The 10 Best Shows in Houston This Weekend: Flamin' Groovies, John Legend, Tom Jones, etc.
El Dorado Ballroom Dedication El Dorado Ballroom May 2 & 3 (dedication)
It seems like Houston has remembered it even has a history only very recently, so it must be making up for lost time now. Less than five years since the Lightnin' Hopkins Texas Historical Marker was erected on the grounds of Project Row Houses in Third Ward, the Texas Historical Commission has announced another for the El Dorado Ballroom around the corner. Erected in 1939, the El Dorado hosted the top touring names in jazz, blues and R&B during its heyday from the '40s through the '70s -- Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, Etta James and many more -- but remains a working venue and important neighborhood gathering spot even today.
Friday, that old El Dorado magic will materialize thanks to Houston traditional blues duo Milton Hopkins and Jewel Brown, while the dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday will be followed by another concert in nearby Dupree Park featuring local progressive-soul group The Hue and DJ SoulOne. There's even a SLAB parade, because H-Town knows how to do these things in style. See projectrowhouses.com for more details. CHRIS GRAY
Nikki Hill/Candye Kane/Kim Lenz Continental Club, May 2-4
Hosting three of the most dynamic women in roots music on three consecutive nights seems like it must be part of some kind of festival, but in this case it's just a happy coincidence. Leading off is the return of North Carolina R&B spitfire Nikki Hill, whose March appearance behind debut LP Here's Nikki Hill is still being buzzed about on Mid-Main.
It's been a little longer than that since Candye Kane has been through here, and the jazz-blues diva (now bravely battling pancreatic cancer) went the '40s route on last year's Comin' Out Swingin', recently earning a Blues Foundation nomination for Contemporary Female Artist. Rounding out the weekend is Dallas native Kim Lenz, auburn-haired doyenne of the '90s rockabilly revival who last year did her best Veronica Lake on the cover of her first album in four years, Follow Me. CHRIS GRAY
Flamin' Groovies House of Blues, May 3
More or less the flagship band for Little Steven's Underground Garage, San Francisco's Flamin' Groovies have been flying the flag for unruly, melodic, fuzz-clouded garage-rock for almost 50 years. Though never even close to breaking through to mainstream rock audiences, the Groovies left a profound mark on solo musicians (Dave Edmunds, Jack White) and bands (the Stooges, Cheap Trick) alike.
Fading into legend by the early '80s, the Groovies were jump-started last year when founding members Cyril Jordan and George Alexander reunited with longtime Groovies singer Chris Wilson (who replaced original howler Roy Loney) and drummer Victor Penaloa to give it another go, which led to this unlikely tour and new music on the way. With Muck & the Mires and Mikey & the Dragz. CHRIS GRAY
The Faint Warehouse Live, May 3
When they appeared in the early 2000s, the Faint almost seemed from a different planet. Their all-black Anne Rice getup was better-suited for some London or L.A. goth club than their native Omaha, while their arch synth-rock was way out of step with hyper-earnest Saddle Creek labelmates like Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley.
Still, 2001 LP Danse Macabre became an important record in the then-burgeoning post-punk revival - which led to bands like Bastille and Imagine Dragons - and the Faint lasted most of the decade as avatars of an especially icy brand of hipster cool. Largely silent since then, this month they re-emerged from whatever crypt they had stashed themselves with ambitious new album Doom Abuse. With Reptar and Solid Goldberg. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
John Legend at RodeoHouston, 2012
Photo by Marco Torres
John Legend Cullen Performance Hall, May 4
Rumor has it that John Legend's moniker was born from the ashes of a barbershop conversation, in which the artist (born John Roger Stephens) was told that with that voice, he'd be known as a legend one day. That barber may have been right. Legend's 2004 debut, Get Lifted, was a platinum monster, thanks in no small part to the success of the hit "Ordinary People," which earned the singer-songwriter-pianist a number of Grammys.
Legend took a while to catch fire again, as 2008 Andre 3000 duet "Green Light" and 2010's album-length collaboration with the Roots, Wake Up!, met with only moderate commercial success. However, his new single "All of Me" has proven to be radio gold, launching Legend back on top where he belongs. ANGELICA LEICHT
Tom Jones House of Blues, May 4
You can almost hear the screaming already. Vegas via Wales comes to Houston for the first time in who knows how long with this rare visit by the unmistakable voice behind "Thunderball," "It's Not Unusual," "What's New, Pussycat?", "Delilah" and the best Prince cover ever recorded. Since even before the Beatles, Jones's stout baritone has been driving audiences mad in a way not seen since Elvis, and not just women, either -- you could ask Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, were he not a fictional character.
More recently Jones has been a judge on the UK version of The Voice since 2012 but almost never tours, making this Sunday one special night indeed. Care to venture an over/under on the number of panties onstage by show's end? CHRIS GRAY
TWO MORE SHOWS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER By Chris Gray
Red Cat Jazz Festival: Salty Gulf breezes and only the smoothest jazz, featuring Al Jarreau, Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Marian Meadows, Miki Howard, and a special tribute to local luminary Ronnie Laws' 50 years in the biz. Gates open at noon; see redcatjazz.com for more. (Oleander Bowl, Moody Gardens, May 2-4)
W&W: Super-sleek Dutch EDM duo should draw a huge crowd. (Stereo Live, May 3)
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.