Uncle Kracker Firehouse Saloon, June 13
For an artist who started his career as Kid Rock's DJ, Uncle Kracker has managed to find his country niche. That got going with the laid-back "Drift Away," the Dobie Gray tune Kracker turned into a throwback hit as a duet with the original artist back in 2003. His solo tunes are certainly nothing to shake a stick at, either.
"Smile," another hit from 2009 album Happy Hour, is a sweet, noteworthy jam that can stand with the country-rock best of 'em. Catching Kracker at a small venue like Firehouse Saloon could be a blue-moon kind of chance, one it would be wise to consider strappin' on those boots for. ANGELICA LEICHT
MXPX Fitzgerald's, June 14
Hey, do your feet hurt? Did you fall from heaven? Well, they will once you set foot in Fitzgerald's for the MXPX show. It's been a little while since we've heard from the Washington state pop-punks - their last album, Plans Within Plans, dropped in 2012 - but it matters not because 1996's Life In General was about as good as skate-pop gets. These nice guys always kill it in concert, and if you're nice back to them, maybe they'll invite you to move to Bremerton and hang out. No promises, though. With Allister. ANGELICA LEICHT
James Taylor Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 14
James Taylor's achievements are so monumental he forces critics to use words like "archetype" when talking about him. The first artist to sign with the Beatles' Apple Records (which didn't last), the New Englander deepened and darkened the simple sounds of '60s folk-pop with music whose gentle nature often concealed serious grownup themes. Songs like "Fire and Rain" and "You've Got a Friend" both cracked Billboard's Top 5, while others such as "Country Road," "Sweet Baby James" and "Bartender's Blues" -- later a Top 10 country hit for George Jones - earned heavy airplay.
Soon enough, the airwaves were crowded with acts following Taylor's lead such as onetime wife Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver. But most impressively, Taylor's appeal has never waned through the ensuing decades - the 1976 LP James Taylor's Greatest Hits has now sold more than 11 million copies in the United States. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
B.E. Godfrey D&W Lounge, June 14
Outgrowing listenlisten, the loosely organized alt-folk collective that was a steady presence in Houston since the late '00s, Ben Godfrey is moving on. He's adopted the new stage name B.E. Godfrey and released the new EP Wild Desperation, which in point of fact sounds neither wild nor desperate.
His new music is squarely in the same camp as kindred spirits like Bill Callahan and Mark Lanegan, artists who withhold easy reassurances in favor of contemplative, downcast, bare-bones songs that offer their own kind of solace. Godfrey recently announced that he's decided to move to New York and has chosen one of his favorite local watering holes, venerable East End tavern the D&W Lounge, for this farewell gig. With Young Girls and El Campo. CHRIS GRAY
SIX MORE SHOWS WORTH YOUR TIME By Chris Gray
Ray Wylie Hubbard: Wise Hill Country philosopher/singer who once said, "The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days." (McGonigel's Mucky Duck, June 13)
Caddywhompus, Zorch, Children of Pop, Sunrise & Ammunition: Great spaz-rock quadruple bill along New Orleans-Austin-Houston axis. (Walters, June 13)
Urban Animals 35th Anniversary: Back when the world was still fun, this Houston guerilla-skating bunch caused all sorts of mayhem with roller-jousting, parking-garage raids, clandestine charity work and more; Herschel Berry & the Natives, the Footnotes, MyDolls, Bad Samaritan and DJLP salute three and a half decades of unsanctioned activity. (Numbers, June 14)
Deorro: Rising L.A. EDM star's growing collab list already includes Steve Aoki, Axwell, Krewella, Laidback Luke, Diplo and more. (Stereo Live, June 14)
Ben Folds: Smart-ass piano-pop provocateur goes uptown with the Houston Symphony. (Jones Hall, June 14)
Rosie Flores, Patricia Vonne: These Austin mamacitas pack guitars rather than pistols, but they'll still blow you away. (Continental Club, June 14)
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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