Diversity is a big deal in H-Town. In fact, our cultural diversity creates such a wide variety of musical styles, it is hard to figure out just what kind of music town we are. In places like Memphis, Nashville, Seattle and even Austin, it's fairly easy to recognize the sound that informs, if not completely identifies, an artist band with his home town.
Here, we have a little bit of everything. Blues, jazz, Latin, country, rock, metal, r&b and hip-hop are all a part of our music scene, which is what makes it more difficult for us to define ourselves musically, at least in part. Make no mistake, this is a strength, but it can also be a frustrating source of angst for a city that often suffers from a collective self-esteem problem.
When glancing through the glut (and it is a glut) of upcoming shows, we noticed that many upcoming evenings play directly to the very diversity that makes us who we are. Our sister blog, Eating Our Words, does a regular feature called "Odd Pair," focused on putting two strange food items together and seeing what happens. Ten times over the next month, Houston music will have some odd pairs of its own.
Thursday, April 14
The Avett Brothers - Verizon Wireless Theater Dokken - Numbers
This is just the first of what could easily be deemed the "then and now" concert series, with '80s hair band Dokken and modern indie-bluegrass-pop outfit The Avett Brothers. The venues seem appropriate, although in the '80s, the poor goths wouldn't have known what to do with Don Dokken and his crew. Maybe weep softly in the corner.
Winner: The Avett Brothers
Pete Yorn (House of Blues) and ReBirth Brass Band (Warehouse Live) are also in town that same night. Talk about diversity.
Friday, April 15
Ronnie Misap - Grand Opera House (Galveston) Toadies - Warehouse Live
We love us some old-school country. In fact, we got the chance to see Ronnie Milsap at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo back in the '70s when we were just wee tikes. Trying to imagine him paired up with Dallas grunge rockers Toadies is like trying to imagine Tammy Wynette hooking up with Kanye West...so help me, Jesus.
Catch Milsap at the second show on Saturday and everybody wins.
Saturday, April 16
Hard Drive Tour Featuring Saliva - Verizon Wireless Theater Lil' Wayne - Toyota Center
Main Street around midnight should be a very interesting place to be on this night. The Hard Drive Tour makes its stop in Houston with some angry rockers like Saliva, who will "Click Click Boom" your ass back to the stone age. On the other side of downtown, rapper Lil' Wayne hopefully will avoid the "drank" while hanging in H-Town, since he was residing on Rikers Island just last year. Ironically, if it were Limp Bizkit at Verizon, it wouldn't shock us to see Fred Durst and Lil' Wayne doing a duet on top of the Houston Pavilions.
Winner: Lil' Wayne
We'll take some smoke and sizzurp over a pissed-off dude juiced on Red Bull and adrenaline every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Saturday, April 23
The Psychedelic Furs - Warehouse Live Ricky Martin - Toyota Center
So close and yet, so far, the Furs and Latin pretty boy Martin will be separated by only mere blocks, but it may as well be an ocean for all they have in common. The '80s new wavers are just one of a number of acts from the shoulder pads-and-parachute pants era to grace Houston in the next few weeks, Duran Duran chief among them. Martin will continue to live the...we swore we wouldn't break out the "la vida loca" puns and we stick by that. If nothing else, the traffic in that area should be very interesting.
Winner: The Psychedelic Furs
Hard to resist our youth on this one. Plus, we'll be worn out from that rockin' James Taylor show the night before.
Tuesday, April 26
Rooney - Warehouse Live Tony Bennett - Jones Hall
One is considered by manyto be the classic crooning voice of a generation. One has a front man whose cousin is Sofia Coppola and who appeared on The OC as himself. Oh, how things change. Rooney is actually not a bad power pop band, and they may have been one of the few artists not to duet with Bennett, which is really a plus for them. Bennett, God bless him, never had the voice of Mel Torme or the charisma of Frank Sinatra, but damn if he doesn't keep on keeping on.
Winner: Tony Bennett
If those aren't weird enough for you, you can catch George Thorogood or Charlie Sheen instead. Did we mention the night before is Yanni? What the hell, universe?
Thursday, April 28
Bret Michaels - Mo's Place (Katy) Willie Nelson - Verizon Wireless Theater
This is perhaps the most bizarre pairing of the entire month. Willie Nelson is an icon and a music legend. Michaels is, well, not. Sure, he wears a cowboy hat, but "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" ain't "On the Road Again." While Willie is crooning "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," Michaels will probably be working the ladies in the crowd at Mo's Place to the sweet sounds of "Talk Dirty to Me."
Winner: Willie Nelson
Do we even have to explain?
Friday, April 29
Ke$ha - Verizon Wireless Theater The Moody Blues - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Is it possible that The Moody Blues might once have considered naming themselves The Moody Blue$? We doubt it. This Friday in April gives music fans a chance to either be bored to tears by a band that visits Houston more often than we visit our mom (sorry, Mom!) or watch a bunch of teenage girls high on ecstasy sing about brushing their teeth with Jack Daniels. Advantage...
We don't want to support someone who uses a dollar sign as a letter, but it's either dancing in da club or art-rockin' in the 'burbs.
Friday, May 6
Echo and the Bunnymen - Warehouse Live Wilco - Verizon Wireless Theater
This is yet another in the series of new wave artists from the '80s coming through Warehouse Live, and while we have nothing against the moody keyboard-heavy bands of our youth, it would take an act of God to keep us from the Wilco show at Verizon. While we're sure Jeff Tweedy enjoyed some synth rock as much as the next guy, we're also certain that the crowds are so different, no one will be wringing their hands trying to figure out which show to attend that night.
They come through Houston even more rarely than snow, and that's saying a LOT.
Saturday, May 7
Accept - Scout Bar Robert Randolph and the Family Band - International Festival
There was a time when Rocks Off did indeed get its balls to the wall, man, but those days of bar fights and German metal are mostly behind us. Putting them the same night as the very funky Randolph is weird. Putting them on opposite sides of town is just good sense. We'd sure hate to see those sandal rockers that caught Randolph opening for Dave Matthews get mixed up with some crazy metal heads...or would we?
Winner: Robert Randolph and the Family Band
Without Udo Dirkschneider, what's the point? Bring on the funk.
Sunday, May 8
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Lucinda Williams - International Festival Tower of Power - House of Blues
TOP has been delivering serious funk pretty well under the radar for years and years, just as Williams has remained outside the country mainstream, but that is where the comparisons end. We have a healthy respect for both, but even with our wild mood swings, we wouldn't want "Down to the Nightclub (Bump City)" shuffling right after "Broken Butterflies" in iTunes.
Winner: Lucinda Williams
We aren't big on the festival environment for artists like Williams. Frankly, we think these venues should be switched, but we'll take her any way we can get her.