The Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Jill Scott, David Grissom, Robbie Fulks & Redd Volkaert, Jonathan Tyler, etc.
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records
Bayou Music Center, August 12
Jill Scott confirmed her status as one of R&B’s leading ladies when her last album, 2011’s The Light of the Sun, went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, powered by her hit duet with Anthony Hamilton, “So In Love.” It was a long climb to the top for the Philadelphia native, co-author of the Roots’ “You Got Me” although it’s Erykah Badu’s voice you hear on the group's 1999 hit. However, the next year’s debut Who Is Jill Scott? — produced by another Philly legend, DJ Jazzy Jeff himself — answered that question resoundingly: a confident, funny singer, gifted both verbally and vocally, who seamlessly incorporated her background as a spoken-word poet even as her music flowed freely between jazz, classic soul, hip-hop, funk and gospel. Also an actress who has appeared in everything from Broadway plays, Tyler Perry movies and the lead role in HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Scott jumped from Warner Bros. to Atlantic for last month’s Woman, but fans didn’t seem to mind the switch — or the four-year layoff — when it became her second No. 1 album in a row.
Under the Volcano, August 12
Every Texas music fan has his or her own favorite guitarist (probably several), but David Grissom's name doesn't come up in that conversation often enough. True, he has plenty of fans who remember when his technically flawless but passionate fretwork anchored Joe Ely's legendary Live at Liberty Lunch-era band or, later, Storyville. But even those people may not realize he was the musical director of the Dixie Chicks' 2003 "Top of the World" tour, or that between Ely and Storyville he did three records and the concordant tours with John Mellencamp. More recently, Grissom guested on Buddy Guy's 2011 LP Living Proof and has been crafting solo albums such as last year's How it Feels to Fly, giving him an opportunity to bring his arena-level talents (and electric band) to cozy West U bar Under the Volcano.
JB & the Moonshine Band
Dosey Doe Music Cafe, August 13
JB & the Moonshine Band is fully stocked with God and guns, the kind of guys who got saved at age five but still check in weekends at the county jail, and indeed called their first two albums Ain’t Goin’ Back to Jail and Beer For Breakfast. The Tyler quartet can go for the Yeti-packing hellraiser crowd (“Light It Up”) as good as anybody out there, but are equally skilled at pitching woo (“Mixtape,” the title track to their brand-new third LP) or asking the eternal question, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Even so, what elevates Mixtape to the cream of the recent Texas-country crop are side-two cuts “Shotgun, Rifle & a .45,” sobriety anthem “Wagon” and “Where’s Woody Guthrie?” — songs that reveal JB and company are armed to the teeth not only with ammunition, but principles.
Robbie Fulks, Redd Volkaert
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, August 13
Thursday is the wrong night to play “Stump the Band.” Chicago’s Robbie Fulks has been a linchpin of alt-country since the mid-‘90s thanks to albums like Country Love Songs and Couples In Trouble, but before his sharp-witted songs like “Every Kind of Music But Country” and “Took a Lot of Pills and Died” made him a sort of H.L. Mencken with a twang, he learned the songwriting trade inside and out — most pointedly, what not to do — as a Music Row staff writer, he spent several years polishing his fretboard (not a euphemism) in the rarefied Special Consensus bluegrass band. His stage partner Thursday needs no introduction for anyone well-versed in Telecaster lore: Redd Volkaert’s flyin’ fingers have backed up Merle Haggard, Dale Watson, Bill Kirchen’s Twangbangers and too many other country legends to mention. He’s also the six-string slayer of Heybale!, the Austin honky-tonk mainstays whose longstanding Sunday-night Continental Club gig has many a two-stepper dreading Monday morning.
Photo by Lindsay Lohden/Courtesy of HBPR
Dosey Doe, August 13
Former rock next big thing Jonathan Tyler has just moved back to his native Dallas from California, and is adjusting to life after a major label after things didn’t quite work out with 2010 Atlantic debut Pardon Me. The album failed to catch fire but Tyler got caught up in the rock and roll whirlwind anyway; he even lost the naming rights to his now-former backing band, the Northern Lights, along the way. But on followup LP Holy Smokes, released last week, Tyler makes up for lost time by adding plenty of old-fashioned life experience to his sizzling latter-day electric blues-rock. He crows “I got saved” on soul-surging opener “Hallelujah,” duets with Nashville bad girl Nikki Lane on the Townes Van Zandt classic “To Live’s to Fly,” and rears back for good-time romps like the Faces-esque “Honey Pie” and Zep stomper “Riverbottom.” Rock and roll loves a good redemption song, and Holy Smokes is full of them.
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