Only in Houston

Houston may be home to ten trillion tribute bands aping everybody from Pat Benatar to Pantera, but even with not one but two Concert Pubs giving the people what they want on a weekly basis, there's not a lot of opportunity out there to hear a local group covering more offbeat acts like Air or Nile Rodgers. The fine folks over at Fitzgerald's are setting out to change that this Saturday — and they're doing it for a good cause.

Pegstar, the local promoters behind Free Press Summer Festival and the partial owners and operators of the historic Heights club, are turning eight of their favorite local bands into the city's hippest tribute acts for one night only on March 22. H-Town faves Featherface and New York City Queens will be appearing as Big Star and Tears for Fears, respectively, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The goal will be to raise $10,000 with one show to benefit Be the Match, an organization that has created the world's largest marrow registry in the fight against life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

The event is the brainchild of Pegstar head man Jagi Katial, a helpful way of getting back to his roots in the local scene. Katial originally caught the promoting bug by assisting some musician pals organize a Red Cross benefit in the aftermath of 9/11. Pegstar was born soon after.

"Since that first show, we've always been involved if someone needed some tickets to raffle, a promotion of an event, or someone to sponsor; we've been there," Katial says. "But since our first one, we've never really put together a benefit show. So it's long overdue."

Even with Fitzgerald's at their disposal, Pegstar couldn't do it alone, of course. Bands would have to donate their time and energy as well. That's why Katial started emailing a few of his most trusted local performers and pitching the idea of their slipping into someone else's skin for an evening.

"I thought it would be a good idea to try to get all of them to take on the persona of a different band, to give their fans a different experience than what they're used to," the promoter says. "We want to kind of make the whole night stand out as something unique, and compel people to come out and support, because it's not just a regular show."

Indeed, we're not likely to see Rivers trying on the catalog of the White Stripes or Midnight Norma Lane appearing as the Smashing Pumpkins again anytime soon, particularly for $10 per ticket. But Katial says that the Be the Match benefit is only the beginning of Pegstar's charitable plans.

"The goal is to do two of these a year: one in March, and one in September, right around the anniversary of Fitzgerald's," he says. "And each time, we'd like to get a local business to do a matching contribution to the money that's raised by the show. We're trying to tie in local businesses to get more of the community involved.

"I'm looking forward to moving to a place where the artists that are playing make suggestions, we get a list of charities going and hit 'em all, one by one," he adds. "I wouldn't be opposed to doing one every quarter, or more often. If the fans are willing to support it, we're willing to do more of them."

And we're more than willing to write about more of them, so here's hoping that the first show in what's being billed as the Fitz Benefit Show Series is a resounding success. And just in case somebody's taking suggestions out there, how about Venomous Maximus as AC/DC next time?

The benefit for Be the Match, featuring Featherface, Rivers, New York City Queens, Midnight Norma Lane and more, is this Saturday at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. Doors open at 8 p.m.; see fitzlivemusic for details.

Classic Rock Corner

Emotionally Yours
Bob Dylan's pivotal 30th-anniversary concert gets the deluxe treatment.

Bob Ruggiero

'Thanks, Bob! Thanks for having Bob Fest!" Neil Young enthuses at one point during his set at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert.

And though methinks that the October 1992 show at Madison Square Garden paying tribute to the Bard of Hibbing was due more to the planning of Columbia Records than the honoree himself, the megastar-studded event found a wide swath of performers covering Dylan's deep songbook.

It was capped off by a solo and collaborative set from the man himself, and is now available again in a two-CD/two-DVD-Blu-ray Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration — Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy). As VH-1's Bill Flanagan offers in the liner notes, what "could have been a last waltz instead turned out to be rock and roll's greatest halftime show."

And indeed, starting with a fete that might have been a career-capper for most artists, Dylan — unpredictably, as usual — instead has gone on to make vital new music and performed hundreds of shows on his Never Ending Tour in the ensuing 20-plus years.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith