DJ Sun The Flat, April 1
Now that some of the well-deserved publicity surrounding DJ Sun's first-ever full-length release, One Hundred, has subsided a little, his true accomplishment on the disc seems even more impressive. In the span of 70 minutes, he pours his 20-plus-year career as one of Houston's most in-demand DJs into a seamless work that never lulls, never lags and maintains an unshakably mellow groove throughout.
But then, One Hundred's intricately laid-back latticework should come as no surprise to anyone lucky enough to have met the man. Among his multitude of weekly gigs, Sun's long-running Monday residency at the Flat is probably the most chill environment to glimpse this true turntable craftsman at work.
John Egan The Big Easy, April 1
Earlier this year, John Egan competed at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where the Houston kinda-acoustic bluesman advanced to the semifinal round of 28 -- so by that reckoning, Egan is one of the Top 30 solo acts of his kind in the world. "Perhaps I was too edgy for the finals?" Egan quipped on Facebook. "All in all it was a great trip and a lot of fun."
He won't be too edgy for his Monday-night residency, which has already allowed him to whip up a new batch of songs to go along with the ones on last year's excellent Phantoms. On April 20, Egan will join like-minded local guitarist the Mighty Orq at Cactus Music for a Record Store Day tribute to the late Lightnin' Hopkins in conjunction with the late Timothy J. O'Brien and David Ensminger's new book on Hopkins, Mojo Hand.
Mike Stinson Under the Volcano, April 3
Mike Stinson is dangerous, the kind of songwriter who can upend the way you see the world with a single line, and whose lean, mean rock and roll machine of a band usually starts at a Chuck Berry gallop and goes from there. They can crank it so hard, in fact, it's entirely possible to miss all the diamond-tipped rejoinders, double entendres, aphorisms and the occasional outright burn that litter Stinson's songs, and make him one of the wickedest lyricists around today.
Stinson is also equally prolific, so while he sorts out what to do about releasing his first album since 2010's The Jukebox In Your Heart, more recently written tunes such as "City I Love" (an equally enamored sequel to "Died and Gone to Houston," his mash note to his adopted hometown) and "You Don't Get Nothin' Done" have been showing up on YouTube not long after his gigs.
Paul Ramirez Band Continental Club, April 3
A weekly gig is about the best way for guitarists to hone their craft, and Houston's Paul Ramirez has done just that Wednesday nights at the Continental for more than a year now. It paid off last year with Sex With a Dragon, his debut CD that throws in a little Santana and New Orleans R&B into Ramirez's stick-to-your-ribs Texas blues-rock and shows some salty reverence towards Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." Dragon breathes enough fire that it doesn't wilt when held up to the gold standard of recent Lone Star guitarslinger offerings, Gary Clark Jr.'s Blak and Blu.
Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man Big Top Lounge, April 4
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Easily, the most Houston album of 2012 was Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man's Bridges & Bayous. "We move from one side to the other as we grow up, we start moving around the city, we move around with our families, people move out of the house and move on," Gaitan told us when Bayous was released last May. "I was focusing on a city in motion, where bridges and bayous are part of our lives."