NRBQ, or the New Rhythm & Blues Quartet, may be the quintessential "almost famous" band. Music critics and musicians swear by them, but they never quite broke through to a mass audience despite having their songs covered by ultra-hip indie-rockers (Yo La Tengo, She & Him) and roots royalty (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bonnie Raitt) alike. And you may be more familiar with them than you think. NRBQ was effectively the "house band" for a few seasons of The Simpsons — then-head writer Mike Scully was a big fan — and played most of the music on the 2006 SpongeBob SquarePants quasi-soundtrack The Best Day Ever. Onward from their self-titled 1969 debut, which contained songs by rockabilly legend Carl Perkins and free-jazz freak Sun Ra, NRBQ's albums and shows have been about the closest thing to a complete history of post-war pop music condensed into an hour or two. The only original member left is keyboardist Terry Adams, who announced he was giving the name to his Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet earlier this year. Look behind the drums Thursday and you'll see Conrad Choucroun, who has graduated from beloved, NRBQ-crazy Houston party band Banana Blender Surprise to the real thing.
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