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.”

This viewpoint was punctuated strongly by Houston Press music writer Craig Hlavaty on Sunday when he stood up at Bandcampus: BOOKING PARTY and said something to the effect of:

“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: 29-95Houston 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 mwettergreen@gmail.com so I can add you to this post and start reading your work.

5 Comments

  1. Just to echo Craig’s sentiment…

    We’ve started a new feature on the Rocks Off music blog at the Houston Press called Magnolia City Mixtape.

    It is basically a catch-all for any Houston-related music news. Think of it as the Houston music scene’s gossip or society column.

    It’s a great place for news about your band that might not be big enough for a full story: you’re working on some new songs, or you posted a live video to your Facebook page, or you’re looking for a new drummer, or you’re doing a split 7-inch with another band. Whatever. It’s also a good pool for the stories we want to cover but don’t have a lot of time to devote to.

    So, y’all — send us your stuff!

    Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

  2. Thanks for compiling this list, Matthew.

    Easiest way to reach us at 29-95 is the following ways:

    Email: info@29-95.com

    Physical address: 29-95.com, 801 Texas Ave., Houston TX 77002, Attn: Sara Cress, 5th floor

    That’s where you should send CDs. If you would like a particular writer to listen to the disc, just note that somewhere in your package and I’ll make sure it makes it to the correct person.

    Some thoughts on sending discs:

    You don’t have to email to ask if you can send a CD before you send a CD. Right now I have more than 1,000 unread emails in my inbox; your email will get read, just not right away. Just send the thing and don’t wait for approval.

    I actually prefer to have a disc rather than a digital version, that way I can take the music with me rather than listening at my desk, which isn’t something I can do often.

    I never need two copies of a disc.

    I do not need a huge press kit with folders, printed photos and a bio. Since the dawn of the Internet, no one has needed that stuff; it just goes in the garbage eventually. Spend your money on something more useful.

    A letter or note accompanying the disc is appreciated and professional. A post-it note that says, “Thanks.” is at least better than nothing. If you send me a ripped disc with no information on the disc and no note, you’re doing it wrong.

    Your disc isn’t going to break in the mail, so earth-unfriendly packaging is a waste. Just use a thick paper envelope.

    A follow-up email, or even two, to ask if I received and/or listened to the disc is completely appropriate and appreciated. If you’re still asking me two months later if I’ve listened to the disc: I have, and I’m not writing about it.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Sara
    http://www.29-95.com

    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

  3. matthew

    Brittanie, the new feature, Magnolia City Mixtape, is a needed one. I’ve mentioned the need for a piece like this before with respect to the music community and also with Houston’s startup community. There are so many conversations, events and other decisions that are made between musicians and entrepreneurs that contribute to larger stories of success and innovation. We need to be able to report that vibrancy to readers so that they can understand the thought process for creation but also understand the toil and time commitment for the creation process itself. Glad to see that Houston Press and Houstonist’s Rock Talk have started to turn the lens towards that grassroots action.

    Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

  4. matthew

    Sara, I considered including all of the press’ email contacts for the public but decided that would be an invasion of privacy. If the bands are serious there are simple ways to obtain your contacts through this site and each’s media outlet.

    Thank you for posting 29-95.com’s process for getting heard and written about. I’d like to see more local press comment on this process so bands can understand the differences between each outlet.

    Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

  5. Dang, just noticed one odd thing that my OCD won’t let me avoid commenting on.

    When Lance talks about “paying off” Ojet Recs, I *think* he’s talking about sending $$$ to Mark Caperton, the guy who ran the label back in the day, for the releases he put out of Lance’s stuff. ;^) Could be wrong, but I don’t think Lance was actually one of the Ojet owners proper — it was primarily Caperton & Gram Lebron’s baby, if I remember right…

    Posted February 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

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