An Open Letter to Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Jenny Lewis and the Heartless Bastards

Dear Eric, Steve, Jenny and Heartless Bastards (and all your band members),

First of all, Rocks Off would like to welcome you back to Houston. We'd apologize about the heat, but hey, it's Texas in June. Just be glad you weren't routed through here six or eight weeks from now.

Mostly, we'd just like to thank you all for making tonight one of the biggest rock and roll evenings to hit our not-so-little bayou burg in a long time. As you may (or may not) have heard, Houston doesn't come up very often when people start talking about go-to music cities. But we do all right.

We're usually pretty happy to let that particular spotlight shine on places like Austin, Dallas (and Denton), Chicago, Nashville and L.A. - keeps the hipsters at bay, you know. It's allowed a diverse, creative and close-knit local scene to sprout without giving much thought to who may or may not be getting signed by Sub Pop or Merge or who blogs like Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan are drooling over at the moment. It's remarkably liberating, but we digress.

Still, Houston's comparative obscurity means most nights we're lucky to have one grade-A roadshow in town. Tonight, we've got three. That's kind of why we're writing this letter actually. Regretfully, Rocks Off will be unable to join you at your concerts this evening, because we'll be seeing Roky Erickson at the Continental Club. But Houston's a friendly place, so we'd like to invite you to join us once your own shows are over.

Although approximately 99 percent of Houstonians have no clue who Roky or the Thirteenth Floor Elevators are, we're fairly certain this is not the case with you. Eric and Steve, as fellow children of the '60s - not to mention as people who know their way around a psychedelic blues lick or two - we'd bet the ranch you're familiar with "You're Gonna Miss Me." Bet you may even remember Liberty Hall and Love Street Light Circus (right), where the Elevators had several of their early freak-outs, too.

If you don't, your buddy Billy Gibbons can tell you all about them. If ZZ Top wasn't playing Pittsburgh with Aerosmith tonight, we know he'd be at the Continental dusting off a few Moving Sidewalks songs with Roky.

Jenny, your milieu is more the dulcet intersection of country, soul and indie-rock, and you do it beautifully, but Rocks Off is likewise willing to bet you've bought The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators or Easter Everywhere at Amoeba Records out there in L.A., or maybe heard "Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)" at some Echo Park party. Also, if you're looking for a choice cover for some compilation or something, your voice would sound positively divine on Roky's tender ballad "Starry Eyes."

As for you, Heartless Bastards, since you already spend a good amount of time in Austin, and you played Roky's Ice Cream Social at Threadgill's World Headquarters, we know we don't have to tell you why you might want to show up after you're done up there at Warehouse Live.

But we really hope at least some of you can join us at the Continental this evening. The thought of Eric and Steve getting freaky on "Reverberation (Doubt)" or "Splash 1," or Bastards singer Erika Wennerstrom maybe duetting with Roky on "Stand for the Fire Demon," or Jenny crooning "I Have Always Been Here Before" gives us goosebumps.

We know that once you're done tonight you'll probably be anxious to get to wherever your next show is. But hey, the Rolling Stones' entourage stopped by the Continental after their Toyota Center show in December 2005, and that worked out pretty well.

Hope to see you there.


Rocks Off

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray