Houston's Five Best Concerts This Week: Steve Earle, Kat Edmondson, Chubby Checker, etc.
Photo by Ted Barron/Courtesy of New West Records
Steve Earle Cactus Music, Tuesday 10 (6 p.m.)
Busy as he stays acting, writing books and hosting a satellite-radio program, Steve Earle remains an astoundingly prolific musician. He's released an album every odd-numbered year without fail since 2007's Washington Square Serenade; the latest, Terraplane Blues (New West), is due next week. But if there's anything Earle loves more than the blues, it's Cactus Music, his favorite Houston rondezvous for many years, so he's added a date here on his brief Terraplane pre-release tour. God knows when we'll get to see him anywhere else in the area, but it may be a while. This is a wristband-only event (guaranteed with pre-purchase of Terraplane) that will fill up quickly -- posted start time is 6 p.m.; our advice is to get there at least an hour before that.
Kat Edmondson & Robert Ellis Cullen Theater (Wortham Center), February 10
Presented by McGonigel's Mucky Duck, this double bill at the Wortham's much larger Cullen Theater speaks volumes about the popularity of these Houston-area natives who are now also two of America's fastest-rising young singer-songwriters. That's about where the similarities end: our readers need no introduction to Ellis, who as leader of two-step revivalists Robert Ellis & the Boys won a few Houston Press Music Awards before moving on to bigger and better things; namely the surplus of praise for 2014's sophomore New West set The Lights From the Chemical Plant.
It's been a little longer since Edmondson, now a New Yorker, was a regular at rooms like Cezanne, but the accolades for the "vintage pop" of last year's The Big Picture have been just as intense. A thoroughly charmed NPR dubbed the album "timeless" on the way to likening Edmondson to the great Lady Day herself.
J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers Continental Club, February 10
Founder of Nashville turbo-country renegades the Legendary Shack Shakers as well as a talented author, filmmaker and graphic artist, (Col.) J.D. Wilkes is a Southern renaissance man whose tastes run to the Gothic and the grotesque, so naturally he's a perfect rock and roll singer too. His other group the Dirt Daubers actually began as an acoustic trio, but that went out the window sometime before 2013 LP Wild Moon, which roils a cauldron of swamp-rock voodoo with plenty of juke-joint harmonica, rockabilly swagger and the torchy vocals of J.D.'s wife Jessica Wilkes. A must-go for fans of Flannery O'Connor and HBO's True Blood.
More shows on the next page.
Let's twist again...
Photo courtesy of Stafford Centre
Chubby Checker Stafford Centre, February 11
"The Twist," Chubby Checker's 1960/1962 worldwide smash, has been making people's hips twitch since the Eisenhower Administration. The former produce clerk from South Philadelphia, who was crooning on the street corners of his hometown by age 11, was one of the first singers of the rock and roll era besides Elvis whose song became a full-blown phenomenon.
So much more than a novelty hit, "The Twist" set the standard for the flood of dance-floor crazes to come -- quite a few of which were initiated by Checker himself -- and remains the only song to top Billboard's singles chart twice; in 2008 the magazine named it the No. 1 single of all time. Now 73 and spry as ever, Checker still twists onstage several times a month and peddles his own line of low-fat beef jerky on chubbychecker.com. (True story.)
Kina Grannis Fitzgerald's, February 11
Because the previous evening's Animal Collective DJ set is going to be a zoo (pun fully intended), we thought we'd hip you to the folk-pop charms of Ms. Grannis instead. The 29-year-old singer-songwriter grew up in the Orange County enclave of Mission Viejo, Calif. and started self-releasing albums a decade ago. In the intervening years she attended USC; won the Doritos-sponsored "Crash the Super Bowl" contest in November 2007; and used almost 300,000 jellybeans in the video for "In Your Arms," which has reached more than 10 million YouTube views. (Grannis is said to be one of the most popular personalities on YouTube, in fact.) Last year's dependably sunny Elements, her second album under Interscope's auspices, was produced by Matt Hales, aka the UK indie musician Aqualung.
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