Shows of the Week: A New Holiday Tradition at Houston's Newest Venue

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Heights Theater, December 23
In Texas, Christmastime means tamales, Robert Earl Keen, and now some serious San Antonio-spawned conjunto rock and roll taking over the Heights Theater’s dance floor in what Houstonians can only hope becomes a new holiday tradition. It couldn’t be off to a better start than with a set from Los Texmaniacs, the Grammy winners for 2009’s Borders y Bailes led by one of the most dynamic bajo sexto players of his generation in Max Baca. Joining the Maniacs as special guests will be are two legendary Texas Tornadoes, dapper accordion maestro Flaco Jimenez and “Hey Baby, Que Paso?” Vox organ grinder Augie Meyers; and roadhouse bluesman Johnny Nicholas, onetime member of Asleep at the Wheel and more recently the singing proprietor of Fredericksburg’s Hill Top Cafe. A most Feliz Navidad should be had by all.

Walters Downtown, December 23
Walters has a lot to celebrate this time of year. It’s been five years since the club relocated to the near-wilderness just north of UH-Downtown, a time span that has seen it become a hub of Houston’s busy DIY scene (even adding its own in-house record store). Saluting owner Zack Palmer and his team in style will be Gwarrissey, the area’s leading costume-clad Smiths/Morrissey tribute band, whose sweet sadness should be extra acute considering their hero recently pulled out of his first Houston show since 2009 twice in six weeks. Warming up the stage, if not burning it down, will be the motorcycle-jacketed menace of Poizon, the grease-stained guitar army featuring members of Fatal Flying Guilloteens, Sugar Shack, Black Coffee and Secret Prostitutes; and the dependably snotty sounds of Talk Sick Brats, the H-Town punk standbys who will be spewing songs from this summer’s eponymous full-length LP. DJ Dirty Steph of TSB provides the anniversary jams.

Dosey Doe, December 23
For Jack Ingram, winning the 2008 ACM award for Best New Male Vocalist at age 37 is just one unusual milestone in a career full of them. The product of The Woodlands and SMU has been a favorite with Texas audiences since the mid-‘90s, with the kind of lyrical candor and keen melodic ear that also quickly attracted Nashville interest — Steve Earle co-produced his 1997 breakthrough record, Livin’ or Dyin’. But the big labels never could quite figure out what to do with Ingram, despite his obvious songwriting chops; “Wherever You Are,” his debut single for industry powerhouse Big Machine, hit No. 1 in 2006. Three years later, “Barefoot and Crazy” reached the Top 10, but country radio’s subsequent cold shoulder put Ingram on the serpentine six-year path towards August’s Midnight Motel (Rounder), a clear-eyed set of songs befitting a man approaching his fifties who has come by the mature wisdom of lines like “don’t write a song that you wouldn’t sing” honestly.

Fitzgerald’s, December 25
After all those gluten-free cookies and glasses of soy milk, Santa might be ready for some Christmas-night decadence. He and Houston at-large are invited once again to take a 30FootFALL down Fitzgerald's chimney, at the venerable punk band's 22nd Annual Xmas Show. The show could be all-Fall any given year, but the band prefers to offer Houstonians the musical gold and frankincense of diverse bands like roots-reggae act Idiginis, thrashgrassers Days N Daze (disclosure: my son’s band) and fellow punk veterans Revels. This year, expect to stumble into the inspired weirdness of Frog Hair and The Cops, too. DJ Damon Allen and a solo set by 30FF frontman Butch Klotz round out eight acts determined to make Sunday night anything but silent. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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