Blondie, X Warehouse Live, September 27
Arguably the two best American bands to come out of the punk era, Blondie and X each personified the late'70s/early-80s rock scenes of New York and L.A, respectively. Fronted by impossibly glamorous Debbie Harry, Blondie mingled downtown CBGB cool with Studio 54 glitter, while the tempestuous tandem of John Doe and Exene Cervenka steered X through seedy Americana back alleys. The twain rarely met back in the day, but ought to make for Friday-night dynamite. CHRIS GRAY
Saxon House of Blues, September 28
Back in the States supporting new album Sacrifice, Saxon came together in 1976 -- originally calling themselves Son of a Bitch - and releasing their first album three years later. On the vanguard of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal along with bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motorhead, the band scored with a string of albums including Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law, Power & the Glory, and Denim and Leather; the title track of the latter album became something of an anthem for heavy-metal fans worldwide.
Thursday, Rocks Off spoke with singer Biff Byford while Saxon was laundering their unmentionables during a day off earlier in the tour. Chris Jericho's Fozzy opens. BOB RUGGIERO
Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 28
These two country stars in their prime have done their dead-level best to resist going overly pop by adding a hefty dose of rock swagger. East Texas native Lambert has been keeping the menfolk honest since 2005's Kerosene, the first of her four platinum or multiplatium albums, through last year's Four the Record (get it?). Arizonan Bentley, meanwhile, flashed a little of Waylon's grit on debut single "What Was I Thinkin'" and has since demonstrated equal aptitude for party songs like "5150" and dim-the-lights ballads such as "Come a Little Closer."
Earlier this month Lambert was showered with CMA nominations, primarily for her smash hit "Mama's Broken Heart," but also a Vocal Event nod for her super-sassy girl group the Pistol Annies' collaboration with Lambert's hubby Blake Shelton, "Boys Round Here." With Charlie Worsham and Jukebox Mafia . CHRIS GRAY
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Joe Sample Orchestra Grand 1894 Opera House (Galveston), September 28
This past summer the Houston Press created the Houston Music Hall of Fame to honor local musicians who have had an immeasurable impact on the community, but don't always get the credit they should. Saturday, two of our inaugural inductees will share a stage at Galveston's Victorian opera palace. One is Joe Sample current TSU professor and electric-piano pioneer whose group the Crusaders (ne Jazz Crusaders) set the bar for '70s jazz-funk before he went on to become one of the top L.A. session players around.
The other is great local singer Jewel Brown, who Saturday will be fronting Sample's Orchestra alongside respected Houston players Horace Alexander Young and Andre Heyward, plus special guest Ray Parker Jr. -- if you think he's just the "Ghostbusters" guy, you might be knocked out by his jazz-guitar chops. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Sample founded in 2005 to lend a hand to deteriorating inner-city Catholic schools including his own alma mater; to date the organization has raised more than $200,000. CHRIS GRAY
Aimee Mann House of Blues, September 29
Say one thing about Aimee Man, she has a sense of humor about herself. In the video for "Labrador," a single from last year's album Charmer, the moustachioed Jon Hamm puts her through all sorts of indignities via a shot-by-shot recreation of "Voices Carry" as Mann gracefully grins through gritted teeth.
Of course that 1985 megahit by her previous band Til Tuesday could have easily become the kind of albatross that sinks solo careers, but Mann has flourished ever since 1993 solo debut Whatever. Her cutting melodies and often-prickly insight have become a filmmakers' favorite, most prominently in P.T. Anderson 1999 family drama Magnolias well as dozens of TV shows from The West Wing to Portlandia. With Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. CHRIS GRAY
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