Emeli Sande House of Blues, July 8
A few years ago, it was Corinne Bailey-Rae, now here comes Emeli Sande to claim the title of the the British Isles' reigning soul starlet. The piano-trained Scottish native, now 26, notched the UK's top-selling debut of last year with Our Version of Events, a nigh-irresistible blend of cutting-edge electronica and classic R&B. The baby-Beyonce whispers might have started even if Sande hadn't cut a nifty version of "Crazy In Love," but this star in the making needs no such comparisons. CHRIS GRAY
Free Radicals AvantGarden, July 8
Free Radicals is both Nick Cooper's revolving-door ensemble that at any given moment could be playing free jazz or Latin funk, and also Cooper's ongoing testimonial to how much he digs being a member of the Houston music community. He has so much experience at this point that he has very much become a one-man hub of that community.
Last year Cooper brought that same kind of musical civic pride to the Radicals' first album in several years, The Freedom Fence, and then in July watched it win a well-deserved Houston Press Music Award for Local Album of the Year. The group's weekly jam, wherever it may be, is a true local-music institution that these days happens to be at AvantGarden, a local-music institution of its own, and follows David Dove's They, Who Sound showcase -- still another. CHRIS GRAY
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition Under the Volcano, July 11
Squirrel Nut Zippers deserve to be remembered as more than just a footnote in the late-'90s "swing revival," if for no other reason because Jimbo Mathus had a hand in their creation. Mathus has also knocked around the Memphis punk scene, appeared on a couple of Andrew Bird records and cut an album of Charley Patton songs to benefit the Mississippi country-blues progenitor's daughter Rosetta.
Now based in the same city as his label Fat Possum -- Oxford, Mississippi -- Mathus has taken everything he's absorbed and channeled it into recent albums Confederate Buddha and last year's White Buffalo. On the latter, he comes off as a mystical rock and roller along the lines of Bruce Springsteen, James McMurtry and Alejandro Escovedo; around here, those are names we don't drop lightly. CHRIS GRAY
Fitz & the Tantrums Fitzgerald's, July 11
A retro outfit with a dynamic one-two punch of long-limbed vocalist Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick and brassy single-named second singer Noelle, L.A.'s Fitz & the Tantrums have been a big hit with audiences since debuting a few years ago with Picking Up the Pieces, and it wasn't long before their irresistible live shows made them indispensible on the festival circuit. Brand-new album More Than Just a Dream injects a solid dose of New Wave pop candy and Imagine Dragons-style synth-rock into the Tantrums' potent vintage-soul potion. CHRIS GRAY
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Black Stone Cherry Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 11
Thanks to this Lynyrd Skynyrd/Bad Company/Black Stone Cherry tour, you can finally yell "Free Bird" at a concert with good reason. Just don't expect the people around you to take it any differently than they did at the last concert, despite its validity. With two massive classic-rock names on the bill and a newbie thrown into the mix for good measure, the evening should be full of the hits that have elevated these boys to legend status over the past few decades. ANGELICA LEICHT
Steve Miller Band Nutty Jerry's (Winnie), July 11
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As one of the titans of classic rock, the Steve Miller Band is responsible for many radio staples, from "The Joker" to "Fly Like an Eagle" to "Rock'n Me" (which samples Free's "All Right Now"). The Dallas-raised Miller and his mates have been doling out the hits since they hit the scene in 1968, and show no signs of stopping, releasing an album as recently as 2011's Let Your Hair Down. Nutty Jerry's is the place where you can take it all in, along with the rest of the jokers, smokers, and midnight tokers who will undoubtedly trek out to enjoy the show. ANGELICA LEICHT