The Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Wood & Wire, FPH NYE, Riverboat Gamblers, etc.

Wood & Wire McGonigel's Mucky Duck, December 30

Anticipating folk music's return to the pop-culture conversation thanks to Inside Llewyn Davis by a few years, Wood & Wire have become a fixture on the bluegrass/acoustic circuit as much for their dogged work ethic as their precision-timed songs. The Austin-based quartet began at the 2009 Old Settlers' Music Festival in Central Texas, where Houston-raised guitarist Tony Kamel and mandolinist Matt Slusher picked till dawn and wound up forming a band. This past year they saw all that fretwork (which they've dubbed "Dirty Texas Grass") pay real dividends by releasing a 14-song eponymous debut CD and touring with one of the top names in the scene, Yonder Mountain String Band. CHRIS GRAY

John Egan The Big Easy, December 30

Solo bluesman John Egan sings in a tone that suggests someone is constantly walking over his grave, and his lyrics are loaded with bad mojo like nature gone haywire and apocalyptic visions. All he needs live is his National Resonator, one of those shiny silver guitars that sting and snarl. CHRIS GRAY

FPH NYE Sam Houston Park, December 31

No doubt the team behind Free Press Summer Fest looked at what happened last year -- when the City of Houston's official party got rained out and, in any case, featured fusty headliners KC & the Sunshine Band -- and thought, "We can do better than that." They've certainly summoned a trio of much funkier top-liners for their inaugural ball-dropping event in the freshly renovated Sam Houston Park: Intergalactic royalty (George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars); a mashup king with a wicked sense of humor (Girl Talk); and a bounce queen whose jelly vanquishes all twerkers-come-lately (Big Freedia).

Add a typically large, typically FPSF-diverse supporting cast -- including Quintron & Miss Pussycat, American Fangs, Grandfather Child, the Beans; and DJs Lance Herbstrong, Drrrty Poonjabi, G. Wizz and Fredster -- to go with a food court dubbed the "Gastrodome," a light show, and modestly described "mega super deluxe mega" celebration of midnight, and it certainly appears that 2014 not come in lacking in the fanfare department. Gates at 4 p.m.; more info at FPHNYE.com. CHRIS GRAY

More shows on the next page.

Riverboat Gamblers, Born Liars Rudyard's, December 31

Two of Texas' most potent punk bands are not content with simply ushering 2013 out the door, and won't settle for anything but giving it a robust kick in the ass on its way. Now approaching 15 years of relentless touring and stage-born bruises, Austin's Riverboat Gamblers' are a teeny bit more subtle on 2012's The Wolf You Feed than their breakneck previous output; say, more a habanero than a ghost pepper.

Throw in Houston garage gods Born Liars -- who released the gloriously sloppy Show Some Couth this past summer - and the potential for guitar-fueled New Year's Eve debauchery ventures past "certain" and edges closer to "alarming." CHRIS GRAY

Hayes Carll, J.D. McPherson, Mike and the Moonpies House of Blues, December 31

Well before he graduated to House of Blues, and before he turned it into a week-long post-Christmas tour to Arklahoma and back, Hayes Carll made it a point of having a few of his musician buddies join him in Houston on New Year's Eve. This year it's Oklahoma neo-rockabilly cat J.D. McPherson and Austin's latter-day cosmic cowboys Mike and the Moonpies, so his "Holiday Hangover" could have a little more kick than usual.

As for the headliner, Carll has spent the past year playing just about every festival that would have him, from Hangout and Kerrville to pal Ray Wylie Hubbard's Grit & Groove and the Winnipeg Folk Festival way up Canada way. With all that traveling, one would assume he's at least a little closer to completing a followup to 2011's KMAG YOYO (and Other American Stories), but that's just a guess. CHRIS GRAY


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