House of Blues, July 21
If Zella Day sounds a little precocious, it’s no accident. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter’s parents ran a coffeehouse in Pinetop, Ariz., a remote town on the eastern fringes of the Tonto National Forest, and young Zella was hopping onstage at its open-mike nights by age nine. Thus far she has written a song for the Insurgent soundtrack, been featured in ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and amassed nearly 40 million Spotify streams for songs from last month’s debut LP, KICKER, checking all the boxes for young-adult success. Day’s dreamy but gimlet-eyed sound has already drawn smart-alecky commentary like “a happier Lana Del Rey,” but that could just be another way of saying that the pop world has another beguiling but aloof chanteuse on its hands. Surely there’s room in the pop firmament for both.
Sublime With Rome
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 21
Faced with the loss of key personnel, at what point does a band call itself something different? Sublime With Rome has been grappling with that question ever since drummer Bud Gaugh departed a few months after the already-reconfigured group released its ‘debut’ album, Yours Truly, in 2011. Josh Freese (Guns N’ Roses, the Vandals, Devo) stepped in for Gaugh, leaving Eric Wilson as the lone holdover from the original Sublime, the Long Beach, Calif. band whose laid-back mix of reggae, ska, West Coast rap and punk had a profound impact on ‘90s alternative rock. This all came about because even singer Bradley Nowell’s untimely death in 1996 couldn’t slake the persistent demand for Sublime’s music, eventually inspiring Gough and Wilson to reboot the band in 2009 with singer/guitarist/Sublime superfan Rome Ramirez. Now, after years of successful post-Yours Truly touring, this spring’s new album Sirens suggests that Sublime With Rome aren’t nearly finished writing what is already one of the more unusual — and even inspiring — chapters of recent rock history.
Hustlers Brass Band
Under the Volcano, July 22
The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina brought an influx of traditional New Orleans brass-band musicians to Houston. Some, like most members of the Hustlers Brass Band, found Houston to their liking and never went home, thus enriching our already-bustling roots-music scene. Led by TSU prof and Rads Krusaders 2.0 member Nic Allen on trombone and original founding member Damion Francois on tuba, the Hustlers offer up second-line takes on both traditional brass-band tunes — "Second Line," "St. James Infirmary" — and Mardi Gras favorites, as well as popular funkified hits like "Cisco Kid" and "Brick House." As always, the energy level will be off the charts once these guys charge into their “Cissy Strut.” (WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH)
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Stafford Centre, July 23
Not only is B.J. Thomas one of the greatest pure singers Houston ever produced, he’s one of the most successful. Of the same generation as Kenny Rogers, Thomas joined a group called the Triumphs as a junior at Lamar Consolidated High School, and was soon in the Top 10 with a goosebumpy cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” That opened the door to million-selling adult-contemporary standbys “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Hooked On a Feeling,” but Thomas also won two Dove awards after crossing over to Christian pop and sent songs like “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and “Two Car Garage” into the country charts through the early ‘80s. Today he still tours actively and even sends his own tweets. Opening Thursday’s show are those same Triumphs, who remain a draw on the oldies circuit and can lay claim to another morsel of Texas music history with 1965 regional hit “Garner State Park.”
Rock Baby Rock It 2015
Continental Club, July 23
Rock Baby Rock It 2015 comes just a week after the Continental’s 15th anniversary party, and predates its present home by about two years; it actually started at the long-gone Fabulous Satellite Lounge. Today it is arguably the centerpiece of the club’s summer schedule, a zoot-suit riot of hot rods, hair grease, sharp threads and vintage tunes. The three-day weekend kicks off Thursday with Houston’s venerable vatobillies, the Flamin’ Hellcats, and Tomcat & the Rock n’ Rollers on the prowl up from Monterrey, Mex. Much more to come Friday and Saturday — whether this is your first time or fifteenth, it won’t take very long at all before you understand how Rock Baby earned its well-deserved reputation as one of Houston’s most happenin’ events.