Bayou City

Shows of the Week: The Man Who Has Still Never Been Rocked Enough

Nothing Personal: Delbert McClinton
Nothing Personal: Delbert McClinton Photo by Todd V. Wolfson/Courtesy of All Eyes Media
Heights Theater, September 1
In the course of his 45-year recording career, Delbert McClinton’s album titles scan like a record of parties enjoyed, relationships consumed, tribulations endured and maybe a few sharp elbows thrown along the way: Victim of Life’s Circumstances, Keeper of the Flame, Never Been Rocked Enough, Cost of Living, Nothing Personal, and so forth. Anyone who has seen the Fort Worth native in concert would testify his has indeed been a life well lived, and he leaves precious little on the stage. Almost from the outset, McClinton forged early rock and roll, honky-tonk and a little New Orleans ooh-poo-pah-doo into a twangy, roguish brand of rhythm and blues that doesn’t skimp on either, and belongs only to him. It still does. Now 76, he’s in fine form on last year’s salty and soulful Prick of the Litter (Hot Shot Records), its only real concession to age a newfound emphasis on lounge-style swing that suits McClinton as well as a nicely rumpled dinner jacket. With Kree Harrison.

Arena Theater, September 1
The Mexican psyche is made up of two halves, one being the loud, vibrant, and sometimes brash peacock in the room who flourishes with attention. The other is softer, more introspective and caring, naturally beautiful with a kind heart. Julieta Venegas embodies that second set of ideals. She's a talented singer-songwriter who deals with love and life in a delicate but profound manner, more poetic than practical and yet deeply rooted in human emotion. Her songs such as “Lento,” “Me Voy” and “Eres Para Mi” simultaneously create new worlds for us to dance in while at the same time reminding us of our own romantic reality. Also an accomplished accordion player and guitarist, she has become one of the elite composers in Latin American pop, rock and folk music as her collaborations with accomplished artists such as Gustavo Santaolalla, Natalia LaFourcade, Erique Bunbury, and Los Tigres Del Norte have added to her popularity and career. As good as she is on record, though, Venegas’s live shows are famous for being transcendent, fun and full of life. MARCO TORRES

House of Blues, September 2
One by one, Buddy Guy’s friends and onetime peers have passed away, leaving the 81-year-old singer, guitarist and club owner as the last major American bluesman of his generation. Bittersweet as that thought may be, you’d never guess just by watching Guy in concert; the work of a peerless showman, these string-bending, sweat-soaked marathons would test the stamina of men half his age. That’s what it takes just to touch on the highlights from the Louisiana-born Guy’s prodigious catalog, records that profoundly influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones to Gary Clark Jr. — early Chess sides backing the likes of Muddy Waters; Play the Blues, his seminal 1972 pairing with fellow Chess alum and wicked harp-blower Junior Wells; roaring late-‘80s comeback Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues; and latter-day Grammy winners like 2015’s Born to Play Guitar. Guy is pretty much the closest thing we’ve got to a one-man history of the blues, and its legacy couldn’t be in better hands. With Quinn Sullivan.

Continental Club, September 2
Archie Bell hadn’t released an album in 25 years, but now that he has, there’s no reason not to pull out all the stops. Entitled There’s Gonna Be a Showdown Again, the record — produced by engineering ace Andy Bradley and recorded entirely at Houston’s Wire Road Studios — is an obvious callback to his 1969 LP There’s Gonna Be a Showdown, released the year after Bell and the Drells (and, lest anyone forget, the TSU Toronadoes) gave America “Tighten Up,” a.k.a. the nation’s biggest dance craze since the Twist. The song has been the cornerstone of Bell’s repertoire ever since, so of course it reappears on his new album, folded into a duet-medley with “Treat Her Right” singer and fellow Mr. Excitement Roy Head. Featuring guitars by another Houston-area musical legend, the late great Kenny Cordray, Showdown also boasts three duets with country crooner Mickey Gilley and several songs from Bell’s days as a top hitmaker at Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, the pivotal Philly label that coined the “TSOP” sound which in many ways paved the way for disco. Nearly a half-century on, Bell’s signature thousand-watt grin hasn’t dimmed in the slightest, nor has his contagious musical energy.
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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