Houstonians party to home-grown music
By MICHAEL D. CLARK
partied like it was 1 A.D. Paris suffered a Y2K glitch when the giant
clock on the Eiffel Tower went out. And Dick Clark watched the ball drop
as an infantry of police patrolled Times Square.
And Houston? It
grabbed guitars and did what it has done for the last century: played
blues, bluegrass, country and rock 'n' roll. As the Bayou City turned to
the 21st century, it celebrated in song across the city's sprawling
diameter. From downtown's mod rock extravaganza to folk at the Mucky
Duck and hillbilly country at the Satellite Lounge, the scene was topped
with the blues-rock of ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd at Compaq Center.
the last night of Houston's 1999 could be put into a time capsule, it
would be an accurate depiction of what our home-grown music was like at
the close of the millennium.
7:38 p.m. - That's the time on the
movie screen doubling as a digital alarm clock above Bayou Place as
revelers file into the downtown New Year's Eve Houston party. When the
jumbo timepiece strikes midnight, the corner of Smith and Texas will
blow up in fireworks.
At this moment, people aren't exactly
partying like it's the end of 1999. The rockabilly pompadours of the
Jesse Dayton Band work guitars and pat at a standing bass to a
smattering of early birds in Jones Plaza. A street performer juggling
fire torches and balancing a wreath of flames on his head is drawing
another small crowd.
A block down on Texas Avenue's main stage -
the place where Houston's rock 'n' roll future, Chlorine and the Hunger,
will play later - a local band called Dune, TX warbles through some
off-key vocals while throwing guitars like lit sparklers.
downtown block party is a great concept, but it's hard to figure out to
whom exactly it's marketed. The beer sponsorship and frequency of suds
vendors make it a bit too old for teen-agers. The bands aren't quite
well-known enough to attract twentysomethings and, with two stages, it's
way too much audio intensity for anyone not raised on rock radio. But a
crowd of 12,000 will gather before the night is over. And the night
does hold promise. The dance club inside the Aerial Theater with DJ Sun
is about the most wholesome ravelike party a parent could send a teen
The real roots of Lone Star music and food can be had at
Harlon's Barbecue. Spare ribs and sausages are in abundance, and Lady
"D" and the Zydeco Tornados are tuning up. There's little more one could
do than suck down some beef and listen to Tornado Arthur "T-Put" Carter
scratch a scrub board. "We got the talent right here in Texas," says
Regina Hearne, 23, booker for Harlon's who has brought in Texas Johnny
Brown for previous New Year's celebrations. "We've got to support it."
p.m. - The dress code for New Year's Eve at McGonigel 's Mucky Duck is
"Pick a Decade and Wear It." The crowd of regulars who frequent the
singer-songwriter bastion fill the cozy red room with a sampling of
Flappers, beatnik poets and Frank Sinatra look-alikes sit
right next to hippies and a familiar face from a galaxy far, far away,
Jar Jar Binks.
Jack Saunders and Kimberly Kyle are two folk
institutions at the Mucky Duck, but for this night they've put their own
songbooks aside to play nothing but rock of the ages. The Beatles'
Magical Mystery Tour leads into the Stones' Let's Spend the Night
"Houston is my home base. I played the first show at
the Mucky Duck when it opened," says Saunders. "I moved to Montrose in
the '70s and was able to make a living as a singer right away."
pop culture tour of the century is a hoot, but the special guest of the
evening is Marge McGonigel , the aunt of owners Rusty and Theresa
Andrews. At 96, she doesn't have to represent any one decade with a
costume. She represents them all just by being herself.
having a great time," says Jamie Brewster, director of the Upper Kirby
District Association. "She's more spry than I am." That might be true.
Marge and her partner are the only ones dancing to Son of a Preacher Man.
p.m. - "We have black-eyed peas in the front," says the Fabulous
Satellite Lounge doorman who introduces himself as Nurse Heavy.
Lounge, part tin-house honky-tonk and part city-soul night spot,
represents Texas roots music old and new. Country pranksters the
Hollisters play songs about dump trucks and dumped men while projections
of amoeba and lava lamps swim the walls. "Their music has gotten lean
and mean since they stopped drinking," jokes Heavy.
sound board is a copy of the first calendar of shows the Lounge ever
hosted in December 1993. The Road Kings and Dave Alvin now become part
of that history. Never do find that bucket of black-eyed peas.
p.m. - The world has been introduced to home computers, cell phones and
Game Boys since ZZ Top formed 30 years ago, but some things never
Beards and blues don't seem to budge much.
before the New Year, Houston's fuzz-guitar kings are rounding out an
hour-plus set with MTV hits Sharp Dressed Man and Gimme All Your Lovin'.
Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill are pretty snappy themselves,
decked out in black sequined cowboy hats and shiny gold vests.
getting pretty close, y'all," Gibbons says to the compacted crowd at
Compaq Center (known as The Summit earlier in the century). "You're
gonna see something that's not on any record."
11:57 p.m. - Members of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd join ZZ Top onstage for hugs, champagne and a toast with the crowd.
11:59:55 p.m. - Kaboom!
pyro-spectacular explodes over the ZZ stage as confetti and balloons
fall from the rafters. Men throw up their hands, and a few women throw
off their shirts.
"Looks like we made it," says Gibbons.
sentimental rendition of Auld Lang Syne from this crew of string
pickers, though. This is Texas. The first song of the New Year for this
crowd is a ZZ-Skynyrd duet on an American classic.
Austin band Timbuk 3 once said, "The future's so bright, I gotta wear
shades." Copyright notice: All materials in this archive are copyrighted
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