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Delbert McClinton
Friday, December 9
Rockefeller's

Much to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 400 well-groomed and deep-pocketed fans, the resurrected Rockefeller's brought Delbert McClinton and his good-time rock and roll revue to town two Fridays ago. Mr. McClinton -- the Tom Jones of roadhouse boogie -- has been doing this long enough to know exactly what the crowd wants, and he delivered it -- originals, covers, originals that sound like covers, "blues" and some soulful slow ones just for the ladies.

The pride of Denton, Texas, led his six-piece band through a tight one-and-three-quarter-hour set (if you're reading this, you're probably a McClinton fan, so rest assured he played all his hits, and played them well). After the sinuous, Meters-inflected "I'm With You," McClinton honked a crowd-pleasing harp solo on "Never Been Rocked Enough." McClinton's signature "I've Got Dreams" is always more than an Otis tribute, even when he's holding hands and locking eyes with the women in the front row. The band kept the Stax thang going with Rick Kurtz's regal guitar solo on "Born Under a Bad Sign," and the stomping original "Every Time I Roll the Dice" rocked like a cut off Sticky Fingers, not least because Don Wise sounded like he must've been playing Bobby Keys' sax. The cover of Bob Marley's "Stir it Up" didn't, but the band redeemed itself by sticking to strengths for the rest of the show, hitting a high with the encore performance of "B-Movie Boxcar Blues."

-- Peter Kelly

Miss Francis and the Rhythm Fish
Saturday, December 10
Village Brewery

It was a historic moment -- never before has a member of the Texas Legislature commented on the outcome of elections by laying down his bass and strapping on an old Fender six-string. All alone on the stage at the Village Brewery, the Honorable Ron Wilson said just what was on his mind without saying a word about George W. "Shrub" Bush. But he put enough passion, and talent, into Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" to make it plain how he felt. I have occasionally said cruel things about Representative Wilson. Far as I care, they were all true (hell, he's a politician), but he's still a damn good bass player.

Houston's got a tradition of people with real jobs who play in fun bands; the all-attorney Ambulance Chasers comes to mind. Currently holding the hobby-band torch is Miss Francis and the Rhythm Fish. Miss Francis Matthews came up doing gospel, an influence that lives on in her bluesy interpretations of soul standards. Guitarist Hall Doerr, while showing the excessive technical sophistication typical of physician performers, could hold his own at any eastside Sunday jam. Even percussionist Wayne Dolcefino hits the congas as hard and as well as he hit H.I.S.D., even if his snare playing is as irritatingly over-enthusiastic as Marvin Zindler.

Dismissing the Rhythm Fish as a less-than-serious band because some members have "real" jobs is taking the snobbish way out. Much harder is admitting that they're one of the tightest soul-funk-horn section bands now playing around town.

-- Jim Sherman

 
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