Friday Free For All: NYCQ, Tommy Stinson, Cassette Store Day, Sizzla, Spirit of '78

Note: The recently retooled Friday Free For All is the Music Editor's attempt to purge his notebook of selected Houston-related musical happenings he hopes may pique readers' interest.

Ending a year-long hiatus the band abruptly announced at last year’s Untapped Festival, New York City Queens recently premiered their first new song in more than four years on Free Press Houston’s website. “Coming Up Daisies” reveals the Burn Out Like Roman Candles band’s soft-focus production, keen melodic instincts and slightly detached tone are all intact, although the tune offers little insight into the circumstances surrounding their absence beyond “if you’re better off/ show me a better plan.” Thus far the band, among the more admired local indie acts of the decade, has been coy on any future plans, recently offering up the prospects of a reunion gig to their Facebook fans. You may not be terribly surprised at the results.

Graciously stepping aside for original bassist Duff McKagan, Tommy Stinson exited Guns N’ Roses earlier this year after 16 years of maintaining the low end for Axl Rose’s high-maintenance outfit with the kind of upbeat attitude that led Salon to recently declare him “the most positive man in rock and roll.” Himself the original bassist for legendary hot-mess '80s rockers the Replacements, whom he joined before his teenage years (and when the group still went by “Dogbreath”), Stinson – no relation to Houston honky-tonk wordsmith Mike Stinson, except in spirit – walked away from that band’s 2015 reunion tour with a clutch of new songs he had written. In short order, he recruited several friends to record them; rebooted his first post-Mats band, Bash & Pop; signed to Fat Possum Records; and headed out with his pal Chip Roberts to road-test his new material at unusual venues on an acoustic outing he calls “Cowboys In the Campfire.” Apparently his other stops include places like boot stores, but in Houston tonight, Cactus will have to do; note that this is a full-length concert that begins after the store closes for the day. Sign up to pre-order the new B&P album via Pledge Music and, among other incentives, you might win a chance for Stinson to preside at your wedding. (Sire/Reprise will also reissue their 1993 debut, Friday Night Is Killing Me, on vinyl in January.) Tickets for tonight are available here.

As far as antiquated listening media goes, cassettes have yet to slice back into the music-sales market the way that vinyl has, but not for lack of trying on their advocates’ behalf. The struggle continues Saturday at Cactus Music, which will celebrate its third Cassette Store Day by granting Jessica Baldauf, proprietress of the eminently discerning Miss Champagne Records (Black Kite, The Wiggins), control of the stage; she has in turn arranged for Ruiner, Pitter Patter, and Greg Cote and the Real Friends to tickle your eardrums. Since you’ll already be there, it would be hard to pass up the special offers below:

We don’t write about reggae all that often, perhaps not as much as we should, but bona fide reggae superstars don’t come to Houston all that much, either. Bob Marley scion Stephen was here back in July, yes, but for local Rasta-loving types, Sizzla’s appearance this Saturday night at Sienna Hall (11916 Bissonnet) qualifies as a bona fide event. The controversial 40-year-old singer may be obscure to mainstream audiences, but not to those who have heard one of his more than 70 albums (including 1997 breakthrough Black Woman and Child), or those who have lobbed charges of homophobia at him because of the lyrics of songs like “Nah Apologize” and “Murder Dem,” a stigma that made it difficult for Sizzla to secure an American work visa until this past March. Sizzla (a.k.a. Sizzla Kalonji, born Miguel Collins) usually opts to answer his critics through his music rather than the media, as in these lines from “Dem a Wonder”: “We are immune to criticism we know not grudge/ we face the challenge and harness the power of love.” This tour marks his first time in the States in eight years, so fans have undoubtedly been dying to hear “I’m Living,” “Just One of Those Days,” “Thank You Mamma,” “Woman I Need You” and scores of his other, more conciliatory dancehall hits, while those who have never seen him live may be curious to find out why reggaeville.com called Sizzla “arguably the most popular conscious reggae artist of his time.” Thanks to Don Taylor of long-running local reggae outfit Brains for Dinner for tipping us to the show. Find tickets at this link.

Finally, Houston’s most beloved batcave, Numbers Nightclub, breaks out the champagne Saturday to celebrate its 38th anniversary in fiendish style, with scads of giveaways, $2 well drinks until 11 p.m., and music by DJs Wes, Mina and vvJames. We’ll close with a few of the more salient alternative hits of 1978; never mind that Numbers still had a few years before it came by that name we all know and love.

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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