Hot-Rodding with the Top Down

SAT 1/3

"No, we're not that Dragstrippers," sighs Blake Johnston, leader of the Houston-based DragStrippers, which shares its handle, if not its capitalization, with the Detroit punk band. "We still have a mutual stand-off with those other guys," he says. "I think we'll both keep using the name until somebody gets famous. But hey, those guys are fat." What started out as a music writer's ill-advised search for the Detroit band ended up with a phone call from Johnston, leader of the local rockers with an equal penchant for big engines and the alluring chicks of Rigid Tool calendars. While the Motown band has a booze-fueled MC5 thing going on, the recently revitalized Texas quartet combines punkish cock-rawk power chords, solid vocal work and off-kilter takes on the guy-meets-girl saga -- with a Judas Priest-meets-Annie Lennox version of the Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again" thrown in for good measure. The DragStrippers features brothers Blake and Kyle Johnston on guitars and vocals, bassist David Boyd, and veteran Houston scenesters Charles Trublood on lead guitar and Gaz Rhodes on drums. The group has gigged sporadically along the I-10 corridor since 1995, first as the Confabs, and then as the DragStrippers, the name that appeared on the band's five-song Topless Fuel EP in 2000. Above all else, our DragStrippers don't take themselves too seriously, as indicated by a touching line from Topless Fuel: "I'm number one with a bullet on her shit list." The DragStrippers appear with Daylight Titans and Trashcan Punch at 9 p.m. Saturday, January 3. Rhythm Room, 1815 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-863-0943 or visit $8. -- Greg Barr



My twentysomething cousin from Kentucky came to visit for the holidays. She said she had a taste for Italian, and once I realized she was talking about food, I took her for a drink and some appetizers at Michelangelo's (307 Westheimer, 713-524-7836). I have to say, she looked like a cheap whore from a two-bit traveling circus in her secondhand clothes and thick eye shadow. We took a table near the door, just in case the whole thing backfired and I needed to catch a cab in a hurry. I looked up and for the first time noticed some lady playing the piano. A minute later, a waiter asked what we wanted to drink. "Midori sours were a hit at my third wedding," she said. We sat there power-sipping our cocktails, having about as much to talk about as an old married couple. "Do you think you'll be going back to Kentucky sometime soon?" I asked her for what seemed like the 20th time. "What's carpaccio?" was her only response. Two more drinks were placed in front of us. I had the sudden urge to run into the middle of traffic. But then the mood changed, and soon we were making plans for New Year's Eve.

2 ounces Midori melon liqueur
1 ounce lime sour mix

Combine ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Mix vigorously and pour contents into glassware. Drink wisely. -- J.W. Crooker

Doctor in the Warehouse

TUE 1/6

DJ Kool Emdee makes Tuesday nights at Industry Café come alive. His dancehall riddims and trippy old-school hip-hop keep the warehouse quaking. Emdee, as he's known on the incense-and-oils/house-party/spoken-word scene, is the resident DJ for the band Zin, but he can rock the house all by his lonesome with his witty mixes and feel for the dance floor. Just when you think the clock on the wall says that's all, y'all, here he'll come with another jam from the past, and another one and another one. And the beat don't stop until the break of dawn, or at least until the owners kick everyone out. 9 p.m. Tuesdays. 2110 Rusk. For information, call 713-222-2233. $5. -- Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc

Through the Pint Glass

The pub has an exceptionally rich tradition in the UK, where "public houses" have been serving their regulars' needs for centuries with brew and unpretentious grub. Now Houston has its own publican, or pub owner, who recently relocated to our fair city. Craig Mallinson has imported the atmosphere and the menu to go along with the stouts and ales of the olde country at his new Red Lion Pub. Warning: Fish and chips are available only on Fridays, when the fresh cod is flown in from England. 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays; noon to 2 a.m. Fridays through Sundays. 2316 South Shepherd. For information, call 713-782-3030. Free. -- Lisa Simon

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