Face it: We're not the live music capital of the world. But every March, we get sloppy seconds when cool bands book shows down here after they've lined up their South By Southwest gigs 150 miles up the road. And this year, several stellar Canuck bands will migrate south to pay us a visit. If you want it loud and burly, check out the Constantines, a Toronto group that shares its name with a gay S&M biker gang in San Francisco. The band made waves at SXSW 2002, when spindly singer Bryan Webb was booted out of a Sixth Street bar for continually jumping out of the street-level window onto the crowded sidewalk. Drummer Doug MacGregor says the group's five members are actually learning to play like a band. When they got together in 1999, he says, they "couldn't play loud enough so no one would notice we couldn't play our instruments."
But if you're not into a sweatfest, check out Stars, the Montreal band opening for Toronto jazz chill collective Broken Social Scene. Stars have an alluring dream-pop sound, and their 2003 album, Heart, features nice vocal interplay between singer Torquil Campbell and singer-guitarist Amy Millan. The group's catchy little motto: "Kill the bastard in your life with love." Both shows go down on Saturday, March 20. The Constantines and Mahjongg open for Pretty Girls Make Graves: 8 p.m. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive, 713-862-3838. $10. Stars open for Broken Social Scene: 9 p.m. the Proletariat, 903 Richmond, 713-523-1199. $10. - Greg Barr
On a recent dismal afternoon, I somehow coerced my cleaning lady, a twentysomething Romanian woman, to get in between the sheets with me. I'd just called work to say my sleep apnea had reached an all-time high, and I needed to spend the rest of the day in bed. A few minutes later, just as things were heating up, the phone rang. I assumed it was my boss and without thinking reached for the receiver. To my chagrin, it was a girl I hadn't heard from since she'd run off to the UK with some idiot six months ago. At the sound of her voice, I ripped the phone from the wall, fell back and conked myself on the headboard. Elena was mumbling something from under the covers, and I was seeing stars. I apologized and told her I'd take her out for a drink. Sitting at the bar of Houston's (4848 Kirby, 713-529-2385) brought me back to reality, which, I have to admit, sucked in comparison to what had been happening an hour earlier. Sergio the bartender placed two cosmopolitans in front of us while Elena chain-smoked. Her English was starting to get on my nerves, so I picked up the pace and started drinking faster. She had one more cleaning stop to make before the day was over. I, on the other hand, made a mental note to get caller ID.
2 ounces Absolut vodka
1/4 ounce Cointreau
Splash of cranberry juice
Orange rind shavings
Using ice and cold water, chill a martini glass. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, measure out alcohol and juice. Shake vigorously. Strain into chilled glass. With a cheese grater, shave off a small amount of orange rind into drink. Serve immediately. Works great on headaches, bad memories and stiff joints. -- J.W. Crooker
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Now here's the kind of music festival that Bob Marley -- Jah rest his soul -- could get with. The One World Beat Festival, slated to raise funds for AIDS awareness in El Salvador, showcases local talent ranging from alt-country to Euro-pop to even a little bit of "stoner funk" (which should play quite well at the herb-friendly Last Concert Cafe). The daylong show features PLUMP, Steve Wedemeyer, DJ Sun, the Goodtrain Sessions, Glenn Eliot, Scattered Pages, Hollis Webb, 900 lbs., Brad Martin and the Psychodillos, Pieces of East, Sky Blue 72, Edgebrook, 3 Fantastic and Tom Vickers. 2 p.m. Saturday, March 20. 1403 Nance. For information, call 713- 226-8563. $10. - Steven Devadanam
All Grown Up
No longer looked upon as a protégé of Sean Carnahan, DJ Andy "Champa" Moore has crafted his own identity. He's booking shows left and right and getting plenty of attention. In fact, he even has to fend off attractive young women in order to remain true to his fiancée. We should all have such problems. Moore's upcoming show, That's My Jam, a one-time-only event, will take place on the second floor and the VIP attic of Helios. The music covers mainly the electronic realm. "House is the center of it, club music, music from the heart, whatever it may be," he says. 9 p.m. Friday, March 19. 411 Taft. For information, call 713-525-4648 or visit www.heliosrising.com. $5. - Eric A.T. Dieckman