by Juba Normand
I recently made one of the biggest moves that I’ve ever made … I moved to the big city of Houston, Texas. Actually, I live in a smaller area of Houston called Cypress, which is so ironic after spending years performing with the band, Cypress City.
I left Alexandria, Louisiana in mid-February to be with my girlfriend, Margaret Coco. Leaving Alexandria was very difficult for me. I was performing with the very successful Sundown Band, and also performing solo and duo gigs. I still love these guys and we actually still perform together when I can make it back to Louisiana. So watch for us!
When I first got to the Houston area, life was starting to get back to normal from the pandemic which made it very difficult for a new performer to get a gig. All the musicians who had performed before the pandemic were getting back to their normal venues. I decided to try to start out by trying to get solo acoustic gigs.
Being new, I couldn’t get the venue owners’ attention because I had not developed a following. I was in a “Catch-22” situation, because you also can’t develop a following if you’re not playing.
What was I to do? I then decided to go to every karaoke bar and open band/ music night I could find. I would speak to the owners before I took the stage and asked them if they would hire me if I did a good job. Basically, I was using it as an audition.
I also started getting involved with several singles groups and other groups of friends that my girlfriend was involved with and made lots of new friends. We posted several of my “audition” performances on social media. After about 3 months of this, I finally got my first break at a sports bar called the Thirsty Texan. Almost all of the new friends that I made here came out to my first show and it was a success.
I then started to make connections through the friends I had made and my friends called owners of venues. I’ve gotten several jobs through them.
One of the first musician contacts came from Jimmy Larrieu of Papas Axe. He introduced me to the drummer of a very popular Eagles tribute band here called “Already Gone.” Then, I met other musicians and got hooked up with one named Mike Solino from the Galveston area, and I have performed a couple of gigs with him in his band called Mojo Faction.
Recently, the leader of a very popular 80s tribute band called The Spicolis (named after Jeff Spicoli from the 80s movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) by the name of Dave Nelson saw a video of me performing a Journey song. He told me their lead singer was leaving the band and asked if I would want to try out for the position. I told him with my current job, I was working every other weekend and it probably wouldn’t work out.
To make a long story short, I eventually got another job where I would be off on weekends to play music. Unfortunately, the new job would keep me working Fridays which would make it almost impossible for me to drive back to Louisiana to perform one Saturday night and then drive back. I had to give my notice to Sundown Band, and I took a position with the Spicolis.
I will be back occasionally to perform with the Sundown Band, and I will also get them to come to Houston to play. Sundown Band did play one gig here at a club called “Nightlife,” and it was very successful. Hopefully, I can get them booked again here soon.
Many other friends here have helped me get gigs and become established. To name a few: Chris Evens, Christy McKinley, Sandy Rhoe Graff , Val Cormier, Charles Rayburn and many others. I’ve been in Texas about 5 1/2 months now and I am starting to get more and more bookings .
The friends I have made here are awesome and I care about them. Just like the many great friends that I have back home in Louisiana, which I miss and love dearly. You can never have too many friends. And just like my pastor told me once, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I try to live by that.
Hopefully my future in music here continues to grow. Lavergne Perry once said, “know where you are going, but never ever forget where you came from.”
Here’s a list of some of the venues that I am playing or I will be playing soon:
The Thirsty Texan
The Hidden Cellar
Brew 30 Taphouse
Southland Bar and Grill
T – Bone Tom’s
The Dirty South
Main Street Crossing
Big Rivers Water park
And more to come … stay “tuned!”