Debonair Lounge Cafe 4212, March 31
Since approximately Labor Day 2013, the only way to get each week off on a good foot has been at this Museum District oasis of cool. Debonair Lounge has already welcomed a who's who of Houston's hottest young hip-hop and R&B performers -- this week's "Ladies Night" features Tia Gold, Donnie Marie, Prince Cannon Mi'chel Rose and, as always, that smooth-ass Debonair house band -- strutting their stuff for one of the most stylish audiences in town.
Hosted by local scenesters Tay Mitch and Brad Gilmore, whom Channel 39's Newsfix called "ebony and ivory at its finest," these few hours will have you looking forward to every Monday...just not Tuesdays. The party never stops on Instagram at @DebonairLoungeHTX, too. CHRIS GRAY
John Egan The Big Easy, March 31
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, and has begun mastering the followup to 2012's spare and sinister Phantoms. Earlier this year Egan advanced to the semifinals of the International Blues Challenge's solo competition for the second year in a row, vying with bluesmen and women from all over the planet. CHRIS GRAY
Merle Haggard Stafford Centre, April 1
Merle Haggard has received a Kennedy Center award, a few Grammys and an armload of both CMAs and ACMs, but all that hardware still doesn't come close to representing his worth as a musician, songwriter, social conscience and American prophet. In the realm of country music, only Hag's friends Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, have had such an impact.
Five days shy of his 77th birthday when he arrives in Stafford, the man who gave the world "Mama Tried," "Swingin' Doors," "The Fightin' Side of Me," "Think I'll Just Sit Here and Drink" and so many others keeps ticking right along on tour, still leading his venerable crew of Strangers that for the past several years has been revitalized by Haggard's lead-guitarist son Ben. The Hag will also be honored with the Crystal Milestone at this Sunday's ACM awards, and by artists including Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean and a Luke Bryan/Dierks Bentley "Pancho and Lefty" duet on the upcoming tribute album Working Man's Poet. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Robert Ellis, Wild Child Warehouse Live, April 3
People swarm to Robert Ellis. His talent reaches far beyond a microphone and a set of strings, which our city as a whole didn't necessarily realize, and somewhat took for granted. We didn't know what we were missing until it was gone, but now that Ellis doesn't call Houston home anymore, we cherish those moments he does share with us -- such as Thursday with Austin indie-pop ingenues Wild Child -- that much more. JIM BRICKER
Jamey Johnson House of Blues, April 3
Honky-tonk survivalist Jamey Johnson once described himself as "Somewhere Between Jennings and Jones," a dead-on synopsis of his style on 2008's That Lonesome Song. The Alabama native and Marine Corps veteran toiled in Nashville's minor leagues until George Strait and Trace Adkins, among others, made hits out of a few of his songs in 2006 and '07; that opened the door for Lonesome, which spawned a hit of its own with "In Color" and stands as one of the essential country albums of the new millennium.
With 2010's double-length The Guitar Song and 2012's Living For a Song, a tribute to much-decorated late songwriter Hank Cochran ("I Fall to Pieces"), Johnson settled into a niche where he's not only too country for Nashville but almost too country for outlaw country. He's a true maverick in a facetious culture where an artist's work is measured in "likes," tough as an old boot and beholden to no man's opinion except his own. CHRIS GRAY
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