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LGBT Bar Opening

Neon Boots, Texas's biggest LGBT country bar, is open for business.

Which is why preconceived notions should be left at home.

Sure, the bar will be instating a "Drag Night" on Sundays, but Neon Boots is no different from any other country bar I've been to.

With blue and red painted walls, aluminum siding and leather seating areas, the only differences between Neon Boots and other country bars are that the majority of the patrons are gay, and there are just as many Rainbow flags hanging on the wall as there are Texas flags. But the men still wear Wranglers, the beer is still ice cold, and there is just as much hospitality.

Self Portrait remains Dylan’s most reviled release.
Self Portrait remains Dylan’s most reviled release.
Peter Beste

Location Info

Map

Neon Boots Dance Hall and Saloon

11410 Hempstead Highway
Houston, TX 77092

Category: Dance Clubs

Region: Outer Loop - NW

"In Houston, a lot of country bars discriminate, or they just appeal to a different crowd than what you'll find here," said Michelle Thompson, a patron. "But here, we can all be ourselves without any pretenses."

Neon Boots currently has three bars set up for service, which includes the bar inside of the more low-key Esquire Room, which pays homage to the building's history. Additionally, the bar has kept the original stage (which is retractable to accommodate its needs,) as well as a regulation-size ballroom floor, a few pool tables and ample seating area.

And that's just what they've got now.

According to the Neon Boots team, there are already plans in motion to add a Gay Bingo night by October (Daily owns Big Tex Bingo on Veterans Memorial Dr.), a mechanical bull and live music on Fridays. Add in plans for sand volleyball and horseshoe pits to the back patio area, and the bases seem to be covered. Of course all upgrades take planning and time, but Diane promises that Neon Boots will be "constantly evolving into something bigger and better."

Until then, the bar's DJ, Lorenzo, might be the best in Houston with his well-paced mixture of country and pop hits from the past few decades.

So if you've got the urge to dance, scoot over to Neon Boots. Everyone is welcome, and no matter what, it seems destined to become one of the best country bars in Houston.
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Classic Rock Corner

Bootleg Bob Dylan

New "Bootleg Series" edition revisits reviled period for Bob Dylan. Bob Ruggiero

Bob Dylan Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 Columbia/Legacy

"What is this shit?"

It is the most famous review opening line in all of rock journalism. And it was penned by Rolling Stone's Greil Marcus in 1970 in an attempt to explain the unexplainable Bob Dylan Self Portrait double album to an audience still desperate for the Bard of Hibbing to claim his "spokesman for a generation" title.

But Dylan himself was just as uninterested in that moniker – or any other – in '70 as he was in '62. And Self Portrait's oddball, hodgepodge collection of folk and pop covers, instrumentals, live cuts, and weak originals (jacketed with a hideous painting by Dylan) remains the most reviled release in his catalogue.

At the time, it was viewed as a deliberate slap in the face to his fans, and in subsequent interviews and his own book, Chronicles, Dylan doesn't exactly contest that theory.

So it's not surprising the announcement that the latest version in Dylan's Bootleg Series would be dedicated mostly to the 1970-71 recording sessions that produced both Self Portrait and the follow up New Morning which was met with equal derision.

Yet, amazingly, the demos, alternate takes, unreleased tracks, and different arrangements of released material here go a long way toward acting not only as a mea culpa, but to spotlight the talent of Dylan's then musicians du jour – guitarist David Bromberg and keyboardist Al Kooper.

And while the material doesn't support the fawning reaction some critics have already given it (we're talking to you, David Fricke), it does go a long way in showing vision to what Self Portrait could have been.

Most numbers are sung in a version of the "country crooning" voice that Dylan debuted on Nashville Skyline and unconvincingly told interviewers he got as a result of quitting smoking.

Highlights include unreleased tracks that could have come from a stripped-down Basement Tapes or John Wesley Harding session (a gentle "Pretty Saro," the lilting "Annie's Going to Sing Her Song," the buoyant "Thirsty Boots," and the plaintive and epic "House Carpenter").

Familiar SP tracks take on whole new meaning either when stripped of overdubs ("Copper Kettle" and "Little Sadie" work better spare, "Days of '49" takes on a quiet desperation), or with dubs added (a horn-drenched "New Morning," a soft violin coloring Dylan's just-voice-and-piano "If Not For You," a drums-and-thunder "Time Passes Slowly").

There's even some fun with unreleased "Working on a Guru" (Dylan and noted guru-loving pal George Harrison trading tasty licks back and forth), and the shaggy dog tale "Tattle O'Day."

The set closes with the demo for "When I Paint My Masterpiece." One of Dylan's most masterful compositions, it is filled with regret, dashed ambitions, and romantic desperation cloaked as a mindless European fling. And it's devastating in this spare demo version.

Another Self Portrait shows that Bob Dylan – like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young – has bursting vaults of "discarded" material that is just as good and sometimes better than what they've actually released. And the entire Bootleg Series has been worthy. Now, Dylan's team, where are those unvarnished "Basement Tapes" and the full New York Blood on the Tracks sessions?

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