The first half of the next week in live music is a relatively calm one, as if the city is bracing for the storm that is the greatest show on dirt: RodeoHouston.
Three weeks of nightly concerts will feature the best that country music has to offer with the sprinkling of pop, soul and Latin acts thrown in for good measure. Add a brand new, state-of-the-art Stars Over Texas stage with double the lights and the best sound system money can buy and you get one of the most sought after events of the year in this fine city, attracting a few million attendees with an affection for tight denim jeans and leather boots.
The party kicks off with the inarguably the biggest country star ever, Garth Brooks, who will christen the star-shaped stage on Tuesday, February 27. He’ll also close out RodeoHouston on Sunday, March 18. With no new album to promote, expect Brooks to bring the hits hard and heavy. Because you haven’t lived until you've sung "Friends In Low Places" with 75,000 country fans.
Homewood, Alabama’s finest C&W band, Little Big Town, will bring their two dozen country hits to the Stars Over Texas stage on Wednesday night. Not to be outdone, The Voice judge and Gwen Stefani fiancé Blake Shelton, will trot out his collection of No. 1 hits – 17 consecutive, which is just insane – on Thursday, March 1.
Rodeo Houston starts Tuesday, February 27 and runs through March 18 at NRG Stadium, 1 NRG Parkway. Tickets are available on the RodeoHouston website and resale market. All three shows start at 6:45 pm, but get there early for some Rodeo action.
Best blues show of the week
Beth Hart made a name for herself in the late-’90s, early-2000s with a pair of excellent pop albums, 1999’s Screaming for My Supper and 2003’s Leave the Light On, even touching the cultural zeitgeist by appearing on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, where she performed "LA Song (Out of this Town)," a piano-ballad that fit next to the Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch types of that time.
But her secret weapon last has extended her career is her powerful, smoky vocals that she paired with blues guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa (who opened for B.B. King when he was 12 years-old), scoring them both a Grammy nomination in their time together. Simply put, Hart can wail up a storm and Bonamassa’s dirty licks are some of the best you’ll hear this side of the Mississippi Delta. The two together are simply magic. Their latest, the recently released Black Coffee, may be their best album yet.
Beth Hart performs vocal acrobatics at the House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St., Saturday, February 24. Tickets start at $31 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Best example of solo, eclectic indie-folk
Fans of Pitchfork flavored folk-rock will get a thrill out of seeing two revered cult acts performing together. Vetiver lead singer Andy Cabic and Fruit Bats Eric D. Johnson will each play a solo set at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, stripped down versions of their whimsical and melodic indie-folk that brought them both notoriety in the mid-2000s. Vetiver is the stranger of the two (see 2004’s self-titled debut), while Fruit Bats make more traditional indie as on 2016’s great Absolute Loser. Both have direct influences on each other as Johnson spent some time playing in Cabic’s band. This will be a fun, unique show.
Vetiver and Fruit Bats bring the eclectic folk to McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk St., Saturday, February 24. Tickets start at $20. The show starts at 7 pm.
Best chance to hear the Sia second coming
Fans of Sia will love Ella Vos. The Los Angeles-based chanteuse creates atmospheric, intimate songs of longing and heartache that feature just enough bouncy syncopation to make it a head nodding delight. Find out why Rolling Stone named her an artist to watch as she brings songs from her worthy 2017 offering, Words I Never Said, to Warehouse Live.
The enchanting Ella Vos performs at Warehouse Live Studio, located at 813 St. Emanuel Street, Sunday, February 25. Sharaya Summers opens. Tickets are $15 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Best chance to hear that one song on the radio
Remember Stabbing Westward? The band that made a small dent in the late-’90s by aping Depeche Mode synth and Nine Inch Nails angst? AWOLNATION is sort of like that, but for today’s rock radio — interesting enough to not change the channel, but not quite great enough to download the album. But hey, if you’re into that sort of thing, the Nothing But Thieves tour could be something to see. Just don’t tell me “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” isn’t a total rip-off of the 1997 Savage Garden hit “I Want You.”
AWOLNATION sails into the Revention Music Center, 520 Texas St., Thursday, March 1. Nothing But Thieves opens. Tickets start at $25. Doors open at 7 pm.