The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: D'Angelo, Blackgrass Gospel, Turnpike Troubadors, Jodeci, etc.

D'Angelo and the Vanguard
Warehouse Live, June 17
It’s a little tough not to snicker at some of the “second coming” talk surrounding D’Angelo’s Black Messiah sometimes, but he’s also the about the only R&B performer whose reemergence from one of his periodic sabbaticals legitimately qualifies as an event. Released late, late last year, his first full-length LP since 2000’s Voodoo instantly bowled over both critics and fans alike while instantly raising the bar for D’Angelo’s peers, not that there were that many to begin with. Dripping with sweat, sex and soul, its grooves are steeped in centuries of Black history but polished by the kind of idiosyncratic genius that could only come from the mind and fingers of one man. With Meg Mac.

Turnpike Troubadors
House of Blues, June 18
Next month the Turnpike Troubadours will headline the two-day July 4 celebration at Fort Worth honky-tonk palace Billy Bob’s Texas, with esteemed names like Merle Haggard, Ryan Bingham, Jerry Jeff Walker and Hayes Carll further down the poster. Such a high honor is a reward for all the miles the Oklahoma quintet has logged since forming in 2007, selling more than 200,000 records with their crackerjack combo of roadhouse swagger and 4 a.m. heartache. In September the Troubadours will release their third album and first since 2012’s Goodbye Normal Street, an eponymous effort that bears the fruit of their endless gigging and all the experience that comes along with it.

Blackgrass Gospel
Scout Bar, June 18
It's less so than ten years ago, but certain parts of Brazoria County can fool you into thinking you've stepped back into the rural Texas of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Randall Barnett's Blackgrass Gospel has a little of that backwoods menace in their songs, which preach fire and brimstone in between slugs of homemade hooch. In early August, the BGG boys will join 44 other bands and cram into the Wilderness Inn near Sprague, Wisconsin for Farmageddon, a no-shower weekend of pickin' and debauchery alongside groups like the Ditchrunners, Whiskeydick and Detroit headliners Against the Grain. Thursday, they’ll tune up their chops by opening for Arkansas’ Mountain Sprout, a bunch of shady Ozarks characters responsible for pungent tunes like “Dry Counties” and “Turkey Buzzard.” Also with Radio Springs and the Brookewood Brothers.

Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man
Big Top Lounge, June 18
Recorded at Houston's historic SugarHill Studios, Umbrella Man's 2012 album Bridges and Bayous is long on local lore. "Hurricane Song," "El Barrio del Alacrán" and "Dead End Saints" are steeped in neighborhood history, both recent and distant. Upright bassist and bandleader Nick Gaitan wrote the Pogues-like "Sunken Ships" after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and reworked "Beautiful Fools" and "Juana" from his days in Houston ska-punk institution Los Skarnales. "We're surrounded by bayous," said Gaitan, the Houston Press Music Awards' 2010 Local Musician of the Year, at the time of Bridges' release. "We move from one side to the other as we grow up, we start moving around the city, we move around with our families, people move out of the house and move on. I was focusing on a city in motion, where bridges and bayous are part of our lives.” Gaitan & the Umbrella Man's mainstay Thursday gig at the Big Top is now one of Houston's longest-running local residencies, and always no cover.
Arena Theatre, June 18
An iconic quartet who defined the early ‘90s as easily as the Isley Brothers and the O’Jays did the ‘70s, Jodeci straddled New Jack Swing and the slow jams of their ancestors, turning their gospel-trained emotions into a virtual playbook for between-the-sheets activity. Their first two LPs, Forever My Lady and Diary of a Mad Band, feature plenty of hits that set the tone for the era (“Cry For You,” “Lately,” “Feenin’”), but 1995’s The Show, the Afterparty, the Hotel was Jodeci’s tour de force, a buffet of after-hours indiscretions that quickly set a new standard for R&B even as the members were going their separate ways. It took 20 years and successful solo careers before Jodeci was ready for their their next move: this year’s The Past, The Present, The Future (Sphinx Music), a Timbaland-assisted return that examines Jodeci’s considerable legacy without making them sound like a legacy act.

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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