It's not a category at the San Diego Music Awards just yet, but children's music is a huge national market. And now you can add San Diegan Buck Howdy to the list that contains such superstars as Barney and The Wiggles. Howdy, a sort of modern-day cross between Roy Rogers and Mister Rogers, just released his debut album, Skidaddle, for MCA Nashville, coinciding with an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry.
It's the opening salvo in a spate of projects that, with any luck, will turn Howdy into a household name-at least with the under-10 set.
"Although it's not actually available in San Diego, we've been doing our syndicated Cowpie Radio show for awhile now. We're on 20 stations nationwide," says Howdy's radio producer, Steve Vaus.
"Meaning no disrespect to Barney or Britney, that's not the kind of music I want my young children listening to. The label really shares our vision. We just wanted to create quality music for children, music that kids and families can share together."
Not only is MCA Nashville supporting the album, Vaus says, but the label is also helping to bring more radio stations on board for syndication. Yet radio is small potatoes compared to what's next for the tandem.
"We're working on a new television series," says Vaus. "We're in pre-production on The Buck Howdy Show. We're really fortunate to be working with Jeff Kline, who is one of the people behind PBS' Dragon Tales and the HBO Stuart Little series. We're hoping for a national debut in late 2004."
This week Howdy will also release the new single "Cowpies for Christmas," co-written by local scribe David Moye. As a prelude to an upcoming concert film, Howdy also just shot his first video.
"It was shot on location in a barn with 22,000 turkeys," says Vaus, who hopes it will get airplay on the Great American Country Channel and CMT. "It's undoubtedly the only video in music history to feature actual dancing turkeys."
Buck Howdy will next appear locally as part of the Carols by Candlelight show at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, Dec. 4-5. www.buckhowdy.com
It's getting ridiculous-two corporate-owned radio stations shouting over the airwaves about how one is more corporate than the other. It's like two supermodels arguing about who's had more plastic surgery. Since its inception, 94/9 has hinged its marketing campaign on the fact that Joe San Diego radio listener hates Clear Channel. So they painted their competition-the CC-owned 91X-as a big, fat, corporate wankery. 91X ignored the smear campaign for a while, but now that 94/9 is catching up to 'em in the ratings, San Diego's oldest alternative station has started its own "TRUTH" campaign (www.91x.com/ truthtable.html). It basically says, we're not corporate whores-they are. CityBeat would like to extend a warm invitation to both of the corporate stations to shut the fuck up and play more music.
The annual Carols by Candlelight benefit for local children's charities will air in December on both television (KGTV Channel 10, Cox Cable 4) and radio (KYXY). In addition to Buck Howdy, artists good-cheering this year include America, Dan Seals, Kim Carnes, B.J. Thomas, and 2003 SDMA winner Eve Selis, who just returned from a two-week tour of the U.K. A crack band of local all-stars-multi-instrumentalist Dennis Caplinger, guitarists Marc Intravaia and Peter Sprague, drummer Duncan Moore and keyboardist Brian Verhoye-will back up all of the night's performers. www.holiday concert.com.
Though Eve rocks, we're betting the best part of the Carols by Candlelight will be the rare hometown performance from singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop. Bishop grew up in San Diego and first came to local notoriety in the '60s when he fronted a garage band called The Weeds. Since then, he's penned a number of classic soft-rock songs, including "On and On," "Separate Lives" and "Save It For A Rainy Day." Bishop also had cameos in films like Animal House (he's the whiny folk dude who gets his guitar smashed by John Belushi) and The Blues Brothers, as well as singing or writing the themes to The China Syndrome andTootsie.
Karl Denson recently recorded a new tune with Wise Monkey Orchestra trombonist Andy Geib for inclusion on the upcoming Farrelly Brothers movie Stuck on You. Origin/Greyboy All-stars guitarist Elgin Park was behind the board for the sessions. The movie (out Dec. 12) will star Matt "I Have a Protruding Jaw" Damon and Greg Kinnear. The release date for the soundtrack isn't set yet, but it will also include some chick named Cher.
Kill Me Tomorrow is among the nominees for the Diesel-U-Music Award 2004. Basically, Diesel-U seems genuinely interested in helping out genuinely good bands. They give underground bands tour support and pay for other promotional activities that your favorite broke-ass avatars of art can't afford.
KMT bassist-vocalist K8 Wentz is also a visual artist whose work has appeared in art spots like The Muse. She recently put out a new set of postcards based on her rock poster art; they come packaged in hand-printed, hand-sewn wallets. K8 has also started a small clothing company called Blood and Guts, which is an extension of the sweet rags she sews for the band. Meanwhile, her husband-vocalist-guitarist-everythingist Zack Wentz-has written a novel titled The Garbageman and the Prostitute, based on the songs from their upcoming "concept record of sorts" on GSL Records. KMT perform at The Casbah on Nov. 20.
Local art rockers The Dropscience have added female backing vocals to their cold-ass post-punk sound (thus making it a bit sunnier) and just finished recording four songs for their new album with producer and Bunky frontman Rafter Roberts. Expect a release the first half of next year.
Roberts is finishing two of his own projects-the new Bunky full-length (finally, slackers) and a solo album called Rafter-Music for Total Chickens.
Liz Janes, a singer-songwriter who has been one of the greatest additions to the San Diego music scene in the last few years, was forced to temporarily put the recording of her new album on hold because she's so pregnant she's about to pop. We wish her two swift pushes, strong drugs and a healthy baby.
Local clicktronica outfit Aspects of Physics has begun the follow-up to their great debut, reportedly with Brent Asbury (Thingy, Pinback) on live drums this time around.
Talkers have been talking about American Luxury, a new alternative band in town. The talkers are saying that major label rats have been visiting their shows.
In similar buzz news, Scarlet Symphony-androgynous scream-glam rock band featuring four dudes who are all over 6 feet tall, are all young and pretty, and two of who are twins (that's right-split-egg rock!)-has reportedly gotten offers from Island Records and other big-hitters for a demo deal (read: the labels pay to record their demo tape in order to get first-right-of-refusal). For now, however, the young'uns are opting for the broke and free route. Definitely a band to watch.