The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Old Crow Medicine Show, Nicki Minaj, Steely Dan/Elvis Costello, etc.

The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 17
Like the “Wheels of Soul” package the weekend before, this is the kind of summer tour we don’t see enough of, but is hopefully increasing in frequency. In the broadest possible terms, both bands here share a similar demographic and stylistic categorization of alt-country, but that’s about it. The North Carolina-raised Avetts swapped their electric guitars for acoustic instruments and a hopped-up style of bluegrass, and promptly caught the attention of legendary producer Rick Rubin. The Old Crow boys hail from Nashville via New York, but play string-band music and Americana with punk-rock intensity, and hit the jackpot when Darius Rucker took their “Wagon Wheel” all the way to No. 1. Taken together, this should be an excellent date night full of both singalongs and foot-stomping breakdowns.

JB & the Moonshine Band
Firehouse Saloon, July 17
JB & the Moonshine Band is fully stocked with God and guns, the kind of guys who got saved at age five but still check in weekends at the county jail, and indeed called their first two albums Ain’t Goin’ Back to Jail and Beer For Breakfast. The Tyler quartet can go for the Yeti-packing hellraiser crowd (“Light It Up”) as good as anybody out there, but are equally skilled at pitching woo (“Mixtape,” the title track to their brand-new third LP) or asking the eternal question, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Even so, what elevates Mixtape to the cream of the recent Texas-country crop are side-two cuts “Shotgun, Rifle & a .45,” sobriety anthem “Wagon” and “Where’s Woody Guthrie?” — songs that reveal JB and company are armed to the teeth not only with ammunition, but principles. With Callahan Divide.

Nicki Minaj
Toyota Center, July 18
It's a real shame that The Pinkprint dropped in December, because it should have gotten more love in the Best of 2014 roundups. Minaj is already a star in both the hip-hop and pop worlds, no doubt, but The Pinkprint feels like a much better blending of her skills than her previous releases. What remains exciting about Minaj is that it still feels like she has untapped potential, which means that she's only going to continue to get better. And the longer she's in the spotlight, the more she's going to empower young women to believe that they too can be artists, and that's going to be better for music on the whole, not just hip-hop. Given that this is her first trip to Houston in a while, we expect the masses to be more than just a little excited for this show. With Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd, Tinashe, and Dej Loaf. (CORY GARCIA)

Steely Dan, Elvis Costello
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 18
On the surface, this pairing of the ultra-slick L.A. jazz-rock duo and onetime Angry Young Man of New Wave looks like a strange double bill indeed, save one vital common thread — both acts tend to attract the sort of fans who possess voluminous record collections. The Dan demonstrated their cross-generational (and cross-genre) appeal as one of the headliners of this year’s Coachella festival, while Costello has pretty much been game for anything since making an album of vintage country-music covers with 1981’s Almost Blue. In terms of discographies alone, this is probably one of the best “Stump the Audience” tours going this summer, giving fans’ memories as much of a workout as the fingers of the players onstage.

Continental Club 15th Anniversary
Continental Club, July 18
Elsewhere today you can read a little about the Continental Club’s history and how it became the anchor point of the now-thriving block known as “Mid-Main” so here's lets talk about the music. All of Saturday’s performers are great friends of the club, and all of them have more soul in one of their fingernails than regular people have in their whole bodies. There’s Houston’s Archie Bell, who still dances as good as he walks, if not better; Roy Head, the man who put the sweat into blue-eyed soul with “Treat Her Right”; Renaldo Domino, the high-energy Chicago belter behind “Nevermore,” “Don’t Go Away” and lots more; and the Allen Oldies All-Stars backing them up all night long after their opening set. If you’re looking to take a break from all the dancing, the Allison Fisher Band’s sexy blend of swing and R&B has got you covered over at the Big Top. Many happy returns to all the Continental crew!


Summerland Tour 2015: Yesteryear's alt-rock all-stars Toadies, Everclear, Fuel and American Hi-Fi grab some Gen-X disposable income. (Bayou Music Center, July 17)

Aaron Behrens & the Midnight Stroll: Ex-Ghostland Observatory singer, now post-psych-rock makeover. (Warehouse Live, July 17)

Asleep at the Wheel: Ray Benson's Western Swing ringers are back in the Bob Wills tribute game with the guest-heavy Still the King – Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. (Dosey Doe, July 17)

The Dan Band: Everyone's favorite R-rated wedding singer has now made an actual wedding album, called (gasp!) The Wedding Album. (House of Blues, July 18)

King's X, Pulse Rate Zero: Two generations of local prog-leaning hard rock. Some things never change, except the time signatures. (Scout Bar, July 18)

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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