"No shows" hurt Houston music scene: Support these concert picks of the week
OK, CultureMappers. If I'm going to kvetch when local live music promoters don't deliver enough acts to the fourth largest city in the United States, I must wag a finger at y'all when a great show does come along and Houston is a collective no show.
Such was the case with the gathering of dozens at Warehouse Live for Swedish rock band The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Lead singer Ebbott Lundberg, outfitted in a tunic built for a nobleman and a beard built for a Viking, chanted like a shaman on the 60 psychedelia of "Babel On," and embraced the crowd in the sonic therapy for "Universal Stalker."
Following that multi-stringed live introduction to the group's most recent album, "Communion," T.S.O.O.L. (Soundtrack of Our Lives' alternative name) tore into a decade plus of huge rock numbers including "Independent Luxury" and "Sister Surround," from 2001's Grammy-nominated U.S. breakthrough, "Behind the Music."
When T.S.O.O.L. played the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2004, fans who didn't show up an hour early for the mid-day performance couldn't get within a football field of the stage.
At Warehouse Live, I could've had my elbows propped on the stage in front of Lundberg's microphone stand to take in one of the most powerful performances I've seen in a long time. I'd be surprised if it doesn't make my top 10 shows for 2010 come December.
It was a bit embarrassing that more people weren't there to see it. Worse yet, it might be awhile before T.S.O.O.L. decides it is costeffective to come back to Bayou City.
I have no idea how many CDs and concert T-shirts a band has to sell to pay off a trip from Sweden to Texas, but I am sure they didn't sell enough here. I bought most of their catalog (including a disc or two I already had) out of guilt.
We have to collectively do better as supporters of live music if we want the elite bands to keep us on their tour stop calendars.
All right (deep breath). Enough with my nagging. Let's get to this weeks' best shows which include several excellent club jaunts, as well as the beginning of RodeoHouston at Reliant Stadium.
Joe Ely, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. at McGonigel's Mucky Duck
His name doesn't get mentioned in the same breath as Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson or even Lyle Lovett often enough, but if Texas were to erect a Mount Rushmore of Texas songwriters and performers who changed the landscape of music in the state Joe Ely's chiseled chin would have to be considered.
(Of course, one would first have to find a mountain in Texas big enough to chisel, but that's another story.)
Born in Amarillo, Ely has offered his talent for verse and chorus to everyone from The Clash to Guy Clark and has worked alongside Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock's legendary Lone Star band, The Flatlanders, for parts of the last three decades. If that were all he had done he would be a candidate for a monument of his likeness in limestone and granite.
But that doesn't even take into account a solo career dating back 33 years and featuring a cadre of songs - "Maria," "Letter to Laredo," and "Dallas,"- that all detail what it's like to fall in love, break-up and wander alone through our great state.
Ely is the ultimate emotional tour guide. Jump on his train and enjoy the ride.
Keb' Mo', 7:30 p.m. at House of Blues
Keb' Mo' was born in a rough part of Los Angeles, but he grew up to play delta blues as if he was raised on the knee of Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson somewhere in the backwoods of Mississippi.
A multi-instrumentalist (in addition to vocals, he plays the guitar, banjo and piano), Keb' Mo' is that rare talent that can be appreciated by both blues traditionalists and novices alike. He has also become a favorite of Grammy voters. Of his eight original solo albums since 1994, three have won the golden gramophone for best contemporary blues album.
Hi latest album, Live & Mo, features six of his past favorites like "Victim of Love," played live alongside new tracks like "Government Cheese" and "A Brand New America" that seem clearly inspired by the election of President Barack Obama.
Tegan & Sara, 7 p.m. at Warehouse Live
Twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin may look like some pixie-haired version of a pop act like Avril Lavigne (hell, they're even from Canada), but this songwriting duo has drawn the attention of some artistic heavyweights over the last decade.
They were originally signed by Neil Young's management and have released a series of albums that hooked them into tours with Young, the Pretenders, The Killers and Weezer. The duo's songwriting has also been publically admired by The White Stripes who covered Tegan & Sara's "Walking With a Ghost" for an EP of the same name in 2005.
New album Sainthood finds Tegan & Sara officially leaving any residual adolescent notions behind. It is their first album featuring songs they co-wrote together (in the past they preferred to write songs individually and submit them to the other to record) and is a deep and spiritual melodic journey about love and affection that could only be told by a woman... or two women.
This is the only group hailing from Canada that will be spinning gold this week (Take that, Team Canada hockey team. Ka-pow!)
Alan Jackson, 6:45 p.m. at RodeoHouston (Reliant Stadium)
Let's get ready to rodeo, people!!
Alan Jackson kicks off 20 straight nights of nightly concerts following rodeo competition at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
It seems as if half of Nashville's Music Row, as well as some unexpected headliners like Mary . Blige (March 5) and the Black Eyed Peas (March 18), will take a turn on the mobile RodeoHouston stage. Few, however, represent the spirit of the event as well as Jackson.
The tall, blonde crooner in the white hat and tight jeans has played at every RodeoHouston since 1992 except one (apparently he couldn't find a flight or something in 2003) which has offered locals an front row seat for a hit-making career that includes 26 No. 1 country singles (and counting).
"Don't Rock the Jukebox," "Chattahoochee," "Livin' On Love," and "Country Boy," are just a few of the chart-toppers a fan can expect.
The only question left is how many chart-toppers can Jackson pack into the time allotted?
It should be fun trying to find out.