” and “expensive” but did not cross over into the latter category. To be fair, this was the most expensive offering available (a five-way tie with four other $5 offerings from the same vendor: bacon-wrapped double dog; pair of teriyaki sliders with pineapple and ham, which I am assuming were only available in pairs; grilled chicken on ciabatta with sundried tomato vinaigrette; and grilled cheese with portabello, bacon, and sheep’s milk cheese), or in other words, one really had to try to break the bank. That said, the Korean cheesesteak was great (and I actually got to learn what kimchi was, so I’m slowly but surely expanding my Asian food knowledge).

Anyway, so after I was done eating, it was back to the music. Robert Ellis had already begun his set by the time I got back inside. (I finished eating before going back in, as I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to take our food back inside with us or not; either way, carrying food and drink back in would have been a bit cumbersome). So again, I was stuck in the area to the audience’s left (performer’s right) of stage.

After Robert Ellis, the crowd began to fill up the area. As much as I had hoped “silence is expected during performances” (as posted on the Facebook event page) would be respected, it became more obvious that more and more people either a) didn’t get the memo, or b) flat out didn’t care. I changed position during some of the sets, and noticed that starting from behind the back couch (of three) in the area facing the stage, the noise from conversations started to easily interfere with any attempt to focus on the performance. I shudder to think how bad it must have been for those stuck near the rear wall. At times it got bad enough that the PA announcer urged people to quiet down during the performances. (Surprisingly, though, some of the performers didn’t care.) So not all of my inattention towards the act on stage was by choice. Maybe it is too much to expect a capacity crowd (by my estimate, around 60 people or so) to all remain nearly silent. It’s a catch-22: a larger venue takes away from the intimate nature of the performance, yet a venue too small leaves one with the discomfort of feeling crowded and trying to find a spot where the conversation won’t drown out the music.

We then have another short break, after which Black Queen Speaks takes the stage, a band some wouldn’t expect to go acoustic for a show like this. It was actually my first time seeing the group perform, and their performance was as memorable for the music as for the wild antics of the lead singer who came out off-stage and climbed up on the front row couch at various points, quite possibly pushing the boundaries of the comfort zone for those in the first row. I’m definitely glad I had a comfortable standing spot closer to the bar.

Next up, according to my notes, we had Benjamin Wesley. And it’s the strangest thing, I remember paying fairly close attention to his set. Of course, now that it’s time to write a post about it, I don’t remember a whole lot about his performance, and I feel really bad about this. Usually I take better notes and/or don’t forget quite as easily…

And then it was time for Winter Wallace. Flash back to March, when I got to see Winter’s band performing at Twestival at Caroline Collective (mentioned in the Weekly LOVIEE from that week (10-W12-4) but which I did not recap). That show was a rather chaotic one as the band had to move inside post haste due to noise complaints. However, I was a fan, and was disappointed that I was unable to make it to the CD release party back in August (due to several factors, mainly WordCamp Houston being the following day). It’s really hard to describe Winter’s style of music, besides “eclectic,” “addictive” and “captivating.” Anyway, it was after Winter’s set (if I remember right), I went back out to get another Coke from the H-Town StrEATs truck, which if you’re keeping score, brought my total expenditures for the night to $9.

Then Castle Lights took the stage, who before tonight I had barely heard of, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them again, as I definitely enjoyed what I heard. Castle Lights was soon to be followed by Chase Hamblin performing with Cory Power (just the two of them, not all of Chase’s normal backup band). Chase and Cory delivered their usual excellence, as well as letting us know about a show coming up 2011 January 6 at Fitzgerald’s. And hopefully I’ll get to see you all there. And then we move on to Mason Lankford and Shellee Coley performing together, who were also relatively unknown to me until this performance. (Yes, I’ve been a bit more out of touch with the live music scene than I wanted to be.) I do remember Shellee’s CDs were on sale. I think Mason may have had CDs for sale too, but this is where my memory fails me yet again.

Finally it was time for Tyagaraja, who I had heard a lot about but had never actually seen perform live. His group performed more Christmas-themed music than most of the other artists I remember that evening. Tyagajara also had CDs for sale as well as other group swag (most notably T-shirts). I look forward to seeing him and his band perform again.

The evening concluded with the performances of Sara Van Buskirk (who appears not to have a website of her own, but does have her own Facebook page) and Listen Listen. Sara added a little shtick to her musical talent, jokingly referring to a “Jewish thrift-store” look, shortly after taking off her jacket to the applause of the crowd. Sara’s music is good enough to stand on its own, which is not to say that the shtick took away from it, as it did add some greatness to what otherwise would have been merely a good but not particularly memorable performance. Sara also had CDs for sale, adding to my already lengthy local music shopping list for early 2011.

Listen Listen, as the nominal headlining act, delivered a great show as well. (I say “nominal” because the headlining act is usually the one which performs last. It was well past midnight by the time Listen Listen took the stage, and many of the earlier performers could have been said to draw a larger crowd.) Like many of the other performers, I had heard about Listen Listen prior to tonight, but never actually seen them perform live.

In conclusion, every artist who performed at this show left at least a great impression based solely on this performance, with some of them reaching into “amazing” and “spectacular” territory. I didn’t catch every minute of every act, but I can definitely say based on what I did hear, that this was a show most music fans would have enjoyed regardless of how long they stayed and when they arrived and departed. In addition to that, Mark announced near the end of the show that over 1000 pounds of food had been collected for the Houston Food Bank. So in summary, this was a success all around, and I hope we have more events like this in Houston in the months to come.