Marcia Ball, Texas Johnny Brown
Elsewhere in this issue, you can read (at length) about what Washington Avenue has become. Friday night, provided you can find a place to park, you can get a glimpse of what it used to be. For a solid generation from the late '70s to the late '90s, Rockefeller's ruled the ranks of Houston nightclubs and, before becoming a for-hire private-party/events space, welcomed both Marcia Ball and Texas Johnny Brown to its stage many times. Texas's reigning boogie queen of R&B piano, the Orange-born Ball apprenticed at roadhouses across the Sabine such as the Big Oaks and Lou Ann's. Even though she's been a proud Austinite for almost 40 years, the former Freda of Freda & the Firedogs' barrelhouse style has never lost that Louisiana zip. The 81-year-old Brown likewise needs no introduction to Texas blueshounds — not after a career that includes recording and touring with Amos Milburn, Ruth Brown and Junior Parker, not to mention writing one of the true all-time classics, Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Two Steps from the Blues," while working at Duke/Peacock Records. Proceeds from Friday's show benefit the Houston International Festival's education program, which sends out curriculum guides based around each year's theme nation or region (this year's is the Caribbean) to some 1,500 area schools.
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