I've never been terribly impressed with anybody's "bucket list." First of all, they're awfully morbid and judgmental; like, "do this before you die...or else." Besides, I'm of the mind that if you want to do something, you should just do it and not sit around making up lists about it; that goes double for reading other people's bucket lists on the Internet.
So last week when I saw that our music-blog counterpart up in Dallas, DC-9 at Night, had put together a "Texas Music Bucket List," my first thought was, "that's nice." Reading it over, it's got what you'd probably expect — Willie's picnic, SXSW, Austin City Limits, Billy Bob's, Marfa, the Selena statue — but I was a little impressed so many things from the Houston area made it. (I heard the writer, Jamie-Paul Falcon, is from around here, so in that context it makes more sense.) Of course Beyonce and RodeoHouston are on there, but so is the New Year's Day Townes Van Zandt wake at Galveston's Old Quarter; Super Happy Fun Land, Notsuoh and Fitzgerald's; and Free Press Summer Fest, which Falcon calls "the best festival in the state."
Right on. But Texas is a big state, and it's easy to come up with 50 things music lovers in this part of the world can do to amuse themselves between Beaumont and El Paso, or McAllen and Amarillo. It struck me as a little unrealistic, too — cool as all of them are, checking off everything on that list would be mighty time-consuming, not to mention expensive. Not long after, I thought, "I bet I can come up with that many things to do in Houston."
Therefore, what you're about to read is the product of a couple of hours of fairly intense brainstorming one afternoon last week, followed by a few days of rolling it around the ol' noggin; by its nature it is incomplete. So if not a "bucket list," think of this as a suggestion guide to how you Bayou City music fans can spend your weekends for the next couple of years; that goes double for all you newcomers among us. Just please don't get arrested.
** Attend Texas Folklife Resources' annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre
** Go to a Cactus Music in-store
** Call in a $100 pledge to Lone Star Jukebox, Blues In Hi-Fi, Howlin' the Blues (my favorites) or the KPFT music program of your choice
** Sunday-night free zydeco at the Big Easy
** Tune in Swishahouse co-founder Michael "5,000" Watts' Sunday-night show on 97.9 The Box
** Take a first date to see live jazz at Cezanne, preferably played by a group of HSPVA alumni
** Visit the official Lightnin' Hopkins Texas state historical marker in Third Ward near Dowling & Francis
** Take a selfie under the Destiny's Child mural on the wall of Music World Entertainment in Midtown
** Have a pint during the Wednesday-night Irish Sessions at McGonigel's Mucky Duck; or better yet, sit in yourself
** Audit Bun B & Dr. Anthony Pinn's comparative-religion course at Rice University
** Pick through the late DJ Screw's personal vinyl collection at the University of Houston's M.D. Anderson Library
** Flush the toilet at Mango's while it's still there, and if it will even flush
** Stay up relaxing to the ultra-smooth sounds of KCOH's Chris Tucker or KTSU's eclectic programming — everything from reggae to gospel. (Alternate: let KCOH's Don Sam help you start your afternoon commute early.)
** Pull your pickup into what used to be Blanco's parking lot (3406 W. Alabama) and two-step in fond memory of the last real honky-tonk in Houston
** Leave a guitar pick at one of Little Joe Washington's old Third Ward haunts
** Go to church where Don Robey's Bronze Peacock nightclub used to be (Charity Baptist Church, 2809 Erastus St., Fifth Ward)
** Eat a burger at Rudyard's while watching Poor Dumb Bastards, Donkey Punch, the Bad Drugs, Funeral Horse or the Killer Hearts
** Play some classic Tejano on the jukebox at Alice's Tall Texan
** Track down a KTRU bumper sticker...they're out there
** See a band at the White Swan without earplugs
** Dance (awkwardly) at A Fistful of Soul at the Big Top Lounge
** Watch the Houston Symphony's free July 4 fireworks spectacular at Miller Outdoor
** Take a picnic (and the kids) to Discovery Green's spring and fall Thursday-night free concert series
** Eat Adam Fisher's barbecue at the Continental Club
** Eavesdrop on local musicians' conversations at Poison Girl
** Sit on a park bench near the old Sunset Coffee Building by Buffalo Bayou downtown and imagine the psychedelic sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Moving Sidewalks, Bubble Puppy and lots more at Love Street Light Circus upstairs
** Get two friends and recreate the infamous cover of the Geto Boys' We Can't Be Stopped at the Ben Taub ER
** Volunteer at Girls Rock Camp Houston (or at least sign their anti-R. Kelly/FPSF petition)
** During rush hour, turn up Alvin's 89.7 FM, the "Gulf Coast Rocker," and rip off the knob
** Take a leap of faith and buy something on vinyl by an act you've never heard of at Sound Exchange or Vinal Edge
** Go to a nearby trail ride or festival you find at zydecoevents.com
** When driving by Lakewood Church (3700 Southwest Fwy.), jingle your keys in honor of ZZ Top, the last band to play the historic venue in its Summit/Compaq Center incarnation on November 22, 2003
** Spend a Friday night dancing at the East End's D&W Lounge
** Line-dance at Wild West (south side) or Neon Boots (north side)
** See a huge Latino act like Los Tigres del Norte at Club Escapade
** Read three newspaper articles on the walls of Sig's Lagoon
** Admire the poster wall of past performers leading to the Arena Theatre's box office
** Listen to DJ Sun and his guests at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Mixed Media series
** Jam out in the Last Concert Cafe's drum circle
** Buy a grill from Paul Wall and/or TV Johnny
** Buy a six-pack of the new Gilley's Beer and drink it in the parking lot of the long-gone Urban Cowboy nightclub at 4500 Spencer Highway in Pasadena (Note: this is now a used-car lot across the street from a gymnastics studio, so please do this after hours)
** Get your groove on at Top Notch, Kinda Super Disco, or the '90s Dance Party at Boondocks
** Peruse the vast inventory of Screwed Up Records & Tapes
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** Attend the annual SLAB parade in MacGregor Park
** Chill the eff out at The Flat any night of the week
** Drop off a demo at Rap-A-Lot Records (hey, you never know...)
** Write a thank-you note to the late Pam Robinson on the wall of Walters Downtown
** Check out the display/trophy case at SugarHill Studio
** Drive down Telephone Road in honor of Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell
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** Wear your best '80s club-kid gear to a Classic Numbers Friday night (alternate: Etro!)
** Find some "RIP Pimp C" graffiti
** Watch the For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair DVD, then go see a show there.
** Don't see yours above? Tell us what it is...