CHARLIE ROBISON, CHARLIE AND THE REGRETS
Discovery Green, September 7
If Charlie Robison doesn’t start his set Thursday with “If the Rain Don’t Stop Today,” his damn-the-elements march from 2009’s Beautiful Day, he’ll be missing a golden opportunity. Between that and opener Charlie and the Regrets’ “Houston Rain,” the fall season opener of Discovery Green’s free Thursday concerts should have recent events covered. Robison has been one of Texas country’s leading mavericks since the Life of the Party days, when songs like “My Hometown” and “Barlight” got his foot in Nashville’s door; he was gone just as quickly after his attitude proved a wee bit too Texas for the major labels. His latest album, 2013’s High Life, salutes fellow iconoclasts like Bob Dylan and Kinky Friedman. Charlie and the Regrets, meanwhile, are one of Houston’s most impressive new country bands in a while, mixing witty honky-tonk with Creedence-style rock. This year’s album Rivers In the Streets (seriously) has been opening all sorts of doors lately, like a recent date at the legendary Gruene Hall opening for Hayes Carll.
House of Blues, September 8
Barely a month removed from the release of their fifth studio album, Manchester Orchestra will return to Houston’s House of Blues (weather permitting) in support of their most ambitious record to date. For A Black Mile to the Surface, vocalist Andy Hull and crew returned to the studio with a more intimate album in mind than its hard-hitting predecessor, 2013's Cope. Where Cope was, in Hull's own words, "brutal and pounding you over the head on every track," A Black Mile finds its strength in its harmonies and lyricism, which explore marriage, fatherhood and all things familial. But becoming a husband and dad hasn't robbed Hull of his metaphorical leanings, and A Black Mile is brimming with symbolism and imagery, stemming mostly from the real-life mining town of Lead, South Dakota. They say being a parent changes you, and it seems to have changed Andy Hull for the better. His latest record shows the 30-year-old maturing to his best self so far — both sonically and vocally. And he'll be the first to tell you the best is yet to come. With Surfer Blood and Foxing, Foxing. MATTHEW KEEVER
Toyota Center, September 9
Much like her brother Michael, Janet Jackson is a mononym, an entity your mind can conjure with a simple mention of her name. Three decades after her monumental album Control and 1989 followup Rhythm Nation, Jackson is still a trailblazer and one of the few artists with a more than reasonable gripe about being omitted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Last year, Jackson canceled her Unbreakable World Tour after revealing she had become pregnant with her first child. She was also about to deal with a divorce from her husband. Rebranding the tour and finding a new focus meant that Jackson could perform not only the hits she's known for but the Unbreakable records that vaulted her back to record-breaking status as an artist. The State of the World tour, as she explained in May, is about love; at the moment, the Bayou City could certainly use plenty of it. Janet is the first big show in Toyota Center since Harvey. May it be more than memorable. BRANDON CALDWELL
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Discovery Green, September 10
The physical and psychic wounds inflicted by Hurricane Harvey are still raw, and will be for a while. What our ailing community needs almost as much as physical supplies is spiritual relief, a chance to come together and lift each other up, maybe sing a few songs along the way. So let’s hope this doesn’t get canceled. If Canned Acoustica organizer Mark C. Austin, who did as much to help out his fellow Houstonians during the storm as anyone, has his way, it won’t be. Founded in 2010 as a modern twist on the old-fashioned hootenanny, all monies channeled to the Houston Food Bank, Canned Acoustica put in two more years, both installments packing the house. Now rebooted monthly through November, the lineup now as then features an eclectic cluster of Houston’s most vibrant acts — this time, it’s OG vatos rudos Los Skarnales, cumbia king Gio Chamba, bristling femcee Genesis Blu, slinky glam-pop auteur –Us, and singer-songwriter Romina Von Mohr — out to prove that turning down the amps doesn’t mean turning down the energy. Houston needs a show like this right now. Donations to the Houston Food Bank are encouraged, and a booth will be set up to assist artists in the Houston music community who have been adversely affected by the storm.
Smart Financial Centre, September 10
A ZZ Top show anywhere in the Houston area is special. One exactly two weeks removed from Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting devastation on the band’s home turf has historic potential. As the rains fell and floodwaters rose, ZZ issued a statement of sympathy containing a callback to 1981 LP El Loco, reeking of Gibbons-esque prose: “Long ago, we recorded a song called 'Heaven, Hell or Houston.’ We’re confident that, in the near future, the first word will describe the title's third word and the middle will soon be overcome.” If ZZ Top rises to the occasion, which is pretty much a sure thing, the Lil Ol’ Band’s Smart Financial Centre debut will be a huge step in that direction. Earmarking $100,000 toward recovery efforts is a damn good place to start.