Smart Financial Centre, June 1
Gospel artists don’t bless the pop realm nearly as often as some would like, so it was a rare treat when CeCe Winans’ latest album, Let Them Fall In Love, landed her both on last season’s Austin City Limits and as a guest performer with the Boston Pops next month. This isn’t the Detroit-born singer’s first brush with a non-churchgoing audience, though; ‘90s R&B fans no doubt remember “Count On Me,” her duet with Whitney Houston on the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. Winans, winner of ten Grammys and twice as many Dove Awards, has sung at the White House and Vatican and, as the top-selling solo female artist in gospel history, has created a legacy even more impressive than the one she inherited as a member of gospel’s first family. Released in February, latest LP Let Them Fall In Love feathered her already-crowded nest with yet another No. 1 gospel album and a Top 5 single in “Never Have to Be Alone.”
House of Blues, June 2
Founded in Miami, the Mavericks were probably too dashing to last as one of country music’s top attractions, but their brief run of mid-‘90s hit singles like “O What a Thrill” and “There Goes My Heart” was a welcome sign of Nashville’s newfound openness to influences beyond the Grand Ole Opry. (Ah, the good old days.) Since reuniting in 2011, the Mavericks have been embraced by the Americana audiences who thrill to their fusion of Cuban and Tex-Mex sounds with classic country and rock and roll, even as they melt over front man Raul Malo’s smoldering croon. Back in March, the Mavericks entered a well-deserved new phase of their career by releasing Brand New Day, the group’s ninth album overall but first on their own label, Mono Mundo Recordings.
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McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, June 2
John Baumann has chosen an auspicious title for his latest album. With Proving Grounds, due a week after Friday’s Mucky Duck gig, the rising young singer and songwriter signals his awareness of the treacherous ground he’s treading as one of the Texas music circuit’s so-called next big things. Currently based in Austin, the San Antonio-born Baumann has also lived in Fort Worth, Lubbock and Amarillo, lending extra credibility to his poetic accounts of the rapidly changing state he depicts in songs like “Eagle Ford” and “Vices.” Baumann’s writing has already drawn interest from Nashville’s A-list — his Hayes Carll co-write “Gulf Moon” was reportedly considered for Kenny Chesney’s latest LP, Cosmic Hallelujah, though it didn’t make the final cut — so it’s likely only a matter of time before something clicks. Perhaps that breakthrough-to-be is even on Proving Grounds.
FREE PRESS SUMMER FEST
Eleanor Tinsley Park, June 3 and 4
Though youngish, this, the grandaddy of Houston music festivals, has achieved the socio-cultural density and attraction of an enormous, seasonal black hole. Beyond the sharp local representation — Solange, Khruangbin, Rose Ette, Night Drive, Deep Cuts — the boldest bets are headliner Lorde and Hooray for the Riff Raff, the rest of the lineup being a mirage-like shimmer of pop idols like Charli XCX, EDM breakouts, and here and there, between the food trucks, a few rockers. Whether the festival takes place in a park, as intended, or in a parking lot or even on an ocean-bound barge, FPSF asserts the prerogative of a pheromone spray, being something inescapable and inexpressible, except insofar that it is partially tented and occasionally sprayed with misters as protection from the heat. TEX KERSCHEN