Welcome to Local Music'Mericans, where we'll be meeting some people behind the local music scene who aren't musicians, but more behind-the-scenes folk.
Cat Hough was a high school kid in Fort Worth when she saw the Toadies perform one of their earliest shows at a place called Maggie's Beat Farm.
Later, while attending college in Denton, she saw the Old 97's play at a pizza place called Sir Jackson's.
While in Denton, Hough majored in journalism at the University of North Texas, where she covered the Denton music scene for the student paper, The North Texas Daily, with aspirations of writing for Rolling Stone one day. Music consumed her life, really: She even did a stint working in retail for CD Warehouse in Texas and Colorado.
But it was then, after what amounts to an already interesting journey through musical youth, that Hough found her career calling. These days, she serves as an entertainment lawyer, working with area bands on contracts and the like.
She's had a lot of behind-the-scenes roles in metroplex music, but more than anything else, she's one hell of a fan, supporter, and local music solider. After the jump, we work some war stories out of her.
With as much as you immerse yourself in live music here, does it make it hard to also be an entertainment lawyer? In other words: Do you get your shirttail tugged on a lot when you're trying to watch a show from artists wanting legal advice?
I am regularly asked for legal advice from artists -- which I encourage. I hate to see artists get themselves into situations that they later regret just because they think they cannot afford a lawyer. I not only represent musicians, but filmmakers, photographers, visual artists, record labels, managers, booking agents and venues.
You and Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines, Interpol) have been close for many years. What sparked the kindred spirit?
We've been friends since the late '90s when we found ourselves on the same flight to New York City. I have seen him evolve musically from playing in the punk-pop group UFOFU to the more melodious Captain Audio, which then became the shoe-gaze stylings of Secret Machines. He's an amazingly gifted musician who inspired me personally and professionally. He gave me my first official job in the music business, working promotions for UFOFU's record label. When I told him that I was going to school to practice entertainment law, he was so supportive. We would have lengthy conversations about the inner workings of the music business and real-life issues that musicians face. He was the first person to call and congratulate me when I passed the bar exam. He never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and vision.
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Who, from our own backyard, are in your underrated-songwriters (and live performers) hall of fame?
I remember I was in college at the University of North Texas, when my roommate and I decided to venture out of the dorm to check out the Fry Street nightlife. We went to a place called Dr. Smith's Main Event. The lineup for the evening included Brutal Juice, Caulk and Breadbox. We watched until one singer came out in nothing but his whitey-tighties, which so shocked one of my more-sheltered friends that she wanted to leave immediately. The bands were insanely loud, but so talented that, from then on, I was hooked on live shows. The early '90s in Denton was an incredible time for music -- there were so many amazing bands that on any given night you could see Baboon or Slobberbone playing at a house party, then check out Ten Hands, Billy Goat, Brave Combo, Course of Empire, Funland, Hagfish, Reverend Horton Heat, David Garza, Lone Star Trio or Tripping Daisy at any of the assorted venues all located within a two-block radius. When I first saw the Old 97's, at Sir Jackson's pizza place, there wasn't even a stage -- they just moved tables out of the way and set up.
How about now? Do any modern local artists stand out in a similar way as your classics?
I always try to catch Ishi, who are so much fun to see and never fail to get the crowd dancing. I make great efforts to catch The Boom Boom Box, El Centro, RTB2, The Roomsounds, Smile Smile, Tiger Darrow and Whiskey Folk Ramblers whenever possible. I recently caught a show by the hip-hop group Gallery Cat and was really impressed.
How about a couple "That just happened?!?!" moments on the scene? Onstage, off, or both.
I was checking out ....And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead at Liquid Lounge one night, when the singer suddenly leapt from the stage and started brawling with the sound guy! Also, there was an Old 97's show at Rick's Place in Denton where it was so hot, smoky and crowded that Murray, the 97's bass player, passed out on stage. I think there's video of that somewhere. Oh, and there were a good number of Brutal Juice shows where a certain patron often felt compelled to shed his clothes and rock out completely naked. I guess that could be said of Billy Goat shows, as well, but in those instances, the nudity was reciprocated by several of the band members.
How about trouble involving you?
The most trouble I've been in at a show? Hmm. I was at a show at Deep Ellum Live once with some friends, and it was so crowded you could barely move. I thought I found a fairly open space to stand, but immediately discovered, to my dismay, as I tumbled to the floor, that the open space was actually the stairs leading from the bar area to the floor. My friends saw me disappear, but they just thought I was rushing the stage when I was actually sprawled out on the floor a few feet below them.