Elevator music be damned: Sometimes, you want to pair your mundane trips to the store with some expertly-chosen beats. If you've had enough Barry Manilow and Kenny G, then check into a few of these Houston haunts with unexpectedly quality sounds.
- Fiesta sticks to a solid distribution of "Oldies," but there's something magical about the grocery store that allows one to guiltlessly shimmy to the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," and Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll." Who among us has not been caught bopping about to a classic track while testing out the ripeness of a papaya or packing a cart with Goya products? Best of all, Fiesta spins forgotten songs form the early days of rock and roll — think the beats of the Shirelles and the Rhondels. The songs harken back to an era in which, like certain Fiesta outlets, grocery stores could be traversed within 10 minutes, the aisles were narrow and the staff was always on the floor to answer questions.
- For two years, Pak's on West Alabama won the Houston Press "Best Convenience Store" award thanks to its inspired blend of ethnic broadcasts deriving from South Asia, East Africa and the deep waters of the Caribbean. For the Montrose club kid, Pak's guarantees no reprieve from midnight DJ action at dance houses during a daytime trip to pick up a new pack of Parliaments.
- Posh Kroger brings in the best in classy live music on the weekends. Veer to the left, and you'll soon find yourself serenaded by a soloist softly singing classic love songs. There may be sushi and cheese samples, but the dirty martini's on you. Or, you may just happen upon a performance by sexyATTACK:
- If spontaneous live music is your bag, then drop in at the Chocolate Bar on West Alabama on Tuesday nights, where you'll encounter jazz musicians that belong somewhere between an open mic night at a coffeehouse and an NYC subway station.
- Not that I'll admit to shopping there . . . but discount retailer Ross Dress For Less has unexpectedly spun a few fairly alt bands like Peter Bjorn & John and Four Tet. Would it be lame to say that I lingered in a dressing room while listening to Beck's "Earthquake Weather" for the first time? Because that so did not happen. See you in the musty candle section inside the Ross at 10945 Westheimer Rd., near the corner of Wilcrest.