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Tutoned and Ready

Granted, a good chunk of the crowd will show up for Tommy Tutone's lone hit, "867-5309/Jenny." But the Texas native, last heard from in the '80s, comes to Houston armed with a surprisingly fresh "comeback" CD, Rich Text Files. Buoyed by Tutone's husky, frozen-in-time vocals, the new material veers from solid, bar-rock riffsmanship ("Young Love," "Our Special Place," "A Little Bit o' Heaven") to more ambitious, if less catchy, numbers ("The World Ain't Flat," "The Grifter's Prayer," the latter of which might have been at home in a Thin Lizzy set list). The majority of Rich Text Files sounds like lost music from a lost time -- and that's not a knock. In fact, if Tutone's well-attended set at this year's South by Southwest Music Conference is any indication, there are still plenty of folks who savor power pop.

An Air Force brat born in Marshall, Tutone grew up around the world, which allowed him to soak up a wide variety of musical influences. After earning a degree in educational psychology, he took a left turn and formed a band, and by his second release in 1981, he'd scored huge with "867-5309/ Jenny." The bubbly radio tribute to irrational obsession provided a theme song for stalkers everywhere and led to a lot of changed phone numbers. To an extent, Tutone revisits his infamous heroine on Rich Text Files' "Jenny's Got the Blues," in which the singer, now a parent, attempts to corral a teenage daughter named for his former love.

So, with a new release and his first two albums recently released in a special one-CD package, why not grant Tutone another hearing? He's been on call-waiting for an awfully long time.

-- Bob Ruggiero

Tommy Tutone performs Thursday, July 16, at Party on the Plaza, Jones Plaza. Music starts at 5:45 p.m. Free. Ezra Charles opens. 230-1666.

Terri Hendrix -- An opportunistic lass with a staggering ear-to-ear smile, Terri Hendrix was only a teenager when she set her mind to making a career of making music. The San Antonio native got her start plying the tourist trade along the city's Riverwalk -- not exactly a hotbed for original folk music, so it's a good thing she's blessed with a highly original makeup. Now in her thirties, Hendrix has aged remarkably well. Equally capable of shyness and self-confidence, she is at once driven and down to earth. Those apparent contradictions -- combined with an acute sensitivity to the perplexing side of human relations -- inform her new, Lloyd Maines-produced CD, Wilory Farm. A stylistic chameleon, Hendrix also knows her way around an acoustic guitar, outpicking many of her Hill Country singer/songwriter counterparts, male and female alike. And what she lacks in focus (shakier moments find her sounding like Belinda Carlisle in a Joni Mitchell funk, while other times, her chipper quirks all too closely mirror those of fellow Texan Sara Hickman), she makes up for with eagerness to please. On Thursday, July 16, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Doors 8 p.m. Tickets $5. Phil Pritchett opens. 869-COOL. (Hobart Rowland)

Chicago -- Of the three major rock bands that integrated horn sections into their lineups in the late '60s, Chicago was easily the most commercially viable. Think about it: Mike Bloomfield's Stax-Voltstyled Electric Flag never was a major commercial force, and Al Kooper's Maynard Ferguson-inspired Blood, Sweat and Tears lost its commercial flair after its fourth album. Chicago, on the other hand -- with 20 Top Ten singles, 12 Top Ten albums and record sales of over 120 million to its credit -- remains the second-best-selling American rock band of all time, trailing only the Beach Boys. Chicago has also recorded some of radio's finest and most enduring hits, including "Beginnings," "25 or 6 to 4," "Make Me Smile" and "Wishing You Were Here." Powered by the late Terry Kath's innovative guitar work, Chicago Transit Authority was a strong, hard-rocking, sometimes bluesy outfit in its early days. By the late-'70s they'd shortened the name and evolved into a nonstop romantic ballad machine, continuing in that vein on through the '80s. Today, of course, they're an Adult Contemporary staple, so expect more hits than bold excursions into their groundbreaking early work. At 7 p.m. Friday, July 17, at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands. Tickets $17.75 to $45.25. Hall & Oates open. 628-3700. (Paul J. MacArthur)

 
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