Billy Gibbons is 65 years old, and has been a member of ZZ Top for some 45 of them. But that's never stopped the deacon of down-and-dirty Texas boogie-rock from indulging his more exotic musical meanderings, in this case of the Afro-Cuban variety.
In other words, Gibbons has a new (or sort-of new) band, the BFGs, who in November will release Perfectamundo (Concord), an album that grew out of the Reverend's friendship with Argentine/Puerto Rican collaborator Martine “G.G.” GuiGui and admiration for Sal y Pimienta, the Cuban restaurant in CityCentre that now lends its name to the first song written for the new album.
The corresponding tour begins a few days after Perfectamundo's release, November 10 at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse, and will climax with a BFGs performance at the Havana Jazz Festival in their spiritual homeland of Cuba. Along the way is a December 3 stopover at Cullen Performance Hall on the University of Houston campus. Imagine the guest list for that show.
Besides BFG and G.G., the other BFGs are Alx “Guitarzza” Garza on percussion and guitars; female drummers SoZo and Melanie DiLaurenzo; and B-3 organist Mike Flanigin, whose new album The Drifter is currently making Texas critics swoon. (Gibbons makes a guest appearance on the record, because of course he does; longtime friend Jimmie Vaughan does as well.)
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Songs on Perfectamundo include the BFGs' “Spanglish” takes on Slim Harpo's “Got Love If You Want It” and Lightnin' Hopkins' “Baby Please Don't Go.” The first single, though, is a cover of Roy Head's blue-eyed soul standard “Treat Her Right.” Gibbons talked about the choice to Rolling Stone Monday, allowing him to drop some serious Gulf Coast knowledge on the magazine.
"Roy Head's original appeared in 1965 on Houston's own Backbeat label and was an earth shaker at the time," Gibbons said. "He was a wild Texas cat doing that blue-eyed soul thing in the midst of the British invasion and getting over in a big way. Roy's still at it today — he has an over-the-top act which is slated to headline this year's Ponderosa Stomp fest in New Orleans — now that's some serious staying power. A couple of years after 'Treat Her Right,' a single followed titled 'You're Almost Tuff,' with a B-side called 'Tush Hog.' It goes without saying that Roy's influence is long-standing."
What Gibbons said about Head probably applies to the Reverend at least tenfold. Tickets for the Houston stop go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday at livenation.com, ticketmaster.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000.