Mary Sarah Firehouse Saloon, September 26
On her remarkable album Bridges, 18-year-old Houston singer Mary Sarah goes well beyond holding her own against some of the greatest talents in country-music history, from Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson on down. This is no stunt record. Just about anyone who has been to a karaoke bar knows how easy it can be to screw up a song like Nelson's "Crazy," but Sarah delivers that tune, and others even more difficult to sing, with real musicianship that matches that of her elders.
Less surprisingly, she also gives several tunes a pronounced youthful zip that redeems some pretty dated material. This is Sarah's first Houston gig since the summer release of Bridges, which has rightly drawn a fair amount of national attention. With Cameran Nelson. CHRIS GRAY
David Gray Bayou Music Center, September 26
Younger fans might recognize Welshman David Gray's runaway 2000 adult-contemporary hit "Babylon" from their last trip to the dentist, but those of us old enough to remember Rumours can recognize one of Lindsey Buckingham's spiritual kinsmen when we hear it: sophisticated songcraft whose subdued tone highlights rather than obscures some pretty potent emotions. Gray (no relation, lol) is very much one of those "oh, he did that song?" kind of performers -- besides "Babylon," you may well recognize "Be Mine," "Please Forgive Me," "The One I Love" and "Fugitive," to name but a few, without even realizing it. He's touring behind the brand-new Mutineers, his first album since 2010's Foundling. CHRIS GRAY
Children of Pop Hotel Aloft, September 26
"Personal Branding" is a social-media concept old farts like yours truly are still trying to wrap our heads around, but even we can appreciate the value of doing everything in one's power to stand out in a crowd. That's the nuts and bolts behind Platformit, a monthly event that encourages synergy and networking among Houston's young digerati. (Hey, you might learn something.) Its organizers certainly couldn't have picked a better act to play afterparty following this month's panel discussion -- Children of Pop's offbeat, earwormy, usuallly brief songs are like musical Tumblr pages come to life. DJ Third World TV only adds to the fun. CHRIS GRAY
Drake & Lil Wayne Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 27
Rap tours these days are usually based around monolithic messages like Kanye West's extravagant "Yeezus" jaunt of a year ago, or a motley crue of performers who all have something to promote at the same time. Drake & Lil Wayne, however, can at least say they're literally attempting to battle one another every single night. The two are practically neck and neck in terms of popularity, so this joint tour uses fan participation to gauge the best man. Considering Lil Wayne is letting everyone know about his upcoming LP Tha Carter V and Drake is globetrotting as the most consistent artist in the genre, it'll be hard to pick a winner. BRANDO
More shows on the next page.
Marc Anthony Toyota Center, September 27
"Como cambio de piel (how do I change)?" asks Marco Antonio Muñiz on his latest album, 3.0. Known to the world as Marc Anthony, this international salsa and pop superstar melds his Puerto Rican roots with a street-savvy NYC attitude that has elevated him to one of the most influential and top-selling Latin artists of our generation. His honesty permeates every aspect of his creativity, whether singing pop tracks with amigo Enrique Iglesias, appearing in high-profile Hollywood dramas, or acting as an ambassador of salsa and musica tropical from his beloved Puerto Rico. MARCO TORRES
FIVE MORE SHOWS WORTH CONSIDERING By Chris Gray
Lee Fields & the Expressions: Old-school soul of the highest order, opened by Houston funkmeisters Electric Attitude. (House of Blues, September 26)
Joyce Manor: Sloppy-n-sad SoCal pop-punk crew brings well-reviewed third album Never Hungover Again to town. (Walters Downtown, September 26)
Sham69: Groundbreaking UK oi! group still pogoing all these years later; with Total Control, No Solution, Thug Boots and Talk Sick Brats. (Mango's, September 26)
Phillip Phillips: The former American Idol winner and ubiquitous TV-spot voice thanks to "Home" is, more or less, an Americanized David Gray one generation later. (Arena Theatre, September 27)
The War On Drugs: Rocks Off talked to the Philly psych-pop band's leader Adam Granduciel about their lovely new album Lost In the Dream and lots more Thursday; read it here. (House of Blues, September 27)
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