Talk about multiple personalities. In the past year, I've seen the Road Kings' Jesse Dayton do his singer-songwriter-in-the-round thing at the Mucky Duck with Hayes Carll and John Evans, blow the swingin' doors off the hinges at both the Houston and Austin Continental Clubs with his tear-ass overdrive honky-tonk ensemble, and introduce his latest album, Country Soul Brother, with a genre-blending big-band show that came complete with a jazzy brass section and keyboards. But it was his torrid Road Kings reunion show at the Continental on June 12 that sticks in my mind as the highlight of the year. More than anything else, that show proved forever what a lying simplification it was to label the Road Kings a rockabilly band. Yeah, they styled themselves with the standard-issue rolled-up jeans, black T-shirts and Gene Vincent pompadours. Yeah, their gig posters and album covers were replete with all the hepcat sin-and-danger symbols like playing cards, dice and hotrods. But image to the contrary, the Road Kings no more sound like Ronnie Dawson or Carl Perkins or Benny Joy than Kenny Chesney sounds like Hank Williams or Ernest Tubb. No, as that show proved, the Road Kings are a rock band, and a big, loud, in-your-face, honking damned innovative one at that. -- William Michael Smith
Saturday, January 8, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.
Road Kings, Elefant with Jimmy Eat World and Reuben's Accomplice, Wayne "The Train" Hancock
Elefant with Jimmy Eat World and Reuben's Accomplice
Scattered in with Linkin Park and Green Day on any modern-rock radio station are the infectiously groovy, hip bands like Interpol and Elefant. The former are clearly more popular and mainstream, but the latter have been seeping into it. Thanks to Elefant's obviously simple and catchy riffs, the two-year-old Detroit-based band has been getting substantial airplay with "How I Miss Her." Thanks to their good looks and clean, danceable pop songs, Elefant has become another one of those "it" bands, with gothy, dull vocals, general 4/4 beats and hand-me-down guitar techniques that we've all heard before. It makes sense that they're now sharing the bill with the white-bread Jimmy Eat World, another former "indie" band whose hit "Pain" helped it land a gig playing the posh MTV New Year's party. This may be your last chance to join the herd and hear them at a mid-size venue. -- Travis Ritter
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Wednesday, January 12, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 713-526-6551.
Wayne "The Train" Hancock
So you just spent a hellish week at your relatives' house, and you drank more than you should have on New Year's. Now you're back into the mechanized workweek. What a drag. That's no way to bring in the New Year. Fortunately, Austin-based vagabond country artist Wayne "The Train" Hancock is chugging into town on Friday to keep the fun coming. His traditional-sounding songs take on lone open roads, excessive drinking and distant love, and his twangy, "ah gee" voice makes you believe that you're hearing an updated and livid Hank Williams Sr. In fact, it remains some of the most earnest, honest and timeless country music being produced. He's a fixture at the Continental Club, playing there five or so times a year, so his shows are always homely and warm, giving everyone a reason to relax and throw back a few cold ones. Hearing him is much better than listening to Grandma's stories anyhow. -- Travis Ritter
Friday, January 7, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.