Originally scheduled for streaming from a rooftop with the city’s skyline in the background, the show was relocated inside the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting at the University of Houston because of inclement weather. Nonetheless, a few dozen friends and fans packed inside the studio, lining the back wall to hear Tony and Ill Faded rap about MacGregor Park, Third Ward, Old Spanish Trail and Whataburger — with no mayo, of course.
Fat Tony, a staple of the Houston music scene for roughly a decade, was an ideal choice for VuHaus’s launch party. The streaming service’s president, Erik Langner, said Friday afternoon’s performance would be one of many to come.
“We’ve got a few stations that are frequently doing live webcasts — mostly out of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and West Virginia — so whenever we can have something live, especially in a cool setting, it’s pretty awesome.”
VuHaus was founded by six public radio stations that Langner says have been at the forefront of discovering emerging talent for decades. Initially, bands would be invited into the studio, where their performances would be recorded and uploaded online.
“All of that content was just getting thrown up onto YouTube, and there wasn’t any concerted effort among public radio stations to work together,” Langner says. “So the stations came together and we decided [to work together since] we’re all mission-focused nonprofits trying to help the careers of these emerging artists and become a premier source for music discovery.”
That was the genesis of it, Langner says. The vision was later pitched to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which loved the idea. CPB provided VuHaus with its initial funding to build its website, and helped the company put together the legal documents to get the ball rolling.
Since launching in May 2015, VuHaus has partnered with 14 other stations — most recently Houston Public Media — and is in the process of adding another six partners in the first few months of 2017 as it continues on its quest to be the premier source of and platform for up-and-coming artists.
“The public media stations are locally owned and operated and have these deep connections with their communities, especially the arts scenes,” Langner says. “So the more stations we’re able to bring on board, the more music scenes we’ll be able to cover in order to find new artists.”
VuHaus curates its home page and its features, such as Artists of the Week and Local Spotlight. The staff of Houston Public Media will contribute to the Houston artists’ space specifically.
Texas is already well-represented on VuHaus’s site, with Austin and Dallas portals as well as Houston. Currently, Houston artists featured on the page include The Suffers, Robert Ellis, Fiddle Witch and the Demons of Doom, Catch Fever, Cameron Dezen Hammon and Fat Tony.