Skarnales, Escovedo, Gaines Make Rockin' Nightlife Tour

Friday was one of those nights when Rocks Off wished we operated one of those "show you the nightlife" tour buses filled with people from Omaha, Chicago, Des Moines, and Berlin. When's the last time Houston had a gentle north wind cooling the evening in mid-May? Once the sun went down, we might as well have been in San Diego.

Yep, if we'd been operating one of those buses, we couldn't have done better with a low-cost, low-stress Friday evening. Local favorites Los Skarnales did what they do at Miller Outdoor Theatre, grabbing an audience and refusing to let go. Our favorite vatos amped up the laid-back crowd from the get-go with their signature "Bomba 48" and the thing was on.

Felipe Galvan and his hermanos de musica worked up a serious sweat as they pounded through a dozen songs warming the crowd up for Alejandro Esocvedo. As always, Skarnales swung and boogied hard. It's what they do.

And what a delicious treat Escovedo and his Sensitive Boys turned out to be, opening with several blistering rockers before they even said hello. Coming at the tail end of an East Coast tour, Friday night's gig was a tour de force as Escovedo mixed old and new and even changed up the arrangements on a few to fit his pared-down combo.

All in all, the Miller show was everything the City of Houston bills these performances as: low-key, family-friendly, high-quality, and totally free Another reason we love our town.

After the Miller show, we drifted to the Big Easy for Grady Gaines' 77th birthday celebration. When we opened the front door, Gaines and his band the Texas Upsetters were absolutely scalding a wicked blues. After being outside in the cool breeze, entering the club with that eight-piece combo hitting on every cylinder was like walking into a commercial bakery with all the ovens on high.

Mr. Gaines, who toured with Little Richard for years, is one of the most vigorous old-timers left on the Houston scene. Dressed in an orange suit and decked out in his best cool-cat hat, Gaines led his people through everything from Little Richard to Prince. Other than last year's Jon Cleary show, we may never have seen the Big Easy this crowded.

And, typical of Houston, the capacity crowd was one of all ages, races, and creeds, just mixing it up on one of the most happening dance floors in town right now. Want to see some old-school juke-joint down-and-dirty dancing done to the music of rock and roll legends?

Just hop on our nightlife tour bus. "The night life ain't no good life, but it's my life." No detours down Washington Avenue. Ever.

We promise.

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