Zenfilm’s sister company ZenHill Records is getting set for a big night tonight.
It’s been awhile in the making, but our proverbial stars are aligning. While there is certainly a sea of talent to celebrate in Houston’s musical community, we can’t necessarily celebrate it all at once. We can try, but that’s what the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase is for, right? We can get our fill over a sweaty madcap weekend at Summerfest, but while that’s a bit in the offing, we’re going to need something to keep us busy. We’re going to need something that’s truly us . . . a celebration of how far music is coming in our home city. An evening that feels very much a gathering of friends and family, sharing experiences and looking ahead. Join us, won’t you?
On Friday March 9th, in the year of our rock, 2012, Zenhill Records Night will commence at Fitzgerald’s (2706 White Oak Blvd). For the very first time on the same stage, the fine folk of Zenhill Records will come together and share the fruits of their looms, welcoming one and all into the family that has grown together as one since the marriage of Dan Workman’s and W. Ross Wells’ supportive sensibilities.
The young label’s newest alum, The Wheel Workers, will be on hand to deliver their brand of ragtime recognizance. The dulcet tones of Winter Wallace will fall in gentle flakes of loveliness, while Craig Kinsey will catch us up on the state of southern manhood. Fresh off of their recent release, La Vie en Noir, the Southern Backtones will come on strong with signature leather-clad swagger. Roky Moon and BOLT! will descend to earth long enough to propel the winds of glam across Houston before returning to the stars. And hide your kids, hide your wife . . . . a little band of gypsies known as The Sideshow Tramps will give you an education in getting down. Hips will shake, boots will stomp, and the burning star of Houston music will shine a little brighter that night.
A lot can happen in a short time. September of 2010 a partnership between Zenfilm and Sugarhill Recording Studios saw the birth of Zenhill Records in Houston, Texas, born of a need for a departure from the normal operation that standard labels employ. A completely rethought approach was put in place, strengthening a bond of trust between artist and label, encouraging creativity and collaboration without the hangups normally associated with signing ambiguous termed legalese. A communally supportive mindset, along with the belief that an artist shouldn’t have to automatically accrue debt to start their career, has gotten the Zenhill tribe off to a strong start; a year and some change later, a whole roster has signed and celebrated releases to share with the city at large.
What exactly is Zenhill Records? It depends on who you ask. “Zenhill is a community-centered creative outlet that is open to, and embraces, the changing world of communication. It is tribe minded, not cooperate minded,” says Craig Kinsey of The Sideshow Tramps. “Zenhill seeks to embrace the future of digital and social networking by inhabiting the spirt of Allen Lomax and others like him.”
Of course, opinions may vary. “Zenhill is like a gourmet hotdog . . . all sorts of cool shit going on.” The Southern Backtones’ Hank Schyma has a way of viewing life through a lens few of us have had the pleasure of seeing. “Signing with Zenhill is like getting over the flu. Things are just getting better now.”
As for the partnership that brought this new family into the world? Dan Workman weighs in; “Zenhill Records brings together three of my passions: working with and nurturing the amazing musical talent we have here in Houston, making outstanding recordings that are entertaining and will stand the test of time, and working with one of my soul mates, Ross Wells. Ross and I share a similar world view and love for film and music.”
Ross Wells couldn’t agree more. “Dan and I have joined forces with some remarkable artists and through ZenHill we are able to share our experience to help get their truly original sounds out to the world.” Working with these guys doesn’t have to be an exclusive experience, he continues. “We hope that our efforts combined with the energies of other labels and artists help Houston’s music get the attention it so richly deserves … It is an honor to work with this amazing team of people … and a lot of fun.”
You are not likely the only one that thinks so, Mr. Wells. Cheers to that.