Lady Gaga Sings The Big Easy Blues
Photos by Annelia Wililams
Rocks Off woke up to Lady Gaga on Good Morning America this morning. It looked like she was having a little trouble with her zipline.
The reason Rocks Off woke up to Lady Gaga on Good Morning America this morning, instead of Channel 13's Eyewitness News like we normally do, is that last night we may have been out a little later than we should have been. We're not not saying we were, we're not saying we weren't. We're just saying we didn't plan on it, but shit happens. We were born this way.
The reason Rocks Off may or may not have been out (long) past our bedtime is because we went to the Houston Blues Society's monthly open jam at The Big Easy on Kirby. If you're wondering why you didn't see that particular Facebook invitation, it's probably because - as far as we know - there wasn't one.
The Blues Society does have a Facebook group page, but the jam gets by on word of mouth, flyers, promotion on KPFT's various blues shows, the occasional print-media article (gasp!) and the ancient form of communication known as email blasts. And it gets by pretty well.
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The Big Easy wasn't quite full when Rocks Off and our buddy Lonesome Onry and Mean showed up shortly after 9 p.m., but the dance floor was getting that way, and seating was already at a premium. The crowd was heavy on snowy hair, beards and Houston Blues Society T-shirts, but we saw a few young Japanese folks and a couple of kids who couldn't have even taken their driving tests yet mixed in too.
There was very little texting or talking. The star of the evening was Eugene Moody, who was well in progress when we got there. The singer/guitarist and his band were slow-roasting a set of Southern R&B like a rotisserie chicken at a Memorial Day barbecue. Overall it smacked strongly of Al Green and Otis Redding, and time didn't quite stand still when they hit Lowell Fulsom's "Things That I Used To Do" and Sly & the Family Stone's "If You Want Me To Stay," but it came pretty close.
Little Joe Washington showed up, but didn't play. We thought he might for a minute - despite not having a guitar, which has never stopped him before - but he mostly just talked to Blues Society president Boyd Bluestein. Washington looked healthy and in good spirits, and even gave Rocks Off his bourbon and Coke.
We drank it.
Rocks Off Googled Moody when we got in to work this morning, and learned nothing more than what we discovered last night: He's a middle-aged African-American gentleman who plays a mean guitar and sings like a bird. When he and his band were done, Panama-hatted guitarist Billy Bourbon and his two compadres took the bandstand for some grizzly electric-guitar blues, and six-piece group Bourbon Street put the sting in the scorpion's tail with an arresting cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Cold Shot."
Judging by their names, you might expect to find both groups phoning it in for conventioneers and college kids in some no-cover dive on Sixth Street, Beale Street or even the real Bourbon Street. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both groups, and Moody before them, were 100 percent Houston: Soulful, gritty, and all business.
No pop stunts, no ziplines, just meat-and-potatoes R&B that sounded extra fine with a cold Lone Star or two.
Our beloved Bayou City is still caught in a bad romance with the idea that Houston is somehow inferior to other cities with more cash in the tourism till, cities that put saxophones on their official seals and shit like that. Especially when it comes to music; it's not a coincidence that Rocks Off spent the balance of last night in a nightclub named after New Orleans.
At the moment, in fact, we happen to have a friend spending a few days in the other Big Easy - that city that Houstonians seem to prefer to their own backyard because of Jazz Fest, the French Quarter, Treme, trombones, street parades, beignets, voodoo and all that other laissez-les-bon-temps-roulez crap.
So this morning, still scratching and clawing at the cobwebs, we texted them: "saw some killer music and didn't even have to leave Houston."
"Wish I had."
Billy Bourbon plays Jimbo's Roadhouse in Hockley tonight. Bourbon Street plays Linda Lu's Big Dawg's Saloon, 8806 Almeda-Genoa, Saturday.