Back at the Washarama

Mark C. Austin
David Bean performed with The Judy's last night in Austin, years after the band swore off a reunion. Also, no wonder Josh Venable's a fan. Like, amazing.
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About 10 years back, I interviewed David Bean about his historic Houston band The Judy's -- who, by 1998, had become nothing but a fond memory for those of weened in the early 1980s on such catchy, anthemic new-wave classics as "All the Pretty Girls," "Girls! Girls! Girls!," "Guyana Punch," "High Society," "Joey the Mechanical Boy" and all the other jittery, clever instaclassics scattered throughout the albums Washarama and Moo. There'd been talk of releasing those albums, and other full-length releases and EPs, on CD; nothing ever happened. And there'd been the occasional reunion, but nothing ever came of them. Bean could see no reason: "It must have really meant something," he said of the late adulation, "but part of it just escapes me."

They were a Houston band, but they might as well have been a Dallas act: The Judy's were in regular rotation on George Gimarc's Rock and Roll Alternative Sunday-night KZEW-FM show; and they performed regularly at such long-adiosed venues as the Hot Klub, the Agora and the Arcadia. "When I got the first tape, I thought, 'We got a local B-52's here,'" Gimarc said in '98; a decade earlier, he even tried to get major labels to sign the band.

But till the end of 2007, The Judy's were just a band whose albums you occasionally saw in used-record bins. Only, Bean has finally gotten those albums and EPs out on CD -- and last night, the band performed a reunion show during the Austin Music Awards, traditionally the kick-off to the music side of South by Southwest. Our sister paper in Houston was even given the all-access pass for rehearsals; it's the subject of this week's cover story in the Houston Press.

There's a slideshow from the Austin Music Hall last night -- plenty more pics of The Judy's to be found. And, for those who need to keep up with the doings at SXSW, writers from all the Village Voice Media papers are in Austin, most knee-deep in the drink right about now -- ah, the good ol' days. Our big ol' blog from SXSW is up and running, for those in need of the nitty and the gritty -- and, among many highlights, Rob Harvilla's excellent essay on R.E.M.'s show last night at Stubb's on Red River.

But enough of that. Me, I need some Judy's from 1981. You? --Robert Wilonsky

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