Big Band, Big Press Kit

Two years into this job now, and I finally went to my first honest-to-God press conference, at the Hard Rock Cafe, to find that, yes, the Rolling Stones (they're really big, maybe you've heard of them) will indeed perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 13 at the Astrodome. Tickets cost $30 and $55, which is either a sign that the Stones are being pretty darn reasonable in this season of $100-plus Eagles tickets, or a sign that the old boys have a pretty good idea of their questionable drawing power at the end of that selfsame season. Especially in Houston, where only one show is planned, as opposed to, say, the four in Giants Stadium. Bryan Adams is slated as opening act -- which sounded pretty reasonable hearing it in the Hard Rock, but seems kinda crappy now -- along with another as-yet-unnamed act that most assuredly won't be ZZ Top.

If you're wondering why Pace Concerts bothered with a press conference to announce the most commonplace facts and figures in the rock world, I can't help you. Maybe they needed to do something with those Biggest Band in the World press kits, copied on 12 different colors of paper and comprising two photos and 78 -- count 'em, 78 -- mostly single-sided sheets of Xeroxed press material. Just in case, I suppose, some of us younger critics don't know who the Stones are.

Local Stuff... When the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club opened on Kirby earlier this year, the advance verdict from original partner Pete Selin, who was feeling burned-out by his experience with the Bon Ton Room, was no live music. But it's been several months now since Selin sold his interest in the Big Easy, and remaining owner Tom McClendon still has a taste for the music biz, so that's why you'll find the Chris Masterson-hosted Blues Jam holding court every Sunday night, and Houston saxophonist Roger Eckstine and his band holding down a schedule of Thursdays through the end of September. It's a tight little room, with a tight little dance floor, two pool tables and a well-stocked bar, and if the local musical attractions aren't enough to get you off the couch, perhaps the news that famed Meters bassist George Porter Jr. and his touring band the Runnin' Pardners will be stopping in for a show on Friday the 16th. Porter played a barely heralded show at the Easy a month or so back on his way to California, and liked the room so much he's playing it again on his way home. You missed it last time; don't do it again.

Come Friday, folk songstress Kimberly M'Carver settles in at the newly remodeled Anderson Fair, while veteran rocker Herschel Berry takes his first turn at Toby Blunt's Mary Jane's tavern on Washington. The jazz is free at the Houston Jazz Festival performance at Miller Outdoor Theater, and vocalist Anita Moore, formerly with the Duke Ellington Band, is the featured performer. The Mike Gunn and Bleachbath share a heavy rock bill at Rudyard's, and Crazykilledmingus, I End Result and Saddlebag should pack 'em in over at Fitzgerald's. Zwee and the Graveberries play at Big Dogz Ice House. Meanwhile, the food and groove rockers in Banana Blender Surprise play what should be their last Houston gig, at The Pig "Live" (also remodeled, I'm told, to take that annoying post out of the line of sight), before heading out on a tour that takes them up the East Coast to New York, leading into a mid-October through November stint opening up for stylistic cousin NRBQ's Midwest tour. Also on Friday, the second Houston show from Rugrash, featuring former Sprawl vocalist/organist Matt Kelly and guitarist Joey Salinas, opening for Joint Chiefs at Emo's.

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As for Saturday, local folkie Eric Taylor plays Anderson Fair, Java Dogs are at Rudz and The Last Wish, having seduced much of the local adult market with its not-harsh take on acoustic rock, takes aim at its contemporaries with a debut at The Abyss. Jazzy saxophophonist Kermit Ruffins isn't a local, but his label, Justice, is, and so I'll mention his late-scheduled gig at Ovations Saturday night, even if it does compete with Billy Blues' stellar and mostly local lineup of Sue Foley, Lavelle White, Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon, Teddy Morgan and The Moeller Brothers. Saturday night sees the return of the road-tested Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys at Big Dogz. And if that's not enough local interest for one Saturday night, you can take your pick of three local record releases. Sheila Renfro and Soul Possession celebrate the birth of a tape at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, Dead Squad drops a new record at Harvey's and Feo y Loco have a CD release party for Politically Incorrect -- even if it is a tired phrase the Locos have been leaning on for at least two years now -- slated for the European Tavern.

If you're still walking Sunday, Texas Johnny Brown is at Billy Blues, Joe "Guitar" Hughes takes his turn at Funday in the Park, this week in Judson Robinson Park, and the Blunt Family Jam, reportedly now minus slide wizard Frank Frombach, does its regular Sunday night thing at Mary Jane's. Local fave and I'll-play-anywhere-anytime trooper Jerry Jeff Walker, by the way, is scheduled at the Yucatan Liquor Stand, which sounds like it might be ugly, but everyone will tell you they had fun.

Monday night, L.A.'s master of bluesy world-beat eclecticism, David Lindley, will play with collaborator Hani Naser at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, and even though he's really not local, I didn't get the news early enough to do a proper write-up, so you find out about it here. Tuesday's got Alamo Jet Jessie Dayton teamed up with songwriter Jim Lauderdale for a duo performance, also at the Duck, and Herschel Berry's back at The Pig. Newcomers Canvas play Emo's, also Tuesday, and on Wednesday, extended for another month of Wednesdays, it's vibist Harry Sheppard and band at Munchies. Oh, it's so good to be back.

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