John Egan The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club, June 3
Earlier this year, John Egan competed at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where the Houston kinda-acoustic bluesman advanced to the semifinal round of 28 -- so by that reckoning, Egan is one of the Top 30 solo acts of his kind in the world. "Perhaps I was too edgy for the finals?" Egan quipped on Facebook. "All in all it was a great trip and a lot of fun."
He won't be too edgy for his Monday-night Big Easy residency, which has already allowed him to whip up a new batch of songs to go along with the ones on last year's excellent Phantoms. CHRIS GRAY
Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 30
Grunge proved once and for all that rockers in street clothes could sell records in large quantities, even if their sound was significantly less angst-ridden or threatening. By smoothing over just enough of those rough alt-rock edges, both Matchbox Twenty and Goo Goo Dolls hit paydirt on both MTV and radio for a good chunk of the '90s. Tuesday at the Pavilion promises a long, nostalgic evening full of songs more recognizable than they are distinguishable (or distinguished, for that matter): "Name," "Unwell," "Slide," "If You're Gone," "Iris," "Push," "3 a.m." and a few others. Enjoy? CHRIS GRAY
Paul Ramirez Band Continental Club, July 17
A weekly gig is about the best way for guitarists to hone their craft, and Houston's Paul Ramirez has done just that Wednesday nights at the Continental for more than a year now. It paid off last year with Sex With a Dragon, his debut CD that throws in a little Santana and New Orleans R&B into Ramirez's stick-to-your-ribs Texas blues-rock and shows some salty reverence towards Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean."
Dragon breathes enough fire that it doesn't wilt when held up to the gold standard of recent Lone Star guitarslinger offerings, Gary Clark Jr.'s Blak and Blu. CHRIS GRAY
Dirty River Boys Fitzgerald's, August 1
Originally from El Paso, the Dirty River Boys wanted a name that best described not only where they come from, but also the sound they produce. The band's simple licks and Southern-fried acoustic performance can best be described as a ragged vibe that straddles the borders between bluegrass, outlaw country and rock. ERIC WOODS
The Monkees Arena Theatre, August 1
Baby Boomers' second-favorite former teen idols are back this year with "A Midsummer Night With the Monkees," their second tour since losing singer Davy Jones in February 2012. Certainly one of the most curious groups in pop history thanks to their made-for-TV origins, Pinocchio-like transformation into a "real band," and baffling psychedelic detour that spawned 1968 cult film Head, the Monkees' flower-power legacy remains pretty potent 40 years later.
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Texan Michael Nesmith will be along on this tour, while his bandmate Mickey Dolenz told Rolling Stone earlier this year that they've even talked about making another Monkees album, which would be their first since 1996's Justus. "I'd love to make a new one," Dolenz said. "We haven't had any discussions about that beyond, 'Wouldn't it be cool to have a new one?'" CHRIS GRAY