Book 'em Dan-o!

The Club Runners Call 'Em

compiled by Raoul Hernandez

More picks, only this time from the critics that really count: the club owners and booking agents who put local bands into their clubs each and every night. Here are the bands they already book, and look to book more in the future, and a few words on why they like 'em.

Debbie Rombach, Hole in the Wall

  • Hot Wheels Jr.: They've got a hard-edged pop sound, and if more people hear them, I think they'll have potential.
  • Stretford: I know they've been around longer, but in the last few months they've gotten tight, with a really solid sound.
  • Gourds: They're always neat and fun to listen to. They've got that Louisiana thing in there. I don't dance much, but when they play I always find myself dancing.

Mike Mordecai, Elephant Room

  • Southwest Texas University Jazz Students: All these young talented players have started flocking to SWTU - people like Frederick Saunders, Effram Owens, and David Bowman. James Polk, who was such a great inspiration for players of my generation, is doing it again with a new generation of kids.
  • Heather Bennett Trio: What I like about Heather (a pianist) is the fact she's writing, growing, and developing, and you can see it in her playing on a weekly basis.

Cheryl Niemann, Waterloo Ice Houses

  • Samba-xe: If you remember the Purple Martins, this is the cream of the crop. They have an acoustic sound, and then a full band sound. They do all sorts of different styles of music from around the world, and it's very much percussion-oriented.
  • King Valentine: The attitude they convey is one that takes me back to the big band era. The old records you used to put on. They've added a new flavor to it, not only vocally and instrumentally, but also in how they present it live.

Angela Gillen, Flamingo Cantina

  • Raggamassive: They blend old reggae with new; roots reggae with dancehall rhythms. And they've got some hot singers. They just rock the house.
  • Ant Man Bee: They're exciting to watch, and they don't sound like anyone else. Steve Ross moved to California, but now he's moved back, and the band is back together.

Mark Olivarez, Back Room

  • Mesch: I like their presence up on stage. I like the mood they perform with. Their lyrics have to have a message and meaning. I think they have all the elements they need to be liked by Austin. It's the latest rock sound, but very melodic.
  • DMA: That stands for Doesn't Mean Anything. They've got that rock-funk-metal sound in the vein of Rage Against the Machine. They can make the hard rock sound fun rather than serious.

Steve Wertheimer, Continental Club

  • Marti Brom & Jet Tone Boys: I like the dynamics of her particular show, and that there's a lady out there doing the rockabilly thing in what seems to be a male-dominated genre of music. She's out there taking chances, and making it work.
  • Schwaggert: It's the remnants of the Toad Liquors plus Steve Watson, and Chris Miller - whom people are discovering as a great guitarist in town. Somewhat the offspring of the Neptunes. They're carrying on that flavor, and they're a lot of fun.

Eric "Emo" Hartman, Emo's

  • Wookie: They're here on time, and they don't get drunk. They all take showers, and don't smell. Trance-sounding band. They have a good beat, I can dance to it.
  • Lowbrow: Owen from Cherubs. I like what they do because it sounds like the Cherubs. They have good haircuts, too.

Peg Miller, Chicago House

  • Haup 'n' Sully: I like their songwriting, harmonies, and energy. They're incredible. They have soul-soaring harmonies, and they're very versatile in their musicality. They're like Simon & Garfunkel early on.
  • dizzy bloom: Making their big hairy debut here in October. I've just heard their demo, and I think it combines the best of their essences: Bittersweet June and Love & a Question.
  • Jeff Thompson: He's an ex-psychology major with an intriguing approache to regular things. Makes you look at things in a different way. Stage presence out the wazoo. It's like Dah-veed - just sucks you in.

Danny Crooks, Steamboat

  • Johnny Goudie: Johnny is one of the best pop songwriters in this town. Austin isn't a pop town, but his stuff is ready for the radio. When I'm watching the guy, I'm watching a star.
  • Vallejo: It's the same type of groove thang that Austin likes. They've only been here six months from Alabama - it's three brothers. I like everything about them. Groove, attitude, professionalism. They're an all-around good band.

Mark Kamburis, Flipnotics Coffeespace

  • Gourds: Great mountain music, and the fact that they can go all-acoustic or electrify their stuff will help them go far here in Austin.
  • Earthpig: Incredible, innovative guitar work, sense of humor, nice Seventies garb. I think the guy's one of a kind, not just here in Austin but everywhere.

Mark Pratz, Liberty Lunch

  • Gals Panic, Sixteen Deluxe, Asylum Street Spankers: Because we do so many big, packaged shows, I don't get to see as many local bands. But these are the bands I've recently heard and was impressed by.

Susan Antone, Antone's

  • Rhythm Child: They're cool - funk, R&B, soul. The best thing I can say is they got rhythm to 'em. They have that Ugly American sound to them. Real good sax player, too. A real good future ahead of them.
  • Moellers: They can play anything. They can play real fundamental things that most people think they can play but can't. Johnny Moeller is one of the finest guitar players I've heard in a long time. He's also a great singer. They're coming together.

Laura, Blue Flamingo

  • Pleasure Unit: Good rock & roll. Real unusual, amusing songs - a mixture of rock and harder alternative.
  • Miss Xanna Don't & the Wanted: She sings Patsy Cline, and she sings Sons of Hercules songs, also.

Shannon Burke, Cedar Street

  • Glen Rexach: Real strong guitarist. A lot of guitar in this town - that Texas twang - but he's real fusion guitar. Fresh to see a jazz guitarist on the move in this town.
  • Effram Owens: Young trumpet player who played with King Valentine for a while. He's some kind of prodigy. Got a quintet. He's a real innovative, out-of-bounds player with great chops.

Griff Luneburg, Cactus Cafe

  • Damon Bramblett: T-Bone Burnett and Johnny Cash's love-child.
  • Abra Moore: Fragile, heroic intensity.

Mike Henry, Electric Lounge

  • Gourds: Backwoodsy acoustic pop pulling water from a very traditional well. They're the feel good hit of the summer, and should teach the big city that it came from the trailer park.
  • Enduro: A three-piece rock monster that lurches and growls, but does it with cool-guy swank. They've got innovative guitar work and songs that make you want to smoke lots of cigarettes.
  • Ant Man Bee: Austin's answer to Primus is back in town and better than ever. Those three guys push more notes out than Rush, only this stuff is still interesting.

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