This is Part one in a two part series listing Houston’s music press.
Back in 2008 when I first listed Houston’s music writers my point was that anyone who has more than a casual relationship with music should know who their local music writers are. These are the people on the ground grinding to make sure music in your community is covered, from the stadium shows down to the fledgling bands just picking up an instrument. The list was both a love letter to these writer’s work and a required reading list for those inside the community. People on the support, management and service side should be paying close attention to what gets covered because these writers provide a barometer for the vibrancy and success of the local scene. More importantly though is that bands need to realize that local success includes an intimate understanding of the landscape that they inhabit. And that means that these bands should be even more invested, knowing which writers to contact and when, based on their coverage, area of interest, and lead time.
That last part’s not happening.
Over the past couple years, I’ve heard two different viewpoints explaining the situation, one from music writers and one from bands. The music writer viewpoint is
“I’d love to be listening to more local acts and writing about more local acts. But, local bands aren’t sending me cds, giving me updates on their recording, forwarding press releases or really contacting me to tell me anything about what they’re doing.”
“Bands: PLEASE send me your cds, music, information about shows and what you’re doing. I would LOVE to cover you but you don’t write us about what’s going on.”
The second viewpoint is the band’s viewpoint:
“I’d love to get written up in local press more // Why aren’t we getting written up in local press // I don’t know how to get written up in local press”
For bands, the question of who to contact and how to contact them has a simple answer. The how is: if you’re doing something that you think the music press should be talking about, write them. The who is: listed below.
This year carries an additional homework assignment: write these musicians and tell them what you’re doing with your music. If Houston music writers start complaining to that there are too many bands writing them because of this, then we’ll all high five each other and mark our calendars to remember the date.
Here’s the first half of your local music press (in random order thanks to random.org):
Jim “Eggs” Bricker: Breakfast on Tour
Jim and his crew are serious music fans. They started writing Breakfast On Tour as a creative outlet for the staggering number of shows they were attending and as a way to “encourage more people to experience the joys of live music events.” The blog covers mostly live shows and the culture surrounding live shows. Check out Eggs’ last entry from his tour diary with The Sour Notes.
Ramon Medina: 29-95, Free Press Houston
Writes for 29-95.com, Free Press Houston and founded NonAlignment Pact (a really insightful group blog about music you might want to check out). Ramon and his wife Rosa Guerrero are caring fixtures on the music scene and inspire many bands to keep on trucking. Check out a recent post from his two writing spots.
Dan Joyce/Keaton Branch: AudioADD
These young upstarts launched AudioADD about a year ago and have been doing a great job covering the cult of the music addict. Appropriate from two guys who feel the same way about Apple. You can also listen to Keaton with his band The Figure Eight. Check out this post from AudioADD’s 12 Days of Christmas series: In Rainbows.
Anna Garza: Free Press Houston
Anna Garza is about to have the “best year ever.” She recently founded Girls Rock Camp, a non-profit that works to empower women through musical education and performance art. Earlier in the decade she booked shows for Hands Up Houston which gives her intimate knowledge of the Houston music community and makes it pretty easy for her to bang out post after post on Free Press Houston about art, the city, and local music acts. Take a look at her post about Sound + Movement.
Sara Cress: 29-95
Sara’s been writing about the Houston Music Community and its culture for several years now. She’s made the jump from the Houston Chronicle to 29-95 where she gets to have a bit more fun with her posts especially with list titles like “My Redneck Past”. Check out the cheeky side here and the more straight ahead reporting as published in the Houston Chronicle.
Chris Gray: Houston Press
Music Editor for the Houston Press. Writes several weekly pieces for the print version and also writes the Rocks Off blog. Chris Gray has a master plan to cover the depth and the breadth of Houston music that he’s been enacting over the past year plus. You can see his success by taking a look at the diversity of posts on the Houston Press website and the volume of daily writing coming out of that staff. It really portrays the music community as it deserves to be covered. A demonstration of his musical knowledge can be seen in his recent post about Lightning Hopkins receiving a Historical Marker.
Brittanie Shey: 29-95, Houston Press
Brittanie’s a freelance writer that has amassed an incredible number of accolades as a journalist in a very short time, covering everthing from food to travel to women’s issues. She is extremely literate but has a conversational style that makes reading a concert review seem like you’re hearing it from one of your friends. It also makes you wish you were there. Or that you performed better. ouch! Check out how she couldn’t stop running into Ralf Armin of Dead Roses the weekend of the last Free Press Houston Block Party.
Lance Scott Walker: 002 Magazine
Lives in New York. This fact doesn’t matter if you know that Lance Scott Walker is born and bred Texan. His book with photographer Peter Beste about Houston’s hustlers and rappers is set to be out this year. Lance is reportedly “still paying off” Ojet Records, a little Houston label he had in the beginning of the century. Check out his monthly pieces on local musicians in the back pages of 002 Magazine.
Jeff Balke, Houston Chronicle
Writes Broken Record, a blog about the music industry from the perspective of a performing artist. He also plays in Orange Is In, which according to this tweet, is getting back together! If you are a band trying out a new business model in your career, you could write Jeff and tell him about it. Here’s his analysis of NIN continuing to reinvent their business model.
Stay tuned for the second half of Houston’s local music press tomorrow.
Note: Some of these people are repeats from the 2008 post, some of these are new entrants to the field. Last time I compiled this list, I caught some shit for not including some people DESPITE mentioning that if there was anyone missing, drop me a line and I will add them. I cannot be in all places at all times. If I don’t know about you and your writing, I want to. Drop me a line at email@example.com so I can add you to this post and start reading your work.