Any to-do list for becoming an active participant in a local music scene includes knowing your local music writers. These critics, bloggers, writers and champions provide a valuable chronicling of people, places and things that contribute to the activities of the living, breathing organism of music culture and enthusiasm. Audiophiles can keep up to date with the latest trends in local music. Bored citizens can read published pieces to find out about must-attend events. Bands can read and interact with their peers, after all, wouldn’t you want to participate in a discussion about your life?

Having aided Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis with Sound Opinions over the past years, I have fairly cemented views of the difference between a music critic and a music writer. They play vital but different roles in the health of a music scene though. The role of a critic is to dissect and comment on the state and art of music while attempting to maintain journalistic integrity. If I want careful analysis, contextualization and an attempt at an unbiased report, I’ll read a music critic. For a little lenience on grammar, rigid bias guidelines and the allowance for more word play and narrative structure in the genre (I miss Lester Bangs), I’ll read a music writer. Music writers focusing on the local scene can act as champions and cheerleaders as well as putting a constant thermometer to the heat of the community. Here in Houston we have both talented critics and entertaining music writers.

If you want to be a contributing member of a music community, you should be reading the press that is being written about that community and the music that it produces. Here’s your required reading list:

Chris Gray – Music Editor for the Houston Press. Writes several weekly pieces for the print version and the Rocks Off blog. Strongly believes in the current fertility of the Houston music scene and basically spends all of his time at shows. Check his post about 10 Things I Love About the Houston Music Scene.

Photo credit: Facebook.

John Nova Lomax – Former Music Editor for the Houston Press, now a staff writer, Lomax is the author of the HP cover story, Houston Has a Bad Reputation with Touring Bands, a piece that discusses the general state of disrepair of the local music scene.. While the idea of Bandcamp had been kicking around for awhile, we have to credit John as being the catalyst for getting to the planning of the event. Earlier this year John spoke with local bookers about who draws and how to ensure attendance at a show. Three items of note in that article, all that I plan to address in future posts:

1) Too many artists cannabalize their own draw by playing too often (not as part of a residency).
2) “…far too many bands think that pimping their shows on MySpace is sufficient promotion. It isn’t. It’s barely a start.”
3) Sideshow Tramps have demonstrated that residencies can be a successful endeavor for clubs.

Photo credit: Facebook.

Andrew DansbyHouston Chronicle music writer. Covers mostly nationally based music issues and bands, which is standard for a paper as large as the Chron. I’m looking forward to having a nice discussion with him and trying to convince him and the Chronicle to shed more light on the local music scene for people who are looking for local music alternatives to Live Nation and Cynthia Woods productions.

Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark - Writes a really popular local blog for the indie rockers called The Skyline Network. Offers free banner ads to any local musician. Tirelessly promotes, champions and reviews local music and events. I have absolutely no idea where he gets his hysterical slang from but there’s a PhD thesis in etymology lurking in between the acronyms and constant use of the word “whips” as a noun.

Photo credit: Ramon Medina.

David Cobb – Writes Houston Calling, previously hosted at another great blog, Done Waiting; between the two of them produces the best unofficial to-do list for SXSW every year.

Photo credit Heather Cobb

Jeremy Hart – Editor for Space City Rock which is a wealth of a resource including commentary, reviews and a well manicured show calendar for the Houston area.  Revelry Report uses the show calendar for our weekely music events calendar and we want to thank him for keeping it regularly updated.

Ramon Medina, at left

Ramon Medina – Writes for the Free Press Houston and used to write for NonAlignment Pact (Ramon, do you still contribute?). Along with his wife Rosa Guerrero they are tireless personal champions and advice givers to bands and members of the local Houston music scene.

Photo credit: Ned Raggett.

Jeff Balke – Writes Broken Record, a blog about the music industry from the perspective of a performing artist. Also plays in Orange Is In, a local band doing a respectable job of employing online social based networks, having an actual website, regularly utilizing Twitter and Facebook to promote events and goings on of the band.

Photo credit: Ed Schipul.


Adam Newton – Performs double duty as a contributor to Houstonist as well as his own music blog Dryve Tyme Onlyne.

Photo credit: Houstonist.

Matt Sonzala – Hiphop chronicler using Houston So Real as his platform to champion the scene. Unfortunately, he was so good that SXSW scooped him, he now lives in Austin and is slowly transitioning to Austin So Real.

Photo courtesy of Mark C. Austin.

Danny Mee – Extremely talented writer and one of the most verbally articulate and inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure to know in Houston. His album reviews spread over Houston Press and various local monthly mags are as pro as can be.

Photo credit: Myspace.

There’s a link at the bottom of every online post by these people that says “comment”. They and you love getting feedback on their work. Let’s start with this: who did I fail to mention? Please comment and I’ll amend  the list.

5 Comments

  1. That, my friend, is an impressive list.

    Posted October 9, 2008 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

  2. Beautiful! And I only know one of them. So I’d better hop to it.

    Posted October 9, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

  3. Houston’s Most Hated
    Everything you hate. And, one thing you love.
    http://www.houstonsmosthated.com/

    Posted October 9, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

  4. King ad Ross

    Great article – thank you for exploring the story behind the story-writers. We don’t get a glimpse of these people who champion our scenes for us often enough.

    Posted October 10, 2008 at 6:32 am | Permalink

  5. LotusLeaf@hotmail.com

    I too miss the literary stylings of Lester Bangs.
    “The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.”
    Lester Bangs quote

    Posted October 20, 2008 at 8:11 am | Permalink

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