Along with the season of shopping madness and suicidal depression comes the season for Best-ofs. Live show-wise, 2010 was very benevolent to Lonesome Onry and Mean. Some of our favorites from 2010:
11. Jon Cleary, The Big Easy: Cleary put on a New Orleans rock and roll clinic at this jam-packed show. The rolling thunder of the 88s was joyously deafening. Seriously, we left the Drive By Truckers show to catch this one -- and are damned glad we did. Cleary doesn't come our way near often enough.
10. Toots and The Maytals, House of Blues: At 65, most musicians are ready for the nursing home or the psych ward, but Toots Hibbert just keeps rocking. Looking more like 50 than 65, the garlic-munching Hibbert powered through nearly every hit he ever had like a weightlifting champion and was still revving it up when the curtain fell. Loved the dummy in the front row trying to light his pipe right in front of security. Somebody slap that fool.
9. Cowboy Junkies, House of Blues: HOB is known for its yakking, fidgety crowds, but it didn't take Margo Timmons and her mates long to silence the joint to the point of reverence. Keeping things mostly uptempo, this notoriously downbeat band gave one of the most emotionally satisfying performances of the year, ending with their epic "Murder in the Trailer Park."
8. Los Skarnales, Discovery Green: Ten years ago, no one ever thought we'd be watching these perennial bad boys do a family show. Kids onstage, love flowing from audience to band and back to the audience, this one had a beautiful, peaceful Houston community aura around it.
7. Warpaint, Walter's on Washington: We didn't know what to expect from these L.A. pretty girls, but they brought fine musicianship and lots of rock attitude to this packed show that also featured Buxton and Akron/Family. This was a super-stout three-band bill.
6. Vivian Girls, The Mink: These Jersey girls took no prisoners as they played an uncivilizedly late show on a Monday night. Melted faces. Too bad they seem to be splintering already.
5. Vince Gill, Mark Germino, Tony Arata, Crighton Theater: Maybe the best writers-in-the-round we've ever witnessed. Picking songs from deep in their monstrous catalogs, these old warhorses just kept trying to top each other. You could've heard a pin drop in that place.
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4. The Knitters, Continental Club: We're not the biggest Knitters fans by a long shot; something about John Doe and Exene Cervenka's country singing doesn't always compute for us, but this show was incendiary thanks to Dave Alvin. Preferring to remain in the sideman shadows, Alvin turned it to 11 and just blew the room away.
3. Chuck Prophet, Continental Club: We confess to being huge Prophet fans. This was a jaw-dropping lesson in the possibilities that still exist with rock and roll.
2. Hacienda, Under the Volcano: The only time we reached for earplugs all year, these San Antonio rockers, fresh off a year with Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach, overpowered the crowd and the room in making their Houston debut. Theses guys are going to be huge.
1. Shinyribs, Under the Volcano: After a six-month hiatus from his rowdy monthly residency, Gourds front man Kevin Russell packed the room with fans hungry for their fix of Shinyribs' country funkadelic soul. Biggest crowd ever at the Bissonnet lounge's tasteful Wednesday music series.